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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 15:35-49


The Resurrection Body
1st Corinthians 15:35-49

The case has been proved. Paul has been arguing that there will be a future resurrection of the dead. That glorious hope is based on the fact of the resurrection of Jesus, a certainty which Paul has also established earlier in the chapter. Rejection of belief in the resurrection would have serious consequences, both doctrinally and practically for the church, and would lead to an intolerable situation, as far as the wider fellowship of saints was concerned. Paul would never have allowed fellowship to exist between the other churches and a church in such serious error. So, the case for the resurrection has been made, the day of resurrection has been described, and the matter dealt with. Death is NOT the end! Yet one more issue remains…

A Contentious Debate!
Another issue remains. Eschatology must have been one of those issues which constantly occupied the Corinthians! Can’t you imagine them speculating over their Sunday roast? There were sceptics among them, and they have been debating the issues of the second coming. Some had said, “I believe that the dead will be raised.” Others had argued that although Jesus had risen, we would not rise. Others chimed in with other questions about the resurrection. It is these questions that Paul addresses here…

* The sceptic’s question!
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Naturally speaking, you can see the point of these questions! The Corinthians will have seen dead bodies. They know that death brings decay. They know that bodies in the grave rot away. They have seen skeletons and rotting flesh! So how can a decayed, decomposed body rise from the dead? How can life come back to a body that has lain for centuries in the grave, or been lost at sea or been cremated to dust? How? And more importantly, if that could happen, what kind of a body would it be, after all that had occurred to it already?
* The saint’s answer!
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. These sceptics make this great mistake, in thinking that we will be raised to eternal life in the very same body which was lowered into the grave! In our future bodies we will recognise each other, but the material and nature of those bodies will be totally different!

There are sceptics in every age and in every place! These are the kind of questions that they will ask, for the nature of man never changes! Why does God allow people to suffer? Why is there famine and earthquakes? Why did God allow my loved one to die? How can a God of love send people to hell? Why trust the Bible? How can you believe that a man rose from the dead? How can a dead body rise?
Christ also was faced with sceptics, and His answer to those sceptics is an example of how we should deal with such people too! Matthew 22:23-33 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection! “What would happen if a woman married, in turn seven men? Whose wife would she be at the resurrection? Listen to our Saviour’s reply, Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
Do you see the technique that Jesus used to deal with these sceptical Sadducees? Their error lay in their ignorance of the Bible, and the fact that they had not had a personal powerful encounter with God! The last thing we should do is to enter into a series of acrimonious arguments with a sceptic! The best way to deal with a sceptic is to speak of your own experience with Christ, and back that up heavily with the Word of God! Paul, later speaking of the contrast between Adam and Christ says, “IT IS WRITTEN!” Point them to Christ and point them to the Scriptures!

William Barclay tells a story about how, at the turn of the century, Thomas Huxley, the great agnostic, was attending a party at a country mansion. Rich people do parties different than us – the guests stayed for several days. Sunday came around, and most of the guests prepared to go to church. Very naturally, Huxley did not get ready. Instead, he approached a man known to have a simple and radiant Christian faith. Huxley said to him, “Suppose you don’t go to church today. “Suppose you stay at home and you tell me quite simply what your Christian faith means to you and why you are a Christian.” “But,” said the man, “you could demolish my arguments in an instant. I’m not clever enough to argue with you.” Huxley said gently: “I don’t want to argue with you. I just want you to tell me simply what this Christ means to you.” The man stayed at home and told Huxley most simply of his faith. When he had finished there were tears in the great agnostic’s eyes. “I would give my right hand if only I could believe that.”

It was not clever argument that touched Huxley’s heart, but the simple story of a man’s faith. The best argument is to say to people, “Come and see!”

A Created Diversity!
So, Paul begins to address these issues, in a Biblical manner! He deals with the first question, HOW? What Paul is saying here, is, in effect, “Why are you so surprised that there is a resurrection body! There are many different types of bodies in the world already!” He gives some everyday examples. There are:-

* Different types of vegetation! v37-38 Our present bodies are like the seeds of a plant! A seed cannot live unless it is buried in the ground and dies!

Take a moment or two to think about a bulb! Recently someone gave me a paper bag, and inside the bag were some ugly little bulbs. What on earth could they be? How surprised I was to find that they were the bulbs of the most beautiful of flowers, the Orange Lily! I could set them up on the sideboard, arrange them in a fancy vase, but they would still be ugly and unsightly! Ah! But place them in the garden, sow them in the ground, and wait until July, and what a glorious sight they will be! The new plant will differ radically from this ugly bulb! So with our bodies! that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

* Different types of flesh! v39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds..There are so many types of flesh in the world! You know the difference between pork and lamb and beef and chicken. Nowadays in some restaurants you can eat ostrich, and pheasant and grouse and rabbit! There are men and women, there are animals, there are birds, there are fish. All their flesh types are different! Why should we be surprised if there are earthly bodies and spiritual bodies?

* Different types of heavenly bodies! v40-41. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. Look into the night sky! There are stars, moons, planets, asteroids, comets, all whirling around in outer space! They are all different; they all have their own glory, their own majesty!

God’s creation is full of different bodies, each one with its own characteristics, each created and placed there by God, each part of his creation, each with its own glory. The glory of our heavenly body will be different from our earthly body! It is certainly not beyond the power of the God who created Adam out of dust, to raise men and women from the dead! To reclothe us in new, spiritual, recreated bodies!

Some Clear Differences!
But what will that body be like? Paul gives us a hint here, when he sets out a series of comparisons:-

* Corruption Vs Incorruption! v43 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. In this world, everything is subject to corruption and decay!

The Hymn writer penned these words, Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see, O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

In our new resurrection bodies, there will be no change, and no decay! No more birthdays!

In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. He didn’t profess to be a born-again Christian, but it seems he must have been influenced by Paul’s teaching of the resurrection of the body. Here’s what he wrote: The Body of B. Franklin. Dead like the Cover of an old Book. Its contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Guilding, Lies here, Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will appear once more in a new & more perfect Edition, corrected and amended by the Author.

* Dishonour Vs Honour! It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. Our bodies often let us down! It is often the case that when dishonour comes upon a person, it is due to the fact that they have yielded to some bodily temptation. Sexual sin is just one example! The ‘must have’ greed of this world is another. These things lead to sin and dishonour! In our new resurrection bodies, all that temptation to sin and dishonour will be gone, for our new bodies will be spiritual! Nothing illustrates the dishonour of this present body than death itself. In death we have the degradation of mankind. The most regal, the most important, the wealthiest, the poorest and the must humble all suffer the same indignity! We are taken in a box, and we are shamed, and deprived of all this world’s goods. We are doomed to dust. But in the resurrected body the human body will be transformed into a glorious body! Paul tells us in Philip. 3:21 that this is the work of Christ, Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

* Weakness Vs Power! it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. Think of the inherent weaknesses of these human bodies. How many times do we have to attend for clinical tests. How many times do we fall prey to viruses and bacteria, how often do bodily parts fail us? The commonest little bug, borne on a draught of air, can kill us! And we are weak! The strongest among us has limitations on his strength! Again in death, that weakness reaches its inevitable conclusion. 2 Cor. 5:1-2 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. At the resurrection, we shall be raised in POWER!

* Natural Vs Spiritual! v44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. Here is the reason why all the above applies! Here and now we have a physical body! Then we will have a spiritual body! The interesting word here is the word BODY. The same Greek word is used to describe both our physical body, and our spiritual body! The word is σωμα There are certain differences in these two bodies, but THE SPIRITUAL BODY IS STILL A BODY! It will be a body, made for a different environment, perfected and glorified, and fit to be in the presence of Christ! 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

A Challenging Deduction!
So, Paul has dealt with the two great questions of the Corinthians. How could it happen, and what will we be like? He concludes this part of his argument by an illustration of natural development. Always the physical comes first, then the spiritual.
* Adam then Christ! The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
* Natural then spiritual! Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
* Earthly then heavenly! The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
There is a logical progression. Adam came first, then Christ. Adam was the physical man, given life by God, purely to live on this earth! That is the life that he has bequeathed to us. We too are like Adam, for from dust we came and to dust we shall return! But Christ is different! Christ was from heaven! He was the spiritual man, a quickening, life giving spirit! John 8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. For those who are in Him He imparts a new, different kind of life! Life that is not for this world, but for heaven!
But there is a great challenge here for us! Paul says As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
A man by nature will mould his life after Adam, living just for this world and the rewards of this world, and death for him will be the final defeat. Or he will have put his trust in Christ, and be given His new spiritual life! The image that we bear in this life is the image that we will bear in the life to come! Have we the image of Adam, or the image of Christ? What we are in this life, will determine what we shall be in the next!
In our next study we shall see something more of the radical change that the body experiences on the day that ‘The trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more!’

From → Sermon Notes

One Comment
  1. Stephen permalink

    Thanks for your sermon on twitter it is very
    Encourageing to read & very helpful,I will continue to pray
    For your ongoing work with The Lord at
    Your church.
    God Bless

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