Joseph Prince - Fear Not! Death Is Conquered!
Today I'm gonna share with you on the grace of God and its three dimensions but especially the final one, but before that, let's familiarize ourself with the grace of God, okay? In Titus it says this, "The grace of God". Now, what is grace? Grace, regardless of how many people try to redefine grace, there are those who say trying to redefine grace, they say, "Grace is God's empowerment". No, grace is not defined as God's empowerment. Grace produces empowerment and I've been preaching that for years, all right? But grace is not empowerment, though it produces empowerment. Grace is God's unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor. Can I have a good amen? Amen? Grace on our part is unearned, undeserved, unmerited but we get it. It's a favor from God that we don't deserve. Amen.
Jesus is full of grace, but his is grace to give favor to impart that is unmerited, undeserved on our part, okay? So, remember that grace is defined as unearned, undeserved favor and there are three dimensions. "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men". When did it appear? Appeared is past tense. Appeared to all man. When did the favor of God appear, the birth of Jesus? That's when the grace of God appeared. And what did the grace do? First of all, it saves us that brings salvation. It saves us. Number two, teaching us. This is a present dimension of grace. The past dimension it saved us. Many of you are here today because you have been saved by the grace of God. Can I have a good amen?
Now, what does the grace of God teach us? "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age". Now, here is where some people say, "Well, you see, we need to teach people to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and live soberly". No, it does not say that you teach. Many a times invariably people will say, "We have to teach people. We have to teach people to live"... Let me tell you this, you are not as great a teacher as you think you are. It does not say that you teach. It says grace that appeared will teach. So that's the present dimension. The third dimension is very seldom and nowadays almost, you don't hear it anymore being preached. "Looking for the blessed hope". The third dimension of grace is future.
So, we have past, it brought salvation, all right? Present, teaching us. And the future, looking for the blessed hope. Say, "Blessed hope". "And glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ". Now, this is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, whenever I say the coming of Christ, or the day of the Lord, or Second Coming of Jesus, they all mean the same thing and they mean this, there are two dimensions to the coming of Christ, there are two dimensions. One is secret. One is a mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul by the Lord himself. The other one is openly, visibly to every man. He will come back as a judge. Now, many a times Second Coming refers to that, when he comes back as judge. The secret appearing of Christ will only be to his believers, to his bride. When he comes again, we call it the Rapture but we are all going up. And do you know what the Rapture is all about? The Rapture is actually us receiving our final gift that was purchased for us by Jesus's blood.
Do you know that there's one final gift that you and I don't have right now? You know what is it? A brand-new body. Let's read this in Philippians. It says, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ". If you're not eagerly waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ, I believe by the end of this message, you will be. We are eagerly waiting. And who wrote this? The apostle of grace, Paul himself. He says, "We are eagerly waiting for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body according to the working by his He's able even to subdue all things to Himself".
So, when Jesus comes again in the Rapture, the first thing that will happen is that our bodies will be transformed, and he calls it our lowly bodies, will be transformed like his glorious body. So, the only part that we're waiting right now, I'm talking to believers now, is the new body. Our lowly bodies when Jesus comes again, this is the Rapture, our lowly body will be conformed to his glorious body. So, whether you go by the way of... I'm gonna use the word "death," but the Bible doesn't use the word "death". It use the word "sleep" for believers because death is not in our future. Death is in our past. So, Jesus, one of the reasons he came is to conquer death and to rise from the dead bodily, amen? He rose from the dead bodily, hallelujah! Amen. To tell us, "Because I live, you will live also". Amen. And our bodies, the Rapture is nothing more than you receiving your final gift, the victory that was purchased at Calvary's cross and that's your brand-new body. Oh, come on. Aren't you glad? Amen.
1 Corinthians 15, the Bible says, Paul says, and Paul is an apostle of grace. He says, "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," which is so fast, "at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed". Writing to believers. All believers are going up. We shall be changed. You see, you must understand one thing, the salvation of your spirit do not depend on your obedience, do not depend on your faithfulness, all right? What makes you think the salvation of your body depends on your obedience? It's all part of the package Jesus gave us when he died on the cross. We're just receiving our final inheritance, our body. Are you with me so far? All right, and the Bible says, "The trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible". All right, rejoice if your loved one has gone on ahead. Don't see your loved one in the grave, or cremated, or whatever somewhere.
Let me tell you this, God is able to get all the power by which he subdued all things he can get, even their cells are over in the ocean. He's able to get them. All atoms are not lost to God, he created atoms. He will bring them all together into glorious body. This is the victory over death that Jesus gotten for us at the cross, amen? And the Bible says we shall be changed. See, the dead will be raised, and we shall be changed for this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality. You're gonna put on immortality. You know what's immortality? You'll never die again. Next verse. "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'." Hallelujah! That's why Jesus rose from the dead bodily! To show us the victory over death. Amen? Then, this is what the taunting will do when we go up, amen.
Those who are alive when they go up they will say, "Hey death, where is your sting? Where is your sting"? And those who are dead, they will say, "O, Hades," Hades is the Greek word for hell. They will say, "O Hell, what the..."? "O, Hades, O Hell, where is your victory"? As we are going up, amen? Now, to the world it will happen in an atomic second. It will just disappear but for us it's almost like we go up in slow motion. We know we are going up, not in slow motion but we know we are going up. The challenge will come as we go up. Death, where is your victory? Hell, or death, where is your sting? Hell, where is your victory? Amen? The sting of death is sin. The reason why there's death is because of sin, and the strength of sin is the law and that's why I'm strong on preaching grace because the strength of sin is the law. This verse is hardly preached. Are you with me so far? You understand? Is it clear?
Now, the Apostle Paul talks about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians and he actually was writing to the Thessalonica believers, and he's writing by the Holy Spirit. Watch this, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren". Whenever the Bible says don't be ignorant, there's something there if you're ignorant you will lose out. You will lose out on the peace that you're supposed to have, the joy, the security you're supposed to experience, and you'll be robbed by the enemy, okay, if you do not know what God wants you to know. Okay, here's the, "I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren". So, he's writing to brethren, to believers, not to nonbelievers. And he says that, "concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope". Who are these others who have no hope? Those of the world, those without Christ. They sorrow when their loved ones die as if they have no hope.
Now, for us, we sorrow at the momentary, the temporal separation, but we don't sorrow like others who have no hope. Amen, church? All right, let's go on. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus". Next verse, "For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord". Now, listen carefully, what Paul is saying is not his idea, it's not his philosophy, it is the Word of the Lord. Jesus gave this revelation to Paul and the Rapture is not some figment of man's imagination, it is the Word of the Lord. "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first". Next verse, "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words".
Now, for those of you who say, "Well, I believe only those who are faithful ones, those who are specially devoted," and they always believe that they are the ones, all right? Look at these verses carefully again. Look at the previous verse. This we say to you that we who are alive, this is the Word of the Lord, that we who are faithful? No. We who are specially devoted? No. We who are alive and remain! All you gotta do be alive and remain and you will see the dead in Christ rise first, then you will follow, all right? "Will be no means precede those who are asleep". Okay, the dead in Christ will rise first. Verse 17, then we who are, what? Specially faithful? No, "We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together".
Now, this is the word harpazo, which means a catching away, that's the word the early fathers gave the word Rapture. Are you listening? We shall be caught up together, amen. This is the Word of the Lord. You know, in 1 Thessalonians Paul talks about faith, hope, and love in verse 3 of chapter 1, 1 Thessalonians. He says your work of faith, your labor of love, your patience of hope. So, faith, hope, and love. But do you know something? By the way, we know what's faith. Faith is still being taught today. We know what's love, love is being preached, thank God. But hope, the blessed hope is now forgotten. Are you listening, people? In other words, people are now thinking that, oh, it's not practical to preach Second Coming, got different views, that kind of thing. The devil has so deceived people that they're no longer preaching something that will give them hope. Even Christians when they look forward, they don't see the blessed hope. It's called blessed hope, in the Greek, happy hope. Hope is always future, faith is present.
And you know what happened the 2 Thessalonians? 2 Thessalonians the first chapter in verse 3 Paul says your faith is growing exceedingly, your love increases, but he never mentioned hope. What happened if they lost the hope? And I'll tell you what happened. the people were waiting for the Rapture. They do not know when it's gonna happen and today we see people thinking, "When is it? You know, Pastor Prince, we've been waiting for a long time? We have been hearing about this since the longest time". One of the arguments they have today, "Well, I mean since the longest time been hearing about the Rapture, it still never happened. Why"? I'll tell you why, Peter said this in the last days, 2 Peter, "Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days," scoffers, and they will say what? "Where is the promise of His coming"? Isn't that what we're hearing today? Come on, where's the promise of His coming, huh? Another coming again, preaching. What's this?
So, these are scoffers and the Bible says, "For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation". That's what they say. Everything is normal, you know, there's no Second Coming. And the Bible says, drop down, "This they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men". Next verse, "But beloved," now he's writing to believers. "Do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day".
To God, God doesn't live in time. God created time. We live in time, all right? God created time. Jesus died 2,000 years ago, God says 2 days ago, okay? When you pray and God says, "Wait a minute, work it out". No, I'm just teasing, all right? So, why does it seem that God is delaying his Son's coming, okay, why? "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering towards us, not willing", oh, I love this, "Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance". God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. You know why he's delaying? He wants as many saved as possible and we turn his delay into something like, "You see, you see," you know? No, all the more it confirms the love of God.
Now, we go to 2 Thessalonians, we'll close one passage and this is the passage, 2 Thessalonians, second letter. When Paul wrote to them, he talks about faith that grows, love that's abounding, but they have lost their hope and that's where the church is today. There's faith teaching. There's love, but we have lost the hope and hope here is not the positive expectation of good in your future that I preached also. I'm talking about the blessed hope of the Lord. Many a times the word "hope" in the New Testament is used of the coming of the Lord, all right? And he says to them, "Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come".
What happened between the first letter and the second letter is that the people were waiting, and they thought it would happen almost like the next day. It didn't happen, the next 2 days. But the truth of the Rapture will happen. Now, the day of Christ don't forget, he'll come back and judge the earth. So, in other words, they are saying, "Hey, wait a minute, I thought the Rapture would happen before Christ comes back". So, these people are writing to them saying, "Christ has come already". So, there are people today teaching that there's no such thing as the Second Coming of Christ. He has come already. It's called the "preterist", so he's warning them about that.
Next verse, "Let no one deceive you by any means'." "Let no one deceive you by any means; For that Day will not come, the Day of Christ will not come". "That Day" is referring to when he comes to judge the earth. It must happen after the Rapture, right? So, they thought it happened already and they are left behind so he's telling them, "Let no one deceive you". "That Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed," the Antichrist, "the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped".
Now, let no one deceive you. Look at verse 3 again, by any means, that day will not come unless the falling away comes first and the men of sin is revealed. Actually, this is not very encouraging because if you read it, he's trying to tell them not be shaken in mind, not to be troubled in spirit, whether someone talks to them or send them a letter. And then he tells them, "I'll tell you this, that day of Christ when he comes to judge will not happen until the falling away happens first". What an ending to the church. Many of them will fall away so some preachers love this verse because, "The falling away will happen," they prophesy it. "The falling away will happen. The falling"... I always read this and I felt something is, something is out.
Let me show you, okay, that falling away is one word in Greek, "apostasia", apostasia in Greek. Do you know the word "apostasia" where we get our English word? If somebody comes to church regularly and one day doesn't come anymore, people call him an apostate. Apostate means someone who departs, someone who left the faith, apostasy. And here apostasia is the Greek noun and the Greek noun, apostasia, is only used twice in the New Testament. One of them is used here in Acts 21. They were talking to Paul saying, "They have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles". James is talking to Paul and saying, "You teach the Jews among the Gentile to forsake Moses saying that they ought to not to circumcise their children nor to walk".
That's what they blame me, they say that I'm saying the same thing, but Paul is not teaching that. And the word "forsake Moses" is the word apostasia. It's made of two Greek words, look up here, apo, A-P-O means from, histamine, histamine, your antihistamines. Histamine is the Greek word means stand. So, antihistamine, to anti the stand of that infection, or whatever it is. Now, the thing is that apo means, histamine means stand, that means depart, all right, depart from. So, many of us, we think that falling away from the faith will happen first, but let's look at the word "departure". Greek scholars says the word "apostasia" can also be departure, departing. What is that? The Rapture.
Now, let's put the Rapture here. Go back to the verse. "Let no one deceive you by any means". Don't forget, Paul is trying to encourage them not to be shaken in their mind, their spirit, their hearts, right, right? He's not gonna crush them further. So, let's say he says, "Let no one deceive you for that day of Christ, when he comes to judge, will not come unless the departure happens first, the departing happens first," then the Antichrist is revealed. We won't see the Antichrist. He won't show his head until we are out of here. He cannot because we have the authority in heaven to do some things. I believe he's alive. No, I don't think he's in this service. I'm just saying, I think he's alive today, all right, somewhere, okay? He'd be like anti-Christ, try to copy Christ, all right? Son of Satan, so to speak. Try to copy Christ and Christ will come and judge him in the final part of the day of Christ when he comes again.
Now, listen carefully, if you put Rapture here, unless the departing comes first, it all becomes good news. Come on. Good news? Let me close with this, people? In the last Upper Room Jesus said, told his disciples this, "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me". You may have loved ones that have gone on and all that, listen, Jesus said this, "Let not your heart be troubled. In my Father's house are many mansions". I'm glad he mentioned mansion, not hearts. "If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you," what did he say? "I will come again and receive you to myself". Now, this is not the coming to judge the earth, this is the Rapture. "I'll come again and receive you to myself that where I am, there you may be also". Give him praise. Praise the Lord.