Summary: The Scriptural hows and whats of bodily resurrection.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
III. MAINTAINING PROPER DIET & EXERCISE
E.) POWER LIFTING (Resurrection)
“Gaining The Power”
(1 Cor. 15:35-58)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, August 9, 2009 AM
As many of you know by now, one of my all-time favorite people and authors is the Russian great, Fyodor Dostoevsky. In 1849, as a young political radical, he was arrested for plotting against Czar Nikolai I. Convicted of treason, he was sentenced to death by firing squad. Having already been blindfolded and lined up in the freezing weather, anticipating the imminent sounds of gunfire, the executioners were ordered to stop. Dostoevsky’s sentence had, at the last minute, been changed from death to exile and hard labor in the gulag. Having survived five years in the gulag, he was released in 1854, gave his life to Christ and abandoned his revolutionary ideology. Reflecting on his life, Dostoevsky once commented: “The certainty of death fills us with dread. But the uncertainty of what follows death is the most dreadful anguish in the world.”
Have you ever wondered about death – particularly your own death? Ray Stedman observes: “The fear of death keeps us in bondage. It turns us into driven workaholics. It makes us feel that we must seize every opportunity, because life is so short. We dare not stop or rest but must be driven, driven, driven by the fear of death! This fear makes us anxious and obsessed with our health, with threats and dangers, with the aging process. It robs us of our joy and our sleep. The fear of death haunts and oppresses us . . . We fear death because it is an unknown. We can’t control it, evade it, or avoid it” (pg. 249).
Sadly, in the process, we often fail to recognize just how much our views, opinions and fears about death affect how we live our lives in the meantime! The correlation and impact is humongous!
Most often, it is a negative impact. BUT, in Christ, it can and should be a tremendously positive impact and source of hope and excitement. The writer of Hebrews pronounces:
. . . so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death--that is, the Devil-- and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. Hebrews 2:14b-15
I.) THE NATURE OF RESURRECTION (vv. 35-49)
A.) Where Does The Resurrection Body Come From? (vv. 35-39)
A great challenge for many to either truly believe in or put great hope and excitement in the BODILY resurrection is the details of how such a thing could really be possible.
For many of the Corinthians, it was all about the ’spirit.’ The body was seen as a temporary temple and liability. Therefore, they anticipated only a rising of the spirit as it is one day freed from the tethers of the physical body.
This, however, is NOT the teaching or example of Christ.
Scripture here addresses these issues further.
1.) Dealing With Decay (v. 35)
A fresh body being resurrected, most of us can understand and deal with. But what about decay? What about the body that has already been decaying and subject to the elements, creatures and microbes of nature for years, decades, even centuries?
Not to mention a body that has been cremated or drowned in the sea or consumed by predators. What then?
Those are all very common and seemingly sensible questions that many continue to ask and ponder today. And yet, Paul – inspired by the Holy Spirit – says here that such questions and challenges are “foolish”!
Why? How can he say that?
In this biblical context and word choice, Paul is saying that they are “foolish” because they are demonstrating ignorance about something that they have been taught and should better understand – through Scripture, Christ’s example, and even through examples in nature. Paul is saying: “How can you call impossible or too far-fetched to trust that which, at least in principle, occurs physically and visibly all around you?” “How can you fail to take into account the all-powerful Hand of God?”
The Corinthian Christians were struggling based on false presuppositions that were based on their ’reason’ and expectation rather than the clear example of Christ and throughout nature.
Specifically, they pre-supposed that if there is to be a bodily resurrection, and that resurrected body is to appear identical to the previous, then it must happen through a physical reanimation of the corpse. And that certainly seems impractical if not impossible for a body that has completely decayed, burned, been consumed and/or has had parts transplanted or used for other medical purposes.
The PROBLEM, friends, is that Scripture never describes resurrection that way. Resurrection does present an ’end product’ that appears physically identical, but the emphasis – rather than reanimation - is on a process of transformation.