“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” – 1 John 3:14 (NASB)
How is your love-life? No, not the way we normally use those words. This ‘love-life’ is more according to the teaching of the Apostle John and the words of Jesus Himself. It’s the love we have in our life for one another. John calls us brethren because we are in the same family. We have God as our Father and by grace we have been saved and born again in Jesus Christ. It is most important that we understand the promises in our verse today. How do we know we have salvation? How do we know that death no longer has claim on us? We know because we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible says that we are saved by faith but that we must love people in order to finally be saved. That means our faith in God’s promises must be so real that it produces a love that proves the reality of the faith. Conversely the lack of love proves otherwise. The next verse says that hating our brother is equal to murder in consequence and proves the lack of eternal life. It is a serious matter – love, don’t hate our siblings in Christ.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)
Every person who by faith believes in Jesus Christ is fully justified and formally adopted by God, our Father in heaven. That is a promise given to all true Christians. At first we knew nothing of these promises and now they are ours forever. We once did not believe this but now we do believe and God’s Spirit is our witness that we are children in the Family of God. Our new birth in Christ came at a tremendous cost; but we did not have to pay it. Jesus Christ paid the cost for us by sacrificing Himself to die on the cross. Our sin caused the death of God’s only begotten Son. Now, we are adopted sons and adopted daughters and heirs with full rights in the Family. In fact we’re fellow heirs with God’s only begotten Son, Christ Jesus. It’s good news for us because by the faith given to us, we are not on the outs; we are in God’s will in more ways than we know. He included us so, we have an inheritance as heirs – that’s a forever promise. Let’s live our lives today with respect to what God has given to us.
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NASB)
Our promise today is found in the last verse chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians. It continues the instructions Paul gave in the first verses of the chapter (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Where we are is spiritually depends on what we are taught and learn and believe. The gospel Paul had preached in Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:1–2) had not changed; but he feared that along with the declension in the church concerning the message of Christ crucified and its implication for believers, the same was happening with regard to the message of Christ resurrected. False teachers who work for the enemy to turn people away from the truth of Jesus’s resurrection. The proof Christ is who He claims to be is His resurrection. So the enemies will always attempt to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul had clearly stated the case for Christ’s resurrection and that if He did not rise from the dead our faith in Him would be useless. But it is true. Christ did not say in the grave. He conquered the sting and power of death for all who believe. He secured our victory over death so that what we do for Christ’s Gospel is not in vain.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ” – Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
In Psalm 23, which most people call the “Twenty-third Psalm,” we find our Good Shepherd being our protective shield wherever we go. Some of us have been where our lives have been at risk from nature and/or mankind. Others have faced a different kind of threat and have felt are deep in and under the shadow of evil forces, evil people. There is a valley of shadow for many who suffer from depression. David does not write ‘When’, he says “Even though I walk..” He knows because it is the way of life on this earth. David chooses and determines to NOT fear evil. The promise from God is that He is with us. He protects us from evil and the evil one with his rod. The rod was a club used by a shepherd as a defensive weapon. The staff was for guidance and a help in hilly, rocky areas. It was also a comfort to know it could be a defensive weapon as well as used to carefully control the sheep which had a tendency to go astray. God is fully able to keep us safe from evil and comfort us in all situations.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
Paul is so thoroughly convinced; he is willing to throw down a challenge. He challenges heaven, and earth, and angels, and men, and principalities and powers; and not only that, but all things past, present and to come; all creatures, internal or external, including ourselves; all states, death or life, height or preferment, depth or dungeon, prison or stripes. There are no exceptions in this affirmation. Any thought that anyone of us who truly believe will ever be able to sever our unbreakable union with Jesus, our Savior, is misunderstanding this truth. It is absolute. It is Jesus who paid the price to purchase our lives from eternal damnation and secure our lives with Him for eternity. Jesus never has and never will and cannot go back on His promises. When we have times of doubt, we should at that time recall this promise. We have not been separated; we cannot become lost again. The regenerated cannot become unregenerated. Some who think they have managed their salvation by their means will find themselves still lost, not lost again. God’s promise is so strong and unbreakable that we are kept for eternity by that promise.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
The “Crown of righteousness” can mean either that righteousness itself is the crown or reward, or that this crown is the reward for righteousness. We can read how the Bible speaks of the death of a believer, especially in the New Testament, we notice how the word “departure” is used rather than death. Jesus, Paul, and Peter all spoke of their physical death as a “departure.” Apostle Paul lived for about 60 years. When writing his second letter to Timothy, he knows then, for certain, his death is very near. But it was not the end of living, it was his time of departure from this world to live with God’s in heaven. Paul was one of untold number of Christians who Emperor Nero’s aggressive persecution killed, blaming them for the burning of Rome – which Nero had done himself. Paul speaks of it in this passage in very positive words. He does not fear his departure and he knows that His Lord has prepared a reward. Paul was not the only one to receive this Crown of Righteousness but all who love Christ’s appearing are promised the same reward on ‘that day’ which is the day of Christ’s return.
The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6
What can man do to me? Good question.
If we think along our normal temporal plane we would say “Man can do a lot to me.” After all, have we not seen the Christians who are beheaded because they would not reject Christ and convert to Islam? Have we not seen the reports of women and children being raped with impunity? Have we not seen those who have be caged and burned alive because they did not agree with the militant Islamists?
Yes, we have, and it is natural and normal to react to these things with fear. We fear that this will be us, it will come to our door and sooner rather than later. We fear that our government does not have a plan or strategy to protect us. We fear that we are looking at a future that is in control of the evil one and there is little we can do about it.
But the Word of God is this; “The Lord is for me; I will not fear;” whatever man can do to me is of little consequence because I am already dead and my life is hidden with Christ in God. This is according to Colossians 3:3.
We either believe that or we do not.
We either live in the truth of this short verse or we live in fear of what can happen to our physical life.
Understand this, we can die but we are alive and will yet live even if we die. Dying for those who have found refuge in Christ, for those who have put their trust in God is simply a transition from the temporal to the eternal. Right now, this very minute every child of God, every one who has received the spirit of adoption as sons and daughters of God possesses a life that cannot end. Nothing can bring it to and end because it is the life of Christ in us – an eternal life.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
This is truth. “He who believes in Me will live even if he dies…Do your believe this?”