In DEATH, Are We Just “Food for Worms”… Or, Is There More?

~ Our Study Scripture – 1 Corinthians 15:35-52 ~

cremation-burial-resurrection

 The Resurrection Body —

In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul is writing a letter to a group of Christians who were struggling with the issue of what happens after one dies.  They were living about 24 years after the RESURRECTION, and as we often today have lapses in memory of past events, their thinking about life and death were being influenced by their culture.

I read in a recent survey this past week, that 30% of all American believe in reincarnation; a belief that each individual soul lives a succession of lives in various human bodies over the course of history.  The purpose being, such reincarnation gradually purifies the soul eventually reaching perfection.

Even harder to grasp in reading this survey, Gallup also found 25% of those who describe themselves as Christians, including 10% of those…defining themselves as “born-again”/evangelicals.  [See Footnote [i] ]

This idea (25%/10% of Christians) makes absolutely no sense to me.  REINCARNATION is incompatible to the TRUTH of the Gospel.  Even among Americans who believe in the resurrection of the dead, 2/3 believe they will not have bodies after the RESURRECTION (Alcorn p. 110).

RESURRECTION by its very definition requires a body.  If we didn’t have bodies, we wouldn’t be resurrected!

“What Awaits After Death?”

~ Philippians 1:21 New Living Translation (NLT) ~

“For to me, living means living for Christ,

And dying is even better.”

PHYSICAL DEATH is the separation of the body from the soul.  At the DEATH of a believer in Christ Jesus, the body is committed to the grave and the soul and spirit goes to be with Jesus.

DEATH is an abnormal condition because it tears apart what God created and joined together.

God intended our bodies to last as long as our souls.  The reason we are decaying and dying is not because we have bodies.  It is because SIN has infected our bodies.

The Biblical Doctrine of Resurrection

This understanding is an affirmation that we are a spiritual and physical unity; that God intends to put us back together again.  I call it, the “Humpty Dumpty Effect.”  The kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t do it, but my King certainly can!

Although the soul is separate from the body at death, it’s only a temporary condition.  Some of you reading this care less about what happens to your body–after you die.  Right now, after looking in the mirror in the morning, hoping to find enough aspirin, icy/hot and duct tape to keep yourselves from falling apart and running now.

I would like to share some exciting news about what eternity holds for you physically as “mirror” gazers.  YEP! PHYSICALLY!! One day, you are going to experience the ultimate extreme makeover.

Being Transformed For Life In Heaven–

First, The New Body Is Real.

Paul addresses the FIRST QUESTION,  “How are the dead in Christ raised up?”  beginning in verse thirty-six:

“You foolish man!  Every time you plant a seed, you sow something that does not come to life UNLESS it dies first”  (1 Cor. 15:36).

This verse says that the body is “sown” – “sown” here means “buried.”  It seems obvious there’s no need for a resurrection “UNLESS” one is dead.

New, Yet Part Of The Old (vv. 37-38)

“Nor is the seed you sow then the body which it is going to have [later], but it is a naked kernel, perhaps of wheat or some of the rest of grains.  But God gives to it the body that He plans and sees fir, and to each kind of seed a body of its own.”

The illustration Paul uses here explains the “seed sown” doesn’t look like the fruit it will produce.

When you plant a pumpkin seed, as I do every year, the seeds planted never looks like a pumpkin.  Although the seed doesn’t look like the pumpkin, I know I can’t get the fruit if I don’t plant the seed.

The BODY that is resurrected is a brand new you.  If it’s not you, then it’s not resurrected.  Perhaps this analogy might help you understand my meaning–

At the age of thirty I was SAVED!  I became a new person, yet I was still the person I had always been.  I hoped those around me saw a lot of change in my life, but not to the point that they could not say, “That’s Mel.” 

This same MEL will undergo another change at death, and yet another change at the RESURRECTION.  But through all these changes, I’ll continue to be who I was and always will be [I’m indebted to John Hamby and Randy Alcorn’s analogy as a model].

Secondly, The New Body Is Recognizable–

One of the most often asked question concerning HEAVEN over the years is,  “Will we know our loved ones and will they know us?”

The only real example of what our resurrected body will be like in eternity is what we read of JESUS in the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension.  JESUS walked the earth in His resurrection body for forty days showing us how we would live as resurrected human beings.

We are going to have bodies like JESUS (Note I didn’t say we were going to become little JESUS’).  It was the same body He had before He died and recognized by His friends. Yet, when the resurrected Lord appeared, He was so different that the first they didn’t recognize Him.

thomas

— He arose from the DEAD, yet upon His body were still the marks of the crucifixion, where-by His disciples knew with understanding this was the same JESUS in the same body (The Gospel of John Chapters 20-21).

— He had a real body that could touch, be touched and could and did eat(Mark 24:13-45).

Not only is the New Body Recognizable but…

Third, The New Body Is Radically Different

In Paul’s second rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 15:35, he addresses what kind of body WE will have that is suitable for living forever in Heaven.

In verse forty-two Paul begins answering that question by drawing a series of contrast–

#1. The New Body Will Be Indestructible (v. 42):

“[The body] that is sown is perishable and decays…” [“food for worms”]. “but [the body] that is resurrected is imperishable (immune to decay, immortal)” (AMP translation).

First thing Paul tells us is our new resurrection bodies are indestructible–our new bodies are not like our old bodies–our current bodies wear out…we get old…we begin to notice everything doesn’t work like it use to. We begin to understand the old saying, “What doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.” We discover that no matter what the infomercial promises, it can’t stop the aging process.  At best, we may slow it down somewhat or camouflage it, but we can’t stop it.

Our new bodies will be made to last forever. Our resurrection bodies are not subject to disease or decay or aging. HALLELUJAH! Bodies will literally out-live the stars!

#2. The New Body Will Be Glorious (v. 43 a.):

“It is sown in dishonor and humiliation; it is raised in honor and glory…”

The word “GLORY” means brilliance. Our new bodies will be glorious like that of the risen Christ.

In Philippians 3:21 Paul says Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior “Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty…”

#3. The New Body Will Be Powerful (v. 43 b.):

“…it is sown in weakness, raised in POWER.”

We will possess a new body with abilities beyond our wildest imaginations.

When JESUS was with His disciples, He had POWER to come and go as He pleased, neither walls nor distance were obstacles.

According to John 20:25, JESUS came into the room without opening the door.  Now we are never told in Scripture that we’ll be able to do the same things JESUS did (like pass through closed doors).  It may be that some aspects of His resurrection body are unique because of His divine nature.  We may not share those special abilities that JESUS possessed but whatever abilities we do have will be more than we could have ever dreamed of.

#4. The New Body Will Be Infinite (v. 44 a.)

“It is sown a natural (physical) body; it is raised a supernatural (a spiritual) body…”

To say that we’ll have a “spiritual body” doesn’t mean we will just be spirits.  Somehow many Christians have come to the conclusion life in eternity is going to be some kind of ghost-like spiritual being.

JESUS reassured His disciples, “I am not a ghost…” (Luke 24:39 NLT).

We will be raised with a body suitable for our new life!

Fourth, The New Body Is Received At Christ’s Return (vv. 51-52):

"The Twinkling of an Eye"

“The Twinkling of an Eye”

[51] Take notice!  I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God).  We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed).

[52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed).

“In a TWINKLING of An Eye”

Paul answers the question “Who will be resurrected and when?” in verses fifty-one and fifty-two.

“Take notice! …”

The DEAD in Christ will rise first and given new glorified bodies and the LIVING BELIEVERS will follow in the Parousia [STRONGS NT 3952 – Bible Hub.com], the RAPTURE– and their bodies will be transformed.

Paul further explains the sequence of events in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (AMP): 

[16] For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have depart this life in Christ will rise first.

[17] Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord. 

All this will happen in the twinkling of an eye–a “wink”.  How long exactly, is the “twinkling of an eye”?  Jack Van Impe has defined “the twinkling of an eye as eleven one-hundredths of  a second [See Footnote [i] ].

Ben Franklin’s Epitaph–

In preparing this weeks topic, I discovered the epitaph that Ben Franklin wrote for himself while still a young man [See Footnote [ii]. ] 

I loved his wording because it wonderfully catches the spirit of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:

The body of B. Franklin, printer, (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for worms.

But the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more, in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.

He was born on January 6, 1706

Died 17

 


Footnotes and Credits:

[i] – www.blogos.org/theologyapologetics/reincarnation-christianity.hphp

[ii] – http://www.ushistory.org/franklin-grave

Bible Translations Used:

Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Translation (NLT)

Photo Credits:

“Twinkling” Eye: Shutterstock via Photo Pin.

Google Images – 1 Corinthians 15:42 Image; The New Body Is Recognizable: Marks of the Crucifixion Image.

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