Travelogue: Persevering in the Christian Life

Session 6: A Good Death

(I Corinthians 15:51-58) “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 imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
‘O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
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 brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”‘

Afternoon on a Catamaran near Cowell Point, Hassel Island, U.S. Virgin Islands
Afternoon on a catamaran near Cowell Point, Hassel Island, U.S. Virgin Islands, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015.

Death is an important thing and a healthy thing for us to talk about (Ecclesiastes 7:2, 4). There are a myriad kinds of deaths that apply to us as Christians how many times we have died, as well as how many deaths lay before us. We all have died in Eden. Our first parents plunged us, with them, into spiritual death (Genesis 2:17, Romans 5:12-19). When Scripture says, “we were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13), it describes the natural condition of humanity but in a sense, our innate death is unnatural. Our fallen nature is natural only after the Fall.

“We were not made to die. We were made for life,” Dr. Sproul Jr. observed. “But once we fell into sin, now that nature is rightly described as a fallen nature, and we are rightly described as born dead. Every one of us begins our lives dead. Thankfully, that’s not the last death. For some of us, we died again 2,000 years ago.”

Christ is fully God and fully man, and through His suffering and sharing the experience of death with us (Hebrews 2:9, 17), we are united with him. Being in union with him brings us into union with the Trinity (II Peter 1:3-4).

“That’s what the gospel does,” said Dr. Sproul Jr. “I’m afraid we often miss it because we reduce the glorious physical truth of our union with Christ down to something very important: the doctrine of the double imputation that Jesus died for our sins and he’s received just punishment for our sins, and we’ve received His righteousness, which is true and just and glorious salvation but that’s not the fullness of our union with Christ. We are one with him, and Paul tells us we died with him at Calvary [Romans 6:8, II Timothy 2:11]. Maybe the strangest death of all is this one: Not only were were born dead, but because we were born dead and we had to be born again, we had to be regenerated, the Holy Spirit had to come into us and remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh to bring us to life, and in doing so, we died again twice.”

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church history, justification, perseverance, Reformation, systematic theology, travelogue