Today's message takes the resurrection theme one step further. Derek speaks about the new kind of body with which believers will be resurrected, the resurrection body of the righteous.
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you out of truths that life has taught me, truths that have made the difference between success and failure in my life, and can do the same for you.
First of all, let me say thank you to those of you who have been writing to me. Before I finish this talk, we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. Feel free to share with us your personal needs, your problems, your prayer requests.
The past two weeks I’ve been sharing with you on a rich and wonderful theme that has so much meaning for us all – the theme of “Victory Over Death.” This week I’m going to continue and complete this theme. There are still so many wonderful treasures waiting for us to discover!
In my closing talk last week, I spoke about one of the main events associated with the second coming of Christ: the resurrection of righteous believers.
Today, I’m going to take this topic one step further: I’m going to speak about the new kind of body with which believers will be resurrected, the resurrection body of the righteous.
The great chapter that deals with the resurrection is, of course, 1 Corinthians 15. In verses 35-38, Paul deals with this subject of the resurrection body:
“But some one will say, ‘How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?’ You fool! 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.” (NAS)
Here Paul is drawing an analogy between two things:
1. A grain of wheat planted in the earth
2. A believer’s body buried in the earth
And he is pointing out that there is a kind of correspondence between what happens to the grain of wheat and to the believer’s body.
Now, in the closing chapter of my book, Resurrection of the Dead, I’ve worked out the lessons to be learned from this analogy, so I am going to read a passage from that chapter:
Here Paul uses the analogy of a grain of corn, planted in the ground, to illustrate the relationship between the body that is buried and the body that is raised up in resurrection. Out of this analogy there emerge three facts which may be applied to the resurrection of the body.
First, there is direct continuity between the seed that is planted in the ground and the plant that later grows up out of the ground from that seed. The basic material of the original seed is still contained in the plant that grows up out of that seed.
Second, that plant that grows up out of the original seed undergoes, in that process, certain definite and obvious changes. The outward form and appearance of the new plant is different from that of the original seed.
Third, the nature of the original seed determines the nature of the plant that grows up out of it. Each kind of seed can produce only the kind of plant that is appropriate to it. A seed of wheat can produce only a stalk of wheat; a seed of barley can produce only a stalk of barley.
Let us now apply these three facts, taken from the analogy of a seed, to the nature of the body that is to be resurrected.
First, there is direct continuity of kind between the body that is buried and the body that is resurrected.
Second, the body that is resurrected undergoes, in that process, certain definite and obvious changes. The outward form and appearance of the new, resurrected body is different from that of the original body that was buried.
Third, the nature of the body that is buried determines the nature of the body that is resurrected. There will be a direct logical and casual connection between the condition of the believer in his present earthly existence and the nature of the body with which he will be resurrected.
So much then for the analogy between a grain of wheat planted in the ground and the body of the believer buried.
Then in this 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul continues further on the same theme of the nature of the resurrection body. (1 Corinthians 15: 39-42):
“All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and 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. So also is the resurrection of the dead...” (NAS)
Paul makes a number of different points there:
First of all, he points out that even here on earth there are various different kinds of bodies. Bodies of birds, men, fish, beasts, and so on. Then he points out that beyond the earthly realm, in the heavenly realm, there are other kinds of bodies which are very different in kind from the bodies which we are familiar with on earth. He goes on to point out that among these heavenly bodies there are differences in appearance and in glory. The sun differs from the moon. The stars differ from both and from one another, and he applies this to resurrection bodies. He says, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” So the kind of body we have here on earth is one kind, but the kind of body we are going to be resurrected with is a different kind of body, suited to the heavenly regions, which will be our new home.
I think this is very obvious; that when a man is put out in space in a capsule, he can go right into the heavenly regions, but he has to take earth’s atmosphere and conditions with him. His body is not suited to the heavenly regions. It’s still an earthly kind of body. But when we get our new resurrection body, it will not be limited to earth’s surface and earth’s atmosphere. And then of course, among the bodies that are given to believers in resurrection, there will be differences in glory, just as there are between the various stars; and the difference in glory will be related to the faithfulness of service of each believer here on earth. So there will be a glory appropriate to the faithfulness of the service of each believer which will be manifested forever in his resurrection body.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul goes on further. From verse 42 and following, he says (1 Corinthians 15:42-44):
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. 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 is also a spiritual body.” (NAS)
Let me pause here to observe that the word translated “natural” in the English version is derived directly from the Greek word “soul.” The most literal translation is “soulish.” There is a soulish body and there is a spiritual body. I’ll return to that in a few moments, but let me just point out one other difference between the natural body that is buried and the resurrection body that will come up out of it. Paul states this in 1 Corinthians 15:53:
“For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immorality.” (NAS)
Now, if we put those different verses from 1 Corinthians 15 together, we find five specific changes that will take place between the body that is buried and the body that is raised. Let’s look for a moment at these five changes:
1. The body buried is perishable – the resurrection body is imperishable. The King James version says corruptible and incorruptible. It means that our natural body is subject to corruption or liable to perish. It’s subject to sickness, pain, disease, old age, our teeth wear out, our hair drops out, our skin begins to wrinkle – all that we accept as natural in this earthly body, but it will be quite different in the resurrection body.
2. Change from mortal to immortal. Mortal means liable to death. Immortal means not liable to death. We all know that this present body is liable to death, but the resurrection body will not be liable to death. It will be immortal.
3. From dishonor to glory. We need to understand that the body that we have now is the result of sin. it wasn’t the body that God originally equipped Adam with. It carries on it the marks of man’s sin. In a certain sense, it reminds us of our own dishonor. So, the resurrection body will be a body of glory. It will no longer remind us of the consequences of our sin.
4. Weakness to power. The body that is buried is a weak body. Whenever I attend a funeral, I always think of that – how weak man is. It may be a man of great strength, or great intelligence, or great ability – but one day his inherent weakness is made manifest by the fact that he has to succumb to death. The body that is raised will be a body of power.
5. Natural or soulish to spiritual. This is perhaps not easy to explain or understand, but one of the things that is stated in the Scripture is that “the soul of all flesh is in the blood.” Our natural body is a body that contains blood. My personal opinion is that the resurrection body will contain flesh and bones, but no blood. Beyond that, it will be a body in which the spirit directs and controls – and not the soul. Man will be directed from above by is ongoing contact with God. He will not be under the impulses and influences of the soul, as he is in the present body. Finally, it will be a body of the same order as that of Jesus when He was resurrected. Philippians 3:20-21 says:
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory [Notice, we are living at this time in a body of a humble state. The Greek says, literally, a body of humiliation. It’s the body that’s borne the humiliation of consequences of our sin. No matter how wealthy or beautiful a person may be, their body always reminds them of that humiliation: it perspires, they have to go to the bathroom, they are subject to sickness. It’s always a body of humiliation. The new body will be like that of the Lord Jesus – a body of glory.]” (NAS)
All right, our time is up for today, but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow, I’ll move on to the next phase of God’s program, which follows after resurrection – that is, Judgment.