I played in a 3-vs-3 tournament last weekend and it was a ton of fun. I also played with my 3-year-old niece last night on some gymnastics loops where she jumped onto my chest and clung tightly as I swung around. My body was entirely sore for days after playing 5-6 games at the basketball tournament, and I woke up this morning with aches in my arms after swinging my niece. I could attribute the pain to my lack of working out the past 2 weeks or I could theologize my pain by blaming my deteriorating health on the Fall. Regardless, there is something that we recognize as we engage in physical activity or simply in the passing of time. What we recognize is that our current bodies are subject to wearing out, growing old, sickness, and disease. Our present bodies will not be completely healthy and strong forever.
In the midst of Paul explaining the importance of the resurrection of Christ from the grave, Paul describes that a result of Christ’s resurrection is our own personal resurrection from the grave, save we are found to be in Christ. Paul expounds on this idea by showing how we will have resurrected bodies. He breaks down what our resurrected bodies will be like in four simple ideas. These ideas can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44:
What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.
A perishable body is a body that will deteriorate to the point of disintegration. An imperishable body, on the other hand, is a body that will not. See how Wayne Grudem describes the imperishable body: “They will be completely healthy and strong forever. Moreover, since the gradual process of aging is part of the process by which our bodies now are subject to ‘corruption,’ it is appropriate to think that our resurrection bodies will have no sign of aging, but will have the characteristics of youthful but mature manhood or womanhood forever… Our resurrection bodies will show the fulfillment of God’s perfect wisdom in creating us as human beings who are the pinnacle of his creation and the appropriate bearers of his likeness and image. In these resurrection bodies, we will clearly see humanity as God intended it to be.”
When we are raised, we will be raised as the beautiful human beings that God created originally. Wayne Grudem helps out again: “When this term is contrasted with ‘dishonor,’ as it is here, there is a suggestion of the beauty or the attractiveness of appearance that our bodies will have. Moreover, because the word ‘glory’ is so frequently used in Scripture of the bright shining radiance that surrounds the presence of God himself, this term suggests that there will also be a kind of brightness or radiance surrounding our bodies that will be an appropriate outward evidence of the position of exaltation and rule over all creation that God has given to us.”
To have a body that does not lose energy will be an extravagant thing. Our bodies are weak compared to the body we will have. Dr. Grudem details: “Our resurrection bodies will not only be free from disease and aging, they will also be given fullness of strength and power — not infinite power like God, of course, and probably not what we would think of as ‘superhuman’ power in the sense possessed by the ‘superheroes’ in modern fictional children’s writing, for example, but nonetheless full and complete human power and strength, the strength that God intended human beings to have in their bodies when he created them.”
A Spiritual Body
In thinking that our resurrection body will be a “spiritual body,” we may be mistaken to think that it will not also be physical. This is not the case, though. Finally, the distinguished professor from Phoenix Seminary, Dr. Wayne Grudem expounds: “In the Pauline epistles, the word ‘spiritual’ seldom means ‘nonphysical’ but rather ‘consistent with the character and activity of the Holy Spirit.’ The RSV translation, ‘ It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body,’ is misleading, and a more clear paraphrase would be, ‘It is sown a natural body subject to the characteristics and desires of this age, and governed by its own sinful will, but it is raised a spiritual body, completely subject to the will of the Holy Spirit and responsive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.’ Such a body is not at all ‘nonphysical,’ but it is a physical body raised to the degree of perfection for which God originally intended it.”
By understanding our current warped, fleshly bodies, we cannot help but to look forward to receiving the bodies that God originally intended all humans to have. A body that does not deteriorate, is truly beautiful, is not worn down by activity, and is completely subject the Spirit of God’s guidance will be truly spectacular. The restoration of the life and bodies that we should have will be a joyful experience. Timothy Keller describes the joy of resurrection in his splendid book The Reason for God like this:
“The biblical view of things is resurrection — not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.”
So take heart and take hope in the face of present trials and difficulties, there is a joy and a glory that will be received upon our resurrection. About this glory, C. S. Lewis wrote:
“They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”
This week’s devotional was written by Kasey Clark. He is the High School Bible Teacher at Traders Point Christian Academy. Kasey is also an aspiring pastor and currently serves as a church planting intern at New Circle Church in Downtown Indianapolis. He loves digging deeper into theology and helping his church family do the same.