Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.1 Corinthians 15:24-26
Notice that the reign of Christ does not begin after he subdues his enemies, although we often think of it that way. The Biblical truth is he does reign, and he shall continue to reign until his enemies are made his footstool. I do not know anything that has more power to steady us in times of pressure, and undergird us in times of discouragement, defeat, and oppression than the realization that Jesus now reigns. He is in control now. When we run up against oppressive governments and severe limitations to our freedom and outright, violent persecution of Christian faith, we are to remember that all this takes place under the overall authority of Jesus Christ who said, when he rose from the dead,
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, (Matthew 28:18 KJV). He permits this kind of thing to happen to accomplish his purposes, just as, in the Old Testament, God raised up the Babylonians and the Assyrians and brought them against Israel. He allowed Jerusalem to be taken; he allowed the Israelites to be taken into captivity, not because that was the way he wanted things to happen on earth, but because that was necessary to teach his people the lessons they needed to know. God brings these things to pass for our sake, and it is part of the authority of Christ that allows them to happen.
Now the apostle says,
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. This can be seen to be true in both an individual and a universal sense. Universally, death is never going to disappear from this earth until we come to that moment, described in the book of Revelation, when a new heaven and a new earth come into existence.
But there is a sense in which this is individually true of us right now. What is going on in your life and mine now? Well, we are experiencing a continual reciprocation of death, out of which comes life. We are all fighting battles, struggles in which at times we fail, falter, and are overcome. We give way to worry, we give way to impatience, anger, malice, and lust. Sometimes we struggle against these things with great effort; other times we give in quickly. But we are all engaged in a great battle in which we are assaulted continually with temptations to yield and to fall into death. Yet, even out of those times of failure, by the grace of God's forgiveness we are restored. Life is handed back to us, in a sense, and we go on to walk for a longer time without failure, until gradually we gain victory over evil habits and evil attitudes. Life, therefore, is a continual experience of life coming out of death, of pain leading to joy, and that will never end as long as we are in this present life.
But there is coming a time when this body will die, and death then is destroyed for us.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Once we pass through the experience of death into resurrection, like our Lord himself, we shall never die again. Christ having once died, Paul says in Romans, never dies again, and we share his existence. He is the first fruits of the great harvest of which we are a part.
Thank you, Lord, that the day will come when there will be no more death, no more mourning and no more pain.
Are we daily claiming the privilege of the Lord Jesus' sovereign reign, both personal and worldwide? Are we living in the power and wisdom of Christ's indwelling Presence, trusting Him to resolve the tension between death and life in daily experience?