Summary: Labor Day Sermon. God assures us our labor will not be in vain.
Our Fruitful Labor
Illustration: When we don’t understand something, we can jump to wrong conclusions.
An Amish boy and his father were visiting a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again. The boy asked his father, "What is this, Father?" The father [never having seen an elevator] responded "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don't know what it is."
While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed, an old lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights with numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction.
The walls opened up again and a beautiful 24-year-old woman stepped out. The father said to his son, "Go get your mother."
Even in the days of the Apostle Paul, some were spreading false religions into the Church. People did not understand the role of the resurrection in the Kingdom of God. When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, some teachers were putting fear into people’s hearts. They had buried loved ones who had professed salvation in Jesus Christ. The false teachers were saying that if you died before Christ returned, you would miss the Kingdom of God. They taught that there would be no resurrection.
In Paul’s defense of the truth, he wrote our text for today. Let’s read it together.
1 Cor. 15:50-58 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, 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, 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." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.
This morning, instead of breaking down the nuts and bolts of all these verses, I want us to grasp the meaning of the first eight verses and then break down verse 58.
The very idea that we, as we stand today, can enter into God’s eternal, perfect rest is ridiculous. Paul said that not only will those believers’ bodies who are in the graveyard will be resurrected, but those who are alive will have to be changed first. Our mortal will have to put on immortality, our perishable must put on the imperishable. Our painful will put on unpainful. Our wrinkled will put on ironed.
In other words, it is no bigger deal for God to raise an immortal body from the grave yard than it is to change our bodies into immortal, imperishable bodies. All of us, dead or alive, will need purification and perfection work done on us.
I want you to notice that this occurs at what is called “at the last Trumpet”. Every New Testament passage that speaks of the resurrection speaks of the sound of a trumpet. Remember that in the days Paul wrote this, the government was a military state. Everyone knew the significance of the last, or third, trumpet blast.
In the Bible, civil announcement trumpets were used for four specific purposes:
1. To Proclaim Victory
2. To Call an Assembly
3. To Announce a Warning
4. To Call the Troops to Battle
It is clear to see how the trumpets fit with the idea of the Rapture. All four of these events will take place when the Rapture comes about.
1. Victory over the world will be announced by the church.
2. The saints will be called to assemble themselves in the presence of the Lord.
3. The trumpets will announce a warning of judgment to the world.
4. The angelic troops will be summoned to battle.
Also, in the society of that day, military trumpets were heard on a daily basis. The police department was the army. The sheriff’s department was the army. The Constable was the army. They were the city gate keepers. They were everywhere.