- I. Creation Illustrations (verses 36-42a)
- 1. Seeds
- (i) Decomposition Of Seed
- (ii) Difference Of Plant
- (iii) Continuity Of Both
- 2. Flesh
- (i) Difference In Kind
- 3. Stars
- (i) Difference In Glory
- 1. Seeds
- II. Contrasts (verses 42b-44)
- Corruption and Incorruption
- Dishonour and Glory
- Weakness and Power
- Natural and Spiritual
- III. Characteristics (verses 45-49)
This is our 41st study in 1 Corinthians, I'm just not 100% sure how many studies we have been in chapter 15, this may be number 4 or even 5, looking at the subject of resurrection. Tonight's topic is 'Our Resurrection Bodies', which is particularly interesting to most people, but especially to us who are believers. We're going to take up our reading from verse 35, and not read any of the rest of the chapter because we've already read it and studied it in depth, and we've quite a large chunk to deal with tonight and I want to get through it all.
Verse 35, and remember the subject chiefly is 'Our Resurrection Bodies': "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but 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 his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial", heavenly bodies and earthy 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 one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly".
The portion of verses that we have read together tonight begin with a twofold question in verse 35, look at it: 'But some man will say', a rhetorical question that the apostle Paul is anticipating, or perhaps that he has even read in this lost epistle that we assume was written to Paul asking many questions of the spiritual realm. Some man, whether in writing or whether just in Paul's mind, will say: 'How are the dead raised up?'. They will question the actual reality of the resurrection of the body of the believer, and of course we realise as we've gone through this series so far that the Corinthian believers were not doubting the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but were saying: 'Although we believe that He has risen from the dead, we don't believe that we're going to rise from the dead one day'. Some man will say: 'How are the dead raised up?', but here is the intrinsic crux of the question that Paul has in mind in the second half of verse 35 - they will ask this second question: 'With what body do they come?'. Now that's the real sense of this question: how are the dead raised? - in other words what are the mechanics, what are the logistics of the physical resurrection of the believer.
Now you have to understand, and hopefully you have picked this up over the last few weeks - but maybe you're a newcomer tonight and you haven't been with us in previous studies - you've got to understand that these Corinthian believers were living in Greek society. Many people in Greek society who had been converted from pagan backgrounds had been influenced by the pagan philosophies. One philosophy that was starting even in this day to infiltrate the church of Jesus Christ, we see it in Corinthians and we see it in further epistles like Ephesians and even 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, was the theory of the Gnostics. 'Gnosis', men who believed that they had superior knowledge of God and God's way, and the Gnostics were teaching the doctrine that the body is evil. In fact they said that all matter was evil, anything physical in the universe was evil and of no intrinsic value to God or to the spiritual realm. Therefore they didn't see any value in the bodily resurrection - what's the point of it all? 'This body is evil, and the sooner my spirit or soul can get out of it the better! If the rots in the grave it doesn't matter, I can leave it there and I'm as free as a bird, and I'll fly to God in some kind of utopia or nirvana'.
Therefore these Greeks, many of them, even beginning in the church of Corinth, Christians were starting to doubt the possibility of a physical resurrection one day - in fact, many of them were saying that it's an absolute impossibility according to our reasoning. If you think, it's not too hard to come to that conclusion. In the so-called advanced scientific age in which we live, we realise what a reasonable impossibility it seems to be that the physical body that dies and rots in the grave should ever come to life again. After all, when the body is turned to dust we know, scientifically, that turns to soil, and from that soil other bodies derive nutrition - nourishment comes, actually, from the dead bodies of beasts and plants and animals, and human beings all around us! If we could define it like this, in short, the food we eat is a part of the elements of dead things, dead vegetation, dead animal life, dead human life of generations long ago. In fact, I read an article today that said when the body of the founder of Rhode Island, some of you may know was Roger Williams, when he was exhumed from the grave it was discovered that the roots of a nearby apple tree had actually grown through the coffin, and were nourishing that tree from the nourishment that was from the dead body of that man.
The fact of the matter is: there is in nature the cycle of life, where death feeds life. Life dies, and death feeds life again over and over again. To the modern mind, to the rational mind, people think to themselves: 'How therefore can the dead rise again, when all of the particles of humanity and animal life all around the world are scattered abroad, who knows where? At the resurrection, who will claim the various elements of the body? Where will they be? Who has them?'. Maybe some of the questions you are asking are these: 'What about people who have been cremated? What happens to their body that has been burnt? What about people down through the years, even in our own land during the troubles, who were killed in great explosions and their bodies were blown to smithereens? What about people who are still living, who one day will die and their bodies have been dismembered - where will be that dismembered part on the day of the resurrection? What about folk who have been lost at sea? What about people's ashes who have been carried away in the wind?'. Now don't laugh too hard, but a few weeks or months ago I think, I watched a television programme that showed a man whose last wishes were that his ashes were taken - I think this was maybe at Halloween time - and were strapped into a firework, shot up into heaven, and the big blue and green and red flash went off, and presumably so did he everywhere around the sky. What happens to a body that has been disposed of like that?
These are valid questions to be asking, even some folk who have lost little infant children may be asking the question, in the light of the fact of the resurrection: 'How will my child be raised again? Will they be raised as a child or will they be raised as an adult?'. Now let me say tonight that there are not answers to every single question that we have on the subject of eternity or the subject of the resurrection, and I don't claim to have many of them here tonight - but the question that the Corinthians were asking: 'Paul, if as you say this fact of Christ's resurrection and our subsequent resurrection is true, how could it possibly happen?'. Now, I don't know whether the Corinthians were asking this question, but I feel that some in our modern age - even Christians - can ask it: why is resurrection necessary? Why is a bodily resurrection necessary? Why can't we be like those who are already in heaven, we're assuming they are happy as departed saints - Paul said that they're absent from the body and present with the Lord, which is far better. They are content, they're satisfied, they are fulfilled in the presence of Christ, why do we need to have a bodily resurrection, why can't we just go as a spirit to heaven and dwell there for all eternity as our brethren and sisters that have gone on before us are tonight?
Here's the reason why, if you haven't realised this yet in our studies in chapter 15 you've got to realise it tonight, and it's right throughout the whole body of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation: embodiment is the end of all of God's ways - have you got that? Embodiment is the end of all God's ways - what do I mean? It's this, 1 Thessalonians chapter 5:23, Paul prays that our whole body, soul and spirit, might be presentable on the last day. We are a tripartite being, we are made up of our body, our physical part; we are made up of our soul, our personality if you like, our intellect, our will and our emotion; and our spirit, which is the part that, if we're not saved, is dead, but if we are it relates to God in worship. God's purpose and goal for redemption is that our body, soul, and spirit - i.e. the whole man - is redeemed in the end, and seen to be redeemed. That is why the resurrection of the body is important, because the resurrection of the body more correctly is the resurrection of body, soul, and spirit put together. The fact of the matter is this: if Christ never rose from the dead, His soul in His body might have gone free back to God, or wherever you think it went, but His body still lies rotting in the grave - it is still held by death! His victory on Calvary's cross is only a partial victory, and it's only a two-thirds victory because although His soul and spirit are free, His body is still in the clutches of death - death still holds sway over Him and over us as His disciples. That is why it is necessary that the body rises from the dead!
Now maybe the question is the one that perhaps, I think, at the back of their minds the Corinthians were asking: why would you want your body back from the grave? I mean, why would you want the old body with all its aches and pains and limitations back? I just wonder, as one commentator asks, could the Corinthians have heard some of the modern day teaching of their age of the Jewish rabbis - which was a misinterpretation of such Scriptures as Job 19:26, where Job says: 'Yet from my flesh I shall see God', and they taught that the resurrection body that we would have would be identical in every way to the body that we are living in now, there wouldn't be anything different. You can understand the Greeks, that if they were hearing this they'd be saying: 'What would be the point or the attraction in all of that? I want rid of this old body!'.
Therefore, to the Greeks, not only was it not possible in their minds to think or conceive of the body being raised again, but it was undesirable if it was going to be a body just like the body that we inhabit tonight. Now let me say this categorically right at the very beginning of this study so that you don't misunderstand anything that I'm saying, and so that you hear very clearly what the Bible teaches and what we as Christian believers hold to - it is this: resurrection is not reconstruction - have you got that? The doctrine of resurrection from the word of God is not reconstruction. I mean this: that there is nowhere in the Bible that teaches that at the resurrection God will put together all the old pieces and return our former bodies to us - that is not in the word of God! Resurrection not only is not reconstruction, it is not resuscitation. It is not simply the old body brought back to life again, it is something far surpassing that. Therefore it refutes both of these questions that the Corinthians may have been asking: is it necessary? It is necessary! Why would you want your old body back? It's not going to be your old body back!
So what will it be like? Well here we enter our study, and Paul begins to tell us - here's what it's going to be like. Like every good preacher he uses much illustration, and first of all he says in verse 36 - I want you to note this - 'Thou fool'. Speaking to this man, or men, he calls these people who are contemplating the idea that there is no resurrection, he calls them fools - literally in the Greek it could be translated 'you unthinking ones'. These Greek philosophers were the very ones that thought they were the great thinking ones. He calls them fools, and the reason why he seems to be so harsh is because he knows that their questioning and their doubts about the resurrection are not coming from honest hearts grappling with truth of God, but rather they are the reflection and echo of the mocking taunts of sceptical pagan philosophical minds of their day. They were starting to imbibe the doctrine of the world - 'Fools!', he said, 'Unthinking ones'.
Then he asks them, and I want you to see his expertise and his forensic mind, and how like the Lord Jesus Christ he shows them how foolish they are by simply lifting their eyes heavenward to the nature of the skies, lifting their eyes downward to the wonder of God's creation, and seeing how natural the resurrection of the body really is. He does it by using three illustrations from God's creation. Here are the creation illustrations, the first one is found in verse 36: 'that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die'. He uses the illustration of a seed. He says: 'Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die'. Now what Paul is talking about here in his illustration is the decomposition of a little seed. Maybe you have green fingers, and you have planted your little seed, well I hope that you know what happens to it. If that seed is going to become a plant, that seed must cease being a seed, it must die, it must discard its old body, and be transformed - metamorphosised - into a new body. It decomposes, it dissolves in the ground, and it turns into something that it was not.
Of course you remember the Lord Jesus Christ in John 12 verse 24 said: 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit'. Looking forward to Calvary the Lord Jesus was pointing to His earthly body as a seed, He was saying that that particular body that He inhabited on the earth, it was going to die, and it was going to give way after death, through His resurrection, to another body - a resurrection body. Now that's the first principle that you've got to learn looking at this illustration of seeds, Paul is saying that this resurrection body only comes to pass through the decomposition of the seed.
Now here's the second principle: there's a difference between the seed and the plant that comes from the seed. Look at verse 37, verse 36: 'That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain'. In other words the seed that you sow is not the final result, it's not the plant and it's not the fruit that's borne on the plant, but the original and the final forms are both different. The seed that you plant and the plant that grows, the end result, are different in their form. Now I hope you're following me, have you got it? The seed that goes into the ground has to die, that body dies; and the plant, the little shoot that begins to start in the depths of the ground, and work its way out of that dead corpse, and push through to seek the light and eventually resurrect into new life, is a totally different thing than what was planted. I hope you understand that.
When you look at the person of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels, you find that the Lord's glorified body after His resurrection was radically different than the body that died. In other words, what came out of the grave was different than what went into the grave - it was His own body, but it was different. As you read the Gospels, I don't have time to cite all the passages, I hope you do it in your own private studies, but you can see that the Lord Jesus' glorified body was not limited by time. His body was not limited by space. His body was not limited by material substance. Jesus went from one place to another without travelling in the normal physical way that you or I do after His resurrection. When we see His appearances, at times He appeared and disappeared at His own will. On one occasion He entered into a room without even opening the door - things that He had never done before in the body in which He died. So we have to therefore discern that the resurrection body of Jesus changed dramatically, it changed in a marvellous and a radical way, and here's the inference to us from Paul tonight: in this same way our bodies will change!
The seed will go into the ground, our old body, and as it goes into the ground and it decomposes there is coming a day when the fruit will come forth - and what will rise to God as a plant to His glory, the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be us, but it will be a different, radically marvellous body. Now then, here's the final conclusion of this illustration in verse 38: 'But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body'. Well let's follow this through again: one, the old body has to die, and it ceases to exist in all its intrinsic value as was - what comes forth in resurrection is different. You're the same person, it's your body but it is radically different - but here is what links both of these together: there is a continuity in both these bodies. In spite of their great differences there continues the same life, the same personality in the form that was in it down here on earth.
Now please watch how Paul illustrates this, verse 37 he tells us: 'Look, if you sow wheat seeds, you don't get barley growing at harvest time; and if you sow flax you don't get corn coming back; if you put a corn seed in you'll get fruit that is corn'. In other words, the identity of the seed will determine the identity of the fruit - have you got it? If it's you that dies - Hallelujah! - it's going to be you rising again, it's going to be your body. What I want you to see is: yes, the old dies; the new rises; but there is a continuity of identity - in other words it's you, and it's still your body although drastically different.
Now this might be a bit of a shock to some of you, but the fact of the matter is that the body that you're in tonight is not the body that you were in 20 years ago - is it? It might be a bigger one, it might have a few more stretchmarks here and there on it, it might feel a bit more worn. I tell you, we're told by scientists that every three and a half years our body dramatically changes. The particles that we have making us up are changed - and we know all too well that an adult's body is drastically different than a child's, but our identity is the same, isn't it? Our identity: we're still who we always have been. There may not be the sameness of particles physically, but there is the same relation to the person that we are. Let me tell you, if you were to dig up in your garden, maybe some of the shoots are already coming up as they are in my garden - not that I know too much about them! - but if you dug down to the bottom of that little root you would find microscopic shells of the old seed that has been discarded. It's left there to rot, finished with, and something that is coming out is new!
Do you know what that tells me? God will not have to use every part of this old body in His new body. I don't believe for one minute that it's just going to be some kind of patch-up job on what we are wearing on our spirit and souls this very evening. Jesus, as He came forth in His resurrection body, He was recognisable, wasn't He? But He was different - and I would vouch to say that many times, if not all, within the Gospels whenever the Lord Jesus was revealed to His disciples in His resurrection form, they did not recognise Him right away - He had to reveal Himself to them. But apart from that, when He did reveal His personality to them they recognised Him; the disciples knew His face. The Transfiguration up on the Mount was a foretelling prophecy of what it would be like on that day when the Lord Jesus comes, and the resurrection takes place - His whole being was transfigured, they knew who He was. There were the saints that had been resurrected, like Moses there, who had died, he would be there. The saints that had been raptured, like Elijah, he would be there. My friends, the point I want you to see is this: the Lord Jesus was recognisable, but He was different. When He was in the upper room and doubting Thomas saw the nail-prints in His hands and in His feet, and the gash in His side, he recognised Him - but the fact of the matter is: He was dramatically changed in a new body.
So you see this: the seed is buried, it dies; what comes forth is something different, the plant - but there is a continuity between them both. The illustration that Paul is giving us here is, as the farmer goes forth to sow His grain, as we often - and I have said it many times standing at an open grave - we do it in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection...that's how the farmer sows his grain, in the sure and certain hope that harvest is coming one day! How many times recently have we heard: 'In life we are in the midst of death', but for the believer - because the seed that dies comes to life again in a glorious life, we can say: 'In death we are in the midst of life'! The light of the gospel has changed for the Christian the act of burial into an act of sowing, and an act of hope. The question Paul is asking them with regards to this illustration is: if, for thousands upon thousands of years the God of heaven who has created all things, has been doing this in the plant world - is it impossible for Him to do it with the resurrected body? As Paul said to Agrippa: 'Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?'. He raises the little seeds that die in the ground, do you not think He'll raise His blood-bought saints one day?
The illustration of seeds; then he gives the illustration of flesh, and the illustration is that the new resurrected body is in a different kind, it's a different kind. Verse 39: 'All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds'. He's telling us to look at the variety of bodies that God has already created in the wildlife around us. Look at the variety - the fish is different, and lives in a different environment than the bird; we live in a different environment than the beast of the field; and so on ad infinitum. But even when you look at individual species and compare them to each other, for instance I'm different than you, and one bull is different from another bull, and one sparrow different from another sparrow - we're all made up differently. God's creation is a plethora of variety, and a spectrum of wonderful colours.
Listen to what John MacArthur found in his own studies. He said, I quote: 'I have read that there are some 600 octazillion different combinations of amino acids'. Now let me repeat that for you again '600 octazillion' - now you know what a million is, don't you? Well, an octazillion is a little bit different, it is 10 to the 108th power - do you know what that means? That's 1 with 108 zeros after it - a million is 1 with 6 zeros after it, isn't it? Isn't it? This is 108 zeros after it! Now what's an amino acid? It is the building block of all life, and not only does each type of plant have amino acids, animal life has it. They all have distinct patterns of amino acids; but each individual plant, animal and human being are not exactly alike. They're each unique, not only in their grouping but as individuals - no two flowers are alike, no two snowflakes, two seeds, no two blades of grass, no two human beings - even identical twins are not exactly alike.
Isn't that remarkable? What Paul is saying is that the human body, the nature of one kind like humans is different than animals, and birds are different than fish; they have their own particular flesh - and that shows you the difference in God's creation, but even among their own kind there's a great difference. Everybody is unique. What Paul is saying is if God is able to make different kinds of bodies for men, animals, birds and fish, and different identities among them, why is it so hard for Him to make a resurrection body? What an argument he's laying down here for us tonight! He's saying some bodies, human bodies are fitted for society; the body of the beast is fitted for the field; the body of the fish for the sea; the body of the bird for the sky; and one day, believers in Corinth, whether you think it or are able to reason or rationalise it in your mind, God will give us a body fitted for heaven!
One German writer once asked the question: 'If fish are philosophers, and if they're capable of thinking, I am absolutely certain that every philosophical fish is quite sure that it is impossible for any creature to live out of water'. Every fish thinks: 'If I jump out of the water, I'll gasp for breath and I'll die' - he doesn't know in his philosophy of the world down in the depths of the deep that is all that he knows, that there are birds flying high, that there are human beings talking and walking...and even fishing! Our philosophical men are walking around thinking that there is no other life. There is resurrection life, and we're going to partake of it one day, praise God!
The illustration of seeds, and then flesh, and then stars in verse 40 and 41: 'There are also 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, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory'. The celestial beings, the planets and stars in the solar system differ from our earthly bodies. In fact the stars even differ from the planets and the moons. I don't know whether you know this or not, but planets and moons only reflect light produced by stars - they're like mirrors that bounce the light of stars off them, but stars produce their own light. So in space even these planets and stars differ - and in fact, every single star is different, the spectrum of colours that comes from it. In fact, some expositors believe that while Paul is talking here about the different glory of stars that he's saying to us that when we are in our resurrected bodies we will have different glories manifested because of our faithfulness down here on earth. But what Paul is saying is that God has a creative capacity for infinite variety in His creation, in the seeds and the plants and the flesh of every kind; and the stars and the planets and everything that is out there in the universe - why is it so difficult for God to make a resurrection body?
Therefore, verse 42: 'So also is the resurrection of the dead' - in the resurrection of the dead we will differ from our old body as the spark differs from the sun! That is the creation illustration that he gives for our resurrection bodies. Now he comes to the contrasts, and now he's going to be more specific in what our resurrection bodies are like. There are four ways here that he says our resurrection bodies will differ from our present bodies, and I've listed them for you on your sheet. Here's the first: corruption and incorruption, look at the second part of verse 42: 'It is sown', our old body, 'in corruption', and the same body note, the same person, 'it', the identity, 'is raised in incorruption'. Corruption contrasted with incorruption. Now the point that Paul is trying to make here is the sense of durability, durability. This body will last! Even a little child that is born, right at that moment of infancy it begins the process of deterioration, and that theoretically is dying. The Bible says, but you see it yourself, that we have come from the dust of the earth and to the dust of the earth we will go. Psalm 103 says that 'God knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust'.
Let me just say for a moment that every now and again a false prophet comes up in Christendom and preaches to us a new gospel that there is the redemption of the body now - in other words, that we can claim as our right never to be sick as Christians! But no matter how fervently these men believe that false doctrine, and how faithfully they preach it, all of them take a cold when they sit in a draught, all of them get a sore tummy when they eat too much, and all the faith healers that have ever existed are all dead - because they all suffered corruption! The fact of the matter is, if you want to read your future - it's not very heartening, but it's found in Ecclesiastes 12 and verses 1 to 7, all the things that will start to go. Your teeth will start to go, your eyesight will start to go, I'll not to any further it will only depress you! But the point of this message is: thank God there is redemption for the body! It's not the end of it all, and you remember that as Martha stood at the grave of her brother Lazarus, and the Lord Jesus Christ said: 'Roll ye away the stone' - she said: 'Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days' - decomposition had set in because his body had been buried in corruption, but the words that the Lord Jesus Christ was about to speak brought him back! He didn't have the body that we'll have, but one day we're going to get it, and this corruption will put on incorruption. As Peter said: 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible' - incorruptible! - 'and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you'.
Bodies without any sickness - do you hear that, you that are crippled with pains and aches and weakness? Bodies with no more decay, no more deterioration, no more death - for the corruptible will put on incorruption. Here's the second contrast: the dishonour of this old body will put on glory. Look at verse 43: 'It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory'. This is now talking about the valueless old body, in other words from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden we lost our capacity to please God - it was diminished, we couldn't please God as we should with our body, with our soul, or with our spirit. Paul is saying that that dishonour that has been brought upon us, because we are all the sons and daughters of Adam, will be discarded and changed into the glorious glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our resurrection bodies we will be enabled to praise God and please God through all eternity!
I can't please God for a minute, but one day I'll please Him forever. Paul says that's why we are not citizens of this realm, but we have our conversation, our way of life, in heaven from which we look for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body of humiliation that it may be fashioned unto the likeness of His body of glory. Dishonour to glory - I hope this is whetting your appetite. Thirdly in contrast: weakness with power. Verse 43, the second half: 'It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power'. What Paul is getting at now is ability, the ability of this new body in contrast to the ability of the bodies that we have now. You've lost the ability, haven't you? You maybe don't walk as quickly as you used to walk, maybe you can't retain the figures in your mind or even the verses that you could one day. My friend, listen: physically, mentally, spiritually this body will be new in its powerful ability to do. The body that we have now, as one writer put it, a draught of air or a drop of water can kill him. We are limited in this life so often simply because of the necessary limitations of the body. Time and time again our physical constitution says to our visions and our plans: 'thus far and no further', and we are often frustrated because we are what we are.
What about the realm of the weakness that we have in our bodies regarding sin? Is that not a weakness in itself? Trying to stay awake this morning as I'm praying and as I'm reading? But one day there'll be no more struggle, no more temptation - as the Lord Jesus said to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, when they couldn't wait with Him and watch one hour in prayer, He said: 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak'. But on that day when I get my resurrection body anything that my heavenly spirit determines to do, my heavenly body will be able and willing to accomplish! What about that? You will be what you have wanted to be!
Weakness will put on power, and then finally verse 44: 'It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body' - natural will give way to spiritual. Now we're talking about the sphere of this body, the realm that it inhabits. The natural body that we have is made only for this sphere in which we function physically, but we're going to get a spiritual body. You remember, we don't have time to read it, but in Luke chapter 20 the Sadducees and Pharisees were debating over the question of resurrection - you remember that the Sadducees didn't believe in it - and one very clever clogs said to the Lord Jesus: 'What about this law in Moses where the brother has to marry the widow of his brother?'. Therefore there was this woman, they gave an example, who had been married to seven different husbands through that means of death and remarriage in the Levitical law - whose wife will she be on the day of resurrection? The Lord Jesus' reply was: 'You don't know what you're talking about, you're ignorant not knowing the Scriptures, for we shall be like angels' - i.e. bodies fitted for eternity, not for time; spiritual bodies rather than physical bodies. You'll not be giving and taking in marriage in heaven! 'Praise the Lord for that', some of you're saying - aren't you!
The fact of the matter is, friends, the natural will put on the spiritual - in this very book in chapter 6 and verse 13 we read about the issue of meats. Not only won't there be physical relationships like the relationships sexually between a man and a woman, we will be like the angels - the digestive system will probably be very different, verse 13: 'Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them'. God will destroy the belly, yet we'll still be able to eat because there's the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the Lord Jesus - remember - made breakfast for the disciples on the beach and He ate with them, and He broke bread - but this is not a natural body, it's a spiritual body that won't have the physical relationships that we used to have. Not that we'll not know husbands or wives or anything like that, that's not what I'm talking about, but we'll not live in this natural realm any more. We mightn't be the same as the angels, but we will be perfectly fitted for the eternal realm.
Now don't misunderstand what Paul is saying here, this is very important. When Paul says a spiritual body he does not mean a non-material body, he doesn't mean that we're going to be disembodied spirits floating around the place. It is a physical body that is spiritual - you might say that's a contradiction. Well, the Lord Jesus, when He rose again in Luke 24 said: 'A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have'. The word for 'natural' here is the Greek word 'psukikos' (sp?) which is derivative from the word that we get 'soul' from, 'psuchae' (sp?). We could translate this that our natural body is a 'soulish' body, that means a sensual body - I told you at the start that the soul is made up of the mind, the emotion and the will - what we relate in our personality to this realm, and our body is controlled by our mind, by our emotions, and by our will. But this new body, this resurrection body, is not a 'psukikos' body, it is not soul-governed, but the Greek word for 'spiritual' here is 'neumatikos' (sp?) which is 'spiritual body'. This is a body, literally, that will be controlled not by our mind or emotions and decisions, but will be controlled by the spirit, the animating force of our new body will be the spirit, the human spirit motivated by the Spirit of God.
I know all this is hard to take in, but can I put it in the words of Dr A. J. Gordon who said: 'Now, here and now, the body bears the spirit. We carry about in our body the spirit, a slow chariot whose wheels are often disabled, and whose swiftest motion is but laboured and tardy - but then the spirit will bear the body, carrying it on wings of thought whithersoever it will'. The body bears the spirit, and our cry often is: 'Who shall deliver me from this body of death? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, I can't get to prayer as often as I ought, I can't read as often as I ought and keep the attention as I would like, I can't witness as often' - we all get these gripes, and some of us are worthy of them, all of us are I'm sure - but the fact of the matter is: there's a day coming when our spirit will bear those bodies to the errands of the Son of God for all eternity, for His glory forever and ever, Amen.
The natural will put on spiritual - here's the final crescendo, I'm going to take off on this one. Verses 45 to 49, the characteristics of this new body - here is the fourth way that he answers this question: 'How will the dead be raised?', and it's to show simply that the prototype for the resurrection body already exists. Verse 45: 'So it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul' - God breathed into him, he's quoting Genesis now, 2:7 - 'the last Adam was made a quickening spirit'. The life that God gave Adam in the Garden of Eden was natural life, but the life that Christ gives us through His death and resurrection, and even when He breathed on His disciples in the upper room, what did He say? 'Receive ye the Holy Spirit'.
'Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural', here's a good principle here in verse 46. What is he saying? He's saying that life starts in the natural realm, that which is born of blood and of water - but then the second birth is the spiritual birth. The natural comes first, the spiritual comes second, and you have to keep the order that God gives. But it also refers to the Lord Jesus coming after Adam, and the Lord Jesus being the progenitor of a race that had not yet been that would last for all eternity, a race after His own image. Look at verse 47: 'The first man is of the earth, earthy' - by the way, the Hebrew word for 'Adam' literally means 'red dust' - Adam was made of the red dust, earthy. This doesn't just mean that he was made from the dust, or he came from earth, this is talking primarily about his characteristics, it's talking about who he was like - he was grounded in the earth, he came from the earth, but the second man is the Lord from heaven! His characteristics and His nature was heavenly.
Now here's a blessing if ever there was one: 'As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly'. What are you bearing tonight? Scars that this old natural body has left? Scars of death, scars of disease, scars of disappointment, scars of sin - one day, if you are in Christ, if you're related to Him who is the heavenly One, if you're in His race, as sure as you've borne the scars of the earthly you will bear the glory of the heavenly! I can't imagine it, can you?
'Beloved, now are we the sons of God', John says, 'and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is'. It doesn't mean we'll all look like the Lord Jesus, we will be like Him in nature, and in image, and in characteristic - the characteristic of our new body will be the Lord Jesus Christ, just imagine it! He Himself said in Matthew 13, one day: 'Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father'. One day heaven will radiate like the sun in blazing and magnificent glory, which - wonder of wonders - the Lord will share with us.
That glory will be ours - Romans 8, here it is, let me read this as I finish: 'What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?'. Look at verse 28 for a moment: 'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified'. Verse 35: 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord'.
Are you looking forward to it? To get out of these old bodies and into a new one that will glorify God, and enjoy Him forever?
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the forty-first tape in his 1 Corinthians series, titled "Our Resurrection Bodies" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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