Victory over death

Over the past two weeks I’ve attended two funerals. The first was a young man who I was privileged to study with after he became a Christian around 10-15 years ago. He was a smart, enthusiastic young man who wanted to serve Jesus. Sadly, he lost his way and took an overdose, as he could not see any reason to continue living.

The second funeral was a woman in her 70s. She, too, became a Christian when she was young along with her husband. She and her husband had several children. Many of these became Christians and are still faithful today along with their spouses. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and later had a stroke and pneumonia.

Both funerals were packed with those who mourned the loss of their family and friends. It is not my desire to compare their lives – I am content to leave them in the hands of a just and loving God.

A comment was made to me at one of the funerals: “it seems that the older we get the more people we know who die.” That is a true observation. Whether we like it or not, death is a part of life. But why do our loved ones have to die?

“Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen, ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58 NET)

Doesn’t what Paul wrote make sense? The bodies we have now are not suitable to live in heaven – they cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Why? Because they are perishable – they are not designed to live forever. We need an imperishable body. Our present bodies wear out and run down. But the bodies we need to live with God need to be able to last forever. So when our bodies wear out or reach the stage they can no longer sustain life, we die physically. But this is to prepare us to receive our new body.

When Jesus comes at the end of time, those who have died will receive an imperishable, immortal body and death will cease to exist. Those who are still alive will be changed in an instant, in the blinking of an eye. We are then prepared to live with Jesus forever.

In the meantime, we remain in the physical world where death continues to reign. We must keep in mind that Jesus has conquered death so that we, too, can have victory over death. Jesus conquered death by coming back to life, never to die again. How do we have victory over death? We must continue to be faithful and not allow anything to move us away from Jesus. Continue to be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Readings for next week:
25 May – 2 Corinthians 2
26 May – 2 Corinthians 3
27 May – 2 Corinthians 4
28 May – 2 Corinthians 5
29 May – 2 Corinthians 6

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