I have a friend. She became somewhat confused about the subject of the resurrection of the Dead and asked, “Gideon, a godly person who dies is said to go to heaven immediately. If that be the case, how can we reconcile this with the scripture in First Thessalonian four that says the dead in Christ shall rise first, if these same dead had risen immediately they died?”
I responded to her question by stating explicitly what part of man goes to heaven immediately after death. That when a man dies, his spirit that has a soul goes to God for judgement (Ecclesiastes 3:21; Hebrews 9:27). If he is of Christ and died in Christ, that spirit goes to heaven; else, he goes to hell. But the body of the dead remains in the grave (or wherever it is – sea, fire, ashes etc.), awaiting the resurrection. She then sorted further clarification by asking, “Was that what Paul meant when he said in First Corinthians fifteen forty-two that the body is sown in corruption, dishonour, weakness and a natural body but raised in incorruption, glory, power and a spiritual body?”
I responded by saying, “Exactly! The resurrection is all about the body. The birthing of a new body. It’s when the salvation of the body will take place. At salvation, our spirit was saved (John 3:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Our soul is being saved (James 1:21), a process which will be completed when Christ comes. And at the rapture, our bodies will be saved (2 Corinthians 5:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).” Then light came. She was awed. And grateful.
Then it occurred to me that some may lack insight into the concept of the salvation of the body and the resurrected body.
The salvation of the body is the believer’s hope. The Living Bible puts Second Corinthians five verses one and two thus, “For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies — we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God himself and not by human hands. How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies that we shall put on like new clothes.”
We would get new bodies (spiritual, incorruptible) in the resurrection. It is called the salvation of the body, and it is still futuristic. It would happen when Christ shall come to rapture His church. The body we currently wear is a natural one. It is called the body of sin (Romans 6:6; 7:18, 23;). It is of this world, has its limitations, can be weary, sick and destroyed.
Some believers think they can get to some supernatural height in their walk with God when their bodies will cease to be natural and they would no longer grow weary or faint. There’s no such thing! I’m not saying the spirit of God cannot come on a believer and quicken his physical body to do supernatural things. In fact, this should be a common occurrence among us, like we see in Bible days. But bear in mind that the body has its limits, because it’s still natural. It needs rest. But when we take up our spiritual bodies, all the physical restraints experienced by our natural bodies will be done away with.
If you ever get confused, or are lacking clue as to how your resurrected body would look like, then look to Christ. He already has His resurrected body. When did He get His? After His resurrection.
I came across an article about the glorified body of Christ that stated that the body of Christ before and after His resurrection was the same. I do not completely agree with this based on what I find in God’s word. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, He had the same body like you do now. A natural body. Romans eight verse three says God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. It meant Jesus had the body of sin like you currently do. The difference is that He kept it subjected to His spirit, and hence He did not sin.
Some may counter, “Don’t tell me Jesus didn’t have a supernatural body when he was on earth! How then did He walk on water? And all the other supernatural things He did in the flesh? How could a natural body accomplish them?” I’d respond by saying He did those supernatural things because His mortal body was used as an instrument, being under subjection to the spirit of God. But may I quickly remind you that the body of Christ grew weary and he needed to rest at the well in Samaria. He was hungry and His disciples got Him food. His body didn’t want Him to go to the cross in the garden of Gethsemane, but He finally put it under and did the Father’s will.
After Jesus’ resurrection, He had a resurrected body. This was different from his physical body because it was spiritual, immortal. But it was as real as His physical body. It bore His same identity. The disciples could recognise Jesus by His body. When He appeared to them in the upper room in Luke’s gospel chapter twenty-four, they were terrified because they thought He was a spirit. He allayed their fears, saying He wasn’t just a spirit. He was real. Real to both the physical and spiritual worlds.
To prove this, Christ asked them to touch Him. They felt His body. They could put their fingers in the holes created by the nails on the cross. He went further to ask them if they had food, which they brought. He sat with them and they ate together. Then it dawned on them that Christ was real. He was risen. They were not looking at the spirit of someone who had died. They were seeing someone who had a spirit and soul, in a resurrected body, different from theirs.
This resurrected body was different from theirs. It was incorruptible, glorious, with no physical restraint. It had no weakness but rather exuded power. It could not sin, neither was it a source of temptation. No person before Christ had ever worn this resurrected body. He was the first of His kind. And we would put on that same resurrected body in the resurrection, when Christ comes for His church in the rapture. That is, and should be, the believer’s hope.
So, the next time you get confused about the resurrection of the dead, or how your resurrected body would look like; look to Christ.