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.
When thinking about the end times, most of us tend to gravitate toward one of two extremes. The first extreme is one of intense focus. It’s not only the wild-eyed street preacher with the sandwich board reading, “The end is near;” there are many believers who passionately dissect every detail of Daniel, Revelation, and other prophetic books of the Bible with the expectation of unlocking mysterious secrets. The second extreme is one of indifference, avoiding the topic of the end times altogether. We think apocalyptic and prophetic texts are difficult and distressing, so we opt out of the discussion, claiming that only God knows and He will work it out in the end.
Both of these extremes rob us of the essential understanding of who we are as people under the cross of Christ. The death of Christ reconciles us to God and creates a covenant community of faith. From that vantage point, the end times are meant to bring about joy and wonder, great expectation and hope!
1 Corinthians 15:55-58 speaks to that joy, wonder, expectation, and hope. Because of the resurrection, we can know that death no longer has the final word for all who have placed their faith in Jesus. Death loses its sting when it is swallowed up in victory and can no longer create mourning. When Christ returns, His victory over death will be clear. We’ll receive new bodies that are powered by the Spirit. It’s likely that our resurrected bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrected body. This promise empowers us to be “steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor is not in vain” (v. 58). We’re much more willing to serve, sacrifice, and endure discomfort when we know that this broken life is temporary and when we recognize the realities of reconciliation in Christ.
• Read verse 54. According to Paul, when will death no longer sting?
• How might knowing the end spur you on this week to do the things Paul named in verse 58?
• Thank God that death does not have the final word in your life, and that through Jesus you are assured of victory. Pray that you would trust His promise to redeem you. Ask God to empower you to participate in His work of redemption by sharing the gospel and living for His glory.