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At the resurrection, the transformation of the body you have now into the body you will have will be instantaneous. All believers will receive this gift at the same time. What do we know about this new resurrection body? There’s continuity, but also changes. Here are four of them.
Four Changes with the Resurrection Body
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. (1 Corinthians 15:42)
Lazarus was raised from the dead (John 11), but the body he came back in was the same body, not a resurrection body, which meant that at some point he would have to go through the whole miserable business of dying again!
But Jesus rose in the power of an endless life (Hebrews 7:16), and he’s never going to go through death again, and neither will you in the resurrection. Your resurrection body, like his, will be a body that will never die. Your resurrection body will never age, and it will never decline.
People say you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, but in the resurrection the wisdom of maturity will be combined with the strength of youth. All of Christ’s people will flourish to their full potential.
It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. (1 Corinthians 15:43)
Think about the face of Moses, when he came down the mountain after he had been in the presence of God. His face was shining. Why? Because he had been in the presence of the Lord of Glory.
Think about the transfiguration of Jesus: He goes up the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and their faith was strengthened with a preview of the future glory of Jesus! There was a brightness and a radiance about him. And there will be a brightness, a radiance, and a glory, not only around you, but in you (in the resurrection body).
It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. (1 Corinthians 15:43)
The [resurrection] body is going to have more energy, more physical capability, more stamina, more athleticism, more speed, more coordination, more durability than it ever had because we’re not going to need the body less, we’re going to need it more and use it more.¹
Think about what this will mean for all of our friends who have been restricted to wheelchairs, or have physical challenges that have restricted their lives in this world. What will it mean when finally and fully Jesus’ words will come true in all of their fullness? The blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the lame will walk.
The Garden of Eden offered scope for the pursuit of art in all its creativity, the pursuit of science in all its forms, and technology as well as theology. The same will be true of the world to come.
Donald Macleod says it well:
Not only the Creator but the Creation, too will be an object of wonder to the redeemed. It will challenge their intellects, fire their imaginations, and stimulate their industry. The scenario is a thrilling one: brilliant minds in powerful bodies in a transformed universe.²
If you work out at the gym, and you want to engage someone in conversation, try asking them, “How would you like to have a really strong body, a really powerful body?” Then you can tell them, “You will have one on the resurrection!” I guarantee if you ask them this question, though, at first they’ll think you’re trying to sell them some kind of supplements!
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:44)
I use the word “godly” here, because the word “spiritual” is often misunderstood. A “spiritual” body! What is that? That doesn’t sound like a body in which you could go bungee jumping, snorkeling, or snowboarding!
The resurrection body is a physical, material, flesh-and-bones body. When Paul speaks about a spiritual body, he’s speaking about a body that is fully responsive to the Holy Spirit. That is a marvelous thought! In the resurrection body, you will never feel or think or say, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Your resurrected body will be as eager to do the will of God as your redeemed spirit.
Here’s what you have to look forward to in the new heaven and the new earth: A body that is adapted to life forever and will never decline, a body that is glorious and powerful, a body that is fully responsive to the Holy Spirit.
How to Live in the Light of Your Resurrection Body
Recognize that you are wholly owned by Jesus Christ.
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Christ has the right to determine where you live, what you do. He bought you with his own blood, and over every area of your life, Jesus Christ says, “Mine.” You are not your own! Your life is his to spend, and the great calling of your life is to glorify him.
Be done with everything that defiles your body or your soul.
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
“Since we have these promises,” not “since we have these rules.” He could have appealed to the law, but he is going for a higher motivation.
There is a glorious future for your mind, so use your mind in a way that glorifies God. Don’t pollute your mind! Fill your mind with what is pleasing to God.
It’s the same with your body. Don’t use your body as a vehicle for sin (Romans 6:13). Use your eyes, ears, hands, and feet in ways that honor Christ. Let your tongue speak words of kindness. Let your hands be a means of helping (not hurting) others.
Offer your whole self to God.
I appeal to you…brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
It is common in church circles to speak about “giving your heart to Jesus.” We understand what is meant by this, but the obvious question is: Why should it only be your heart? It’s not enough to say that your heart is in the right place. God wants more than your heart.
“Present your bodies.” The body is what gives us the capacity to act. Spend your strength in ways that honor Christ! This is the greatest motivation for living a sacrificial life. One of the implications of the doctrine of the resurrection is that you don’t have to worry half as much about your bucket list; you can afford to live sacrificially. You can afford to lay down your life if need-be.
The new earth will be better than the earth we have now. The resurrection body will be better than the body you have now. And you will have forever to savor the pleasures that God has in store for you.
That is the whole basis on which the Christian can say, “I will spend my life doing everything that you call me to do in this world until I see your face.” Otherwise, you will live another life, because you didn’t really believe in the resurrection.
Never give in to discouragement!
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
“Therefore…” Because you will soon savor the joys of life in the resurrection body. Because your struggles with sin in this world will soon be over. Because the weariness that comes with being stretched to the limit will soon be a thing of the past. Because you are pressing toward the resurrection…
Keep giving yourself to everything that God is calling you to do. Don’t hold back in any way!
Do it with joy, and do it knowing that if even a cup of cold water will not go without its reward, you can be sure that a life of faith laid down in service for Jesus Christ will be a life that cannot be lived in vain.