This evening is "the game." It is Super Bowl Sunday. The kick off is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. late this afternoon. Some of you are saying, "Can't wait." Some of you are saying, "What is the big deal?"

Let me share with you some interesting facts. The two teams are playing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. That trophy will become the permanent possession of the winning team. It is made from sterling silver with a sterling silver regulation football on top of it. Cost--$12,000.

Each player on the winning team will receive a ring that cost $6,000 each. Each member of the losing team will also receive a ring that cost about half that amount. Each player on the winning team this year will receive over $60,000. Each player on the losing team will receive over $30,000.

The economic impact on the state of Georgia when Super Bowl XXXIV was played in Atlanta was 292 million dollars.

Most Super Bowls generate 100 million dollars in merchandise sales that bear the Super Bowl logo.

It is the top "at home" party event of the year. It is the second largest day of food consumption in this country--only Thanksgiving exceeds it. The average "at home" party has 17 people. Ninety-five per cent of all those who watch the Super Bowl on TV watch it with someone else. In the history of television, nine of the ten most watched TV programs were Super Bowls.

Antacid sales typically increase 20% the day after the Super Bowl, and 6% of the American work force call in sick the day after the Super Bowl. Super Bowl weekend is the slowest weekend of the year for weddings. Large screen TV's increase in sales 5 times the week before the Super Bowl.

It will take 14 miles of soft drink lines to supply the 160 dispensers used to serve fans at the game.

To me, the two facts that stand out in my thinking the most are these:

1. A team has to beat a team to be a "winner." 2. If a team does not win this game, that team feels like "losers"--even though they are the champions of their league.

This afternoon I want to consider another victory. In this victory, you do not have to beat anyone. In this victory, only death loses.

  1. First, I ask you to read with me from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.
    Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will 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 imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
    1. Context:
      1. The Christians at Corinth had lots of spiritual problems.
        1. They let their culture determine their behavior in the church, among themselves.
        2. They had problems in their marriages, and problems in their worship.
        3. They even had problems in their Christian beliefs--evidently a significant group of them rejected the concept of Christian resurrection.
      2. Evidently Paul addressed several of these Christians' specific questions about the nature of resurrection.
        1. Paul was straightforward.
        2. "If there is no resurrection, Christ was not raised from the dead." v.16
        3. "If Christ was not raised, your faith is worthless and your sins have not been forgiven." v. 17
        4. "Then Christians who sleep the sleep of death have perished--they are dead forever." v. 18
        5. "If all we are doing is putting our faith in Jesus for 'this world' results in this life, we are pitiful." v. 19
    2. In our reading, Paul affirmed some basic truths about resurrection.
      1. The physical cannot inherit God's kingdom, and that which dies cannot inherit that which cannot die.
      2. Resurrection does not depend on everyone dying.
        1. When the time of the resurrection comes, not everyone will be dead, but everyone will be changed.
        2. That which dies will be changed into that which cannot die.
        3. When that happens, death will be destroyed; at that moment death can no longer be victorious over us.
          1. Death's ability to kill is found in sin.
          2. Sin takes its power from the law.
          3. Paul is not declaring God's law to be a bad thing; he is acknowledging God's law made us aware of our rebellion against God. Paul made the same point to the Christians in Rome at least three times in Romans 3:20 (God's law cannot be the means of human justification); Romans 4:15 (God's law results in our receiving wrath because it makes us aware of our rebellion), and Romans 7:8 (sin used God's law to make us aware of our rebellion against God).
      3. They must understand that God gives us victory through what God accomplished in Jesus' resurrection.
        1. If they understood that, it would produce specific results in their behavior.
        2. They would be unmoveable and steadfast--there would be no question of who or what they were in Christ (they would have no doubt).
        3. The objective of their lives would be doing God's work.
        4. They would serve God's purposes in the knowledge that it was not wasted effort.

  2. Second, I ask you to read with me from Romans 8:31-39.
    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    1. Context:
      1. Christians in Rome had significant fellowship problems with each other.
      2. They also had significant problems living in Rome's culture.
      3. Circumstances were such that they struggled to place confidence in God's strength to help them. (Perhaps they regarded their life circumstances in this physical world to be bigger than God).
    2. Paul said they needed to understand God.
      1. First understanding: nothing they confronted was bigger than God; the ultimate was having God on your side.
        1. God's commitment to them was unquestionable: just look at the investment God made in giving His Son.
        2. If God's initial investment was His Son, He will supply everything necessary for you to endure. [The issue in endurance was not God's commitment to them; it was their commitment to God.]
        3. You are beyond Satan's accusations because God has justified you.
        4. You are beyond Satan's condemnation because Jesus Christ intercedes for you (and his resurrection placed him in position to be your intercessor).
      2. Second understanding: nothing can keep God from loving you.
        1. Nothing (external of you) can separate you from God's love.
        2. Hardship does not prove God does not love you.
        3. Physical death does not prove God does not love you.
        4. Nothing in heaven or earth can separate you from God's love because God's love for you is shown in Jesus Christ.

For us, the victory is what God did for us in Jesus' death. The struggle for Christians is found in the fact that we are physical beings who live in a physical world that is in rebellion to God. As physical beings in this rebellious world, we seek to be spiritually alive. That can happen only because of what God did for us in Jesus' death. Our hope of victory is in Jesus' resurrection.

Victory is not in what we can do but in what God has done. Victory is not found in defeating another person. Victory does not involve another person being a loser. It involves death being a loser.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 26 January 2003

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