WHAT IS RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD?
The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth (1 CORINTHIANS 15) addresses the above subject and explains its real meaning – the resurrection of the dead.
Earlier in this Chapter he reminds us, “If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (1 CORINTHIANS 15:16-18.)
In other words, if there isn’t any resurrection, our faith is pointless. If Christianity is simply about this physical life and we die to never to exist again, then it really doesn’t matter what we do or how we live or what we believe. As Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable”. (1 CORINTHIANS 15:19.)
The resurrection of the dead is fundamental and vital. The apostles when they preached always testified concerning the resurrection of Jesus, and the consequent resurrection of the dead. When they choose another apostle in place of Judas, they said, “one must be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (ACTS 1:22.)
In the Book of Acts, we read of a time when the religious leaders were grieved and subsequently arrested Peter and John because they “preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead”. (ACTS 4:2.)
When they were set free, it is said, “With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and great grace was upon them all.” (ACTS 4:33.)
The Athenians reacted to Paul preaching “Jesus, and the resurrection” unto them and they responded, “he seems to be a setter forth of strange gods”, (ACTS 17:18.) A little later in the same chapter, we read of others mocking.
Paul writing of the resurrection in 1 CORINTHIANS 15 recognized that some will sceptically ask, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” (1 CORINTHIANS 15:35.)
To answer these challenging questions, Paul uses a number of illustrations: he points out that the seed that you put in the ground is very different to the plant that will grow. God gives it a new body – just the kind he has determined. A different kind of plant grows from each kind of seed.
As there are different kinds of seeds and plants, so also there are different kinds of flesh – whether of humans, animals, birds, or fish. There are bodies in heaven and there are bodies on earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the beauty of the earthly bodies. It is the same way for the resurrection of the dead.
Our earthly bodies, which die and decay, will be vastly different when they are resurrected. We shall all be changed.
The body that we shall have at the resurrection shall be immortal and incorruptible. Not only, shall we die no more, but we shall be perfectly free from all the bodily evils which sin brought into the world; our bodies shall not be subject to sickness or pain, or any other inconveniences we are daily exposed to. Our bodies shall be raised in glory. Our bodies shall be raised in power. Our bodies shall be raised spiritual bodies.
Miraculous changes are going to take place.
To help us comprehend such remarkable changes, God has given us some wonderful examples in His creation to consider.
The amazing transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is one of the most dramatic processes in the living world. Commenting on this miracle of metamorphosis, one writer says: “The metamorphosis of the butterfly cannot reasonably be explained by any mechanical theory of evolution.
The idea that this mysterious process, by which a certain form of animal, is changed comparatively suddenly into something entirely different, and which goes on with undeviating regularity generation after generation, could have come about by the selection of chance variations or mutations, without plan and without a directing force, is so contrary to intelligence and so basically unscientific that it is manifestly absurd. No theory of fortuitous variations can explain the process of metamorphosis.”
From egg to adult, butterflies live out the unique plan designed for them by God. God has a far more glorious plan for us! The Apostle Paul wrote, “Take notice! I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God.)
We shall not all fall asleep in death but we shall all be changed, (transformed.) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the sound of the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead in Christ will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed).” (1 CORINTHIANS 15:51, 52.) Amplified Bible
When Jesus Christ returns, He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious and majestic bodies like His own, using the same mighty power that He will use to conquer everything, everywhere. (PHILIPPIANS 3:21.)
We shall all be changed … to live and reign with Him forever.
The above explanation of the Resurrection of the dead should also enable us to conclude that “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of man who is in heaven.” (JOHN 3:13.)
This means that people who were born into this world and died thousands of years ago up till now were buried and are still in the graves waiting for the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ including MARY the mother of Jesus.