Oak Grove Christian Church

5 Morris Road
Arden, N.C. 28704
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Ric Toney

"O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"...But thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:55,57)
      Harry Houdini was an escape artist. They tried all kinds of ways to keep Harry Houdini locked up. They would bury him in a coffin, but he would get out. They would sew him up in canvas bags and throw him in the river, but he would come out. His biographer said, "He could escape from anything except your memory." Yet there came a day when Harry Houdini died, and he did not escape -- no trickery there. Harry Houdini did not escape the ironclad clutches of death.
      But I want to tell you there was another Who died. His name was Jesus, and He made the great escape. Early in the morning of the first Sunday following His crucifixion, when the powers of death could no longer hold Him, tragedy was turned to triumph when He burst forth from the tomb, clothed in immortality, possessing all authority in heaven and on earth.
      Christ faced death for us and overcame. Oh yes, it looked as if death won a victory over Jesus. It looked as if death, that king of terrors, held Jesus in his cold, bony hands, shackled in chains. But after three days, true to His promises, the Lord Jesus broke free from the bonds of death, rose from His resting place, and walked out of that tomb a risen, living, victorious Savior. Jesus did more than survive death; He defeated and decimated death in that tomb. The Bible says that Christ "shared in (our) humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14,15).
       Ah, but one of these days there will come a shout from the lips of the Lord Jesus when He returns. And that shout will go into the tombs of those who have named Him as Lord and Savior. Our Lord is going to step down from His majestic throne in glory, and the dead of all the ages will hear the voice of the Son of God. Our risen Savior has promised us, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:28,29). That voice will roll through the length and breadth of Satan’s ruined empire and bring it crashing down. At the command of the Lord Jesus Christ, the seas will heave and give up the dead which are in them; the winding sheets of the deserts will give up the dead that are in them; the battlefields of this world will give up the dead that are in them and the graveyards will look like plowed fields as the Lord Jesus shouts, "Come forth!" Then in the twinkling of an eye, "the dead in Christ shall rise first." Believers "who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). The last enemy will have been destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). "Death will be swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54).
      From that moment on, the praises of the redeemed shall resound throughout the hallowed corridors of heaven, "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?...Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 15:55,57). Here is the bottom line: Because He lives, our past is forgiven, our present is empowered, and our future is assured. Because He lives, the sunset of this life is merely the prelude to the sunrise of the next life. Because His lives, our future is incredible, the Gospel is believable, and death is defeatable!
Because Jesus lives, God’s faithful will also experience the "great escape." With David we can say, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23:4). Because Jesus lives, death is but a shadow, and shadows can’t hurt you.
      Because Jesus broke free from the bonds of death and now lives, He has taken the sting out of sin. He has taken the gloom out of the grave. He has taken the dread out of death and He has given to us a hope that is steadfast and sure. He is not behind us in a tomb. He is before us on a throne! He promises His faithful followers, "Because I live, you will live also." (John 14:19). Praise His wonderful name!