Easter Sunday is quickly approaching. On Resurrection Sunday Christians all over the world are going to gather together to celebrate Christ’s glorious victory over death. 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 truth is seen throughout the Bible . . . especially in 1 Corinthians 15. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul even tells us what our resurrection bodies are going to be like Christ’s resurrection body – pretty awesome! Before we get to the description of the resurrection body, let’s look at the context of this great chapter.
Some people within Corinth were denying the bodily resurrection of Christians. They were saying that Christ had been raised from the dead, but that Christians 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 Christians are going to receive a physical resurrection body upon the return of Christ. This was probably due to the popular belief that a person’s spirit was good, but that a person’s body was evil. If they had this mindset then receiving a physical resurrection body upon the return of Christ would not make any sence to them. They were probably thinking, “Why have a pure spirit reunited with an evil body?”
Throughout 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is destroying this unbiblical thinking. He begins by saying that the most important aspect of his teaching ministry 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 resurrected body (1 Cor. 15:5-9). He goes on to explain to them that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised from the dead. And if Christ has not raised from the dead, then everything we do is in vain (1 Cor. 15:12-19). What 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. As the first-fruits of the resurrection, Christ received His resurrected body first. Those who are in Christ will receive a similar resurrection body later on (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Then Paul pretty much says, “Since my resurrection is tied to the resurrection of Christ, I risk my life every single day for Christ’s sake” (1 Cor. 15:30-34).
At this point in Paul’s argument, he is supposing that there is going to be some wise guy among the Corinthians that will ask a question saying, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come? How in the world does a rotten and decaying corpse resurrect? That would be a bit ridiculous and horrifying!” (1 Cor. 15:35). Even though these seem to be pretty legit questions to us, Paul thought differently. He basically responds saying, “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).
A Lesson from Agriculture
Paul then begins to give the Corinthians a lesson in agriculture. He tells them to go to the farmer and watch him sow seed. The seed he sows goes into the ground, dies, begins to decay, and then, from that decay, becomes a beautiful harvest. Thus, that stock of wheat that sprouts from the ground comes from the seed you sowed. Paul’s striving to emphasize the continuity and difference of the sown seed.
There is continuity between the seed and the stock of wheat. That specific stock of wheat actually came from that specific seed you sowed! However, there is difference as well. That specific stock of wheat sure looks a lot different than the seed you sowed.
And this is how the resurrection body works. My current body is the seed, and the resurrection body is the body that will be upon the return of Christ. 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. My resurrection body will be way better than my current body.
A Lesson from Creation
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. Star differs from star in glory (1 Cor. 15:41). Some are big and some are small. Some are brighter than others.
Paul wants the Corinthians to understand that God gives different bodies for different reasons. He wants us to understand that this is how it is with the resurrection of the dead. The body that we are currently in is made for this world. However, God will give us another body upon the return of Christ. Though it will have continuity with this current body, it will also be different. The resurrection body will be made for the world that is to come. It is at this point that Paul explains how our current bodies are different than our future resurrection bodies that God is going to graciously give us – this is one of my favorite biblical passages!
1 Corinthians 15:42 “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.”
Our current body is a perishable body. The older you get the more this verse will resonate with you. Your hair-line begins to recede, your teeth begin to decay, and your bones begin to ache. Some of us will undoubtedly be diagnosed with a terminal disease that’ll makes our body wither like a fall leaf as it approaches winter. And even those of us who are healthy will inevitably breathe our last breath and be lowered six feet beneath the surface of the earth. Our bodies will continue to perish even after we die. Worms and maggots will treat our body like a five star buffet until nothing but our bones are left. This is how God has made these earthly bodies that we have. He has sown bodies that are perishable.
However, this perishable body will be resurrected as an imperishable body. It will be a body that will never notice the beginning of a receding hair line, and it will 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.”
This body is dishonorable. Because of Adam’s sin, it has lost its state of honor and dignity. Just how dishonorable is this body? 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. As you can see, this body is sown in dishonor.
However, this dishonorable body is going to be raised a glorious body. Our resurrection bodies will be so glorious that we will never even conceive of sinning against our Heavenly Father or our blessed Savior. Instead of sinning, we are going to radiate with the glory of God. We are going to shine like the brightness of the sky above, like the stars in the heavens (Dn. 12:3). And like Christ said, we are going to shine like the sun in the kingdom of our father (Mt. 13:43). This dishonorable body that is destined to return to dust will one day rise up out of the grave like the morning sun in all of it brilliance. 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.”
These bodies that God has sown are 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 ourselves. 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 these weak bodies that God has sown are going to be raised up as powerful bodies. We will be able to run miles upon miles without growing weary. We will be able to work for years upon years without growing faint. In all our endeavors, we will neither wear out nor rust out.
Our bodies will be able to do anything that our minds conceive of. If we look at the highest mountain and desire to climb it, our bodies will prove to be mighty enough to do it. If we look down into the deepest valley and desire to scale it, our bodies will prove powerful enough to do it. And after we do all that our minds conceive of, our body will be ready to go again. To a body that is raised up in power, exhaustion and fatigue will be a foreign concept.
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.”
The bodies that we have now are natural bodies. They are like Adam’s body in every way. This means our bodies are made for this current earth. We could put it like this: these natural bodies we have are made for this natural realm that we are in. Though these bodies work for us here, they 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 bodies will be spiritual bodies. God will graciously give us spiritual bodies for the spiritual realm that we will be living in. Essentially, it will be like the resurrected 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 bodies 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.
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 1 Corinthians 15:58 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 Christ is going to return, defeat death, and give us resurrection bodies then we should be overflowing in good works!
We can also get a good idea of how to apply this by looking at how this truth impacted Martin Luther during a significant trial he faced. 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. He was constantly petitioning God to take away her pain. And then, one day, the Lord ended her suffering by way of death. Luther’s Magdalena breathed her last breath, and she went home to be with her Heavenly Father. Her earthly father, however, was left to weep by her bedside.
Even though Luther was absolutely devastated, he still had an unshakable hope. And the unshakable hope that he had was grounded 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.” Because of Christ’s resurrection, Luther knew that Magdalena’s cold, lifeless body would one day rise up an imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual body. As you can see, the resurrection of the dead changes everything!