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Jack Graham - Heavenly Bodies

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    Jack Graham - Heavenly Bodies
TOPICS: Eternity Now

So I want to talk to you a little bit today about our "Heavenly Bodies". Take your Bibles and begin finding 1 Corinthians chapter 15. We're going to talk about the resurrected body. I want to fire up your imagination. You say, "Well heaven is beyond my imagination". No, it is not! The Spirit of God will show you in the Word of God some things about heaven that will fire you up to live for Jesus every day! Because heaven is not just out there somewhere; heaven is in our hearts. It becomes the habit of our hearts when we know Him, and heaven is a real, tangible place. It's not a spiritual existence but it is a place; a perfect place where we will live with a perfected Savior and a perfected state of life.

When Jesus comes or calls us home we're going to be with Him. And when we go to heaven to be with Christ, it will be, as I said, a prepared and a perfect place for perfected people. We will in that moment when we stand before Jesus, immortal, eternal in the heavens, we will be perfected, and that is the goal of salvation in Christ. When we're saved, that's justification. We are made at one moment, at one time the children of God and we are forever saved. That's justification. Then the process of growing in our faith is sanctification as we are being made more like Christ. We're not there yet. We're certainly not in a perfected state today. But one day we will be with Christ and we shall see Him as He is.

The psalmist said, "I will be satisfied when I arise in Your likeness". We will be like Jesus! That is called glorification. And at the moment of glorification we will, whether by rapture or resurrection, we will be like Christ and we will bear the bodies of eternity. Now heaven is a perfect place. Perfect in worship. The music here, of course, is magnificent! We celebrate our Lord and praise Him. But the music and the glory of the worship of heaven will be beyond anything we could possibly experience here and now. Like the great Baptist preacher R. G. Lee once said, "The music this side of heaven will be like a bumblebee in a jar compared to the glory of the music and the worship in heaven". And we look forward to worshipping our Lord in heaven. And the glory of that worship is that we will see Jesus! The glory of heaven is we will be in the presence of Christ. Perfect worship. Also perfect service.

Please don't get the idea that in heaven we're going to do nothing for eternity. Gary Larson who wrote the Far Side cartoons put a cartoon in one time of a man who was sitting on a cloud looking bored stiff, like he was on a deserted island somewhere and the caption underneath the cartoon said, "I should have brought a magazine". But so many people have the idea that there's going to be nothing to do when we get to heaven. But the Bible says in Revelation 22:3 that we're going to serve Him day and night. There will be plenty to do and we will proclaim His glory and we will live... Again, heaven is not an ethereal existence but we will be in a real place in real time in eternity and living together to the glory of God; a perfect place of service. It will also be a place of perfect beauty.

We can't imagine the beauty of heaven and the glory of heaven. We can try. The Bible describes some of it in incredible exciting terms, just some of the beauty. The most beautiful things on earth are just descriptive, barely descriptive of the beauty of heaven. I like the story of the little girl who was talking to her father. They were looking up into a starlet night and the little girl said, "Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what should the right side of heaven look like"? It's going to be magnificent in all of its beauty. And we'll talk about that in a later message. But in heaven there will also be perfect knowledge. First Corinthians 13:12: "For now we see in a mirror darkly, but then, face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known".

We have great capacity for knowledge, increasing capacity for knowledge, but the world of knowledge is at our fingertips. You can place on your computer knowledge from around the world at your fingertips as an incredible amount of information and knowledge. So can you not imagine the knowledge that is at the hand of God that will be available to us? We'll be learning and growing and developing. We'll understand things as we've never understood them before. Our minds will be capable of knowledge beyond what anything we know in this life! But heaven will also be a place of perfect pleasure. Psalm 16:11: "You make known to me the path of life and in Your presence is fullness of joy, and at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore". When we all get to heaven, people will be smiling and laughing, and the outrageous joy of that experience will be forever. Jesus said, "I will make everything new every day".

You know when you get up and you're feeling good about the day and it's a brand new day, that's so incredibly exciting. But every day in heaven is a new day. So you know sometimes we say to people, "Have a great day". You don't have to say that in heaven because everybody's having a great day! Everybody's having a glorious day! And think about those moments in life when you have, you know, you just wish the moment could last forever. There was such joy in that, you just wish that it would be forever. But typically, of course, that moment goes away and the joy goes away and the happiness, it can't last. But in heaven the joy will be forever! It will last forever. "At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore".

In this life, everything that we have good in this life comes from our God. And in heaven those things, therefore, that are good will be always present, and all of these things in life that make us sad or afraid will be gone. There will be joy in heaven because there's no reason to be sad! No sin! No sorrow! No death! No shadows! But the glory of His presence. Perfect pleasure. Therefore, because heaven is a place of perfect worship and perfect service and perfect beauty and perfect knowledge and perfect pleasure, we need perfect bodies to live in a place like this, because we're not in this life equipped to live in perfection. So God has promised us perfection in heaven, and everyone's so interested today it seems in the body beautiful, but there it will be the beautiful body of our Lord.

And so in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians: "But someone will ask", verse 35, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come? 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 a different wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there's one kind for human, By the way this debunks the myths of evolution. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one kind, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; and stars differs from star in glory".

So what will our resurrected bodies be like? Well, for one, they will be individual. He illustrates from agriculture, like a seed planted in the gro. Take a Chrysanthemum seed. It's harder to seed than it is to say. A Chrysanthemum seed is a gnarly little brown seed, not much to look at. But you plant it in the ground and a beautiful flower appears. And whatever you plant, whether it be a seed of corn or a rose, the seed must die and then flourish. Jesus talked about this. He said if you want to know life, like a seed you must die and then be made alive. And so we talk about burying our loved ones. If that loved one knows Christ, we're not burying them, we're planting them like a seed. Because the seed will one day bear fruit and flourish in the presence of the Lord. Immediately, instantaneously! The Bible says "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord".

And there in a transition we will wait the resurrection body! But our bodies will be individual. Now that's important. Just as the stars differ from one another. He then goes to astronomy. He moves from agriculture to astronomy. He said even the stars are different. Not one star is identical! Not one star in the galaxies are just alike. And so when we get to heaven we will not be clones or spirits or ghosts. Nor when we die do we come back, but rather we are in presence of the Lord in Christ and we are given spiritual bodies. Not spirit bodies but bodies that are spiritual, spiritually alive in Christ. But they are bodies. In other words, what I'm saying to you is that you will be you. In fact you will be more you than you've ever been! You won't be something else or somebody else! You will be identical to you!

That's why when we get to heaven the Bible says there will be people from every language and every nation and every culture and every kindred. We will maintain our racial and ethnic identity in heaven. It will be a fantastic collage of the nations praising God in the languages of the earth now translated into the languages of heaven. Now our Hispanic friends tell us that the language of heaven is Spanish, and it is a beautiful language, but the fact is we're going to be speaking the languages of heaven and we'll all understand one another, but we'll all maintain our own identity, our own uniqueness! Here's another myth about heaven. You've heard this: well, you become an angel when you die. No, you don't become an angel when you die. God has created angels for His own purposes, to worship and to serve Him. But He has created you with a unique identity and DNA that is uniquely you!

You say what happens to those people who are lost at sea or their bodies are burned beyond recognition or someway their bodies return to dust? How does God reunite the body? Well, God is God! And the way I look at it. You know there is there's a DNA file on Jack Graham and every one of us who know Christ. And so when the body dies and dust, and returns to dust all God has to do is say pull up the Jack Graham file and that's the one which was woven in the womb of my mother! The psalmist said, "We are weaved together in the wombs of our mother". Before time began God knew the plan for our lives and He knows our DNA and our uniqueness. And so it's no big deal to God to put us back together in the bodies that He has designed for us in destiny and eternity. Of course, the question is asked: will we know one another in heaven?

Well, of course we will. You don't think you'll have less sense in heaven than you have on earth, do you? Yes, we'll know our family, our loved ones and our friends! When Jesus in His risen body presented Himself to His disciples, He said, "It is I! It's Me... Jesus"! And they recognized Him! He was in His resurrected body but they knew who He was. Peter, James and John were called aside at the Mount of Transfiguration, and there they saw the glorified Christ, along with Moses and Elijah. And without an introduction they knew Moses and they knew Elijah, and standing there worshiping with the Lord Jesus and conversing the coming of the kingdom. Yes, we will know one another! Our bodies in heaven will be individual. But not only individual, they will be unique and different but they will also be improved!

Now that is an understatement! To say that our bodies will be improved! While our bodies are similar in heaven and recognizable and real, they certainly will be superior! And that's why the Scripture here talks about, in verse 42: "So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. Sown in weakness; it is raised in power. A natural body now; a spiritual body". A body made alive in the resurrection! So newly improved! Better! Brighter! More beautiful than ever! I know a lot of people are interested in a better body, a more beautiful body. But the fact is we're not going to get it this side of heaven.

As hard as we try, as many vitamins as we take, and how strongly we may workout, and so on. I mean these bodies, it's the best that we got! And do you know these bodies are decaying and deteriorating? Don't you hate the fact that these bodies are breaking down and wearing out? Did you know the Bible talks about that? In fact, turn in your Bibles over to Ecclesiastes 12 if you can find it. It's right in the middle of your Old Testament. Ecclesiastes chapter 12 says, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth". And it talks about getting your life right with God early on because as the years get older, it's more and more difficult. It is a fact that it is more difficult to give your life to follow Christ the longer you live. The best time to give your life to Jesus is the first time you hear the message of Christ.

Our hearts get hard, our attitudes get stiff and so on. But He talks about these bodies that are breaking down. For example, look in chapter 12 of Ecclesiastes when it talks about getting older it says, "In the day when the keepers of the house tremble". You know what the keepers of the house are? Yeah, right here, these are the keepers of the house, you know. But as you get a little older you know the guns ain't what they used to be and they start trembling a little bit. You know you're older, you say "Put 'em up there or I'll gitcha"! Naw, they tremble like that. Then he says when you get older "the strong men are bent". You know what the strong men are? The strong men are your legs. And your legs kinda get bent over. What's the first thing you lose as an athlete? Your legs, that's why you don't see 50-60 year old athletes in great professional sports because the legs are gone! And in life it can happen. You know you just kind of lose the strength of your legs.

Now you can do something about that and exercise and so on but ultimately those legs get tired. And you know when you get old you know maybe even you hear yourself as you're getting older getting up out of a chair and you go you kind of make that sound like that! You say, "Man, that's the same sound my old daddy used to make". And you da daddy now! And the strong men are bent over. That's what he's saying. "And the grinder cease because they are few". You know what the grinders are? Your teeth! The old man said, "I only got two teeth in my head but thank God, they meet". And they cease! "And those who look through the windows are dimmed". Talking about your eyes. We wear contacts or bifocals, or maybe we get cataracts and we can't see through the windows, they're dim. "And the doors of the street are shut", talking about your ears! You can't hear like you used to hear!

The old gentleman decided he was going get romantic around the fireplace one evening and he said, "Honey, I'm sure proud of you"! She said, "Speak up! I can't hear you". He said, "Honey, I'm sure proud of you"! "Still can't hear ya! Talk louder"! "Honey, I'm sure proud of you"! "Yeah, and I'm tired of you, too"! So, that's what happens. And then he says "When the sound of the grinding is low and one rises up at the sound of a bird". Here's one of the cruel jokes about life. When you get to the place in your life where you can sleep in maybe a little bit, you can't! You're up with the birds! Up with the roosters! "And then all the daughters of song are brought low".

Those beautiful songs, you know. I mean it's a sad thing when you see, you know like Mick Jagger you know trying to sing, you know. He's singing "Forever Young" and he ain't forever young! You just don't sing like you get wobbling and warbling a little bit because you can't keep the notes like you used to keep them. "They're afraid also of that which is high"! You ever try to get your grandmother to go to the edge of a mountain. No? You probably won't either because we get a little nervous about heights and terrors are in the way and so on. "And desire fails because man is going to his eternal home". In other words, these bodies don't last! They're not built to last! But God will give us a body that will be beautiful and bright and perfect and forever.

Joni Eareckson who is a quadriplegic, she jumped head first into a lake when she was a teenager and for these I suppose thirty-five, forty years she's been in a wheelchair quadriplegic. She's written a wonderful book on heaven and she talks about her resurrected body in these words: "I can still hardly believe it. I with shriveled, bent fingers, atrophied muscles, gnarled knees and no feeling from the shoulders down, will one day have a new body. Light, bright and clothed in righteousness, powerful and dazzling. Can you imagine the hope this gives someone spinal cord injured like me? Or someone who is cerebral palsy brain injured or who has multiple sclerosis?

Imagine the hope this gives someone who is manic-depressive. No other religion, no other philosophy promises new bodies, hearts and minds. Only in the Gospel of Christ do hurting people find such incredible hope". I have a wonderful friend by the name David Ring; David has cerebral palsy and has all of his life. And yet David is a preacher of the Gospel and a powerful preacher of the Gospel! And he's limited, very limited in the way that he walks and the way that he talks, but when we've had him before, Prestonwood Christian Academy loves David Ring. We had him speak to the students this past year. And he talks about people whining, you know, who don't really have that big a problem. He says, "I have cerebral palsy! What's your problem"?

And I think about David Ring, dancing and shouting and leaping and praising God on the streets of heaven; rewarded for a life well-lived for Him. I think about the precious ones in our special needs ministry; those who are racked with diseases and cancers. I think of people who are broken in heart and broken in spirit and broken in mind. The Bible says "These broken and breaking down bodies will be no more because we will be given the risen body of our Lord Jesus Christ"! Yes, our bodies will be immortal, imperishable! Not just better off; we're better forever! Therefore, improved, individual and immortal and indestructible.

Look back again, in closing, the final words that Paul gives us in 1 Corinthians 1. He says: "I tell you this", verse 50, "brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, 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. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. And when the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be unto God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ".

Yes, immortal and imperishable! And we will be with Christ forever! And we'll talk about that in the next message. But in the final words: what does that mean to you and me today? We should often think of heaven and our hope that is there. But that means that life changes today, doesn't it? And it's very interesting to me that at the close of the greatest chapter on the future and the resurrection in all of the Bible, God gives us in verse 58 some very practical and personal words, for He says: "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know your labor is not in vain in the Lord". Only one life; twill soon be passed. What's done for Christ will last! Why do I do what I do? I'll tell you exactly why I do what I do. Because life is short and death is sure! Heaven and hell are real! And Jesus provides, and Jesus only, provides salvation to those who will receive His grace and forgiveness. And I want as many people as possible to know Jesus and I want to take as many people to heaven with us as possible!
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