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Tape No. I-4368Page
That I Might Attain to the Resurrection From the Dead
We’re going back to Philippians 3:7–14. Actually, I could say this as a proclamation but I’ll read it.
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed, I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings being conformed to His death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have already attained or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Now that’s Paul describing his life motivation. I’ll go back to those words in a moment.
Then he says in the next verse:
“Therefore let us as many as are mature have this mind; and if anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”
So the mark of maturity is having the same mind, purpose and goal as Paul had. I took this morning the phrase “that I may know Him.” I pointed out Paul had been saved, baptized in the Spirit, called into the ministry and served as an apostle for many years, but his aim was still “that I may know Him.”
Just getting saved doesn’t mean you know the Lord. I gave the example of people who are saved by a stranger. Somebody plunges in, pulls you out of the river, dries you up and sends you on your way; but you never get in touch with that person again. He’s your savior but you don’t know him. That is true, unfortunately, of multitudes of Christians. We’ve got certain phrases we use which start people asking questions, like, “I’m saved.” Or, “I’m born again.” But the truth of the matter is we need proof. Just that fact that you say it doesn’t convince me. A lot of politicians tell us they’re born again, I question it. I think most politicians are not born again. I think they say it merely to get votes from Christians. And if I’m going to believe a politician is born again, I’m going to see the evidence in his life. He’s got to be honest. Charles Finney said, “Is it possible to be a politician and be totally honest?” That’s a very searching question. Because, if you’re not totally honest you’re not living like a Christian.
I pointed out three marks of knowing Him. You notice they say in the teaching profession, which I used to be in, nothing has been taught until something has been learned. So, I haven’t taught anything this morning unless somebody learned something. I could say the words and go through the motions. I want to check very quickly of you who were present this morning whether you learned something. I said the first epistle of John gives three marks of people who really know God. I want to remind you how many of you can remember the three marks. That is really encouraging, a lot of people have their hands up. Some of you weren’t here so we’ll do it again, they’re very important.
The first mark of knowing God is that you keep His commandments. John says if somebody says I know God and does not keep His commandments, He’s a liar. How many of you know where liars are going to end? That’s a solemn thought, isn’t it?
The second mark is he that knows Him has ceased from sin. If you go on sinning, it’s futile to say you know God. You lack the evidence.
And the third is the most searching of all, in my opinion. Everyone who is born of God loves. There is a kind of love that comes only in the lives of those who have been born again. And if you don’t have that kind of love you need some pretty good proof that you’ve been born again. That’s a remarkable statement because it means there’s a kind of love which is only possible in those who have been born again. I believe you can be born again without having that kind of love but I don’t believe you can have that kind of love without being born again. My personal question is do I have that kind of love? The second question I ask is am I reproducing that in the people that I preach to?
In the NASB, 1Timothy 1:5 says this:
“The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, sincere faith and a good conscience.”
So, when we are in the ministry—brothers, fellow preachers, pastors, whatever you are—what is the goal of our instruction? What are we aiming at in people? Love. Are we producing it? If not, Paul goes on to say anything else is wasted time and words. Anything that doesn’t produce love is a diversion.
Look at the behavior of Christians, in no less a city than Atlanta, and ask yourself do they love one another? If not, the world has got every right to say these people are not born again. Is that true? Those of us that are in the ministry need to ask ourself what are we producing? Are we producing that kind of love?
I was seriously shaken just recently, I don’t want to go into details, but a man who had listened to my teaching regularly for six years became very vicious and unloving, primarily toward me. I wasn’t so much concerned with what it meant to me but I was concerned what has my teaching produced in that man after six years? So this isn’t a session for preachers but if we are preachers, those of you who in any way minister the Word, would you just raise your hand for a moment. All right. Let’s ask ourselves what are we producing in the people that we preach to Sunday after Sunday? Are they wonderfully loving people? If not, brothers, we’re wasting our time. Anything that doesn’t produce love is a waste of time.
You know what I discovered in this man? I mean, I have totally forgiven him, I’ve tried to learn from him. I discovered that knowledge puffs up but love edifies. I puffed him up with all the knowledge I’d imparted to him but he didn’t have love. I pray for him regularly. But it taught me a lesson, it led me to ask myself what is being produced in the people that listen to me?
So, those are the three marks of knowing God. As you sit here this evening just check yourself, do you have the evidence that you know God? Number one, you keep His commandments. Number two, you cease from sin. And, number three, you have a kind of love which can’t be produced any other way.
This evening, God helping me, I want to go on with Paul’s life aim. I want to go back to Philippians 3 and the next verse, which is verse 11. In verse 10 says:
“...that I may know Him...”
And verse 11 says:
“...if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
That was Paul’s ultimate goal, was to attain, to arrive at the resurrection from the dead. The Greek word that’s translated resurrection has an extra preposition. It’s what we call the “out-resurrection.” I believe it’s what John in Revelation calls the first resurrection. It says in Revelation 20:4:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the Word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived...”
They came to life. They’d been killed but they lived:
“...and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”
The first resurrection is that which takes place before the thousand years. That’s the “out-resurrection,” the resurrection only of true believers. It says blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Anybody who is not holy has no part in that resurrection.
Then Paul said that’s my aim, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. I believe he’s a pattern. He said if we’re otherwise minded we need to check. You see, I find very few Christians today who have that aim. A lot of Christians have the aim of getting to heaven. That was not Paul’s aim. Heaven was a stopping stage on the way but it wasn’t the end of the journey.
I thank God that if we die in Christ we will, I believe, our spirits will go to heaven and we will be with Him. It will be a time of rest and release. But, it’s not the goal. I’ll tell you one reason why. The very scripture that we quoted said our whole spirit, soul and body may be preserved blameless. When I go to heaven, if God is gracious enough to accept me, and I’m buried, my body is not preserved blameless. It goes into corruption, molders. Jesus redeemed the whole man. He redeemed the spirit, the soul and the body. And as long as that body lies moldering in some grave the job isn’t complete, His atonement has not yet been fully accomplished. When will it be accomplished? At the first resurrection. Then spirit, soul and body will be in the perfect condition which was purchased for us by the death of Jesus on the cross. Heaven is a temporary resting place. Thank God for it, I don’t want to belittle heaven, but it’s not our goal. I believe this makes a tremendous difference because I believe Christians who really see that the resurrection is our goal live a different kind of life. I find in the New Testament that the main motivation for holiness was the expectation of the return of the Lord. If you check, I think you’ll find at least 80% of the scriptures that require holiness require it in the light of the fact that the Lord is coming back and we’re going to meet Him.
So, this goal is vitally important for the kind of life we live. It’s all so exciting. I wonder if you’ve ever been excited? I’m going to try to describe in a little while what it will be like. If you don’t get excited, there’s something wrong with you.
Now, Paul said in Philippians 1:23:
“...that I may depart and be with Christ...”
Now that was being received into heaven. But he said that’s not the end, that’s just a resting place. Thank God for it but don’t set your sights on that. It’s almost “I’ll get out of it all. My suffering and my problems will be at an end.” That’s a negative solution, it’s not the positive. The positive is I’m going to be a totally whole person with a glorified body like that of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s different.
Let’s consider some of the scriptures that speak about anticipation. In Hebrews 9:28—pastors, I want to assure you that if you’ll preach this truth you’ll stimulate your people to holiness in a way that nothing else will do. Hebrews 9:28:
“Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
To whom will He appear? To those who eagerly wait for Him. Are you eagerly waiting? Where is your expectation? That’s beyond the grave. Lots of people claim to be saved and born again who have really no anticipation of the return of the Lord. But the people that Jesus is coming back for are the people who are eagerly waiting for Him.
And then in Titus 2, here’s another of our proclamation passages, it’s a most beautiful one. Titus 2:11–14:
“For the grace of God that bring salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us...”
How many of you know that grace teaches? So many people assume that grace just means I can do anything now. Grace brings us under discipline.
“...teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
What motivates us to live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age? We’re looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Are you looking for Him? Be sincere. Don’t nod your head just because you’re in a religious meeting. Is it really true that that’s where your goal is fixed? Paul said if by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead. It seemed to me that Paul didn’t have the kind of positive confession that a lot of people have today. He said I’m not yet sure that I’m going to make it but I’ll do anything to be there.
Brothers and sisters, how much do you have more than Paul? So why do you take it for granted? If Paul had to say if by any means, how can you say, “Well, I know I’ll be there”? Maybe that’s presumptuous. You know, a lot of what is taught as faith is really presumption and a lot of else that’s taught as faith is wishful thinking.
I was talking to a young woman in Jerusalem a while before we left, a very fine Christian woman. She was telling me the things she was believing God for. I said to her, “Tell me, how do you distinguish between faith and wishful thinking?” She didn’t have an answer. I think I disturbed her a little but my impression was a lot of what she called faith was just wishful thinking.
But that boomeranged on to me and I thought to myself how do I distinguish between faith and wishful thinking? I’m not going to try to answer that question but I’ll leave it with you. Let me point out to you there is a difference and a whole lot of what is called faith in the Charismatic movement is nothing but wishful thinking. And usually it leads to disappointment. A lot of people who have been hyped up to believe they’ve got faith find they don’t have it and their faith is shaken; many of them cease to be believers. Is that true? It certainly is.
Let’s read the last of that passage:
“...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Did you notice, incidentally, that Paul calls Jesus God? Do you have any problems with that? Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
“Who gave Himself for us that he might redeem us from every lawless deed...”
Tell me, have you been redeemed from every lawless deed? How do you respond to speed limits? Have you been redeemed from every lawless deed?
“...and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
That’s a beautiful phrase, isn’t it, “His own special people.” I often ask myself what is God going to get out of history? I mean, He’s been so patient, He’s endured so much wickedness, so much evil and so much suffering—for millennia. What is He waiting for? Why doesn’t He close the whole thing off? My personal answer is God is waiting for one thing, His own special people. And He’ll wait with infinite patience until every one has come in. He’s not waiting for an institution. I believe the world will be in a mess such as it has never been in when Jesus comes back. But God will endure all that because He’s got one aim, a people for Himself.
That amazes me. That gives me an ambition. I want to be one of His own special people. I’m not concerned with denominational labels, He’s not coming back for a denomination. He’s not coming back for Baptists, is He? He’s not coming back for Pentecostals, He’s not coming back for Charismatics and, if there are any Catholics here, He’s not coming back for Catholics. He’s coming back for His own special people, zealous for good works.
I wonder if I’m communicating to you something of Paul’s vision? You see, the Bible says where there is no vision the people perish or cast off restraint. The only thing that will keep God’s people disciplined is vision. If we lose the vision of where we’re headed for and what God wants us to be, we will very quickly become self indulgent, slack, self pleasing, indifferent to the claims of God. The only thing that will keep us on track is vision. Don’t put your hand up but how many of you ever tried to diet? And even still don’t put your hand up, how many of you succeeded? Do you know the key to dieting? Vision. You’ve got to see yourself the way you intend to be. And keep that vision before you all the time, otherwise your willpower will fail, and the next time ice cream is in front of you, you’ll dive in.
It’s the same in the Christian life. The only thing that will keep you on track is vision. Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint. Vision is the key to discipline. Without it we’ll very quickly become carnal, self-indulgent, self-pleasing and unwilling to sacrifice.
So, the New Testament says the first requirement for partaking in the first resurrection is eager anticipation of the Lord’s return.
The second requirement, or the second vision, is the redemption of our body. There are a number of exciting scriptures, we’ll just memorize one. 1Thessalonians 5:23–24:
“...that our whole body, soul and spirit may be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That’s when our body will be blameless. There will be no flaws, there will be no sickness, there will be no corruption. That’s it. And it’s not complete till then.
Romans 8:23, Paul says:
“The whole creation is groaning in pain together until now, waiting for...”
What? The resurrection. And then he says:
“...and not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”
Are you eagerly waiting for the redemption of your body? And if so, are you groaning within yourself? You see, when we get a vision of what God intends and how far away we are from Him and how far the whole creation has moved from God’s purpose, something within us will begin to groan. That’s not happiness, that’s in a way what we spoke about this morning, sharing the sufferings of Christ. Salvation doesn’t always make you happy, sometimes it has the very opposite effect. It is true it brings peace, it brings joy. But, it doesn’t always bring happiness. And so many Christians today have been trained to believe they ought to be happy that when they’re not happy they feel guilty, which complicates the problem. It’s bad enough being unhappy but to be guilty because you’re unhappy, that makes it far worse.
Paul said through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Jesus said narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it. That doesn’t sound like an easy way through life without any problems. If you are on an easy way without any problems, there’s just one problem, you’re not on the right way.
Is it worth sacrificing for to be in the first resurrection? Paul says, “No matter what it costs, I want to be there.”
Before I became a preacher, before most of you were even thought of, I was a logician, I studied logic at Cambridge. And the thing that blesses me about the New Testament, it is so totally logical. You never need to apologize intellectually if you believe the New Testament, it’s the most logical work that was ever penned. Its logic is flawless. And it points out to be in the first resurrection is going to cost you something. Salvation is free but it’s not cheap.
Let’s to go Philippians 3 again, the conclusion of this wonderful 3rd chapter of Philippians. Let me recommend you do something if you’ve been in any way impacted by my teaching. Spend a week reading nothing but Philippians 3. Read it over and over and over again until it becomes part of your thinking. So, right at the end of chapter 3, verses 20–21, Paul says:
“Our citizenship is in heaven...”
Of what nation are you a citizen? Most of you are citizens of the United States. I am, I’m also a citizen of Britain. But I have a third citizenship which is in heaven. And I have a passport, too. It’s not much good having citizenship without a passport.
“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Did you notice what it said? We eagerly wait. Is that true? It’s exactly the same as was stated in Hebrews 9. We eagerly wait.
And then it says about the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself.”
Now, I studied Greek since I was ten years old. I was qualified to teach it at university level. That doesn’t mean I’m always right but I’m entitled to my opinion. I say without fear of contradiction, the two phrases “our lowly body” and “His glorious body” are literally “the body of our humiliation” and “the body of His glory.” So, the body we have now is a body of humiliation. Why are we humiliated? Because of our sins. And God has put us in a body that continually reminds us we’re fallen. So, no matter what you do, you can buy the most expensive clothes and the most expensive perfume and feed on the most expensive food. But you still have to empty your bladder and your bowels. And whoever had done that with dignity—Or, if you move around a lot and get rather excited, what will happen? You will perspire. In other words, you’ll sweat. Your clothing may be the most elegant but it’ll get smelly. Why? Because you’re in a body of humiliation and God has designed this body to remind us every 24 hours we’re fallen creatures. But, when Jesus comes He’s going to change the body of our humiliation to a body which is like that of His glory. He’s the only one who can do it. If nothing else excited you, that should. The next time you have pains and aches all over, and indigestion, just pat your stomach and say, “You’re a stomach of humiliation.”
But one day it’ll be different.
One more scripture, 1John 3:1–3, familiar words to many. This is another of our proclamations.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God, and we are. Therefore, the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
That’s the same as Paul said, our body of humiliation will be transformed into a body of glory. When will it happen? When He is revealed. When we see Him we’ll become like Him.
And then John applies this lesson:
“And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
See, there’s another way to check. Do you have the hope of the resurrection? Don’t just tell me you do, produce the evidence. Everyone who has this hope purifies himself. If you’re not purifying yourself you’re deceiving yourself if you think that you’re going to be ready for the resurrection. Because, the mark of everyone who truly has this hope is he purifies himself.
It’s interesting, in Titus 2 it says Jesus redeemed us that He might purify for Himself His own special people. There Jesus is the one that does the purifying. But in 1John 3, everyone that has this hope purifies himself. It’s a two way operation. Jesus does it when we cooperate but He doesn’t do it without us. That’s what we’re looking for.
Now, one of the exciting facts which many Christians are not aware of is the whole of creation is eagerly waiting for this event. You see, why do the animals suffer? Why is the environment being corrupted? Whose fault is it? Our fault. Man was put in charge, he was told to steward it; and we have messed it up to a degree that’s almost unbelievable. And in a certain sense, the environmentalists are right but they don’t have the solution. This is the solution: man cannot solve his own environmental problems, he’s too selfish. You can tell the people of Brazil they shouldn’t cut down their rain forests but they make a big profit by doing it. So what if the rest of the world suffers. That’s the attitude of fallen man, this is not an attack on Brazilians because the people of the more advanced nations continually pollute the atmosphere with their cars. The German people know full well that they’re destroying their forests with the emissions from their cars but they really love driving those cars at 100 miles on the Autobahn. And, they’re not willing to stop. So, lots of people know what we ought to do but very few people do it. That’s the problem.
So, it’s going to take more than environmentalism to change the problem. This is what Paul says, Romans 8:18:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Paul says, frankly, at the present time we suffer. How many of you would say that’s not true? But some of you think it ought to be true. See? The problem is that a lot of people are being taught there shouldn’t be any suffering. That’s a lie. It doesn’t solve any problems, it just makes the problems worse because not only do we suffer but we feel guilty about suffering. That’s ridiculous. I’m going back to that verse:
“When I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Now this is exciting, listen:
“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
When will we be revealed? At the resurrection. And the whole creation is waiting for that. It’s somewhat humbling to think creation is waiting and the church isn’t.
And then he goes on to say:
“For the creation was subjected to futility [or vanity], not willing, but because of him who subjected in hope that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
When will the creation be delivered? When we are. That’s God’s amazing program. We’re responsible for the mess and the mess will not be cleared up until we’ve been delivered.
And then he says:
“For we know [and most of us don’t know] that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”
Have you ever heard the groaning of creation in your spirit? Have you ever been aware of the groaning of the animals? The trees, the forests, the lakes, the rivers? Defiled and corrupted by man. What a responsibility rests upon the human race.
There’s a beautiful passage in the psalms which depicts how the creation will react to the coming of the Lord. Psalm 96:11–13. For me this has become so vivid, I don’t know whether it will be vivid to you.
“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad:
Let the sea roar and all its fullness.
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the wood will rejoice before the Lord.
For He is coming to judge the earth;
He shall judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with His truth.”
The whole creation says, “Thank God, the Lord is coming to put things right. We’ve suffered century after century because of the wickedness of man. But now the Lord Jesus is coming to deal with all that.”
And then in Psalm 98:7–9, the same thing.
“Let the sea roar in all its fullness...”
What will that be like when the sea roars in all its fullness? That will be frightening. Jesus said that just before the coming of the Lord the sea and the waves roaring, and men’s’ hearts failing them for fear. That will be a frightening noise for those who don’t know the Lord.
“Let the sea roar in all its fullness,
the earth and all who dwell on it.
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the hills be joyful together before the Lord.”
“For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
and the peoples with equity.”
Can you understand, the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together until now because of what we’ve done to it. And there’s only one hope, the coming of the Lord. And when the Lord starts to come, the trees are going to clap their hands, the mountains and the hills are going to shout for joy, the sea is going to roar. Can you understand, God is not going to end this age with an anticlimax, He’s building to a climax. It’s not going to be dull, it’s not going to be religious, it’s going to be intensely exciting. And, very frightening for those who don’t know the Lord.
We come to one last question which is exciting, what will it be like at the first resurrection? What kind of changes will take place? Let’s turn to 1Thessalonians 4 for a moment, verses 13–18:
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, dear brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep...”
That’s believers who’ve died.
“...lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
Sleep is only used of believers who have died because they’re going to wake. It’s not used of unbelievers.
“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 by no means precede those who are asleep [those who have died]. For the Lord Himself...”
This is not just a Messianic age, this is the Messiah.
“The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
There are going to be three dramatic sounds. First of all, the shout of the Lord. The Bible makes it plain that God shouts. There’s a lot of different passages that speak about God shouting. He’s not afraid to use His voice, He doesn’t merely whisper. What is the purpose of this shout of the Lord Himself? What’s it going to accomplish? It’s going to call all true believers out of the grave. He alone has the voice that can call the dead out of the tomb.
You notice when He stood before the tomb of Lazarus He was very specific. He didn’t say, “Come forth,” He said, “Lazarus, come forth.” Because, if He had said, “Come forth,” all the dead would have come.
Now He’s going to call all His believing people by name. And that call will bring the bodies out of the tombs. That’s the first sign.
Then there’s the voice of the archangel. I suppose that’s going to be Gabriel whose business it is to prepare the earth for an intervention of God.
And the third is the trumpet of God. We had some beautiful trumpeters here this evening but that’s going to be on a new level, the trumpet of God.
And what will happen?
“The dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord and also with one another.”
No more separations, no more partings, no more tears.
The word that says “we are caught up” is an exciting word, it’s a very powerful word. It’s a violent word. It’s used of a thief breaking into a building and stealing. It’s used of the wolf coming and snatching away the sheep. Somehow or other, Jesus is going to reach down His hand and catch up those who belong to Him. He’s coming like a thief and He’s going to snatch what He’s coming for. But there’s one important difference, He’s only going to take what belongs to Him. Those who are Christ’s will be raised up, no one else.
Now let’s consider very briefly the five physical changes that will take place. What kind of body will we have? Paul asks that question in 1Corinthians 15:35.
“That someone will say, How are the dead raised up and with what body do they come?”
And in the verses that follow he reveals five successive changes that will take place in our bodies.
In verses 42–44 he says:
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body 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. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
And then he says in verse 53:
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
And if you analyze those verses, there are five changes.
From corruption, or decay, to incorruption. It will be a body that cannot decay. There will be no more wrinkles, no more hair falling out, no more hair turning gray, no more stiff joints. Amen.
Secondly, it will be from dishonor to glory. It was a body of humiliation but it will be raised up a body of glory.
Thirdly, it will be from weakness to power. Burial is the last evidence of human weakness. Nobody ever buried himself. We’re all dependent on somebody else to put our body into the grave. We are totally weak but when we’re raised up it’ll be in power.
Then Paul says it’s a natural body that’s buried but it’s a spiritual body that will be raised up. The word natural in Greek is soulish, and that would demand a study on its own. Natural does not represent it. It’s buried a soulish body, it’s raised a spiritual body. This is my understanding, the soulish body is the body that’s controlled by the soul. Like when David wanted to praise the Lord, his spirit had to speak to his soul, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” The spirit knew what to do but it couldn’t do it without the soul. But somehow, and I don’t know how, when we’re raised up, the spirit will be able to operate without any hindrance. It will be a spiritual body, a spirit controlled body.
And finally, it’s sown a mortal body, it’s raised up an immortal body. It’s sown a body that is subject to death, it’s raised up a body that will never die. How could we believe that without getting excited? I mean to say, if you don’t get excited you really don’t believe it. I mean, I don’t want to provoke you but in a sense I do. I want to provoke you to get excited.
See, we go around with all our daily problems, burdens, worries and anxieties and we lose sight of our goal, which is to attain to the resurrection from the dead. And when that becomes real and vivid to us there is no grief and there is no sorrow that can overwhelm us. I don’t mean that we won’t have grief and sorrow, we all will. But we have something that will carry us through. We’ll experience maybe many temptations to sin but then we’ll remember the words of Paul, “May our whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We’ll be tempted to depression and despair, but the Bible says we have a hope. We all have one hope, it’s the coming of the Lord.
See, if we don’t live in this expectation we’re living far below the level of what God has provided for us. And we’re the losers. There’s nothing harmful about believing in the resurrection of the body, it’s all good. There’s no bad news, it’ll be perfect. So why walk around with your shoulders stooped and your brow furrowed and your face dark? Why? Why are you doing that? Because you’ve lost the vision, or you never had the vision. God didn’t intend Christians to live without the vision of the resurrection. Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint. The only really effective motivation for holiness is the anticipation of the coming of the Lord.
There are two requirements, both of them stated in scripture. The first is holiness, the second is expectancy. Hebrews 12:14 says:
“Pursue holiness, for without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
And then Hebrews 9:28 says:
“To those that eagerly wait for Him, He will come the second time.”
There are two requirements, holiness and expectancy. How about you? Is this real to you? Does it affect the way you live? Are you living in the light of it or do you need some kind of radical change in your life and in your lifestyle?
There was a wonderful prayer for Atlanta to be touched by the power of God. But that will not happen till Christians are living the kind of life they ought to be.