Summary: 1. What do we mean by the resurrection of the body? 2. How should our belief in the resurrection affect our lives today?
APOSTLES’ CREED: The Resurrection of the Body
As we approach the end of the Apostles’ Creed, we come to this: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” What does that mean, and how does it impact our lives?
Let’s read what the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10…(Read text)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY?
-Death is not the end of us; we will live after we physically die.
***Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, died of cancer in 2011. Shortly before his death, he gave a commencement address at Stanford University, saying, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”**
“Death clears out the old, to make way for the new…” It sounds very noble, even life-affirming, but it means that individuals have no enduring future.
Steve Jobs was a smart man, but I think a little girl named Jane was wiser. ***Jane had a question for God: “Dear God, instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t you just keep the ones you have now?” (website, “Children Speak to God”)***
What a great idea, Jane! That is exactly what God intends to do! Jesus promised to give us life after death, saying in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” God plans to keep us!
Many people believe in life after death, but they might view things differently than Jesus and the creed. Some believe in reincarnation, where a person comes back with a new identity. Some believe dead people live as ghosts or spirits, only a shadow of who they once were. Jesus spoke of something else: resurrection. In resurrection, the identity of the person is maintained, and they are just as substantial as they were before.
Yet this raises a question: What form will we take when we are resurrected? Our physical bodies are already subject to decay, and when we die our bodies will either be burned or rot in the ground. Yet our bodies and minds carry so much of our identity: our personality, our interactions with other people, our abilities to create, love and express our inner self. How will we live after our physical bodies die?
-The creed says, “I believe in the resurrection OF THE BODY.”
Most Greek philosophers taught that people consisted of two parts: body and soul. (Some believed in three parts: body, soul, and spirit.) The essence of a person was thought to be the soul, which lived in the body. Some even described the body as a prison for the soul. They believed that when the body died, the soul would be set free, for the soul was immortal; it could never die.
The Greek view of the immortality of the soul is still common today. Even some Christians think that when the body dies, the soul goes to heaven. However, the Bible never indicates that a soul lives apart from a body. In the Bible, the soul represents the essential nature of the person, includes all aspects, which might be describes as body, soul and spirit, or even “heart, soul, mind, and strength. (See Jesus’ summary of the law in Mark 12:30.)
The believers in Corinth lived in a Greek culture, and many of them believed in the immortality of the soul. Paul would have none of that! He was not satisfied with a future as a disembodied soul or spirit; it would be like being naked! Reread 2 Corinthians 5:1-4.
Our bodies carry so much of who we are: our personality, our interaction with other people, our ability to create and love and express our inner self. Without a body, we would be less than we are now. But Paul’s vision for life after death is for more, not less. He was looking forward to a more substantial existence: a house instead of a tent, new clothes instead of old rags.
That raises a question, however: When we die, do we get our resurrection bodies immediately? It is a personal question for me: My dad died a few years ago. Is he alive now? Does he already have a resurrection body?
In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul says “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.” The last trumpet represents the return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead. Must my dad wait until Jesus comes back to be changed—to have a spiritual body? Is he sleeping, or living as a ghost, or existing as a disembodied soul until Jesus returns to make all things new and give him a body?