Summary: # 5 in a series on Eternity: What Awaits after death. This sermon talks about the new physcial body believers will have for all eternity.
“Eternity: What Awaits After Death”
Sermon # 5
“Transformed For Life Into Heaven”
In 1 Corinthians 15:35 the Apostle Paul asks two questions that concern us all. “But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is writing to a group of Christians who were struggling with the issue of what happens after you die. Although they were living about twenty years after the resurrection, their thinking about life and death were being influenced by their culture. I am afraid that is also a plight that we may share.
As a young man growing up in the Methodist church we recited the Apostles Creed a portion of which says. “I believe in the …. communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.”
Recent surveys have shown that about 30% of all Americans believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is the belief that each individual soul lives a succession of lives in various human bodies over the course of history. The purpose for such reincarnation is to gradually purify the soul so that it eventually reaches perfection. Those who believe in Reincarnation believe that we continue to be reincarnated until we get it right. The problem is that even those who say they are reincarnated have no memory of how they got it wrong in order that the might now get it right. Even harder to understand Gallop also found that 20% of those who describe themselves as born-again/evangelical Christians say they believe in reincarnation. That makes absolutely no sense. Reincarnation is diametrically contrary to the truth of the Gospel.
Even among Americans who believe in the resurrection of the dead, two-thirds believe they will not have bodies after the resurrection. (Alcorn p. 110) But in reality that is self–contradictory there can be no such thing. Resurrection by its very definition requires a body. If we didn’t have bodies, we wouldn’t be resurrected.
We have noted thus far in our series on “Eternity: What Awaits After Death” that physical death is the separation of the body from the soul. At death of a believer the body is committed to the grave and soul and spirit goes to be with Christ.
Death is an abnormal condition because it tears apart what God created and joined together. God intended for our bodies to last as long as our souls.
The reason we are decaying and dying is not because we have bodies. It is because sin has infected our bodies.
The Biblical doctrine of resurrection is an affirmation that we are a spiritual and physical unity and that God intends to put us back together again. Although the soul is separate from the body at death, this separation is only temporary.
Some of you could care less about what happens to your body – after you die. You are just hoping to find enough aspirin, icy/hot and duct tape to keep the thing running now. I understand how you feel, I really do, but indulge me just a bit this morning. I want to share some exciting news about what eternity holds for you physically. Hey, wait a minute did you say, physically? Yes, indeed, one day you are going experience the ultimate extreme, make-over. We can look forward to a new body.
I want to share with you this morning four truths about “Being Transformed for Life in Heaven.”
First, The New Body Is Real
Paul addresses the first question, “How are the dead raised up?” beginning in verses thirty-six.
•Death Is Necessary For Resurrection. (v. 36)
“Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.” This verse says that the body is “sown” – “sown” here means “buried.” It seems obvious that there is no need for a resurrection unless one is dead.
• New Yet Part of the Old (vv. 37-38)
“And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. (38) But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.”
Paul uses the illustration of a seed to explain what he mean about the relationship between the old you and the new you. He says the seed doesn’t look like the fruit it will produce. When you plant a pumpkin seed it does not look like a pumpkin. Although the pumpkin seed does not look like the pumpkin, you can’t get the fruit if you don’t plant the seed.
The body that is resurrected is a brand new you. If it’s not you then it is not a resurrection. It will not be you as you were but a brand new you. Hank Hanegraaf points out that there must be continuity between the old you and new you. He said, “We see that the blueprint for our glorified bodies are in the bodies we now possess. While orthodoxy does not dictate that every cell of our present bodies will be restored in the resurrection, it does require continuity between our earthly bodies and our heavenly bodies. Just as there is continuity between our earthly bodies and the bodies we had at birth – even though all of our subatomic particles and most of our cells have been replaced – so too there will be continuity from death to resurrection, despite the fact that not every particle in our bodies will be restored. In fact without continuity, there is no point in even using the word resurrection.” [Hank Hangraaff. Resurrection. (Nashville: Word Pub., ) p. 70]