© Marcelo A. Tolopilo
Now that we have dealt with death—the believer’s journey from this life to the presence of the Lord—we can proceed to talk about our glorious resurrection! You do realize that we will all live in our actual physical bodies for eternity, right? God has redeemed our souls, but He will also completely redeem our bodies in perfect conformity to His holiness and to last forever! “You mean this present body? My body? Me?” Yes you, your body, your physical self will be utterly transformed in a miraculous moment to suit your redeemed soul. This mighty work of God, the union of a redeemed body and spirit, will constitute our eternal state of being. That is truly an amazing thought, is it not? Are you ready for resurrection morning? It’s coming!
In order to set our minds on this future hopeinfusing
“What will our resurrection bodies be like?”
In order to set our minds on this future hope-infusing transformation, I want to ask the question, “What will our resurrection bodies be like?” For the answer to that question we turn to scripture and to the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. Here Paul draws four contrasts between our present physical state and our future resurrection form that unveils what our eternal glorified bodies will be like. We’ll consider the first two contrasts and characteristics in our present study (vv 42, 43a), and the final two in our next Lighthouse article (vv 43b, 44).
Our future resurrection bodies will be imperishable
The first distinction Paul points out between our present bodies and our future resurrected ones has to do with decay. Paul writes, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown (our present physical figure) a perishable body, it is raised (our future resurrection form) an imperishable body” (1 Corinthians 15:42). This is not a news flash, but you have probably noticed that things break down. Right? Whether we’re talking about a house, a car, an appliance, a piece of fruit you leave on the kitchen counter for too long, or our physical selves. All things break down. As our bodies age, we break down. The term Paul uses in this verse “perishable” refers to “a state of ruin or destruction, with the implication of disintegration.” The word “perishable” actually describes the second law of thermodynamics, doesn’t it? Entropy increases with time. All nature devolves from complex to simple—with the passage of time everything breaks down, or decays. This is so apt a description for our physical journey through this life. From the moment we are born, we begin to age and as we age we basically disintegrate; we lose the melanin (color) in our hair (truth be told we lose our very hair) our nails grow out and break off, our skin dries and flakes off. Our bodies are continually trying to repair our “perishing” or decaying cells. In fact, researchers tell us that our bodies completely replace themselves every seven to ten years, and some of our organs much faster than that.
A complete reversal!
Our bodies work to reinvigorate and heal but ultimately we lose the war against aging. Why? Because we are “sown a perishable body.” That is the way of it. And this is why God’s promise in this verse is so wonderful and hopeful. Paul tells us that at the resurrection our bodies will be “raised … imperishable.” This is basically the very same word translated “perishable” only with a negative prefix thrown in, essentially rendering the term “exempt from decay,”5 exempt from perishing, or “immortal”.6 In other words, our disintegration will not just stop, it will be completely reversed! Our physical bodies will be transformed into immortal bodies on resurrection morning.
The death of death
I realize that many of us reading this very article are struggling with disease, with aging and the various illnesses that manifest with the passing of time. We’ve seen friends, loved ones get sick and even die; our hearts are heavy with the struggle and our eyes weary with weeping. It is okay to grieve and weep deeply (Romans 12:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:13). Our Lord Jesus did (John 11:35). But looking beyond our grief, I want you to see something else through your veil of tears. What is exquisitely true is that our mortal enemy, decay, is dying. You see, there is a definite shelf life to perishability for the Christian. Decay itself will perish at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:26, Revelation 21:4) and yet we ourselves will live forever. In a little while, we will be done with our perishability (1 Peter 1:6). Aging, illness, death will be removed an infinite distance from us. Why? Because my body, your body will be “raised an imperishable body.”
Our future resurrection bodies will be free of shame
The second contrast Paul directs our attention to is between “dishonor” (shame) and “glory” (the absence of dishonor and shame, the very reflection of God’s imputed character.). Paul writes “it (our body) is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory” (1 Corinthians 15:43). “Dishonor” speaks of the shame we bear because of sin and its disastrous effects. Man was originally created with his mind, spirit, and body fully capable of serving, enjoying and pleasing God. With the fall, that wonderful potential was immeasurably diminished. Before salvation, our ability to rightly serve and delight in God was shattered by sin, dishonor. This was our perpetual state of being. We could not serve or enjoy God because everything we did was done apart from true faith, and scripture says, “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23c). But even after salvation, while we were rescued from the penalty of sin (death, eternal separation from God and His goodness), we were not delivered from the presence of sin. And so, presently, we live in bodies of unredeemed flesh, sown in dishonor and which handicap our ability to serve and celebrate God as He fully deserves. One pastor put it this way, “Even the most faithful believer dies with his body in a state of dishonor, a state of imperfection and incompleteness.” HOWEVER, when the Lord raises this body, your body, our bodies from the grave, our dishonor, our shame will be completely removed, incinerated and displaced by the glory of God dwelling in us and shining forth from us. We will possess glorified bodies divinely perfected to please, praise, serve, and savor the Creator who made us, the Redeemer who saved us, and the Spirit who quickened us to eternal life!
Summary: Come resurrection morning we will be free of illness and death, as well as dishonor and shame because of sin. We will, therefore, be free to serve the Lord with all of our strength and to enjoy Him without hindrance forever. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory…” (1 Corinthians 15:42, 43a).
(In our next Lighthouse article—October—we will consider two more characteristics of our future resurrected bodies from 1 Corinthians 15:43, 44.)