This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, The Day Death Died.
With every tick of your watch, somewhere on Earth, a soul dies. Elbert Hubbard said, “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
But he was absolutely wrong.
Why is Jesus King? Because He has risen from the dead. When Jesus walked out of that grave, He did more than survive death. Jesus’ resurrection destroyed death.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive….And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.”
The first Adam was the one who married Eve, and the last Adam is Jesus Christ. In the first man, we all fell. In the second man, we are all redeemed.
In the Old Testament, at harvest, the priest would go out into the field and find a sheaf of first-ripened grain. They would take that into the temple, put it on the altar, and have a ceremony called The Feast of the Firstfruits. This was thanksgiving to God and an act of faith saying, “Lord, this typifies the harvest that you are going to give us.”
Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection. And when He comes again, we’re going to have the harvest. (See 1 Corinthians 15:20-21.)
Are we sure that Christ is sovereign over the grave? Absolutely.
“He [Jesus] was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time [word in brackets added].”
What motivation could the apostles have had for telling a lie? If Christ was still in that grave, it would mean that He had lied to them.
“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. ...But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Do you believe the apostles were con artists? Martyrs and hypocrites are not made of the same stuff. Men may live for a lie, but how many will knowingly die for a lie?
As night is followed by day, the majesty of the Redeemer King Jesus is followed by the mystery of the rapture. He is the firstfruits; we are the harvest.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
A biblical mystery is a truth revealed by divine revelation. Human wisdom, scientific investigation, would never show it to you.
This sacred secret is that one day, millions of people are going to be transported from this Earth into Heaven. The living saints will be changed, and the dead saints will be raised from the grave in their resurrection bodies.
When Adam sinned against God, he died immediately in his spirit, progressively in his soul, and ultimately in his body. When our Lord redeems us, He reverses it: we are justified immediately in the spirit, sanctified progressively in the soul, and glorified ultimately in the body.
The whole of Creation is supernatural. God made everything out of nothing. Do you think that He can’t raise you out of something? Paul said to King Agrippa, “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8).
“But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’ Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.”
A seed goes into the ground, rots, but out of it comes life more glorious than the seed that went in the ground.
The “last days” began at Pentecost. The Apostle John said 2000 years ago,
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”
The second coming of Jesus is always imminent. (See James 5:8.)
From the time Christ ascended, people have remembered the angels’ message:
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus Christ has conquered death. He took the strength out of sin, and the sting out of death. But Paul is not trying to make better theologians out of us; he is trying to make us better Christians.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
We are to be serving Christ every moment in the light of His victory. Christ gives us a steadfast, sure hope so that we can mock death. Christ fulfilled the law for us; therefore, death holds no terrors for us. Death cannot hurt you. Remember: the living saints will be transported, and the dead saints will be raised.
You are to have stability. Don’t get blown around. The proof that you believe these things are true is this: are you warning people to flee from the wrath to come?
“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming."
1 Corinthians 15; Acts 1:11, 26:8; 1 John 2:18,28; James 5:8
“He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.”
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Want to meditate on Scriptures related to the resurrection of Jesus? Try our Scripture Writing Plan, He is Risen: Reflecting on the Resurrection.