THE MORTAL BODY

THE MORTAL BODY Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

The redemption of the mortal body, which is equivalent to being clothed with eternal life when we are raised from the dead, should be the focus of Christian preaching. "Should not perish but have everlasting life," is the promise of John 3:16. This promise refers to bodily immortality. It is the restoration of that which was lost in the garden of Eden.

Probably due to the philosophy of Gnosticism, the hope of the redemption of the body has been replaced by the concept of passing into the spirit Paradise to live forever in a mansion. It is time now for a reformation of Christian thinking in this area of salvation.

THE MORTAL BODY

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)

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)

But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (II Timothy 1:10)

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

The concept of the redemption of the mortal body is key to our transition from Heaven thinking to Kingdom thinking.

The redemption of the mortal body, which is equivalent to being clothed with eternal life when we are raised from the dead, should be the focus of Christian preaching. "Should not perish but have everlasting life," is the promise of John 3:16. This promise refers to bodily immortality. It is the restoration of that which was lost in the garden of Eden.

Probably due to the philosophy of Gnosticism, the hope of the redemption of the body has been replaced by the concept of passing into the spirit Paradise to live forever in a mansion. It appears Gnosticism was prevalent in the days of the early Apostles. Gnosticism teaches that matter is evil and spirit is good; therefore, according to Gnostic thought, our aspiration ought to be to flee from the physical and embrace the spiritual.

Kingdom thinking is the opposite of this. Along with God, it views the physical realm as "very good," needing only to be filled with the Life of Christ to make it perfect in every way. The Kingdom of God comprises God and Christ clothed with material forms. This is a better realm than the spirit form alone, and this is why God created the physical world—including our bodies.

By the way, our flesh-and-bone bodies are an incredibly marvelous creation. What an angel wouldn’t give to have a flesh-and-bone body! Just think! In Christ while He was in a human body dwelled all the fullness of the Godhead. We have no idea of the importance of our body!

Angels can assume a human form, but they never can have a flesh-and-bone body of their own. The flesh-and-bone body is the unique possession of that new race called "man."

It is time now for a reformation of Christian thinking concerning the meaning and goal of salvation—especially concerning the role of the physical body.

We are at a great turning point in Christian thinking. For two thousand years the concept of salvation has been that of going to Heaven, our eternal home. The Gospel has been interpreted as the good news of forgiveness—forgiveness that will enable us to qualify for entrance "past Saint Peter" through the "pearly gates" that we may occupy our splendid mansions.

This understanding of the Christian salvation has served as the main hope for unnumbered millions of believers in Christ. From their ranks have emerged disciples distinguished by their unswerving faithfulness and dedication. No doubt multitudes of these already are stars in the crown of the Lord Jesus.

Now we have come to the death of Moses and the commission of Joshua, so to speak. We are nearing the end of our "wilderness pilgrimage," as the universal Church, and are "camping on the east side of Jordan, facing the land of promise."

We have not been here before, most of us.

The land of promise is the Kingdom of God, the rulership of God in Christ in the saints over all the works of God’s hands, especially the earth. Looking toward Heaven as the land of promise has served throughout the Church Era. But because the return of Christ is at hand, we must return to what the Scriptures teach.

The establishing of the government of God on the earth requires that we regain our mortal body. This means the Kingdom of God and our resurrection to eternal life in our mortal body are interwoven.

Satan regards the earth, and our bodies which are dead because of sin according to the Apostle Paul, as his rightful possession. He is not permitted back into Heaven. He is condemned to find satisfaction through the dust of the earth, through human beings. The serpent has been cursed with a voracious appetite for dust.

With this in mind, Satan has perverted the Gospel from the Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, to the gospel of going to Heaven to live forever. Over the past one hundred fifty years he has added the thought that at any moment all believers will be caught up to Heaven to enjoy the spirit Paradise.

Satan’s purpose in emphasizing eternal residence in Heaven, and an any-moment catching up of the believers to Paradise, is to confuse and obscure the doctrine of the resurrection of the mortal body, and also the good news that God’s Kingdom is to come to the earth; His will is to be done in the earth.

Satan is a more competent adversary than often is recognized.

So here we are in April of the year 2002. The Christian churches, for the most part, are teaching that the Lord Jesus has forgiven us so we can go to Heaven when we die. The idea of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, an actual righteousness wrought out in our behavior, is scarcely known.

We are facing an awesome challenge as we think about the change in thinking that must occur if we are to come into line with the Bible.

However, the task is God’s responsibility. It is His Kingdom!

Let’s see. Where do we start?

The big picture is that some of God’s angels rebelled against Him. God’s response is to bring into existence a new race, the race of mankind. God chose the Word, whom we know as the Lord Jesus, to be a sin offering so God could reconcile the heavens and the earth to Himself. God perfected the Word in obedience to Himself and gave the Word, now become flesh and now His Son, all authority in Heaven and on the earth.

Next God, from the beginning of the world, selected people whom God would form in the image of His Son, providing sons for Himself and brothers for His greater Son. When God created man He formed in these new creatures a throne room for Himself and His Son to occupy. Thus the Son, Jesus, and the sons, upon being raised from the dead, form a kingdom whose role is to govern all the works of God’s hands. This is the Kingdom of God.

When God created the material realm He pronounced it "very good." This pronouncement includes the mortal body. God placed Paradise on the earth. It all was "very good."

As God knew would happen, sin came down from the spirit realm and corrupted the physical realm. God’s response was to withdraw Paradise into the spirit realm and to hide Himself from His new creatures. Then God conceived a kingdom that would govern Paradise so God could return Paradise to the earth. Also, God could dwell in restful love in His sons, and through them govern and bless the remainder of His creation.

The greater Son and the sons, His brothers, are ordained as a governing priesthood. They will rule the creation forever. The assemblage of them is termed "the new Jerusalem," the Throne of God and of the Lamb.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 21:3-5)

In that day the eternal Temple of God will be on the new earth, not in the spirit realm but on the earth, where the nations of saved people can come and receive eternal life and healing from God’s servants, who have become trees of life.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)

When John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of the Lamb announced the coming of God’s Kingdom to the earth, the doing of God’s will in the earth, they were referring to the coming of the glorified Church, the new Jerusalem, to the earth. Can you see how the Bible vision differs from our traditions? God is not training us all the day long so we can lay around in Heaven. He is preparing us to be His Presence among the nations of saved people on the earth.

The practical importance of the change of vision is this: there is nothing we can do about the traditional viewpoint but wait until we die and "get there." The vision of the coming Kingdom, the "city that is to come," on the other hand, directs us to press into God and His righteousness every day of our discipleship. It is not a question of "when we get there," it is a question of laboring to press into the rest of God until we are dwelling in actual righteousness, actual peace, and actual joy.

The Christian salvation does not result in a change of where we are but of what we are.

Satan, of course, has an interest in keeping us unchanged. He would like us to be wicked so we end up in Hell, because he is spiteful. But he is not overly concerned about our dying and going to Heaven. He just wants to prevent our pressing into the rest of God, into actual righteousness, actual peace, and actual joy while we are living on the earth. For this is the Kingdom of God, and the end of Satan’s kingdom.

I believe we can understand the vision I have just presented is very practical because it inspires us to become new creatures in Christ: not new creatures in a textual sense but new creatures in whom the old adamic nature has passed away and all things in our personality have become new and are of God.

If we are to understand the Gospel of the Kingdom we must become aware of the central role of the bodily resurrection of the saints.

The bodily resurrection of the saints at the coming of the Lord is the blessed hope of the Christian Church.

We understand every person, unsaved, saved, wicked, righteous, will hear the voice of Christ and come forth from wherever the individual has been interred. Christ stated this as a fact.

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 all are to be raised from the dead no matter how we have lived, whether or not we have accepted Christ. Our flesh and bones will comes forth, just as was true of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Firstborn from the dead.

The issue is, what will take place when we are brought back to life?

Our flesh and bones will be clothed with some kind of robe, or house. That house will reflect what we have sown while in our flesh-and-blood 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; (I Corinthians 15:42,43)

Our body is to be sown to the death of the cross. We are to present our body a living sacrifice. As we each day choose to carry our cross and do the will of God for the moment, we are creating a robe, or house, in Heaven. When our flesh and bones have been raised from their place of interment, they will be clothed with the robe that has been formed as we have sown our body to the death of the cross.

Now, why is the resurrection so utterly important? It is so important because it is our body that is designed to be the eternal dwelling place of God and Christ.

Man comprises spirit, soul, and body.

Our spirit is the medium through which we can communicate with God. Animals do not have a spirit that can communicate with God.

Our soul is the ability we have to make moral choices. We have to patiently possess our soul, that is, our ability to make righteous choices.

When people live in sin they lose that ability. They receive a mind void of judgment. They no longer are able to make righteous choices. They have lost their soul. It is the soul that sins and the soul that dies.

What we are as a person is a spirit and soul. Our body is the house in which our spirit and soul dwell.

Now here is something we may not have realized. Our body was not created for us but for God. It is the temple of God. Our role is to be a caretaker of God’s house.

Notice the following:

Don’t you know you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16,17)

Food for the stomach and the stomach for food—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! (I Corinthians 6:13-15)

Do we really understand our body is for the Lord, and the Lord for our body?—that our bodies are the members of Christ?

Wouldn’t we of today say that our spirit is for the Lord and it does not matter what happens to our body? This is the influence of Gnosticism.

Our body was created for the Lord’s use, primarily.

Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)

Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit: not our spirit, not our soul, our body! Did you ever think about that? Can you see how Satan and Gnosticism have prevented our perceiving what the Scripture actually states?

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. (II Corinthians 6:16)

Now we can see the purpose for the resurrection. So important is the human body that God referred to Adam and Eve as "dust." Their spirit and soul were not dust, their body was dust. "Dust you are and to dust you will return."

Our body is given to us in flesh and blood form, a weak, temporary tent, that we (our inward nature, particularly our soul) might be tested as to our willingness to obey God. We will be rewarded in our body and we will be punished in our body.

Our goal, the goal of the Apostle Paul, is to attain to the resurrection of our frail, sinful body to eternal life. This is the redemption of the body, for which Paul groaned.

We all will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ that we may receive the things done in our body. This means if we have made righteous choices our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a body that loves righteousness and hates wickedness. If we have made unrighteous choices, our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a body that loves wickedness. In this case our soul, our ability to make righteous decisions, has been lost.

In Galatians, the Apostle Paul tells us if we sow to our sinful nature we will reap corruption. This means our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a corrupt form, revealing our inward nature. If we sow to obedience to the Holy Spirit, our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with eternal life, the very Life of God. This is the hope of John 3:16. It is not just that we will be immortal, because it is likely that all bodies, glorious or corrupt, will endure forever. It is that we will be living forever in the wonderful life of Jesus Christ.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 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 6:7,8)

In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us of his distress over the fact that there were sinful urges in his flesh.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24)

Then Paul tells us how he is to be rescued.

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. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:11-13)

When Paul states that God will give life to our mortal bodies he means in the Day of Resurrection our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a body of life from Heaven.

Since our mortal body at the present time is dead because of sin, and since we have the hope God will redeem our mortal body in the Day of Resurrection, we are not obligated to fulfill the sinful urges of our body. Why should we obey the wicked impulses of that which one day will be delivered? Should we not press forward to its deliverance from such wickedness?

So Paul says, if the Christian chooses to obey the present evil tendencies of his mortal body he will lay up in Heaven a correspondingly evil robe. In the Day of Resurrection he will be clothed with corruption and death, the corruption and death he has practiced during his lifetime on the earth. He will die, and not live, in the Day of Resurrection.

But if the Christian chooses to put to death the present evil tendencies of his mortal body, continually coming to the Mercy Seat for help in conquering the lusts and passions of his body, he shall have his reward in the Day of Resurrection. He has attained to the resurrection of life. He will be clothed in that day with a glorious robe of righteousness so he resembles his Lord.

There were people in Paul’s days, particularly the Gnostics, who claimed there would not be a physical resurrection of the dead. Paul would have none of it.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."  (I Corinthians 50-54)

When Paul says flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God he is referring to the present state of our body. When the Lord Jesus rose from the cave of Joseph of Arimathea He was flesh and bones, not flesh and blood. It is our blood that is corruptible. Our new metabolism will utilize the Holy Spirit instead of corruptible human blood.

We cannot inherit the Kingdom of God in our present body. Our mortal body must be transformed by the Holy Spirit. It is this transformation that we are seeking to attain by living in the Spirit of God in our inward personality. It is certain God will never clothe a disobedient soul and spirit with a body of eternal life, not by grace, mercy, love, or any other factor. What we sow we are going to reap. This is an unalterable law of the Kingdom of God. The principle of sowing and reaping is extremely important to understand, because the preaching and teaching of today leaves the impression that if the believers live a careless Christian life, God is so kind He will clothe them with glory anyway—even though the scriptural promises of rulership and nearness to God are assigned to those who lead a victorious life in Christ.

"We will not all sleep." The New Testament often refers to physical death as "sleep." This is because one day the body will be awakened. The death to be feared is the second death, in which the spirit, soul, and body are separated from God for eternity.

There will be believers who are alive when the Lord returns. When the Lord comes He will bring with Him the righteous dead from the time of Abel. They will descend with Him and take up their bodies from the ground. Then their resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with whatever their behavior has produced. The "fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints."

Can you imagine what a sight this will be when the righteous of all ages suddenly come forth and are standing on the ground! And then clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus!

But what about those of us who are alive? We will have to be so filled with faith and obedience that we will not draw back when we feel our blood being replaced by the Holy Spirit. "Remember Lot’s wife!"

How we will respond to this change will determine whether we are qualified and competent to be caught up along with those who have returned with the Lord.

It is my opinion that many of the Christians who are alive at the time of the coming of the Lord will not have the faith required to press forward into the fullness of resurrection life. They will not have the "oil" that is required at that time. They are accustomed to obeying God when they feel like it. As soon as they realize they no longer will be living as a flesh-and-blood person they will draw back. By the time they realize what they have done it will be too late.

If we are to be able to pass from life to death to life while standing on our feet we will have to spend our lifetime cultivating faith and obedience.

Lot’s wife had been in the habit of doing whatever she felt like doing. That habit prevented her from remaining with her husband and daughters.

If we have not been in the habit of obeying the Lord promptly and diligently, we will not be able to press forward into the fullness of life.

Every intervention of God, whether it has to do with being saved, or healed, or filled with the Spirit, or entering ministry, depends on our faith and obedience for its implementation. Divine intervention must always be accompanied by human activation.

Our change from perishability to imperishability in our body will take place in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye. If we are not instantly ready, there will be no second chance.

We will be changed. Our perishable body will clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with the immortal. Can you see how we put on the imperishability and the immortality? God does not clothe us. We put on our own new clothes.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53)

The Bride makes herself ready.

Our present teaching leaves the impression Christ will come and sovereignly change us apart from any obedience or faith on our part. If such were the case He would not have warned us to remember Lot’s wife.

Our clothing ourselves with immortality reminds us of the Lord’s statement that He had the authority and power to lay down His life and to take it up again. This is the power God will give those who return with the Lord. They will descend in the spirit realm and take up their body, and then clothe themselves with whatever house has been produced during their discipleship.

So it will be with those of us who are alive at the time. We will have the authority and power to step forward into immortality and clothe ourselves with whatever Christ hands out to us.

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—KJV)

And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:8—NASB))

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)

Notice carefully the above:

"May receive the things done in his body."

"The fine linen is the righteous acts."

"From that nature will reap destruction."

You know, as we study the passages that have to do with what the Lord will hand to us in that day, we notice that it is not a case of receiving a prize or a punishment that our behavior warrants. It goes much deeper than this. It is that we receive what we have done. That is, if we have practiced lying we receive lying. If we have practiced truth we receive truth. Then we are placed where we belong. If we receive lying we are placed in the Lake of Fire. If we receive truth we are placed in an honored role in the Kingdom. There are great in the Kingdom and least in the Kingdom—all sorts of roles and ranks according to what we receive in the Day of Resurrection.

It is important to take careful note of "May receive the things done in his body"; "The fine linen is the righteous acts"; "From that nature will reap destruction." Current teaching suggests that even though we have lived according to our sinful nature, by grace we will reap righteousness and life. Grace is the great leveler such that there are no rewards or punishment in the Kingdom of God.

The truth is much more equitable than this. We receive the things done in the body. The fine linen is the righteous acts. The destruction reaped by disobedient Christians proceeds out from a disobedient nature that did not enter God’s program of sanctification. It is not that we are punished for being sinful, rather we are handed back that corrupted nature in the Day of Resurrection.

Grace does not affect the Kingdom laws of cause and effect. Grace assists those who desire to please God; but it is not designed to be used, as it is today, as a means of avoiding God’s will with the hope that one can sow sin and reap glory.

Physical death is the last enemy to be destroyed. Death will be swallowed up in victory for those who have done good. Death will be swallowed up in corruption for those who have practiced evil. Such statements are written in the New Testament and cannot be altered.

Through grace God gives us the means of changing our ways. Grace is not a new manner by which God relates to man. Grace is God in Christ enabling man to escape Satan and attain the moral image of God and rest in God’s Person and will. The Kingdom is one of actual righteousness, actual peace, and actual joy.

Such is our land of promise. We are near the end of our wilderness sojourn. The shepherd, Moses, is being replaced by the general, Joshua.

It is time to be circumcised again, that is, to have the worldliness, sin, and disobedience cut out of our heart.

It is time to eat some of the produce of the land, some of the good food of the Kingdom; for the manna, our daily supply of grace, is due to be terminated.

Our land of promise is the image of Christ wrought in us; untroubled rest in the center of God’s person and will; an immortal body in which God and the Lamb are ruling (along with us when we have learned stern obedience to the Father); the saved people of the nations; the farthest reaches of the earth; and dominion over all the works of God’s hands. All these have been promised to whoever chooses to live in victory in the Lord Jesus.

Satan regards the physical world, particularly our body, as his own possession. Therefore he, his angels, and his demons, will fight furiously to keep what they inhabit.

It is time now for whoever chooses to do so to overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony, and by loving not our life to the death. As soon as some of God’s people overcome the accuser, Satan and his angels will be cast down to the earth. Then the heavens will rejoice and total victory in the earth will have been made possible. The strong man has been bound!

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

Now that we have seen what our objective is, it is our responsibility to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness every moment of every day and night until the Lord takes us to be with Himself, there to await the glorious Day of all days when we appear with Him and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

God, Christ, and the peoples of the earth await your decision.

What will it be?