We've looked back at who Christ came to be—we looked at all these feasts and offerings and sacrifices. How they pointed towards Christ. We could have gone a lot deeper, but there are other things we need to move on to. Today we’re going to finish up our look at Christ by focusing on who He will be to us after we die, and at the end of the age. Revelation 4:8—“Holy! Holy! Holy! Is the Lord God Almighty! Who was, and is and is to come!” He was! Before the foundation of the Earth. He was! The one who took our sins on His head on the cross. He was! One with the Father. He is! The one who is always pleading our case with the Father. He is! Seated at the Father’s right hand. He is! One with the Father. He is to come! He is going to return one day to raise up all those who are asleep—and then those of us who are awake. He is to come! Zechariah 14:4—And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives…And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two… He is to come! Until then all of creation groans until that day of redemption. He was and is and is to come. We’re going to look at the “is to come” parts today.
There are certain chapters in the bible that you learn are important to remember where they are. Matthew 5-7 is the Sermon on the Mount. Romans 7-8 talks about the grace of God. 1st Corinthians 13 is the “love chapter.” And 1st Corinthians 15 is known as the “resurrection chapter.” We're going to look at verses 20-26 today. Let me preface this section real quick. Paul has just finished telling us that IF Christ were not risen, then we would be the most pitiable people on the planet.
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
There were many in the church at Corinth who said that even though Christ rose from the dead, that did not mean that anybody else would rise. Verse 12—Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say there is no resurrection from the dead? If there is no resurrection, then Christ is not risen… Then he goes into listing all the misfortunes that would go along with Christ not being raised from the dead.
Our preaching is empty.
Your faith is empty.
We are false witnesses.
Christ is not risen.
Your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
Those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Remember a couple weeks ago we talked about firstfruits? We talked about the “Feast of Firstfruits.” It was to celebrate the fact that the harvest had begun. Firstfruits were the First of the crop to be harvested. That’s because it was usually planted a week or two before the rest of the crop, so it would come up before the rest. By gathering in the firstfruits and sanctifying it—setting it apart to God—that was a guarantee of the harvest to come. And if you offered your firstfruits to the priests—at the Feast of Firstfruits—then your entire harvest was considered holy. Now, Christ and those who rose with Him on the day of His resurrection (See Matthew 27:52-53)—that is OUR Firstfruit. They were planted first, they were gathered in first. He is holy, so we are holy. Romans 6:5 (KJV)—For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Now, Here’s a nugget that we DO need to look at: the Feast of Firstfruits was always the day after the first Sabbath after Passover. So you had...
Passover-->1st Sabbath (Saturday)-->Feast of Firstfruits (Sunday)
Crucifixion-->1st Sabbath (Saturday)-->Resurrection (Sunday)
He was resurrected on the day of the Feast of Firstfruits! But, all that Old Testament stuff is so boring and useless!
But now Christ is risen and become the firstfruits of them who have fallen asleep. His resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection.
21 For since by man came death... Why do we die? Adam. Because of his transgression, we now have the DNA in our bodies that causes us to sin, and it is because of sin that death rules over all flesh. Romans 5:12—For by one man’s offence sin entered the world and death through sin. 1st Corinthians 15:56—the sting of sin is death. James 1:15—when lust has conceived it brings forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. Last week we took a glimpse at the sin offering and the trespass offering. Two offerings that had to be given if a person sinned. The one thing common in these offerings was that something had to die. Romans 6:23—the wages of sin is death. Because by man came death.
God had to take on human flesh to experience pain and temptation and death. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among men (John 1:14) so that He could experience the same pain and temptations we suffer. Hebrews 2:14—Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. And so that He could taste death. Philippians 2:8—He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He clothed Himself with sinful flesh, but He never stopped being God. He had to cover Himself in flesh because that’s the only way He could taste death.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. Now, let me point out what this verse is NOT saying. It is NOT talking about some kind of “universal salvation” where EVERYBODY is saved. There are people who will try to make a case that every single person, no matter how bad they are, will eventually go to Heaven. Mormons use this verse like that. This is why we need to always read any passage of Scripture in its proper context, understand what the verses around it are saying. You could make the case that the Bible says there is no God. Psalm 14:1—there is no God. The whole verse reads, The fool says in his heart “There is no God.” If you look at this verse together with the verses around it, you realize that it is only talking about those who know Christ as their Savior. In Adam all [believers] die [physically], even so in Christ all [believers] shall be made alive. How many believers? All. Paul is saying, “Look, forget what you think you know. Christ was resurrected, He is our example, and anyone in Christ will also be made alive.”
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits. Christ was the first to be resurrected from the dead. But He was not the first to be raised from the dead. In Ezekiel 37 the prophet breathes on the dry bones and they come to life. Elisha in 2 Kings 4 brings a young boy back to life. Jesus raised people (Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter). All those other people were raised from the dead before Christ was. So the skeptic sees that and calls that a........what? Contradiction!
No, not quite.
Christ was not the first person to be raised from the dead. But He was the first resurrected from the dead and there is a difference. The one thing that set Christ’s being raised from the dead apart from all these others. Some time after they were revived, they died again. When Jesus was resurrected, He became the first person to ever be raised and never die again. He was raised first. By rising first He guaranteed that all who believe in Him would also be raised. He was the Firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18)
afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming Those He will call during the rapture. Hold your spot in 1 Corinthians and flip over a few pages to 1st Thessalonians 4. I was in Pennsylvania when I got the call that a brother here at church had passed away. And you know it just so happened that the very next week I was already planning on preaching on the rapture? I couldn’t have planned it like that. 1st Thessalonians 4:13—But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. How many people are so tore up when someone dies. Many times it’s just out of sheer love and they're going to miss that person very much. Sometimes it’s because they think this is the end. Or they don’t know what’s on the other side. They may also know what's on the other side and they aren't sure where there loved one is now. A man put this on his tombstone:
Remember man, as you walk by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so shall you be,
Remember this and follow me.
Someone came by later on and added this:
To follow you I will not consent
Until I know which way you went.
Or they may feel so sad because they do know where that person went.
But Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 that we don’t mourn like those who have no hope. Shannon's mom passed away a couple weeks ago. She knew the Lord. He knows the Lord. They're going to see each other again. But she ain't gonna be the woman with cancer running thorugh her blood and two amputated legs. She's gonna have a brand new body! Amen! And that is the peace that we have from Christ.
1st Thessalonians 4:14—For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. If we know Christ—or, even if we don’t know Him—this ain't the end. We are all guaranteed an eternal existence. But we are not all guranteed eternal life. This is not the best we can hope for. Contrary to what one popular author wrote, This is NOT Our Best Life Now. Because if it is, we ain't got much to look forward to! But Jesus tells us in John 14:2-3—“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Peace! Paul wrote 13 books of the New Testament. And in the first chapter of each and every one of them, Paul wishes the people “peace” somewhere in the first few verses. Grace to you and PEACE from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1st Thessalonians 4:16—For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. How many of y’all have ever heard of Garner Ted Armstrong? You know why he doesn’t believe in the rapture? Because, “The word RAP-chure isn't innnn the BI-ble.” He's right. It isn't. The word “rapture” isn't in the Bible. But neither is the phrase “Virgin Birth.” Neither is the phrase “Sermon on the Mount.” Neither is the term “The Ten Commandments.” But…the Virgin Birth, the Sermon on Mount, and yes even the Ten Commandments are all in the Bible. And yes the rapture is innnn the Bible. Then, verse 17, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Wanna know how long it’s going to take for this to happen? **SNAP** Like that. 1st Corinthians 15:52—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…the trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
So, flipping back to 1st Corinthians 15:23, Christ the firstfruits, Christ and those raised with Him at His resurrection. afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming, The rapture.
24 Then comes the end The end of the Harvest. We’ve seen the Passover (Cross). Feast of Firstfruits (Christ’s resurrection). Now we see the Feast of the Ingathering. We know there will be a Great Tribulation. Daniel 12, much of Revelation. There will be 7 years of disaster and destruction like the world has never seen before. At the end of these 7 years, Satan will be bound and sealed in a bottomless pit, then Christ will return and set up His kingdom on Earth and He, along with those saints killed during the Tribulation, will reign for 1000 years. Then Satan will be released to make one final rebellion.
Revelation 20:1-10—Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years…Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark…they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years…But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished…Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations…to gather them together to battle…fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. This is the end Paul is talking about here in 1st Corinthians 15. Christ was resurrected first, then one day He will come in the clouds to gather His church, then comes the end times.
Then, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. Notice what happens after the last gasp from Satan. Revelation 20:11-12—11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. These are unbelievers. Those who died apart from Christ. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged…by the things which were written in the books. The unsaved, the lost, the unbelievers, are judged according to the things they did in this life.
Notice we see the Book of Life, and then “the books.” But those who are not in Christ …were judged, each one according to his works. There are different levels in Hell. Some parts of Hell are worse than others. When someone asks, “What about the people who never hear the gospel”—they will be judged by “the books.” “What about someone who does ‘good things’ all their life? Is God going to condemn them just because they don’t believe in Christ?” Yes. But it will be worse for someone who does ‘good things’ after hearing about Christ and ignoring Him than it will be for someone who even does wicked without hearing. Mark 6:10-11—“In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet…Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city!” As wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah were, it will be worse for those who hear the gospel and reject it. If we are in Christ, we will not stand before the Great White Throne, we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:10) to receive our rewards.
But when we who know the Lord Jesus stand before His Judgment Seat, and we receive our rewards and our “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” Listen to what it says in Revelation 21:3. John is describing the city of New Jerusalem. He writes, And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.” Who is the tabernacle of God? Remember a few weeks ago we talked about the tabernacle, and the Holy of Holies, and the veil? See it coming into focus now? The Law, the offerings, the sacrifices—everything—not only were they fulfilled when Christ walked the earth, but they will find their ultimate fulfillment when the city of New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven. And in Revelation 21:6, He says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.” He was before the beginning, He will be after the end. He was, He is, He is to come.
26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. As J. Vernon McGee says, “I'll be glad when we get rid of that fella!”