Do you like your body? I do not know the stats, but I would guess that most people do not. Well, good news – at least for those who follow Christ. One day, we will get a new body – and one that is beyond anything you can imagine.
The truth is that your current body will die – it must die. And when it does, it will decay at a rate even faster than what some of you may think it is decaying today. It will rot. It will be garbage. Even if you are alive when Christ returns, your present body will not be the body you will receive – as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 – the perishable will be replaced by the imperishable.
So, the body you know…the body you like or dislike…the body that has grown, and aged, and thrived, and/or failed…the body that gets you where you need to go, and the body that slows you down…the body that feels good or the body that aches…however you describe your current body, it will cease. But a new one – a better one – will replace it. At least for those who have their faith in Christ.
But that is where the idea of resurrection comes into play. Resurrection is not just about coming out of the grave; it is not just coming back to some zombie type of life. It is returning in a body that was meant to truly live. To be resurrected is to be truly restored.
Let me clarify. A restored body is not patched back together, nor is it made “like new.” People can do a lot of cosmetic work on various objects to make something look good, including a body, but it is still not truly new. Of course, “like new” is better, but it is still not new. For instance, I buy a lot of books. And sometimes I will buy used books, and when I do buy a used book, I prefer ones that are “like new.” That is, they are not new, but they are not well-worn. They may have a few markings or they may have a few dog-eared corners, or perhaps the cover is slightly damaged, but for the most part the book is in very, very good shape. But I still prefer new books…because they are new!
But our new bodies will be newer than new. Not only will any decay be gone, the body will be unlike anything we can fathom. Many listening right now will have heard me say this before, but I must say it again in this context. I cannot say what our bodies will be like with any certainty, other than they will be like the body Jesus had after His resurrection. He could eat food and walk through a closed door. Frankly, our mind cannot conceive those two ideas simultaneously. But whether you can conceive it or not, that is the reality of a new body – which can one day be yours. But if we are to be resurrected like Jesus, what is the purpose?
Well, let me quickly give you three ideas. We need a new body to live eternally, to live abundantly, and to live truly.
A New Body Allows Us to Live Eternally (1 Corinthians 15.35-41)
Your current body will not last forever. Very few bodies make it 100 years. Medical advances and sanitation have extended the lifespan, but bones still brake, muscles still pull, illnesses still debilitate, and organs still fail.
However, the promise of God in John 3.16 is that those who place their faith in Jesus will have eternal life – that is, life that does not end. And for a life that will not end, you need a new body. And that body will come one day after the current one expires.
That is the promise of this passage in 1 Corinthians 15. The earth has one kind of body. Heaven will have another. Just as different species have different types of bodies, so too will our physical body be different from a spiritual body (see vv. 45-47).
But I do want to make sure we understand that we do not need to wait for a new body to live eternally. We need a new body to live forever, but living eternally begins the moment you place your faith in Jesus.
That is what “your Kingdom come” means. We are not to wait until after we die to experience the Kingdom of God. No, we are taught to pray for God’s Kingdom to come – to be experienced on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus would not have taught us to pray those words if it was not possible. So, again, we need a body that will allow us to live eternally, but the beginning of that eternal life begins in this body, not after we die.
A New Body Allows Us to Live Abundantly (1 Corinthians 15.42-49)
This point about living abundantly falls perfectly between the other two.
First, our current bodies limit us from abundant living. All of us have experienced needs. We have been hungry and thirsty and tired and sick. We have been frightened and worried. We have needed compassion. We have needed love.
But the abundant living Jesus promises will include a new body built for a new place where hunger and thirst are no more. We will not be tired. We will never grow sick. Our fears will cease and being in the presence of the Lord will remove all worries. But best of all, the presence of love will be unlike anything we can fathom. Sure, the street will be gold, and the gates made of pearl, but those things will mean little to us – which shows what true abundance really is.
Second, abundant living will mean we will be able to fully live. We will not be limited by our bodies. We will not be too short or too tall. We will not be too skinny or too fat. We will not have weak eyesight or weak knees. We will have the perfect amount of strength. The perfect amount of stamina. We will receive a new body that is ideally suited to serve exactly as God desires us to serve.
Consider the idea of living abundantly and living eternal together. We will never have needs – not in 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years, not ever.
Consider the words in this section – raised imperishable, raised in glory, raised in power, made for heaven. The new body is in contrast to our current bodies which are made from dust (v. 49) and will therefore die (v. 42), are dishonorable (v. 43), and weak (v. 43). Yes, the abundant life that God offers us is available now (John 10.10), but not necessarily as we think of abundance. But the fullness of what God has for us will be experienced by those who are called His children (1 John 3.2).
A New Body Allows Us to Live Truly (1 Corinthians 15.50-58)
I hinted at this in the previous point. But what do I mean by truly living? Honestly, I don’t know. We can’t fully know on this side of eternity. We cannot fathom what awaits, but our present bodies will not be able to withstand the joy.
Some people have a false understanding of heaven. We will not be floating around on clouds. Certainly, we will sing praises to our King (Revelation 5, 7, 19). But heaven will not be an everlasting worship service or time of preaching. We will serve. In the Parable of the Talents, the master says to the two faithful servants, “You have been faithful over little, I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25.21, 23). That is, those who serve well will be given more responsibility to serve in the presence of the Master.
But the toil will not be burdensome because The Curse will have been lifted. It is as NT Wright says, we will have “Life after life after death.” That is the life I look forward to having. Not just life after death, but truly living in the life that comes after death.
That is the fullness of what Paul means when he quotes from the prophet Hosea, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting” (1 Corinthians 15.54-55; cf. Hosea 13.14).
We must seek to live our lives as faithfully as we can in this life. But life on the other side of eternity will be a life that we cannot fathom…but it will be a life that will allow us to truly live.
Are you ready?
Well, don’t rush it. But be ready! And be expectant!
Perhaps no phrase better captures the idea of what true life is meant to be than Jesus words, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11.25).
Jesus did not just say He would be resurrected and offer life – He said, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.” That claim is probably the second most bold claim ever made by anyone. And it is second only to another claim by Jesus – that He was God (just a few verses earlier in John 10.30).
Jesus’ claim about being the epitome of life is followed by a statement about those who believe will live, even though they die (John 11.26). And then He asks Martha, “Do you believe this?” (John 11.26).
He is asking us the same question today. The reality is that Jesus has made promises that will be fulfilled one day and one of those promises is our resurrection and our new bodies. It will happen. But He gives us the choice of whether to believe or not. I do not understand the fullness of that statement. I can barely begin to understand any portion of it:
But I believe it. Of course, I have a good grasp of of the word AND, but that’s it. The rest is beyond me. But I believe it. And I want to experience the fullness of whatever Jesus meant by that statement.
Having a resurrected body in the presence of Jesus is my hope. (Biblically, hope is not a wish, it is a certainty that is not yet an experienced reality.)
And for those who believe, Paul wrote that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we who believe are to be pitied above all else – because our Hope would lead to nothing, if His resurrection were not true. But as I have said before, if nothing exists beyond this life, why do we do anything? Why should we do anything? Why do we have fear over a virus? Or the economy? Or whatever? But if something, or Someone, does exist, then our primary concern should be about whether or not we are ready to meet Him!
It goes back to last week’s statement about our need for forgiveness. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15.22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Yes, we will die, but it is then that you and I can fully understand what it means to live, in the new body, that God has prepared for each of us.