BODY FROM HEAVEN

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THE BODY FROM HEAVEN(Taken from "The Body From Heaven," an excerpt from, What I Have Learned From the Lord.Copyright Š 2012, by Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved)

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

I suppose I repeat myself in the many essays in this book. I am endeavoring to make certain that all God has shown me is recorded for the benefit of His sheep. I don't want anyone to miss out on the revelation because I have been careless.

One of the significant understandings entrusted to me is that our behavior today is shaping the body that will be given to us in the Day of Resurrection. I may have mentioned this previously, but just in case I did not treat it fully enough I will make more comments at this point.

I do not remember ever hearing or reading a discussion of this tremendously important truth. I do not understand why such a critical issue is not being heralded from every pulpit; but that is God's business.

It may be true that the resurrection of our body is one of the central aspects of the Divine redemption. We have to fight for it. According to our Lord, all shall be raised. But the kind of resurrection we experience depends on the progress we have made in the program of redemption.

In our day, the destructive inference that salvation consists of a profession of faith we make, and then we are to wait until we die and go to Heaven to live eternally in a mansion, appears to pervade Christian thinking. In a sense, this concept is so far removed from the actual plan of salvation that it would be humorous if it were not so harmful.

Actually, our salvation, which has to do with the kind of resurrection we experience in the Day of Resurrection, is revealed in the clothing of our body with the body from Heaven. Instead of our going to a mansion in Heaven, our "mansion" shall come from Heaven and clothe our resurrected physical form.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)

One verse that has been meaningful to me is the following:

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

Being in my eighties, I am impressed with the idea of my mortal body being raised from the dead and clothed with a body fashioned from the Spirit of God.

It is a fact that we begin life with some kind of physical body and a chaotic inward nature. Then, if we participate in the Divine program of redemption in Christ, we come to the time when our inward nature has been transformed and our physical body has withered.

In the Day of Resurrection, we shall receive a physical-spiritual body that portrays our transformed inward nature. One can understand readily how important it is that we do not view the Christian salvation as a one-time profession of belief in Christ, while the remainder of our life is that of waiting to go to Heaven.

Rather, every day we are on the earth we are to be cooperating with the Spirit of God as He fashions our inward nature in the image of Christ; for it is certain that in the Day of Resurrection we will portray that which has been wrought in our inward nature.

The Apostle Paul was set upon the redemption of his mortal body. I think Paul was looking forward to a body that is free from sinful compulsions. There is no evidence in the New Testament of which I am aware that Paul had set his goal as residence in Heaven, although he did express a desire to be with the Lord. Rather Paul's goal was to be free from the body of sin and death.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

"The redemption of our bodies." Actually we are attaining to the resurrection now as we keep exchanging the death of our old life for Christ's Life in our inward nature. The further we advance in the program of death to life, the more glorious will be the body, or robe, that covers our resurrected frame in the Day of Christ.

So, as Paul stated, in the Book of Philippians, we attain to the resurrection from the dead.

A discussion of this movement from death to resurrection life is found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Second Corinthians. The discussion begins in Chapter Four, verse 7 and comes to a climax in Chapter Five, verse 10.

These twenty-one verses are central to the program of redemption. They are worth the careful consideration of all disciples of the Lord.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (II Corinthians 4:7)

The reason we inhabit such a frail physical body is that God may be glorified. The concept that God brings us to weakness appears in several passages of the Scriptures. It is a good thing too, because the moment we feel strong we begin to lose sight of the fact that we can do nothing apart from Christ.

As I stated in a previous essay, the followers of religion adhere to the text of the Scriptures, and their faith is centered there. The followers of Jesus understand that the Scriptures are the unshakeable Word of God, but they follow the Lord Jesus. Their faith is centered in Jesus. They realize they can do nothing at all apart from Christ, no matter what the Scripture states.

There is an eternal gulf between religion and the Lord Jesus. Religions are made by people. Jesus Christ is from God.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (II Corinthians 4:8,9)

It is not enough that we are in a frail physical body. We must be brought to helplessness by many ingenious Divine devices. Those of us who have followed Christ for a number of years know well how rapidly we get off the track when we are not surrounded with pressures of one sort or another. If God did not keep us in trouble His Glory would not be revealed in us. Instead, only the fleshly nature of the religious person would be seen.

We American Christians need the power of God as never before. Our beloved nation rapidly is being taken over by people who do not know the Lord. God will give us the power to enable us to stand and assist others to stand. But the assistance will not come out of our strength but out of our weakness.

When we are weak in the flesh, then we are strong in the Lord.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (II Corinthians 4:10)

Paul was suffering frustrations and pain for Jesus' sake. It is the sufferings of the cross. The purpose is so that out from the frustrations and pain will emerge the resurrection Life of Jesus, revealed in Paul's body.

All true ministry, the fruit of which will endure throughout eternity, proceeds from the cross borne by the minister. This is why Paul's epistles are pondered to the present hour.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (II Corinthians 4:11,12)

Notice in the above the importance of our physical body. It is in our present body that the Life of Jesus is revealed. So as we patiently submit to our afflictions, the Life of Christ works in those to whom we are ministering.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (II Corinthians 4:16-18)

Notice carefully: The process of suffering afflictions, which results in eternal Life working in those to whom we minister. results also in a renewal of our inward natures. An eternal glory is developing in our inward nature, that far outweighs in value our momentary afflictions. For this reason we keep considering what we do not see as yet—that which is not momentary but eternal.

We will pass now into Chapter Five, because it continues the thought and explains what is meant by an "eternal glory."

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (II Corinthians 5:1)

The verse above informs us what the eternal glory is. It is a house from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones. Our momentary afflictions, and our patient response to them, is achieving for us an eternal house.

The important thing to remember is that there is a relationship between what we are enduring now, and the body with which our renewed inward nature will be clothed in the Day of Christ.

If you are aware of the current emphasis on a "rapture" that will carry everyone who "accepts Christ" up to Heaven at any moment now, you can see how terribly misleading such teaching is. It is not our "accepting" of Christ that determines the nature of our resurrection, it is the renewal of our inward nature that occurs as we bear the suffering of Christ and convey resurrection Life to those to whom we minister.

The concept of an undemanding "rapture" that will carry up to Heaven casual church-attenders is popular today. That is because the Christian church-goers want to be told they can live their life as usual and still receive a wonderful glorified body, and in that renewed body sit in their mansion in Heaven doing nothing for eternity.

This notion is so preposterous, so unscriptural, that it is a marvel that people can be persuaded to believe it.

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, (II Corinthians 5:2)

Did you ever hear of anyone groaning, longing to be clothed with their house from Heaven? Probably not. Why not? Because God's people are being taught that their goal is to be carried up to Heaven, either in a "rapture" or after they die. They know little about a "heavenly dwelling," except for an ornate mansion in Heaven. They have not been taught about a dwelling that will clothe them so they can live once again upon the earth.

Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:3)

The casual, lukewarm, church-goer will be found naked in the Day of Christ. His or her inward nature has not been renewed. Consequently no house from Heaven has been prepared that would cover his resurrected flesh and bones in the Day of the Lord.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)

In several passages in the New Testament the Apostle Paul speaks of his desire to receive the redemption of his body; to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Most of us Christians do not long for the redemption of our body because we have been taught that our destiny is eternal existence in Heaven. Paul was not seeking Heaven, he was seeking righteous behavior. He was upset about his sin nature. Paul wanted a redeemed body so he could be without sin, whether in Heaven or upon the earth.

Since we have been taught that God does not observe our sinful behavior, only the righteous behavior of Christ, we do not see any urgent need for the redemption of our body. We are not going to need our body in Heaven, so why bother. Let's all go to Heaven where we can rest for eternity.

Our theology today is unscriptural. It does not lend itself to the creation of a new righteous person in the image of God.

God will swallow up our mortality with resurrection Life, provided we have been renewed in our inward nature. This is why Paul spoke of attaining to the resurrection from the dead, in the third chapter of Philippians.

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 5:5)

The verse above is of great significance. God has made us for the purpose of clothing us with eternal Life. You may recall that God gave His Son, not that we might go to Heaven but that we might have eternal Life. Apart from Divine Life we perish. Our body returns to dust. When our body is raised in the Day of Christ, there is no eternal Life to from Heaven to cause it to live. In this sense we are naked.

But has God actually made us for the purpose of clothing us with Life? If this is so, the resurrection and clothing of the body is central in the program of redemption. Apparently our original animal flesh and blood existence, since it cannot enter the Kingdom of God, according to Paul, is of no use for God's Kingdom purposes. All depends on our being resurrected to eternal life in a body fashioned by and from the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit we have been given at this time is a guarantee that the day will come when our entire personality is filled and clothed with the Spirit of God. This is why Paul told us that if we continue to behave according to our sinful nature, we will die. The Spirit of God will leave us. We will be found naked in the Day of Resurrection.

For all of us it behoveth to be manifested before the tribunal of the Christ, that each one may receive the things [done] through the body, in reference to the things that he did, whether good or evil; (II Corinthians 5:10—Young's Literal Translation)

I have chosen to present the above verse in Young's Translation. I do not believe the New International Version, which I use customarily, quite does it justice.

The first thought is that we do not just appear before the Judgment Seat, we are manifested there.

Next, that we receive the things [done] through the body. Now this expression is of the greatest importance. It is not that we are handed what is due us for what we did in the body, rather we receive the things themselves.

If we have lied repeatedly, then lies will appear, in the Day of Resurrection as part of our personality.

If we have harmed people with our self-seeking, then self-seeking will appear in our body.

If we have given of ourselves for the benefit of others, then this spirit will be revealed in our resurrected body.

If we have helped others in their hour of need, then this will be revealed.

If we have obeyed Christ promptly and cheerfully, then this will be portrayed in our personality–probably in our body somehow.

If we have been a mean, selfish person, we may appear as a shrunken dwarf. In fact, this may be where dwarfs came from.

Second Corinthians 5:10 has sometimes been presented as a reward banquet in which each person who has "accepted Christ" will be given some sort of reward.

It hardly is that! The Greek noun refers to a tribunal where people are sentenced in terms of their behavior.

Notice the expression, "whether good or evil." This prevents the verse as indicating no Christian will be punished—perhaps suffer a loss of rewards, but nothing worse.

This is not what the Word of God states. The Word states each one of us will receive what he has done through his body; whether he has done good, or whether he has done evil.

If we are to receive the evil we have done, then it cannot be maintained that the worse that can happen to us in the time of judgment is loss of reward. The worse that can happen to us is to portray our sinful, self-centered inner nature so that people looking at us view us with shame and contempt.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

Our destiny after that may be the Lake of Fire. Consider the selfish rich man!

There can be no question in the mind of any thoughtful person but that today's preaching of the ancient Gospel of the Kingdom of God has departed from the Scriptures, perhaps with the intention of pleasing the listeners so they will fill the building—which is the current index of success in Christian work.