TEXT : 1 Corinthians 15: 35-58
TITLE: Our Resurrection !
Date : 15th April 2012
This is the first Sunday after Resurrection Sunday. Last week we saw and affirmed the resurrection to be a central doctrine and a foundation stone for our faith (1 Cor 15:3-11). Paul reminds us that because Christ lives we , who hope in Him, shall also live even if we must first die. Christ is the first-fruits of those that are resurrected from the dead (15:20-23). So , we cannot leave this 15th Chapter without saying something about our own resurrection since, in fact, Paul addresses this specific subject of our bodily resurrection of in verses 35-58.
Why is the subject important? Because it is something that you, dear believer will experience in the future! It is as certain as your death. Paul connects your death and resurrection as inseparable twins : “ For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive .”  (v.22)
Before we work through our text, I want to make a vital connection of the resurrection with the other doctrines that lead to our salvation. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he speaks about a process that leads up to our resurrection . In Romans 8:30 he writes (the context : “our future Glory“ vv 18-30) : “And those whom He predestined He also called , and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” God is involved in the Christian’s life from eternity unto eternity. He begins the work of our salvation with our predestination, and our predestination is made real in the effectual calling with which we are first called and raised from our spiritual death (Eph 2:1) and which then issues in our justification (being declared righteous before God in Christ- e.g. Rom 8:1) before we are glorified (i.e. when we receive our resurrection bodies).
Exposition : 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
The question is posed by someone: … “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”
Now remember that there has been some skepticism expressed by some in the Corinthian church concerning the doctrine of the resurrection (v.12). So there is that background to keep in mind , but it is shared by many in our day who find it equally difficult to believe that we can be resurrected to life from the dust to which we return after death.
Here is Paul’s answer:  You foolish person! [literally “ you mindless person” (Gr “aphron” ) ] Not a very tactful response, but it shows what an essentially stupid question this was in his estimation. This is elementary stuff ; common sense! Here is his explanation based upon a common sense illustration from agriculture : “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.” The point is simple. You put a seemingly dead seed taken from a plant that has died, and you put it into the ground. After a while this little seed springs up and produces new life and fruit and so Paul reasons , that our body which dies and is put into the soil will soon arise to new life by the power of God. But Paul is not yet finished with this illustration!
 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.  For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.  There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. 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 natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. In summary: Paul makes the point that the resurrection body will be of a human form. It will not assume another form or different order. Mankind will remain mankind in eternity. This puts the Hindu idea of reincarnation, from one form into another ( e.g. from a human being into an hippo) out of question. However, it is also clear that the nature of the resurrection body will differ from the one that we have presently. From v. 42 onwards, Paul explains: the resurrection body will not be perishable, but it will be imperishable. It cannot die again. There will be no dishonor attached to the resurrection body. It will have no physical weaknesses. It will not be like our ‘natural body’ (v.44). It will be a ‘spiritual body‘ .
To understand this analogy we must continue to follow Paul’s reasoning:
 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.  The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Paul, remember, had already introduced the analogy between Adam and Christ, the two representative men, in vv. 21-22. Here he uses the same analogy to make his point about the superiority of the resurrection body over that body which we presently have. We are taught here that the completion of the saving work in Christ, at the second coming and our resurrection will not simply restore mankind to the situation that existed in Eden before the Fall. We will not just be redeemed Adam and Eve’s! We will not bear the image of the man of dust. We will not have a body of earthly dust. Paul says that we shall now bear the image of the second man from heaven. We shall be constructed of material of which the heavenly man is composed (v.49). Therefore this carries us on to a still higher and more wonderful life. In fact, our present bodies would not be able to live in the state of heaven.
Listen to how Paul continues this argument:
 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  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.
In vv.50 -58 Paul comes to a few important conclusions:
(i) v. 50 : the bodies we now have are not adequate for the life of heaven.
(ii) v.51 There will also be a generation that will not experience physical death, who will be alive when Christ returns. These will be changed in an instant (a twinkling of an eye) and receive their resurrection bodies.
(iii) v.52 The dead will be raised at the sound of a trumpet and they will be raised imperishable.
(iv) v.53 explains this again: perishable bodies must become imperishable; mortal bodies must become immortal before they can go to heaven. As Philippians 3:21 explains, Christ will “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”
(v) vv.54,55 Death cannot be part of the future culture of heaven. Therefore death is defeated. This is what the prophets foresaw in Isa 25:8 and Hosea 13:14.
(vi) vv.56,57 Paul reminds us again firstly , that death came upon mankind because of sin. Secondly, the utterly holy, righteous law of God made it impossible for us to escape from our sin. Only Christ can help us here! Hence v.57 “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. “
(vii) v.58 Paul ends where he began in Chapter 15: (paraphrase) Therefore … hold on to the gospel which you have received brothers ! Wait for the resurrection, and because you know that it is coming you may continue to be steadfast , immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord , knowing that everything you do is not in vain !
About the intermediate state : It is somewhat surprising to note how little the Bible says about the intermediate state - that condition of existence between a Christian's death and the resurrection of the dead when our soul is not yet reunited with our body. Surprisingly, Paul says nothing about the soul after death and before the resurrection here. But then , for him the great day is not our day of death, but the day of the resurrection of the body.
We can say therefore that the intermediate state is not a ‘ natural state’ for us. We were not created for a disembodied existence. This is a temporal state. We were created to be body and soul, and therefore after death we will not be complete until that time when we will be clothed with our resurrection body. The resurrection is therefore our glorification ( see Rom 8:30) - the fulfillment and the completion of our salvation and the eternal life that we have in Christ.
How will we experience that intermediate state? Again , the Bible says very little about this. Paul however uses an interesting metaphor for this period. He speaks of those that ‘fall asleep‘ (1 Cor 15:18, 20, 51) . Some  have for this reason have constructed a doctrine of ‘soul-sleep’ i.e. that we will be in a state of sleep like, unconscious existence between our death and the resurrection. The problem is that this does not seem to be true to Scripture. The dead generally appear to be very much alive! A few examples will suffice: Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ on the Mt. of Transfiguration in recognizable form (Matt 17:3) ; The rich man and Abraham recognized each other and had a conversation after death ( Lk 16:19ff); Samuel was recognized when he was called up by the witch of Endor (1 Sam 28:12); The dead in Christ in Rev.6:9 who are seen by John as under the altar are very conscious of what is happening. The place of the dead in the OT (Sheol) is a state of conscious existence – although not a happy one! ‘Sleep’ is therefore used metaphorically , just like the reference to the human body being ‘a seed’ that is sown back into the earth. We must not get too hung up about this period of existence , because Paul doesn’t . His big point is that human beings which God had created, were designed by Him to have bodies. The body ‘now’ is called a natural body; the body then is called a spiritual body. The identity is your body . You are a body and your body is you. And if Christ saves you, then He saves not only your soul, but your body also.
This leaves us obviously with a number of further questions, and I am not sure that we can answer any of them with utter certainty : What will my appearance be like? Will I look precisely the way that I look now ? Will we keep our identity ? Will we recognize one another ? Jesus’ resurrected body is the model for ourselves. He remained recognizable, but undeniably, the nature of His body had changed. It was not subject to the laws of nature. For instance, He could appear and disappear as He pleased.
How old will we be? The Bible doesn’t say . All we can say is that time is no factor in eternity .
What about marriage ? Jesus in response to this question actually told the Sadducees in Lk 20: 34-38, that there will be no marriage in heaven and it seems that there will be no procreation in heaven , for no one can die after the resurrection (Lk 20:36).
The Resurrection Day is also the Judgment Day. When Christ returns not only will He resurrect His people, but all people ( the living and the dead- all that have ever lived and who are alive at Christ's coming ) will be raised to eternal life . This is what Jesus said in John 5:28-29: “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
For those who die without Christ, the Resurrection Day is a day of despair. It is the final judgment. There is no second chance. In their resurrected bodies, unreconciled people must face the eternal wrath of God. This aspect of Christ's teaching offends many and is often cited as the primary reason for many rejecting the gospel. However we must keep in mind that all this is also part of Jesus' teaching , and we do not have the liberty to choose whatever we like and reject what ever we like of His teaching about the eternal state and destiny of mankind. He had certainly given ample warning and calls of repentance to mankind.
So, hear this once again ! Once your death comes, your eternal state is sealed . There is no doctrine of a second chance after death . There will be no turning back then. Everything is contingent upon your attitude towards Christ now !
Hear what John 3:16-18 has to say: Here is both an invitation and a warning :
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
Where are you going to spend eternity ?
 This text does not encourage “universalism” i.e. that all will be ultimately redeemed and resurrected in Christ . The text teaches mankind’s union in Adam , whose original sin we all inherit ; Being made alive in Christ refers to the calling/ election of believers alone , and does not apply to all of mankind .
 see also Jn 11:11 ( Lazarus ) ; Acts 7:60 ( Stephen) ; 1 Thess 4:13-15
 E.g. Seventh Day Adventists