Summary: Heaven, Resurrection, Transformation
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (p. 802) February 2, 2014
On March 2nd, 2004 I became a better minister...and it wasn’t because I took another course for my Master’s Degree or attended a Seminar or Convention. On March 2nd, 2004 my father, took his last breath here on earth, and on March 4th I preached his funeral...full military honors, honor guard, 21 gun salute, presenting of the Flag and Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.
I’ll be honest, I remember the title of what I shared, “My Father, My Hero,” but I don’t remember much of what I said.
The reason I became a better minister on that day was because of what death did to my heart. I’d felt death’s grief before...my MeMaw, my aunts, my 1st cousin, my best friend Darrell, but Dad was different in its intensity. The hole that I felt in my life was bigger, more invasive.
It felt overwhelming, all the memories made me cry, a lot. He was the one who taught me to throw a ball, ride my bike, hold my mouth right when I fished. He was the one I wanted to see me make the basket or hit the triple. The later years with my Dad were so good because of my relationship with Christ. He would always give advice, but on the golf course or deer hunting, or talking about the Bible he was my friend, still Dad, but someone who I knew loved me, was proud of me...Security.
That’s it, some of my security was gone. Dad was my “safety net.” Now I would be flying without him...and it hurt...and it scared me. Some of His responsibilities were now...my responsibilities. He’d gone home...I was still here.
Experiencing this made me a better minister...because it made me understand this kind of grief. It allowed me to say to more people “I know how you feel when they stood next to their father’s caskets. I’m not sure how God will continue to make me a better minister, but I’m pretty sure grief will be part of it. After all Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble (not might or could, but “will”) but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Whether you are a child of God or not you will have trouble. This is a world of sin...and the wages of sin are death...and you will stand next to many caskets. My mother is one of the most amazing servants of God I’ve ever known...she stood next to her grandparents, both her parents, her mate, two of her sisters and at 88 countless members of friends, church family and co-workers. I have seen my mother grieve...deeply, but I’ve never seen her without hope...without a peace that surpasses all understanding guarding her heart and mind.” (Philippians 4:7)
You see, because of sin each of us will stand next to caskets...and each of us will have people stand next to ours...Hebrews 9:27 says “People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
It’s why the Apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15...it’s the resurrection chapter of the Bible...and in a bad news world of death and grief...it’s a trumpet of hope and faith...but it’s only that trumpet for those in Christ.
I. INHERITING THE KINGDOM OF GOD REQUIRES CHANGE
Paul says, flesh and blood can’t inherit God’s Kingdom...Perishable things can’t inherit God’s kingdom.
He even says “let me tell you a mystery we will not all sleep but we will all be changed.” (v. 51)
We had that hanging in our nursery at the church I ministered at in West Virginia.
Paul says it will happen instantly, in a flash, the twinkling of an eye. We’re not all going to sleep (die) but we’ll all be changed.
Here’s the problem. My body, your body...everybody’s body is “flesh and blood.” Perishable...it runs down...breaks...eventually stops...that’s death.
And that “flesh and blood” perishable thing is true, even for those who haven’t gone to sleep yet.
So, how is the change possible? How can we become an heir of the kingdom? Only 1 way...
1. WE MUST BE SPIRITUALY REBORN!
Jesus told Nicodemus these words:
JOHN 3:3-7 (p. 740)
“Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” You’ll notice one of those Spirit’s is capitalized...one isn’t. Why? Because one refers to the Holy Spirit and one refers to our spirit (Our eternal soul).
Most of us understand the physiology and biology that takes place for a baby to be conceived...Jesus says, I’m not talking about “the birds and the bees” I’m talking about being born “again.” Literally “born from above.”
Folks, I do not believe I am responsible for anyone else’s sin...including Adam and Eve’s...but, there is a hard truth that exists for everyone. Romans 3:11 says “There is no one righteous, not even one...verse 12 says, “All have turned away.” Verse 23 sums it up...”For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”