SOWING THE BODY
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There is a relationship between our daily behavior and what will happen to us in the Day of Resurrection. Paul speaks of our sowing our body. Into what do we sow our body? Into the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. If we are faithful in the process of becoming like Him in His death, then we shall be raised in the likeness of His resurrection.
SOWING THE BODY
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:42-44)
The Christian churches have lost sight of the central issue of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The central issue is the resurrection of our mortal body from the dead, in particular, the kind of resurrection we will experience.
The Lord Jesus told us all who are in the graves will hear His voice. Those who have done good will be raised to life. Those who have done evil will be raised to condemnation.
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice And come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)
We see from the above that it is not enough to be raised from the dead, for all shall be raised. Rather, the issue is whether we will rise to live or whether we will rise to be condemned.
We are saying today that all who accept Christ will rise to live and all who do not accept Christ, whether or not they have heard of Christ, will rise to be condemned.
However, if we will look again at the passage, the issue is not that of accepting or rejecting Christ, the issue is that of doing good or doing evil.
Of course, if the Father has drawn us to Christ, and we then reject Christ, we have done evil.
But there are multitudes of people in the world who have “accepted” Christ, and then who have continued to do evil. They have been taught that once they accept Christ it is not critically important how they live. They have been taught an unscriptural doctrine.
If we accept Christ and walk in Him each day, we will rise to life. We have done good.
But if we accept Christ, and then continue to obey our sinful nature, we have done evil. We will rise to be condemned. The Apostle Paul warned us of this in several different passages.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Christ came that men might repent of their evil ways, not to provide an excuse for them before the Father. This is a tremendous error in current Christian teaching.
If we are to experience the full benefit of the resurrection to life we must sow our body each day to the cross of Christ. Every time we do this we add eternal life to the body, or robe, with which we will be clothed in the Day of Resurrection.
The numerous tribulations we experience are to press us into the death of Christ. When we respond to them correctly, resurrection life lifts us up. Some of that life spills over to other people and they live also.
At the same time, that life that lifted us is added to our body in Heaven, the robe that will clothe our mortal body when our body is raised making it even more glorious. It is an eternal weight of glory, the redemption of our body toward which the Apostle Paul was pressing.
Let us say you are treated unjustly. This is one of the many sufferings of Christ into which we are being pressed.
How you respond to the unjust treatment is of utmost importance. Your sinful nature will cry for revenge. If you yield to your sinful nature, no spiritual good will proceed from your experience. You will continue in spiritual death, and this death will be revealed in the Day of Resurrection. It will be part of that with which you will be clothed
If, however, you go to the Lord, asking Him to give you peace and remove all anger from your heart, He will solve the problem in His own time. However, the important aspect is what happens to you.
Because your response was to turn to the Lord in your distress, the body and blood of Christ will be given to you in the spirit realm. This is resurrection life in you.
The Spirit of God will raise you up in increased resurrection life now, and that life will spill over to the people around you.
At the same time, the Life of Christ, which is resurrection life, will be added to the body which is being created for you in Heaven as you sow your present body to the death of the cross, which you have just done by permitting the injustice to press you into the death of Christ.
In the Day of Resurrection your flesh and bones will be raised from the dead and clothed with the body that has been formed from your correct response to tribulation. The body, or robe, with which you will be clothed will show in itself your act of resisting the urge to avenge yourself of the injustice you experienced.
Let’s see what Paul has to say about this.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so 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 4:8-12)
As we read further, we can see the forming of the body from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.
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. (II Corinthians 4:16,17)
It is the physical body that is “wasting away.” It is being sown to the death of the cross.
The inner man is being renewed by being fed the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm.
Then Paul speaks of “an eternal weight of glory” that far outweighs our light and momentary troubles. We know from what follows that the eternal weight of glory is the house from Heaven that will clothe Paul’s resurrected flesh and bones, thus providing the resurrection to life that Paul sought so ardently.
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)
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
Now notice the “eternal weight of glory”:
Now we know 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 believers of today are confused about the resurrection of the dead. For one thing, the great emphasis is on our spiritual salvation, that we will go to Heaven to live forever.
However, the emphasis of the Scriptures is on our physical resurrection.
Because of the confusion over the bodily resurrection, the believers regard our “eternal house in heaven” as being a new body, leaving the old body in the grave. If the old body were to be left in the grave, there would be no resurrection of the dead. This is an unscriptural point of view.
When the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead His body was not left in the cave of Joseph of Arimathea. The Scripture teaches clearly that our resurrection will be patterned after His.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:20-23)
I am not certain many of the preachers of our day believe there actually will be a resurrection of our bodies. I think they believe in Easter, that Christ was raised from the dead. But I am not sure they apply that to us.
Last night at our Sunday-evening service there were five Marines present from some of the southern states. All had attended church to some extent while they were growing up. They came to our church last night because they consider themselves to be Christians.
I asked them if they had ever heard the resurrection preached, that our bodies are going to be raised from the dead. All five said no, they had never heard the resurrection of our bodies preached.
Then I asked them if they realized the purpose of the resurrection was so we might live once again on the earth.
They were somewhat confused by this. I asked them what they planned on doing in Heaven for eternity. One of them answered that He wanted to play his guitar in the Presence of God. I asked him if he would get bored doing this forever. He said time is not the same there as it is here.
So I told them that Jesus Christ is going to return to earth and set up such a wonderful kingdom that it will be like Heaven on earth. We will have the best of Heaven and the best of the earth. There will be no more curse, no plagues, no disease, no trouble of any kind.
One of the Marines exclaimed something to the effect that it was a wonderful dream.
I said, “This is the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God.”
We have drifted far from the New Testament!
I asked one of the Marines, who earlier had told us of his love for the woods in the state he came from, whether he would prefer to live in the spirit realm forever or be on the earth when all of nature has been redeemed and is free from the curse.
He responded immediately that he would prefer to be on the earth. His plan, after he leaves the Marine Corps, is to be a farmer.
So we now are in the process of changing from Heaven-thinking to Kingdom-thinking. The doctrine of the resurrection from the dead is key to Kingdom-thinking.
Perhaps the Day of Resurrection is drawing near and the Lord is preparing us for it.
The truth is, our flesh and bones will be raised, just as in the case of the Lord Jesus. Our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with our behavior in the form of a house, or robe, from Heaven. This is the glorification, the redemption of the body.
Two bodies thus are involved. Our resurrected flesh and bones, and then our body from Heaven.
Can you see that this is the eternal weight of glory of which Paul spoke? Can you see also that the eternal weight of glory is formed as we are brought down to death and then raised up by the Virtue of Christ? This is what Paul was referring to in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians when he spoke of our body being sown in weakness and being raised in power. Does this make sense to you?
Now we know 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 5:2)
Our body may be destroyed, but it will be raised, as we note in I Corinthians, Chapter 15. Then it shall be clothed with our eternal house from Heaven.
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:2,3)
We of today do not groan that we might be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. Why is this? First, we have been taught that we will go to Heaven to live in a mansion forever. Second, the unscriptural emphasis on the “rapture” tends to divert our mind from the importance of the resurrection of the body and the clothing of it with the heavenly house.
It is important that we sow our body to the death of the cross. If we do not, we will be found naked in the Day of Resurrection. There will be no eternal weight of glory to clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.
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 what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)
Paul is saying here that he does not want to lose his physical body but he desires that it be clothed with his house from Heaven, His eternal weight of glory. Paul wants his mortality, that is, his physical body, to be swallowed up by eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.
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 above passage has a twist to it. We would expect it to say that God has made our heavenly body for us. It would seem more reasonable to us for Paul to say that God has made our body for us, not that God has made us for our body.
Instead we read, “God has made us for this very purpose,” that is, that we might be able to inhabit our heavenly body.
This truly opens up a whole line of thought. God has made us that we might be capable of inhabiting the glorified body that He envisions for us. God pictures in His mind this wonderful glorified body, composed of the best aspects of the physical world and the best aspects of the spirit world. Now He is making us capable of being clothed with it.
The Kingdom of God is Heaven clothed with the physical realm. Jesus is Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus has a glorified physical form and a Divine inward Nature. We also are to have a glorified physical form and a Divine inward nature. We can be sure that we will not be clothed with such a house until we have an appropriate inward nature.
God envisions this glorious house. Now He is making us for the purpose of giving this house an inhabitant.
It is as Jesus commented, “To sit on My right hand and My left shall be given to those for whom it has been prepared. The exalted position has been established. Now those who are to inhabit this position must drink the cup and be baptized with the baptism.
From this point of view, the entire Kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem, already has been constructed in God’s mind. Now it is up to us to endure the formative process that will qualify us, and make us competent, to inhabit that which already has been prepared.
Let us try to follow Paul’s line of thought in verses six through nine:
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (II Corinthians 5:6-9)
Paul is not saying here that he wants to leave the earth and live in Heaven. Based on the fact that he is being pressed into the cross while on the earth, and is looking forward to being clothed (at the coming of the Lord, for that is when we will be changed), Paul accepts the fact that while he is here in his present body he is away from the Lord.
He is stepping along in faith, submitting to the work of the cross in his life. Paul is seeking to please Christ whether at home in his physical body or away from his body.
Paul would rather die physically and go home to be with the Lord. Notice, not go to Heaven but go to be with the Lord.
Numerous believers think they want to go to Heaven, although they fervently seek to avoid dying. But they are not interested in going to be with the Lord but to escape Hell. They show their interest is not in being with the Lord by the way they live today.
Paul was crucified with Christ and lived in the most personal interaction with Christ. Paul wanted to be closer to Christ, at home with Christ. He was not seeking to go to Heaven so he could escape Hell and live in a mansion!
Now comes the verse that ties all this together:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)
The two passages above are stating what we are sowing today we are going to reap in the Day of Resurrection.
If we, as a Christian, continue to live in our sinful nature, we will reap destruction in the Day of Resurrection. The destruction will not come from an outside source but from our sinful nature that we refused to put to death through the Spirit of God.
Our flesh and bones will be raised to condemnation. We have not done good. Although we are a believer who has “accepted” Christ, we have practiced evil during our lifetime on the earth.
All people, including Christians, shall be made manifest before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Each one of us shall receive the consequences of the things he did while in his body.
If as a Christian we have practiced immorality, when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive the consequences of immorality. We have done evil, and we will receive in ourselves that evil we have practiced.
- If we have permitted anger to control our actions, we will receive the anger in the Day of Resurrection.
- If we have gossiped and slandered, then this is what we shall be given.
- If we have been covetous, then this is what we shall be given.
But if we, through the Spirit of God, have turned away from immorality, then we shall be clothed with a body that is free from lust and perversion.
- If we have renounced anger, then we shall be given a robe of peace and quietness of spirit.
- If we have refused to speak evil of other people, then we will sit on the Throne of Judgment with Christ and exercise true judgment.
- If we have rejected covetousness and have embraced generosity, then men will bring to us their treasures.
All of this reaping will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ. God will not be mocked. We are going to reap what we have sown.
We see the concept of being clothed with our behavior, presented clearly in the following passage:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)
The Bride of the Lamb has made herself ready by performing righteous acts during her lifetime on the earth. The Lord helped her as she sought to keep her robes clean by continually washing them in the blood of repentance, by turning away from the deeds of the sinful nature. In the Day of Resurrection she will be arrayed in the fine linen of her own behavior.
But what about grace and mercy?
Grace and mercy are abundant now, as we confess our sins and turn away from them.
But if we do not take advantage of the power of redemption that is available today, then grace and mercy will not come to our aid in the Day of Resurrection. We have done evil so we shall be raised to condemnation.
The trumpet is being sounded in Zion today. Fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites, as Isaiah said. Who among us can dwell with the consuming Fire? Only those who have clean hands and have not walked in arrogance. They have lived by faith, that is, by looking to the Lord Jesus for every detail of daily life.
Jude speaks of the army of saints who will return with the Lord and judge the sinners in the churches. If my understanding is correct, at the return of the Lord the sinners in the churches will be the first to be judged, and then after that the world.
Ours is a wonderful day, a terrible day, a period of unprecedented opportunity and unprecedented danger. The opportunity is that of reigning with Jesus Christ as a king. The danger is that of being drawn away by the prevalence of sin.
All the rewards go to the victorious saint, to him who has left all, like the Apostle Paul, that he or she might press into the fullness of Christ. He has overcome, through the Lord, every force that would turn prevent him from fully performing God’s will. One of his rewards will be a glorious body that Christ will fashion by means of His unlimited power.
But the believer who has wasted his talent will not be pleased in the Day of Resurrection to find he is spiritually naked, an object of contempt and rejection. The outer darkness will be his home.
These are extremely serious matters for they have to do with our condition throughout the endless ages of eternity. The wise individual will turn away from the multitude of distractions—distractions found especially but not exclusively in the Western, purportedly Christian, nations, that he or she may attain to a better resurrection.
(“Sowing the Body”, 3324-1)