This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The Mighty "Therefore" of the Ultimate Victory God Gives Us in Christ
January 8, 2006 | by John Piper | Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:51–58 | Topic: Glorification / Resurrection of the Body 1 Corinthians 15:51–58 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 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. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 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.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 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. There are two reasons why I chose this text for today. One is that today is the last Sunday of prayer week. And it has been our custom for some years to sandwich this week with a message on prayer and a message on the word. Our hope is that we as a church would pray in 2006 as never before and read and memorize and enjoy and obey Scripture as never before. So in keeping with that custom I chose this passage because, though it may not look like it, there is a very powerful incentive in it to read and memorize the Scripture for the sake of your soul. The other reason that I chose this text is that it is the one I used when I shared the news of my prostate cancer with the staff and elders Tuesday a week ago. Most of you have received that news in the congregational letter, I presume, and if you haven’t you can read it online. So my second aim is to illustrate how God works by the word in the face of cancer. Why Talk About One’s Own Sickness? I want you to know that I am aware that there are dangers in talking about one’s own sickness in the pulpit. Let me mention three of these so that you can pray with me that they don’t come true. The first danger is melodrama—that is, talking about one’s condition in an overblown or sensationalizing way. So please know, I am aware that many of you are dealing with things that make my situation look like chicken pox. I don’t’ want to make light of anyone’s illness by overstating my own. The second danger would be to forget that I am pain free right now and have not dealt with the discouragements of long, drawn out suffering. So my faith has not been tested nearly as much as it will be some day, and to put myself forward as rising above extended suffering with triumphant faith would be untrue. By the grace of God my faith is strong. God has been good. But my test is still small—smaller than many of yours.
So everyone is tiptoeing around the issue and everybody knows there is an elephant in the room. Then he tells us how this will be. because you had become very dear to us. good fathers. “Behold! I tell you a mystery. The “mystery” that Paul speaks of in this verse is that at the second coming of Christ some Christians will have never died. We shall not all sleep [that is. and how God works through it in the face of cancer. The Transformation of Our Bodies Let’s walk through this text and see the stupendous reality Paul has in view.” Those whose bodies have decomposed in the ground will be changed. and one from the Scripture. but that the bodies of both will be changed.) The biblical reason for talking about it is the word of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8.still small—smaller than many of yours. one from experience. why did you choose to talk about this cancer in a sermon? There are two answers. Verse 51. I hope I can set an example for how to do that—even if not a perfect one. but we shall all be changed. run down. We will have new bodies —different from these so that they live forever and are capable of vastly greater joys (1 Corinthians 15:44). and no death. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable. whether we are dead or alive. wear out. and nobody knows how he feels about it. A church is a kind of family. And then how it encourages us to read and memorize the Scriptures. “We were gentle among you. Then he focuses on two things that will be changed about our bodies: their perishable condition and their mortal condition. So here we go. Verse 52. but no one can name it. (Incidentally. when Jesus returns to establish it on the earth. Self-pity is pride posing in the demeanor of weakness. at the last trumpet. and others will have died. And boasting is pride posing in the demeanor of strength. being affectionately desirous of you. There is very great difference. like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. Verses 53. and yet like these so that we will know each other (as the disciples recognized Jesus in his resurrection body). we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves. How pleasant it would be for the sinful ego to exploit this moment to try to awaken sympathy or admiration. 8 So. The first thing he says is that it will happen “in a moment.” There will be no process or development. no wearing. From experience I would say there is something terribly dysfunctional in a family when dad has cancer and nobody is talking about it. . die]. And I want us to handle our sicknesses and our struggles in a healthy way. You can die in the prime of your youth when the body is only increasing in strength and vigor.” Perishable means that our bodies decay. in the twinkling of an eye. our bodies will be changed so that there is no decay. no running down. Our change will be instantaneous. Both are pride and both are sinful. So you should ask: In view of all these dangers. and this mortal body must put on immortality. with the other elders. Dad’s not talking. am a kind of father. You may recall from Desiring God that self-pity and boasting are both forms of pride. and everyone is afraid to ask him. I. So Paul says that in the kingdom of God. Mortal means that our bodies die. That’s the plan. and those who have healthy living bodies will be changed.” I think Paul is setting us an example here for how to be good shepherds. We are eager to share with you both the gospel of God and our own selves. we had a deep and sweet time on Christmas evening when I shared this news with the family. The third danger would be indulgence in self-pity.
But thanks be to God. has force and validity and authority and binding power because the law of God tells us what to do and renders God’s curse if we rebel—which we all have done. Just the way that death got an apparent victory over Jesus.” This punishment. It is the final sentence: away from God and away from joy into misery that never ends. Indeed his death became part of the victory over death. “But thanks be to God. who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. this legal sentence of misery. And then he says in verse 56b. “The sting of death is sin. What does that mean? It means that death is terrible because of sin. what remains for us at death is expressed by Paul in two ways: 2 Corinthians 5:8. And there will be no destructive sting in it. then the sayings from Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 will come to pass. the sins are carried away. and the power of sin is the law. It will not poison and it will not destroy. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. when in the twinkling of an eye our bodies become imperishable and immortal. “Away from the body and at home with the Lord . I say it paradoxically like that because it seems that’s what the absence of the lethal poison in a scorpion means. Whoever believes in me.’” 1 Peter 2:24. and what seemed like a defeat—and was a kind of defeat—proved to be the greatest victory of all. Then Paul says in verse 57. Because of sin.” The sting of death is sin. death is punishment. Galatians 3:13. It means that. ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree. perhaps by a scorpion (see Revelation 9:10). even though death is a kind of defeat for us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written. His death was swallowed up in victory. and what gives that terror such force is that the entire law of God stands behind it. where is your victory? O death.” . who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. where is your sting?’” There are two images here: swallowing and getting stung. and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. And Paul says that it will be gone. And therefore death is swallowed up in victory and the sting of death is gone. That’s the sting. It stings you and tries to kill you and it can’t. I also say it this paradoxical way because Jesus spoke this way in John 11:25-26.” Death is swallowed up in victory and the sting of death is gone because God did something—“thanks be to God !” And what he did was send Christ to satisfy all the demands of the law and bear all the penalty of our sin. And that’s because of sin. But then Jesus rose from the dead. by faith. yet shall he live. Now Paul tells us how this can be. So what makes death terrifying is our sin. It is an enemy Paul says: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). “To die is gain.” And Philippians 1:21. And this enemy gets an apparent victory.Victory Over Death: What it Is and How it Happens Then Paul says in verses 54-55 that when this happens. though he die. painful thrust against our soul when we die. Paul says that at the second coming our death will be swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death. The swallowing image is helpful. “The power of sin is the law. For those who are in Christ. Death is damnation and hell and gnashing of teeth and outer darkness because of sin. “I am the resurrection and the life. Death is death because of sin. There will be no death in death.” The curse of the law is satisfied. The other image—the sting—implies that there is a sharp. The sting is gone.” There is no death in death for those who believe in Christ. “‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Verses 56-57.
Keep on going and don’t let up. be steadfast. work . I had no Bible with me. No hell. Steady movement forward till your work is done. He has died for you. immovable. He intends for the effect to be verse 58. Away from the body. but I had my memory. blood-bought. “Abound in” means “overflow with. If you know it and you believe and you meditate on it and memorize it and remember it. Verse 58 is God’s will for my life—and yours. 1) be steadfast. and this mortal body will put on immortality and this decomposing.Therefore… Now the way all this relates to reading and memorizing Scripture is contained in the word “therefore” at the beginning of verse 58. “Immovable” means don’t get knocked over by sudden blows. Keep your balance. Prayer. because you have heard and believe verses 51-57. . Be like a boulder that can’t get washed away. This happens. Three words describe the obedience of verse 58. Therefore our obedience to verse 58 rests largely on our reading and memorizing these verses. 2) be immovable. my beloved brothers. “Abounding in the work of the Lord” means do lots of it. 3) abound in the work of the Lord. . a stab of fear went through my heart. Pray and dream and plan and then work. because you know and remember what is in verses 51-57. it happens THEREFORE. we need to do a biopsy. He took all your sins on himself. if you give yourself to the reading and knowing and remembering the great truth of Scripture! Word. The sting of death is removed. Death is swallowed up in a great. You have read and memorized and meditated on and believed deep in your soul that death is swallowed up in victory. How many mighty therefores will come true in your life. Therefore. Don’t be given to fits and starts. O Bethlehem. knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. decaying body will become imperishable.” Paul intends—God intends—that there be a practical effect of what he has said. Be like a tree that can’t get blown down. always abounding in the work of the Lord. . “Steadfast” means steady as you move forward. that is. To die is gain. Christ will come and the trumpet will sound. And Christ came by his word with the sweetest peace.” Fill your days with things that count for Christ. work while it is day. THEREFORE . “Your prostate feels irregular. Christ has come. And Paul says. Paul says. Christ-wrought victory. And the word “therefore” shows that he intends for verse 58 to happen because we know and remember verses 51-57. . Stand strong and unshaken when the rains come down and the floods come up and the winds blow and beat against your house. He satisfied the demands of the law for you.” and left me in the room alone to get ready. Though your body be laid in the grave. I prayed and called to mind the promises of God. “Therefore. it will fill your mind and your heart in such a way that verse 58 happens. . No fear. There is no condemnation. read and memorize the Scriptures this year. and I almost fell asleep on the table before the doctor came . at home with the Lord. Peace On December 21 when the urologist said. Put your hand on the plow and don’t take it off till your work is done.
he has come to me in today’s text: Death is swallowed up in victory because of Christ. and Fellow Sufferers (Sermons) Foreknown.” I thank God for the gift of peace and sleep. be steadfast. of the affliction we experienced in Asia.org Related Resources Children. And that’s the way we have walked together since then. That is crystal clear. “Settling it in your mind and heart by grace that Christ is real is a wonderfully energizing thing. make me dwell in safety. immovable. and know how he did it—read that. Indeed. Part 2 (Sermons) . Used by Permission.” That’s what the “therefore” of verse 58 means.” Among the thousands of good things God is doing through this cancer. Conformed to Christ (Sermons) Our Hope: The Redemption of Our Bodies (Sermons) Sealed by the Spirit to the Day of Redemption (Sermons) Subjected to Futility in Hope. we felt that we had received the sentence of death. I said to the elders. “For God has not destined us for wrath. “For we do not want you to be ignorant. Christ died so whether I died or live. Know the Christ who conquered your death. Website: desiringGod. I live with him. and work your fanny off for Christ and his kingdom. for you alone. prayer. brothers. a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God. and God will give you peace and strength and a passion for his cause in the world. For web posting. Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” John Piper is not destined for wrath. but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. I am deeply thankful for your prayers.back. Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. memorize that—and then pray. “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. peace. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. What a great salvation we have! Do you have this? He has come to me in Psalm 4:7-8. In peace I will both lie down and sleep. Therefore. He has come to me in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. Word. It has come every night. Finally. O Lord. He has come to me in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. I thank God for this mercy. Heirs. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Predestined. I know one of them beyond the shadow of a doubt: it is to make me rely less upon myself and more upon God.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.