Today is Easter Sunday. Many Christians all over the world are going to gather together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In light of this, I just wanted to write a blog about how our resurrection is directly tied to the resurrection of Christ. In other words, because our Lord rose from the dead, we too shall rise from the dead. This is clearly seen throughout the Bible, but it is most clearly seen in 1 Corinthians 15.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul even tells us what our resurrection bodies are going to be like. And let’s just say it is absolutely glorious and should leave us filled with hope. But before we get to the description of the resurrection body, let’s get some context.
The people within Corinth were denying a physical resurrection body. They were saying that Christ had been raised from the dead, but that we will not be raised from the dead. This is why Paul says, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:12)? Those in Corinth could not wrap their minds around the fact that we are going to have a physical resurrection body because the belief of their day was that the flesh was evil, and that the spirit was good. Therefore, they believed that death was the moment their spirit was liberated from this evil flesh so that it could then go into heaven to be with Jesus forever.
Throughout 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is destroying their unbiblical thinking! He begins by saying that the most important aspect of his teaching was that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and then resurrected bodily (1 Cor. 15:3). Then he shows the Corinthians that many people witnessed Christ’s resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:5-9). He moves from there to explain to them that if there is no resurrection of the dead then not even Christ has been raised from the dead, and that if Christ is not raised from the dead then everything we do is in vain (1 Cor. 15:12-19). That is a dreadful thought!
Praise God that this is not the case though. Christ most certainly rose from the dead and because He rose from the dead, we too will rise from the dead. He is the first-fruits of the resurrection. So, Christ first and then we who are in Christ later on (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Then Paul pretty much says, “Since my resurrection is absolutely tied to the resurrection of Christ, I risk my life every single day for Christ’s sake, and so should you. So wake up Corinthians” (1 Cor. 15:30-34)!
After this, Paul is supposing that there is going to be some wise guy among the Corinthians that will ask a question at this point saying, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come? How in the world does a rotten and decayed corpse resurrect? That would be a bit ridiculous and horrifying!” (1 Cor. 15:35). Paul responds, “You foolish person! This is not far-fetched so quit talking like it would be! This kind of thing happens all the time. What you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Cor. 15:36).
Then Paul gives the Corinthians a lesson in agriculture. He basically tells them to go to the farmer and watch him sow seed. That seed he sows goes into the ground where it then dies and begins to decay, and from that decay comes a beautiful harvest! So, that stock of wheat that sprouts from the ground comes from the seed you sowed. Therefore, there is continuity between the seed and the stock of wheat. However, there is difference as well. That wheat sure looks different than the seed. And this is how the resurrection works. Our current body is the seed, and the resurrection body is what this body will be. There will be continuity. I will be Philip! It will be this body that I am in as I am typing this blog. However, there will be a difference. The body that is to be will be way better than this current body!
After this, Paul tells them to look at the many different bodies that we see on a day to day basis. Look at the body of a human, the body of a fish, and the body of a bird. They all have different bodies. God does this intentionally and easily. Then Paul tells them to look at the stars in the heavens. Stars differ from stars in glory (1 Cor. 15:41). Some are big and some are small. Some are brighter than others. They simply have different glory. So, the key here is to understand that God gives different bodies for different reasons! He then uses all this to tell us that this is how it will be with the resurrection of the dead. This body that we are currently in is what God has sown and it is made for this world. However, the body that will resurrect, though it will have continuity with this current body, will also be different and made for the world that is to come. Then Paul explains what he means, which, in my opinion, is one of the most incredible teachings in all the Bible!
1 Cor. 15:42 “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.”
Now many of us do not think about this body that we currently have as being perishable, but I am telling you, your body is perishable. The older you get the more this verse will resonate with you. You might begin having a receding hair line, your teeth will begin to decay, and your bones will begin to ache. Some of you, undoubtedly, will be diagnosed with a terminal disease that makes your body wither like a fall leaf as it approaches winter. And those of you who are most healthy, and remain relatively healthy, will ultimately breathe your last breath and be lowered six feet beneath the surface of the earth with the rest of the dead. And even after that, your body will continue to perish as worms and maggots feast on your flesh until nothing but bone is left. This is how God has made this earthly body that we have. He has sown a body that is perishable.
However, this perishable body that we have will be resurrected as an imperishable body. It will be a body that will never notice the beginning of a receding hair line and never feel the effects of a rotting tooth. This resurrection body will have ears that never lose their capacity to hear. You will never have to hear a doctor as he gives a diagnosis for a terminal disease. This imperishable body will never see a coffin again, nor will it ever have to frequent a cemetery. It will never have to mourn at the loss of a loved one. No, God is going to give us a body that will be imperishable. And after 10,000 years of enjoying perfect fellowship with Jesus and other believers on the New Earth in this imperishable body, we will look as we first did when we rose up out of the grave. As Spurgeon puts it, “In heaven every nerve of the new body shall cry, ‘Immortality.’”
1 Corinthians 15:43 “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.”
So this body is dishonorable. It has lost its state of honor and dignity. This has come about because of Adam’s sin in the beginning. And to get an idea of just how dishonorable this body is, think about this: God gave us this body to honor him, but we have used it to perpetually sin against him. In perpetually sinning against him, we waged war against Him with the very body he gave us. Then, while we were at enmity with him, God, in His great love for us, reconciled us to Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. And even after He justified us, adopted us, and placed His Holy Spirit in us, we still sinned against him. Then, after years and years of walking with Christ and progressively being made holy by the Spirit, we will continue to commit sins against our heavenly Father. Sadly, even up to the moment of death, we are going to be dishonoring God with some type of sin. This body is sown in dishonor.
However, this dishonorable body is going to be raised a glorious body that does not even conceive of sinning against our Heavenly Father or our blessed Savior. Rather, we are going radiate with the glory of God. We are going shine like the brightness of the sky above, like the stars in the heavens (Dn. 12:3). And like Christ said, “The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father” (Mt. 13:43). This dishonorable body that will return to dust, will rise forth like the morning sun radiating the glory of God forever more. As John Newton says in his hymn:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Then when we’ve first begun.
1 Corinthians 15:43 “It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”
This body that God has sown is also weak. We get wearied and tired easily. We run a mile and are worn out. We put in a day’s worth of work and need to go to bed. We study for a test and we get mentally exhausted. Another aspect of this is that we seek to work hard, our bodies get tired, and we end up injuring something. We play baseball, get hit by a pitch, and end up bruising. And when we are near the end of this life, we are so weak that we cannot take care of our self. Other people have to tend to us. And the ultimate weakness of this body is most evident when we die, for we cannot even bury ourselves, our family and friends must do it for us!
But this weak body that God has sown is going to be raised up a powerful body. You will be able to run miles upon miles without growing weary. You will be able to work for years upon years without growing faint. In all your endeavors, you will neither wear out nor give out. Your body will be able to do anything that your mind conceives of. If your mind looks at the highest mountain and desires to climb it, your body will prove to be powerful enough to do it. If your mind looks down into a deep valley and desires to scale it, your body will prove powerful enough to do it. And after you do all that your mind conceives of, your body will be ready to go again. Exhaustion and fatigue will be a foreign concept to one who’s body has been raised in power!
1 Corinthians 15:44 “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
Now the meaning of this is best revealed in the next few verses, but for the sake of time I just want to sum up what is being said here. The body that we have now is a natural body. It is like Adam’s body in every way. What that means is that this natural body is made for this earth. So, we can put it like this: the natural body is made for the natural realm. Though this body works for us here, it will not work for us in the life that is to come when we are on the New Earth.
Since this is the case, our resurrection body will be a spiritual body. God will graciously give us a spiritual body for the spiritual realm. It will be like the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. Christ’s resurrection body was wonderful. He could eat and drink. He could touch and be touched. And he could also walk through walls and ascend into the heavens! Now we do not know exactly how much our resurrection body will be like Christ’s resurrection body. Christ may be able to do more with his resurrection body than we will be able to do with ours. However, we do know with utmost certainty that our resurrection body will be like His to some extent. That alone is enough to bring great yearning!
So this is the resurrection body that God has promised to his people. Therefore, if you are a child of God, this is the resurrection body that you are guaranteed by a loving God who cannot lie! With that in mind, think about this quote from Thomas Watson, “The body shall rise again; we are not so sure to rise out of our beds—as we are to rise out of our graves.”
There are many ways to apply this. Paul applies this passage beautifully in verse 58 when he says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” In other words, if this is the truth about the resurrection of the dead, you should always be overflowing in good works that bring glory to God and honor to Christ.
I want to apply this with a story from church history that I think is incredibly powerful. Martin Luther, the German reformer, had a little 14-year-old daughter named Magdalena that he loved dearly. As a plague was making its way through Germany, Magdalena fell into its grasp. This was one of the lowest points in Luther’s life.
Watching his little 14-year-old daughter suffer from this deadly plague was hard for him. He was constantly petitioning God to take away her pain. And then, one day, the Lord did just that by way of death. His little girl breathed her last breath, and Magdalena went home to her Heavenly Father while her earthly father wept by her bedside. Luther was absolutely devastated, but he still had an incredible hope. And that hope was in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. When the carpenters were nailing down the lid of Magdalena’s coffin, he screamed, “Hammer away! On doomsday she’ll rise again.” You see, Luther knew that, because of Christ’s resurrection, Magdalena’s cold, lifeless body was also going to rise up an imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual body with every nerve shouting immortality! Such is the hope that the resurrection of the dead brings.