Summary: Epiphany 7(C) - Believers are thankful that God’s mystery is revealed because God gives us victory over death so that our lives reflect this victory of God.
BE THANKFUL, GOD’S MYSTERY IS REVEALED
February 19, 2006 - Epiphany 7 - 1 Corinthians 15:51-58
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Dearest Fellow Redeemed and Saints in the Lord, loved children of God:
Everyone loves a mystery. There is a certain sense of excitement when we try to uncover the meaning / explanation of those things that are hidden from us. It is a mystery. We see the attraction of uncovering mysteries because of the world in which we live. There are lots of scientists, lots of TV shows that try to solve crimes and murders. Mysteries. Today the Lord reveals to us another mystery of salvation. At times, when we look at Scripture, it seems if it is a little bit mysterious, a little bit unknown.
This morning in our text reveals a mystery that it is not unknown. Instead, it is the mystery how we and/or anyone in this world would be saved. That is a mystery--that God would send his Son to pay for our sins. That is the mystery we are going to talk about today. Paul wrote to the congregation in Ephesus: "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 3:6). From the beginning of time the children of Israel were God’s chosen, the ones to receive the message of salvation. Now all that has changed. Paul wrote it was a mystery that God would save mankind, that Jesus would die for the sins of the whole world. That is a mystery we celebrate and rejoice in. In our text we are to be thankful; as it says: "Give thanks, God’s mystery is revealed." We want to consider that fact today as our theme: BE THANKFUL, GOD’S MYSTERY IS REVEALED
I. We are told that God gives us victory over death. II. Because of this victory over death, our lives reflect God’s victory.
II. GOD GIVES US VICTORY OVER DEATH
If you remember from the book of Corinthians, it was a struggle for the Christian congregation concerning the resurrection from the dead. There were some in the congregation who did not believe that people come back to life. Paul said if people don’t come back to life that means Christ isn’t raised from the dead. If Christ isn’t raised from the dead, then faith in Christ is empty -- it is vain and worthless. These believers were to make the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead as the cornerstone of faith.
We come to chapter 15 of Corinthians, and Paul finishes with these last verses to remind them of the importance of the resurrection. Paul says: "For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality." Paul writes that this must: that which is able to perish, the perishable, that which is mortal which is able to die is going to be clothed with imperishable and immortality. This truth was to be a special comfort for the believers. Paul says this must happen because of God’s promise of a victory for the believers.
Now Paul also describes for them that some of this will happen to some before the end of time. Other believers will still be around when the end of time comes. Our text began by saying: "Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed." Then he describes that change--the mortal will put on immortality and the perishable will put on the imperishable by the grace and power of God. In verse 52 he talks about that Last Day, the suddenness of it coming: "We will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." On the Last Day there will be no time for repentance or no time to change one’s mind. Rather, for those who have rejected God, those who have denied his power and his victory and his promises, grace and mercy--they will face eternal punishment with its torment and weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But for the believers, they will be changed--the perishable with imperishable, the mortal with immortality. Paul continues by saying: "The trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." What a joyous message for these Corinthians to hear. What a joyous message for these Christians to know and believe and confess. That is part of their Christian faith. Some were struggling with the teaching of the resurrection. Paul says that the believers’ resurrection is guaranteed by God’s Word and guaranteed by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is guaranteed because of God’s great power. Towards the end of our text he says: "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." You notice that when Paul writes to these believers, he says to them the victory is theirs right now. He gives us the victory. This victory is a present gift to them, the victory over death.