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Death Conquered

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2022 2:26 pm

Death Conquered

The Verdict / John Munro

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Christ is risen. That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15, if you have a Bible, I ask you to open it.

This is the great chapter. It's a long chapter, and we're not going to look at all of the verses, but we're going to look at quite a number of verses in this great chapter on the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15. The Apostle Paul is writing.

He was once a skeptic. In fact, he was once a persecutor of the church, and then on the road to Damascus, he had a living encounter with Jesus Christ, which totally changed his life. Now, he is writing 1 Corinthians 15 verse 3. He says, I delivered to you as of first importance.

Paul has got a lot to say. He writes many letters of the New Testament, but notice he says this is of first importance. I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. We reflected on that on Good Friday. Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Then He appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. The gospel of Jesus Christ. This letter we call 1 Corinthians begins with Paul saying that when he came to Corinth, he had one message, and he delivered it in great fear and trembling, and his message was this, Christ crucified. And now at the end of the letter, he continues to emphasize the gospel by emphasizing the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, because without the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no gospel. This is at the very heart of the gospel, that if you believe that Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of God, that on the cross He died for your sins, that He was buried, and that on the third day He rose again and is alive, and if you receive this Jesus Christ God incarnate, if you receive this Jesus Christ personally into your life as your Savior of your sins and as your Lord, the Bible says that you will be saved.

That when we are saved by the grace of God, a miracle takes place, because this is something supernatural. This is not reforming our behavior, this is not intellectually embracing some kind of theological dogma, no, it is receiving the person, the living person of Jesus Christ, and when that happens, think of this, the very life of God comes into our soul. That is the promise of the gospel, that you receive eternal life, and that this life is not just something that you inherit when you die, but rather this life is received now. That is why we are singing, Jesus Christ is our hope in life now and in death.

How wonderful. All of life then is forever changed. If the claims of the gospel is true, if it is true that Jesus Christ is alive, which is the fundamental claim of the Christian faith, that He is God, and if that is true, and that we in this miracle of conversion, we who are sinful men and women, who are strangers to God, but that we repent of our sin and we receive Christ, life is forever changed. And we have the assurance that if we are truly saved, that when we die, we shall live forever with the Lord Jesus Christ. Because Christ has risen, Paul is going to say later in 1 Corinthians 15, that death is swallowed up in victory. Now, you don't think of victory and death in the same sentence, do you? You think of death as a defeat, as something sad, as something tragic, and in one sense it is, but from the Christian perspective, because Christ has conquered death, Paul can say that death is swallowed up in victory. I've called this message death conquered. Over this last year, I've thought a lot about death. I've been forced to think about it. I've thought a lot about the resurrection.

I've thought a lot about heaven. And as followers of Jesus Christ, we do not deny death. There are many people, perhaps the majority of people, who live life on earth as if they're going to live forever. That's utter foolishness. To deny your own mortality.

Well, there are many people like that. They in a sense deny death. There are many people who fear death, that after all is the greatest fear that could happen to die. So many people live in fear of death. But for the follower of Christ, we don't deny death. We don't fear death. But we can look death, as it were, in the face and face the reality of death. You say, is that true John?

Yes, it is true. Because over the years, my years as a pastor, I've sat with people, followers of Christ, who are terminally ill. Some of them have known of only a week or two to live, a few days, some a few months.

And this is their testimony over and over again. I do not fear death because I know Christ as my Savior and as my Lord. I have this hope in life and in death. So, death then for the Christian is not the end.

It's not even the beginning of the end. It is the beginning of our eternal life with Christ. Now, what's Paul saying in this wonderful chapter in 1 Corinthians 15? Well, he's saying, first of all, that Christ has conquered death by bodily rising from the dead. Now, I've emphasized that word bodily because it is important by the argument that follows. And one of the main points I want to make this morning, that Jesus Christ has conquered death by bodily rising from the dead. That is, the resurrection of Jesus is a bodily resurrection. There are the liberal theologians who would say, well, you know, the Spirit of Christ is there.

The divine essence is somewhere there. So, the teaching of the New Testament. The teaching of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ bodily rose from the dead. And Christianity, and this is Paul's argument here, Christianity stands or falls with the historical fact of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the third day, think of this, the one who was nailed to the cross, crucified, put to death by the Roman executioners who knew how to kill a man, absolutely he was dead.

No question about it. On the third day, by an act of the power of Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead. That's what Paul is saying. And the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is overwhelming.

The tomb is empty. The body of Christ is gone. Not only did neither the Jews nor the Romans ever produce his body, Paul is saying that Jesus appeared to many people after his resurrection. You've got witness after witness after witness saying, we've seen the risen Christ. And these disciples who were so fearful when Christ was arrested and tried and put on the cross, so fearful. Now, after the resurrection, after they have seen Jesus Christ, they're totally transformed. They're full of courage. They're full of joy.

Why? Because they had seen the risen Christ and they knew. And what did they do? They went right to the very streets of Jerusalem, right to downtown Jerusalem. And what did they preach? And what did they say?

That Jesus Christ, the one you put on the cross is risen from the dead. And the book of Acts tells us that they turned the world upside down. A small group of people, men and women. The early church is persecuted. They're put out of their homes. They lose their jobs. They're imprisoned. They're beaten. Does that stop the gospel?

Absolutely not. It's the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. They believed that Jesus Christ conquered death. Anyone here can conquer death? I'm sure there's many accomplished people here. There's some wealthy people here. There's some people who are extraordinary, strong. They work out of the gym every day and they've got these bulging muscles.

I like to hide mine for obvious reasons. They're at the peak of health. They seem so strong.

Like Superman. I think any one of them can defeat death. Anyone can conquer death? The answer is absolutely not. You know that.

Why is that? Because overall of humanity, irrespective of whether you're male or female, black or white, whether you come from China or Mongolia or Brazil or Argentina makes absolutely no difference. The Scripture says there's no difference between any of us. All. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Every single one of us has messed up.

Every single one of us who could take you up here and just with a few questions, I could demonstrate that you, like me, are a fallen person. And the wages of sin is death. With every law, there's a penalty.

That's true. We're caught speeding. There's a penalty in the law. You break the law, there's a penalty. We break God's law, there's a penalty. And the penalty is death. The wages of sin is death. And you will never, ever defeat that. It will come to you, perhaps today, perhaps in 50 years, I don't know. But you know death is no respecter of person that comes to people of all ages.

Sometimes slowly, sometimes in a matter of a second, and we're gone. The story is told a number of years ago, certainly prior to the internet, of a Scottish woman who went to the local newspaper office to publish the obituary of her recently deceased husband. And she asked the cost. We Scots are accused of being frugal people.

Totally untrue, but for the sake of the story, we'll accept that. And she asked the cost. And the editor said, well, Mrs. McTavish, that is the cost of a dollar per word. She said, well, then let the obituary state, Angus McTavish died.

He said, look, he says there's a minimum of seven words. I thought, who is this woman? She reflected. She says, okay, let it read, Angus McTavish died, golf clubs for sale.

I thought that's pretty good. But as I saw that, I thought, you know, there's a profound truth there, isn't there? That whether you're Angus McTavish or John Doe, you'll die. And whether you have golf clubs or not, every single thing you have, you'll leave behind.

You may be the wealthiest person in the Carolinas. You leave it all behind. The Bible says you come in naked and you go out naked.

That's true. How are babies born? Do they come with anything? Zero. When you're put in that casket, what do you have?

Zero. You leave it all behind. And sometimes there's greedy relatives just waiting for it.

That's the reality, isn't it? But here is the uniqueness and the brilliance of the Christian faith. On the cross, our Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin, was buried, and on the third day, he rose from the dead, demonstrating that he has conquered death.

We need to get that. He has conquered death. He's alive. We're singing about it, bodily, yes, bodily risen from the dead. Now all of us are naturally afraid of death. It's an enemy. It's ugly, isn't it? It's terrible. Some of you have had the death of a loved one and you know how awful it is.

It's dreadful, isn't it? But for followers of Jesus Christ, we can look at that death, which appears to be so ugly, and realize that our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered that enemy. He's gone into death.

He's gone into the battlefield. He's defeated the forces of darkness, of sin, and of Satan himself. And he proclaims, as he says to his disciples, because I live, you shall live also. And here is our only hope, as we look at death. Do you know any other hope? Do you know any other way that you can conquer death?

I don't know any other way. I know, as a sinful man, I deserve eternal judgment, but my Lord Jesus Christ has come into this world to save sinners. And because I've placed my trust in Jesus Christ and in Christ alone, and I am totally dependent upon him, I have no other standing, no other way of getting right with God, but Christ and Christ alone. And because of that, I can face death. And Jesus says in a wonderful verse, John 8 verse 51, truly, truly I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. He said, whoa, whoa, hold it, John. I thought you said we all died.

That's true. What did Jesus mean then that says if we keep his word, we will never see death? Perhaps another saying of Jesus will help.

Do you hear this one? John 11, Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life. Oh, there's my hope. He's anticipating his resurrection, his bodily resurrection. I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. That is, while we may go through death, but death has been defeated. So in that sense, we never die because we will live forever.

D.L. Moody puts it this way. The great preacher, the American preacher, someday you'll read in the newspapers that Moody is dead.

Don't believe a word of it. At that moment, I shall be more alive than I am now. That's it. Death has been conquered and Moody understood this. Moody understood that he was united with Christ in life and in death.

Now you get this. Paul's argument here is this. Because Christ conquered death, his followers will conquer death. That is, Christ's bodily resurrection is the guarantee of his followers' bodily resurrection. If Christ was not bodily raised from the dead and has not conquered death, there is no resurrection for his followers. Our resurrection is totally dependent upon his.

Verse 16, 1 Corinthians 15, verse 16, follow the argument. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. If there's no resurrection, even Christ wasn't raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you're still in your sins. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope, in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. Paul knew how to put an argument together, didn't he?

He was trained to the feet of Gamaliel and he's making a wonderful argument. He's saying this, if Christ wasn't raised from the dead, the whole of Christianity falls and you will not be raised from the dead. But verse 20, but in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.

The firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep, fallen asleep a euphemism for death. For as by a man came death, who was that man, Adam, by a man, Christ has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, we all sin, we all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

How wonderful. Because Christ has been raised from the dead, we have the absolute assurance that those who die trusting in Christ will also be bodily resurrection. Paul says that firstfruit of Christ's resurrection is signifying that there's going to be an abundant, abundant harvest. I don't know how many followers of Christ have died.

There must be millions upon millions of millions over the years. The basis of my hope then that I will be raised from the dead is that my Savior, Jesus Christ, was dead and is alive. You say how does that work? Christ's bodily resurrection provides the power for the bodily resurrection of His followers. His resurrection and our resurrection form an unbreakable union. One of Paul's favorite expressions for the Christian, I love it, is that we are in Christ.

It's not that Christ is there and we're sort of standing in awe of Him. No, that's not the gospel. The gospel is that Christ embraces us and we embrace Him.

This is a love relationship that I am in Christ and He is in me and that's an unbreakable bond and there is no force in the universe, including death, which can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that will raise the bodies of His followers who have died. Verse 51, you ready for this? I tell you brothers, verse 50, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. You, by yourself, will never ever get into the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep. That means we will not all die, but we shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable.

You following this? And this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. That's power, supernatural power, resurrection power, victory over sin and the powers of darkness and death itself.

What a way to live, to face death, yes, and to live eternally. Four truths about the bodily resurrection of authentic followers of Jesus. Number one, we shall all be changed.

We just read that. Verse 51, we shall all be changed. No, says Paul, not every follower of Jesus Christ will die. You say, John, you're contradicting yourself again. Here's an exception. Not every follower of Jesus will die.

Why is that? Because one day we don't know when, we believe very soon, the Lord Jesus Christ is returning. And when He returns, some marvelous things are going to happen. The dead in Christ, that is believers who have died, they will be raised first, their bodies, a bodily resurrection. You say, well, I thought when believers died, they went to be with the Lord.

They do. Their body spirit goes to be with the Lord, absent from the body, at home with the Lord. That's true. But as followers of Jesus Christ, when one of our loved ones dies, we take great care of the body. After all, it's given by God.

It's God who's given you that body, which was molded and shaped in your mother's womb as you've grown. That body with great love is now laid in the grave. And when the Lord Jesus Christ comes, those who have died in Christ will be raised first. Just think of all of our brothers and sisters at Calvary who've been laid to rest at McNally Gardens.

You know that we have our own cemetery here, just a few yards away. I don't know how many are buried there, but every follower of Jesus Christ, buried there and buried anywhere, will be raised first. Supposing Jesus came today, we who are alive, we who are followers of Christ, true followers, not just because you come to church on Easter Sunday, but true followers of Christ will be caught up and will be forever with the Lord and will be changed. The Lord Jesus Christ who is alive is coming back. And when that happens, every single one of us will be changed. The dead in Christ will be changed. We who are alive will be changed, will be transformed. Number one.

Number two. Our resurrected bodies will have a continuity with our present bodies. I need to grasp this.

I think this is wonderful. Our resurrected bodies will have a continuity with our present bodies. It's true they're going to be changed, but there's a continuity with our present bodies. In the resurrection, there is a continuity of identity.

Moses and Elijah, the amount of transfiguration as they conferred with Jesus were still known as Moses and Elijah. Just as a seed is transformed into a plant, so our mortal bodies will be transformed into immortal bodies. Verse 35. 1 Corinthians 15, verse 35. But someone will ask, some of us here, how were the dead raised?

With what kind of body do they come? Are you asking that? You know, that's a foolish question.

I thought it was a pretty good question. But Paul says, verse 36, you foolish person. In other words, you should know better. What you sow, follow this, what you sow does not come to life unless it dies. You're planting something that seed goes in the ground, it dies. What you sow does not come to life unless it dies, and what you sow is not the body that is to be, of course not, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as He has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

He's taking an analogy from nature. You plant a seed. Before that seed grows, it dies, and it begins to grow into a plant.

And there is a continuity between the seed that is grown and the plant and the fruit that comes. Incidentally, when believers die, we don't become angels. People say, I don't know where that idea came from. We don't become angels. In a sense, we become something better than angels. We're sons of God. We're part of the family of God.

So, in the resurrection, there's a change, but there's a continuity. When Gooden and I lived in Scotland, we had a garden, and we grew a lot of things. And Gooden and I were raised with potatoes being the basic diet. So, in our house, when we're hungry as boys, teenagers, there's always potatoes. And I still love potatoes. When I came to the U.S., I remember going out for a steak, ordering a steak, and it came, and there's no potatoes.

I thought, what kind of restaurant is this? You're charging all this money, and I don't get potatoes. It's our basic diet. So, we're growing potatoes. And potatoes grow very easily in Scotland because they need a lot of moisture. How do you grow potatoes? You take seed potatoes. I've got these seed potatoes.

They're ugly, nasty-looking things. And I put them in the ground. We fertilize it, and we just leave them there.

What happens? There's a little plant against the cub. It's not a cabbage plant. It's not a carrot plant.

It's not a tulip plant. It's a potato plant. And from that plant becomes beautiful, new potatoes.

Just wonderful. You plant the seed, and you get the potato. A transformation, yes, from an ugly seed potato to a beautiful potato that we can put on our plate and eat. Transformation, but it continued. So, it is with us.

Here is someone wracked with disease, their body, perhaps they've had illness for a few months. They're going to be changed, but the individuality of that person is going to continue. Do you realize that we're told that every seven years there's a complete change of cells in our bodies? But did we lose our individual identity?

No. And you can take, you can undergo all of the cosmetic surgery you can afford. You can wear a wig, which I refuse to do so. You can use Botox. You can have antioxidant creams and all the rest of it.

And I'm not saying any of these things are wrong. Don't feel like I'm judging you, just a little bit, but I'm not really judging you. But I'll tell you this, you can't stop the aging process. You can't.

You can't do it. You're changing, but your individuality continues. A few years ago, Good and I were over in the UK at an event. Some of my friends and relatives were there.

Some of them we hadn't seen for 30 or 40 years. It's quite a shock, isn't it? I mean, you look and you think, whoa. I said to Good, look at that. I mean, I mean, the years have not been kind. And you realize they're looking at you and saying, whoa.

What happened to John Monroe? And say, yeah, it is me. We do look a little different. Of course, our wives look even better as they age, don't they, men?

Yes. Well, if it's true with you, sir, I'm glad. It's certainly true with my wife.

I have to say that. But the fact is, we change. Age changes us, but we're still the same individual. I looked at one man. I had stayed when I was a student doing law. He was studying architecture.

We stayed in the same house at Edinburgh for a couple of years. He changed. I changed. We looked at each other. We hadn't seen each other since.

Students. But we recognized each other. We're still the same person. And when we're resurrected, we're not going to be resurrected as pure spirits. Christ was bodily raised from the dead, and Paul is saying that our resurrected bodies are going to be supernatural. There is going to be a transformation. We are going to be free from sin, no longer perishable but imperishable. No aging, no disease, no decay, no death, but we will retain for all of eternity our individuality. No longer dishonorable, but now glorious.

No longer weak, but now strong. No longer natural, but now spiritual. What a transformation.

Perfect spiritual bodies. Think of another analogy in nature. Here's an ugly caterpillar. They're ugly things, aren't they? They're a metamorphosis. They make this little cocoon. It's an ugly looking thing as well. And out of the ugliness of that cocoon comes a beautiful butterfly.

It's a miracle, isn't it? A picture of what's going to happen to us. A change, a dramatic change, a supernatural change into perfect spiritual bodies, but still retaining our own individuality for all of eternity.

Here's the last one. Our resurrected bodies will be like Christ's body. Here's Paul, Philippians 3, verse 20, for our citizenship is in heaven.

Keep looking to it. And from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice what Paul says now, verse 21, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself. That's power, isn't it? In the Christian life, we use the word sanctification.

You heard it? What on earth does it mean? When we are saved by the grace of God, we call that justification. Our sins are forgiven. God's verdict on us is that we are justified where now if we die, we'll go right to be with the Lord.

We are justified. But now as we live a Christian life, we're in the process of sanctification. What's sanctification? It's becoming more and more like Jesus.

It's a beautiful thing, isn't it? When someone who says they're a Christian, we see over the years that they're becoming more and more like Christ, more loving. The dirty tongue that they had has now gone. Once they were a very greedy person, now they're generous.

What's happened? It's the work of the Spirit of God in them. We're becoming more and more like Christ. We say, well, to become perfectly like Christ. No, we don't.

We know that. We know that in ourselves, don't we? That we're still capable of sin. We're still capable of ugly thoughts and unkind deeds. But there is going to be a day when we are perfectly like Jesus Christ.

That's incredible, isn't it? What a thought. We're sons of God. We're in the family of God. And is it so I shall be like thy son?

Yes, it is. That one day, you and I, if we're born again by the Spirit of God, will be perfectly like Jesus Christ, transformed but in a miraculous way, still retaining our individuality for all of eternity. Isn't God great? Isn't God gracious?

That not only does He save us, not only does He adopt us into His family, but one day we call it our glorification, we'll be perfectly like Jesus Christ. You say, John, well, what's the response? I have three responses. One, be eternal in your thinking. You're heading for eternity.

Did you ever think about it? Perhaps it's time, sir, to do that, that you're not ready to meet God. And you're living as if you're here forever.

You want, in a moment. Job says about the wealthy, he says in a moment they go down to the grave. Whether you're wealthy, whether you're poor, that's the reality. The wise person considers their death, faces their death, and cries out to Christ, who's the only one who has conquered death to save me, and so that when death comes for me, as it will, I needn't fear because I belong to Christ, and I'm safe, and I'm safe for all of eternity. Eternal life now and for all of the future.

Eternal in your thinking. First, secondly, be steadfast in your serving. That's, in fact, how Paul finishes this chapter, chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians. He says, Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain, that we who are following Christ sometimes get tired.

We want to give it up. And Paul is saying, no, think of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord. There's much work to be done, isn't there? Are you serving the Lord? Your future determines our present priorities. First, be eternal in your thinking. Secondly, be steadfast in your serving. Third, be authentic in your believing. I plead with you.

I love that some of you only come on Easter and Christmas. We welcome you, but I plead with you. Make sure you have Christ, that you're not just paying lip service to Jesus Christ, that you truly know Him, that you've believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and He'll save you and He'll give you eternal life, because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ today, now, and you'll have eternal life. Will you bow with me? Make your response eternal in your thinking, steadfast in your serving, authentic in your believing. And I, I'm speaking particularly to those of you who have not yet surrendered to Christ, are not yet saved. Here is a prayer, which if it comes from your heart, you can use, not just words, but coming from your heart.

Will you pray with me? Lord Jesus, I admit that I've sinned against God. I've gone my own way. I turn from my sin.

I turn from my self-centeredness. Thank you for dying on the cross for me and paying the penalty of all of my sins. I believe that you, the Son of God, arose bodily from the dead. I believe you're alive, and I call on you to save me. I trust you as my Savior, and open the door of my heart to you. Come in, Lord Jesus. Cleanse me. Save me. Help me to live for you. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-29 20:55:58 / 2023-04-29 21:09:25 / 13

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