There is one who conquered death
Some reports from the deadly shooting in Oregon yesterday include claims that the shooter specifically targeted Christians and made a point to execute them for their profession of faith. I offer a few Scriptures below for your consideration as you consider what this tragedy means for them who were killed and for us who remain.
Death has been conquered by Christ, yet it remains an enemy…for now. Those who repent of their sin and trust in Christ alone to be their righteousness before God are redeemed, yet a bodily redemption remains ahead. Those who know Jesus are new creatures yet we remain here in this world, on mission, yet still facing suffering and evil.
The Thessalonians were fearful and troubled over the dead and what would be their end, but Paul wanted them to have a right understanding of death so that they would not be fearful or distraught over the dead. Sorrow is a right and good emotion (c.f. Acts 8:2) but it must not be without hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 (ESV)
The Coming of the Lord
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
Below are a few categories to consider as you ponder your reaction to yesterday’s events. Meditate upon the impact of these verses for the dead as well as the living (including you):
Suffering removes obstacles to the gospel
2 Corinthians 6:1–10 (ESV)
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
Suffering is a communion with Christ
Romans 8:17 (ESV)
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
2 Corinthians 1:5 (ESV)
5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
Philippians 1:29 (ESV)
29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
Philippians 3:10 (ESV)
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
2 Timothy 2:3 (ESV)
3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Suffering is never a punishment for the believer but is always meant for good
Jeremiah 32:39–41 (ESV)
39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
Ephesians 1:11 (ESV)
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Genesis 50:20 (ESV)
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Suffering brings honor to God and will itself be honored by God
1 Peter 2:19–21 (ESV)
19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
1 Peter 3:14–15 (ESV)
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
1 Peter 4:13–16 (ESV)
13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
Revelation 2:10 (ESV)
10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Psalm 116:15 (ESV)
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
The good confession
2 Timothy 1:8–9 (ESV)
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
1 Peter 4:19 (ESV)
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Matthew 10:33 (ESV)
33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Romans 10:9–10 (ESV)
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
1 Timothy 6:12–13 (ESV)
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,
Hebrews 10:23 (ESV)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
1 John 2:23 (ESV)
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
1 John 4:15 (ESV)
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
For what do we give up our confession?
Titus 1:16 (ESV)
16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Some lay down their lives to maintain their confession of Christ. But do we sometimes deny our confession by our failure to honor God in all that we do? Do we sin willingly as if it is not a denial of our confession? Do we really think that we would offer up our life if we can’t even pay a little more in taxes or put down our pride?
Thank God that we who have repented and believed are forgiven. We are justified. There is no condemnation for us. Yet we face each day seeking the sanctification that God provides by his Spirit and we long for the day that we will not only be free from the guilt and penalty and rule of sin but from its very presence at all.
1 Corinthians 15:55–57 (ESV)
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.