There is a tremendous change coming for the body of the believer according to the scriptures.
“And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49). Also verses 51-52; “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” The word “all” in this verse refers to believers.
In 1 John we read; “And it doth not appear what we shall be,” we are going to be changed.
Today things are not always what they appear to be. Illustration: The wickedest man in town died. The day before the funeral his brother came to the pastor and said, “I don’t know what you are going to say about my brother tomorrow, but if you say he was a saint I’ll give you a thousand dollars.”
At the funeral the pastor stood up and said, “We are here today to lay to rest the remains of Jeremy Aldridge. Jeremy was a wicked man; he was in and out of jail constantly. He abused his wife and beat his kids. He was a useless drunk and took drugs, but compared to his brother he was a saint.”
At salvation the spirit of the believer is changed, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature. At the rapture the body of the believer is changed.
1 - A Change of Dimension
As Paul begins to talk about the resurrection he takes us to a realm where all our notions about time and space are changed. Verse 40; “There are celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial.” “Terrestrial” bodies have to do with earth. We now have bodies designed by God to live on planet earth. Our bodies are well suited for life in the environment of this earth.
We also read about “celestial” bodies which are designed for the environment of outer space. Paul is talking about bodies designed by God to live in the heavens, outer space.
When men in modern times first began to study the stars all of our concepts of time and space were changed. When scientists began to realize the vastness of space they needed a new unit to measure distances. The new term was a “light year” or the distance light travels in a year at 186,000 miles per second.
The Milky Way is 100,000 light years across. We have been taught that the speed of light is the fastest thing known to man. But there is something infinitely faster than the speed of light. If you travelled at the speed of light, it would perhaps take you 1000 years to get to heaven. That is a hopeless snail’s pace in the celestial realm. There is something much faster than the speed of light; the “speed of thought.”
When I was a boy my dad would, on occasion, make steak and kidney suet pudding. The aroma of that pudding in the oven was the most wonderful aroma I have ever experienced. Recently as I entered my daughter’s house I smelled the aroma of steak and kidney suet pudding. Instantly my mind traveled back across some fifty years, there I was at the old kitchen table with the whole family. There was the steak and kidney pudding on the plate with mashed potatoes. I travelled at the speed of thought, instantly retracing the miles and the years.
Someday we are going to have bodies like our lord’s glorious resurrection body. Our Lord’s glorious resurrection body is not restricted as His earthly body was. Our Lord in His glorious body can travel at the speed of thought. One wonderful day I will have a glorious body that will travel at the speed of thought.
Two New Testament Examples
A - The disciples were on the middle of the stormy Sea of Galilee. Jesus came walking to them on the water, in the storm and suddenly there was a great calm. Jesus said; “It is I be not afraid.” Then we have our example; “Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went” (John 6:21). Immediately = at once with no time lapse. That’s a travel speed that we know nothing about.
Why did the Holy Spirit include this record in the scriptures? I believe it was because He knew that there would come a generation that would understand that travelling at the speed of light it would take hundreds of years to reach heaven.
When the first motor cars were invented they travelled at the speed of five miles per hour. Someone said, “Theoretically cars could be made to travel at 60 miles per hour but the human body could not survive such speeds.
Today astronauts travel at the speed of 25,000 MPH. Tomorrow the believer will travel at the speed of thought.
B – We have the example of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. The Eunuch had been in Jerusalem searching for spiritual truth and he hadn’t found it. He is turning home through the desert reading the book of Isaiah. Phillip sees him reading and he calls out, “Understandeth thou what thou readest?” “No!” He answers, “Come up here and help me.” Philip preaches the gospel to him out of Isaiah 53 and the man was saved. Philip did what all evangelists are to do. He taught him about baptism. So they stopped the chariot at the first oasis and Philip baptised him.
Then an amazing thing happened in Acts 8:39; “And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”
“The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip.” Where did Philip go? Verse 40 tells us that “Philip was found at Azotus,” which was about thirty miles away. Philip apparently travelled at the speed of thought. I believe this incident is to give to us an insight into the change of dimension that awaits us.
Paul said; “We shall all be changed.” We are going to have the capacity to move around at the speed of thought. What wonders await the believer!
2 – A Change of Destiny
In 1 Corinthians 15:42 we read concerning our bodies; “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.” Notice the tremendous change, “Sown in corruption” as opposed to “Raised in incorruption.”
We now have bodies that are destined for the grave. There is not a thing we can do about it. Maybe we can prolong it a little while, but death is going to get us, life will leave our bodies.
We now have bodies that destined for the grave and corruption. Someday we will have bodies that are destined for the glory.
Paul is in prison as he writes to the Philippians, he says to them in chapter one and verse 23 that he has a great desire to go to heaven. I suspect that Paul had this great desire to go to heaven because he had already been there. “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4). “Unspeakable words,” Paul said I have seen into heaven and there is no way I can communicate what I saw there. It was so wonderful that I have no frame of reference to describe it.
Paul is saying in effect, “I can’t wait, I desire to go to heaven, I have been there and I can’t wait to get back.” Paul was longing for a change of destiny.
He had a body destined for the grave, and he wanted to put on his body designed and destined for the glory. What a prospect the believer has, the prospect of a change of destiny.
3 – A Change of Dress
We read in 1 Corinthians 15:43; “It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.” “Sown in dishonour,” when a person dies his body begins to corrupt, then it is put into the ground where the corruption is completed. Someday, when the trumpet sounds Christ will raise the body of the believer and it will be “raised in power.”
It reminds me of the lowly caterpillar. He lives his life as a grub crawling around in the dust. You can almost imagine him lifting his eyes and staring at the expanse of the sky. He says to himself, “If only I could fly, I would soar up into the sky and I would fly from tree to tree.” “But I am just a withered little grub with a lot of legs crawling around in the dust.” “I am only a caterpillar.”
One day he senses a change in his little body. His days on earth as a caterpillar are nearly finished. He spins a little coffin and crawls into it and shuts himself in. There he stays in a death-like situation.
Then one day he hears a call and that little creature breaks out of his tomb and he comes out transformed. He went in a caterpillar and he came out a butterfly. The same creature that goes in comes out, but it has been changed. It spreads its beautiful wings and soars upward to the sky. It is now a thing of exquisite beauty and glorious colour. It was sown in dishonour and raised in glory. It has had a change of dress!
The God that does that for the caterpillar can surely do it for the believer. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
What a marvellous prospect! Believer do not go around with your head down, you have a marvellous prospect which may not be far away.
4 – A Change of Disposition
“It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:43).
See the contrast, “Sown in weakness; raised in power” Go back to Gethsemane and see the man Jesus in weakness. Matthew 26:38; “Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” Jesus is saying, “Pray for me, I need you to pray for me.” Jesus said that He was sorrowful or depressed.
It is hard to imagine that Jesus was depressed; He was always the master of every situation. He always had everything under control. He was never taken by surprise, He never made a mistake, and He was master of everything. But in Gethsemane He was looking into the cup of sin and judgment that He was to drink for all mankind. He glimpsed the awful horror of the sins of the world being placed upon His soul.
It is no wonder He prayed three times; “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Jesus was a sinless man, but nevertheless when He became a man he took on the weakness of man.
After vainly exhorting the disciples three times to watch and pray He awakens them and says to them, “The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” We have bodies that are weak and corrupt.
Praise the Lord! We will one day have bodies that are “raised in power.” We will have bodies that will never grow weak or tired. We will have bodies that will never grow old or never get sick and never die. We will have bodies that will not yield to sin and never stumble and fall. We will have a body raised in power.
After they crucified our Lord His body lay in the grave for three days and three nights. His body was dead but it saw no corruption. Then the Son of God was raised in power from the tomb, raised with a glorious new body and a new disposition.
Look at His new body as revealed in John 20:26; “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”
Doors mean nothing to Jesus in His glorious body; He just came through the door, that’s a body of power. His new body was a real body like ours but it was now a glorified body. “And when he had thus spoken, he shewed 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? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:40-43). Jesus demonstrated that his body was a real human body not a phantom or a ghost.
One day, maybe soon, we will have a glorified body like our Lord’s. Hallelujah!
5 – A Change of Durability
1 Corinthians 15:54; “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“This mortal shall have put on immortality” that means we are going to live forever. We will live forever in the land of fadeless day, in the city with streets of gold, where the walls are made of diamonds and the twelve gates are each made of a single pearl. We will live on and on outlasting the stars of the sky. We will live beyond the reach of sin and death. We will rejoice forever with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
This is the longing of our souls; “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (2 Corinthians 5:2,4). This is the ultimate life, life of a new dimension with bodies that will never wear out. What a prospect, perhaps in a few minutes?
6 – A Change of Dynasty
1 Corinthians 15:47-49; “The first man is of 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. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
Now Paul takes us back to the Garden of Eden. When God created the animals He gave them a body. A body suited to their purpose. Verse 39; “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.” Paul says not all bodies are the same. God did not give the animals a spirit; instead He gave them an instinct. He locked every animal into a behaviour pattern. This was a controlling principle which God built in. An animal does what it does because of what it is.
For example: A young salmon goes down the river and out into the vast Pacific Ocean for some six years. Then it comes back to the river it was born in. It comes back to the very same steam which flows into that river and to the very pool it was spawned. There it lays its eggs.
That salmon was moved by a controlling principle built into it by God. All animals are like that. They are moved to do what they do by a built in controlling principle. We see this also in the migration of birds and butterflies.
However, when God made man He didn’t do that. God gave man a body and He gave man a soul with intellect and emotions and a will. God could have locked man into a behaviour pattern so that we would always do what we were supposed to do. In such a scenario all God would have would be robots or puppets. Evidently God didn’t want robots; He wanted people to love and people who could love Him. So instead of a behaviour pattern God gave man a spirit.
O the exalted position we have as men and women! “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”(Genesis 1:26).
Why like God? So that man could be indwelt by God. The human spirit could be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Together, in cooperation they would control the mind, will and emotions. And we would do what we would do because we would be what we would be, men inhabited by God.
Sin came in and man demonstrated his independence from God. So man in sin is not what God intended him to be. Man in sin has a mind, will and emotions but he has no resident Holy Spirit indwelling him. Man is lost and dead in sin, and he is alienated him from God. That is why Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.”
When a man comes to Christ as a ruined, hopeless, lost sinner and confesses his sin and casts himself in repentance and faith upon Christ, salvation takes place. At that point God the Holy Spirit takes up residence within the human spirit.
The Christian life is the process of day by day learning to live in harmony with the Spirit of God. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5: 16-18).
The above verse highlights the remaining problem we have. We still have our old earthly body and our old earthly nature. We have the ongoing struggle that takes place between our new divine nature and our old sinful nature.
One day we are going to have a glorious body like the body of our risen Lord. Throughout all of the ages of eternity we will be inhabited by God and our old sin nature will be gone forever. We will live life in a whole new dimension. That will be a change of dynasty.
What a glorious future you have as a believer.
To dwell in God’s presence forever! To worship God forever! To be blessed by God forever! To enjoy a sweet intimate relationship with God forever! All of the glory’s of heaven forever! The fullness of joy! To be in the likeness of Christ! Heaven will be our home! “Joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
Believer how dare you go around with your head down? “Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.”