"RESURRECTIONíS PARADE"

First Corinthians 15.20-28

 

INTRODUCTION:

1. I want to uplift you this evening, pull you out of your downer, and help you to see how blessed you are to be a child of God. Turn to First Corinthians chapter 15.

2. Every Christian ought to come to receive a blessing from God, on Sunday evening, with a heart that has been prepared to be a blessing to others as well as to receive a blessing from others.

3. But oftentimes we allow the cares and affairs of life to so distract us from the important matters of the Spirit and we do not properly prepare our hearts both to be blessed and to be a blessing. And what happens then? We come to Church on a downer.

4. Well, this evening it doesnít matter if you are prepared to get blessed or not, Ďcause your blesserís gonna get tickled whether you like it or not.

5. Are you ready? Assume that you are a child. That shouldnít be too hard. If you are a believer then you most certainly are a child of God.

6. Now, being a child of God, whether you are in a good mood or a bad mood, I have something for you that you are guaranteed to enjoy.

7. For thousands of years children have been perked up by this kind of thing. Much older than circuses and a whole lot cleaner than those disgusting carnivals, that which everyone is blessed by is a parade.

8. Parades are fantastic! Everyone except Ebenezer Scrooge loves a parade. And one thing better than watching a parade is being in a parade. But the best kind of parade of all, is a parade that you can both watch and participate in. Amen?

9. This evening, O child of God, youíre going to be blessed by the greatest parade in history. A parade that all of the saints of all time will participate in.

10. I choose to call this parade the resurrection parade. And if you are one of those of us who knows Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior you will both watch and take part in this great spectacle.

11. But if you do not know Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior youíd better hurry. You see, this parade has already begun, and if you want to get in the on the action you need to be saved.

12. Our text is First Corinthians 15.20-28. Stand together with me for tile reading of that portion of Godís Word:

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christís at his coming.

24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

13. This passage describes a parade. There are six parts of this parade, comprised of both people and events.

1A. FIRST, THERE IS THE GRAND MARSHAL. HE IS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

I want you to notice three things about our Grand Marshal.

1B. First, notice the reality of our Lordís resurrection

1C. In verse 20 Paul writes, "But now is Christ risen from the dead." Know what this means? It means the parade has already begun. It began almost 2000 years ago with the resurrection of Christ three days after He was crucified and buried.

2C. And how do I know that this means a resurrection parade has begun? Simple. Look at the next phrase in verse 20. ". . . and become the first fruits of them that slept." First fruits, most of you are already aware of, refers to that which is first picked in a harvest.

3C. So? So, that means there are more resurrections coming. Christ was just the first of many. Truly, the resurrection parade has begun. His resurrection is a reality, with more coming.

2B. Next, notice the reason for His resurrection

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

1C. It is rather obvious that Jesus rose from the dead because He first died. It doesnít take a genius to figure that one out. But why did He die?

2C. Simple, again. When Adam sinned he plunged mankind into death and separation from God. It was the act of a man which cursed mankind, therefore it had to be the act of a man which would bless mankind.

3C. Christ, by His death on the cross, plunged, as it were, Himself into the lake of death and separation from God to swim to us. But He did this, remember, without sin.

4C. As a lifeguard turns a drowning victim in the water, gets a solid hold and control, and then removes the helpless victim, so also with Christ.

5C. The turning and grabbing of the victim parallels repentance and faith. The resurrection of our Lord is like that lifeguard leaving the water. As Jesus was raised He is able to lift us out of our sin and death.

6C. Jesus died because we were dead. He arose and can raise us as well.

3B. Finally, notice the rank

Verse 23 begins, "But every man in his own order . . . ."

1C. Do you see the word "order?" Itís a Greek military term that refers to the orderly arrangement of a platoon or a company.

2C. You see, God is not the author of confusion. We learned that in First Corinthians 14.33. He is a God of order.

3C. That knowledge about God, plus the use of this word "order," leads me to conclude that the resurrection parade will be an orderly procession, reflecting the character and the dignity of God.

4C. It should only be expected, therefore, that the Lord Jesus Christ lead the march as the Grand Marshal of the resurrection parade.

2A. NEXT IN THE PROCESSION COMES THE CHURCH AGE CHRISTIANS (23)

23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christís at his coming.

And how do I Know that the phrase "Christís at his coming" refers specifically to Church Age Christians? Turn to First Thessalonians 4.13-18, where Paul expands on what he has written here:

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1B. This is a description of the rapture, in which both living and dead Christians will receive resurrection bodies to inhabit eternity with.

2B. In this passage there are two items of interest to pay close attention to:

1C. In verse 14 you see the phrase "in Jesus" used to describe the Christians who have died. In verse 16 they are referred to again as being "in Christ."

2C. That particular way of referring to someone, as being "in Christ," is used only of Church Age believers in Jesus Christ. Old Testament believers and Tribulation saints are never referred to in the Bible as being "in Christ" or "in Jesus."

3C. Then in verse 18, the second thing to take note of is found. That verse tells us that Paulís instructions concerning the Rapture of the Church Age believer prior to the Tribulation, which is referred to in the next chapter of First Thessalonians, should be used to comfort one another.

4C. That what Paul tells the Thessalonians is comforting to them indicates that they need not fear the Tribulation. And since we, like they, are Church Age Christians, that means we need not fear the Tribulation. Weíll be raptured before the beginning of that horrible period of human history.

3B. So, we have two pieces of evidence which strongly suggest that the next people seen in the resurrection parade will be us, church age believers.

1C. First, the next ones are referred to as "in Christ." So are we. A feature which distinguishes us from believers living in both Old Testament and Tribulation times.

2C. Second, this next group to be resurrected are resurrected before the Tribulation. Again, that points to us.

4B. So you see, Christians are the next participants in this parade which has already begun.

3A. SEVEN YEARS AFTER WE GET IN THE PARADE THE OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS AND THE TRIBULATION SAINTS WHO HAVE DIED WILL JOIN IN

Paul doesnít refer to these two groups specifically, since his instruction is specifically to Christians living in the Church Age, but Daniel tells us what will happen in Daniel 12.1-2:

1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

1B. In verse 1 Daniel indicates that there shall be "a time of trouble." Daniel is referring, at that point, to the Tribulation.

1C. Turn to Daniel 9.24-27 and read:

24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

To very quickly summarize, God used Daniel to predict a 70 week period of time in which certain things in Godís prophetic timetable would be accomplished. The weeks, of course, are weeks of years, or 70 periods of time, each time period being 7 years long.

2C. This 70 week period of time, actually 490 years, is divided into three subgroups of time, with the last one, the one we are most interested in here, being separated from the others by the entire Church Age.

3C. From the time of the Babylonian captivity until Christís triumphal entry into Jerusalem was the first two groups, totaling 483 years. Then came the Church Age in which we now live, having spanned now 2,000 years. Following the Church Age, which ends with the Rapture of the Church Age believer, comes the final week, the final 7 year period of time, the Tribulation.

4C. It is that final 7 year "time of trouble" which Daniel refers to in Daniel 12.1.

2B. Daniel 12.2, obviously, refers to the resurrections which follow the tribulation

Notice two things about Danielís reference to the resurrections in this verse:

1C. First, Daniel indicates that the resurrections he is referring to, which are resurrections of both the just and the unjust, occur after the Tribulation.

2C. Second, Daniel makes no distinction regarding the time frame of these two resurrections, except that they occur after the Tribulation. So, far as we know, the resurrection of the just could occur 1000 years before the resurrection of the damned.

3B. So, what causes me to think that both Old Testament saints and tribulation saints will be resurrected at the end of the tribulation?

Two things:

1C. First, all of the Church Age Christians have already been resurrected. That leaves both the Old Testament and Tribulation saints in need of resurrection.

2C. Second, the resurrection at the end of the Tribulation prepares for eternity all of the saints of God who have lived and who will live under the authority of the Law of Moses.

3C. The third participants in the resurrection parade, then, are the saints who lived under the rule of Law . . . the Old Testament saints and those Tribulation saints who died prior to the return of Christ.

4C. Those still living at Christís return, of course, will enter the millennium under Christís direct rule.

4A. THE NEXT PART OF THE PARADE IS DESCRIBED IN DANIEL 9.24-25

24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

1B. The phrase "put down" in verse 24 means to annul or to neutralize. This must, then, refer to Christís activities to put down and suppress any possibility of rebellion against his holy rule. I am of the opinion that this refers to Christís suppression of the final rebellion, mentioned in revelation 20.7-10:

7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

2B. Of course, this all occurs during Christís millennial, or thousand year, reign of earth. During this period of time the final defeat of Satan will occur, as we have read, and the casting of Christís archenemy into the lake of fire, which was originally prepared for him.

3B. And folks, weíll see all this. We will be in the grandstands of heaven cheering at the triumph of God over evil.

5A. THE FIFTH ECHELON OF THE PARADE IS MENTIONED IN FIRST CORINTHIANS 15.26

26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

1B. The word "destroyed" translates the same word that is translated "put down" in verse 24.

2B. Death is annulled or neutralized. I think this refers to Revelation 20.14:

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

3B. What we see is, here, just before eternity begins, all of those who died without Christ are cast into the lake of fire.

4B. So, you see, as it turns out, all mankind participates in this parade.

1C. Some participate willingly, those who are saved and who will go to heaven.

2C. Others will participate unwillingly. They are the ones who will bend the knee and bow the head and will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. But they will do it too late to save them from fire and brimstone.

5B. Yes, some will participate unwillingly . . . hopelessly.

6A. LAST OF ALL . . . THE LAST ITEM OF THIS GRANDEST OF ALL PARADES IS THE COMPLETION OF GODíS PLAN OF THE AGES (First Corinthians 15.27-28)

27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

1B. Christ will have subdued all; all except the Father, of course.

2B. Then He turns all of it over to His Father and eternity begins.

CONCLUSION:

1. Quite a grand parade, donít you think, this resurrection parade?

2. It will be so very glorious. It will be so very grand. And it will be so very much fun . . . most of it.

3. Everyone loves a parade. And weíll be right behind the Grand Marshal. So, weíll march through early enough to get a great seat to see the rest of it that follows behind us.

4. So, how can you not be blessed by that? How can you not be cheered up by such a spectacle? Only if youíre not saved.

5. If youíre not saved you need to be saved, since youíre going to participate in the parade anyway. Why not get saved now?

6. And Christian, take special note of what the Lord Jesus will do when He has gathered everything under His authority. What will He do? He gives it to His Father.

7. Thatís why He wants us to give our all to Him. Because He will someday give it all to His Father. Let us follow His example. Let us give to Christ our all.

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