Most churches contain people who do not yet believe. Some are moving in the direction of belief, and others are simply pretending. Imposters, however, are not to be removed (Matthew 13:28, 29), for that is the Lord’s work alone. The Good News about Jesus Christ will save us if we firmly believe it and faithfully follow it.
Paul established the Corinthian church on his second missionary journey. In this study of 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, we will see that the church in Corinth needed the same reassurance as did the Thessalonians regarding their fellow believers who had fallen asleep (died).
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15: 50).
As a believer we know that mere flesh and blood cannot enter into the glorious existence of an immortal body (1 Corinthians 15:35–49). Something must happen to this flesh so that it becomes incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:42).
We all face limitations. Those who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities are especially aware of this. Some may be blind, but they can see a new way to live. Some may be deaf, but they can hear God’s Good News. Some may be lame, but they can walk in God’s love. In addition, they have the encouragement that those disabilities are only temporary. Paul tells us that we all will be given new bodies when Christ returns and that these bodies will be without disabilities, never to die or become sick. This can give us hope in our suffering.
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. (1 Corinthians 15: 51-52)
Paul makes the following profound statements regarding the rapture, “We shall not all sleep”, which means that Christians alive at that day will not have to die but will be transformed immediately - “we shall all be changed". The teachings here are similar to the teachings given to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 4:13–18). Whereas the dead in Christ will be raised first, the living believers will be instantly transformed into their immortal bodies when Jesus returns.
A trumpet blast will usher in the new heaven and earth. The Jews would understand the significance of this because trumpets were always blown to signal the start of great festivals and other extraordinary events (Numbers 10:10)
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.” (1 Corinthians 15: 53-54)
The living will receive a body that is not subject to death (1 Corinthians 15: 50). Satan’s apparent victories in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:13) and at the Cross (Mark 15:22–24) were reversed by Jesus’ death (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14, 15) and resurrection. From the vantage point of Jesus’ victorious return, Death and Hades (the grave) have no power over Christians, because Jesus has already conquered both. We participate in His victory. Thus death is no longer a source of dread or fear.
Jesus Christ overcame death, and one day we will also. The law will no longer make sinners out of us who cannot keep it. Death has been defeated, and we have hope beyond the grave. Amen.
References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.