1 Corinthians 15:12-19
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. (NASB)
Many people deny the resurrection of the body, specifically the body of the saints. Click here to read an article on a study that was done on this recently.
This is an important topic not only because we can affirm the inerrancy of the Scripture by believing this teaching to be true (because this is what the Word says), but because of some of the implications of the elects’ bodily resurrection in relation to all things being made new through Christ (Revelations 21:5).
(1) There are many heresies from the early church period that separated the body from the soul…thinking that the problem is the material body. The reality is that sin is in our bodies and our souls. One of the thoughts posed would be…”if only our innocent/clean/ perfect souls could be freed from this sinful/dirty/cursed body.” The Gnostics had a teaching similar to this, also the Docetics, and Ebionites. This teaching in many of these perspectives was coupled with some type of limitation of Christ’s deity as not being God within the trinity as God the Son.
(2) The bodily resurrection of the elect is very much tied to the concept of making all things new. New heavens and earth, etc. We don’t know a ton of the specifics (certainly we know more than I have eluded to here).
(3) Man was not originally made to be mortal. Only when Adam fell did death enter into the world. So…since God is a God of redemption and He makes all things new our bodies are part of this promised reality.
(4) In the 1 Corinthians passage above verse 16 states, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.” We need to watch what we believe closely (Job 11:4; 1 Timothy 1:3; 4:6; 6:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1). Our bodily resurrection is closely linked to Christ’s resurrection…without which we know from verse 16 that our faith would be worthless. But Christ did raise, so our faith isn’t worthless. This doctrine is sweet to the taste. We will taste sweet victory in our resurrection bodies through Christ. They will be different no doubt (Christ’s was different…He was even a little less recognizable, but He still had a body that Thomas could touch).
(5) Lastly, there is a dual reality of our resurrection. We were in Christ when he was raised…so we were raised with Him. Yet, we will physically be raised on that last day. In the twinkle of an eye we will be like Him. This is similar to the fact that we are sanctified yet we aren’t completely sanctified yet, we are righteous yet being made righteous, we are holy yet being made holy, etc.
For God’s glory lets bathe in this until we gain more understanding in this teaching of the resurrection of the bodies of the elect. It’s strange…no doubt…but it is an awesome reality that we can look forward to. Let’s not miss out on this glorious reality.
[Interestingly enough Al Mohler blogged on this today too. Click here to see his response.]
He quotes 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all 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. (ESV)
Also…here are a few relevant quotes from Jonathan Edwards on this from his miscellanies.
“One calamity that was the consequence of the fall was the dissolution of the body. There is in Christ a remedy for this calamity; the body is through him restored, and comfort is administered to the saints against the apprehensions of it, by the promises of the resurrection.”
“For the body shall [not] only return to life, but to a much more glorious state than it was in before its dissolution, yea, a much more glorious state than the body of man was in before the fall; for it shall not be conformed to the body of the first Adam, which was a natural body, but to the body of Christ, which is a spiritual body (see 1 Corinthians 15:44-49).”