The Sting of Death

Friday, August 23, 2013

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 KJV).

In Jesus Christ, we endure “the sting of death” but for a moment….

Having attended the funerals of two family members—my maternal great-aunt and my paternal uncle—during the past four days, my family and I have certainly felt “the sting of death.” That second passing away was unexpected and extremely quick, making it very painful for the family.

To view the bodies of loved ones lying lifeless in their caskets, always pricks (“stings”) the inner man: like a knife, death slices through the souls of the bereaved. That feeling is greatly intensified in those who literally “have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) because they are outside of Jesus Christ and lack assurance of seeing their loved ones in heaven.

The verse following today’s Scripture reads: “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). We all know that sin is a very painful reality, clearly and fully manifested by the Mosaic Law. The Law shows us that presence and particulars of sin while death is the penalty of sin: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).

Romans 6:23b provides the solution: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” While we live in this sin-cursed world and are subject to its effects (including physical death), 1 Corinthians 15:57 offers us Christians consolation: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As people who have trusted alone in the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for our sins, we have hope in Jesus Christ. One day, at the “rapture,” when Jesus Christ will return to gather us the Church that is His Body, He will bodily resurrect our deceased Christian brethren and we will be reunited forever (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Today’s Scripture reminds us that not only will Jesus Christ rescue us from that “sting” of their loss, but He will give them—and us“victory” over the power of death.

What a hope we have in Jesus Christ! 🙂

Unfathomable Distances, Unsearchable Speeds #4

Friday, June 7, 2013

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Philippians 3:20,21 KJV).

The vastness of space is mindboggling; today’s Scripture is equally mind-blowing….

When no one else wants to trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone as his or her personal Saviour, He will return to conclude the Dispensation of Grace. The “rapture” (“catching away”) is the event whereby the Church the Body of Christ is removed from Earth, thereby allowing Israel’s program to resume where it is currently paused. Unless we understand the Bible dispensationally—that the nation Israel and her prophetic program are separate and distinct from us the Church the Body of Christ and our mystery program—we will never understand the rapture (this is why many professing “Christians” either confuse the rapture with the Second Coming, or deny it entirely).

Scripture mentions “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and… our gathering together unto him” in 2 Thessalonians 2:1. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, we learn, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up [in Latin, ‘raptured’] together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The rapture is best illustrated by a magnet (the Lord Jesus Christ) attracting iron shavings (the Christians)—it is a forceful plucking or yanking.

In 1 Corinthians 15:51,52, Paul tells us about this secret resurrection (never revealed prior to him): “Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep [die physically], but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…” (cf. today’s Scripture). We Christians will receive our glorified bodies instantaneously, soaring through Earth’s atmosphere, and zooming into the heavenly places with Jesus Christ….

For In This We Groan #4

Friday, May 31, 2013

“For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:” (2 Corinthians 5:2 KJV).

Having been stricken with a bacterial infection of the sinuses and eyes for the past week, I can give a hearty “Amen!” to today’s Scripture!

Physical death is actually a blessing for us Christians—it severs the final link we have to this fallen creation. (Can you imagine living in these bodies forever?) Once we leave these physical bodies, we are eternally, physically isolated from sin, and we go to be with the Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever!

In the context of today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul writes that God the Father has given us “the earnest of the Spirit.” “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (verses 5b-8). By giving us Christians the indwelling Holy Ghost, God has guaranteed that He will one day rescue our physical bodies from sin (just as He has already rescued our spiritual bodies from sin).

While we moan and groan during sickness, let us remember that this body is not meant to last forever anyway, for it would be pollute heaven. Our suffering is simply a testament that the great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ still has a mighty work to accomplish—the redemption of these mortal “vile” bodies and their transformation into immortal and perfect glorified bodies like Jesus Christ’s (Philippians 3:20,21).

Dear readers, take comfort. This limited body of flesh and blood is not our permanent abode. It is merely the vehicle that carries around our soul and our spirit in this time-space continuum we call the natural world. As today’s Scripture states, it is actually our soul that is groaning, the “real” us inside this weakly and sickly physical body. How we long for a change of clothes, some which will not turn to rags! Patiently waiting for the “wardrobe upgrade….” 🙂

For In This We Groan #3

Thursday, May 30, 2013

“For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:” (2 Corinthians 5:2 KJV).

Having been stricken with a bacterial infection of the sinuses and eyes for the past week, I can give a hearty “Amen!” to today’s Scripture!

Notice the boldfaced expressions, “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4).

According to the Bible, our physical bodies are actually clothing. The “real” us is inside, a member of the invisible (spiritual) realm! Job 14:22 supplements: “But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.” These aching, sickly physical bodies are merely vehicles for our soul and spirit inside them (hence, the language of the passage in the previous paragraph about “clothing”).

We who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ are redeemed spiritually from Satan and sin. However, these bodies of flesh and blood are still connected genetically to Adam and the fallen creation, so they die. Once they die, our souls and spirits no longer have a means of traveling. This is why resurrection is necessary. Our “unclothed” souls and spirits need new garments, and this new wardrobe is the glorified body the Lord Jesus will give every Christian believer at the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-55). This is the “redemption of our body” mentioned in Romans 8:23 and Ephesians 4:30.

Our physical bodies are referred to as “tabernacles” in Scripture (2 Corinthians 5:1,4; 2 Peter 1:13,14). When we are conceived in the womb, these frail structures are “pitched,” and our soul and spirit spring up from within them. Unlike a permanent structure, however, they can and do suffer “dilapidation” quite easily. Eventually, they are “taken down.” But, the soul and spirit simply move on (necessitating the need for a new, resurrected and glorified body, a new set of clothes)….