Colossians 1:15-23 (please open your Bibles as we read this passage)
The entire gospel is based on the fact that Jesus was and is the one and only Son of God who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried and rose again from the dead for our salvation. And, last Sunday was a day specifically set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
There were a few others in the Bible who were also raised from the dead such as Lazarus but when they were raised from the dead it was very different from the resurrection of Jesus or the resurrection we will all experience at the end of time.
Let’s go ahead and read Colossians 1:15-23
Colossians 1:18 NIV
“He (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.”
Man has a material nature, the body, and a spiritual nature, the soul.
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.”
1 Corinthians 2:11a
“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?”
And of course this is obvious from Jesus’ conversation with the repentant criminal on the cross when He said to him in Luke 23:43, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
We know that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Jesus’ body down from the cross, embalmed it, wrapped Him in burial cloths and rolled a stone over the entrance of the tomb.
And, we know that the repentant criminal was not buried with Jesus so obviously Jesus was not referring to the tomb as “paradise”.
Jesus’ spirit was separated from His body and the repentant thief’s spirit was separated from His body.
OK, we know that Jesus was crucified between the two criminals. What He said to the repentant criminal is amazing and we can forever be thankful that Jesus is merciful. But, at the same time, what Jesus did not say to the unrepentant criminal shouts out to us as well; Jesus never told the unrepentant criminal that they would be together in paradise and that is something that should shake our very souls if we ourselves are not repentant.
So … where did they go?
Look with me at Luke 16:19-31
Here we see Jesus giving an account of a rich man whose spirit went to one destination and a poor man whose spirit went to another.
So, let’s go ahead and read Luke 16:19-31
What usually happened to the destitute in Jesus’ time was that they would be buried in an unmarked grave in a field such as the one the Jew’s bought with the thirty pieces of silver Judas threw back at them after he had betrayed Jesus.
On the other hand the rich man would have been properly embalmed and buried in a tomb.
Both their bodies when to different locations and their souls also went to different locations.
Lazarus’ soul went to paradise where Abraham’s soul was also waiting. This is also where the repentant criminal’s soul would be with Jesus after the crucifixion.
The rich man’s soul went to Hades. The word Hades is never used in the New Testament in relation to the departed souls of righteous individuals.
OK. So, we have seen that we are both material and spiritual, both body and soul and that the material and spiritual are separated at the time when our body ceases to function so our body is dead and our soul is still alive and relocated to the place we chose when we were on earth.
If we chose to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior our soul will go immediately to His presence. If we chose to follow our own sinful desires our soul will go immediately to Hades the same as what happened to the rich man in Luke 16.
But, you say, “How do we know that our spirits will go to be with Jesus when our life on earth is ended?”
1 Thessalonians 4:14 NLT
“For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.”
But, we won’t be bodiless spirits forever. One day our bodiless spirits will be united with bodies. There will be resurrections. Two different resurrections with two different types of bodies.
The bodies of those who are “in Christ”.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44a NIV
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. 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 15:50-55 NIV
“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 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. 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?”
“I declare to you, brothers …” speaking to believers
Bodies that were once perishable will be replaced with bodies that are imperishable
Bodies that were buried in dishonor and humiliation will be replaced with bodies of honor and glory
Bodies that were buried in infirmity and weakness will be replaced with strength and power.
Whatever happened to the body of Jesus is what will happen to the bodies of those who place their faith and trust in Jesus.
Our bodies will be the same in the fact that we will be recognizable but different in properties.
Sounds good doesn’t it? Actually, it sounds GREAT! But, what about those who are not believers, those who are not in Christ?
Curiously, the Bible does not give any description of the resurrected bodies of those who have rejected the salvation available to them through grace and faith in Jesus Christ.
However, we do know that they will have a body, whatever that body may be like.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 NIV
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
So, we do not know that those who chose to reject Jesus as Lord will have a body even though we are not given information about those bodies like we have been given about the resurrected bodies of those who are in Christ.
We cannot imagine the wonders of have a body which will be glorious, invulnerable to sickness and disease and the ravages of aging. We cannot imagine having a body like the resurrected body of Jesus, filled with strength and power.
We cannot imagine the wonders of heaven and the glorious presence of the Lord.
Nor can we imagine the terrors of hell and the dread of being shut out of the presence of the Lord forever and ever and ever …
The Bible describes it this way, “No one has ever seen, no one has ever heard, no one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
What we don’t need to imagine is what is required in order to live eternally in the presence of the Lord.
It makes you wonder why anyone would ever chose to reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior for the temporal false-benefits of sin and end up suffering for all of eternity apart from the presence of the Lord and all that He has prepared for His children. Why?
Job 19:23-27 NIV
“Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on 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!”
Conclusion and prayer