“THANKS BE TO GOD!” 1 Cor. 15:50-58
INTRO – “Searching for her savior”… Woman hanging from 3rd floor window ledge outside Bataclan theater in Paris a couple of weeks ago during terrorist attack. As I watched the news report about this event on TV, the caption at the bottom of the screen read, “Searching for Her Savior.”
- She was in desperate need
- Certain death awaited her if her savior hadn’t come
- He came to her when she called
- He had the ability to rescue her
- She had to trust him w/ her life
Today, on this Sunday after T’giving, we can & should thank God our Father for sending us a Savior to rescue us in our time of need, our time of desperation, from our life of sin, from an eternity in hell, forever separated from God.
But, there are still millions & millions of people in our world today who are searching for their Savior. We must never let our joy & happiness that comes from our thanksgiving that WE are saved cause us to forget the reality of a world that is lost & dying w/out Christ. It’s our joy & privilege & responsibility to help them find THE Savior, to find Jesus, to show them the way to be saved, & we should give ourselves fully to this work like v. 58 tells us. Like the pregnant woman in Paris, all who are without Christ…
- …are in desperate need
- “For all have sinned…” (Rom. 3:23)
- “There is no one righteous, no not one…” (Rom. 3:10)
- …face death if the Savior doesn’t rescue them
- “The wages of sin is death…”
- “…death is the destiny of every man…” (Ecc. 7:2b)
- …need to call out to Him
- “Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord…”
- “The Lord is near to those who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18).
- …need to know that He has the ability to rescue them
- “God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much…” (Col. 1:13 MSG)
- “…Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thess. 1:10b).
- …have to trust Him w/ their lives
- “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ & thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31)
- “…the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame” (Rom. 9:33).
But, here’s the big difference between the savior of the lady in Paris & our Savior, Jesus Christ: The lady in Paris still could have died, even after being rescued. Could have been shot, or blown up when suicide bombers detonated their explosives.
But, when THE Savior, Jesus Christ, rescues you, you will never die! You aren’t just saved in that one moment – you are saved for all eternity, you are shielded for all eternity, & you are secure for all eternity! He’s not a Savior who just happens to come along in your time of need & pull you off of the ledge, & then disappears out of your life. No, He’s there in your time of need; He pulls you off of the ledge; He adopts you into His very own family; He takes care of every need you have; He gives you a purpose to live, a plan to live, the provisions to live, & a place to live forever. Now, THAT’s a SAVIOR to live for! THAT’S a reason to say, “Thanks be to God!” Say that w/ me: “THANKS BE TO GOD!”
And this Savior saves us fully & absolutely. We have been saved, we are being saved, &, one day, we will be completely saved. Paul speaks to these tenses of salvation in these verses.
He makes this declaration & affirmation to those who are his “brothers,” those who are his fellow believers. We can certainly include female believers in this declaration. He is speaking to those who have been saved. There has been a moment in their lives when they placed their faith in Christ alone for their salvation.
- No trusting in good works
- No trusting in church membership
- No trusting in a Christian family heritage
- No trusting in being a good person who keeps the 10 Commandments
- But by grace alone, having faith alone in Christ alone
- HAS THAT HAPPENED IN YOUR LIFE?
We will be changed – v. 50-53 – Here’s the future tense of our salvation: There must be a transformation of our physical bodies into our glorified, spiritual bodies. There’s no way to dwell in the incorruptible, imperishable, immortal heavenly K’dom of God in corruptible, perishable, mortal bodies (v. 50). “The heavenly k’dom is not made for the kind of bodies we now have…” (Wiersbe). Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:1 that these physical bodies of ours are just an “earthly tent.” Tents are never meant to be permanent dwellings. You don’t drive through a subdivision & see tents everywhere. You see houses, b/c the people living there are planning to stay there in their permanent homes. But if you drive through a campground, you will see tents everywhere b/c the people in them are not planning to stay there permanently. Our physical bodies are perishable, temporary “tents” & are not suitable for heavenly living. So “we will all be changed” (v. 51). Some will not die physically – “we will not all sleep” – but will be caught up in the Rapture. Some will die, be buried, & will be resurrected at the Rapture. But either way, “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, & we will be changed” (v. 52). Love what Ray Pritchard says about our changed bodies: “We will be raised with a body that is suitable for our new life. It will last forever with no decay, no wear and tear, no limitations, and no failures or defects of any kind. There will be no physical or mental or emotional handicaps. We will have bodies that are eternally alive. One writer says, ‘I expect to outlive the stars.’ So do I!” (http://keepbelieving.com/sermon/2000-07-02-Acorns-to-Oak-Trees-How-Are-the-Dead-Raised/)
We will be champions – v. 54-57 – There’s nothing like being a champion of something. This has been a championship weekend for a lot of high school & college football teams. Ole Miss is celebrating today b/c they are the Egg Bowl Champions. Southern Miss fans are celebrating b/c their team will be playing for the C-USA championship. The first year I was pastor of MBC, Lawrence County HS won the state championship in football. It is an awesome feeling to be a part of a championship team or be the fan of a championship team.
When you are a child of God, you are a champion in the greatest sense of the word. You are a champion over death b/c Jesus is the champion over death! As one writer put it, there will be “victory on the last battlefield.” Every time a loved one dies, there is a sense of deep loss for those left behind. It feels like the battle has been lost. But, if that loved one belongs to Christ, then there is great victory for that person! They are now in the arms of Jesus, in the unspeakable joy of the presence of their Savior, who conquered death for them. Death has taken them from us temporarily. But death cannot keep them forever. There’s a great day coming – a great resurrection day, a great reunion day, a great rejoicing day! Freddy Mercury & the rock group “Queen” may have popularized the song, “We are the Champions” back in the late ‘70’s, but only those who truly belong to Christ can make that eternal declaration!
We should be grateful – v. 57a – Here on this Sunday after T’giving, we still have turkey in the fridge & T’giving on our minds. And we certainly should be grateful for the victory that we have through Jesus Christ! Prov. 21:31 – “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests w/ the Lord.” And that’s OUR victory! This victory that we live in is seen in so many aspects of our relationship w/ Christ:
- Victory over temptation – 1 Cor. 10:13
- Victory in the midst of the troubles we face in this world – John 16:33 – “…In this world you will have trouble…”
- Victory in spiritual warfare – Eph. 6:13 – “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand, & after you have done everything, to stand.”
- Victory that overcomes the world – 1 John 5:4 – “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”
We should be grounded – v. 58 – “Therefore” – b/c of the incredible truths of our victory over death & the grave through Jesus Christ, “stand firm!” Be steadfast! Develop deep & strong convictions by staying grounded in the faith that brought you thus far. Don’t let anything that the enemy or the world throws at you move you or distract you from serving the Lord w/ passionate fervency. Friends, we have so much to look forward to, so much hope to help us press on, so many reasons for us to give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. Think long & hard about these truths that we’ve looked at today. Meditate on the glorious, life-changing truth of the Gospel & DO NOT MOVE FROM THESE TRUTHS, no matter what the world says, what your friends or family says or does, no matter how the enemy comes against you, no matter how others oppose you & even ridicule you for believing these truths. Nail them down! Believe them! “Let nothing move you!” And work hard to spread the Gospel!
- Stay grounded!
- Stay in the Word!
- Stay in to the Church!
- Stay intense in your faith & walk w/ Christ! “On fire!” “Lukewarm no more!” – Not talking about just an emotional response to the Lord, but an intense, ongoing, growing commitment to Christ!
- Stay intentional about working hard for the Lord!