New Bodies for Old!
In spite of vigorous medical research, better drugs, superior treatment protocols, the mortality rate for the human race remains a flat 100%. In under developed countries disease and poor diets sometimes mean the life expectancy was only 35 or 40--or less.
Solomon tells us our appointed time is 70 or sometimes 80 years
"The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away....So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:10, 12)
Death as it is described in the Bible does not mean we cease to exist, nor does it imply cessation of consciousness. Furthermore the Hindu idea of reincarnation is refuted by the Bible (see Hebrews 9:27).God alone has real life--all life comes from Him. Jesus is called "the Author Life" in Acts 3:15. In simple terms those persons who have a live connection with Jesus possess self-renewing eternal life--here and now.
This is not a detailed discussion on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and details of what the Bible says about future resurrections of both believers and non-believers. In this brief study we want to focus especially on what we can infer about the nature and characteristics of the Christian's resurrection body.
Biblical revelation is progressive in time. Old Testament revelation about life after death is vague and obscure. Sheol is "the grave" but few details are given, it seems to be a place of gloom and mystery. God's purposes for Israel are national. Obedience to God would bring secure land, crops and cattle, prosperity, deliverance from enemies, good health and family happiness. A glorious future for the nation is described, but little is said about what happens to an individual when he or she dies. Hannah understood God was responsible for life and death, and He has the power to impart life, " The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up." (I Samuel 2:6)
In the midst of his trials, suffering, and bad advice from his friends Job indicated he had a personal hope of resurrection, "Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were graven in the rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! (Job 19:23-27). (For a study of Job see Beyond Suffering - Expository Studies in Job, by Ray. C. Stedman).
The historic choice made by our first parents, Adam and Eve, cut the race off from a relationship with God--we are all born mortal--it is in our very genes. (See Arthur C. Custance, "The Seed of the Woman.")
The Man who is Now in Heaven
|From the pen of A. W. Tozer, Pastor at Moody Bible Church in Chicago, about
50 years ago:|
The teaching of the New Testament is that now, at this very moment, there is a Man in heaven appearing in the presence of God for us. He is as certainly a man as was Adam or Moses or Paul; he is a man glorified, but his glorification did not de-humanize him. Today he is a real man, of the race of mankind, bearing our lineaments and dimensions, a visible and audible man, whom any other man would recognize instantly as one of us.
The Bible often talks about the multitudes who do not as yet know God--people who have not been reconnected to the Source of Life. These are already "dead." It is by believing in and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord that spiritual rebirth occurs. Ephesians 2 describes this process:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Quite a number of supernatural events take place when a man or woman, boy or girl, opens his or her heart to Jesus the Lord. The dormant spirit of that person, out of touch with God until now, is now connected to the Holy Spirit of God. The individual is then the immediate possessor of eternal life and can never die.
"He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may [continue to] believe in the name of the Son of God." (I John 5:10-13)
The new believer in Jesus is taken by God out of from under the evil government of this present world system and placed under the direct government of Christ, while still remaining in the world,.
God..."has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us [translated us] into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:12-14)
God also blots out all our sins, cut us off inside from the fallen life of Adam by circumcision of the heart. We are immersed by the Holy Spirit (baptized) into Christ so that we are once for all identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, (see Romans 6:3-9)
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:12-14)
We are already made into totally new persons (2 Cor. 5:17). For the rest of our lives on this present earth we will experience the realization of this newness of life. Our bodies and spirits are made new and our physical bodies, though not yet redeemed, experience resurrection life and renewing from God.
And if Christ is in you, although your body is still dead because of sin, the spirit in you is alive because of [Christ's] righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to quicken [revitalize] your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.(Romans 8:10-11)
The beginning of the process, our being "born again," or "born from above" as described in John Chapter 3 sets in motion all that follows, and is called "regeneration."
"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:3)
The rebirth experience also causes us to be born into God's family and also we are adopted so that our membership in the household of faith is dual. We are adopted into the family as adult sons. My friend Glenn Miller of the Christian Think Tank notes that God's mercy goes into a prison and unchains guilt prisoners under sentence of death for their sins. The prisoners are taken out of jail and set free in front of the detention facility. Then, God's grace sends a limousine to the curb, picks up the released sinner. He is now a royal son adopted into the household of the king as an immediate heir of the king's estate!