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Main Point: God’s unstoppable plan of restoration through Christ has begun.
What is the most important event in human history? If you asked a person in Syria, a person in Australia, and a person in Ireland to pick the most significant event in human history you’d probably get some variance in the answers. But what would you say? Some might say the election of President Obama in 2008 or the destruction of the twin towers in 2001. Others might say the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. How about the restoration of Israel as a nation in 1948? But we’re being fairly egotistical about the last 100 years. There are some 6,000 years of history to choose from. Humans have mapped the earth and landed on the moon, harnessed horses to plow and harnessed electricity for lights. We have created the chia pet, the internet, and performed heart transplant surgeries. There are some crazy significant events in history both terrible and terrific. But which one stands out as the most important event? The answer is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The most significant event in human history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection brought God’s plan of redemption through Christ to its climax and the resurrection initiated the final phase of history. From our text this morning in 1 Corinthians 15 I want to show you why the resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in human history and I want to show you how God’s resurrection plan is meant to shape your every day life.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:19-28
I. The resurrection of Christ transforms humanity (vs20-22)
When Jesus rose from the dead a massive course correction occurred. All of humanity was headed away from God and toward an irreversible death. Death had gained the victory through sin. But Christ introduced a change. The perfect Son of God became sin for us, died for us, then rose again. He paid for our sin and defeated our death. He rose with a body no longer subject to death. His rose with an imperishable body no longer to be tempted by sin and no longer able to die. The outcome of Christ’s resurrection was the creation of a new type of human; a man with an imperishable body; impervious to death. The resurrection is a game changer.
Verse 20, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen sleep.” That means
- Christ’s resurrection is the promise of more to come
Christ’s resurrection is the first of many; he has temporal priority having been raised first. His resurrection is also the promise of more to come. Jesus is not the only human who will die then rise again with an imperishable body. There will be a harvest, a great number, of humans who, like Jesus, will rise with imperishable bodies. We look at that Resurrection Sunday three days after the crucifixion and we understand there is more of that to come. We will rise again because he rose again.
We’re going to see some amazing promises concerning our resurrection with Christ but first let’s look at where death came from in the first place.
- Death came through a man
Look at verse 21 with me, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Death came through a man and his name was Adam.
Think about Adam and Jesus like representatives of their particular groups. What happens to Adam happens to his group and what happens to Jesus happens to his group. It’s similar to what happens on the football field. If one player scores a touchdown his entire team is credited with the points and if another player commits a penalty his entire team suffers the consequences. When you are born into a family you receive all the rights, privileges, and even shortfalls of being in that family. This is the idea of solidarity; being together with someone so that what is true of them is true of you.
Think about what Adam did. Adam introduced death not just for himself but for all who come after him. All of humanity is with him and receives everything according to him. Adam is our head and he also was our representative. Everyone who came after him was born exactly like him. Like Adam we are all born separated from God and headed toward an irreversible death.
Look over to verses 47&48, “As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
We have inherited physical and spiritual death from Adam but it is also true that we inherit physical and spiritual life from Christ. Death came through a man and
- The resurrection of the dead came through a man
Jesus came to reverse the curse. Since a man introduced death it is fitting that a man will bring life. It is necessary that our redeemer be like us. Redemption cannot come through morally good deeds, an angel or a demon or a lamb or the blood of a bull. Death came through a man and in order for death to be overthrown a man must do it. Jesus, who was fully God, wasn’t just pretending to be human. He was fully human yet without sin.
Notice how Jesus will bring life. Jesus brings life through the resurrection of the dead. Death has not yet been defeated or taken away. We still experience the curse of a sudden death or an early death or prolonged painful death or a quiet death in old age. Jesus didn’t take death away. Jesus overpowers death and robs it of its spoils. Since all die in Adam all will be made alive in Christ; the dead in Adam can be made alive in Christ Jesus.
We will see the orderly progression of sin leading to death until Christ returns. Babies, children, young adults, parents, and grandparents will continue dying. Because of sin this is the order. But there is a day coming when something supernatural will occur. The resurrection of the dead will occur. The dead will rise. The strongman will be bound and his house will be plundered. Death will be destroyed and Jesus will take back all that belongs to him.
- Humanity can be divided into two groups: in Adam or in Christ
To be in Adam is to be separated from God and bound for an irreversible death. To be in Christ is to be reconciled to God and bound for the resurrection of the dead. The question is how do we go from being in Adam to being in Christ?
Every person is born in Adam and in order to be in Christ a person must be born again. Every human is born in Adam but only God’s redeemed people are in Christ. Being born in Adam is natural while being born in Christ is supernatural. John 1:12 tells us that to all who receive Jesus, to all who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God- he will raise them from the dead. But how are these children born? John 1:13, “they are born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” It is not your natural birth or your natural mind or your natural parents who cause you to be in Christ. It is the Father who elects and draws (Jn 6:44), it is the Son who redeems and calls (Jn 5:25; 10:16), it is the Spirit who brings life (Jn 3:6; 6:63), and it is the individual who repents and believes the gospel.
To be in Christ you must give ownership of your life to Christ. To be in Christ you must trust Christ to remove your sins and raise you up on the last day. To be in Christ is to be completely dependent upon Christ. The resurrection of the dead belongs to those who belong to Christ. Like branches depending on the vine for all of life, Christians depends on Christ for all of life. He calls the shots. He provides what you need. He is your every thing.
Today, right now, are you in Christ or are you in Adam? Is your life and your mind bound up in selfish independence like Adam or are your desires and plans bound up with trust in Christ? Are you following Adam marching headlong into death or are you following Christ waiting for the resurrection of the dead? In remembrance of Paul Harvey let’s get the rest of the story and then you can be better suited to make the decision.
Let’s hear from God what’s going to happen.
II. The resurrection of Christ initiates the final phase of history (vs23-24)
Look back at verses 22 and 23, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order.”
- God has an orderly plan
The Father is not shooting from the hip or making decisions on the fly. God has a plan and God is working that plan. The events up to this moment have been worked according to the council of God’s sovereign will. Every moment from here will be worked according to the council of God’s sovereign will. In the face of unexpected pain and sudden death Ephesians 1:11 gives strength to the soul, “In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the council of his will.” God has a plan and he is working that plan.
Here is the 3 phase plan: Christ rose first, then when Christ returns those who belong to him will rise, and then comes the end.
- Christ rose first
In Christ all shall be made alive but each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits. Christ’s resurrection precedes ours in time. But his resurrection is not superior just because it happened first. Christ’s resurrection is superior to our own because his resurrection causes our resurrection. His resurrection promises there will be more of the same. So,
- When Christ returns those who belong to him will rise
Verse 23, phase 2, “then at his coming those who belong to Christ [shall be made alive].” I believe Paul is not referring to the resurrection of all the sinful dead for final judgment before the great white throne of God. That is described in Revelation 20:11-15.. Instead I believe Paul is referring to the resurrection of the dead after the 7 year long great tribulation and before Jesus reigns on this earth for 1000 years. But I also will say the text before us does not say that exactly. 1 Corinthians 15 keeps it simple and straight forward. Jesus rises then when he returns those who belong to him, who have be redeemed by him, will be raised, and verse 24
- Then comes the end
Then comes the end of what? Then comes the end of rebellious human history; the end of all rebellion from God. Then, after those who belong to Jesus are raised, comes the end of opposition to God, the end of sin, and the end of death. Then comes the end of humanity following the path of Adam. That is saying a mouthful and verses 24-28 unpack the details of the end.
As we think about the end we need to understand
III. The end of history is for the exaltation of God (vs24-28)
We often view what the bible has to say about the end times like a library to be assaulted for its information. And certainly the bible and particularly the book of Revelation have a lot to say about what is going to happen. However, we misuse these details if we do not understand them as being events ordained by God for the exaltation of God. The reason for the end times is not to give us something to talk about concerning the middle East. God’s plan will unfold so that God may be all in all. Let’s look at it, verse 24, “then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”
- The resurrected Christ will reign until the end of the end
Through the resurrection, Christ has won the defining victory in the battle against sin and death. Sin and the grave have been defeated. After rising from the grave Christ ascended, he returned to sit at his Father’s right hand, and from that position he is reigning. He is in control of every rule, authority, and power. He is upholding the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1:3). Jesus is in control and Jesus is advancing his control.
And Hebrews 2:8 is right, “now we do not see everything in subjection to him.” Now we see death and sin and evil and wicked men and women going free and even appearing to flourish. Now it does not look like Jesus is reigning. But its like putting yeast in a lump of bread. It doesn’t appear to be doing anything right now; maybe even someone left it out. Maybe the whole yeast thing is a lie. Then suddenly that loaf of bread swells up. It’s the same with the reign of Christ (Mt 13:33).
Suffering Christian, the Kingdom of Christ is on the rise. God is working his plan. Christ is reigning.
- In the end the resurrected Christ will destroy everything in opposition to God
Look at verse 25 with me, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Verse 24 tells us that Jesus will destroy ever rule and every authority and power. We do not have a weak Savior who wants to do something but cannot because he’s just too nice. We have a Savior who according to the plan of God is prepared for the day when he will set every wrong right and bring justice where there has been only injustice. Every person, institution, and thing in opposition to God will be subdued. Every spiritual power fighting against the good rule of God will be destroyed. Indeed we do not now see everything in subjection to him but the day is coming when we will.
Here is the climax of Christ’s return
- In the end the resurrected Christ will destroy death
Verse 26 says, “The last enemy to be defeated is death.” Death itself will be plundered by the returning King. Death will not be able to hold onto those who belong to Christ. The kingdom is advancing and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Mt 16:18). But Jesus will not just plunder death through the resurrection of his own. Jesus will destroy death. Death itself will be cast into hell (Rev 20:14) and those who belong to Christ will no longer be subject to lifelong slavery through the fear of death (Heb 2:14). Every enemy of God will be defeated by Christ. Christ subdues every enemy then hands the kingdom over to the Father.
- In the end the resurrected Christ will deliver the kingdom to the Father
Look back at 24, “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”
Every enemy will be destroyed and every person belonging to Christ will be raised. When every physical and spiritual person, institution, and thing has been brought under the immediate and definite rule of Christ then the Son will deliver that redeemed kingdom to the Father.
When you read Daniel 7 tomorrow in our daily bible reading understand you are reading about this final and all encompassing rule by the resurrected Jesus. He has been given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Jesus came to reverse the curse introduced through Adam. Jesus came to redeem a people who had been lost to sin and death. James came to reinstate the righteous rule of God over a redeemed and perfect creation. Jesus will deliver that redeemed kingdom to the Father. Jesus will subdue all his enemies in an eternal hell. And remember, why is this happening? Why do we have these details?
- The goal of history is for creation to enjoy the glory of God
Look with me at verse 28, “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”
Right now we struggle with a fear of death. Right now we continue to do the sin that we hate. Right now our minds and desires drift away from Christ and too often tempt us into sin. But there is a glorious day coming when we will not fear death because death will be defeated. We will not struggle with guilt or temptation because sin will be defeated. These are days of only partial blessings. We have promises, we have the firstfruits. We have an inheritance but we don’t have the fullness.
But when Christ returns and every enemy is defeated we will see with our eyes the splendor of the Father. When Christ returns we will feel the goodness of God with our five senses. Our goal is the full experience of all the splendor and majesty of God. We will taste and see and know that God is infinitely and eternally better; He is all in all. He is our everything and all we will ever need. The goal is not domination the goal of history is enjoyment. God is good and he will satisfy us for all eternity with his goodness. So,
IV. The resurrection plan is meant to shape the way you live
- Make God’s goal for creation your goal for every day
Work to bring injustice to justice in your home, on your street, and in your workplace. What do you see that is outside the expressed will of God? Graciously speak, sacrificially serve, and persevere in prayer against injustice. And seek the God who is good. Read your bible and pray looking for God to meet with you and satisfy you with his good presence. Come back tonight at 6 we’re beginning a new bible study all about the attributes of God. We want to help each other enjoy God more. Come back tonight and be encouraged to make the enjoyment of God the goal of every day life.
- Don’t give up. You are on the team that wins
I understand that every Sunday we have some members who are experiencing the joys of God’s presence and other members are ready to give up. Wave after wave of sin, pain, death, injustice, wickedness, and temptation are crashing over you and threatening to pull you under. If that is you this morning, join with the saints throughout the ages as you pray for Jesus to return quickly. Pray, “come quickly Lord Jesus.” Wait eagerly for his return and the defeat of all sin, every enemy, and death itself. The full victory is promised but it is not yet. Look ahead to the end. Don’t give up. You’re on the team that wins. And finally
- Don’t fear death. Jesus will destroy death and you will rise
God is trustworthy. At times when I think about my own death, the death of my wife, and the death of my children I am near to being overwhelmed with fear. I am learning not to push that fear away by thinking about other things or busying myself with work. I am learning to hold fast to the conquering King. Death will come but so will the resurrection. Because Jesus has conquered death I have nothing to fear. Because Jesus suffered an excruciating death and the Father was faithful to him I can trust, though I suffer pain, God will be faithful to me in Christ. I don’t need to fear death. Jesus will destroy death and all those who belong to him will rise.
So my priority is preaching the hope of the resurrection to myself, my family, and the nations. The end is coming. Whose team are you on? Are you with Adam or are you with Christ? Don’t leave today not knowing. I’ll stand down front as we sing so I can talk with you right now. Send me an email or give me a call and we’ll set up a time to talk. These matters are eternally important. Do not put them off another day.