Let me remind you of some facts about resurrection. It’s very much evident, by the time we reach the fifteenth chapter of Corinthians, in the thirty-fifth verse, that the apostle Paul wants us to believe in the bodily resurrection.
We are aware that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christian testimony, the foundation of the Gospel. The basis of the hope of our fate is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And we’ve already learned, in the first 34 verses repeatedly, that the resurrection of Christ is the basis of our resurrection; that we, too, will rise.
The idea of resurrection is very basic, then, to Christianity. Christ’s resurrection then becomes the guaranteed of our resurrection.
Now, this is a cardinal element in Christian theology. Jesus said in John chapter 5 that there will be a bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust; some to life and some to damnation. So, Jesus talked about bodily resurrection.
The apostle Paul says in Romans 8:23 that there is a redemption of the body. There will be an ultimate salvation of even the body is what he’s talking about. In fact, in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 – you don’t need to look it up; just to mention what it says – in verses 2, 3, and 4 he says that we desire to be clothed with a body that is from heaven, and that if we were not clothed, we would be found naked.
So, the idea that a spirit could exist eternally without a body is not at all akin to Christianity. Paul says that would be a kind of nakedness. The believer desires, in the next life, to be clothed upon with a house that is a heavenly body. So, even the saints today with Christ, those who have gone on, are there in spirit, waiting for the body that will come at resurrection to clothe the nakedness that they now experience.
God created man as a whole, and God will redeem man as a whole – body and spirit. Jesus looked, for example, at the very extremity of His ministry to men when He said this, “No man comes unto me” – John 6:44 – “except the Father draw him, and then I will raise him at the last day. In other words, the ultimate act of salvation is the raising of those at the last day who are Christ’s.
Now, the Greeks wanted to say that the body was a simple prison, was an evil, fleshly, materialistic, decaying thing that only imprisoned the spirit. But the New Testament knows nothing of that, because the body is something exalted even to the place where it becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. It is not just a prison from which the spirit is freed forever to go back and be absorbed in some universal cosmic deity. The body is something that will be with us throughout eternity in a changed and a transformed way. God will not desert the body; He will raise it at the last day.
Now, this is a vital thing, and we saw in the last section that if we don’t believe in bodily resurrection, then we lose some great motivation and some great incentive in the Christian life, don’t we? We saw last time that we lose an incentive to salvation. If there’s no resurrection, there’s no hope of reunion, then people who come to Christ with the desire to be rejoined with those they love won’t bother.
We saw also that resurrection is a great incentive to service. Paul says, “I die daily. My life is in jeopardy every hour. I fight with beasts at Ephesus. Well, why would I do that if there’s no resurrection? I just eat, and drink, and die; and forget it. I just fulfill my sensual needs, and I wouldn’t get involved.
And thirdly, we saw that if here’s no resurrection, we lose a great incentive to sanctification or holiness, because the thing that keeps us desirous of obedience is the fact that we must face Christ with a sense of accountability.
So, Paul has reaffirmed the resurrection. “The resurrection is the Gospel,” he said earlier. The resurrection must be true. The whole of the Christian life hinges on this. And now he is going to deal with another element of their questioning, because as soon as he has established the reality of the resurrection, they’re going to say just what they say in verse 35, “Some will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’”
“All right, Paul, you want to tell us about resurrection, bodily, physical resurrection of the dead, well, explain to us how that can possibly happen. Ha-ha.” They think it’s real funny. They’re talking like skeptics, not like honest doubters.
You see, they had believed that the body was a prison for the spirit. And the body just went to dust, and the spirit was free to be absorbed in the universal deity, the cosmic god, whatever that was.
And so, that’s where they stopped. And the idea of resurrection was repulsive to them, because they couldn’t imagine a rotted, decayed, stinking, corrupted bunch of whatever, left in a grave, coming all together again and coming out. And from the human viewpoint, it looked ridiculous. And on that premise they asked these questions.
And by the way, the Greek skeptics had their view somewhat fed by the rabbis. In studying a little bit this week on some of what the rabbis used to think, some of the ancient rabbis, about resurrection, I came across some interesting information. One point was that the rabbis basically taught that the resurrection body would be the identical body to that which died. It would just be regathered and brought out of the grave. It’d be the same.
For example, in The Apocalypse of Baruch – you don’t need to worry about that; that’s just the name of it, a book – there’s the question the writer of The Apocalypse of Baruch asks whether there will be any change when men rise. And the answer from the rabbi is this, quote, “The earth shall then assuredly restore the dead. It shall make no change in form, but as it has received, so shall it restore.”
In other words, they were teaching the same body would come out. And no doubt this came from their own thinking on the text in Job, “The worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” And they had taken a very literal perspective there that the same thing would come out that went in. And the Greeks kind of ho-hoed at that one. And Celsa said, of course, “That is the hope of worms. What kind of theology is that? Who wants it? Once my spirit is free to float and ascend, and wander all through space, and be lost in the eternal deity, who needs that cruddy old thing back again?” They weren’t even interested.
But Paul keeps banging away that there will be resurrection. So they say, “All right, what is it going to be like, and how are you going to get out of the ground, Paul?” They think they’ve found a real flaw in Christianity. They’ve seen death; they’ve seen decay. They know what it is for a body to rot away.
And their questions are not unlike questions that I get asked today. I’ve been asked on many occasions this question, “Do you think it’s proper to be cremated?” I’ve been asked – I get asked that regularly.
And what’s in the back of people’s mind often – I’ll say, “Why do you ask?”
“Well, is it any problem in the resurrection?”
I say, “Do you men can God find the right ashes?”
Or people will say, “Well, what about” – I’ve had this asked – “What about some who get – you know, you die at sea, and you’re on the bottom, and the water changes, and you’ve got all these bones. Does God know which knee bone connects with which thigh bone, connects with which hip bone so you get the right guy in the end?
Listen, that’s right where these critics were. They think this is some kind of joke. “You mean God is going to go over all the debris of the earth and start sorting out what goes where? This will be the – this will be the all-time jigsaw.”
Paul himself asked King Agrippa, who no doubt was exposed to this particular kind of thinking – he said, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?”
Well, Agrippa, to him it was incredible that this could ever happen. What about bodies smashed to pieces in a wreck or blown up in a bomb or are burned to cinders in a fire? How is God going to get ashes thrown to the wind, and how’s he going to find the right bones on the floor of the ocean, and where’s He going to get the dust of somebody to determine from the dust of somebody else? And on and on.
And I like Paul’s answer, “You fool” - it’s the direct approach again; Paul never minced words. He doesn’t say, “Now, I’d like to share a few thoughts.” “You fool,” he says. And it’s literally a senseless one. The Authorized Version is a little more polite than the text – the Greek text. It says, “O senseless one.”
Now, the reason he rebukes them is because he knows this is not the query of someone who is wanting to know; this is the mockery of someone who thinks he does. And this is typical of skeptics who think they have all the answers, and they mock the truth. And the fact of the matter is they don’t have the answer at all.
And so, he is really approaching their mockery with his reply, “You fool. Let me give you an answer further,” is on his mind. And so, proceeding from verse 36, he gives them an answer to these two questions that are posed in 35 – how are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? He basically answers along four lines. He gives them an illustration of resurrection, the form of resurrection, the contrasts of resurrection, and finally, he gives them a prototype of resurrection so they can see exactly what this thing will be like.
He starts out by dealing with the principle of resurrection itself, in his illustration, and then he talks about the actual form that this resurrection will take and just exactly what it will be like. And then he uses contrast to even further clarify the issue, and then he gives them a living example in a prototype of such a resurrection so that when all is said and done, there shouldn’t be any question as to what the resurrection body is like insofar as we can understand it. There are some questions left unanswered because of the limits of our understanding.
Let’s begin, then, with the illustration of resurrection. Now, he’s not trying to prove the resurrection anymore; he’s not trying to prove bodily resurrection anymore; he’s trying to describe it here to give them some insight into the kind of body.
Now, we’re going to really go through a lot of verses. Verse 36, let’s look there, and I want to read a couple of verses to you. Here’s the illustration. “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not made alive except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but a bare grain. It may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed its own body.” Now, we’ll stop there.
His illustration is from the seed. He uses the illustration of a seed put into the ground, buried, that brings forth life. Now, this is a very, very clear illustration, as clear as a human illustration can be of an unhuman, supernatural realty. He says, “Look you shouldn’t have any more problem with the resurrection concept than you have with the concept of harvest. You take a seed” – and he puts it in their own hand as such – “that which thou sowest – you go out, and you’re a farmer, and you sow a seed. And it first goes into the ground, and it dies before it lives. The seed decomposes, and then it rises again. And it rises again in a different form. And yet, in some sense, it is connected to the seed.”
So that there are three thoughts here that he’s dealing with: dissolution, difference, and continuity. He says there is a dissolution of the first element, another one comes forth that is different, and yet there is the same life principle. In other words, whatever grain you sow, you’re going to get that kind of life coming from that seed. And yet, that which is produced, the tree or the stalk of grain will be very different in appearance from the seed, and yet it will have the same life principle.
And he says the whole key is the decomposing of the seed, the dying of the seed. And then from the dying of the seed, firing out of the ground comes new life. It is the same kind of life, the same principle of life, and yet it is different.
Now, Jesus taught this in relation to His own death and resurrection in John 12:24, using the very same analogy. “The hour is coming that the Son of Man should be glorified” In other words, the time of the death and resurrection. Then He said, “Verily, verily, I say to you, except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone. But if it die, it brings forth much fruit.” Same idea. Christ says, “I’ll go into the ground; I will die. There will be the end of the old and the beginning of the new. There will be some kind of transformation take place.”
Now, I believe that in the resurrection, Jesus’ body was some way transformed into a glorified body. It’s not the same as the body previous. You see, the body that Jesus was born with was in all senses a human body. In Luke it says He grew in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God and man. Once it was a little baby body, then it became a man. And through that process, it followed the normal, natural consequence of human life.
But when He went into the grave, there was the burial of that old body, and what came out of that grave was in some way a unique body. Perhaps a way to illustrate that, and we’ll see it later in the text, is the fact that perhaps Jesus had a body like Adam did before the fall. I don’t believe Adam had a glorified body before the fall. I think Adam had a body that was perfect, that was in every sense human, and yet was perfect. And I believe that if Adam had passed the test of his probation - if rather than fall, Adam had been obedient, at some point in time, his perfect human body would have been transformed into a glorified body fit for eternity. And that’s why, you see, once he sinned, God put him out of the garden, because He didn’t want him to eat of the tree of life which would have given rise to that glorified body by which he would have lived forever.
So, Christ had a body that was, in some sense, natural. But when He went into the grave, there was something that came out of that one that was different. It was so glorious, in fact, that no one recognized Him unless He let them recognize Him, unless he clearly revealed who He was.
And yet, when they knew who He was, they saw Him as the same as He was before, with the same scars, the same features, and yet in a glorified manner.
So, there is the sense in which it is the same and yet different. That was true of Christ, and that’s what Paul is saying will be true of us. This body will go into the grave; there’s decomposition, and in a sense, in terms of just an analogy, we’re going to come out of that grave in a different way. This shouldn’t be any more hard to understand than a harvest.
Now, I want you to note verse 38. He says, “God gives it a body as it hath pleased Him.” Now, this is a very basic point for Paul, because the whole issue of resurrection, down all the way through this chapter is predicated on the power of God. And he just wants you to remember that the whole process is in God’s hand. God can give anything any body he wants to give it. Okay? That’s a cardinal truth that we’re dealing with here. God can do anything He wants when it comes to passing out bodies. And if God can take some little seed and give it a body that in resurrection out of the ground that is in no way like the seed, and yet has the same life principle, then don’t you underestimate the body God can give to you in resurrection. It’s a matter of God’s will and what pleases Him.
And by the way, he says every seed has its own body. Everyone has its own body. And you know something interesting? You can’t tell what it’s going to be by looking at the seed. Do you know that? You can’t tell always. So, the illustration is a seed.
Now, let’s go to, secondly, the form. He moves away from this, but his basic point here is that God can give any body He wants in resurrection, just as He does to seeds, a lot of which look alike and yet give forth different bodies in resurrection as they come out of the ground.
But look at the form of resurrection. Now he wants them to understand a further thought about this in verse 39. “All flesh is not the same flesh. There’s one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds. There are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” Now, that’s that section. We’ll stop there.
Now, don’t get hung up on the different – “Well, how could we possibly have a different body? I mean whatever goes in, if you’re going to say that, it’s got to be what comes out.”
And he says, “Why? God has had all kinds of bodies. There are all kinds of flesh, all kinds of bodies: celestial and terrestrial. Don’t you dare limit God.”
Backing up to verse 38, “God can give anybody any body it pleases Him.” That’s the point. Every seed produces its own plant, dependent on the will of God. Everything has its own flesh. Now, verse 39 is interesting from a scientific viewpoint. All flesh is not the same flesh. You ought to know that. In fact, there are, according to what I read, 600 octodecillion combinations of amino acids.
Now, I don’t know how many 600 octodecillion combinations is; it’s a lot. It’s almost infinitesimal. It’s almost immeasurable. And the reason there are so many is because amino acids are the building blocks of flesh. Amino acids are what produce you and me and anything else in us. And I have my own little set at work in me, and you have your own little set. And amino acids, for every individual, the combinations are unique. No two people are alike. Have you ever noticed a difference in complexion and skin features and wrinkle capacity and resistance in different people? All the different – the colors of the hair, all different features, the growth patterns, width, height, all that stuff. Everything is different because everything individual – there’s no two stars alike, no two flowers alike, no two blades of grass alike, no two snowflakes alike, no two any things alike – not even identical twins. They have their own little set of amino acids.
Now, this, in fact, by the way, is one of the greatest proofs against evolution anywhere in science. Because no matter what you eat, it all comes out you. You could eat nothing but Kentucky Fried Chicken for the next ten years, and you won’t grow feathers. And the reason you won’t is because the amino acids in combination in your body will produce you. You could eat nothing but hamburgers, and you’ll never moo. You’re not going to turn into a cow. Because the combination of amino acids is so unique to your body, it will produce you. And this just goes to militate against the idea of evolution. For example, that in the evolutionary process, snakes became birds. Snakes can’t become birds, because no matter what snakes wish, and the idea of evolution says they climbed up trees and wished they could fly for a million years and finally they got their wish – no matter what they wish – that’s the truth; I mean it’s not the truth, but that’s what they say is the truth. That’s a true lie. Okay?
But you see, no matter what snakes do, the amino acids just keep making more snake. They don’t grow feathers and hollow bones and fly. And when the Bible says there are all kinds of flesh, and all flesh is not the same flesh, that’s what it means.
Listen, God has no problem, when it comes to manufacture. He does not operate on the assembly line basis. He’s not stuck with any model. He can make any – in any limitless capacity – anything H wants to make. So, don’t say that whatever goes in is going to have to be what comes out, or you’re messing with God’s creative ability. That’s basic. That’s what he’s saying.
Now, let’s look further in the verse. He simply says, “There’s one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds.” And that’s true. And they never cross.
Verse 40. And then he goes even into a vaster area. He says, “Not only are there these bodies terrestrial” – and that means earthly, and that would refer to animals and plants – “but there are also celestial bodies.” And he says – that, of course, means heavenly bodies. And we know what the heavenly bodies are: the sun, the moon, the stars. He mentions them in the very next verse.
“But the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” And really, folks, the glory is vastly different. The difference between a pretty flower and the sun is a lot of difference. A lot of difference. A pretty flower is nice. It has a certain amount of glory. But it doesn’t have anything like the sun. And there are stars in our universe that are like thousand suns and more. The glory of the celestial – listen, whatever you see on earth is not what has to be up there is what he’s saying. From the human viewpoint, we look at a flower, and then we look at a star, and there’s no comparison. A flower is gone in a week; the star’s been there since God created.
Now, the notice here. “There are two kinds of bodies,” he says. “The earthly kind and the heavenly kind. There’s a big, big difference.” So, what he’s saying is, “Listen, in resurrection, the body is going to be different. The glory of the resurrection body can be infinitely beyond anything we can conceive in this earth - the earthly, the terrestrial.
Verse 41 takes it a step further. “There’s one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon.” The word “glory” means manifestation. The sun manifests itself in a brilliant, shining light one way; the moon in a brilliant, shining light another way; the stars in a brilliant, shining light another way. And do you know that even stars differ from other stars? You look up in the sky, and they all look alike, but they’re not.
Donald Peattie, in Reader’s Digest, said this, quote, “Like flowers, the stars have their own colors. At your first upward glance, all gleam white as frost crystals; but single out this one and that for observation and you will find a subtle spectrum in the stars. The quality of their lights is determined by their temperatures. In the December sky you will see Aldebaron as pale rose, Regel as bluish white, and Betelgeuse orange to topaz yellow.” End quote. So, that’s just an idea. They’re different. Every star is different. Every sun is different. The moons are different. It’s all different. It is unique. There are no two stars alike, no two suns alike, no two people alike, no two flowers alike, no two blades of grass alike, no two birds alike, no two anything alike.
So, God has limitless capability. This is the stupidity of the guy who says, “How’s He ever going to get all those crummy little pieces put together back right?”
Paul says, “Whew, God can do anything He wants, and the limits aren’t there.” So, seeds vary, earthly bodies vary, heavenly bodies vary, and resurrection bodies can have a glory all their own. And God is not limited. If He wills it, He can accomplish it.
Now, the word “glory” simply means manifestation, and that’s what he’s saying. But it carries with it the idea of light, Shekinah. And it also carries with it the idea of God’s glow, the very life of God as we shall see.
So, he says in verse 42, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” In other words, the resurrection of the dead is going to be one kind of glory, different from any kind of glory we’ve ever seen before. Don’t limit God.
Now, this is amazing in many ways. Two ideas flow from the thought, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” What are you saying, Paul? “Number one, I’m saying this: the resurrection body will be different from the body here.”
All right? The resurrection body, our resurrection body is going to be different from the body we have here. But I think he’s also saying something else. Now watch this. I think he’s saying, “In resurrection, the bodies that we possess will be different in some sense from each other.”
People will often ask us, “When we get to heaven, will we be like Christ?”
Yes. First John 3:2.
“Well, does that mean we’ll all look like Christ? We’ll all be 33 years old forever, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera?”
People often ask that question. I don’t really think so. I don’t think we’re all going to look like Christ, and we’re all going to be the same, and we’re going to be sort f like assembly line things. I think we’ll all be there, in a sense, unique.
For example, Moses and Elijah, long after they had died, were given some kind of form to return to appear on the Mount of Transfiguration and were recognizable in some way as Moses and Elijah. And God is the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are still Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And we see in the resurrection, even at the end, at the great white throne, that standing in resurrection form before God are the small and the great, which means the variables are still there.
You say, “Will I look like me?”
Well, yeah. You’ll be recognizable as you.
“Will I be the same as I am?”
No, you’ll be different, but recognizable as you. Listen, Jesus had all the nail prints in His –
People say, “Will I still have this scar here? Will is still have my nose over here? Will my ears be funny? Will I...”
I don’t know, but Jesus had the same scars in the same places that He had in the body before His glorified body. So, what Paul is saying, you see, is this: the basic form of resurrection will be glorified another level of glory. We will be different from this body, and yet different from each other in that body. That’s exciting to think about.
There are a lot of dear saints who are dead, and their spirits are with the Lord, and they’re waiting for that day when they get clothed with that body. And here – we’re here, and looking at our infirmities and weaknesses, and wanting so much that body. We’re going to see more about what that thing is capable to do in a few minutes.
Sauer – Erich Sauer says, “So, the graveyards of man become the seed plots of resurrection. And the cemeteries of the people of God become, through the heavenly dew, the resurrection fields of the promised perfection.
Now, let’s look at the third thing he says. The illustration of resurrection is the seed. The form of resurrection a body far beyond anything we’ve known here, because God has the capacity to do that. Different from this one, and even in that form different from each other.
Thirdly, the contrasts of resurrection. He wants them to understand how this can be. How can it happen? So, in verse 42 he says this, “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.” We’ll stop there for a second.
He saying, “Listen, there is a tremendous series of contrasts that are going to take place in this body.” Now he says, “First of all, there is a sowing in corruption.” Let me broaden that statement. He’s not simply talking about burial. The whole of human life manifests corruption, right? From the time we’re born, we start the process of corruption. Birth is the beginning of decay. And we begin to decay immediately.
So, the whole of life is corruption. “Dust thou art, to dust thou returnest.” The four days in the grave; and Martha looks in there, and she says, “Lord, by this time he stinketh.” And corruption, of course, is accelerated in the grave. But the whole process of life is decay. We live in a sphere of corruption. We decay; we get disease; we become infirm; we get ill. The process goes on and on. Our muscles weaken; our bones weaken, etcetera, etcetera, the long we live. So, we’re living in a sphere of corruption.
Now, we are then in that state of corruption sown in corruption, and that’s talking about burial. There is a sowing – literally it says there is a sowing in corruption. SO that corrupt thing is sown in the ground like that seed when we die.
And then he says, “There” – literally – “There is a raising in incorruption.” But what’s going to happen in the future isn’t going to be corrupt; it’s going to be incorrupt. That’s why Peter says we have an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that can’t fade away, reserved for us in heaven.
There is an incorruptible existence, with no decay, no infirmity in the future. So, we go into the grave corrupt; we come out uncorruptible – incorruptible. It’s a fantastic thing to realize. That body will never decay; it’ll never get old. It’ll have absolutely no time limitation. It will have no capacity to deteriorate. We will be permanently incorruptible. No decay.
Now, some people – I remember O. L. Jaggers used to be on television and tell people that when you got saved, that God redeemed the physical body, and the physical body, if you had a certain anointing that they would give you down there, that the physical body would never corrupt, and you would live literally forever in your physical body.
And I remember one time they were having the anointing. They call it the oil of youth. It was sort of a red – sort of a red, pasty stuff. It looked like axle grease flavored with pine scent or something. But anyway, so I decided – I went down – my wife and I went down one evening. After all, we were reaching the ripe old age of about 25 at the time and very concerned. And I was a kind of a wild and wooly seminary student and thought I’d like to find out what was really going on down there.
So, I went in, and they asked for people to come forward who wanted to be anointed. And so, my wife tried to stop me, but I got away before she grabbed me. You know? She started to grab my arm. And I had to take my shoes off, because they said it was holy ground. So, I did. And I went down there – me and about 45 little old ladies who really needed the oil of youth and were very concerned about that.
We all got in line and took our turn. And I got anointed and splattered on my head. And I could tell you a personal word of testimony, it failed. It did not work at all. There’s no way to preserve this corruption. That’s just part of human existence. But there will be a day when God will bring out of that grave John MacArthur, incorruptible version.
Secondly, he says there’s another contrast between dishonor and glory. And I think here what he means is all that man was potentially capable of being. You know, God made man, and He looked, and He said, “It’s good.” And God gave to man a glory beyond anything else that He made. And by that I mean God gave man the capacity to manifest himself beyond any other thing that He made. Man had a greater capacity to manifest God – man alone was created in the image of whom? Of God.
And so, man could manifest God; the very glow of God could come through man. The very life of God be made visible through man. But man sinned and dishonored and scarred and marred that image. And so, the whole of man’s life, since the fall of Adam, is dishonor to the image of God.
But someday, that glory potential is going to be restored. And this – in this life we are a dishonor. Our capacities are limited. Our minds are limited. All of that unimaginable capacity of the human brain, and they tell us we use one-tenth of one percent of our brains. We dishonor God by our inability to capitalize on what we have in creation. We dishonor God because we fail. And finally, we go to the grave, and there we are, ugly and gross, and they can paint us up like horizontal members of a late cocktail party, but we’re dead anyway. And we look it. And we stink. And we dishonor the image of God.
But someday, says Paul, we’re coming out of that grave in glory. In other words, in the full manifestation of the sons of God, the way He made us to be. No more dishonor. No more corruption.
Thirdly, he says, “We are sown in weakness and raised in power.” Sown in weakness and raised in power. We know we’re weak interest this life: subject to disease, and failure, and heartache, and death. And we can’t fulfill our dreams and our desires, and we can’t overcome our limitations. We can’t conquer our infirmities and our weaknesses. We struggle. We’re victimized by everything around us, by the environment, by the things we eat, the people around us. We are weak. We are weak.
And what happens? We go into the grave, and that ultimate weakness becomes obvious. We can’t raise ourselves from the grave; we can’t do anything. We’re like Lazarus, who in the grave was corruptible; he was rotting – who in the grave was dishonorable. Anybody looking at him wouldn’t see the image of God. Who in the grave was weak; he couldn’t do a thing for himself.
But out of that grave sometime comes a body raised in power. Now, what that means is the full power that God ever designed for a human being to possess in the ultimate of transformation. We’ll have power that’s just beyond what we can – we’ll literally be sailing all over the universe. Power to go – no more limitation.
Martin Luther said of our bodies, quote, “As weak as it is now, without all power and ability when it lies in the grave, just so strong will it eventually become, when the time arrives, so that not a thing will be impossible for it, if it has a mind for it, and it will be so light and agile that in an instant it can float here below on earth or above in heaven.” End quote.
That’s just one element of the power of our bodies in resurrection. To just speed our way across the universe. The grave reveals the truth about the body. It’s corruptible, dishonored, weak. Resurrection will reveal the truth about the glorified body: incorruptible, glorified, and powerful.
And he sums it up in verse 44 by saying, “It is sown a psuchikon sōma, a natural body.” What he means by that is a body suited to this life. It is sown a body suited to this life, but it is raised a spiritual body, a pneumatikon sōma, a body suited to that life. It’s going to be different. As well adapted as we are to this life, so well adapted will we be to that life in perfection.
Right now we’re natural. That is we belong to this life. It’s the same word used in 1 Corinthians 2:14, the natural man, the psuchikon, that which is fleshly, that which is the here and now. We have a body that fits the present style of life. And in that day, a body that will fit a new kind of life, a new level of life, a new dimension of life, a new dimension of existence beyond anything we have ever experienced.
For an illustration of it, I call you to Luke 20:34. Listen, “Jesus answering said to them, ‘The sons of the age marry, and are given in marriage.’” In other words, the normal process of human life and production takes place in this age. “‘But they who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that age’” – the future age – “‘and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.’” The normal processes of human life are ended. And then it says, “‘Neither can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are the sons of God, being the sons of the resurrection.’”
So, in the resurrection, the whole kind of existence has changed. We will be entirely different, entirely unique. We will be like the angels. That doesn’t mean we’re going to wear white robes and have wings. It simply means as the angels are suited for that level of existence, so shall we be. And if you want to know kind of like how we’re going to be, just look how the angels go and come. Really exciting to think about. And boy, life is so short, and I don’t really care that much if it does – if it gets a little shorter if this is what we have to look forward to. So, God has a wonderful new thing planned for us.
To close out his thoughts, he says in verse 44, on this point, “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” And the two completely different. So, to these Greeks he says, “Look, there’s going to be a body.” And to these rabbis he says, “It’s going to be a different one. And yet, in the sense that a plant is related to the seed, it’ll have a connection.”
Now, let’s go to the last point, which is really the key to everything. The prototype.
You say, “I still don’t get it. How – where do I find a handle on this.”
He goes to the Scripture to kind of solemnize his thought here, and he says, “It is written” – and he quotes Genesis 2:7, with the addition of two words “first” and “Adam.” Genesis 2:7 says, “And man became a living soul” – and he throws in, “The first man Adam became a living soul.”
And what he wants to do is just to pull out a scriptural principle to illustrate the point he just made, that the natural body and the supernatural body are different. When Adam was made, he was given a natural body. He did not have a glorified body, as I said earlier. If he had passed his probation, I think God would have transformed him by the fruit of the tree of life. But he didn’t; he sinned, and God had to keep him away from it. But Adam was given a natural body. He was just a living psuchikon, just a living body attuned to this age. “But,” he says, beyond the statement of Genesis 2 - and he drops that statement there and just moves on; this is not in Genesis 2 – he says, “The last Adam” – and who is that? Christ – “was made a life-giving Spirit. Where Adam gave us a natural body, because he was created with one, Christ gave us a spiritual body, because He was given one in His resurrection.”
Now, by the way, Paul uses the Adam-Christ analogy many times for this reason: it is a perfect illustration of how the act of one man affects a whole race. And so, that’s why he uses it so often. As one sin by Adam gave – brought sin on all men, as one man Adam received a natural body, so all the progeny of Adam receive a natural body, so one man Christ, by one righteous act redeems many. And one resurrected Christ giving – receiving one glorified body becomes, as it were, the prototype for all resurrection bodies. So, He uses Adam and Christ, because both are those one people doing one thing that has ramifications for a whole race of people. He really contrasts the heads of two families.
So, Adam, he is the prototype of the natural. He is the prototype of the psuchē, the soulish, the psuchikon, the natural, the things pertaining to this life. Christ, the prototype for the spiritual body. And he follows that thought – look at verse 46, “Remember” – he says – “however, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” In other words, he just says, “Remember the sequence. First you receive the natural body in this life, then the supernatural in the next life.” First comes the natural and then the spiritual. First that which is suited to this life, because this is where we have to live, and then that which is suited to the life to come. Very unique to each case.
Verse 47, he goes back to his analogy then of Christ and Adam, “The first man was of the earth, earthy.” And God took the dust of the ground, and out of it He formed Adam. He was earthy. But Christ was not made of the earth. He eternally existed. That’s his point here.
So, in Adam’s case, you have something tied to the earth, but in Christ you have something tied to heaven. “The second man” – verse 47 – “is the Lord from heaven.” So, the point being Adam’s – Adam has given us an earthy existence; Christ is giving to us a heavenly existence. Adam is giving to us a body made out of dust; Christ is giving us one specially formed with heavenly capacities. That’s what he’s saying.
So, Adam’s creation in an earthly manner, out of dust, grants to all of us the same natural body. Christ, coming out of the grave, in the wonder of His resurrection, becomes then for us the guarantee of life, of a spiritual life, of a kind of body that is not earthly but heavenly.
In verse 48, he sort of sums that up by saying, “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy.” In other words, as is Adam, so we are. And as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. In other words, if we are in Adam, we’re going to be earthy; if we’re in Christ, we’re going to have a heavenly body. Very simple flow of thought.
So, he says, “Adam was created for the earth; Christ, in His resurrection, was given a body fitted for the spiritual dimension of heaven and eternity. And when we are in Adam, we received from Adam his body, and in Christ, from Christ His body.
Now, watch 49. Who then is the prototype? “As we have borne the image of the earthy” – and, folks, look around; we’re all bearing the image of the earthy – “we shall also bear” – what? – “the image of the heavenly.” As we are like Adam, so shall we be like whom? Christ. You want to know what the prototype of the resurrect body is then? It’s what? Jesus Christ. You want to know what He was like in His resurrection? That’s what you’ll be like. In His resurrection, He could appear and disappear. In His resurrection, He could go through walls. In His resurrection, He could transport Himself from one place to the other just by a thought. In His resurrection, He could eat - fish and honeycomb. In His resurrection, He could sit down with the disciples and show them the scars in His hands. He could speak and be understood. In His resurrection, He was who He was, and yet He was glorified in a way that if He didn’t reveal Himself, they would never even know who He was.
There was something so different, and yet there was something so the same. He was incorruptible. When Acts 1:11 says He’s coming back, it says, “This same Jesus who was taken up from you shall so” – what? – “come.” In other words, when He comes back, even though 2,000 years or 3,000 or whatever pass by, He’ll be exactly the same as when He went, because number one, the glorified body is not corruptible; it’ll never change. It is powerful so that it can transport itself across the heavens. It is glorious so that when Jesus appeared on the Damascus road to the apostle Paul, Paul went literally blind because of the glory of Jesus Christ.
That’s the kind of body we’re going to have, folks. A body when all the flesh is gone – that is the human part of it that is sinful – when all that that blocks the glory of God – the Spirit of God dwells in us now; we have God’s glory, but we have it blocked – don’t we? – by our humanness and our sin. In that day, we’ll be transparent in the sense that God’s glory will literally blaze through us. It’ll literally shine through us.
I got to show you a verse, and then I’m going to quit in a second. Matthew 13:43 - listen to this; I love this, “Then” – just listen to it; you don’t need to find it. Matthew 13:43 - write it down. “Then shall the righteous” – watch this – shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Did you get that? In resurrection, we will literally be glowing like the sun in the kingdom of the Father. We’ll be like blazing suns. Some kind of glory. It’ll blind, as it were, human beings, as Jesus did to Paul.
You say, “Are we going to be exactly like Christ? You really mean that?”
Philippians 3:21, “Christ who shall” – listen to this – “change our lowly body” – going to change this one – “that it may be fashioned like His body of glory.” He’s going to make it like His body of glory. Then you have 1 John chapter 3 and verse 2, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him.” We’re going to be like Him.
Read Luke 24. He walked on the road to Emmaus. He ate. He talked. They touched Him. They felt Him. They saw Him. They knew Him. He was the same, and yet He was vastly different. Those who loved Him the most couldn’t recognize Him until He revealed Himself. And He had all the glory that could blind if He turned it loose. Those are the kind of bodies we’re going to have, folks.
Now listen; my final word to you is this: don’t get too attached to this one. It’s pure junk, folks. That’s why Paul says, “I count all things in this life as manure in comparison.” Right?
What do I care if this one gets scarred or marred or whacked around? What do I care if it lives or dies? It’s that one I’m after, and it belongs to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the hope of the Church, the hope of the resurrection.
Now, if the rapture comes in our lifetime, we won’t have t go into the grave; we’ll just get changed on the way up. That would be great, wouldn’t it? I’m for that. But even if we go into the grave, we don’t have to sorrow, because Jesus will take us out of that grave some day in new bodies. That’s our hope. I hope that’s your hope. Let’s pray.
Thank You, Father, again this morning for challenging and encouraging our hearts in these truths. Lord, it would just be really pitiful on our parts if we didn’t get so excited about this truth. It just probably means we’re too attached to this life.
To think of what You’ve prepared for us, to think of the kind of thing You have for us on the other side is beyond us, beyond our comprehension. Make us so grateful, Father, that we invest ourselves in eternity, not in time, and in the passing and decaying and corrupting things.
And if there are any dear ones here who have never met Jesus Christ and so have no hope in resurrection, we pray that today they might open their heart to receive this gift of salvation and hope of resurrection that comes with it. We pray these things for Jesus’ sake, amen.
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