|(16b) Will we have bodies, know each other, and eat, in Heaven?|
|Book 30 LESSON ONE * PART I |
THE RESURRECTION COMPLETE
I CORINTHIANS 15:35-16:24
I know you are probably getting tired of I Corinthians Chapter 15, but it's such a loaded chapter. So we hope that you take your Bible, and follow along with us. It's still the greatest Book ever written, and once you learn how to separate the Scriptures it becomes so enjoyable A lot of folks are finding out that when you separate what God said, and what He does with Israel, and what He does for us Gentiles, and completely separate the two; then this Book just becomes so understandable and not all that difficult.
Let's go back where we left off in the last lesson in verse 35. Remember this whole chapter is dealing with resurrection, and also that there is no other religion on the planet which has resurrection as the very basis of their beliefs. This is so unique to Christianity, that the very core of everything that we believe, and everything that The Bible teaches, is based on this doctrine of resurrection. This life does not end at the grave, but rather there is also a life for eternity. The way we can enjoy that eternal existence is that every believer is to experience a Biblical resurrection. And again I have to stress over and over, the word `resurrection' does not refer to someone who has died and been brought back to life, such as the widow's son, and Lazarus in Christ's earthly ministry. They were not resurrected; they were just simply called back from the dead, and they died again. But resurrection began with The Lord Jesus Himself as He was the first ever to be resurrected. And that means He died, and rose from the dead never again to die, and it was for all eternity. We will see then in these succeeding verses that this is the same eternal life that we experience the moment we have believed the Gospel. Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4.
I Corinthians 15:35
"But some man will say, `How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?'"
I had a call recently where a gentlemen asked that same question, "When resurrection happens what are we going to be like? Are we just going to be invisible spirit beings, or are we going to be like angels?" But you see he's not alone, and I'm not faulting him at all. Remember even Paul was also constantly bombarded, "Well how, if we're going to be resurrected, are we going to exist? What's it going to be like?" Well we are going to be eternally existing in a body, but it's not going to be the same flesh and blood body like we have now; it will be on the same order. I think the best illustration I can give of our resurrected body is The Lord Jesus in His 40 days after His resurrection. So basing that on Scripture let's turn to the Book of Philippians where this same Apostle Paul (and he's the only one that does) gives us a real detailed explanation of resurrection. Now the Old Testament saints believed in resurrection, we know that Job used that expression:
"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God."
When David lost the child from Bathsheba as a result of the adultery, he wept and fasted for seven days, but finally came to the realization:
II Samuel 12:23
"But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
So David also understood that there was resurrection. But now as Paul just enlarges on all of the questions that people have concerning resurrection, he lays it out so clearly. But here in the Book of Philippians, I just love these two verses in Chapter 3, they are so simple:
"For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; (remember the Book of Colossians says, `we've already been translated into the kingdom of heaven.') from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
Do you see how plain that is? So all we really have to take time to study is those 40 days after His resurrection, and before His ascension from the Mount of Olives, and we're going to do that in just a moment. But before we leave Paul's reference to all of this, let's go to the Book of Ephesians Chapter 1, to another couple of verses that I just love to teach because so many hearts have been opened by my simple reading of the verses. I haven't had to comment on these verses, but rather just as I read them it was if all of a sudden I saw something that I had never seen before, so I do like to read these two verses.
"In whom (Christ of verse 12) ye also trusted, (placed your faith) after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: (see the core of eternal life is believing the Gospel) in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest (or down payment) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
If you analyze that verse, the first thing you should ask is, "Well I thought I was already redeemed." We are, but what part of us is not yet redeemed? The body. It's still prone to the same pain and accident, and sins as the unbeliever. So what is the down payment going to assure? That even this body, this physical body, of which the soul and spirit are a part of, will be redeemed. But at death of course we'll be separated from the body. Just don't forget about that old body, and say, "Well all God's concerned about is soul and spirit. Remember for eternity we have to be a complete entity. I explained this to someone the other day again, and told them to search the Scriptures, "Does any human being have any function as a complete entity, and that's the best word I can find for it, unless he is body, soul, and spirit?" No way, because all three of them are going to have to be brought back together before we can spend eternity in the presence of Christ.
So if we're a believer tonight then the soul and spirit has already been redeemed, absolutely, but the body is still unredeemed, it's still in the flesh, and under the curse. But the very presence of the Holy Spirit in our life as a believer is God's down payment that He's going to complete the whole transaction. He's not going to just redeem the soul and spirit, but rather body, soul, and spirit together. Now in light of that let's turn to Romans Chapter 8 for a moment. And these are another series of beautiful verses. I think that very few people really understand what these verses are talking about. Let's begin at verse 18.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons (or children, or the born ones) of God. For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, (curse) not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope," In other words the moment that the curse fell back in Genesis 3:15, God promised a Redeemer didn't He? Now this is all in reference to that. Now verse 21:
"Because the creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption (curse) into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (In other words all of creation is come under our rule and reign as we are joint-heirs with Christ.) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, (the bird and animals, trees and so forth) but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, (in other words our soul and spirit are redeemed) even we ourselves groan within ourselves,(we have a lot, but we don't have it all, now we're) waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
When that happens it will complete it, and that's exactly what he was referring to in Ephesians Chapter 1. That as a believer, our soul and spirit has already been redeemed, yet that in itself is just a down payment and that God will complete the transaction, and redeem and give us a new body.
The best way to get a glimpse of that new body is to take a look at Christ in His resurrection experience (those 40 days between His coming out of the tomb, and when He ascended there in Acts Chapter 1). So come back to Luke 24, verse 36 and read about that account. Now we're going to take our time, we're not going to rush through this, because this whole concept of resurrection is the very bulwark of our faith. Not only did Christ die for us, but He arose victoriously over sin, death, Hell, Satan, and all the rest. He is able to impart unto us then, this blessed hope of resurrection. Now verse 36. One of the disciples was missing, so the ten are meeting.
"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, `Peace be unto you.'" Now why did He have to say "Peace"? Well all of a sudden when He appeared right in front of them without benefit of a door or window, then naturally they, being human, were all shook up, probably half scared to death, and He had to settle them down with the word that He alone could use - "Peace be unto you." Now verse 37. But even with those words of comfort:
"But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. (or ghost) And he said unto them, `Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts?'"
Let's stop there for a moment. Could The Lord Jesus look right through their thinking? Sure He could, and He was seeing all those thoughts of fear. Now you want to remember although they had been in His company for 3 years they still didn't know He was going to be raised from the dead. Remember what Luke 18:33 and 34 says?
"And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things:..." Why? Because the Scripture says, it was hidden from them Sovereignly. Now it's the same way here in Luke 24. They should have known, we think, but on the other hand let's not blame them because God has providentially hidden a lot of these things from these men until a time that He has ordained that they understand.
"Behold my hands and my feet, (and He showed them to them. Now a ghost doesn't have hands and feet. He's not standing there fluttering in some mist. He is standing there visibly, physically.) that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, `Have ye here any meat?'" (or food)
Now this is going to be the proof positive. Up until now they still can't believe it's really the same Jesus that they had known a few days before. Now why was this so unbelievable to these people? I think that Isaiah tells us in Chapter 52 why.
"As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:"
So as He suffered that death on the Cross, He was more disfigured than any human being had ever been before. So take that into consideration when these people just can't believe what they're seeing. Because their last view of Christ on the Cross was something that didn't even appear human. But now He stands before them apparently whole with the exception of the wounds.
"And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them." That's what The Book says. And He ate in full view of these 10 disciples to prove to them now that he was a visible, resurrected Person. And that He had all of the physical attributes of even being able to eat.
"And he said unto them, `These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.' (now verse 45. Here is the secret of Biblical understanding even today. What did He do?) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures."
Then it all fell in place. That, yes, the Son of God must come in flesh, and must suffer, and die, shed His Blood as the supreme sacrifice for men's sin, and then be raised from the dead. Now they understood it all and the whole picture came together. But now I would like for you to come back up to verse 39 where He says:
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit (or ghost) hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
Now for a moment we need to follow up on that verse by coming all the way back to Genesis Chapter 9 where Noah has just come off the ark, and now God gives some new instructions. Now humans are going to be permitted to kill of living things and eat the meat. But along with that, He's going to put some stipulations. So let's begin with verse 3. God is conversing with Noah:
"Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat (food) for you, even as the green herb (which was mandated back in Genesis 1) have I given you all things. But flesh (meat) with the life thereof, which is the blood (now don't forget that fact) thereof, shall ye not eat."
Now we just read the secret. Every thing living in this economy, "The life is in the blood!" Whether it's in the animal kingdom, or the birds or humans the life is in the blood. So blood is the actual source of life that keeps that creature functioning. Now, with that in mind, let's come back to I Corinthians Chapter 15, and hopefully we can tie this all together. Let's begin with verse 50. Remember that Jesus said back in Luke 24, "Touch Me, handle Me, and see that I am flesh and bone."
I Corinthians 15:50
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."
Now put those two things in your mind. Over here in His resurrection appearance, Jesus said, "Handle me, look at me, see me physically in flesh and bone." What did The Lord leave out? Blood! Now here in this chapter you can see why it had to be only flesh and bone. You see, flesh and blood, as we are now, cannot go into eternity. And even The Lord Himself could not go into eternity with Blood. And so His resurrected body is devoid of Blood. It is flesh and bone. Also remember what the Book of Philippians says:
"Who (Christ) shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body...."
So our new body will be a body of flesh and bone, and that's going to make all the difference in the world. Now we may hit this a little bit in a later lesson, but jump up quickly if you will, in this same Chapter 15 to verse 45, and this will give us another thought. Now if we're going to go into eternity with flesh and bone, and no blood, yet the Book of Genesis tells us that life is in the blood, well, what is going to be the source of life in that eternal body?
I Corinthians 15:45
"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; (back there in Genesis when God breathed into him, and gave him the breath of life.) the last Adam (Christ) was made a (life-giving or) quickening spirit."
Now there's the secret. When we see that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom, but rather only flesh and bone then what has to be that life-giving substance that will keep the eternal body functioning? The Spirit. And it will be the Spirit of God Himself. Even now we are indwelt by the presence of the Holy Spirit, but not to the degree it will be in our eternal state. When we come into the eternal state of flesh and bone then the spirit will actually take over the role that the blood now has in our body. Life is in the blood in this physical existence. In the eternal existence life is going to be in the spirit. So this is the teaching that comes out of this great resurrection chapter. I'm amazed that Paul wrote in the beginning of this letter that these believers were carnal and that he couldn't give them meat, but rather milk. But yet at the end of this letter he comes out with the deep doctrine of our whole Christian experience, and that is resurrection. I haven't figured out how all this works yet, but I do know he suddenly shifts gears in this chapter and we get profound doctrines concerning our eternal state, and the resurrection of the dead. Always remember that the very core of our Christian belief is this power of resurrection. First in our salvation as Ephesians 2:1 puts it so plain.
"And you hath he quickened, (made us alive spiritually) who were dead in trespasses and sins:"
And Paul is talking about this life. In so many words we were raised from a dead spiritual existence to an existence that is filled with the Spirit of God, we have that new Divine Nature, we have all of these things that salvation brings working on our behalf, and all of this was unknown until we get to these writings of the Apostle Paul. So when you mull all these things over about our eternal state, the heart of it all is the resurrection.
LESSON ONE * PART II
THE RESURRECTION COMPLETE
I CORINTHIANS 15:35-16:24
We're going to jump right back in where we stopped in our last lesson, so we'll be turning to I Corinthians 15:35, and go on from there.
I Corinthians 15:35
"But some man will say, `How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?'"
Now in verse 36 Paul is going to come into another concept of resurrection, and that is, before something can live it has to die. And this, again, is a Pauline concept. You just don't find it that much any where else in Scripture. We'll go back of course to The Lord's earthly ministry but for the most part as a doctrinal teaching, you do not find it like we do here in the writings of Paul. So he says:
I Corinthians 15:36,37
"Thou fool, (in other words you foolish individual) that which thou sowest is not quickened, (or made alive) except it die. And that which thou sowest, (in agriculture, a grain crop) thou sowest not that body that shall be, but (what shall ye sow?) bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:"
Paul had to make it simple here so that people without a shadow of doubt can get things straight. In other words Paul is saying that when you plant something you don't plant the whole stalk of wheat, but rather the seeds. Now it stands to reason if you're going to plant the seed then you don't expect the seed to suddenly come up above the ground. What's going to come up first? The stalk. Paul is using that as a total illustration of our own resurrection experience.
I Corinthians 15:38
"But God giveth it (this grain) a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body."
Now of course that goes all the way back to Genesis where everything is confined to its own species. There is no such thing as crossing over from one totally different specie into another. Now we know we can hybridize but so far as sowing the seed of an apple and expecting to get an orange tree, that is just not going to happen. Now Paul say, "It's the same way in the flesh," as we see in verse 39.
I Corinthians 15:39-43
"All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: (in other words that which is out in space, and things that are here on the earth.) but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead, It is sown in corruption; (death) it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:"
Now we'll go back and see what The Lord Jesus said about in His own earthly ministry, and it's a portion that we've used often. So let's go back to John's Gospel Chapter 12 and let's begin with verse 20.. And of course this is just shortly before His crucifixion. In fact just a matter of hours. The crowds are already coming into Jerusalem from all over the Roman empire for the feast of Passover. And among that crowd were some Gentiles, some Greeks, and I always like to use the analogy that when we go to the wailing wall we just sort of stand back, and watch the Jews go through all of their rituals and their prayers. We're just outsiders, we're looking at all this. Well I think the same thing was taking place here. As all these Jews were getting ready for their sacrifices, and the feast of Passover there were some inquisitive Gentiles. So they are the Greeks in verse 20.
"And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, `Sir, we would see Jesus.' Philip (remembering that Jesus sort rebuffed the Gentiles in earlier experiences) cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. (well what did they tell Him? That there's some Greeks that want to talk with Him. Now look at Jesus' answer.) And Jesus answered them, saying, `The hour is come, (it's a matter of hours before He's on that Cross) that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily I say unto you, Except a corn (kernel) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.'" (or grain)
Now He's just simply saying that we, as gardeners or farmers, until we put that seed in the ground, nothing is going to happen. But the moment that seed is put into the ground and has moisture and sunlight - the first thing that seed has to do is die. It dies, it become corrupt, and out of that death comes the new stem out of which will come wheat, for example, hundreds of coronas. So this is the whole concept throughout all of God's creation. If you're aware of it, everything that you see in nature is constantly screaming the whole fact of resurrection. Every springtime when things began to shoot out of the ground and when you plant your crops and gardens, all of that is a reminder of the resurrection. Now when Jesus said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." What was Jesus referring to? His coming death, burial, and resurrection which was only a few days in the future.
And what Jesus is saying for these Gentiles was that He was not an object of their faith until He had experienced the work of the Cross. I try to stress to people that Christ in His earthly ministry was almost exclusive to the Nation of Israel.
"But he (Jesus) answered and said, `I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'"
Oh we know there were a couple of times, but His ministry was only to the Nation of Israel. But after experiencing the death, burial, and resurrection, now the Gospel of Grace can go to the whole human race as the finished work of the Cross is the object of our faith. Now coming back to I Corinthians 15 for just a moment we come down to the place in verse 42:
I Corinthians 15:42
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It (the body that has lived and died) is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:"(and power)
The reason that Paul has been led by the Holy Spirit to make so much of resurrection is that when Christ arose from the dead He exhibited more power than it took when He created the universe. And of course the reason being through His resurrection from the dead, He defeated, totally defeated, all the powers of Satan. He totally settled the sin debt for every human being that has ever lived. Remember the sins of every human being have already been atoned for. When people go to an eternal Hell it won't be God's fault. They just didn't capitalize on the Atonement. They didn't appropriate it. So that's what's going to make Hell so awful. They're suddenly going to realize that they are there because they chose to be. Not because an unfair God sent them there. A fair God has already declared those sins paid for at the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. And so it took all the power that God had at His disposal to raise Christ from the dead. And that's why it is the very bench mark of our salvation experience. So looking at the text again Paul tells us in verse 42 "that it is sown in corruption." Let's go back for a moment to Romans Chapter 6 and look at that. In this verse it's almost enough to make you smile as it's the same kind of language that is used. It's a different word but it means the same thing.
"For if (here's the condition) we have been planted (or sown) together in the likeness of his (Christ) death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"
Well what's it saying? Just as certainly as you plant two kernels of wheat side by side they're both going to come up the same. They're both going to be wheat. If we have been planted in the likeness of Christ's death, then we will be resurrected in Christ's likeness. So as we're planted together we come up in resurrection power together. Never that we become God. I always have to stress that. We will never become God, but we become the very manifestation of His resurrection power. Now come back again to I Corinthians. So we are sown in corruption. In other words, this old body, as soon as it dies, begins to go back to the earth, back to corruption. Now verse 43.
I Corinthians 15:43
"It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:"
Oh, as much as we love our loved ones as they lay there in that casket, and we mourn for their passing, yet death is our enemy. I think we all hate death. I hate even to lose an animal, it just tears me up to see an animal die. We hate the death of our loved ones. The unbelievers will never see their loved ones again. But we will. We're going to see them, we're going to know them. I've had a lot of questions from our television audience in that regard. My proof that we are going to know our love ones when we get to eternity is that experience that happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. When Peter, James, and John, and The Lord Jesus were there and suddenly with them was Moses and Elijah. Did the three disciples ask The Lord Jesus, "Who are these fellows?" Did they? No, because they knew, and here these two had lived a couple of thousands years earlier. So that tells me when we get to heaven we're going to recognize our love ones. We're going to know everybody. But nevertheless if we don't live to see the Rapture and have to go the way of death, we have this blessed hope that this body is going to be raised to a new life if we're a believer. And the whole concept of resurrection is just exactly that. That body of flesh has to die, and then be raised in resurrection power.
I Corinthians 15:44
"It is sown a natural body; (that which is born of the flesh) it is raised a spiritual body. (we can't go into eternity with flesh and blood) There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
Even though these two are eons apart, yet they are a lot alike. We are still going to have all the outward features that we have now, and we're going to be spiritual in that we now have eternal life instead of the promise of three score and ten. Now verse 45:
I Corinthians 15:45
"And so it is written, `The first man Adams was made a living soul; the last Adam (Christ) was made a quickening (or life giving) spirit.'"
Christ never stops being God. I know there are cults that deny the Deity of Christ, but that flies in the face of this Book. This Book says that He was Divine, He was Deity, He was God, and He never gave that up. In fact there's a verse in the Book of Hebrews that implies that even while He was in the womb, He was still God. And He never stopped being God. Now verse 46. It had to be that way because this is one of the rules of God in His manifestation with the human race. And that is all through Scripture; you have first the natural, and then the spiritual. Remember first Cain the natural and then Able the spiritual. Then there was Ishmael the natural, and then Isaac the spiritual. Esau the natural, and then Jacob the spiritual. First King Saul the natural, and then King David the spiritual. And it's this way all the way through Scripture to the very end of the Book where we find the appearance of the Anti-christ, the man of sin, the natural, and then the Second Coming of the true Christ, the spiritual. So this is one of the laws of Scriptures.
I Corinthians 15:46-48
"Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual but that which is natural: and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, (The first man was Adam, he was made of the earth he went back to the earth.) earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly."
We are earthy in our make-up although once we become a believer we are heavenly connected and our citizenship is in heaven, but we're still functioning, living, producing, and reproducing as physical earthly beings. Now verse 49:
I Corinthians 15:49
"And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
And this is where faith comes in. We believe it! Not because I can lay it out on a laboratory desk and pick it apart, but rather because this Book says so. We can believe it, we can trust it. It's the eternal Word of God. Now I know there's a lot in the news media about these Bible codes that these mathematicians in Israel are seemingly finding. But even that doesn't tell me anything more than I already knew. This Book is supernaturally put together. Every letter of this Book is in exactly the right place. We were discussing in our Tulsa class, "What is God's greatest controversy against mankind?" Well not man's immorality as much as God hates it, not his drunkenness as much as He hates it, nor stealing, but what does God hate most of all? "UNBELIEF" It just irks God to the core that man refuses to believe what He has said. And that's called FAITH!
In some of our Old Testament characters that was their problem. Esau for example - poor fellow, everybody feels sorry for him that he seemingly got conned out of the birthright and out of the blessing. No he didn't get conned. What was his problem? No faith. He couldn't believe a thing God said. Well for the most part the whole world is that way tonight. Now coming back to the test in I Corinthians 15:50:
I Corinthians 15:50
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."
Well that's easy enough to understand isn't it? You do not put a spiritual Body such as Christ's resurrected Body back in the tomb. That which goes into the grave is this old physical body which is already corrupt. It's prone to disease, failures, and it's that body of corruption that we bury and place in the ground. But when it comes out of the ground in resurrection power it's going to be a new body fashioned after Christ's glorious Body. Now let's go to Ephesians Chapter 1, and if I don't experience it in this life then I know I will in the next one. And this Paul's prayer on behalf of the believers.
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,..."
LESSON ONE * PART III
THE RESURRECTION COMPLETE
I CORINTHIANS 15:35-16:24
There is probably more on resurrection in this 15th Chapter than the rest of The Bible put together. It's interesting that Paul uses the word "mystery" that is so intrinsic to his writings. For example in verse 51:
I Corinthians 15:51
"Behold, I shew you a mystery;..."
This word `mystery' comes from the Greek word `musterion' which simply means `secret.' Those two words can be interchanged throughout Paul's letters when he says, "Behold, I shew you a mystery or secret." And when we speak of secrets we have to look at the Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 29. I like to use this verse especially when there's a reference to Paul's use of the word `mystery.' God in His Sovereignty has every right and reason to keep things secret as long as He wants to keep it secret. But once He reveals it then He expects mankind to believe it. Take it by faith! Another expression for faith is God said it and I believe it! or Taking God at His Word!
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
Now this was written for the Nation of Israel, but it still shows in the attributes of God that He has the prerogative to keep things secret. For example, look at Ephesians 3:1-9 things only revealed to Paul, and then for the Gospel of Salvation, Romans 16:25, I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10 which He kept secret until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul for us, the Body of Christ. For the Rapture of the Church was given only to the Apostle Paul. Look at I Corinthians 15:51-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. And there are many more examples given only to that great apostle for us. Remember God doesn't have to reveal secrets until He's ready. So this is one of the basic things it takes to understand the Word of God. He does not reveal everything all the way up, but rather at the right time. Now let's look for a moment at Luke Chapter 18. And here that is so evident that God actually, with the Twelve disciples, kept things secret from them that they did not understand until He was ready to reveal it. Remember this was at the end of His earthly ministry, just before they went up to Jerusalem.
"Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, `Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.' And they understood none of these things: (Well was The Lord speaking in some foreign language? No. Well why didn't they understand?) and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken." That was one of God's prerogatives to keep things hidden until it's time to reveal it.
As you come back to I Corinthians 15, Paul now says he is going to reveal a secret, or a mystery, which means it has never been revealed before. I can not emphasize this enough. All of these things that were wrapped up in that ball of knowledge, in that whole sphere of doctrines and revelations that have now come to us through this apostle, were for the most part, kept secret in the mind of God until He revealed them to the Apostle Paul. Paul makes reference to the fact that it was to him first that God revealed these things. God had the right to keep it secret. So keep that in mind now, that what He's now going to unveil to Paul had never been alluded to, or hinted at. It has certainly never been spoken, and that is that at a point toward the end of time there will be a group of believers who will not die physically.
I Corinthians 15:51
"Behold, I shew you a mystery: (secret) We shall not all sleep, (die physically) but we (remember Paul only writes to believers so he's not including the lost world here) shall all be changed,."
That is why I took so much time previously to show that our resurrected body is going to be fashioned after Christ's resurrection body, it's going to be a lot like our physical body, but it's going to be different. It's going to be a spiritual body without blood. It's going to be flesh and bone and going to be activated by the spirit. So Paul says, "there's coming a group of people who will not die physically, but they shall all be changed." And of course Paul writes as though it would happen in his lifetime. And so those of us who adhere to this line of teaching, we speak of it as the imminent coming of Christ for the Church, which means it could be tonight; it may be tomorrow, it may be ten years from now, but we are to expectantly look for it at any time. There is no set prophetic program that must be fulfilled for this event to take place.
Now contrary to the Rapture of the Church you have a completely different event in the "Second Coming" when Christ actually comes to the Mount of Olives (we'll be looking at this soon) in fulfillment of the second coming that will have prophetic events leading up to it, so by these events there will no doubt when He will be coming to the Mount of Olives. But for the Rapture of the Church there are no prophetic signs, there is nothing to indicate at what day or year that we can expect this to happen. Now let's read on:
I Corinthians 15:52
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump for trumpet (singular) shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." We shall be changed from this body of corruption to a body of incorruption in that split second at the trumpet call.
I Corinthians 15:53
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal (this body that is prone to death) must put on immortality."
This body we have now must lose the flesh and blood concept, and become flesh and bone, and be activated by the Spirit. Let's talk a little about the trumpet. Let's go back to Revelation Chapter 8, and look at the trumpet. This is the one that people are always throwing up to me. For some reason or other the best of people want to tie the trump of God in Paul's teaching concerning the Rapture, with these trumpets in Revelation which will occur about the mid-point of the Tribulation. But let me point out something.
"And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given (not the trump of God singular, but rather were given) seven trumpets." (plural)
Now that's a big point I think. These are not the trump of God, these are angelic trumpets. The angels are going to blow these seven trumpets. Now comparing Scripture with Scripture look at Chapter 15 again of I Corinthians. The seven angelic trumpets can no way shape or form, as I understand language, be a part of the trump (singular) of God Himself. In other words God has a trumpet reserved for just this event and this alone "the calling out the Body of Christ." Now the Roman army, I think, used the trumpet to put out commands much like our American calvary used to (when the soldier blew the trumpet the ones in the very far distance would know what the command was). I think it was the same way in the Roman army. When the battle was over and the Romans were victorious, and the generals wanted to let the legionnaires know "we're going home to Italy" then that was the trumpet call that every legionnaire could be exulted by. And what a message from that trumpet. "The battle is over, we've won, and we're going home." Every soldier gets excited about going home.
Well you see that's where we are. We are in a battle, and even the press and Congress are finally waking up to the fact that Christianity world-wide is coming under ferocious attacks. Persecution is rampant against Christians, it's become warfare, and it's going to get worse. My what a joy it will be to hear that trumpet call, "The battle is over, come on home, and we're going to be out of here." I believe that with all my heart. We're getting closer and closer to the day when that trumpet call will take us out of this existence and we will suddenly, as Paul says, "be changed." Now in order to get the full picture of all this we have to go over to the corresponding portion in I Thessalonians Chapter 4. This is just an extension of this revelation of this part of the mystery which he now refers to "as being caught up." Now I've had a lot of people try to corner me by saying, "Well Les, the word `Rapture' isn't in my Bible." Of course it isn't in there, not in the English anyway, but we're going to see in a little bit two words in the Greek that mean the same thing, so what's the big deal.
I Thessalonians 4:13,14
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, (died physically) that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, (that's the Gospel that saves you, and it was also given to Paul as a mystery. If we believe the Gospel to the place where God has now imparted salvation. If we believe the Gospel) even so them also which sleep (or have died) in Jesus will God bring with him."
Now verse 14 is another one of those scriptures where Jesus and God are synonymous. It's the same God, the same Jesus. Let's look at that a little more in the Book of Ephesians. We're not going to look at all of them but if I'm not mistaken there are 96 prepositional phases, "In Christ, In Whom, In Him" speaking of Christ Himself in the Book of Ephesians. But we will look at a few of them.
"Paul, and apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesians, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:"
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,..." Do you see what I'm talking about? Over and over you have this prepositional phrase. Let's look at a couple more.
"That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted,..."
So all the way through these 6 chapters you have 96 times, if I'm not mistaken, this prepositional phrase which is our position in Christ or the Body of Christ. Now back to I Thessalonians, and let's pick up again with the Rapture of the Church. So those of us who are in Christ, they have been baptized into the Body by the Holy Spirit, not with water but rather by the power of the Spirit. So we are in Christ. And if those kind of people are already dead they will be raised in resurrection power, but that body that's raised in resurrection power is still void of the soul and spirit remember because they separated at physical death. So what does God have to do to get it back into one entity again? Well the soul and spirit of that believer is already in glory, and the body is in the grave. Although it just came to me to tie all this together in II Corinthians Chapter 5.
II Corinthians 5:6-8
"Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, (while we're living in this tabernacle here on the earth) we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."
Now I had someone ask me that not to long ago. "What happens to the believer's soul and spirit at death?" It immediately goes into paradise in heaven right into the presence of The Lord. Now back again to I Thessalonians Chapter 4 and let's look at verse 14 again.
I Thessalonians 4:14
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Believers only, and He will bring them from heaven down to the atmosphere. Now verse 15.
I Thessalonians 4:15,16
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain (that's this one group of people He's talking about in I Corinthians 15:51 who have not died, but will be changed in a twinkling of an eye) unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or go ahead of) them which are asleep. (or have died) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: (not the trumpet of the angels) and the dead in Christ shall rise first:"
Those that must be resurrected are going to be brought out of the tomb wherever they're buried, and reunited then with their soul and spirit which The Lord is bringing with Him. Now verse 17:
I Thessalonians 4:17a
"Then (after the resurrected saints have their new body) we which are alive and remain shall be caught up..."
Or another name for caught up is "Raptured." It all means the same thing. So if you don't like to use the word Rapture just say "caught up." Any way you put it we're going to be out of here. If The Lord comes in our lifetime then suddenly we're going to be out of here; whether we're driving down the highway or asleep in bed.
I Thessalonians 4:17
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the resurrected who have died in Christ) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
Now for a quick comparison of Scripture let's go to the Book of Acts Chapter 1. Here we have The Lord and the eleven disciples on the Mount of Olives. It's the same Mount of Olives that we visit every time we go to Jerusalem. The Lord's 40 days of resurrection experience has now come to an end. Now verse 9:
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel: Which also said, `Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.'"
Now to put it in a lighter vain, I always say, "He went head first, but He's going to come back feet first." Now let's look at Zechariah Chapter 14 and compare the language. Paul says, "Christ is only going to come to the air, the atmosphere as we meet Him in the air." But here in this chapter in verse 4 it's just like Chapter 1 of Acts.
"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east,...."
And that's the difference between the Rapture of the Church, and the Second coming of Christ. They are exactly 7 years apart.
LESSON ONE * PART IV
THE RESURRECTION COMPLETE
I CORINTHIANS 15:35-16:24
Well hopefully we'll finish I Corinthians in this lesson, I'm certainly going to try. So turn again to Chapter 15, and we're going to take a look at this revelation of a secret which was part of that whole revealed body of truth which Paul refers to as the mystery. Before we look at I Corinthians let's look for a moment at Romans Chapter 16. I want you to see that this is not just a flippant use of the word, for Paul uses it throughout his writings. And simply because the Holy Spirit has revealed to this man doctrines and truths that no one else ever dreamed would happen. They're not in the Old Testament, or in Christ's ministry, or in Peter's activity in the Book of Acts, but rather it's a whole new revelation which builds on everything that went before. And that's why I teach the Old Testament and the Four Gospels just as much as I do the Pauline letters. Nevertheless this is something that has come out of every thing that has gone before, but it was never prophesied. Now let's look at verse 25:
"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, (the one by which you are saved in I Corinthians 15:1-4) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.
Remember in our last lesson we looked at Deuteronomy 29:29:
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God:..."
He is a God who can keep things secret as long as He cares to, and this whole volume of revealed truths was one of those. God just did not reveal it, not even a hint of the Church age, and what we call the Rapture in any of the prophecies, or His earthly ministry. And that's a good way that we can divide the Scriptures. The Old Testament was based on the prophetic word. Everything was based on what God said, "I Will, I Will, I Will," That was prophecy! And all sitting on that Abrahamic Covenant. So Christ came in fulfillment of that Covenant. He came only to the Nation of Israel (Matthew 15:24) as their Messiah, and their King, and we've been teaching that over and over. But Israel rejected it, (Acts 28:27-28) they didn't believe Who He said He was. Now God's going to turn to the rest of the world by putting the Nation of Israel into a dispersion, and not using the Jew with the exception of this one man, the Apostle Paul who was a Jew, a Pharisee of the Pharisees of the tribe of Benjamin. So this Jew now has revealed to him and him only these mysteries, these secrets, and now He can take it to the Gentile world and reveal it.
Now in our time line, we always start back with Adam, and then 2000 years later we have the call of Abraham. That brought about the Nation of Israel which was pulled off the main river of humanity. But the Nation of Israel, instructed and taught, and nurtured through the Old Testament under the Law and prophecies, rejected Him, and they were dispersed then back into that main stream of humanity from which they were called in the first place. Remember God had intended for the Nation of Israel to evangelize the world, but when he sent them into dispersion, in the last chapter of Acts He put them into a place of spiritual blindness. Paul tells us now there is no difference between Jew and Gentiles. Now for salvation all must believe the Gospel that was given Paul by the crucified, risen Lord, the Gospel we find in I Corinthians 15:1-4. When this dispersion took place about 70 AD the Jews lost the Temple, and the city of Jerusalem, and their homeland. They were dispersed into every nation on earth.
But about 30 years before this dispersion took place, about 40 AD, the Apostle Paul was called by God, and he now is going to be progenitor of this Gospel of Grace and the calling out of the Gentile Body of Christ. Now when this Body of Christ, which is made up of Jews and Gentiles, is complete, and the last one has been saved, that's when we have this meeting in the air (Rapture) that we talked about in the last lesson. This is when the soul and spirit of believers that have been in the presence of Christ after they died, are brought to the atmosphere by God Himself in the Person of Christ, and their bodies will be resurrected to be reunited with their soul and spirit in the air. And then in the next instance we believers who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet The Lord in the air.
Then after that has taken place, the final seven years are ushered in and are associated only with the prophecies concerning the Nation of Israel, which in 1948 became a nation again. We call that period the final seven years or the Tribulation. Of course the ending of the Tribulation will bring about the Second Coming of Christ to the earth as we saw in the closing moments of the last lesson. This is when Christ will stand with His feet on the Mount of Olives.