Although Christians understand that Christ’s resurrection is absolutely central to our faith, many of us struggle to see exactly what it means to us personally. The atonement for sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ makes a little more sense to us — we grasp the idea that He died the death that rightly belonged to us. But sometimes (if we’re honest), we have difficulty articulating the significance that His resurrection has for us.
Before going further, let’s remember that the most important reason behind Christ’s resurrection is His glory. While we most assuredly do benefit tremendously from the fact that He is risen, we must take care not to make it about us. As in everything, we need to keep our focus on glorifying and honoring Him.
Having made the point that His glory remains the primary point of His resurrection, we can also acknowledge its impact on us. Our eternal future in His kingdom comes about precisely because God raised Him from the dead! Apart from the resurrection, we would have no hope (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).
For the purposes of today’s article, I am going to particularly emphasize the teaching that Christ’s physical resurrection guarantees the physical resurrection of our own bodies. Of course I can’t offer a thorough treatment of the subject in a single blog post, but I’d like to show you some Scriptures that may help you get a handle on this matter. Most evangelicals don’t really engage in much thought about our resurrection bodies, at least not in any serious way, which means that we desperately need teaching on our own resurrection.
We need to begin with 1 Corinthians 15. Paul wrote that section of 1 Corinthians as a response to false teachers who denied the resurrection of believers even though they affirmed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At one point, they scoffingly demanded to know what a believer’s resurrected body would look like. Undaunted, Paul answered their challenge:
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 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. 41 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.
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 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. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 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. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. ~~1 Corinthians 15:35-49 (ESV)
Some people believe that we will receive entirely new bodies at the resurrection. I don’t believe this passage teaches any such thing. At the resurrection, our bodies will be different than they are now, but they won’t be different bodies. Just as a kernel of grain becomes a stalk of wheat, so the Lord will transform our earthly bodies into bodies suited for eternal worship.
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.~~1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (ESV)
Paul stated this wonderful truth even more clearly in his letter to the Philippians:
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ~~Philippians 3:20-21 (ESV)
Clearly, our bodies will be transformed, not replaced. Just as Jesus has a glorified body that still bears evidence of His crucifixion, so our transformed bodies will still be the bodies that He knit together in our mothers’ wombs. No matter how decomposed our bodies become after death, the Lord is powerful enough to reassemble them at the last day.
As I said earlier, it would be impossible to fully discuss our resurrection in one blog post. But I pray that I’ve given you a hunger to study the topic further. As you study, I’m sure you’ll grow in your adoration of our risen Lord.
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