The Future of the Believer (1 Corinthians 15)
The Future of the Believer Message Introduction
We’re nearing the end of our message series called “Understanding the End Times.” Why are we studying the end times? Because the Bible tells us that we are living in the last days. Not only does the Bible tell us that we are living in the last days, but it reveals information and direction to us. God’s Word opens our eyes to understand the incredible spiritual warfare that characterizes the last days.
God wants us to not just perceive physical reality, but also the underlying spiritual reality of our world. Everything that God reveals to us in His Word is important for us to understand. God’s Word gives hope to those living in these last days. God’s Word provides motivation and encouragement to live and work for the Lord in these last days.
Today, our message is entitled “The Future of the Believer.” In this message, we’re going to be learning about the end of the end times. What marks the end of the end times? The return of Jesus Christ to the planet that He created for human beings to live on. When Christ returns, history will transition from what the Bible calls this present age into the age to come. Next Sunday, we’ll talk more about the age to come, as we look at the new heavens and new earth.
In these last days, the powers of the age to come are already breaking into this present evil age through the Holy Spirit. However, we are still living in mortal physical bodies that are not suited for eternal life. Something has to happen to us in order to live forever.
1 Corinthians 15:50-52 (NIV) I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
We are living in flesh and blood bodies which cannot inherit and participate in the coming fullness of the kingdom of God. But a day is coming, the day of the Lord when Jesus comes back, when the last trumpet will sound. At the time, the bodies of believers, whether dead or alive will be changed. We will be the same person, yet different. We will fully enter into eternal life in bodies that will never die.
The future of the believer is the resurrection from the dead. It will be absolutely incredible. Better than any science fiction movie. That future should motivate us to live righteous lives here and now and to bring as many people as possible with us into that glorious future. So, today, we’re going to look more closely at 1 Corinthians 15 to understand the future of the believer. First of all, we must understand and believe that …
Christ was raised from the dead
1 Corinthians 15:12 (NIV) But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
As we read the entire passage, we see that some in the church at Corinth were denying the bodily resurrection of believers. They thought that when believers died, their spirits went to be with Jesus in heaven and that was it. In fact, that’s a pretty common belief today. That eternity and heaven consists of people looking like angels, floating around on clouds playing harps. Nothing could be further from the truth. The argument in this passage affirms that the basis of the future of the believer is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Christ’s resurrection is essential to faith
1 Corinthians 15:14, 17 (NIV) And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. … And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just an interesting idea. Jesus’ resurrection is a historical fact, based on eye witness accounts. To be a believer, one must believe in the resurrection. If there was no resurrection, then Jesus is still dead, He wasn’t the Son of God and there is no forgiveness of sins. You cannot preach a Gospel that doesn’t affirm the resurrection. It was through the resurrection that Christ defeated death and the devil.
Christ’s resurrection brings hope for eternal life
1 Corinthians 15:18-19 (NIV) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
Paul goes on to argue that if Christ was not raised, then those who have died are lost forever. If Christ was not raised, then our hope would only be for this life, which would make no sense at all. However, since Christ was indeed raised from the dead, then those who have died in Christ are not lost. Since Christ has been raised, we have hope in Jesus Christ for eternal life in the age to come. Our hope beyond death is based on the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s resurrection sent shock waves through the universe, both physical and spiritual. He defeated death and blazed the path for others to follow. Never before had a human being died and then been raised to eternal life, never to die again. The resurrection was God’s acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for sin. It was a complete triumph over death and the dark forces of evil.
The Bible clearly teaches that in order to be saved, the believer must believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who do not believe and cannot accept the resurrection are not saved and cannot enter into eternal life. The Christian faith is based on the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus, as well as the supernatural nature of that resurrection through the power of the Holy Spirit. Since Christ was raised from the dead …
Believers will be raised at the second coming
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NIV) But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. … in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
Christ’s resurrection is here called the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Death for the believer is often called falling asleep, because the believer will be awakened at the resurrection. The firstfruits is a term related to the offering of the first sheaf of the harvest to the Lord in the Old Testament. If there was a firstfruits, then the complete harvest was coming. So, Christ was the first to be raised from the dead. His resurrection guarantees that when Jesus returns, those who belong to Him will be raised as well. Those who are dead will be raised and those who are still alive will be transformed into their new eternal bodies. At that time …
Christ will destroy all His enemies
1 Corinthians 15:24-25 (NIV) Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
At His coming, Jesus Christ will destroy all His enemies. Who are His enemies? His enemies are all evil spiritual forces led by Satan Himself. They will be destroyed by being cast into the lake of fire. Christ’s enemies are those human beings who have not believed in Him, who will also be destroyed in eternal hell fire. The destruction of Christ’s enemies is essential to the purity and glory of the new heavens and earth in the age to come. Finally …
Death itself will be destroyed
1 Corinthians 15:26 (NIV) The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
You see God did not create death. Death came as a cruel invader into our world in the garden of Eden. Death came as a result of sin and the curse that followed. At His return, Jesus Christ will destroy death once and for all. All believers were then live forever with Him in eternal life. There will be no more pain, no more tears, no more suffering, no more death. That is the future for the believer at Christ’s return.
In the heart of every human being is both the fear and the hatred of death. Death is an evil intruder in God’s creation. Death separates people from each other and the earth that God created them to live in. Death is the moment in which a person’s eternal destiny is sealed forever.
If you’re a believer, your eternal destiny is eternal life in the presence of God forever. If you’re not a believer, your eternal destiny is eternal death in the absence of God forever. It is through knowing Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection that we will someday experience this incredible resurrection.
There is no greater future than being raised to eternal life with Jesus. There is no greater loss than being doomed to eternal hellfire. The stark reality of those two destinies should motivate every believer to know Christ more fully and to tell everyone you know about His resurrection power. What will our resurrection be like?
Resurrected believers will have eternal bodies
1 Corinthians 15:42 (NIV) So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 is about the resurrection of the dead. I’d encourage you to read it this week. God’s Word speaks of our bodies as being like seeds. When we die, we are buried like a seed. At the resurrection, that seed will be raised to a new imperishable life. The seed of a plant has necessary DNA to produce the plant, but the plant is so much better than the seed. In the same way, at the resurrection, our bodies will no longer be subject to damage, aging, pain or disease.
Spiritual bodies will be glorious
1 Corinthians 15:43-44 (NIV) it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Our resurrection bodies will be glorious, they will be powerful, they will be spiritual. When one dies, you are at your weakest point. Yet that same weak body will be transformed by the power of God into a strong body capable of serving God forever. What will your resurrection body be like?
Our resurrection bodies will be like Jesus’ body
1 Corinthians 15:49 (NIV) And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
As human beings, we were created in the likeness of Adam, the earthly man. When we are resurrected, we will be like the man from heaven, Jesus, in His resurrected body. So, in order to know what our resurrection bodies will be like, we look at what Jesus’ resurrection body was like.
People recognized Jesus in His resurrection body, but yet He was different. His body bore the marks of the crucifixion, yet it was healed and whole. His body was capable of passing through walls, yet He could eat, just as before. Jesus’ resurrection body had both physical and spiritual aspects, so will ours. You will still be you, your memory will be intact, yet your body will be transformed into a glorious spiritual body.
Many people envision an eternity in heaven with disembodied spirits. This is wrong on multiple accounts. As we’ll talk about next Sunday, our future is a new heavens and a new earth. Heaven will come down to earth and the two will merge, the spiritual and the physical. Our new bodies will be both spiritual and physical, perfectly suited for the new heavens and earth. A place to live forever, a paradise restored where righteousness dwells with no sin, death or curse.
God has placed eternity in the hearts of every person. Each human being wants to live forever. However, sin has rendered us mortal and susceptible to death. Jesus defeated sin and death on the cross, by taking our sin upon Himself and paying the penalty through His life. God, the Father, accepted His sacrifice and validated it by raising Jesus from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees that every believer will also be resurrected at the return of Christ.
Why does God want us to think about eternity? Because thinking rightly about eternity helps us prioritize our lives for the things that really matter. Our actions in this life plant seeds for eternity. Our thoughts and our deeds have eternal consequences, both for ourselves and others. God created you to live forever with Him. He has given us the opportunity to bring others with us into that glorious kingdom. Let’s live every day with eternity in mind.
Understanding the End Times Message Series
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