by Mike Ratliff
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” (2Corinthians 4:7-15 ESV)
All of our Christian Theology is worth nothing if our Lord was not resurrected. If He was not resurrected then His sacrifice for our sins was not accepted by God the Father. That means that we are still in our sins and will experience the wrath of God. Of course the atheist scoffs at everything we teach. He or she demands proof of something that can only be accepted and grasped and believed by faith. Our salvation is by Grace through faith. Only those who have been regenerated by God have this faith and they are the only ones who understand the mystery of the Resurrection.
It is also a tragedy when professing Christians live their lives with no consideration towards the Resurrection. They live as if it is not a reality. The miracle of the Risen Christ is something that never enters into their thoughts. Why? These folks are religious to be sure, but do they really know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour? Are they New Creations, God’s workmanship? Whenever I consider these things and ponder them in light of eternity I am reminded of the passage below from Matthew 7.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)
Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” to Jesus Christ know Him as Lord. These are the ones who claim to be Christians, but who live their lives as if the Resurrection is a myth or at least too difficult to comprehend.
“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1Corinthians 15:35 ESV)
The Corinthian believers had the truth. However, they did not believe and follow it. We see that in the following passage.
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2Corinthians 13:5 ESV)
Paul echoed their questions in the passage above. I pray that you noticed that they carry a taunting or mocking tone to them. I deal with that same mocking voice nearly every day from the atheists I deal with who come here because they hate the truth. They are full of unbelief and from their darkened hearts come bitter accusations and slanderous statements that make huge assumptions about what is true and what is not based upon their sovereign opinions. The Corinthians Paul is speaking to here did not really care about the Resurrection. However, they knew that Paul taught it as a vital part of the Gospel. Therefore, they were demanding from Paul to prove to them how it could ever happen as he did with Agrippa in the passage below.
“So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:
“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
“My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:1-8 ESV)
Paul answers their taunting questions by giving four responses in vv36-49. The first response is found in vv36-38. The second is in vv39-42a. The third response is in vv42b-44. The fourth response is found in vv45-49.
In the first response Paul gives an illustration from nature.
“You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.” (1Corinthians 15:36-38 ESV)
A seed that is planted in the ground dies. It actually decays. It loses its seek-like form. However, life comes from within it. Just as God gives a new body to the plant that comes from the germination of its seed, He gives a resurrection body to people who die.
In the second response, Paul gives a description of resurrection bodies.
“For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead.” (1Corinthians 15:39-42a ESV)
God created the Universe and within it he also created vastly different bodies and forms. Each is suited in the existence for which God designed it. God is perfectly capable of designing our bodies which will be perfectly suited for eternity.
In the third response, Paul contrasts earthly and resurrection bodies.
“What is sown is perishable; what is raised is 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1Corinthians 15:42b-44 ESV)
Our earthly bodies are perishable, sinful so they are full of dishonor, easily made ill in their weakness, and weak in regard to temptation. However, our resurrection bodies are totally different because of their being free from the corrupting power of sin. They will be imperishable, raised in glory, raised in power, and raised a spiritual body. It is as if Paul is saying that our glorified bodies await us.
In the fourth response, Paul reminds us of the firstfruits resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”;the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1Corinthians 15:45-49 ESV)
Paul gives those who tauntingly asked those questions in v35 the direct answer in this passage. Jesus’ resurrection body is the prototype of our resurrection bodies. Our earthly bodies are modeled after Adam’s. We are from the dust as he was. When our earthly bodies die they return to the dust. The Second Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, was not from the dust, but of the spiritual. When we are resurrected our bodies will be heavenly, spiritual bodies like Christ’s.
When asked for evidence of the resurrection by an atheist, we must tell them that all in Christ have been resurrected from spiritual death unto spiritual life, but there is a resurrection that still awaits everyone. Those in Christ will be given their glorified, eternal, bodies on that day. The lost will also be given eternal bodies on that day that will endure the flames of the Lake of Fire for eternity and not be consumed. However, all in Christ have the blessed hope of following their Lord into eternity with bodies like His. The older I get the more I look forward to this. I pray that you do as well.