Resurrection of the Flesh

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“So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power!” ~1 Corinthians 15:42-43

Christians believe in the resurrection of the body, not the immortality of the soul. The resurrection is a physical, bodily resurrection. When Jesus was raised, God didn’t leave his body in the tomb. The Scriptures go out of their way to show us this. After the resurrection, the first thing Jesus did with his disciples in all four biblical accounts is eat and drink with them to prove he was not just a spirit. He even says it in bright red letters, “Look, I’m not a ghost! A ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones!”

You’re not going to be an angel. You’re not going to be a ghost. No matter how much you threaten it or how badly you want it, you’re not going to be able to haunt anybody after you die.

1 Corinthians 6 says “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead and he will raise us also.” Romans 8 tells us we’re looking forward to the redemption of our bodies, not redemption from our bodies. God’s physical, fleshly, earthly creation is good; it’s very good. He’s not going to destroy the world, he’s redeeming it. He’s not going to destroy your body; he’s going to raise it and restore it.

There’s this very pagan, very Greek, and now very Western belief — conviction, really — that our true selves are our spirits. My true self is my soul and my body is just a temporary shell. My true self, my spirit, is trapped in my body and some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away! Like a bird flying away from prison bars, my soul will leave my body and I’ll live forever as a spirit, my true eternal self. So my body dies, but I really don’t. I continue to live on and pass over to the spiritual realm where I came from and where I really belong.

That is not what Christians believe.

We talk like it, though. We’ll look into a casket at a funeral and say, “That’s not really him. That’s just his body.” Or we’ll say, “She’s not really dead. Her spirit never died.”

That’s not true.

That kind of thinking and talking denies the terrible reality of death. The Bible never pretends that death’s not that big a deal because we don’t actually die, we just “pass on” to our new kind of living. According to Scripture, death is real and total and dreadful. Our Lord didn’t face death with the calmness of somebody just taking a trip to the other side. He faced it with loud cries and tears that God would spare him from death. He sweat blood in the garden and begged God to avoid death.

Death is hideous and terrible because it means the end of us. Scripture calls death the awful enemy, not the welcome friend.

Our hope is not the indestructibility of our bodies or the immortality of our souls. Our hope is in the creative power of God Almighty! Our God calls things that are not as though they are and he makes the dead live again! Our hope is not in some internal capacity we have within ourselves, it’s in the power of God who raised Jesus from the grave and promises to do the exact same thing for us!

Peace,

Allan

2 Comments

  1. This is an actual question – not just a hard count. Is it ok to given any useful organs away and then be cremated? It’s a lot cheaper than being buried.

  2. The universally understood doctrine of the resurrection of the body was the main reason the Church did not cremate for hundreds of years. The immortality of the soul and the disposability of the body is a Gnostic teaching and was strongly condemned by the Church for centuries. How we Western Christians have come to regard as accepted truth the immortality of the soul would take several long and tedious posts. But it’s the main reason — cost is another — that cremation is more and more accepted among Christians. There’s a thought that the body is destroyed, it’s unimportant, and it’s not a factor in the ultimate resurrection and life everlasting. That thought is heresy.

    Personally, I have mixed feelings about cremation. They’re not strong feelings, and they change often. I’m all for donating organs to save and improve the lives of others; I’m a registered organ donor. And I would never advise someone against cremation. I would suggest, though, however one is buried, that the proper honor be given to the body that God created and calls “good,” and that the proper reflections on the fact that the body is going to be raised again are said and heard.

    We believe in the creative power of our God to raise our bodies and transform them into the glorified state of the current resurrected body of our Lord sitting even now at the right hand of our Father in heaven. That’s what we believe. God calls things that are not as though they are and he raises the dead back to life: the cremated and the “properly buried.”

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