1 Corinthians 15:35-58
Please read through the above-mentioned Scripture text before proceeding.
As believers we can look forward to receiving new bodies at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Did you notice how many times the word ‘glory’ was used in our opening text? It seems obvious to me that our new bodies are going to be glorious. This is especially wonderful since we are all very aware how quickly our present bodies are wearing out through old age and infirmities.
We will bear the image of the heavenly
As people notice that their bodies are not as young or healthy as they once were, they try to rejuvenate themselves with creams and exercises. Some go to the extent of have bits cut away, parts added, and fat sucked out. How many of us have looked into the mirror and thought about getting rid of one of those three chins that stare us in the face each morning? All to delay the consequences of living in a fallen world. As Christians we should not misuse or abuse our natural bodies, nevertheless we delight in the fact that our resurrection bodies will be eternal and bear the image of the heavenly.
Christ’s resurrection reveals something of what our new bodies are going to be like. After He arose from the dead, the Lord Jesus was able to appear and disappear at will, He could walk through locked doors, and He ate and drank human food. He could do these things because He was the same person who lived on the earth for thirty-three years. Why do we think that resurrection bodies are intangible if it was not so with the Lord? He said to His disciples, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). The idea that God is some indescribable personality hidden behind some ghostly outline is derived from a misunderstanding of John 4:24 … “God is a Spirit,” but this verse does not suggest that spiritual bodies are intangible. Some may say, “God is invisible.” Yes, He is from our earthly point of view, but such invisibility does not exist in Heaven. When Stephen was being stoned he was looking steadfastly towards heaven and “saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God”, and declared, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56). How did he know that Jesus was standing at the Father’s right hand unless he actually saw them both? All such invisibility disappears in the heavenly realm.
Our weak, perishable bodies will be raised
The Lord Jesus Christ is returning to this earth in exactly the same body He once lived in on earth. We’ll know who He is, since He will be the one with the nail-pierced hands and feet. The last view the disciples had of their Saviour was His nail-scarred feet at He ascended into Heaven. The angel encouraged them when he said, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
According to the apostle Paul and the Book of Revelation our natural bodies will be raised too. It is an interesting fact that there will not be a single human body in the ground when the Last Judgement comes. All who have ever died will be reunited with their bodies at the end of the ages. For the believer this will happen at the Rapture of the Church, but the unsaved will wait until the resurrection of the dead. It does not matter if the body has turned to dust, been eaten by wild animals, or burned to ashes, for God has the blueprint for every person He has created. He will bring together exactly the same elements that once constituted our bodies.
While we await this glorious event, we will continue to get older, weaker, and suffer many infirmities and illnesses, but we “Set (our) affection on things above, not on things on the earth,” knowing that “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:2,4).
We shall be like Him
When we receive our new bodies there will never be any limitations in our service to God again, for “There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3). This happens the moment we look upon the one who paid the price for our eternal salvation. We are saved spiritually, our minds (souls) are being renewed, but we wait for the salvation of the body. If our bodies are not raised, and evidence of death remains on earth, then the devil will win a partial victory.
Paul says that “The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God … For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:19,22). The apostle John adds light to this when he writes, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). This is a part of what Scripture terms ‘the blessed hope’ … “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). As soon as we see Him “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye … we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Paul adds, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
All of our pain and suffering which we endured on earth will be forgotten forever as soon as our mortal bodies put on immortality. Though 2 Corinthians 5:17 is rightly used for salvation, we can see that it applies to the resurrection body too … “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Then we will agree that Paul was right when he wrote, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Notice that word ‘glory’ again?
Just a glimpse
Scripture does not describe what each of us will look like in our new bodies. It is certain that we won’t worry about designer clothing to dress ourselves up in, for we will all be wearing exactly the same glorious apparel and crowns of the righteous. Though we do not know how tall, how short, how thin or how fat we will be, we do know that we shall be “like Him,” that should be glory enough! No human words can paint an adequate picture of such glory, but deep down in our spirit we know it will be marvellous beyond our expectation. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!”