Then Comes The End
A daily devotion for October 29th
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[a] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”[b]
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”[c] 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
The Resurrection Body
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[d]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[e] bear the image of the heavenly man.
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[f]
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[g]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
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.
Life Application: 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?
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