Although nearly all religions have some concept of resurrection, it usually entails the reviving of an existing body back into this life, the existence in a spiritual realm, or possibly the rebirth of the soul into another physical body (not necessarily human – reincarnation). But are these really what the Christian scriptures describe when they speak of the resurrection of Jesus or the ‘resurrection of the dead’?
Phil 3:10-11 (NKJV), “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
1 Corinthians 15:35-49 “But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
From this section of scriptures we see the argument that the resurrection is not the same as being revived. Indeed in Hebrews 11:35 it is stated that although people had been brought back to life, there was an even better experience. In verses 35 to 41 above Paul confirms that this body when sown (buried or whatever) will again be raised as a human body. It will not come back as something else, such as a rat, monkey or cockroach, nor even as an angel.
Verses 42 to 49 describe that although in a human bodily form, it will have some changes to its nature. It will no longer be susceptible to the ravishes of time and decay, but will be immortal and incorruptible. Although Paul speaks of Physical and Spiritual bodies, we need to understand that these terms are more understandable as ‘current worldly’ and ‘eternal worldly’, both have a spiritual/physical reality in a human bodily form. We see this in the reports of the Resurrected Jesus, in that He was recognisable as a human though had abilities not normally human (appeared through walls), but ate and could be touched. We are then informed that Jesus is our ‘first fruit’ (1 Cor 15:20), which lets us know that we too shall be changed into incorruptible human bodies.
Do we have to physically die and then wait until the ‘end time’ before we experience this resurrection? The short answer is …….. Yes and No! Yes, we have to wait for our incorruptible physical body. Our spirit is the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit). In Romans 12:2 we are urged to renew (change into something new) our minds (souls, thinking) which will have us transformed (made into something different, in this case seeing ourselves as being included in the Godhead). If we accept that when Jesus died, we all died in and with Him, and that when He rose we all rose in and with Him, then even now we are all partakers of His resurrection (transformation into the true humanity-godhead). Thus we can also enjoy now the wealth of the renewal of our soul having been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3). Although all of these benefits are for everyone, those who believe this will enjoy those benefits more now than those who wait until death (1 Tim 4:10b).
When we speak of the resurrected body, we not only refer to the physical human bodies we each possess, but can also speak of the Body of Christ – the Church. The vast scroll of history informs us the message of Jesus has often been led astray. For example, in the 1500’s Luther had to call the Church back to scripture. This we know as the Reformation, and we are aware of many occurrences of the Church being re-energised through revival, but it is a Resurrected Body of Christ that is now being called forth to readily accept its true identity. As with the resurrection of our bodies, the Body of Christ must also be changed by the renewing of the ways it thinks. The Resurrected people, realising they are part of the oneness of God, need to reform the Church so that the message of all inclusiveness, with each other and as part of the Godhead, is realised. This will be manifested in the church, which as a beacon of hope in society, will be the Ambassador for Christ.