I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:1 Corinthians 15:50-58
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Everything we do matters forever. Why? Because the resurrection is real.
Our culture in the United States and Western Europe has been greatly affected by the Enlightenment which led us to a materialist view of life that says if it isn’t material, it isn’t real. In the past few decades the dominance of materialism has been challenged by a spirituality from the East. It is the old paganism that says that all is one and to find truth, look inside yourself. So we now have a divided culture. Some are pure materialists and others are pagan spiritualists (whether they want to be labeled in this manner or not, it is still true).
What’s the point? A couple or three decades ago, when materialism reigned as the dominant view of life, talk of a resurrection was considered folly. Today, many of our fellow Americans are “spiritual.” That is, they recognize reality beyond just the material world. To these folks resurrection may not be such a stretch. This may open the door to sharing the gospel with these folks who are presently far from God.
For we who believe in and follow Jesus, everything hinges on the resurrection. If there is no resurrection, then we are fools. We are fools because, as Paul says, then even Christ was not raised from the dead for our justification.
I get excited when I think of the resurrection. It is also a fearful thing for those who have rejected Jesus and chosen to not follow him because they will face the Judge of the Universe with no advocate. They will stand naked before God in all their sin. As a matter of pure grace, we who believe and follow Jesus will stand at the judgment clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
My intended point today, however, is that what we do today will count forever because of the resurrection. Our conduct today will be either rewarded as gold, silver, and precious stones or it will be burned up and be gone.
I recently learned of a story that has filled my heart with joy. I can’t tell all the details now, but the essence of the story is this: Many years ago I was Pastor of a small congregation in Camarillo, CA. Among those folks was a lady named Joyce who was gifted to teach God’s word. I encouraged her to do so and she had a profitable ministry among the women of our church. After I left that community, she was led to begin teaching among the Spanish speaking population. That led to an invitation to teach in Tepic, Mexico. That led to a fruitful ministry with Pastor Waldo Castro in Tepic and eventually high up in the mountains (10,000 to 12,000 feet) to previously unengaged and unreached Indians. Today, there are 7,000 Indian believers in Jesus. Pastor Waldo sent me a message of thanks because it was my encouragement of Joyce that eventually led to the salvation of thousands of Indians in the mountains of Mexico.
I hear the words of Paul, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Because of the encouragement that I have received in this wonderful story, I want to pass on to you Paul’s encouragement. Be steadfast in doing the work God has put in your hands, your labor is not in vain. You may not learn of the fruit of your labor until the resurrection, but know that what you do to follow Jesus now will result in great joy and rejoicing. Keep up the good work and if you have been reluctant to follow Jesus with abandon, hold back no longer. Give yourself to following Jesus with abandon. He is your ultimate treasure and your ultimate reward.