In this important study, Derek shares how Christ’s victory assures our victory over all our enemies, particularly over death. Death is defeated but not yet destroyed. Even so, Jesus has already taken the sting of death, so we need not have any fear.
It’s good to be with you again, sharing on this week’s inspiring theme, “Resurrection.”
But first, let me say “Thank you” to those of you who have been writing to me. Before I finish this talk, we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. Feel free to share with us your personal needs, your problems, your prayer requests. Each month our listeners write in to tell us of prayer requests that have been wonderfully answered.
Now back to our theme, “Resurrection.”
In my talks this week, I’m sharing on the measureless blessings made available to us through Christ’s resurrection. On Monday I explained how we can be begotten again or born again. Yesterday I explained how we can be acquitted, justified, made fully righteous.
Today I am going to share with you how Christ’s victory assures our victory over all our enemies, particularly over death. And I want to remind you that any religion that does not have a satisfactory answer to death cannot meet humanity’s deepest needs. And I believe that Christianity is the only religion that does have that answer. And Christianity has the answer because of Christ’s resurrection.
First, I’d like to show you a picture of Christ as the resurrected Victor. A very glorious picture that’s found in Revelation 1:10-18. This is how Jesus appeared after resurrection and ascension to the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos. John says this:
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’... Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’” (NKJ)
Isn’t that a glorious picture? That’s our representative. Our head. The One who died for us. Who paid the penalty for our sins. And, thank God, He did not remain dead. He did not remain in the tomb. He was resurrected and He was raised up to the Father’s right hand, to the throne. And He received the glory as the only begotten Son of God, the glory of the Victory, the glory of the Ruler. And, oh, there’s so much glory n that description of the resurrected glorified Christ. “His feet were like fine brass, burning in a furnace... His voice as the sound of many waters... His head and His hair were white like wool... His eyes like a flame of fire... out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword...”
It’s very significant, I think, that before the resurrection of Jesus, John the apostle actually rested his head on Jesus’ chest. He could come so close to Him. But when the power of the resurrected Christ came upon Him, the glorified Christ, it totally overcame him. He became like one dead. So that shows you the measure of the power and the glory that there is in the resurrected Christ.
Particularly I want to emphasize the words that Jesus spoke there in Revelation 1:18 where He said:
“I am He who lives, and was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (NKJ)
We need to understand just a little about Hades and Death. So many people don’t understand. I want to tell you, first of all, that death is not merely a physical condition. It’s not merely the separation of life from the body. But both Death and Hades are evil angels, Satan’s representatives, ruling over a kingdom of darkness. This is so clearly pictured in Revelation 6:8, a further section of the revelation granted to John there on the Isle of Patmos. And John says this:
“And I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. [Notice, Death and Hades are both persons.] And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” (NKJ)
So you see both Death and Hades are satanic angels, representing Satan, administers of his evil kingdom of darkness. Death claims men’s bodies, Hades claims their souls. But Jesus descended into their realm, between death and resurrection. He stripped them of their authority and He took away the keys from them. And when He appeared to John He said, “I have the keys of Death and of Hades.” Oh, how real that is and how important for every one of us to know that Jesus holds those keys.
We need to know that death is already defeated, but not yet destroyed. In 1 Corinthians 15:25-26, Paul says about Jesus:
“For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (NKJ)
So death is defeated but not yet destroyed. However, in the meanwhile, Jesus has already taken the sting from death. So Paul goes on a little later in that same chapter, speaking about resurrection, he says:
“‘For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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.’ [Christ’s victory has swallowed up death. And then there is a quotation:] ‘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.” (NKJ)
Jesus has taken away the victory from death. He’s taken away the sting from death. Death is now a servant of God’s purposes. A defeated enemy waiting to be destroyed. In Romans 8, Paul returns to this theme with some beautiful words, verses 35-39:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ [That appears to be a terrible situation, but it’s not. Paul goes on:] Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NKJ)
All that is attained for us through the resurrection. Remember what I said earlier this week? Christ is our life. The resurrected, glorified Christ is our life. Nothing can touch that life. Nothing can destroy it. It is indestructible and totally victorious.
In the light of Christ’s victory over death, I want to point you now to some promises that Jesus gave anticipating His victory. In John 5:24 He says this:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, [and when He uses that phrase ‘most assuredly’ it’s the most solemn kind of statement that He ever makes.] Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believe in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (NKJ)
Notice that past tense. It’s not something that’s going to happen. When we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by our faith, we have already passed from death into life. Death has no more dominion over us. Death has not more claims over us. Death is merely the gateway into a new life. And again, in John 8:51-52, Jesus says again:
“‘Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.’ [And in the next verse:] ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’” (NKJ)
Can you believe that? That’s a promise from the lips of Jesus. It doesn’t say that we’ll never experience physical death. But it says that that evil angel, Death, and Hades, who follows with him, have no more claims on us. They are excluded by the name and the blood of Jesus. And so when death becomes our portion, we re not going down into another world. We are not going down into the kingdom of darkness, but we are going up into the very presence of God, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf.
That’s how it was with Stephen as he was facing martyrdom, he says in Acts 7:56:
“‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ [And then a little further as he was stoned, he said:] ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
We need to bear in mind that the Scripture is very careful about the words it uses. It does not speak about believers dying, as a rule. It speaks about them falling asleep. Because all it is is a temporary sleep out of which they will be awakened on the resurrection morning.
Well, our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme of “Resurrection.” I’ll be sharing how Christ’s resurrection assures our resurrection.