Study Guide: The Death of Death’s Sting

Sunday April 5, 2015 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In this Easter message we delve into how the Resurrection brings freedom from the accusations of the principalities and powers through the power of self-sacrificial love. We also look at how the Resurrection brings freedom from the fear of death and our mindset of scarcity in order to live a life that is truly sacrificial. The way to get our best life is to stop trying to get our best life now, but to live out of the abundant generosity given to us through the Resurrection.

Extended Summary:

This Easter message dives into how the Resurrection disarmed the principalities and powers through the power of self-sacrificial love. Greg begins this sermon by looking at the focus scriptures mentioned above and noting how they point to the defeat of death itself in the Resurrection. The power that Satan had was disarmed through the death that Satan actually orchestrated. The powers and principalities could not understand a love motivation so they didn’t understand what Jesus was doing in the world. They only knew they could kill Jesus and their violence backfired on them and made a public spectacle of those powers (Colossians 2:15). Greg terms this, Divine Aikido, using the power of evil back on itself.

After a broad overview of the power of the Resurrection Greg took some time to unpack the meaning of “and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15). This passage was looked at in tandem with 1 John 4:18 which notes that “perfect love casts out fear”. Taken together we can see that since the Resurrection is the perfect example of love and perfect love casts out fear then the Resurrection is the most powerful force to drive out fear, particularly our fear of death.

The remainder of the message was focused on how the interdisciplinary work of psychology and theology have created an enhanced awareness of how much of life is affected by our anxiety of death. Greg highlights the work of Richard Beck and his book Slavery of Death where Beck notes that we are always aware on some level of our mortality, which brings about a scarcity mindset. We are constantly aware that the clock is ticking towards our death and this can suck the joy out of life. Most people live as if there is no life after death and so we scramble around to get everything we can get out of life.

This mindset of scarcity has significant ramifications for our daily life as everything ends up being a competition with others and we live as self-centered people. A scarcity mindset dulls our capacity to care about others and have compassion for others. We lose our ability to live with outrageous generosity. We end up rationing and hoarding even though there is enough. Greg shared the example of the rationing of toilet paper in his home growing up and then went on to explain how this mindset of scarcity can have detrimental affects on our relationships when we believe that there is only one person that can complete us in relationship. We end up seeking out this mythical person without regards for those currently in our life because we live as if this life is all that we have.

Beck also argues that this scarcity mindset is behind and at the root of all violence in the world. This is the reason such a small amount of Christians live out Jesus’ call to nonviolence. Perfect love casts out fear BUT fear can also cast out our ability to love. It is only when we learn to stop clinging to this life that we can live out perfect love. In this light one can also see how all sin simply comes from our anxiety surrounding our fear of death.

In the face of all this, we see in the Resurrection of Jesus that there is no scarcity in Christ. Paul noted that “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54) and the power of the Resurrection is that it reveals the lie of Satan and allows us to see the abundance in Christ. We learn through the Resurrection that the way to get our best life now is not through grabbing, holding and hoarding, but through giving, loving, serving and dying for others. We are not in a hurry because we are in Christ and will live forever with Him.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How is the explanation of the Resurrection in this message different from what you have heard before? Where are you most challenged?
  2. Have you noticed the “fear of death” in your own life? Are you one who rations, hoards, lives extravagantly, etc?
  3. How would you understand the idea of living with a “scarcity mindset”.
  4. Re-read 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 and discuss what you learn about the power of death.
  5. What is something you could do this week to remind you that there is no scarcity in Christ?