Robert Jeffress - Our Bodies In Heaven
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul writes that one day all Christians will receive a new heavenly body to inhabit for all eternity. That's some wonderful news. So what will our resurrected bodies be like? Today, we're going to see what the future holds for those who accept Christ as their Savior. My message is titled "Our Bodies in Heaven" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Humorist Dave Barry explains the aging process this way. He writes, "Why do we get older? Why do our bodies wear out? Why can't we just go on and on and on, accumulating a potentially infinite number of frequent flyer miles? Well, the answer is really simple. Our bodies are mechanical devices, and like all mechanical devices, they break down. Some devices, such as battery-operated toys costing 99.95, break down instantly upon exposure to the atmosphere. Other devices such as stereo systems owned by your next door neighbor's 13-year-old son who listens to bands with names like nerve damage at volumes capable of disintegrating limestone, those stereo systems will function for many years, even if you hit them with an ax. But the fundamental law of physics is that sooner or later, every mechanism ceases to function, and it's never covered under warranty".
You know, what is true about sound systems and toys is also true about the human body. Eventually, your body is going to wear out. Eventually, you and I are going to die. The question is, is there anything that awaits us beyond death? And the answer is yes. As we've seen in our study of first Corinthians, there is an eternal existence for those who die without Christ. They spend an eternity of suffering for their sins. But there is also an eternal existence for those who die in Christ. The Bible says for those who die in Christ, God has a great future that we will experience in our brand new body that is free from pain and sin and suffering. And it's that resurrection that Paul talks about in first Corinthians chapter 15.
If you have your Bibles tonight, I want you to turn to first Corinthians chapter 15. You know, last time in our study of first Corinthians 15, beginning with verse 21, Paul answered two questions. Question number one was, who will participate in the first resurrection? The Bible says, "Blessed is he who is part of the first resurrection. Over him the second death has no power". The first resurrection is not something that happens at a point in history, it is a group of people who are like Jesus Christ. And remember, it is said that in verse 22, "As in Adam, all die, so also in Christ will all be made alive".
The reason you and I die physically is because we are in Adam, we are like Adam, we have inherited sin from Adam and so we die. The only way we're going to escape death is by being in Christ Jesus. To be in Christ means to identify with Jesus' death and resurrection, to trust in Jesus for your salvation. Who will participate in the first resurrection? The answer is those who have identified with Jesus Christ. Now, the second question Paul answers is, when will this resurrection take place? The Bible says it will take place in stages. Not everybody receives their resurrection body at the same time. And remember that chart I gave you last time?
Verse 23 of first Corinthians 15 says everyone will be raised, but each in his order, togma. It's a military term that refers to a great military procession, a parade with each corps falling in at its designated place on the parade route. We said the leader of that resurrection parade is Jesus Christ. He is the first fruits, the example of those who will be raised. And then the next group that will join in that resurrection parade will be you and I at the rapture. And the Bible says at the rapture, "The dead in Christ will rise first, and then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air".
First Corinthians 15 will see next time says at that moment we will all be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. And Bible says that is the next group, those who are alive at the rapture along with the dead in Christ. And then the third group will be those after the tribulation who were saved and killed during the tribulation for trusting in Christ. At the end of the tribulation when Christ returns, that group will be raised and receive their resurrection bodies. And then the fourth group after the 1,000 year millennium, those who were born during the millennium and died, they will receive their resurrection bodies.
When will this happen? It will be different times for different people. For you and for me, it will happen at the rapture of the church. If we're alive at that time, we'll be caught up and changed in a moment. If we have died before the rapture, we will be raised up at that time and changed as well. And now when we get to first Corinthians 15, beginning with verse 35, Paul is going to answer two more questions about the resurrection. Verse 35, "But someone will say, 'how are the dead raised, and with what kind of body do they come'"?
Two questions, how are dead people raised from the dead, and secondly, if they are raised from the dead, what will their bodies be like? And so in verse 36, he uses an illustration from nature to answer the Corinthians' objection to the resurrection, and he uses the illustration of a harvest. Remember, early on he's already said that the resurrection is like a harvest. Christ is the first fruits of the harvest. That is just like the Israelites collected a sample of the harvest before the entire harvest came, Jesus is a sample of the resurrection harvest. Now he's going to show us again how the resurrection is really like a harvest.
There are three similarities between a harvest of crops and the resurrection of the dead, write these down. In both a harvest and a resurrection, something must die first. For there to be a harvest or a resurrection, something must die. Don't look at me, write these down, okay, so you can remember this. Look at verse 36, "That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies". For there to be a harvest, something must die. Think about what happens when you plant a seed or a grain of wheat, what happens to that seed? What happens to that grain of wheat that is planted? It dies, it decomposes in the ground. And when the harvest comes later, the farmer doesn't go out saying, "Oh, where, oh where did I bury that seed? Where's that grain of wheat that I buried"?
A farmer doesn't do that. He doesn't care about that seed that was planted, that grain, because after a period of time it has grown into something much more plentiful and much more superior. It's the same way with the resurrection. Listen, death does not hinder the resurrection. Death is a necessity for the resurrection. Just like in nature. Before something can come to life again in a better form, first of all, it has to die just like a seed dies or a grain of wheat dies. Jesus said the same thing in John 12:24. He said, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit". For something to come alive in a better form, it first of all has to die, whether it is a grain of wheat, a seed, or the human body.
Now, the second similarity between a harvest and a resurrection is this, the harvest is superior to the seed. The harvest is actually superior to the seed that was planted, look at verse 37. "And that which you sow," that is, that which you plant, "You do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else". He's comparing the human body to a seed that you plant into the ground. And he says the harvest is much better than what you planted. Think about how amazing it is, thinking about seeds, that you can just plant a few seeds or a few grains of wheat and suddenly end up with a harvest that is much better, much more numerous. Have you ever wondered how it is you end up getting more than what you planted and how what you end up harvesting is so much better than what you planted? That's the miracle of the harvest and it's the miracle of the resurrection, that that old body that gets buried in the ground and disintegrates somehow something comes from that that is vastly superior.
Now, number three, here's another way that the harvest and the resurrection are similar, and that is the seed resembles the harvest. Even though the seed is superior, or the harvest is superior to the seed, the seed resembles the harvest, look at verse 38. "But God gives it a body just as he wished and to each of the seeds of the body of its own". Here's what he's saying. You don't plant a watermelon seed and harvest a tomato. You don't plant a tulip bulb and harvest a dandelion. Whatever you harvest resembles in some way that which you planted. It's superior, but it also resembles it. That means Paul is saying there are some similarities between our bodies here on earth and the new body that God is going to give us.
When Jesus received his new body in heaven, it was vastly superior to his earthly body, but in some ways it was similar to his earthly body. Hold your place here and turn over to Luke chapter 24, and here's a great example of a body that was superior and yet similar to the earthly body. Remember, this is a story of Jesus confronting his followers on the road to Emmaus. Look at Luke 24 beginning with verse 28. "And they approached the village where they were going and he acted as though he was going farther. But they urged him saying, 'stay with us, for it is getting toward evening and the day is now nearly over'. So he went in to stay with them. And when he had reclined at the table with them, he took bread and he blessed it, and breaking it, he began giving it to them and then their eyes were opened and they," underlined this, "They recognized him and he vanished from their sight".
Verse 35 says, "They began to relate their experiences on the road and how he was recognized," there it is again, "By them in the breaking of the bread. And while they were telling these things, he himself stood in their midst and said to them, 'peace be to you,' and they were startled". Can you imagine Jesus just appearing suddenly out of nowhere? Nobody opened the door, nobody opened the window, he just appeared there. "And they were startled and frightened and thought they were seeing a spirit. And he said to them, 'why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet that it is I myself. Touch me and see, for spirit doesn't have flesh and bones as you see that I have'. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, he said to them, 'have you anything to eat'? They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it before them".
What I want you to see here is there is a continuity between Jesus' earthly body and his heavenly body. They recognized the Lord. They recognized him when he broke bread. Perhaps it's the way he did it. Maybe Jesus was left-handed in his earthly body and he continued to be left-handed in his new body. There's something that caused them to recognize him. They saw the nail prints in his hands, but these were imperfections. Perhaps this is unique to Jesus, imperfections that will remain just to remind all of us for all eternity of the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf. But what I want you to see is, Jesus' body was similar, but it was also vastly superior.
You know the question I most often ask about our new bodies in heaven is, "Robert Jeffress - Will We Know One Another In Heaven?]Will we recognize one another in heaven[/url]"? Jesus' body, as we'll see in a moment, answers that question yes, and just as God created us with a variety of different types of bodies, we weren't uniform here on earth in this body, our bodies will be different in heaven as well and it'll be vastly superior. They recognized Jesus because of his appearance. And he develops that truth even more completely in verses 39 to 44 when he talks about the nature and the superiority of our resurrection body. Verse 35, remember there were two questions. Question number one was, how can the dead be raised? Question number two, what kind of body will we have? And he answers this question beginning in verse 39.
Now, let's look at the differences illustrated throughout scripture. Remember, Paul's point here is there is just as much difference in our earthly and heavenly body as there is in all of nature, look at verse 39. "All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men and another flesh of beast and another flesh of birds and another of fish". All flesh is not the same flesh. You see a variety in God's creation. You see it also in the solar system. Look at verses 40 and 41. "There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, another of the moon, another of the stars, for stars differ from stars in glory".
There is a difference in the planets and the stars. They don't know all have the same size. They don't all shine with the same brightness. Why then do we find it difficult given the variety in the universe that there's going to be a difference between our earthly body and our heavenly body? Again, remember the Corinthians said, "Well, we can't believe in a resurrection because we can't believe that we would have this body we have right now for all eternity". Paul said, "You fool, it's not the same body. It is a different body". And he begins to enumerate the differences between our earthly bodies and our resurrection bodies.
Notice four of them real quickly here, beginning in verse 42. First of all, our earthly body decays. Write this down, our earthly body decays. Our heavenly body endures. Look at verse 42, "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown," that is, it is planted, "A perishable body, but it is raised an imperishable body". Do you realize our bodies begin to wear out the moment we're born? They begin to disintegrate, to decay. But not so with our new bodies, they are imperishable. They will never wear out, they will never die. Secondly, our earthly body dishonors God, but our heavenly body will glorify God.
Look at verse 43 again. Our earthly body "Is sown, it is planted in dishonor, but it is raised in glory". The bodies we have right now are sinful, not because they are flesh. There's nothing about flesh or material things that are inherently sinful. The reason our bodies right now are sinful is because our bodies have contracted the sin virus from our forefather Adam. Our bodies are rid with this virus of sin that make us instantly and automatically opposed to the things that God wants for our life. But our new body will not be infected with that sin virus. It will exist to glorify God. Number three, our earthly body is weak, but our heavenly body will be powerful.
Verse 43, again, that body, our earthly body, "Is sown in weakness, it is raised in power". You know, you can have an Olympic athlete who trains and trains and trains and runs and diets correctly and does the weights, does all of that, is a perfect specimen of health. But all it takes is one rogue cancer cell to completely ravage his body. The fact is the human body that we've inherited, no matter how much we train it, it's susceptible to disease or to accidents. But not our new body. Our new body will be powerful.
And fourth, our earthly body is for this world. Our heavenly body is for the new world. Look at verse 44, "It is sown a natural body, but it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body". You see these reports from time to time claiming perhaps water has been discovered on another planet like mars or the moon. And if there's water, then the question is, is there life on mars or the moon? I don't know, they're very well may be life on those other planets, but one thing I know for sure, my body and your body aren't designed to live on that other planet. Our bodies have been created to exist in this environment, in this atmosphere, in this world, and in no other. No, to exist in the new world that God is going to create, we need brand new bodies that are suited for that new environment.
As we'll see next time in verse 50, Paul said, "For I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable". We have to have a change of body to inhabit the new earth that God has created for us. The question is, what will our new bodies be like? Paul has answered by explanation and now he answers by illustration. Look at verse 45, the example of a resurrection body. "So also it is written, 'the first man Adam became a living soul'. The last Adam," that is, Jesus Christ, "Became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and then comes the spiritual. The first man," that is, Adam, "Is from the earth," he's earthly, "But the second man is from heaven. As is the earthly, so are those who are earthly".
That is you and I. "And as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly". That is those of us who will receive our resurrection body. "Just as we have borne the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly". That's the key verse. You and I are created in the image of the first Adam. We are examples, we are prototypes of that first couple, Adam and Eve. But our new bodies, our resurrection bodies will be patterned not after the first Adam, but after the last Adam, Jesus Christ.
Do you remember our study in Colossians 1 when we said in verse 18, he is the first born of the dead, and that word literally is prototokos? We get our word prototype. Jesus Christ's resurrection body is a prototype of your body and my body in the resurrection. If you want to know what your body in heaven is going to be like, just study Luke 24. Study those 40 days of resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ and you'll have a good clue about what your body in heaven will be like. The apostle John who saw the Lord after his resurrection, who handled him, who touched him, said this in 1 John 3:2. "Beloved, now we are children of God and it has not appeared as yet what we will be, but we know that when he appears, we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is".