1Cor 15:57 Christ Gives Us the Victory 10/10/10
#1. The Natural Man (1Cor 15:46-47, Rom 8:5-9, Eph 1:5-7)
#2. Flesh and Blood (1Cor 15:50, Rom 8:8)
#3, We Shall Not All Sleep (1Cor 15:51-57)
Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 15:45 (2X). We are continuing with the fourth and last sermon on 1Cor 15. This entire chapter deals with the resurrection of the body. Last week we have seen that the Bible speaks of a natural body and a spiritual body. The natural body is the one we are born with. The spiritual body is something that the saints will receive on the last day. But now God switches to a new topic:
What does God tell us about Adam? We read in 1Cor 15:45, “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” Please put a sticker here in 1Cor 15:45. In other words, God is now comparing Adam with Christ, and God is calling Christ “the last Adam.” This is not the first time we have seen this parallel. God already alluded to this when He spoke of Christ in Rom 5:14 where God said, “Adam was the figure of Him who was to come” (2X). And so, to complete our understanding of the resurrection on the last day, God tells us that we first need to have a good grip on the basics of the origin of man. Please turn now to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 2:7 (2X). In 1Cor 15 God said, “The first man Adam was made a living soul.” Where do we find this in the Bible? We find this in Gen 2:7. We need to see this with our own eyes and meditate on the consequences of this important statement. On the sixth day of creation God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there is where God made the first man, our ancestor in the flesh. Then we read in Gen 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Man became a living soul. This already tells us a great deal about who his descendants are and who his Maker is. All his descendants also are made with an immortal soul. God is his Maker, and God said in Gen 1:26 (2X) “Let us make man after our image, after our likeness,” and God said in Gen 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” There are many attributes of God that He bestowed on man, such as: Man has the ability to speak of God and meditate on God; man can understand grace, and mercy, and the goodness of God; man can think of sin and of the penalty for sin and of the atonement for sin; man can think of moral issues and of societal issues; man has an inherent knowledge of the Ten Commandments of God, and so on. Moreover, would God have created man with a mortal soul? That is inconceivable! Of course God would have created man with an immortal soul, for that is the prime characteristic of God. The Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” We should not be confused between the soul’s immortality, and the soul being spiritually dead. We read in Eph 2:1 that we were all born spiritually dead. This refers to our spiritual condition before God. We were called spiritually dead because we could not do anything that was pleasing to God. But our soul was literally made immortal, for Adam was made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore a soul that is called spiritually dead is still accountable to God for all the sins we commit while we are spiritually dead. In our soul we were spiritually dead to God, but alive to Satan. And so, would man die like dogs? These days we hear from the man on the radio that sinners die like dogs; they die, and they are dead forever in body and soul. He says this just to do away with the doctrine of Hell. But this is an insult to God, who made us in His image, after His likeness. The soul of man is not just the breath of man, like the soul of animals, for we read in Rev 6:9 that John saw under the altar in heaven the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God. The difference between man and beast is not that man has a soul or a spirit, but that a man’s soul is created in the image of God, whereas the beast is not. And watch out that we do not belittle man after reading that “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground,” and we read in Gen 3:19, “For dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” This is not literally dust like we know it, for we read in the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 65:25, where God in parabolic statements writes about the conditions in the life here-after. God stated in Isa 65:25, “Dust shall be the serpent’s meat”; meaning in Hell “Dust shall be the serpent’s meat”. This prophecy tells us, in Hell the unsaved shall be at the mercy of Satan. That is not a future that any man should look forward to. And let no one any more say this phrase at funerals: “Dust to dust, and ashes to ashes.” It is a curse that is pointing to “Dust shall be the serpent’s meat”. Let us now come back to 1Cor 15:45, where God said, “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” In what way has Christ, the last Adam, been made a life giving spirit to us? In what way has Christ lifted us up from the dunghill and has translated us to be princes in the courts of heaven, and even to sit on His throne. When we consider the incredible miracle that God is going to bestow upon us, then we realize that this is what God is going to do: He is taking us from this life, which is a vale of tears at best, and He is taking us to the highest position that He possibly can offer. Only He and Christ are at a higher position. And He is giving us this very great gift for all eternity. Let us consider this great miracle by first considering our status as the natural man and then our status as the spiritual man.
#1. The Natural Man (1Cor 15:46-47, Rom 8:5-9, Eph 1:5-7)
We read about the natural man in 1Cor 15:46-47
1Co 15:46-47, “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
Why has God put these words in the Bible? These words follow the historical pattern that God followed through the Bible. But how has the historical pattern been of any benefit to God’s salvation plan? God first made Adam and then Eve, and they were righteous and holy in God’s sight. They represented the natural man. Were these the building blocks from which God would construct His holy habitation, His temple? But then Adam and Eve sinned and plunged all their posterity into sin also. And the beautiful building blocks that God could use were suddenly transformed into the ugliest building blocks possible. If God wanted to build His temple now, He would have to take the scum of the earth, pebbles of Satan, and fashion it so that it becomes suitable building material to build the House of God. How bad are these pebbles of Satan? Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 8:5 (2X). In this chapter of Romans God lays out the basic principles of the natural man and of the spiritual man. In the beginning of this chapter God reveals the liberty that we have in Christ, but beginning in verse 5 God gave a brief discussion of those who are still bound by the law. We read in Rom 8:5-9
Ro 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The natural man is the man after the flesh, and they do mind the things of the flesh. For example, the natural man seeks for creature comforts even if they would be the cause of high blood pressure and of death, and the natural man seeks for delicious foods, even if it would cost him an arm and a leg. The natural man seeks for the best position in the business he works in, even if it costs him many overtime hours and he would have to sacrifice his family for it. The natural man buys the most expensive cars, even if he cannot afford it. The natural man may be married, but he has his lovers on the side which he is going to keep, even when his extramarital affairs have been discovered. You get the picture? The natural man is out to please himself. But God says in Rom 8:7, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” In other words, the carnal mind, or the fleshly mind, is enmity against God. It is a mind that will not be subject to God or to His law. And indeed, it cannot be subject to the law of God for that will be totally against the grain of the natural man. It will be like feeding straw to a lion. And then God stated the bottom line for the natural man in Rom 8:8, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” It is impossible for them to do anything that pleases God, for they do everything only for themselves; nothing is dedicated to God, for they do not know God or Christ.
We want to keep in mind that all this did not catch God by surprise. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:5 (2X). God speaks in this chapter about a small group of people, His elect from before the foundation of the world, according to the good pleasure of His will, and God says of them that they were chosen to become the bride of Christ. There are people who oppose God’s electing love as if it is unfair. But is it really? The Father chose a bride for His Son. What is so bad about that? We read here in Eph 1:5-7,
Eph 1:5-7 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Can you see that the sin of Adam did not catch God by surprise? This was how God has planned it all along, that His elect would become very sinful, and that they should be redeemed through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, and that they should become adopted children of God by the atoning work of Jesus Christ, not according to their works, but entirely according to the good pleasure of His will. Therefore, the Father has made us accepted, because we were and are in Christ when He atoned for our sins on the cross, and we were and are in Christ when He died on the cross, and we were and are in Christ when He rose up from the grave. When Christ endured the equivalent of an eternity in Hell on behalf of our sins, we went through Hell with Christ and in Christ, and therefore God shall never send us through Hell again, because we have already been there on account of our sins. That is why we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. It was by grace before the foundation of the world that the Father allowed us to be in Christ, and it is by grace that the father allowed us to partake in this process of redemption. But now we enter into the realm of the spiritual man.
We read in 1Cor 15:48-49,
1Co 15:48-49 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Like we, the elect, have born the image of our earthy representative, Adam, so shall we also bear the image of our heavenly representative, Christ. Adam was our representative in the flesh. But if we no longer live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, then Christ is our representative in the spirit. And so, once Christ has cleansed us from our sins, and the Father has made us accepted in the beloved we become valuable building stones for the temple of God. Please turn now to the First Epistle of Peter, 1Pet 2:4 (2X). When people remain unsaved they remain under the dominion of Satan, they remain under Adam as their representative in the flesh, they remain deaf to the Gospel call, they remain blind to the clear picture of the atonement of Christ on the cross, they remain blind to the sovereign God portrayed in the Bible, and instead they will imagine for themselves an image of the god they would like to see, a god they could order around and who would be their servant. But to those who become saved God reveals Himself as the Almighty who loves them and cares of every detail in their lives. Only the elect receive this privilege from God. Only to the elect is He their loving heavenly Father. Only the elect become valuable building stones in the house that God is presently building with us as precious stones. We read in 1Pet 2:4-6,
1Pe 2:4-6 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Christ is the living stone, the precious cornerstone who was rejected of men, but who was chosen of God. And so, after the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ, after the Father announced Christ to be the firstborn from the dead, God used Him to be the precious cornerstone of the building that would be the temple of God. After all, this was the goal that God aimed for from the beginning of time. If God would have built this temple from angels, He would have acquired great honor. But if God would have acquired this temple from only righteous people, such as Adam before the fall, then God would have received much greater honor. But no, God built this temple using for His building material ugly pebbles from the bottomless pit, and Christ had to go to the cross to clean up these little stones from the sin and filth that was cleaving to it, and it cost Christ everything, even His life, and Christ had to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell to make a payment that was acceptable in the eyes of God, and even all this was not enough. God the Holy Spirit had to spiritually wake up these people to make them see the sin in their life and see the atonement of Christ to cleanse those sins, and God the Holy Spirit had to give them repentance and faith so that they would turn from their sins, and this process would go on and on for many years until at the end of their life they would finally receive God’s last revelation of Himself, and only then would they be ready to be planted as living stones in the temple of God. Can you see that this takes a great deal more effort from God than building His temple from only righteous people? But this entire process, which requires that God takes a firm control over every living being on this earth, both man and beast, has the result that God would receive the greatest honor for building this beautiful spiritual temple. And we can be sure that this is the plan which must give God a greater honor than every other plan that He considered. This is the best plan as far as the glory of God is concerned and it is the glory of God that stays as the top priority of the goal that God has set before Him when He began to create this universe. Therefore we must reject every idea and anything that tends to diminish the glory of God. We must keep the glory of God high, and likewise we must keep the honor of Christ very high. Although He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, we must insist that He remains the spotless Lamb of God during His entire atonement. He is never defiled by our sins. Therefore when we speak of the substitution of Christ in His atonement we must follow the lead that the Greek text shows. When Christ paid “for” our sins it is not so that He paid the penalty “in our place” but that He paid the penalty “on behalf of” our sins. Our sins were not put on Him, but they were put on His account; our sins were imputed to His account. That is what the Greek text says. And thus the spiritual man always has the glory of God and the honor of Christ on his mind all the time. Please turn now to the Epistle to the Philippians, Phil 3:20 (2X). When we look at this joyful letter of the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi, and we remember the awful suffering that He went through on his first visit to that city, we realize that God does not look at our past sins. They are forgotten and put away as far as the east is from the west. But God looks at our present situation, and what we are presently doing for Him. We read in Phil 3:20-21
Php 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Php 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Christ is going to change our vile body so that it becomes a glorious body; a body that will be in complete harmony with the honor and the glory of God and of Christ. And this body of flesh and blood will be done away.
#2. Flesh and Blood (1Cor 15:50, Rom 8:8)
Please turn again to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 15:50 (2X).
1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. We have all heard this many times, but do we know why? First of all, it tells us that none of our earthly pets shall be seen in the NH&NE. Secondly, none of the people in the NH&NE shall have flesh and blood. This means that we would not recognize anyone there, for all those we know here on earth have faces that are filled with flesh and blood. Thirdly, our new glorified bodies operate under totally new principles, and new laws of nature are in effect. One big key to that new universe is that there will be no entropy. What is entropy? Another name for entropy is quantified disorder. Everything on this earth is on the way to disorder. Even when we peer into the universe with billion dollar telescopes on billion dollar satellites, all we see in the farthest corners of this universe is a universe in motion; a universe that is always on the way to disorder. Supernovas are exploding and reforming with a power that boggles the mind. But always there is entropy; the whole universe is leaning towards disorder. But God promised us a new universe where there is no decay whatsoever. This means that this new universe must be built from building blocks that are totally different from the 92 elements that our present universe is made of. And since our light is electromagnetic radiation, the light as we know it is equivalent to the material that we know, because radiation can be converted into matter. And thus in the new universe the light must be of a different nature. For example, our visible light can be diffracted into six different colors, but the light in the new universe may be diffracted into 30 different colors. And so on. All of this flows out of God’s statement that flesh and blood shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. But more than that, 1Cor 15:50 also tells us that unsaved men cannot produce anything that is righteous and holy in the sight of God. That is why God said in Rom 8:8, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
#3, We Shall Not All Sleep (1Cor 15:51-57)
1Co 15:51 ¶ Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1Co 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1Co 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
1Co 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co 15:58 ¶ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
We shall not all sleep. Some of the saints will be alive when Christ comes. But we all shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. The dead in Christ shall rise first, for they have farther to go. They must be gathered from all over the earth. Then we which shall be alive shall also be changed, and together we shall meet the Lord at a certain place in the air where our souls shall be joined to our bodies; and then we all are whole new persons again. O death where is thy sting? And here is the answer: The sting of death is sin, and we know that sin is a transgression of the law. First of all, for all the elect the Lord Jesus Christ has paid for all our sins, and thus we have no more sins. Secondly, since we died with Christ and in Christ we also died to the law and thus where no law is there is also no more sin. And thus on both counts we have nothing to fear from death. Who gave us this victory over death? The Lord Jesus Christ conquered death. Christ gave us the victory. We will be eternally grateful to Him who has shielded us from all evil, even the evil of the last day. And when the last day is near, and there will be upheavals all over the earth, and there will be signs in the moon and in the stars that calamities are near, we shall not fear, for we know that Christ will shield us from all evil. We shall rest safely, knowing that it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.