Monday in the Twenty-Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

The Resurrected Body: What’s It Like? (Continued)

Like the Corinthians of old, most Christians today, or so it seems to me, think that our existence in heaven will be something dreamy, insubstantial, or ghostly.  Their thoughts bear more resemblance to those of the ancient pagan writers, much like Homer’s Odyssey, where the arms of Odysseus pass right through the dead when he visits the Underworld, than to the biblical writers.  Just like those wrong-headed Corinthians and ancient and contemporary pagans, they either completely disparage the body thinking it of no consequence, or so highly value it that they worry over every intake of calorie, fat, or carbohydrate, spending themselves at fitness centers, charming themselves in mirrors.  (I’m not opposed to exercise and have frequented fitness centers, and so know something about the mentality.)

My point is this: We shall be raised and we shall bear a body—a spiritual body.  Now the question is asked, “What is a ‘spiritual body?’”  It is a very relevant question.  When Paul says, “spiritual body,” he does NOT mean something invisible or insubstantial, which terms are completely contrary to the definition of “body”; he means a body under the dominion of the spiritual world, which is under the dominion of the Holy Spirit.  I said yesterday that to live in this world, we had to have bodies fit for this world; that is, under the dominion of the natural world.  To live in the spiritual world, we must have bodies fit for that world and hence, spiritual bodies.

I take as our model the risen body of our Lord.  When he rose from the dead, he rose with his body of flesh, as he plainly said, “Touch me and see.  For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).  At the same time, he could appear right out of thin air (“the doors being locked,” John 20:19), thus indicating that he was not bound by the natural world.  Yes, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” but I understand that to mean flesh and blood under the dominion of the natural world.  So I take it that when Paul writes that both the dead in Christ and believers who are alive at his coming will be “changed,” that he means changed into the body of our Lord at his resurrection.  This was also the understanding of the ancient Church which spoke, not of the resurrection of the body, but of the flesh—under the dominion of the spirit world, of course.

I am aware that some theologians speak of a further change that Jesus supposedly underwent when he ascended into glory.  This is sheer conjecture.  They assume this because Paul said, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”  But as I explained, this does not include flesh and blood that is changed to be incorruptible and imperishable, as our Lord had when he arose.  And as for our Lord’s transfiguration, I see no reason to believe that he ceased to be flesh and blood in that event, but instead that the glory of God shown through that very flesh and blood, as it shall one day shine through the flesh and blood of the redeemed.  In short, I cannot imagine any other form of “spiritual body” deriving from a flesh and blood human being, but I will not argue the point with those who believe otherwise.

The most beautiful thing is that death will finally be defeated, killed, and executed, and that, once and for all.  The reason for this is that sin will be no more.  Our souls shall experience that final healing which the those who are redeemed so crave—the healing of our souls such that sin shall never tempt us again—which is what salvation is, which is what freedom is.  And our bodies, which were corrupted because of our sinful souls, shall know total health because of our cleansed and sinless souls.  We shall be what we were meant to be, but only better, as redemption is superior to innocence.

So rejoice, Oh Christian!  Remain immovable in the faith, for we have a sure and certain inheritance awaiting us.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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