October 30

Victory through Christ

1 corinthians 15:51–58

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51

When Paul talks about the new body we are going to receive, he begins to think of our bodies’ transformation, and it occurs to him that transformation is to be seen not merely in the resurrection of those whose bodies have died, but also in those who will still be living when the Lord comes. Paul calls this a “mystery” because it was not known beforehand. One can imagine his saying, “But now it is known: Jesus is going to return, and when he returns he is going to usher in the consummation of all things. Some will be dead; their bodies will be transformed and raised to meet the Lord in the air. Some will be living; their bodies will be changed, apart from death, so that their status will be exactly the same as those who have died. When that happens, death will be swallowed up in victory, and sin will be defeated.”

Paul is not thinking of the kind of victory over death that we talk about when we talk only of Jesus’s resurrection. We say that because Jesus was raised from the dead, death was therefore defeated where he was concerned. He will not die again. That is true, but that is not what Paul is saying. He is saying, “True and glorious as that may be, when we talk about the saints being transformed at the final resurrection, there is an even greater truth, because at that time, death will be abolished forever. It will no longer exist.”

The conclusion is this: “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” (v. 58). If there is no resurrection, our labor in the Lord is in vain. There is no point to it. There is no point in serving a dead Lord, and there is no point in serving other people. But if there is a resurrection, then it makes sense to do what Paul concludes.

Stand firm; you stand upon the rock of God’s truth. Let nothing move you; there are things that will try. Give yourself fully to the work of the Lord; your labor is not in vain. So long as I know that—that my labor in the Lord is not in vain—then I will keep at it no matter what the difficulty, no matter what the persecution, no matter what the ridicule. I am going to keep at it no matter what the obstacles may be. The victory does not lie with the world; it lies with Jesus and the kingdom of God.

Excerpt taken from Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment by James Montgomery Boice.