Sunday, January 23, 2011

Need A New Body?

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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NKJV

To be completely honest, when I was a young believer in my twenties the idea of getting a new body when I got to Heaven never made that big of an impression on me. I mean, it's not a bad idea but at twenty something I was pretty satisfied with the body I had. Now of course, my thinking has changed dramatically. Instead of comparing my body to a new sports car, it's beginning to look a lot like an old antique someone has to invest a lot of time and money into just to keep roadworthy. Yet by study of the scriptures, we find that this body was designed to live forever.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 NKJV

Man was not created to die, but to live forever. Ray Stedman, in his study of this passage says this;
“...all the Biblical evidence points to the fact that Adam was created an immortal being. That does not mean someone who cannot die, because Adam did die. That means someone who need not die.
Jesus Christ was also an immortal being. He did not need to die, and he did not die by any effort of man. He said, "I have power to lay down my life and l have power to take it again," (John 10:17-18). He did not die because of the effects of crucifixion -- he died because, on the cross, he dismissed his spirit by an executive act of his own will. He laid down his life in that way.” (1)

So what happened? Of course we know, by man's choice, sin entered into the world.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— Romans 5:12 NKJV

As a result, our physical bodies became “corrupted”, and according to Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, cannot enter into, or experience all there is to experience, in Heaven. So what exactly is the difference between our old corrupted bodies and the new uncorrupted ones we will receive at the rapture when “we shall all be changed”? Will we look the same? Younger or older? I'm not sure we can know everything there is to know about our new bodies, but I think the Bible can answer at least some of these questions for us.

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
Matthew 17:1-4 NKJV

The word here for transfigured is metamorphoō, which literally means to change into another form. Yet notice something interesting; although Jesus was changed the disciples still recognized Him. Especially interesting is that they recognized Moses and Elijah whom they had never before met! Nowhere does it say Jesus introduced them, yet they knew who they were! How is that possible? Well, I don't know but I think this tells us that we will know who everybody is in Heaven, even though we have never met them, and certainly our physical appearance will be recognizable as compared with the one we carry now. Another interesting passage is this one from Luke which I'm sure you will recognize.

Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?" So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.
Luke 24:36-43 NKJV

Now I'm sure all of understand that there is another dimension surrounding us that we simply are not able to see into, much less pass into. We understand that we are surrounded by angels, but certainly can't see them unless like Jesus did, they appear in our world. In his article, “Some Notes About Heaven”, Lambert Dolphin puts it this way; We ought not to think of the heavenly abode of God as remote--far beyond the most distant stars. According to the Bible, heaven is really another dimension of reality--commonly what we call the spiritual dimension. The material world is in fact immersed and embedded in the spiritual world. Therefore heaven is neither far away, nor remote and inaccessible. (2)

So obviously with our new bodies we will be able to pass between different dimensions just as Jesus did. That does not, however, make us a spirit rather than having a physical form. Do you notice that although the disciples thought they were seeing a spirit, Jesus goes to great lengths to show them He had physical form? He tells them to “handle” Him, meaning to touch and feel so that they could know He had an actual body. Even then they did not believe so He goes even further by asking for food and then eating in their presence. We may be changed, but we will still have the ability to touch, feel, sense, and even eat just as we do now.

We might also here have a clue as to what age we might appear as with our new bodies. We know Jesus was crucified when He was 33, and when He appeared to the disciples they recognized Him. Since Jesus had the ability to move between dimensions, we know He was wearing His new, “transformed” heavenly body. If the disciples recognized Him as looking like He did when He was with them only a few days before, does this mean He appeared as the same age He was when He was crucified? Personally I think so, and although the Bible doesn't say we will all look like we did (or will) at thirty-something, there is a part of me that finds this not only appealing, but somewhat logical. After all, that's what Jesus looked like with His new body.

Another thing that may surprise some of you is finding out that our new body is already complete and waiting for us in Heaven.

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NKJV

Though at first reading many might think the subject here is a an actual house, by studying the words and the context closely we find that what Paul is talking about here is our earthly bodies as compared to our heavenly bodies. The best part is the last verse which states that God has already prepared them for us. Our new bodies are in Heaven just waiting for the day we are changed! Again Ray Stedman says this; "The point Paul makes is that it is already ours in eternity. "We have," he says. Notice the present tense: Not, "We will have," "we have a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens," already there, waiting for us to put on. "In this present one," he says, "we groan, we long" for something better."(3)

Because of sin, there is no way the body we have now could ever enter into eternity with God. But by the sacrifice of His Son, we are given a way to receive a new body, incorruptible which can and will experience all that God has prepared for those who choose to believe. Accepting Jesus into our hearts and acknowledging the sacrifice He made for us allows us to receive the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that our new body awaits us in Heaven. When we hear the trumpet sound, Paul says that in the twinkling of an eye we will be changed, and receive our new bodies as we enter into eternity with God the Father. I can't wait!

Keep watching.

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