In DEATH, Are We Just “Food for Worms”… Or, Is There More?

~ Our Study Scripture – 1 Corinthians 15:35-52 ~

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 The Resurrection Body —

In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul is writing a letter to a group of Christians who were struggling with the issue of what happens after one dies.  They were living about 24 years after the RESURRECTION, and as we often today have lapses in memory of past events, their thinking about life and death were being influenced by their culture.

I read in a recent survey this past week, that 30% of all American believe in reincarnation; a belief that each individual soul lives a succession of lives in various human bodies over the course of history.  The purpose being, such reincarnation gradually purifies the soul eventually reaching perfection.

Even harder to grasp in reading this survey, Gallup also found 25% of those who describe themselves as Christians, including 10% of those…defining themselves as “born-again”/evangelicals.  [See Footnote [i] ]

This idea (25%/10% of Christians) makes absolutely no sense to me.  REINCARNATION is incompatible to the TRUTH of the Gospel.  Even among Americans who believe in the resurrection of the dead, 2/3 believe they will not have bodies after the RESURRECTION (Alcorn p. 110).

RESURRECTION by its very definition requires a body.  If we didn’t have bodies, we wouldn’t be resurrected!

“What Awaits After Death?”

~ Philippians 1:21 New Living Translation (NLT) ~

“For to me, living means living for Christ,

And dying is even better.”

PHYSICAL DEATH is the separation of the body from the soul.  At the DEATH of a believer in Christ Jesus, the body is committed to the grave and the soul and spirit goes to be with Jesus.

DEATH is an abnormal condition because it tears apart what God created and joined together.

God intended our bodies to last as long as our souls.  The reason we are decaying and dying is not because we have bodies.  It is because SIN has infected our bodies.

The Biblical Doctrine of Resurrection

This understanding is an affirmation that we are a spiritual and physical unity; that God intends to put us back together again.  I call it, the “Humpty Dumpty Effect.”  The kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t do it, but my King certainly can!

Although the soul is separate from the body at death, it’s only a temporary condition.  Some of you reading this care less about what happens to your body–after you die.  Right now, after looking in the mirror in the morning, hoping to find enough aspirin, icy/hot and duct tape to keep yourselves from falling apart and running now.

I would like to share some exciting news about what eternity holds for you physically as “mirror” gazers.  YEP! PHYSICALLY!! One day, you are going to experience the ultimate extreme makeover.

Being Transformed For Life In Heaven–

First, The New Body Is Real.

Paul addresses the FIRST QUESTION,  “How are the dead in Christ raised up?”  beginning in verse thirty-six:

“You foolish man!  Every time you plant a seed, you sow something that does not come to life UNLESS it dies first”  (1 Cor. 15:36).

This verse says that the body is “sown” – “sown” here means “buried.”  It seems obvious there’s no need for a resurrection “UNLESS” one is dead.

New, Yet Part Of The Old (vv. 37-38)

“Nor is the seed you sow then the body which it is going to have [later], but it is a naked kernel, perhaps of wheat or some of the rest of grains.  But God gives to it the body that He plans and sees fir, and to each kind of seed a body of its own.”

The illustration Paul uses here explains the “seed sown” doesn’t look like the fruit it will produce.

When you plant a pumpkin seed, as I do every year, the seeds planted never looks like a pumpkin.  Although the seed doesn’t look like the pumpkin, I know I can’t get the fruit if I don’t plant the seed.

The BODY that is resurrected is a brand new you.  If it’s not you, then it’s not resurrected.  Perhaps this analogy might help you understand my meaning–

At the age of thirty I was SAVED!  I became a new person, yet I was still the person I had always been.  I hoped those around me saw a lot of change in my life, but not to the point that they could not say, “That’s Mel.” 

This same MEL will undergo another change at death, and yet another change at the RESURRECTION.  But through all these changes, I’ll continue to be who I was and always will be [I’m indebted to John Hamby and Randy Alcorn’s analogy as a model].

Secondly, The New Body Is Recognizable–

One of the most often asked question concerning HEAVEN over the years is,  “Will we know our loved ones and will they know us?”

The only real example of what our resurrected body will be like in eternity is what we read of JESUS in the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension.  JESUS walked the earth in His resurrection body for forty days showing us how we would live as resurrected human beings.

We are going to have bodies like JESUS (Note I didn’t say we were going to become little JESUS’).  It was the same body He had before He died and recognized by His friends. Yet, when the resurrected Lord appeared, He was so different that the first they didn’t recognize Him.

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— He arose from the DEAD, yet upon His body were still the marks of the crucifixion, where-by His disciples knew with understanding this was the same JESUS in the same body (The Gospel of John Chapters 20-21).

— He had a real body that could touch, be touched and could and did eat(Mark 24:13-45).

Not only is the New Body Recognizable but…

Third, The New Body Is Radically Different

In Paul’s second rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 15:35, he addresses what kind of body WE will have that is suitable for living forever in Heaven.

In verse forty-two Paul begins answering that question by drawing a series of contrast–

#1. The New Body Will Be Indestructible (v. 42):

“[The body] that is sown is perishable and decays…” [“food for worms”]. “but [the body] that is resurrected is imperishable (immune to decay, immortal)” (AMP translation).

First thing Paul tells us is our new resurrection bodies are indestructible–our new bodies are not like our old bodies–our current bodies wear out…we get old…we begin to notice everything doesn’t work like it use to. We begin to understand the old saying, “What doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.” We discover that no matter what the infomercial promises, it can’t stop the aging process.  At best, we may slow it down somewhat or camouflage it, but we can’t stop it.

Our new bodies will be made to last forever. Our resurrection bodies are not subject to disease or decay or aging. HALLELUJAH! Bodies will literally out-live the stars!

#2. The New Body Will Be Glorious (v. 43 a.):

“It is sown in dishonor and humiliation; it is raised in honor and glory…”

The word “GLORY” means brilliance. Our new bodies will be glorious like that of the risen Christ.

In Philippians 3:21 Paul says Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior “Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty…”

#3. The New Body Will Be Powerful (v. 43 b.):

“…it is sown in weakness, raised in POWER.”

We will possess a new body with abilities beyond our wildest imaginations.

When JESUS was with His disciples, He had POWER to come and go as He pleased, neither walls nor distance were obstacles.

According to John 20:25, JESUS came into the room without opening the door.  Now we are never told in Scripture that we’ll be able to do the same things JESUS did (like pass through closed doors).  It may be that some aspects of His resurrection body are unique because of His divine nature.  We may not share those special abilities that JESUS possessed but whatever abilities we do have will be more than we could have ever dreamed of.

#4. The New Body Will Be Infinite (v. 44 a.)

“It is sown a natural (physical) body; it is raised a supernatural (a spiritual) body…”

To say that we’ll have a “spiritual body” doesn’t mean we will just be spirits.  Somehow many Christians have come to the conclusion life in eternity is going to be some kind of ghost-like spiritual being.

JESUS reassured His disciples, “I am not a ghost…” (Luke 24:39 NLT).

We will be raised with a body suitable for our new life!

Fourth, The New Body Is Received At Christ’s Return (vv. 51-52):

"The Twinkling of an Eye"
“The Twinkling of an Eye”

[51] Take notice!  I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God).  We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed).

[52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed).

“In a TWINKLING of An Eye”

Paul answers the question “Who will be resurrected and when?” in verses fifty-one and fifty-two.

“Take notice! …”

The DEAD in Christ will rise first and given new glorified bodies and the LIVING BELIEVERS will follow in the Parousia [STRONGS NT 3952 – Bible Hub.com], the RAPTURE– and their bodies will be transformed.

Paul further explains the sequence of events in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (AMP): 

[16] For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have depart this life in Christ will rise first.

[17] Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord. 

All this will happen in the twinkling of an eye–a “wink”.  How long exactly, is the “twinkling of an eye”?  Jack Van Impe has defined “the twinkling of an eye as eleven one-hundredths of  a second [See Footnote [i] ].

Ben Franklin’s Epitaph–

In preparing this weeks topic, I discovered the epitaph that Ben Franklin wrote for himself while still a young man [See Footnote [ii]. ] 

I loved his wording because it wonderfully catches the spirit of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:

The body of B. Franklin, printer, (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for worms.

But the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more, in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.

He was born on January 6, 1706

Died 17

 


Footnotes and Credits:

[i] – www.blogos.org/theologyapologetics/reincarnation-christianity.hphp

[ii] – http://www.ushistory.org/franklin-grave

Bible Translations Used:

Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Translation (NLT)

Photo Credits:

“Twinkling” Eye: Shutterstock via Photo Pin.

Google Images – 1 Corinthians 15:42 Image; The New Body Is Recognizable: Marks of the Crucifixion Image.

“SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTHING” in a Nutshell

My mind, as of late, has been focused like many others, on March 31st, 2013: RESURRECTION SUNDAY!  So when reading in First Peter this past week, and starting a Bible Study with my wife Dianne, I was drawn by GOD’S SPIRIT to the HOLINESS OF GOD and the events that Christianity has named–EASTER.

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“Re-Birthing” in a Nutshell

Where did the Expression “In a Nutshell” come from?

I thought I might insert the phrase into this blog for an ‘attention getter’, but later thought…culturally, would everyone understand the meaning; what do “nutshells” have to do with “spiritual re-birthing”?

How the phrase “in a nutshell” came to mean “brief and concise:

various_nuts_including_hazelnuts_walnuts_and_almon_postage-d172902192036531751exumr_325The idea of having a detailed amount of information about the FACTS, neatly contained in a small, compact nutshell has somewhat evolved to–the idea of having just the facts you need to make a decision, minus the “superfluous waffle.”  In a nutshell became connected to the idea of the information itself becoming compacted.  [References: Forsyth M. 2011. The Etymological Icon Books].

EXPLAINING THE BIBLICAL PROCESS OF “Re-Birthing”  (1 PETER I:1-25):

Where to begin?  When I used the phrase, “re-birthing”, I’m referring of course to the phrase we perhaps hear thrown around in Christian circles… without any emphasis or concern of who’s hearing the message and the understanding: “to be born again”. 

In my Word Detective investigation this past week, I found some interesting facts in the Older Testament (OT).

The Birth of Isaac found in Genesis 21–

The birth of ISAAC was a wonderful, Biblical, and practical example of “birthing” (Galatians 4:22-23. 29; and John 3:36).

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,

but whoever rejects the Son will not see life,

for God’s wrath remains in him.”

JESUS is saying in John 3:36, that those who BELIEVE in Him have (not will have) everlasting life.  To receive eternal life is to JOIN GOD’S LIFE, which by nature is eternal.  So, eternal life begins at the moment of spiritual rebirth.

Isaac’s Birth was Wonderful Because….

By all natural appearances, Isaac shouldn’t have been born.  His parents were far to old to bear children.  Yet, GOD brought Isaac to birth in spite of…Debate, Doubt, Dysfunction, Death of the natural human reproductive systems  (Genesis 15:1-4; 15-19; 18:9-14; 21:1-7).

GOD USED THE MOST EXTREME SITUATION TO SHOW HIS MERCY AND HIS MIGHT:

How important is this to mankind?  It says that any of us–whatever the SITUATION, SORROW, and SINFUL PAST–All of us can experience “spiritual birthing.”

For Abraham is the father of us all–

[16]  “THEREFORE, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace, to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants–not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all!  [17] As it is written,  I have made you father of many nations in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if the [already] existed [Gen. 17:5]”  (Romans 4:16-17 AMP),

AND, Jesus died on the cross to put US in the family!

In the New Testament, “spiritual  birthing” begins–

It begins WHEN WE OPEN OUR EYES TO SEE JESUS.

With GOD’S GRACE (unmerited favor). when you look, you will see ‘HIM WHO IS WONDERFUL” and have the opportunity to reach out to Him.

“JESUS declared,  I tell you the truth,

no one can see the kingdom of God unless

he is born again.”

(John 3:3 NIV)

YOU MUST BE “BORN AGAIN” !!!

You must be spiritually “birthed” !!!  Your new birth begins your new life; one who experiences TRUE HOLINESS for the first time.

You begin to KNOW GOD in the “re-birthing”, EXPERIENCING HOLINESS IN “HIM WHO IS WONDERFUL”.

Be Holy

“Therefore, prepare your minds [be “ALERT”] for action; be self-controlled [‘disciplined’]; set your hope [focus] fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not  conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as He who called you is HOLY, so be holy in all that you do,  for it is written:  “BE HOLY, BECAUSE I AM HOLY”  (1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV). [The Word Detective added the brackets [  ] for emphasis].

The main idea behind HOLINESS is not moral purity but it is the idea of “apartness”–the idea that GOD is separate, different from His creation, in His essential nature and perfection of His attributes.  BUT instead of building a wall around His “apartness”, GOD call us into the “birthing process”, to come to Him and share His apartness.  He says to us, “BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”  You have become “sanctified”.

HOLINESS is not so much something we possess, as it is something that possesses us after we come to JESUS in the “SPIRITUAL REBIRTH”–Born again!!

When you begin to experience HOLINESS for the first time…

HOLINESS isn’t what you feel–it is an experience: “I don’t feel holy so I’m not holy.” 

train

“Don’t Depend On FEELINGS” (courtesy of The Four Spiritual Laws tract):

The promise of god’s Word–the Bible and not our FEELINGS–is our authority.

The TRAIN pictures above, illustrates the RELATIONSHIP we receive in the “spiritual re-birthing”  among FACT (God and His Word); FAITH (our trust in God and His Word), and FEELING (the result of our FAITH and OBEDIENCE) ~ John 4:12.

The TRAIN will run with or without the caboose.  However, it would be useless to pull the train by the caboose.

In the same way, as a “new-born” , we don’t depend on FEELINGS or EMOTIONS: “I know what the Bible says, but I just don’t FEEL very HOLY right now.”

We place our FAITH (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and the PROMISES of His Word.

~(“Don’t Depend On FEELINGS” was taken from The FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS of Campus Crusade for Christ.) ~ My wife and I were both led to Christ by this Tract in August, 1972.

I believe it is a GOD-GIVEN condition at your “SPIRITUAL BIRTHING’.  You might not recognize holiness in your life, nor others around you.  BUT that doesn’t change the “birthing process”.

DEATH FIRST, THEN HOLINESS REALIZED–

Burying Like A Seed–No Death No Fruit:

John 12:24:

“I can guarantee this truth:  A single grain of wheat doesn’t produce a thing unless it is planted in the ground and dies.  If it dies, it will produce a lot of grain”  (GOD’S WORD TRANSLATION).

Being “set apart” in re-birth; Experiencing Holiness–

RE-BIRTHING is a High Place of dying out, being crucified with Christ and burying.  Now BURYING may seem more like a horrible place, but remember, we’re talking about “a spiritual re-birth of self”–our mind, personality; who we are.  Your physical body is just a tent where you reside; it wears out eventually, but who you really are doesn’t!

A NEW ROMANCE BEGINS …

WHY?  Because burying our old life opens the way for us to fall so much in LOVE with the Savior, to begin a REAL and RADICAL ROMANCE WITH THE REDEEMER!

In the letter to the Roman Christians, Paul uses a legal and matrimonial illustration (Romans 7:1-4):

Likewise, my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear FRUIT for God.  (verse 4, AMP)

The picture of “burying” here is beautiful to my eyes, then again I’m a visual person.  Our RELATIONSHIP with all other “spiritual suitors or spouses” must end through spiritual death.  Only the will of JESUS establishes A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH US.

What Is A Spiritual Suitor? 

“Bury what spiritual suitors or spouses?”

Well…other “suitors” or “spouses” can be…

— Sin (Romans 6:6-11).

— Society (Galatians 6:14).

— Perhaps other Christians? (1 Corinthians 2:2).

And, the chief, all-inclusive rival Spouse is… SELF:

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who LOVED ME and gave Himself up for me”  (Galatians 2:20 AMP).

The SELF we are to be freed from by death is not the first TRUE SELF, fashioned in GOD’S IMAGE.  It’s a FOREIGN SELF, fashioned after the Satanic spirit clutching hopelessly to be GOD.

It, therefore, manifests itself in ….

PRIDE…

ANGER…

FRUSTRATION…

SUSPICION…

JEALOUSY…

It is this FALSE SELF that CAN and MUST be denied (see Luke 9:23), and it must be BURIED in Christ Jesus.  The clear instruction is…12605297-holy-week

“take up your cross daily, and follow Me”

JESUS HAS TASTED DEATH AND BURIAL FOR US:

He has already delivered us from the rival suitors, to ANOTHER!  JESUS HIMSELF has already paid the price; made the Sacrifice.  He Himself took the Cross, bore ALL the hardness of real death and real burial.

JESUS has experienced the grief of death, so that by dying with Him, we experience the Grace, even the Glory of dying out to old and being re-born to the new.

Along with the apostle Paul, we can gladly say on RESURRECTION SUNDAY…and on any given day of the year...Galatians 2:20.

VERSE 1:  Alas, and did my Savior bleed?  And did my Sovereign die?

Would He devote that sacred head  For someone such as I?

VERSE 2:  Was it for crimes that I have done, He suffered on the tree?

Amazing pity!  grace un-known! And love beyond degree!

VERSE 4:  But drops of grief can never repay  The debt of love I owe;

Here,  Lord, I give myself away,  ‘Tis  all that I can do!

CHORUS: At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,  And the

burden of my heart rolled away,  It was there by faith

I received my sight,  And now I am happy all the day!

“At the Cross”

by Isaac Watts and Ralph Hudson

A LIFETIME TO REFLECT:

MY STORY–Learning to Perfect the Perfection.

Dianne and I got married in September 1964, almost 49 years ago.  In fact, we’ve been saving our blessed abundance for the past three years; in order to be able to celebrate our 50th wedding Anniversary.

The analogy of marriage is very fitting in reflection of “back when…”  We get married in a moment of commitment but it takes a lifetime to learn to live with each other.

It’s similar with entire sanctification (Holiness): A PERFECTION OF COMMITMENT and HEART-CLEANSING IN A MOMENT.  It takes a lifetime, however, learning to perfect the perfection. 

As the Word of God tells us:

“THEREFORE, SINCE these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God”  (2 Corinthians 7:1 AMP).

“Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the PURE (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation”  (1 Peter 2:2).

HOLINESS BEGINS AT “SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTHING”…

We who belong in the family of God have an advocate, “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1 NKJV), who has paid the penalty to forgive our sins by what He did on the cross.  He wants to SAVE US…to be our personal attorney and Savior.  But remember, He is available only to those who call on His name.  If you have the slightest doubt that you are HOLY–that you have ever personally invited Him into your life, do it now!

TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus, Your Son, to die on the cross for my sins.  I know I am a sinner and that only He, the resurrected Christ, can forgive and save me.  Jesus, I invite You into my life to become my Savior and Lord.  I give my life to You.  In Jesus’ name I pray,  Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, “SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTHING”  has taken place.  That’s it in a nutshell!

“So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace that is coming to you…[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].  But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.  For it is written,  You shall be holy, for I am holy”  (1 Peter 1:13-16).