New Body Anyone?

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1 Corinthians 15:42-44

INTRODUCTION: Our message series is called Real Answers about Heaven, and today we are looking at what the Bible tells us about our new bodies in heaven.

Last week we left the message on sort of a cliffhanger. We saw that when you die in Christ, your body goes in the ground while your spirit immediately goes to be with God in heaven. To be absent from the body is to be present with Christ which is better by far. The first part of heaven is the best part of heaven because we will be with Jesus. Now some people think that’s all there is to heaven, but as we said last week, “Wait, there’s more!” And that more is the resurrection of the body. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 and pray.)

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Anyone interested in a new body? If the diet, nutrition and exercise industries are any indication, the answer is a clear “yes.” We spend a lot of time here in the United States on our bodies. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Bible tells us we should be good stewards of our bodies, which means we should work on personal fitness and be careful what we eat. But some of us put way too much emphasis on our bodies, and we spend way too much time on our bodies.

The good news is even if you never get that new body you’ve been hoping for in this life, God is going to take care of it in the next. Are you tired of getting tired? Are you sick of getting sick? Is getting older getting old to you? Then today’s message is for you. Christ’s resurrection is the firstfruits of our resurrection. Because Christ was raised, we will be raised. You are going to get your new body.

We are going to look at three simple but important questions this morning about your new, resurrection body. 1) When will you get your new body? 2) What will your new body be like? And 3) Why will we get new bodies? So let’s get started.

I. When will you get your new body?

First of all, when will you get your new body?

   A. When Christ returns
      – John 5:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:14

The Bible is very clear on this. The Bible says you will receive your new body when Christ returns. When Jesus spoke about the resurrection of the body, he said: “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28-29)

When will we hear Christ’s voice and come out of our graves? When Christ returns. We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:14: “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14) Notice the connection in this verse between Jesus’ resurrection and ours. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that we also will rise from the dead. When you put your faith in Christ, you are united with Christ, and you share in both his death and his resurrection.

Last week we learned that when you die as a believer, you immediately go to be with God in heaven. You do not go to some type of purgatory. You do not go into some deep soul sleep. Your body goes into the ground, but your spirit immediately goes to be with God. To be absent from the body is to be present with Christ, and to be with Christ is better by far.

“But wait, there’s more!” Because then we learned that this stage of heaven is only temporary. We still await the resurrection. And as good as it is to be with Christ apart from the body, it will be even better to be with Christ in your resurrection body. And when does this happen? When Christ returns.

   B. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are still alive
      – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

We get an even more detailed timetable of these events as we continue in 1 Thessalonians 4. Look at verses 15-17 now: “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

So what is God’s timetable in all this? The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are still alive will be caught up with them. God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him, and their bodies will be resurrected first. Then, after they receive their resurrected bodies, those of us who are still alive at Christ’s coming will be caught up with them, and that’s when we will receive our resurrected bodies.

   C. We will all be changed “in an instant”
      – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

And this is not some long, drawn out process. The Bible tells us that we will all be changed in an instant. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

We will not all sleep, that is, we will not all die; some of us will still be alive when Christ returns. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed. And it’s going to happen fast, in the twinkling of an eye. That’s how quickly God will transform our bodies at the resurrection.

When will you receive your new body? Whether you are dead or alive, the answer is the same. You will receive your new body when Christ returns. The dead in Christ will rise first, and then we who are still alive will be caught up with them. We will all be changed in an instant.

II. What will your new body be like?

So that’s our first question. When will you receive your new body? Now let’s move on to our second question. What will your new body be like? And the Bible tells you a number of things about your new body.

   A. It will be the same body but different
      – Job 19:25-27; 1 Corinthians 15:35-37,42

First of all, it will be the same body but different. It’s not going to be a completely different body than what you have right now. It will be the same body you have now but resurrected. For example, we read these amazing words from Job in Job 19: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

And so when the Bible says you are going to get a new body, it does not mean something completely different or unrelated to your present body. Rather it is new in the sense that it will be changed or transformed. Billy Graham writes: “Scripture does not teach that we will be given a second body, but a new body – the same body that we walked around in on earth, only transformed, bearing the likeness of Christ.” (Billy Graham, The Heaven Answer Book, Kindle location 723) It’s the difference between getting a new car and getting your old car repaired, rebuilt, repainted, detailed, spruced up and revved up so that it’s even better than new. And when God does the detailing on your new body, it’s going to be amazing.

So how will God do this? That’s what we read in 1 Corinthians 15: “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?… What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.… So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:35-37,42)

God compares your old body to a seed and your new body to the plant that grows out of the seed. Once again, it is the same but different. There is both continuity and discontinuity between the seed and the plant. Wheat comes from a wheat seed. Corn comes from a corn seed. And your new body will come from the seed of your old body. It will still be you, but different, just like the wheat plant is still wheat, but different from the wheat seed.

The same body that went into the grave will come out of the grave. The same number of bodies that died will be raised. As John Wesley wrote in his sermon on 1 Corinthians 15: “The plain notion of a resurrection requires that the self-same body that died should rise again.” By the way John Wesley’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 15 is wonderful sermon, and we will be quoting from it quite a bit this morning. It’s actually not even his sermon, he got it from someone else, but since we only have Wesley’s version we will quote from him. (The Sermons of John Wesley, Sermon 137. Original sermon by Benjamin Calamy abridged and revised by John Wesley; Link: http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-137-on-the-resurrection-of-the-dead/)

Some people wonder about cremation. “How will God resurrect my body if I am cremated when I die?” And I would say the same way God will resurrect your body if you died in a fire or at sea. Once again John Wesley writes: “All the parts into which men’s bodies are dissolved, however they seem to us carelessly scattered over the face of the earth, are yet carefully laid up by God’s wise disposal till the day of the restoration of all things…. God can form this dust, so gathered together, into the same body it was before. And that it is possible, all must own who believe that God made Adam out of the dust of the earth.” (Wesley, Sermon 137) In his sermon Wesley compares God to a master watchmaker keeping track of all the parts of the watch. God didn’t have any trouble putting you together the first time, and he won’t have any trouble putting you back together the second time.

When it comes to cremation or burial, the Bible does not strictly commend one or forbid the other, and so this is a matter of conscience and personal choice. Some people prefer to be buried, while others choose to be cremated. You should make your choice carefully and prayerfully before the Lord. You should be clear in your conscience, and you should not judge those who choose differently.

What will your new body be like? First of all, it will be the same body but different.

   B. There will be four major differences (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Which of course raises the question: how will it be different? There’s a short answer to that and a long answer. Let’s look at the long answer first.

The Bible tells us that there will be four major differences between your old body and your new body. Look at 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 with me now: “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) Let’s look at each of these four differences in more detail.

      1) perishable > imperishable (John 11:25-26)

First of all, your old body is perishable, but your new body will be imperishable. In other words your current body has a shelf life. You’re not going to last forever. Everyone dies. And death is just the end game. You also have to deal with all those things that are part of death and dying – sickness and aging and decay along the way.

John Wesley writes about our current bodies: “Of how many parts do our bodies consist! And if one of these be disordered, the whole man suffers…. Nay, when our bodies are at their best, what pains do we take to answer their necessities, to provide for their sustenance, to preserve them in health…. And what time we can spare from our labor is taken up in rest, and refreshing our jaded bodies, and fitting them for work again.” (Wesley, Sermon 137)

Basically, our current bodies are unreliable. They betray us. They let us down. They are subject to sickness and decay. They are full of all sorts of aches and pains. And eventually they die. But not your new body. Your new body will never die. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Your new body will never die. And you will never again experience all those things that go along with aging and dying. Quoting John Wesley again: “We shall all enjoy uninterrupted health both of body and mind… We shall be eased of all the troublesome care of our bodies, which now takes up so much of our time and thoughts.” (Wesley, Sermon 137)

So that’s the first difference the Bible tells us about your new body. The body that is sown is perishable; it is raised imperishable.

      2) dishonorable > glorious (Matthew 13:43)

Secondly, your old body is dishonorable, but your new body will be glorious. Dishonor has to do with embarrassment, hiding and shame. Let’s face it. All of us struggle with a certain amount of shame when it comes to our bodies. Even the supermodels that you see on the magazine covers feel insecure about their bodies. There are things about our bodies we don’t like and that we would change if we could. And even for those of us who are perfectly happy with our bodies right now, age and illness can still take it all away. How many people on their sickbeds have said, “I don’t want anyone to see me like this?” There is no dignity in sickness or suffering or dying.

Your old body is dishonorable, but your new body will be glorious. The word “glory” has to do with praise and honor and brightness and light. Jesus said in Matthew 13:43: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matthew 13:43) As Moses’ face shone in the tabernacle, as Jesus’ body was transfigured on the Mount of Transfiguration, so your new body will shine with glory and honor in God’s presence. There will be no more hiding, no more embarrassment, no more shame. You will be perfectly happy with your new body, perfectly satisfied, perfectly comfortable in your new skin.

I like what John Wesley says here, too. “This excellency of our heavenly bodies will probably arise, in great measure, from the happiness of our souls. The unspeakable joy that we then shall feel will break through our bodies, and shine forth in our countenances; as the joy of the soul, even in this life, has some influence upon the countenance, by rendering it more open and cheerful: So Solomon tells us, ‘A man’s wisdom makes his face to shine.’” (Wesley, Sermon 137)

So that’s the second difference the Bible tells us about your new body. The old body is sown in dishonor; the new body is raised in glory.

      3) weak > powerful (Isaiah 40:31)

The third difference is this. Your old body is weak, while your new body will be powerful. Do you ever feel tired? Maybe you have trouble sleeping at night which means you have trouble focusing during the day. Do you ever feel worn out at the end of the day? Any aches or pains in your body? How’s your eyesight? How’s your hearing? How many reps can you do at the gym?

These are problems that we experience with our current physical bodies. Our old bodies are weak, but your new body will be powerful. Isaiah 40:31 says: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) God gives us some of that strength even now in this life, but that strength will be perfected in your new body.

We’re used to our bodies getting weaker over time, but not your new resurrection body. That’s the third difference. The old body is sown in weakness; the new body is raised in power.

      4) natural > spiritual (Romans 8:10-11)

And then finally, your old body is a natural body, while your new body will be a spiritual body. This probably the most misunderstood of the four differences. A lot of people get confused on this one because they think that the word “spiritual” is the opposite of “physical.” And so they think when Paul talks about a spiritual body that he is talking about a non-physical body, that we will be some sort of spirit beings. But of course that doesn’t make sense, because throughout this chapter Paul has been talking about an actual physical resurrection. And the key to understanding this is to realize that Paul does not contrast spiritual with physical here, but rather with natural. He does not say the old body is physical and the new body is spiritual. Rather, the old body is a natural body, and the new body is spiritual.

What he means is this. Your old body is dominated by your old nature. That’s what Paul means by a “natural” body. He is talking about your sin nature. We are all born with a sin nature, and that sinful nature resides where? In your body, in your flesh. And that sinful nature makes you subject to all sorts of sinful desires that your body gives in to again and again. Now when you become a Christian you gain a certain level of victory over that sinful nature, but because you still have a natural body, you are still constantly dealing with bodily temptations. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Well, I have some good news for you. Your new body won’t be like that anymore. Your new body will be a spiritual body, that is, it will be completely controlled by the Holy Spirit. You will no longer be fighting your body to obey God. Instead your new body will cooperate. It will work with you to obey God. Instead of the spirit is wiling and the flesh is weak, it will be the spirit is willing and the body is willing, too!

We read about this in Romans 8:10-11: “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.… He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:10-11)

What is Romans 8 saying? When you become a Christian, your spirit is alive but you still have your old body. But when you are resurrected, God will give new life also to your body through the Holy Spirit. And this means that you will no longer struggle with a sin nature in heaven. You will be perfected in Christ and given a new spiritual body instead of the old natural body you struggle with now.

   C. Your new body will be like Jesus’ resurrection body
      – Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2-3

How will your new body be different from your old body? Well we said there’s a short answer and a long answer. I just gave you the long answer, so now let me give you the short answer.

Your new body will be like Jesus’ resurrection body. Philippians 3 says: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21) We read in 1 John 3: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)

Jesus’ resurrection body was the same but different. It was the same body that came out of the grave but transformed. It was still a physical body with physical properties. Jesus ate food with his disciples, and his disciples could physically touch him. It was the same but also different. Sometimes the disciples recognized him. Sometimes they didn’t. This new body had new properties, new abilities. He could appear and disappear at will.

What will your new body be like? It will be the same body but different. It will be imperishable, glorious, powerful and spiritual. It will be like Jesus’ resurrection body.

III. Why will we get new bodies?

So we’ve looked at when you will get your new body and what your new body will be like. Now finally let’s answer the question why. Why will we get new bodies? The Bible gives us three reasons why.

   A. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
      – John 3:5-6; 1 Corinthians 15:50

First of all, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus said in John 3: “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:5-6) 1 Corinthians 15:50 says: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 15:50) You cannot enter God’s kingdom unless you are born again. And you cannot inherit the kingdom unless you are resurrected with a new body.

We cannot live with God in these old bodies of sin. But your new body will be perfectly suited and adapted for living in the new heaven and new earth. So that’s the first reason why we will get new bodies. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

   B. Our physical bodies are part of God’s good creation
      – Genesis 1:31; Romans 8:20-21

A second reason is this. Our physical bodies are part of God’s good creation. We read in Genesis 1:31: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Everything God created is good, and God will not abandon his good creation. That’s why there will be a new creation, and a new heaven and earth.

We read in Romans 8:20-21: “For the creation was subjected to frustration … in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21) Our physical bodies are part of God’s good creation, and so God will give us new bodies as part of his new creation.

   C. Sin and death must be completely defeated
      – Romans 8:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:53-57

Why will we get new bodies? 1) Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. 2) Our physical bodies are part of God’s good creation. And then finally: 3) Sin and death must be completely defeated.

We read in Romans 8:22-24: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning.… Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” (Romans 8:22-24)

The wages of sin is death, and physical death is the separation of your spirit from your body. If there were no resurrection, if your spirit just went to be with God in heaven when you died, then in a sense death would continue. In fact by definition you would still be dead! Your spirit would be alive in God’s presence, but your body would still be dead in the ground. If the intermediate state is the final state, then sin and death are not truly defeated. That’s why Paul says that we wait eagerly for the redemption of our bodies, for in this hope we were saved.

So when will this happen? When will sin and death finally be defeated? At the resurrection! We read these amazing words in 1 Corinthians 15:53-57: “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:53-57)

Why will we get new bodies? Because: 1) Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. 2) Our physical bodies are part of God’s good creation. And 3) Sin and death must be completely defeated.

CONCLUSION: So who’s ready for their new body? I know I am. I am so glad we don’t get our old bodies back just the way we left them. Who wants them? But a changed body that is immortal, imperishable, glorious, powerful, no longer subject to sin – one that will never get sick or old or die again? Sign me up for that!

Your body matters because God’s creation matters. God will renew your body along with the whole world. The aches and pains you experience are only temporary. So when your body lets you down in this life, don’t get discouraged. Be patient and hope. Because you are getting a new body! And it’s going to be amazing!

© Ray Fowler

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