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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Life, death, and victory.

It’s still Sunday! (well, you know what I mean!). This morning, I awoke unusually early, and listened to the final fifteen minutes of a radio programme presented by the well-known broadcaster, Fergal Keane. The subject of the programme appeared to be the inevitability of death, and the different ways in which particular people had faced up to it. I realise that I had missed the first half of the programme, but the thing that appeared to be missing in the second half was any concept of hope.

That, of course, is one of the central aspects of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, the Christ. The New Testament never tries to deny that, until the Second Coming of the Lord, physical death is the appointed lot of each and every one of us. “… each person is destined to die once and, after that, comes judgement.” writes the author of the Letter to Hebrew disciples of Jesus (Heb.9:27). However, that same writer goes on to say that “… Christ died once, for all time, as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.” In other words, because of the death of Jesus, as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb of God, those who have placed their trust in Him have already passed from death to life – the very life of God, here and now!

Paul, too, speaks of this wonderful hope. Writing to the believers in Rome, he has this to say: “… we … also groan, even ’though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffereing. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us .” (8:24).

That’s why, as one of my own daughters once put it to me, the one whose trust is in Christ Jesus may not relish the process of dying, but has no fear of death. He, Jesus, has already conquered it. So Paul can write, this time to the Corinthian believers: “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment; in the blink of an eye; when the last trumpet is blown. For, when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin, and death, through our Lod Jesus Christ.” (I Cor.15:51-57).

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