Let’s open our Bibles to 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, and look at Paul’s chapter on resurrection. The resurrection of believers is the theme of this chapter. The Bible promises a redemption of the body, not just the spirit, not just the soul, not just the inner person. Romans 8:23 says that we are waiting for the redemption of our body.
In fact, the apostle Paul made it clear that the spirit of man without a man is naked. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, he says, “We desire not to be unclothed, not to be naked, but to have our body from above” – the tabernacle it’s called – “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” God created man as body and soul, or body and spirit, and will redeem him as body and spirit. We will all dwell with God forever in the heaven of heavens in resurrection bodies.
In John 11, “Martha said to Jesus, ‘If You had been here, my brother Lazarus would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.’” Jesus promises there resurrection.
In John 6:44 we read, “No one can come to Me except the Father draw him,” – and then He said this – “and I will raise him up at the last day.” Again, the promise of resurrection. The body is not to be discarded eternally, the body is not merely a prison for the soul, the body belongs to the very essence of man as created by God. Even in this life, for believers, the body is exalted by being made the temple of the Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 6:19 makes that clear. God will not desert the body at the grave, He will raise it up from the dead.
Jesus said in John 5:28, “The hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth.” This is a very important doctrine, the resurrection of the believer’s body to go with his glorified spirit. It is a cardinal Christian truth. But it was running into some opposition in Corinth, and that’s why Paul writes this scripture.
If you look at 1 Corinthians 15 and verse 12 you get an indication there of what was going on: “How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” That is what was being said. The apostle Paul writes this chapter to deal with that.
This was basically what was taught by Greek philosophers. The notion of Greek philosophy was that spirit is good, matter is evil. The sooner you get rid of matter, the sooner you get rid of the body, the better off. The body just goes into the grave, it goes into decay, and the spirit then returns to its source – taught the philosophers, the religious philosophers – and it’s lost in the universal deity. It’s absorbed and loses its individuality. There is no resurrection, that is what Greek philosophy taught. So Paul had to reaffirm the fact of bodily resurrection. There was plenty of confusion about that in the pagan world.
But even in the Jewish world there was confusion as well. Some rabbis had a very bizarre view of resurrection. They knew that there was a resurrection, because Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Why? “Because in my flesh I will see God. Though worms destroy this body, in my flesh I will see God.” Daniel talked about the resurrection of the just at the end of human history. So the rabbis knew there was to be a resurrection of the body. Some of them taught that the resurrection body would be identical with the body that died, a rather strange notion.
For example, the writer of what is called “The Apocalypse of Baruch” asks whether there will be any change when men rise. And the answer from the rabbis is, “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, your body goes into the grave, and when it comes back out it’s exactly the way it was when it went in. They were denying a difference in the resurrection body. And, of course, that kind of silly approach to resurrection fed the Greek skeptics notions. It was so foolish, it seemed so ridiculous, that the same body would be brought up out of the grave after decay, that it was fuel for their own denial of resurrection. Celsus had said that bodily resurrection was “the hope of worms, for what soul of a man would any longer wish for the body that had already rotted.” So they mocked the idea.
Paul faces both the philosophy and the bad theology of the Jews with this section on resurrection. And when we come to the portion for tonight we arrive at verse 35 – we’ve come all the way down to verse 35 – and this is the question that will be asked: “Someone will say, ‘If there is a resurrection, how are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?’” This then is the question about the resurrection body.
Two questions that skeptics have asked: “How are the dead raised?” That is to say, “By what mean, by what power, and with what kind of body do they come?” Skeptics are seen as denying resurrection, because it seems so ridiculous to them. They see death, they see, decay, and they conclude there can be no resurrection.
It doesn’t take long for the body to decay, they were very familiar with that in the ancient world; it seemed ridiculous. So the questions began to arise, “How can a decayed, rotted body rise? And what about the body smashed to pieces in some kind of disaster? And what about bodies that have been burned to cinders in a fire? And what about bodies that have fallen into the sea and been consumed by sharks or whatever? How can they be raised? How is that even possible?”
Paul himself, you remember in Acts 26, verse 8, asked King Agrippa, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?” Agrippa had bought into the philosophy of no resurrection. “How can ashes thrown to the wind after people have been cremated, how can bones scattered over the ocean floor, how can flesh that is disintegrated into dust be brought back together again and raised from the dead?” Thus the questions, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” These are intended to be scornful, skeptical questions.
But I want you to notice the immediate response of verse 36 to those who ask that question: “You fool!” Pretty direct. Literally, “Senseless one! You senseless one!” This is Paul’s reply to the questioner, a severe rebuke which assumes that the objector prided himself on his intelligence, and in fact, is a fool.
This is often the case, by the way, with objectors. They think they know there is a flaw in Christian doctrine. They pounce on that flaw, thinking themselves to be wise and end up as fools in the end. He laughs at resurrection, does the skeptic; he lives as if there is no resurrection. Verse 32, you remember that: “If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
“Live life to the max, be a hedonist, suck out of life all you can get, fulfill every lust and every desire; your body goes to ash it never comes back.” That’s a very convenient philosophy, by the way. It’s a very convenient kind of religion to believe in that, and it’s also very convenient that when you die your spirit somehow is absorbed back into the universal deity and you cease to exist as a person, because if all of that is true, then there will be no payback for your sin, there will be no judgment. That’s the kind of philosophy that appeals to those who want to live a hedonistic life.
So Paul needs to deal with that, because as I told you last time, if we don’t rise again, then – as we remember in the prior passage – we don’t have any real motive for salvation from those who have died in Christ. If we don’t rise again, we don’t have any real motivation for a life of sanctification. We don’t have any hope of eternal accountability or eternal reward, if we just sort of float along as disembodied, unidentified spirits. So Paul in his Holy Spirit inspired brilliance and his understanding of the Scripture and the issues of eternity has no problem explaining the resurrection body. This is a fascinating scripture to me, and I hope it will be to you.
Now when it comes to the resurrection body I can only tell you what is here, I can’t tell you anything more than is in the Bible. I’m not going to invent anything or speculate on anything, we’re just going to deal with what we know the Scripture has said, and that is, frankly, plenty.
Now Paul has four lines of argument. First of all, there is an analogy. He talks about an analogy to help us understand resurrection, then he talks about the form of resurrection, then he talks about the contrasts, and then the prototype of a resurrection body. Let’s begin with the analogy in verse 36: “You fool! You’re foolish because you think you’re smart, and you’re a fool.” Listen to what I have to say to explain resurrection.
First, he starts with an analogy. It is the analogy of seed, the planting of seed that produces some kind of result in what grows out of that seed. “That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.”
This is a really clear, powerful and helpful analogy or illustration. The seed is put into the ground. Any seed, every seed is put into the ground and it dies, it dies, it decomposes in the ground. And out of that decomposed seed comes a resurrection life. A plant rises, and that plant is a very different kind of body than the seed.
In fact, you could never tell by looking at the seed what the resurrected body of the plant will look like. You couldn’t tell by looking at the plant what the seed would look like either. There is dissolution, and then there is difference, but at the same time, there is continuity; one dies, and in dying gives life. It is very different than what it produces. The seed is dissolved, decomposed, then it rises again, and there is a vast difference, a vast difference.
In fact, we understand that massive trees come from one tiny seed. The difference is not only in the shape of it, but in the volume of it, in the characteristics of it. It is the same seed out of which comes the same genetic life basically driven by the same genetic code in the cells of the seed, and yet the body that comes from the seed is utterly unlike the body of the seed itself. So it is, in our case, our bodies will be buried – this is the analogy – and as they dissolve and disintegrate into the ground, God will cause us to rise again in a different form; but the fruit remains in that it will be the same person, changed by death and resurrection, but the same life, the same person coming forth in a different form.
Our Lord actually used this same analogy in referring to Himself and His own resurrection, which may be where the apostle Paul saw it. He says of Himself, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” John 12:23.
Verse 24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus then sees that His own death is a kind of seed planting, a kind of dissolution, disintegration that results in a great and glorious and fruitful resurrection.
So this, the logic goes a long this line. The mystery of the resurrection body is no greater than that analogy. The mystery of the resurrection body is no greater than that analogy. If you say you don’t believe in the resurrection because you don’t understand how one thing can die and something else can come out of it, then you might as well say, “I don’t believe in harvest. I don’t believe in plants.”
It happens. It happens incessantly. It happens countlessly, massively, repeatedly. Out of the old grain and the death of the old grain comes a new plant. It is the same life. It carries the same genetic code definition, and yet it is something very new and very unique.
Our bodies will be our bodies, but they will be different. To say that you don’t believe in the resurrection of the body is no different than saying you don’t believe that an oak tree can come out of an acorn; but it is the same organism. The spiritual reality of our identity will be preserved by God, and we will rise to be who we are with a new form, a new body.
Now you get sort of an idea of this as you live. Have you noticed? Your body now is different than it used to be, pretty clearly, and it’s continuing to become different, very different than the infant that came out of the mother’s womb, very different. You are the same in old age as you were in infancy; you are the same being, but you are not the same body. You are the same person with the same personality, with the same characteristics, with the same divinely embedded elements that make you you. And you were, from your birth until your death you, as designed by God. What Paul is showing us is that far from the decomposition of the body being an obstacle to the resurrection, the decomposition of the body is simply the way new life happens throughout the creation of the world. It’s a wonderful and easily understood analogy.
And by the way, God determines what that body is, verse 38: “God gives it a body just as He wished.” It was God that said the acorn will look like an oak tree and be an oak tree. It was God who said the seed of corn would become a stalk. It was God who said a grain of wheat will become a shaft of wheat that looks like this. It is God who says this seed will produce this flower, and another seed another flower, and another seed a different flower and a different plant; and they are countless, virtually endless bodies that God designs for each seed. If you pile all the seeds on the table they actually look quite a bit alike. There are variations, but they tend to be small and rather coarse and without color, but they come forth in a rainbow of varieties. Every seed produces its own plant because of God’s will, because of God’s design.
The point is this; if God gives to all the products of the earth its own form, why can’t He determine the form for the resurrection of the bodies of His own people? This is not a stretch. You cannot infer what the tree will look like from the seed, you can’t infer what the flower will look like from the seed, and it is equally foolish to attempt to determine from your current body what your resurrection body is going to look like. But the good news is, your resurrection body will be to this body in a relationship like a beautiful flower is to an ugly coarse seed. So the analogy; why is it so hard for you to believe in the resurrection of the body when you see such illustrated in the world of plants?
Secondly, Paul moves from the analogy to the form of resurrection down in verse 39. Let me read it to you down through the first part of 42: “All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts,” – or animals – “another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” Verse 42, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.”
Clearly, every seed produces its own plant, and this is completely dependent on the design of the will of God, that’s what verse 38 says. It’s whatever God wills it to be. And God has willed many, many forms to come into existence, and so in verse 39, “All flesh is not the same flesh.” The next verse, “There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. There is the glory of one and the glory of the other.”
And so it will be in the resurrection. As far as bodies are concerned, God commands the most wide-ranging possibilities. There are differences so vast they cannot be counted. This is more scientific, perhaps, than it seems.
I remember some time back studying amino acids. There are 600 octodecillion combinations of amino acids, and amino acids see to it, in those combinations, that flesh differs. It is so vast it is incomprehensible that God could have a mind to create so many kinds of flesh, so many kinds of bodies. So why would we think that it was some big task for Him to create bodies for resurrected saints, and even resurrected unbelievers?
In verse 39, he says, “There is one flesh of men, there’s another flesh of beasts,” – and that varies from beast to beast – “another flesh of birds,” – and that varies from bird to bird – “another of fish,” – and that varies from fish to fish. There are almost endless combinations of amino acids that create distinct kinds of bodies. So his illustration moves from seeds to created creatures.
And then in verse 40, he goes beyond this earth and says, “There are also heavenly bodies in addition to earthly bodies. The glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.” In other words, there are terrestrial – would be one translation – that refers to earthly organisms. There is no end to the reality of earthly organisms. I think we always assume that life is a whole lot simpler than it really is until we’ve come into this era with the microscope; and it was only about, I guess, the end of the 19th century when people even began to discover the pathology of existing life at so many, many levels. It is staggering. It is beyond imagination that God can create so many forms of life in the microscopic world, that life existing here on earth. Earthly organisms are beyond comprehension in their variety.
And then there are, of course, heavenly bodies, heavenly bodies. What is that referring to? Well, the earthly bodies takes you all the way down to the smallest, most minute microscopic organism all the way up to the creation of man. Heavenly bodies – that means everything that is in space, all that is in space; and it’s even laid out for you: the sun, the moon, the stars, the differing of the stars. We would include planets. And there are galaxies beyond our galaxy that are now numbered in some level of infinity. There are differing kinds of bodies on the earth; there are differing kind of bodies in the heavens.
In fact, every single heavenly body is unique. There are none that are carbon-copied, there are none that are stamped. The countless billions and billions, trillions and trillions of things in outer space created by God are each one unique to itself as a creation, celestial bodies; and they are more glorious, he says. They have a glory that is greater. The glory of the heavenly is one, the glory of the earthly is another. But the glory of the sun and the glory of the moon and the glory of the stars, and the differing glory from star to star is a transcendent kind of glory. So he goes all the way from the microcosm to the macrocosm just taking us everywhere in the universe to imagine all the forms, all the bodily forms, if you will, that God has made.
Donald Peattie in Reader’s Digest some years ago wrote, “Like flowers, the stars have their own colors.” At your first upward glance, all stars gleam white as if they are frost crystals. But single out this one and that one for observation and you will find a subtle spectrum in the stars. The quality of their light is determined by their temperatures.
For example, in the December sky you will see Aldebaran as pale rose; Rigel, bluish-white; Betelgeuse, orange to topaz yellow; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. No star is like another star, even in its color. So as seeds vary, as earthly bodies – the bodies of animals, the bodies of plants, the bodies of birds, fish – vary, as heavenly bodies vary, why do we have a problem thinking God couldn’t create resurrection bodies.
“There is a glory” – I love that word – “there is a glory” – in verse 41 – “in the sun, there is a glory in the moon, there is a glory in the stars.” The fundamental meaning of glory is manifestation, manifestation. The point is that heavenly bodies have their own particular way of manifesting their own identity according to the creative purpose of God.
We could spend a lot of time talking more about that. But suffice it to say for now, he sums it up in verse 42: “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” Illustrations from the earth, illustrations from space, illustrations from nature, illustrations from astronomy show us there can be bodies that God designs without limit, and that every single body is different than every other one. To go beyond just what I’ve said, every flower is a flower that is unique. Every animal is an animal that is unique.
It’s incredible to realize the massive, incomprehensible, creative power of God. No two people are alike, no two plants are alike, no two animals are alike, no two flowers are alike, no two blades of grass are alike; so also is the resurrection of the dead. We’re not going to be resurrected as cookie cutter kind of clones, we’re going to be who we are uniquely. As one body differs from another, so the resurrection body of the believer will differ from this body, that’s what he said.
And there is the possibility that in the resurrection we will be unique; that’s the second point that he’s making. That is to say your human personality, your personhood will not be wiped out, it will be preserved forever in perfection, but with its distinctives and with its differences. Just as you differ from everybody else now, you will then, just as you are you now, you will be then, so that you will know each other in heaven.
You say, “Well, will we recognize each other?” It won’t be a matter of recognition, it’ll be a matter of innate knowledge, because there will be nothing that you don’t know; you will know as you are known. So the form, not a problem for God, not a problem for God; He can prepare a body.
Erich Sauer wrote, “So the graveyards of man become the seed plots of resurrection, and the cemeteries of the people of God become the resurrection fields of their promised perfection.”
Now having said that, there are two more points to Paul’s thoughts here. Number Three, we’ve seen the analogy in the seed, we’ve seen the form in looking at all the bodies throughout heaven and earth. The contrasts are on his mind, starting in verse 42, the contrasts. This is very interesting. “It” – speaking of the resurrection of the dead, the body – “it is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there’s also a spiritual body.”
A chief objection, of course, from the typical Greek denier of resurrection was that the body was corruptible, and the body was subject to decay. So Paul’s showing us how this ceases to be a problem in the resurrection by a series of contrasts. We get these contrasts very, very clearly in verses 42 and 43. Yes, what died was perishable; what is raised is imperishable. What died was sown in dishonor but raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown natural, raised spiritual. These are contrasts. Let me just look a little more closely at them.
The Authorized Version used to say, “Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption.” The whole of life for man from the cradle to the grave is in this fear of corruption. What does that mean? It means that the first breath you take is the beginning of your dying. This is corruption, dust to dust. The moment you’re born you begin to die. Corruption begins to function and operate. It is a property of man’s earthly body.
I’ve been reading for a long time a fascinating book called “The Emperor or All Maladies.” It’s the biography of cancer, written by a brilliant medical doctor from India. He’s a brilliant, brilliant writer. He’s written a second book, which I’ve started reading called “Genes.”
But in the book “The Emperor of All Maladies” he describes cancer, and he chronicles essentially the entire history of cancer and the history of the battle against cancer. And after about 1,500 pages he comes to the end and says this: “We will never ever conquer cancer, never. Why? Because” – he says – “cancer is what it means to be human. It is unconquerable because it is corruption.”
After all the pages of talking about the whole history of cancer, then the whole history of treating cancer down to the most modern technique today, the sum of his entire research says, “We can’t get rid of it, it is what defines us as human. We are in the process of corruption.” He says that as a nonbeliever. We live in this fear of corruption. Something will take us out sooner or later.
But there is a raising. Go back then to verse 42: “It is sown a perishable, or corrupt, body.” Literally it says, “There is a raising of an imperishable or incorruptible body.” So resurrection life is not just bringing back, like the rabbi said, some corruptible body, but it is raising an incorruptible body. Peter is talking about that when he says the future life of a believer promises “an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 1:4. As our inheritance is incorruptible, imperishable, so we are incorruptible and imperishable who inherit that.
And, second, he says not only is this resurrection body sown a perishable body, but raised an imperishable,” – verse 43 – “it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.” There is a sowing in dishonor. This is the dishonor of death, this is the dishonor of dying. No matter how intelligent you are, no matter how handsome you are, no matter how brilliant you are, no matter how successful you are, no matter how much you’ve accomplished, you begin to show signs of dishonor, corruption. Sin takes its toll, and all your beauty and youth and brilliance and strength and power and influence begin to fade; and you go from whatever honor you received to dishonor.
And if you ever wonder about that, just go visit a home for old people and see some of the brightest and the most honorable people in a state of utter dishonor. We all get there, unless our life is snatched away before. Sin is ultimately going to dishonor us. It’s going to turn us into something that needs to be removed from society and put away and locked up. Human life eventually becomes dishonorable in that sense, in the bodily sense.
It always amazes me to go to a funeral and see what they do to the body to try to give it some honor: make-up, dressing corpses in their Sunday best, putting them in a fine casket. And yet we all know this is the ultimate indignity, the ultimate dishonor.
“But” – says Paul – “it is raised in glory, it is raised in glory.” What does that mean? In the picture of that, Matthew 17, transfiguration glory of Christ. It is raised in radiant glory. It is raised in the full manifestation of divine creation intention.
This doesn’t mean we’ll be like Adam. No, we will not be like Adam before he fell. We will be like Adam would have been if he had never sinned. We will be glorified. Romans 8, he says that: “Whom He has chosen, He justified and He glorified.”
When we come out of the grave there will be no dishonor. We will be everything God created mankind to be, full human glory, radiating even the glory of God shining through our redeemed and resurrected humanity. We will be like Christ in His transfiguration: radiant glory. Saints are viewed in pictures in the book of Revelation as literally radiating light, garments of radiating light and glory. When we die, we are sown in the ground like a seed that is perishable, we are raised imperishable. We are sown like a seed that is in dishonor, we are raised in glory.
Thirdly, in verse 43, we are sown like a seed in weakness, raised in power. Nothing is weaker than a dead body. We are even weak when we are alive. We get weaker as life goes on. We’re subject to disease, heartache, failure, injury. We can’t fulfill our dreams, we can’t fulfill our desires, we can’t conquer our weaknesses, we can’t overcome our temptations. Finally in death, we are utterly helpless. We are sown then in weakness. Nothing weaker than a dead body.
But we are raised in power, raised in power. When we are raised there will be no weakness. We will be raised, possessing eternal power, divine power, the power that is generated in and through us by the very life of God in us. No more the sting of defeat. No more the bitterness of disappointment. No more the shame of failure. No more the impossibility of certain accomplishments and efforts. We will live in a sphere of power and triumph and victory. That’s why over in verse 55 – we’ll come to it later – verse 54 says, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” We come out of the grave victorious. “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Martin Luther said about the human body, “As weak as it is now, without all power and ability when it lies in the grave, so strong will it eventually become when the time arrives, so that not a thing will be impossible for it. It will have the mind for it, and it will be so light,” – says Luther – “so agile, that in an instant it can float here below on earth or above in heaven,” – describing our moving back-and-forth in the new heavens and the new earth.
Yes, the grave does declare the body to be sown in corruptibility, dishonor, and weakness, and it decays. No matter how grandiose the eulogy is, no matter how well-dressed the corpse is, no matter how ornate the funeral, no matter how sweet the fragrances, no matter how beautiful the flowers, it is death, it is decay, the seed sown. But when the resurrection comes, out of the grave will come for the believer a new body. It will be a body raised imperishable, raised in glory, and raised in power.
And summing in verse 44: “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there’s a natural body, there’s also a spiritual body.” Natural means pertaining to the flesh. Natural means pertaining to this life. It has to do with the present life, it’s the natural man, 1 Corinthians 2:14. That’s what this body is for. When we go into the grave, we go sowing – that body is being sown as a natural body, a body designed to fit this present life. It’s psuchikon, it’s psuché, flesh, natural life.
As long as we live on earth we’re plagued by being natural, thus corruption, dishonor, and weakness. That all is a part of sin, of course. The natural body then is not suitable for the life to come; it has to be sown, it has to die, so that another body can come forth, not a natural body, but that it be raised a spiritual body. That is a body which is fit for the spiritual realm; not a spirit, but a body suited for the spiritual realm.
And, again, I perhaps should read 2 Corinthians 5 – I referred to it earlier. Paul says, “If this earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” It’s an eternal body. “Indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. Indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we don’t want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.”
And then he goes on to say, “This is God’s purpose for us.” We give up a psuché, flesh, for pneumatikon sóma, a body that fits the spiritual realm, the realm where God dwells. It’s fit for spiritual life. The body we have now is adapted to this lower place; the body we receive in resurrection will be adapted to that higher place. It is pneumatikon sóma, a body transformed by the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit and adapted for our new residence in heaven. It will be a body of glory. Glory means it’ll be a body where God’s manifestation will radiate from us. We will possess divine life in every sense. We will radiate the very glory of God.
Now you’re saying to yourself, “Now wait a minute, I still don’t know what this thing’s going to look like.” So let me give you the final point that Paul makes, the prototype, verse 45: “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”
Paul loves to make comparisons between Adam and Christ; he does it a lot, he does it a lot. And he does it here again, comparing Adam to Christ, the heads of two families. Adam, of course, is the head of all those who are earthy. Christ is the head of all those who are heavenly. He contrasts these two. There is Adam, who became a living soul – quoting from Genesis 2 – and he has given us natural life, life that is from the earth, earthy. But then there is Christ who is the last Adam who becomes a life-giving spirit, who gives us spiritual life; this is heavenly life. The last Adam gives us life suited for heaven, as the first Adam gave us life suited for earth. We all descend from Adam, we were all there in the loins of Adam, all of us have come from Adam and Eve, and Adam’s nature basically is our nature. We’re like Adam. Adam is the prototype of man’s natural life in a natural body with sin.
Jesus Christ is the prototype of man’s spiritual life in a spiritual body. So if you ask the question, “What will your body be like?” It’ll be like the resurrected body of Christ. That’s the best that we can say.
And they saw Him, they recognized Him, they talked with Him, He ate with them. He walked through walls, He moved Himself from one place to another instantaneously without traversing the space in-between. He had a glory about Him that was transcendent. He moved from earth to heaven. Adam, as originally created, gave us all our natural life; and with it, death. Christ as risen from the dead gives us our spiritual life: incorruptible, glorified, powerful, spiritual life.
Paul actually says in Philippians 3:21, “We will have the body of His glory.” There’s that word “glory” again. First John 3:2, “We will see Him as He is; we will be like Him,” – different, radiant, transcendent, powerful, yet to be touched and felt. And Christ still had the scars of the wounds, still recognizable, the same Jesus.
Do you remember Acts 1:11, Jesus ascending to heaven? The angel said, “This same Jesus, who is taken up from you, will come.” It’s the same Jesus. That is the prototype for resurrection. So all that we know about the resurrected Christ is what we know about our resurrection bodies.
Again, look at Philippians 3:20 and 21 for yourself. Look at all the records in the gospels of Christ after His resurrection and you’ll see the prototype of our resurrected bodies. We bear now the image of Adam, the body of decay; then we will bear the image of Christ, the body of glory. Now we are earthy, then we will be heavenly. “Now we bear the image of the earthy,” – verse 49 – “then the image of the heavenly.”
We will be copies of the Lord Jesus Christ after His resurrection. It’s just an incredible thing to realize; what an astonishing and amazing gift. That’s going to happen. That resurrection is going to happen when our Lord comes.
Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4: “We believe” – verse 14 – “that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” In other words the dead will rise first. “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain” – at the rapture – “will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; so shall we always be with the Lord.”
What happens at the rapture when we are all going up into the air, those who are alive and those who are coming out of the graves? Verse 51 of 1 Corinthians 15 tells us: “I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, 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. And that is when this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. That is when death is swallowed up in victory.”
That’s the resurrection. That’s what the Lord has prepared for us: a body fit for the full life of heaven; a body from which the glory of God will radiate; a body of power; a body without any human restrictions of time or space; a body that can eat but never need to; a body that can fly and move from one place to another freely; a body with no age, no time limitation; a body that exists in an eternal present of joy and peace that knows no past and knows no future, but just an eternal moment of peace and joy; a body exalted to be capable of doing everything that God designed man to do and far beyond what we can imagine; a body totally happy, totally content, totally at peace, totally satisfied, where there is no pain, no tears, no sorrow, no crying, no dying; a body of splendor described as dazzling, as transparent, as shining like the moon and the stars, as the brightness of the sky, as the sun in its strength, and as the Lord Jesus Christ in full resurrection glory. This is an amazing and astonishing promise: we will rise. Now that brings us to the final glorious paragraph, and that will be next for us, and we’ll go into detail as to the event that we read that brings about this glorious resurrection.
Father, we thank You for, again, the opportunity to gather tonight and celebrate loving You, serving You, coming together to worship You in fellowship with one another. We’re just overwhelmed with the greatness of Your promise, this is just staggering to us. We’re not just going to rot in a grave, nor are we going to be raised to eternal damnation, because we belong to You. This is all prepared for us, not because we deserve it, we don’t; not because earned it, we didn’t; but because You have loved us with sovereign and gracious love. We thank You, Lord, for such an astonishing promise to unworthy sinners. Make us grateful, and may that gratitude be demonstrated, because we live every moment to bring thanks to You for such a staggering eternal promise.
We bless Your name. We are not worthy. Help us to be faithful, and to live with joy no matter what this life brings, knowing what is to come, being willing to bear any suffering here for the eternal weight of glory, the inheritance set aside for us in Your presence. And we bless You and thank You, in Christ’s name. Amen.
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