Healthy Church: Resurrection of the body

August 8, 2023

Series: Healthy Church

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Did you know if you would have purchased shares of Conoco Philips on March 2020 for $35 you could have sold them May 2022 for $105?  Morgan Stanley for $40 and two years later for $90.  Apple for $70 and two years later for $140.  If you only knew!

I am sure some of us made those investments but I am confident all of us wish we knew because “knowing the future, listen to me, knowing the future enables us to make wise decisions in the present.”

How many of us watch time travel shows and think to ourselves, “I wish I knew then what I know now?”  It’s because “knowing the future enables us to make wise decisions in the present.”  I got an acronym.  Just kidding!

In our passage this morning we see God’s Word pointing us toward the future of what is to come.  Last Sunday, we looked at the resurrection of Jesus as a foretaste, as first fruits, or the illustration we used last Sunday was that of model homes; a picture of what is to come.

One day Jesus is going to return, one day the trumpet is going to sound, and all who are in Christ are going to be called up, our bodies will be raised in glory.  This is the living hope we have in Christ but what do those glorified bodies look like?  (Pause)

Are we going to be the age and size we pass away for eternity?  What about all those bodies that have turned to ash, then filtered into our water, so that over time we have consumed molecules that belong to other people?  How does that work?  This morning we are going to answer all those questions.  Let’s look at verses 35-38:

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, “35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.”

In verses 35-38 we see God’s Word describing our bodies today as a type of seed.  This is a watermelon seed.  How does this seed become a watermelon?

Remember, the Corinthian church believed Jesus’ resurrected from the dead but Jesus is God in the flesh, and were just regular people, so how do our regular physical bodies become glorified bodies?

Honestly, how does belly fat, bad breath, stitches, broken bones, and disease become glorious?  The Apostle Paul writes, “Our physical bodies are like seeds!”  You don’t look at a pumpkin seed and see a pumpkin, apple seed and see an apple.  Or the mighty oak tree from a little acorn, therefore, is it so unimaginable that our physical bodies could be raised as glorious bodies?  Look at verses 39-41:

1 Corinthians 15:39-41, “39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of mankind, another flesh of animals, another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”

In verses 39-41 we see different types of bodies with animals, birds, fish, stars, sun and moon.  Have you seen some of those images that we are getting of the galaxy?  When stars die they turn into supernovas and planetary nebulae.  How does that happen?

How did God make flesh and bone out of ash in Genesis 2?  How does male and female come together to make a baby?  I mean, I know how but how is that possible?  Look at verses 42-44:

1 Corinthians 15:42-44, “42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 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.” 

Listen, it’s possible that you enjoy your physical body?  We have young people in the room.  It’s possible you feel young and strong but just keep breathing.  At some point, our bodies will start to show wear and tear.

At some point, our hair will start to turn gray.  Our eyes will start to weaken.  Our bones will start to ache.  We can exercise.  We can eat superfoods.  We can get better education.  We can get better politicians but all those tweaks are merely band-aids, because one day our physical bodies will perish.  We know this!

We know the future and knowing the future brings incredible clarity to how we live in the present.  Listen to me, these words aren’t just poetical words about life.

Death is coming.  I mean to sound morbid.  Our bodies are decaying, so that the hope we have in Jesus of being raised in glory is the most powerful hope we can cling to this morning.

This is what makes Jesus so important.  Jesus is God in the flesh.  One day Jesus will return, those in Christ, those who believe in Jesus will be transformed from these physical seeds, and somehow, beyond our imagination, we will be raised in glory.  Look at verses 45-46:

1 Corinthians 15:45-46, “45 So also it is written: “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” The last Adam was a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.”

This might be a little confusing but all of humanity begins with Adam but ends with Jesus.  The first man (Adam) was natural, the last man (Jesus) was spiritual, supernatural, therefore, in the same way, our physical bodies start off as unimpressive physical bodies but our spiritual bodies will become glorious, eternal, imperishable bodies!

This is the theme of Scripture.  The first Adam rebelled against the Father in Genesis 3.  The Last Adam (Jesus) was obedient to the Father to the point of death on a cross.

The first Adam brings judgment, death, and condemnation through sin but the Last Adam brings forgiveness, grace and eternal life to all who trust in Him.  The first Adam is put to sleep, so that a beautiful woman might come from his side but the Last Adam is laid to rest in a tomb, so that the bride of Christ might come forth.  Look at verses 47-49:

1 Corinthians 15:47-49, “47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy one, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly one, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”

Isn’t that good?  What do these glorious bodies look like?  We don’t really know.  We have seen the word “body” repeated over and over throughout our passage, so we know the emphasis is on physical bodies raised in glory but we don’t become angels, we don’t become ghosts, we become glorious.

The closest we can come to knowing what this will look like practically is looking at the resurrected Jesus.  When we read the Gospels and the book of Acts we see Jesus’ resurrected body is recognized by others, eats food, and interacts with people, but also, we see the resurrected Jesus walking through walls.

In Revelation 19 we see Jesus’ eyes blazing like fire, hair white as wool, feet like bronze and His voice like the roar of many waters, so we don’t know for sure but we know our glorified bodies will be beyond what we can imagine.

I think it’s possible that description of glorified bodies might seem too glorious.  It’s possible it might seem unimaginable, so that in some ways it reminds me of what it was like to first drive a car.

I hear teenagers today don’t want to drive, because they like to be on their phones, but driving a car 70 MPH down the highway with the windows down, music turned up, is just glorious!

But we don’t get to live in that glory every day.  Driving a car takes responsibility.  The car needs to be maintained.  You need to do oil changes, clean the interior, put some black magic on those tires, deal with recalls, argue with mechanics, and watch a lot of YouTube videos.

Sometimes taking care of a car can be exhausting, which is why you need to take those moments to roll down the windows and turn up the music.

In a similar way, we can talk about the glory of what is to come but that will never resonate with your soul if you don’t enjoy the glory of what is today.

Those moments in prayer when it’s as though the Lord is right next to you.  Those moments when you proclaim faith in Jesus and people respond.  Those moments when you read God’s Word and it pops off the page.  Those moments in worship when His presence is undeniable.  Those moments of glory are just a fraction of what is to come in eternity.  Look at verses 50-52:

1 Corinthians 15:50-52, “50 Now I say this, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I am telling you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

In verse 51 the Apostle Paul writes, “Behold!”  He is clapping his hands.  He is getting our attention and writes, “I am telling you a mystery.”

The hope we have in Jesus is a mystery.  There is a reason your friends and family don’t understand Jesus.  There is a reason our culture doesn’t applaud the name Jesus.  There is a reason you can’t just attend a worship service one time and know everything there is to know about God.  There is a reason we have questions.  There is a reason we have to study God’s Word deeply.  The power of God made known in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is a mystery!

Every other world religion says, “This is what you need to do earn God’s favor.”  This is how you need to live to earn God’s blessings.  This is who you become a good person.  This is what you need to say to get God’s attention.

But, the mysterious news of Jesus is that you are completely given God’s favor, blessing and attention, not by works, but by grace through faith in Jesus, for eternity!

That doesn’t make sense!  I’ve been walking with Jesus for 30 years and every day I have moments where I am reminded, “Oh wait, Jesus has already done the work.  I am His by grace.”

Therefore, in verse 51 the Apostle Paul writes, “I am telling you a mystery, we will not all sleep, but we, who are in Christ will all be changed.”

One day Jesus will return.  Jesus’ return will be like the twinkling of an eye.  The trumpet will sound.  Some might be on a roller coaster.  Some might be 6-feet under.  Some might be cremated.  Some might be molecules, but on that day the perishable will be made imperishable.  And you know this!

This event is going to happen which means we who are in Christ don’t have just this life.  We aren’t just living for this life.  We know there is another life that is to come, which shapes how we live this life.  Does that make sense?  Look at verses 53-54:

1 Corinthians 15:53-54, “53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 

Isn’t that good?  Have you noticed our culture has a fascination with death?  In our culture today, we try to act like death isn’t a big deal.  We try to make death sound like a normal part of life with things like, “Nobody lives forever!”  Or, “Death is a natural part of life.”

And, yet at the same time we try to avoid death as much as possible. We try to eat healthy so we can live longer.  We try to take vitamins, so we can live longer.  We try to take medications, so we can live longer.

C’mon, death is not normal.  Just so we are all on the same page, death is an enemy. It isn’t like on the 6th day God created death.  Death is to be avoided at all possible.  Psychologically when you don’t try to avoid death our medical doctors tell us, “Something is wrong with you.”

Listen to me, humanity can act like death isn’t a big deal, but we are all trying to avoid death, but death isn’t the problem.  Look at verse 55:

1 Corinthians 15:55-57, “55 Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These words are powerful.  There’s so much to draw out here but just for simplicity, look at the phrase “the sting of death is sin.”  Do you see that?

The problem with death isn’t death in and of itself.  Death is horrible, death is an enemy but death isn’t the problem.  Jesus says to Lazarus in the tomb, “Come out!”  Jesus said to the little girl who was deceased, “Get up!”

The problem isn’t death.  The problem is our sin.  The sting of death is sin.  The God of Scripture created all of life to be perfect but all of humanity sinned.

You know that little voice in your head that says, “Life should be different.”  Life shouldn’t be so challenging.  Relationships shouldn’t be so difficult.  You’re right.

Deep down, we know life should be perfect but our sin ruined all of it, so that Jesus has come by defeating sin!

Jesus lives a perfect life.  Jesus becomes a suitable sacrifice.  Jesus lays down His life at the cross to die in our place.  That’s the gospel!

Jesus takes the death we deserved and then Jesus conquers death in the resurrection, so that the sting of death is removed!

Listen to me, if you have yet to trust in Jesus it means the sting of death is still upon you.  It is only through faith in Jesus that you can be saved, therefore, turn to Jesus today!  Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord today!  Look at verse 58:

1 Corinthians 15:58, “58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

The word, “immovable” in the original language is the word, “ametakino.”  Kino is the German word for movies, or in English “cinema” for motion pictures, but the Apostle Paul writes to be “a-kino”, actually he writes, “a-meta-kino” which means “beyond not moving.”

He is charging the Corinthian church to hold fast to the life, death, resurrection and return of Jesus who will one day raise their bodies in glory.

Yes, we will lose focus, yes we will get distracted but let us not be like a motion picture tossed too and fro but let us be settled and stand firm.

Surely after living through pandemic we see how easy it is to get baited by the headlines of our day.  Every day there is a new headline about some political doom and gloom.  Trump’s legal accusations.  Biden falling down.  Promise of an up and coming politicians who’s going to finally “get the job done.”  So many headlines.

Fear and anxiety about climate change.  Offensive comments about the Barbie movie or from the Barbie movie.  War World 3.  Another pandemic.  Socialism.  Capitalism.  Liberal theology.  It’s possible that some of us are thinking, “But Michael, some of those things could happen!”  They could.

But what are we going to give our life to in the end, because we know the future and knowing the future determines how we live in our present.

Let’s experiment.  You could live for this life.  You could go to college and maybe finish in three years instead of four.  Maybe that means you make an extra $50K you wouldn’t have otherwise made?  Great!

Then, let’s say you devote your life to working really hard.  You take all the promotions.  You jump through all the hoops.  You come in early, stay up late but in the end, what does that give you?

Maybe an extra $100K a year?  Maybe you even start a business and make an extra $250K a year?  Maybe you get to retire early, so you can play golf or buy a boat or go on vacations?

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s great to make money, get a boat, go on a vacation but we who are in Christ are not just living for this life, but we are living for a life that is to come, therefore, how we live this life matters.

The conversations we have with people.  The spiritual gifts that are unleashed.  The souls that are reached and transformed for eternity.  The compassion that is extended.  The times we pray with people.

Yes, go on a vacation, take a nap unto the Lord, but what matters is the moments we spend in God’s Word.  The new ministries that are started.  The children that are raised.  The areas of character where we are growing.  The marriages that are thriving.

We say, “But I really like working.”  Great, work hard unto the Lord but your purpose is more than that task you are working on.  Don’t forget that!  The sacrifices we make for His Kingdom are what matter most.  The investments we make for the eternal are what matter most, not just in this life, but in the eternal life to come.

Because one day death will come knocking at our door, you will see a dark hall-way with a door at the end that will likely be frightening in that moment, but when you are in Christ, the door will open and our trembling will turn into a smile you will smile of joy because we will open that door not to death, but to Jesus.

If you have yet to trust in Jesus.  Won’t you do that today?  We will have people in the back to pray with you and for you.  Will you pray with me?