Loving Lord, I thank you for struggles overcome and blessings received. May today be filled with gratitude and hope.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 15:35-49
The Resurrection Body
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 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. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[a]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[b] bear the image of the heavenly man.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away’.1
What is your view of the future? Is it simply ‘going to heaven’ when you die? If so, this passage carries wonderful good news: the future is much more exciting than that. When Christ returns, we will receive new, resurrection bodies and take our place in the new heaven and new earth. This glorious gospel truth left some of the Corinthians scratching their heads and asking questions. They were not the last to speculate (read the early church writer, Origen, for his view that the resurrection body will be spherical!). Paul provides an illustration from nature to help us: a seed is sown and dies and becomes a plant (vs 37,38), a process that – when you think about it – is amazing and hard to explain logically. With such illustrations and the reminder that this is God’s work, we are reassured.
Many believers have doubts about the future. I have sat pastorally with radiant Christians who as death approaches have still asked, ‘Is the gospel really true?’ Thoughtless believers who are not facing death themselves can dismiss such fears too easily, perhaps with a quick comment like ‘Where is your faith?’ They forget what verse 26 told us: death is the ‘last enemy’. It will be defeated, but it remains for us a frightening thing. John Bunyan knew better than to casually dismiss our fears. In the second part of Pilgrim’s Progress there is a character called Mr. Fearing. He is a true believer but, as befits his name, he is consumed by doubts and is afraid. With great pastoral skill Bunyan describes how he successfully crosses the river of death nevertheless.2 God knows what we need just when we need it. We can be confident of our solid, embodied, wonderful future but even if we are not, God will see us through.
Ask God to sustain a confident faith whenever you face the ‘last enemy’. Then thank him that even if your faith wavers, he will still see you through.
Lord, I focus today on the knowledge that there is nothing, nothing at all that can separate me from your love in Christ Jesus. Thank you, Lord.
1 Rev 21:1 2 Peter Morden, John Bunyan: The People’s Pilgrim, CWR, 2013, p165–166
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