Quest for Life Pt 3
Pastor Terry Inman
These are not Raider Fans! Transformers 4 is coming to a theater near you next summer. Mutating vehicles will again, do battle to save the planet. Optimus Prime the leader of the Autobots will once again fend off the likes of Megatron and his dark horde of Decepticons.
I’m so sorry if you missed the exciting box office trilogy. So did I. In the last episode Optimus Prime used the energy of his Matrix of Leadership to revive his predecessor Sentinel Prime. It’s was like a resurrection!
But something went very wrong, Sentinel Prime joined the dark side and helped Megatron tele-port his vile Decepticons to earth to enslave humans and rebuild their dying star Cybertron. When hopes were lost Optimus Prime’s autobots destroyed the foe and rescued planet earth!
Transformers are no longer just kid’s toys, comics and video games. These movies sell mussel cars and monster trucks. Your Chevy may save your life someday! OK so what’s the point? The bible says followers of Jesus will transformed, from human beings to heaven beings!
Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Phil. 3:20-21 (NIV)
We have been talking about the Quest for Life a study of Resurrection from Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 15. Easter Sunday we examined Paul’s evidence for Christ’s Resurrection. Last week we talked about our spiritual and physical resurrection and the timing. Today we will conclude this series with the Apostle’s thoughts on the nature of our Resurrected life. Paul anticipates and answers an irrational question.
Some in Corinth could not understand how it was possible for a sinful material body be changed to a spiritual heavenly body.
He answers with a simple lesson from plant biology, He says, “But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 1 Cor. 15:35-38 (NIV)
Paul’s explanation sets the tone for the rest of the argument. Plants are uniquely different yet associated with the seeds that produced them. This present body, like a seed, dies and decays in the dirt, yet from it comes new body.
Jesus, predicting his own death, burial and resurrection said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:23-24 (NIV)
This distinguishes resurrection from reincarnation. Death is the portal to heaven. Heaven is an atmosphere that requires an altered existence. It is not a second or third time around here on earth in a higher or lower species. We are not re-embodied as Holy cows. Nothing against cows but I am not stepping down the food chain. I am going for a glorified Christ-like existence! Glorified means esteemed or magnified.
I will never forget the image I believe the Lord gave me right after Mary’s younger sister Joanna had suddenly died of cardiac arrest in her early 40’s. I saw a glowing image rise out of her body, leaving it like a pile of clothing on the floor. Even if it was just my imagination it was sure comforting! Paul said, As long as we are in this body “We groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling” 2 Cor. 5:2-3 (NIV).
Paul moves his analogy from plant biology to other created life forms. He says, “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another” (vs. 39).
Then he mentions the variety in the inanimate objects of his creation.
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. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor (vs. 40-41).
The point he is clearly arguing is that God is able to take similar physical material and organize it differently to accomplish his purposes. Several years ago I heard a Christian physicist speculate on how Jesus walked through a locked door to appear to his disciples after his resurrection. He said it is possible that God simply rearranged the molecular structure of his glorified body so it would penetrate and pass through solid matter.
In the next couple verses Paul applies this “altered yet alike” analogy to the resurrection of the human body. He describes God’s power to morph a mortal being into an immortal being.
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 1 Cor. 15:42-44 (NIV)
This is a high contrast snapshot of natural life and spiritual life. Paul makes three comparisons. First our physical bodies are perishable. We are all natural, organic; we have no additives and preservatives. We are only fresh for a while then we are subject to decay, death and decomposition.
However our spiritual DNA is imperishable, it’s well preserved. Our resurrected life is indestructible! The Apostle Peter says, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Pet 1:24 (NIV)
Secondly he says this body is dishonorable, it’s disgraceful. When you’re young and cute you may think you’re hot but you’re not. When this old shell starts breaking down its not pretty that’s why I wear lose clothing.
But Paul says our resurrection replacement is on the way and it’s glorious.
It’s magnificent. I think we should take good care of our body because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We must honor God’s house.
We need to nurture our spiritual identity. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Gal. 6:8 (NIV)
Are you feeding the Spirit or just the flesh. Are you exercising the Spirit or just the flesh?
Third Paul says, even though we have a fragile frame, “sown in weakness” we are raised with power. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Rom. 8:11
Next Paul compares our natural legacy in Adam with our spiritual legacy in Christ. “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:44-47 (NIV)
Our natural life comes from the earth that gave birth to Adam. This body is earth bound but our spiritual life is heaven bound!
Paul says we bear both images. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. 1 Cor. 15:48-49 (NIV)
We may not know exactly what a resurrected body looks like, but we know for sure we will be like Jesus. “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1John 3:2 (NIV)
Christ’s post-resurrection appearances can give us some hints about our future design. He walked he talked, he ate, his listened he taught. On several occasions he appeared spontaneously and then finally vanished into the heavens. He appeared both natural and supernatural.
Pierre de Chardin a French Jesuit Priest who was a philosopher and paleontologist said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
That may be why Paul says it takes more than the natural body to inherit the eternal kingdom of God. We have been born of the Spirit. It’s our spirit life that lives forever. You’ve heard it said you can’t take it with you. Well we trade in this material body for a metaphysical body.
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 1 Cor. 15:50 (NIV)
Jesus became flesh and blood to redeem flesh and blood. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— Heb. 2:14 9NIV) Jesus triumphed over sin, death and the devil. So we believe in him are given a pass to the victory party in heaven.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” 1Cor. 15:51-53 (NIV)
So not all Christians will “fall asleep.” Some will be alive when Christ returns. Second, all Christians will receive changed bodies when Christ comes back. This is called “the rapture”. Third, the change will occur instantaneously and completely for all Christians, whether living or dead. Fourth, the change will occur from one kind of body to another.
Now, Paul goes into celebration mode quoting several Old Testament prophets. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:54-57 (NIV)
We will be changed! Now here’s the final challenge! Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Cor. 15:58 (NKJV)
Be firm! Stay fixed! Be fruitful! Because noting is futile for people changed by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!