(1 Corinthians 15:35-49)
It appears to me that there is a great amount of interest, but not a lot of understanding about the resurrection of the dead.
The resurrection is THE most important and fundamental teaching in Christianity. It is because of the resurrection that Christianity even exists, as I have pointed out in other articles. If there was no resurrection, then there is no Christianity and your faith would be pointless.
Fortunately though, through our faith in the working of God we believe that the resurrection is real, that Jesus Christ was resurrected and is alive, and that we who have believed in Him will also be raised from the dead or transformed at His coming.
This section of scripture today provides other valuable and useful insights into the resurrection.
First the Flesh, then the Spirit
Some people asked in Pauls day, how people are resurrected. And we need to listen to his words today too.
The process of the resurrection is like this. First you are born to this earth as a man or woman, bearing the fleshly image of your forebears going all the way back to Adam and Eve. We are people of the flesh living in a physical world.
Thus we suffer all the pains, problems and afflictions that all other people in this world suffer. We get sick, we hurt, we have pain, we get angry, we are emotional and eventually we die. Some of us were born with physical or mental disorders that man does not have the knowledge to overcome, but these are just issues of the flesh and of this life.
But it will not always be like this. We will not always be in this weakened physical state with all the problems of humanity afflicting us…and that is before we even talk about the evil spiritual realm aligned against us because we believe in Christ Jesus and His resurrection.
There is a time coming when these human and fleshly things shall pass away and we will be people of the Spirit. As Paul says in this section,
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. – (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
We are sown or born in this age in weakness, dishonour and perishable. We are doomed to die in this world and in this age. But the time is coming when we shall exit this age in the age of the resurrection and we shall be transformed. We will be made into the image of Jesus Christ.
No longer shall we be weak, but we will be raised in glory, raised in power, raised imperishable and raised in the spirit of God.
The Transition Phase
But now we do not see these things of the spirit…yet. But what we do see is a transition phase. There is a phase where the people of Christ are neither physical nor yet fully spirit.
Although we have not yet died in the flesh, we are able to die so that the work of the spirit can commence within us. Let me explain using the words Paul puts in this section.
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. – (1 Corinthians 15:35-41)
Note the point of transition that Paul recognises in verse 36. The point where the transition from the physical to the spiritual takes place at the point of death.
But in Jesus Christ when we are baptised in His name, we are actually taking on His death as our own and are instructed to believe that we are now dead to this world but alive to God. We put on Jesus death and so begin the process of transformation through the working of the Holy Spirit in us to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Note these few verses.
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – (Romans 6:3-4)
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. – (Romans 6:11)
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – (2 Corinthians 3:18)
As these scriptures tell us, we have died NOW through being baptised into the death of Jesus Christ. We put on His death and take His death as if it were our own. And from now on we MUST “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
And in the third verse we see that this is not the end of the process, but just the beginning. The transformation will not be complete until all things are complete in the resurrection and the age of God's rule on this earth. But the process for Christians who believe these things and have faith and the working of the Holy Spirit in them begins now.
We are now in transition as we live this life because although we are still residing in our bodies of flesh that are weak and prone to all the problems of humanity, we are actually spiritual beings through the faith we hold in the resurrection of Jesus Christ that we put on in baptism. And note this great blessing that tells us how to think while we go through the transformation.
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – (Colossians 3:1-4)
Our lives are hidden with Christ Jesus seated at the right hand of God right NOW. We are there now in Jesus Christ. That is why we must look at and to the things of God for we are with Him now. We are dead to this world and alive to God while we are in this transition stage.
At the resurrection when all things are completed, then will be the completion of us too. We shall all be changed to be like Jesus Christ, who is the image of the Father, and we shall live with them into eternity.
This is the power of the resurrection of Christ. This is the promise offered to all who call upon His name. And this should encourage and give us hope, even when our physical lives are in the doldrums, because we have a hope in God and that hope is and was fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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