Charles Stanley - Our Bodily Resurrection, A Divine Essential
If you had the power to change your appearance, would you use it? I hear you laughing. That means some of you would. Well, what would you change? Would you change your size, your shape, your weight, color of your hair, color of your eyes? Would you have a "tummy-tuck"? Would you have a face lift? What would you do? Well, I've got some wonderful news for you. And that is that you're gonna have something better than a face lift or a tummy-tuck. You're gonna have a "body-lift" and it's not gonna cost you one copper penny. Because when Jesus Christ resurrects your body, believe me, you're gonna be the best-looking thing you have ever been in your whole lifetime. You can bet that price on that.
Well, that's what the Bible teaches us and so I want you to turn if you will to First Corinthians chapter fifteen. And the title of this message is "Our Bodily Resurrection: A Divine Essential". Why is it that our Lord has chosen to resurrect these bodies of ours? And often times we think it's just because He loves us and He wants to do something good for us. But there's something more to it than that. And I want us to read if you will in this fifteenth chapter which is Paul's explanation of the resurrection and what's gonna happen to our physical bodies, and he certainly clarifies that for us here.
I want us to read just a few verses of this passage. And beginning in verse twenty, here's what he says, "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, that is through Adam by a man that is through Christ also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive". That is, those who are in Christ. "But each in his own order; Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all the enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death".
Now I want us to understand what God has in mind in resurrecting your body and mine. And when you think about what the scripture says about the resurrection and all the verses and all the times that Jesus referred to that, what I want us to see first of all here is this, that our bodily resurrection is directly related to God's purpose for mankind. What is His purpose? God's purpose for mankind's very clear. And that is, God has purposed to people a kingdom of those who would accept His grace, receive His love, worship Him, praise Him and serve Him for eternity. Remember what Jesus said to Pilate and when they were discussing who He was? He said, My kingdom is not of this world. Then on one occasion Jesus said, "The Father has granted Me a kingdom".
And also, when Jesus was giving John the Revelation on the Isle of Patmos, He said, "Out of every tongue and tribe and nation and people there will be people in My kingdom". And then He tells us, of course, how He's gonna people His kingdom. How is He going to do it? He said to His disciples, "As you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all the things that I've commanded you, and though, He says, I will be with you to the end of this age". He sends the church out to do what? To preach the gospel in order to people His kingdom.
Now, God has a very perfect plan and that plan is available to every person. But then there comes this problem. The problem is this, that even though God purposed to people a kingdom with those who would receive His grace and His love and would worship Him and serve Him all the days of their life, big problem arose. And that is the problem of sin. In the Garden of Eden, God had placed a perfect man and woman into a perfect environment. He says, in fact, that He created us in His own image. And so there they were in a perfect location, a perfect environment. They could've lived in perfect harmony with God forever and ever and ever. And yet in their rebellion, they chose to rebel against God. In that rebellion, three things were the consequence. Number one, separation from God. Number two, the corruption of man's nature. And number three, condemnation of man unto death.
So, in three simple words you can describe and wrap up the consequences of sin. Separation, corruption, and condemnation. Separation from God, corruption of the human nature, and condemnation unto eternal death is the consequence of every single person who sins against God. Now here is seemingly a dilemma. Here is God who purposed from the very beginning to establish a kingdom. That He would, He would people that kingdom with those who would receive His grace, accept His love, praise Him, worship Him and serve Him all the days of eternity, future, which means endless eternity. That is God has a work for us to do when you and I get to heaven.
But what's the problem? The problem is this: How does God place those who are corrupted in their nature, under the condemnation of death, separated from Him, into a perfect environment called heaven? Here's what He did. First of all, He decided to work on the inner man. God sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die on the cross. When He died on the cross, He paid your sin-debt and mine in full. Stamped with His blood, paid in full. That meant that God justified, declared righteous every single guilty person who would, accept Him as their Savior. That is, in the coming of Jesus Christ to the cross, He offered reconciliation to every single one of us. That is, any person who would accept Him as the Son of God. Any person who would believe that He's the Savior. Any person who would believe that His death would pay for their sin, He would reconcile us unto Himself, justifies, declares no longer guilty, make us a child of God and make us a part of His family.
What did that do? That, that settled the issue of separation. Then He had to deal with this corrupt nature of ours. So what did He do? He says, for example, in Second Peter, in that first chapter speaking of this whole idea of the problem of our nature and how He was going to deal with it. Here's what He said. He said, for example, "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in this world". Here's what happened. When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, not only did He forgive you of your sin, reconcile you unto Himself, He gave you a new nature.
Now I know what you're thinking. You're saying, Well, sometimes I act just like I used to act. Right, you certainly do. Why? You're still living in this same old body. You still have a will. You still have the privilege, listen, you have the privilege and the power within you to walk according to this new nature which is yours. Or, you can resort by an act of your will to go back to what you no longer are but to act like what you used to be. Once you're born, listen, the term "born again", why do you think He used that? Because it means a new life, a new beginning, a new start, a new nature. Listen, a new spirit, a new destiny. Everything about the believer is new.
Now because we don't always experience it all, and because everything we have coming to us we don't get in this life, we think, Well, you know, I've tried that and it didn't work. And often times people will backslide and they say, Well, the Christian life doesn't work. Yes, it works! It's a matter of believing, listen, not only trusting Him to be your Savior, but also walking in faith. That moment by moment, day by day the Spirit of God who is within you will enable you to, listen, to live out the life that God has called you to live, why? Because remember what His purpose is: God's predestined purpose is to people a kingdom of those who would receive His grace, love Him, serve Him, praise Him and worship Him for all eternity.
So, God has committed Himself to work on the inside of us. So, in the coming of Jesus Christ at the cross, He dealt with the issue of separation, putting us into His family. In the coming of the Holy Spirit in your life and my life, giving us a new spirit, giving us a new nature, giving us a whole new outlook on life. Likewise, when He came and died on the cross, what did He do? The Bible says, listen, There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Our condemnation to eternal death was settled once and for all at the cross. So, at the cross and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, here's what He did. He dealt with the big problem of getting us into the kingdom. He dealt with the first problem.
The first problem is on the inside of us. The change of our nature, the change of heart, so we would begin to think, listen, we would begin to think and act like God. Therefore, when a person says, Well, I'd been saved and but you know, my feeling is that you get saved and you just sorta live out your life the way you want to. And after all you're gonna get to heaven anyway. Remember this: God's purpose isn't just to save us. God's purpose, listen, God's purpose for allowing you to be born, God's purpose for bringing you through life, God's purpose for working in your life daily, God's purpose for sending storm and pain and difficulty and hardships and trials. God's purpose for sending His love and goodness and mercy and kindness to you is to do what? God is in the process of doing what? He's in the process of preparing us, He is equipping us, He is getting us ready for, listen, He is getting us ready to live in His eternal kingdom.
That's why He wants us to walk in holiness and righteousness. He doesn't want sin in our life, why? Because where we are going is a very definite place where there is no sin, no sickness, no crying, no tears, no death. Death will have been finished once and for all. Sin will be over with once and for all. He's in the process of doing something in your life and my life every day. And what is He doing? Here's what He's doing. Listen, He is conforming us to the likeness of His Son. He says in Romans chapter eight that God predestined you and me to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. That is, the character of Jesus to be, listen, to be the character of every single one of us.
The whole issue of getting saved isn't just keeping us out of Hell. The issue of God saving us that He that He loves us so much that He wants, listen, He wants to give us the awesome privilege of being one of those who people His eternal kingdom whereby you and I will be able to live in absolute eternal bliss beyond any human comprehension, any earthly description, forever and ever and ever. And if you and I could just get one little slight glimpse of what Heaven's gonna be like, listen, we'd turn our back on sin. We'd turn our focus upon the Lord Jesus Christ. We would spend our lives in sharing and preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ so that nobody would miss what you and I are gonna be able to enjoy. Well, that's only part of the problem.
So, what does He do? He deals with the separation, the condemnation and the corrupt nature. But then there's this earthly physical body of ours. And so now God has deal with this. If you'll look in Philippians chapter three for a moment and I want you to notice these two verses. Philippians chapter three verse twenty. "For our citizenship," listen, not shall be but is, "our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state like we are now into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself".
Here's what He says. He says, These bodies of ours are going to be transformed, listen, conformed to "the body of His glory". That is, God's purpose, listen, to do what? People a kingdom. How does He deal with us? First of all, He deals internally with our soul, our spirit, the whole problem of sin and making us His children, giving us a new nature. Secondly, He has to deal with this body of ours, because these bodies are sick. They become diseased, they become corrupt. And because sin has entered our life, the body was certainly affected by that. And so people just, we say just naturally die. They die of cancer, we say. They die of strokes. They die of heart attack. They die of all kinds of disease.
And so, somehow a person gets at a certain age and they say, Well, I don't have much time left. Well, who says so? Or they'll say, Well, you know, I'm just getting older and older, and I guess one of these days I'm just gonna die. Or, some people seemingly look to death early in life. It's just like part of life and we think, Well, that's just a natural, normal thing to happen. Well, I understand that. But on the other hand, I want you to see what God's purpose is here. God, listen, while God is not going to leave your body in its present appearance and state and substance, He is not going to leave it in the ground. Because the scripture says, Jesus said, I'm gonna raise it up. I'm gonna raise these bodies up. Every single believer who dies in Christ Jesus will have a resurrection body.
When you die, whether you die young or whether you die very, very old, I can guarantee you on the basis of everything this book teaches, your physical body is coming out of the earth not the way it went in there. It's coming out, listen, coming out, it's gonna, there's gonna be a resurrection. Your body's going to be transformed, conformed and glorified like the body of the Son of God. So, if you're one of those persons and you don't like the way you look now, just wait because you've got something fantastic coming! The great physician is really going to give you a body lift. He's gonna change everything about your body so that it is conformed to the likeness of the body of Christ.
Now what in the world is that like? Well, let's look at this fifteenth chapter for a moment. Because I want you to notice several things here. And one thing you and I can rest assured of. This body, when it's resurrected and transformed, listen, it's gonna be resurrected and transformed and suited for, listen, suited for where it's gonna spend eternity. Where is that? Revelation twenty-one and twenty-two. It's gonna spend eternity in Heaven. Now, when God created the physical bodies you and I have this physical body is equipped and prepared and, and able to live in this life. But the life to come, eternal life. Listen, this physical body isn't fit. Therefore, He says, I promise you I am going to raise this body. Well, Lord, what's it gonna be like? How am I gonna look? What's gonna be the substance of it?
Well, look in the fifteenth chapter now and I want you to notice several things. First of all, he says in verse twenty of the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep". Then if you'll notice in verse twenty-three, "But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming". Now why does he use an agricultural term here? Watch this. Here's the reason. For example, if you want to know what a crop's going to be like, what happens? The first reaping of the harvest gives you an idea what the rest of its gonna. You get one truck load and you bring that in, and you take a good bite of that apple, for example. You send the truck out the next time, you know what to expect.
You know what he's saying? He says, listen, When you look at the body of the Son of God, He's the first fruits of the resurrection. That doesn't mean that He was the only person who was resurrected from the dead because He raised Lazarus, for example, but Lazarus later died. Every person whom He raised, later died. Now, He says Jesus is the first fruits. That is, he says, If you want to see what the harvest is gonna be like, look at the, look at the body of Jesus Christ. How did He come forth? Transformed, listen, resurrected, transformed, and glorified. A body unlike the body that died, when they buried Him from the cross.
Now, look at this for a moment. I want us to go down these verses. He says so in verse forty-two, "So also is the resurrection of the dead". Now watch this. When he says "it" he's speaking about physical bodies. He says, "It is sown a perishable body". What does he mean by that? Here's what it means. This body can get sick. Listen, all kinds of disease and sickness and, and injuries can come to this body. This body is going to age. It's gonna get old and older. It's not gonna be able to do in some point what it was able to do at twenty or thirty years of age. So he says, he says it is sown a perishable body. Diseased.
But notice what he says. He says, now when he raises it up, it's gonna be raised imperishable. No disease, no sickness, and listen, no age as if, as you and I think in terms of age. He says an imperishable body. He says, "It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;" that is, when a person dies for the most part people do not look as good as they did maybe teenagers or twenties or thirties. And some people probably get a little better looking the older they get but whatever. He says, it's, he says it's sown in dishonor. He says, "Raised in glory". What does that mean? Listen, you can kiss age goodbye forever because you and I are gonna, listen, we're gonna step into the eternal kingdom of God where there is no agedness, no wrinkles, and no grey hair.
Now there's nothing wrong with grey hair, nothing wrong with that at all. But, what I'm saying is, You say, Well, how are we gonna look in Heaven? This much I know. Listen, we're going to have a heavenly youthfulness. That's exactly what Jesus had. When He was resurrected from the grave, they hardly knew Him at first when they saw Him. Expectation's one thing but also His countenance. Listen, think about the beauty of His body, resurrected and transformed, now, listen, now prepared to spend eternity with the Father. There is going, listen, there is going to be a beauty about your physical body. God is gonna see to that.
Well, you say, Now, what does he mean when he talks about, when he says, "It's sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body". Does that mean we're just gonna float around in the air somewhere? No, when he says, when he says "sown a natural body" he's talking about this physical body like it is with all of its imperfection, disease and corruption and decay. And all that needs to be there to cause it to ultimately die. He says it's going to be raised, listen, raised a spiritual body. That doesn't mean something float in the air but it means supernatural in its nature, spiritual in its nature. It's gonna be God's divine nature that raises and conforms this body to the body of His Son.
Then if for example, if you'll notice, he says, "So also it is written, 'The first man, Adam, became a living soul.' The last man became a life-giving spirit". Jesus Christ said, what did He say? Three times in John. I'll raise it up, raise it up, raise it up. Listen, no matter what your age and what the disease or why you die, your physical body, now watch this, is gonna be resurrected. Say, Well, why does He have to resurrect this body? Just give us a new one. I'll tell you why. Because Jesus Christ is not gonna lose anything. Because you see, this body is a part of you. You say, Well, the real me's on the inside. Well, that's true, but this is still part of you. And He's not losing anything.
Listen, Jesus Christ had a resurrected, glorified body. Jesus Christ has promised that you and I will have a resurrected, glorified body and it will not be an aged body, corrupted body, diseased body. No more corruption, no more age, no more disease, no more sickness, no more any of that. Listen, everything an omnipotent, omniscient, almighty, all-wise God can, listen, can place in one beautiful body is exactly what He's gonna do in yours. Now, Paul wraps it all up here and he says many other things in this passage, but back to First Corinthians fifteen.
Notice what he says. He says in verse fifty-one, "I tell you a mystery; everybody's not gonna be dead, not all are gonna sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead in Christ," he says "will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed". Here's what he says. He says, These bodies are gonna be raised, listen, imperishable, transformed, glorified. And if you and I were living and Jesus were to come at this very moment, he says, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, fast as you can bat our eye, he says here's what would happen, you and I would be transformed, listen, transformed, conformed to the likeness of Christ. And our bodies would, listen, our bodies would glow with the glory of the Son of God as we are caught up into heaven.
Now, that is what every single believer has in store for them. And notice what Paul said. He make, he made this very important. Verse fifty-three, "For this perishable must put on must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality," why? Because death will have been swallowed up in victory, he says, Death, you lost your sting. At the resurrection, Jesus conquered death.
Now here's what I want you to think about for a moment. Listen very carefully. This is the most important thing I have to say. There's not one single verse in the Bible, not a one, not one single verse in this book does it say anywhere that if you die without Christ, you're gonna be resurrected and your body is going to be transformed in the likeness of the body of Christ. Think about this. If you live in rebellion toward the Lord Jesus Christ in this life and you don't want Him in your life, why would God, why would you, why would you want to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, of a man whom you've rejected all of your life? That, you see how absolutely insensible that is.
You know what it all brings us down to? One thing. There's only one way to get to Heaven. Just one. All of your logic, all of your reasoning, all of your philosophies, all of your theologies, all of your unbelief, all of your skepticism, doesn't make a bit of difference. There's only one way to get to Heaven. And that is your, listen, your separation from God must be dealt with and it was by the cross. Your corrupt nature must be dealt with and it was at the cross. Your condemnation must be dealt with and it was at the cross. Then where does that lead you?
Listen, that requires you by the very nature of life and death to go to the cross. What must you do at the cross? Humble yourself before the Son of God and acknowledge your sinfulness, your rebellion toward Him, and tell Him that you're asking Him to forgive you of your sins, that you believe He's the Son of God. You're accepting His death on the cross, listen, as full, adequate, sufficient, eternal payment for your sin. And the moment you do that you become a child of God, born into the kingdom of God. Your life will never be the same because you became a new creature in Christ Jesus.
He says these bodies of ours are gonna be resurrected because you see, in order for God to fulfill His big purpose, which was people a kingdom with those who would receive His grace, accept His love, worship and praise and serve Him for all eternity, he had to deal with the inner man through the cross, and the outer man through His resurrection, and do what? Take us out of this life and give us a life that we'll forever and ever and ever bring praise and honor and glory to the Son of God. And that is the offer of the Lord Jesus Christ to every single person who will bow their heart and their knee before Him and say to him, "I do believe You're the Son of God. I do receive You as my personal Savior here and now". I choose to receive the gift of eternal life. And my friend, in that moment you become a living child of God.