“Death is swallowed up in victory” a brief sermon by Julian Pace

1st Corinthians 15:53-57 says.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Most Christians have historically found their hope in the facts that are taught in this verse. Sure, some Social Gospelers and Liberals have argued that Christianity is merely a social philosphy for the betterment of people in this world alone. However, historic Christianity as taught in the scriptures cannot accept such a conclusion. Earlier in the chapter just cited the Apostle Paul says “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”. Here Paul says that the moral teachings and example of Jesus are not enough for a vital Christian faith. This is not to say that the moral teachings of Christ are unimportant. A Christ without the “Sermon on the Mount” is certainly deficient but a Christ who cannot save us from the cold sting of death is a figure who will ultimately leave us without hope in our final moments. This chapter fortunately tells us that through Christ we can have immortality and hope despite the reality of death. Paul proclaims in this verse that death and the grave are defeated. But on what authority could Paul say this. The answer is found in one powerful and life changing word. Resurrection!

The Christian has good reason to believe in immortality and eternal life if Jesus of Nazareth genuinely rose from the dead. On the other hand, if the Resurrection is merely a fairy story then the Christian has little grounds for believing their faith to be fully true. Is there good reason to believe that Jesus really rose from the dead though? I believe there certainly is! Respected scholars like William Lane Craig, NT Wright, and Wolfhart Pannenberg have argued as such in numerous scholarly articles and books. But why would men like these with advanced degrees from prestigious universities risk their reputations by publishing books about the supposed Resurrection of Jewish carpenter who preached to peasants in the first century. While it must be stated that these men tend to argue for the Resurrection of Jesus with slightly emphases they all agree that the Resurrection has very good historical foundation. While I don’t wish to go into the arguments and evidence in detail in this sermon I simply want to point out the fact that many intelligent people have found the evidence for the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus to be persuasive. From my own perspective, I have studied this topic in some detail and have found the arguments of these scholars much stronger than that of the skeptics. So strong in fact, that it has in many ways rejuvenated my faith and made me more willing to witness to and serve my fellow man!

If the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a reality than as Christians we have hope for this life but also hope for the next. If the Resurrection really happened then we can believe Jesus when he says “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Why you ask! Because if Jesus was a charlatan then he would still be in the tomb that was borrowed from Joseph of Arimathea! Because Jesus is our “Risen” Lord we can have confidence when say we have eternal life! We can look to the promise of immortality with excited expectation because Jesus is risen again. This thought should be on the hearts and minds of Christians constantly. It should be the source of hope for us when we are discouraged and be the source of our courage when we falter. Why is “Death swallowed up in victory”? Because Jesus is risen again! Because God has given us the victory through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Because of his death, burial, and Resurrection we have hope that can withstand any onslaught!

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