Messages from Pastor Raddatz
November 22, 2020 Mount Olive Houston, Last Sunday of the Church Year, Other texts for today: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 & Matthew 25:31-46
VICTORY OVER DEATH AND THE GRAVE, 1 Cor. 15:20-28
1 Corinthians 15:20, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (ESV)
Dear People of God,
“I know that my redeemer lives…” What a statement of faith. What a victory! If Christ has not been raised your faith is in vain, (v. 14) which means empty, nothing, worthless. Our faith is in a God who has given us victory over death and the grave. We have hope for the next life, that after death we will rise when Christ returns.
VICTORY OVER DEATH…
Through Adam came sin (relationship of descent) and through Christ came life (relationship of faith)!
For the Egyptians and for the Sadducees religion was only of the dead. The Greeks denied the resurrection of the body. And, finally, anyone who rejects Christ Crucified but not Resurrected has no more hope than that which Paul mentions in verse 19: "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied" (RSV). Life can be grim, dreary, and difficult. But the guarantee of the resurrection of the body and life everlasting in Christ Jesus cheers the Christian, the one who lives his life by the faith in the Son of God who loved him and gave His life for him.
God told Adam that he would die most certainly if he would eat of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17). And this is applied in Romans 5:12, “THEREFORE JUST AS SIN ENTERED THE WORLD THROUGH ONE MAN, AND DEATH THROUGH SIN…” But in Romans 5:18 Paul adds that through One (Christ) justification passed to all men. Here we have a different application. "Man" is common to both parts of the parallel: "Through man death -- through man resurrection of the dead."
1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
The first "in" phrase denotes the relationship of descent. The second denotes the relationship of faith. 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
One day we will die, and we will leave everything behind. Before that day we experience many mini deaths. Peter Scazerro lists some in his book EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY (EHS). We studied this book at a church I served here in houston. What are some of the mini deaths we experience?
- We lose our youthfulness
- We lose our dreams
- We lose our stability and relationships in the midst of job loss and moving from one community to another
- Most of us in one or more moments in our life experience catastrophic loss; loss of a limb, our spouse has an affair, we are abused, we find ourselves unemployed after 20 years, we get cancer or our child has a birth defect.
- We lose our wrong ideas about Jesus and we lose our wrong ideas about the church: Jesus wants more than just to take care of me and the church and people in the church have let me down.
…THROUGH CHRIST’S RESURRECTION
Romans 8:38f – “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers…will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NIV
There is resurrection. There is the resurrection of Jesus and there is the figurative or metaphorical resurrection of our passing through grief to newness of life.
How can you experience new life while grieving loss? Well, one way to do it is to not face it and deny it. Queen Victoria of England lost her husband, Albert, when she was forty-two. She said, nothing would change, she continued to make Albert the center of her life. For years she slept with his nightshirt in her arms. She made his room a “sacred room” to be kept exactly as it had been when he was alive. Every day for the rest of her long life, she had the linens changed, his clothes laid out fresh, and water prepared for his shaving. On every bed on which Queen Victoria slept, she attached a photograph of Albert as he lay dead. EHS, p. 139
Through faith in the Christ as our Redeemer, who conquered sin and death and by his resurrection brought life and immortality to light . . . Every time we go to a funeral, every time we hear of a death, we ought to think of this verse. The first part is a solemn reminder, death will come to all of us and the second part, that we will rise from the dead, is wonderful comfort.
To be made alive refers to more than resurrection as such. It includes the thought of the abundant life that Christ brings all who are 'in' Him. But here it refers primarily to the resurrection of the body.
Christ was the FIRST FRUIT of the resurrection. When he returns, we too will rise. The offering at the Feast of Firstfruits was a bloodless grain offering (Leviticus 2). No atoning sacrifice was necessary because the Passover lamb had just been sacrificed. This corresponds perfectly with the resurrection of Jesus because His death ended the need for sacrifice, having provided a perfect and complete atonement.
The resurrection of Jesus is also the firstfruits of our resurrection in the sense that He is our "entrance fee" to resurrection. Jesus paid our admission to the resurrection!
Jesus was planted on the cross for the satisfactions of our sins. Jesus was planted in the grave and he rose like a plant in a rocky and dark place. He rose and now he reigns. We too will be made alive and rise from our graves, where we will be united with our soul in paradise so that all the world will know: CHRIST HAS DIED, CHRIST HAS RISEN AND CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN.
In Christ, all shall be made alive: Does this mean everyone is resurrected? Yes and no. All will be resurrected in the sense that they will receive a resurrection body and live forever. Jesus plainly spoke of both the resurrection of life and the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). So, all are resurrected, but not all will receive the resurrection of life. Some will receive the resurrection of condemnation and live forever in a resurrected body in hell.
The resurrection of Jesus leads to the resolution of all things. 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. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says, "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is accepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him that God may be all in all.
How can we follow Christ through the mini deaths we face? When we do not process before God the feelings that make us human, such as fear or sadness or anger, we leak. This is a new and radical suggestion. I would like to suggest some steps that we should consider taking p. 142f EHS
- Pay attention to God’s purpose in suffering and express it to him: 2/3rds of the Psalm are laments or songs of sadness and grief.
- Wait in the confusing In-Between
- Embrace the Gift of Limits: I wonder if the greatest loss we must grieve is our limits.
- Climb the ladder of humility
- Let the old birth the new…in his time
Jesus himself said death that brings resurrection and new life, John 14:24, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
Remember: resurrection only comes out of death—real death. Our losses are real. And so is our living God. He is real and he has given us the victory over death.
May this peace which passes all human understanding keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting, Amen.
To God be The Glory, Pastor John Raddatz
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