FIRST CORINTHIANS, FIFTEEN
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The main vision of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is that of the resurrection to eternal life. Every person who has lived on the earth will be raised from the dead, some to eternal life and some to judgment and possibly shame and everlasting contempt—if not worse!
Table of Contents
First Corinthians, Chapter Fifteen
Verses three through eight
Verses thirteen through fifteen
Verses sixteen, seventeen
Verses twenty-two, twenty-three
Verses twenty-four through twenty-six
Verses twenty-seven, twenty-eight
Verses thirty through thirty-three
Verses thirty-eight through forty-one
Verses forty-two through forty-four
Verses forty-six through forty-nine
Verses fifty-three, fifty-four
Verses fifty-five through fifty-seven
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28,29)
FIRST CORINTHIANS, FIFTEEN
The resurrection of the physical body from its place of burial is taught in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is clear the righteous will be raised in their body to eternal life in God’s Kingdom while the wicked will be raised in their body to shame and judgment.
One source of confusion concerning the resurrection has been the idea that the destiny of Christian people is eternal residence in a mansion in the spirit Paradise (Heaven), and that the purpose of the resurrection is to bring us there. We know Heaven is a real place. Our joys, and treasures are there—fixed on the rainbow throne, the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, the twenty-four elders, the four living creatures, the tremendous angels who do God’s will, the saints in light. Heaven is a real place and we have set our heart there. We hope to go there when we die. Heaven is our place of waiting until the Day of Resurrection.
We must understand, however, that very little is said in the Scriptures about our having eternal residence in Heaven. Much is stated about the Day of the Lord and the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The new Jerusalem, which is the perfected Church, the Bride of the Lamb, is described in Isaiah and in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.
But passages that describe our life after death and before the resurrection of the dead are very few in number. The mental picture we have of mansions, parks, the children playing, come mostly from the near-death experiences of the saints, not from the Scriptures. We do not doubt these experiences, but in the spiritually dark days in which we live we must follow the written Word very strictly.
It appears certain after we have been raised from the dead we shall be able to pass into the spirit realm at our will. However, we know the Lord Jesus will be on the earth ruling the nations from the city of Jerusalem. Most of us would not want to be up in Heaven while the Lord was on the earth! The Scripture teaches we shall always be with the Lord, and this is what we desire.
We may discover when we die and pass into the spirit realm that we are not as content there as we once imagined we would be, even though we are surrounded with every imaginable delight. People are not people when they have no physical body. As pure and free from trouble as Heaven is, there may be something in our personality that longs to return to the physical world in a physical body.
Abraham and the patriarchs are in Heaven. Yet, they have not attained their goal.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (Hebrews 11:39)
They are in Heaven but they have “received not the promise.” What is the promise? Perhaps the promise made to the patriarchs was not eternal residence in Heaven but the bodily resurrection from the dead.
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: (Hebrews 11:35)
“A better resurrection”!
But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:13)
“Thou shalt rest.” The spirit Paradise may prove to be a place of rest for us until we stand once again on the earth in the Day of Resurrection.
We seem to see a longing for the earth on the part of those who now are in the spirit realm:
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9,10)
“We shall reign on the earth.” Do you glean from this statement what could be a desire to return to the earth?
As we prepare to study the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians, it may be helpful to keep several concepts in mind:
The first and most important hope of the Christian Church is the resurrection (redemption) of the mortal body into eternal life in the Presence of God and the Lord Jesus.
It is the physical body that will be raised. The “body from heaven” of the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians is a body of eternal life that will clothe the resurrected flesh and bones of the saint; and it is just that—a body from Heaven. The “body from heaven” is not the body that will be raised from the dead. Our body that has died will be the body that is raised from the dead, however it may be changed at that time. Otherwise there would be no resurrection of the dead!
The flesh and bones of the Lord Jesus actually came forth from the grave. The tomb was empty, just as ours will be in that day.
The kind of change our physical body will experience when it is raised depends directly on the faithfulness with which we have served the Lord Jesus. It is not at all true that every believer on the basis of grace will receive a body like that of the Lord Jesus.
It was immortality in the body that was lost in the Garden of Eden. Immortality in the body will be restored through the Lord Jesus. John 3:16 is referring to immortality in the body. The Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament, point toward eternal life in the body. This is one of the foremost hopes of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Our body will not be raised from the dead so we can live in Heaven. The spiritual nature of the righteous does go to the Paradise of God at the time of death, as far as we know. But the purpose of the resurrection of the body is that we may live once again upon the earth: first upon the present earth; later upon the new earth.
The resurrection of the saints that will take place when the Lord returns is not the general resurrection of the dead. It is a special resurrection of the royal priesthood so they may rule with the Lord Jesus throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
First Corinthians, Chapter Fifteen
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (I Corinthians 15:1)
That which follows in Chapter Fifteen will be the Gospel the Apostle Paul preached, the truth on which the Church of Christ is to stand. We see at once that the resurrection of the physical body from its place of burial is the central vision of our salvation.
When we make eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven the vision of redemption, the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, become impossible to understand.
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (I Corinthians 15:2)
What Paul preached to the saints in Corinth is described in the following words. It is that Christ died on the cross to make an atonement for us, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day.
In the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, Paul emphasizes the fact that because Christ rose, our resurrection is guaranteed. We are to keep firmly in mind that our hope, our goal, is the bodily resurrection from the dead, the resurrection to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
If we lose sight of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection we do not participate in the program of salvation as we should. The result may be that our original belief proved to be in vain.
Our vision of the goal of the plan of redemption has a direct effect on the diligence with which we serve the Lord.
A little later in the chapter Paul says in effect, If there is no resurrection let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. It is the fact that we shall be raised from the dead to meet the consequences of our behavior that compels us to lead a godly life. We do not cease to exist after we die physically.
Evidently some teachers of Paul’s day were claiming there would be no bodily resurrection from the dead. Paul knew it is the hope (and fear) of the resurrection that cause us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Verses three through eight.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (I Corinthians 15:3-8)
The above passages form the basis of the Christian Gospel:
(“Then of the twelve.” It is not likely that Judas was present after Christ’s resurrection. It is reasonable to suppose the expression “the twelve” was still applied to the original apostles, even though there were only eleven at this time. Similar passages in the other Gospel accounts refer to “the eleven.”)
The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross as a sin-offering, making an atonement for all who put their trust in Him.
The Lord Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
The Lord Jesus rose bodily from the dead on the third day, in fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10) and the type of Jonah (Jonah 1:17).
After He came forth from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea the Lord Jesus was seen by Peter, then by the other Apostles, then by five hundred disciples, then by James, then by all the Apostles, and finally by the Apostle Paul.
The Christian Gospel presents the Lord Jesus as the sin-bearer and then as the Son of Man who rose from the dead as a flesh-and-bone person. There were many witnesses of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:39)
When we turn aside from the Law of Moses, or whatever moral code we are following, and place our trust in the blood atonement and the bodily resurrection of Christ, we have entered God’s plan of salvation. It is not that such belief is our salvation but that belief in the Person and work of Christ orients us correctly to God’s plan of salvation so we may set forth on the pilgrimage that leads finally to the moral image of Christ and to union with the Father through the Son.
Our hope is that if we place our trust in the blood atonement made by Christ, we then can press forward in the certain knowledge that the Lord will raise us at His coming just as He Himself was raised, provided we have kept His commandments.
The issue today is that of keeping the Lord’s commandments.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
Shall we be saved anyway even though we do not keep the Lord’s commandments? How would you answer this question?
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (I Corinthians 15:9)
Throughout his entire life the Apostle Paul never forgot that at one time he had done great harm to Christian families. Some of us also have done things we regret. We may ask the Lord, “Why did you let me do this? Why did You let me sin when you knew my desire was to do Your will?”
We do not always understand the Lord, but we trust Him.
We could speculate that God, knowing the awesome responsibility He was assigning to the Apostle Paul concerning the explanation of the transition from Moses to Christ, wanted to make certain Paul would not become proud of his own righteousness.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (Ephesians 3:8)
Paul considered himself to be the worst of sinners.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (I Timothy 1:15)
Here is a good attitude for every one of us to maintain. Salvation is of the Lord, not of us!
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10)
God knew of Paul’s zeal and diligence in religious matters. God understood that Paul would hold himself before the Lord consistently, seeking the Lord’s will at all times. God knew Paul would pray without ceasing until the message of the Kingdom had been presented accurately and completely.
The grace of God worked through Paul in preaching the Kingdom of God until he could say, “I worked harder than any of the other apostles.” Is this true of us? Can God trust us with an important work of the Kingdom, knowing that we shall seek the Lord diligently until the work He has assigned to us has been completed?
Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. (I Corinthians 15:11)
What was preached? That Christ died for our sins and that He was raised bodily from the dead. It is time for all true ministers of the Gospel to come before the Lord and ask Him what His attitude is toward the churches of today; what it is that He wants preached.
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? (I Corinthians 15:12)
Perhaps this is the same error referred to by the Apostle John.
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:3)
It may be true that some teachers of the first century were stressing a spiritual Christ, discounting the flesh-and-bones aspect of Christ and of His bodily resurrection.
We have much the same error today. First, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God has turned into the gospel of “go to the spirit Paradise when you die.” Instead of the coming of the Kingdom to the physical earth we have the going of the saints to live forever in the spirit Heaven.
Second, the emphasis on the ascension to Heaven of the believers has obscured the concept of a bodily resurrection from the dead. The majority of believers who have been taught the any-moment pre-tribulation “rapture” of the believers have little or no concept of the resurrection from the dead.
The believers of today are not certain whether or not our body will be raised from the dead or whether we will receive another body, a heavenly body, after we have been caught up to Heaven.
The emphasis is on our being “caught up” to meet the Lord and to go with Him to Heaven (which is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures). One seldom hears we must be resurrected before we ascend.
Let us look at the passage in question.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:16,17)
First the dead in Christ are called forth from their graves. After that they and we who are alive are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. No mention is made of returning to Heaven. In fact, the majority of those who are raised at this time have just come from Heaven. Why should they return to Heaven?
How long a period of time will elapse after we are resurrected and before we are caught up is not stated. The Lord Jesus did not ascend until forty days after He was resurrected. Perhaps the same will be true of us.
The above passage from First Thessalonians was written to comfort the living saints in Thessalonica concerning Christians who had died before the Lord returned.
When there is a death in the family, we comfort the bereaved with the hope their loved one is in Heaven with Jesus. Paul offered a much better hope—that the bereaved will see their loved one in flesh-and-bones reality when the Lord returns and raises him or her from the dead. After the resurrection, all will ascend together to meet the Lord in the air.
Let us think for a moment. After the saints have been resurrected they will be immortal. Nothing on this earth, including Antichrist, will be able to injure them in any manner, just as was true of the Lord Jesus after He was raised from the dead.
If the saints will be standing on the earth in resurrected bodies, what need would there be for God to catch them up to Heaven in order to escape Antichrist or the great tribulation? They are in redeemed bodies. How can they be harmed?
The teaching of today concerning the “catching away” of the Church to avoid Antichrist and the great tribulation is unscriptural and illogical. It also leads away from the truth because it suggests there is no need for the believer to prepare himself to stand in the evil day.
The teaching of the bodily resurrection of the saints, the victory over the last enemy, is stated clearly in the Scriptures. The doctrine of today does not state there is no resurrection of the dead. But the effect of the emphasis on living eternally in Heaven, and the “rapture” to Heaven, is to divert our attention to the point that it is the same as saying there is no bodily resurrection from the dust of the ground.
By changing the concept of being raised bodily from the dead to that of flying away to Heaven we have removed both the hope and the fear of the bodily resurrection from the dead, the hope and the fear that we shall meet the consequences of our actions after we die.
We have not fully realized that going to the Lord Jesus, or to Abraham’s bosom, or wherever we go after we die, is a temporary situation. In the Day of the Lord we shall be brought back from our place of rest in the spirit realm and enter our body on the earth. We then shall be required to give an account of what we have done in our body. We shall receive that which we have practiced during our life on the earth.
But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:13)
Can you see from the above that Daniel went to a temporary place of rest until the time of judgment in the Day of Resurrection?
It is one matter to look forward to going to live forever in Paradise after one dies no matter how he has behaved as a Christian.
It is another matter to look forward to being raised in the Day of Resurrection, after we have been in the spirit realm for awhile, to find ourselves standing before Christ, waiting to be rewarded according to our works.
The first is without foundation in Scriptures.
The second is clearly taught in the Scriptures.
Verses thirteen through fifteen.
But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. (I Corinthians 15:13-15)
The bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus is so central to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that if Christ did not rise from the dead, the preaching of the Gospel is useless and our faith is useless. Our faith depends upon the Lord’s resurrection.
When the Lord’s Apostles preached they bore witness that Christ was raised from the dead by the Glory of the Father.
Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22)
Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. (Acts 2:24)
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. (Acts 2:32)
Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. (Acts 4:2)
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)
Over and over again as recorded in the Book of Acts the Apostles preached the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They did not stress the fact that He ascended to Heaven but that He returned to life. The message of Easter is that the Lord was raised bodily from the dead—not that He ascended but that He was resurrected.
The Apostles of the first century were oriented toward the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and so they stressed the fact that the Lord Jesus had gained immortality in the body.
Verses sixteen, seventeen.
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (I Corinthians 15:16,17)
Evidently some teachers already were explaining away the idea that the believers would be raised from the dead. Paul was stating if the believers are not to be raised then neither has Christ been raised. Our resurrection and His resurrection are very closely tied together.
So important is the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection that if it did not take place our sins have not been forgiven. The forgiveness and deliverance from sin that come to us under the new covenant depend for their effectiveness on the resurrection of the Lord.
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (I Corinthians 15:18)
As we shall see later on, when the Apostle Paul referred to our being made alive in Christ he meant physically alive.
Notice the expression “are perished.” Compare John 3:16: “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 is speaking of our hope of being resurrected to eternal life. I think it is because of the influence of Gnosticism, a philosophy that denies the physical resurrection, that we Christians have come to interpret John 3:16 as meaning that God gave His Son so we would not go to Hell but to Heaven, there to live forever in the spirit realm. This has to be the influence of Gnosticism, for there is no foundation in the Bible for the belief that God gave His Son so we would live forever in the spirit realm.
The idea of not coming back to life again physically, the resurrection of the flesh and bones, was Paul’s frame of reference when he said, “they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” If Christ has not been raised, then the believers who have died will never again be seen alive physically.
We are accustomed to comforting ourselves with the thought that our deceased loved ones are in Paradise with Jesus (and indeed they are if they have lived their life in Christ!). We do not give much thought to their coming back to life on the earth. The desirability of their resurrection is not uppermost in our mind.
But coming back to life on the earth was the original Gospel, the blessed hope of the Church. Paul is stating (above) that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then our loved ones will not come to life again on the earth and all will be lost. Paul would not view their being saved as meaning they were safe in the arms of Jesus in Heaven. The issue in Paul’s mind was their coming back to life in the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We are preaching “another gospel” today! We are preaching a gospel of going to Heaven to live forever rather than returning to live on a redeemed earth, an earth in which God’s will is done as it is in Heaven. We have forgotten the Lord’s Prayer!
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (I Corinthians 15:19)
By this saying we of today mean if we are not going to have eternal life in Heaven, if our present life is all we will experience, then we are to be pitied. But Paul was not speaking of eternal life in Heaven but of our coming back to life on the earth. Paul was addressing those who were teaching that the dead will not be raised. Paul is saying if the dead are not to be raised, and the only hope we have in Christ is in the present life, then we are to be pitied. But because Christ was raised by the Glory of the Father, was declared to be the Son of God by the power of His resurrection, we have the Divine assurance that we too will live once again on the earth.
It may be true that at least some of those who were teaching that the believers will not be raised were not looking forward to life in Heaven either. They were emphasizing the value of Christ during our present life. This is true today. A psychologic gospel is being preached that emphasizes what Christ will do for us in this world in terms of health, prosperity, and wholesome family life. It is not widely understood that God has assigned our natural, adamic personality to the cross and our entire hope is based on a new, inner born-again personality that will be given a resurrected body at the appearing of the Lord from Heaven.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (I Corinthians 15:20)
Christ is “the firstfruits of them that slept.” Notice in the preceding verse how closely Christ’s resurrection is tied to our resurrection. The Lord Jesus is the beginning of the Kingdom of God, the Firstborn from the dead.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)
Christ was the Beginning of the first creation and now He is the Beginning of the new creation, the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God consists of those who have died and been raised again in Christ.
It is of the greatest importance to realize we are shaping our own resurrection. Every person who has been born on the earth will be raised from the dead at one time or another. What is important is what we are raised to.
What we are raised to depends on how we have served the Lord. Those who have served the Lord with all their strength will be clothed with a heavenly body of eternal life and power. The heavenly body will cloth their resurrected flesh and bones.
Those who have not served the Lord diligently will be clothed with that which reflects their lack of diligence or their sin and rebellion. Those who have lived in the appetites of the flesh will be clothed with corruption. Those who have lived contemptible lives will be clothed with contempt.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
Those who practice righteous behavior and lead others to practice righteous behavior will be clothed with a body that will shine for eternity like a star in the firmament.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)
Multitudes of believers may reap corruption in the day of the Lord because they have lived their lives in the desires of the flesh and soul.
The Kingdom law states that what we sow we shall reap. This law is not changed by faith, mercy, or grace. It is time for the watchmen to sound the alarm.
Christ came forth from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. In like manner we shall come forth from our place of burial. In one sense, His resurrection and our resurrection are one resurrection just as His crucifixion and our crucifixion are one crucifixion. We have been crucified with Christ and resurrected with Christ.
“The firstfruits of them that slept.” “That sleep in the dust of the earth.” We do not often refer to physical death as sleep. This is because we have emphasized that salvation will result in our discarding our physical body so our born-again inner nature can go to the spirit realm and receive a spiritual body.
But God regards physical death as a sleeping of the physical body because He intends to awaken the body from its sleep in the dust of the earth.
He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. (Matthew 9:24)
The Lord Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. The body of the maid was sleeping in physical death. Her body awoke at the voice of the Lord. The same is true of every mortal body that has lived on the earth.
The girl awoke amid much rejoicing. So shall we if we have served the Lord diligently.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (I Corinthians 15:21)
The death referred to here is physical death. Adam and Eve were alive physically, living in Paradise on the earth.
When speaking of them, God did not refer to their eternal souls. God told them they were dust and that they would return to the dust. We see here the emphasis on the physical body.
God warned that in the day they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die; not that they would be cast into Hell but that they would die.
Today we preach as though the main message of the Gospel were escape from Hell and residence in Heaven. There is an actual Hell and there is an actual Heaven. The truth is, however, that the main message of the Gospel is escape from death and entrance into eternal life. The Lord Jesus came that we might have more abundant eternal life—the resurrection Life that comes from God the Father.
In the day Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the Presence of God withdrew from them and from all nature. Man and nature died, being denied the renewal of the Life of God. Cherubim were stationed to guard the way to the tree of life, the eating of which would have given immortality to the bodies of Adam and Eve.
By man came death, not Hell, but death. Through the obedience of the Man, Christ, came the raising of the dead, the renewing of human bodies so they can walk once again on the earth.
… This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 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)
Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish, not be doomed to exist forever in corruption, but shall gain eternal life—immortality in a renewed body. The Kingdom of God, the will of God, is coming into the earth. Everything of worth shall be restored through Christ. This is not to say that all people eventually will be saved, for that is not true.
Paradise shall be restored to the earth.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
No doubt the great surprise will be that life will not have changed very much when we are raised from the dead. It is true that those who overcome will have bodies of such surpassing glory, power, and abilities that there is no comparison with our present body.
Also, no saved individual, from the least to the greatest, will suffer the pain so common today.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
But the pursuits of people may be much the same as today, although in an environment free from the curse. Builders will build. Musicians will play. Writers will write. Farmers will farm. Why should it be different? This is the way God has made man.
We do not know how relationships will change. But we can be sure that our relationships will be infinitely more joyous than could ever be possible in our present state. The best we can imagine cannot approach the glory of the righteous world of the resurrection.
Physical death came to us through Adam. Physical immortality will come to us through the Lord Jesus.
Verses twenty-two, twenty-three.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (I Corinthians 15:22,23)
Every person died “in Adam.” Our adamic nature and mortal body is dead because of Adam’s rebellion. When we receive the Lord Jesus our inward spiritual nature receives eternal life because of the blood of the cross and ascends with Christ to the right hand God. But our physical body remains dead because of sin.
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)
But God intends to redeem our mortal body.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)
God indeed shall make alive our mortal body by means of His Spirit who is living in us, provided we choose to put to death through the Holy Spirit the appetites of our flesh.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
The first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, which will take place at the coming of the Lord, is only for those who have lived a victorious Christian life, who have put to death the appetites of their flesh and soul and have walked in the Spirit of God.
No amount of correct doctrine will bring an individual to resurrection life at the return of the Lord. Only those who have lived by the body and blood of the Lord will be able to be raised from the dead and caught up to the Lord in that Day. Where the slain Lamb is, there will those be who live by His Life.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)
Notice carefully that every individual will be made alive in his own order. Christ was the first to be raised from the dead physically. Those who belong to Christ will be made alive physically at His coming.
Paul does not regard us as being truly alive at the point of receiving Christ. Rather, we shall be made alive at the coming of the Lord. It is the future redemption of the body that is the promised salvation. The New Testament declares that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of the redemption of our body.
Which is the earnest [pledge] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14)
The “purchased possession” is our body.
Those who belong to the Lord Jesus will be brought back to life at His coming. We have said only those who have overcome sin will be given to eat of the tree of life. This is a fact of the Scripture and cannot be changed in any manner.
The Scripture teaches that only the blessed and holy royal priesthood will be raised at the Lord’s coming. This decree also cannot be changed in any manner.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
The rest of the dead will not come back to life, to physical life on the earth, until the thousand years has been completed.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5)
We conclude that the standard of what it means to be a Christian, to belong to the Lord, is much higher than ordinarily is assumed and taught.
The term Christian means “disciple.” A disciple is someone who has denied himself, taken up his cross, and is following the Lord Jesus every day. Only these are Christians. Many others may possibly be saved, but only the disciples are members of the royal priesthood.
If we are incorrect, if we have raised the standard too high, then many careless believers will have a pleasant surprise when the Lord returns. But if we are correct, if the words of the New Testament will stand as written, then a multitude of “believers” in our country are facing agony when the Lord returns—and their preachers and teachers with them.
Verses twenty-four through twenty-six.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:24-26)
The Lord Jesus is subject to the Father. Jesus is waiting until all of His enemies have been made His footstool. When His enemies have been completely subdued, then Christ shall give the Kingdom to the Father and He Himself will be subject to the Father. If the Lord Jesus did not do this then He, like Satan, would be in rebellion against the Father.
No person ever will be given back his physical body until every enemy of his personality has been defeated by the Lord Jesus. Physical death is the last enemy to be destroyed from our personality.
The type of Joshua and Israel standing at the entrance to the land of promise is a picture of the Church of today. Joshua is the Lord Jesus as the Commander of battle leading the army of saints. Canaan portrays resurrection ground. Israel represents the Church. The two spies speak of those who today are pressing forward to the fullness of God. The people of Jericho symbolize the world. Rahab shows us that there will be people in the last days who will assist the saints and who will be rewarded with salvation.
Our land of promise is an immortal body filled with the fullness of God, living in an environment from which the curse has been lifted and now is filled with the Presence and Glory of God.
Our land of promise is inhabited in the present hour by demons and fallen angels. They must be driven out. The Lord will not drive them out by Himself. He will help us, as He helped Israel, but we must drive them out.
The Church has never been here before. We must keep our eyes fastened on the Lord Jesus every minute and meditate constantly in the Scriptures. We live in marvelous times. Both sin and righteousness are coming to maturity. God is facing Satan. Christ is facing Antichrist. The Holy Spirit is facing the False Prophet, the spirit of religious delusion.
Every enemy shall be trampled under the feet of the Church. The last enemy to be destroyed will be physical death.
The Kingdom is the rule of God over an earth in which sin has been abolished. The Lord Jesus must rule until every other rule, authority, and power has been conquered. Then the Son will present the Kingdom to the Father.
Verses twenty-seven, twenty-eight.
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:27,28)
God is putting everything under the feet of the Lord Jesus, Jesus being representative Man.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: (Psalms 8:6)
As Paul says, it is clear the Father is not put under the feet of the Lord Jesus. Rather it is true that God is putting all things under the feet of Jesus. When this has been accomplished the Lord Jesus Himself will be subject to God so God may be All in all.
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? (I Corinthians 15:29)
Nowhere in the Scriptures is it suggested that we should be baptized on the behalf of dead people. We do not believe that Paul was endorsing this practice.
Perhaps a parallel thought is expressed in the following:
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3,4)
It may be that Paul was saying, “When we were baptized in water it was into the death of Christ, with the expectation we will be part of His resurrection and thus live a new life.”
During Paul’s life there may have been many who were baptized according John’s baptism who did not know of, or did not wish to participate in, Christian baptism. Even today Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran baptize in water, looking back to John the Baptist as their last prophet.
A practice of the Mandaeans during a marriage ceremony, that may have bearing on the issue of baptizing for the dead is described as follows: “The next step was the ritual meal for the dead, for the souls of departed relatives and ancestors are supposed to participate in rites, which mean the continuance of their race, and to bless the young people.” (Research Institute for Development Knowledge Mandai Studies Center; Under the Supervision of Masoud Forouzandeh Salem Choheili, With Compertion of Iranian Mandaean’s Association.)
Paul’s point is, if the dead do not rise, then those who are baptized enter death without the hope of rising again.
This may or may not be the proper interpretation of verse twenty-nine.
Verses thirty through thirty-three.
And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (I Corinthians 15:30-33)
Paul seems to be saying here that his testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and of our consequent resurrection, had brought much trouble to him. He continually was in danger. Perhaps he was referring to the people of Ephesus as “beasts,” indicating that he had suffered at their hands as he sought to bring the witness of the resurrection to them.
“Let us eat and drink. Let us have a good time. Tomorrow we die and there will be no resurrection, no giving an account of our behavior. Since this is true, why bother to endure such pain?”
“Don’t be deceived,” Paul warns. “To talk and think as though there is to be no resurrection will have a bad effect on your behavior.”
So it is today. The believers have been taught that if they will take the four steps of salvation they will receive a body like that of the Lord Jesus, and after receiving such a body they will live in a mansion of gold in Paradise forever.
If this is true, why put to death their flesh with its appetites and lusts?
The teaching of the Kingdom of God, of the resurrection of the dead, is that each believer will be faced with the consequences of his behavior by being given a body that contains within itself the good he has practiced and the evil he has practiced. Some will be exceedingly glad because their patient discipleship has formed for them a glorious robe of radiant righteousness. Others will bear the contempt of the onlookers because their resurrected flesh and bones will reveal the spiritual nakedness of their personalities. They have sown to the flesh and have reaped corruption as a result.
When we realize our flesh and bones will be raised, that we actually will be handed the results of our behavior, we should then go to the Lord and ask Him to forgive us and cleanse us; to remove from our robe the corruption that we do not wish to be given in the coming day.
It is clear from Paul’s exhortation that from the very first, the resurrection of the body was contested. It is so today. The influence of Gnosticism, plus the recent “pre-tribulation rapture,” have obscured the central doctrine of the New Testament, the physical resurrection of the dead.
How many sermons are preached today in Christian churches that stress the importance of the resurrection of the body, and the fact that we will rise to whatever condition and fate our behavior has earned? Have you heard even one?
Yet, this is the central doctrine of the New Testament.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30,31)
It is Satan who is obscuring the doctrine of the resurrection. Why is this? It is because Satan no longer is permitted to enter the highest Heaven, the residence of the Father and Christ. Rather, Satan’s kingdom is in the earth.
Satan would do anything to drive the entire Church of Christ to Heaven, or else down to Hell, preferably. Just as long as the saints are no longer on the earth, Satan is pleased. Satan considers the earth to be his area of rulership and pleasure.
When we stress going to Heaven, Satan is not overly concerned, although he deeply resents our being able to enter the glorious Presence of God.
Satan’s main concern, however, is the earth—in particular the flesh and bones bodies of people. He has been cursed with a lust for the dust of the earth, that is, for the physical bodies of people. When he has no physical bodies through which to exercise his perverted and inflamed passions, he walks through dry places.
So Satan will do everything in his power to divert the attention of the Church from the fact that the members are destined to return to the earth, take up their bodies from the grave, lift the curse and restore Paradise.
Can you see the scriptural logic of this? Can you see why Satan incites the ministers to focus on the unscriptural “rapture” and neglect the physical resurrection of the believers?
In addition to this, Satan has persuaded the believers that they have no need to fear judgment after they have “accepted Christ.” The truth is, the New Testament teaches clearly that we will be raised from the dead to face eternal life, or corruption, depending on the decisions we make during our present lifetime.
These two lies, that we will be caught up to live forever in Heaven, and that once we “accept Christ” we will not be rewarded according to our works, have destroyed the vitality of the Christian churches.
I enclose accept Christ in quotation marks because this unscriptural term leaves a false impression. It assumes we can make a profession of faith in Christ and after that wait to go to Heaven. The truth is, we have to accept Christ throughout every moment of our life if we are to be accounted a victorious saint. Salvation is past, present, and future. It is not a ticket, it is the way of righteousness and eternal life. Christ is not a ticket, He is the Way!
According to the New Testament, the Apostles did not use the expression “accept Christ.” Rather, the Apostles warned people of the coming resurrection and judgment, and exhorted people to turn from their wicked ways so that Christ would accept them. Paul spoke to Felix about righteousness, self-control, and the Day of Judgment. Paul did not say “accept Christ and you can forget about righteousness, self-control, and the Day of Judgment.” But that is what we preach today! We are false prophets and teachers!
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34)
What a wonderful balance this verse is toward the current apathetic attitude toward Christian behavior! What a wholesome attitude—an attitude that blows away all the cobwebs.
We go to Heaven by grace and not by works. “Awake to righteousness and stop sinning!”
Christ has done it all for us. “Awake to righteousness and stop sinning!”
We are saved unconditionally. “Awake to righteousness and stop sinning!”
As long as we are in this world we have to sin. “Awake to righteousness and stop sinning!”
Any effort we make to live righteously is “works” and “legalism.” Awake to righteousness and stop sinning!”
God sees me only through Christ. “Awake to righteousness and stop sinning!”
Many people are ignorant of God because the believers do not awake to righteousness and cease their sinning. Today the churches are asleep concerning righteous behavior. They should be ashamed!
It is the Gospel, the good news, of the bodily resurrection from the dead that saves us. We are saved by the certain knowledge that we shall be raised from the dead in our body and that the type of resurrection we will experience depends strictly on whether we have sown to the flesh or to the Holy Spirit.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)
It is in the Day of Resurrection that we reap what we have sown.
We cannot overemphasize this point: we shall not receive a body like that of the Lord Jesus on the basis of faith, grace, or mercy. The glorification of our body, the capacities for life, service, and closeness to God that will be ours in the Day of the Lord, depends strictly on the manner in which we have followed the Lord during our discipleship on the earth.
The teaching of today is that every person who has taken the “four steps of salvation” is guaranteed a body like that of the Lord. Because of this false hope the believers are not pressing forward to the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the royal priesthood.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? (I Corinthians 15:35)
As Christian attention is turned away from mansions in Heaven and emphasis is placed on our being raised from the dead and our future life on the earth in God’s Kingdom, the question of how the dead are raised and with what kind of body they will come to the earth will be of increasing interest and importance to the saints.
We know from the Scriptures that two bodies will be involved in the resurrection. Our present body of flesh and bones will be raised from the dead. We also have a spiritual body, or “robe,” or “house,” that is being fashioned in Heaven according to our spiritual progress on the earth.
At what point our spiritual body will clothe our flesh and bones we do not know.
It may be true that the Lord will come with our spiritual body and place it over our flesh and bones, and then raise the glorified body from the dust.
Perhaps our flesh and bones will be raised from the ground (or the water if we have drowned) and brought to a place of reunion on earth with all saints. Then all of us together, the former dead and the living, will be raised to meet the Lord in the air. Perhaps at that point we will be clothed with our “house from heaven” and then assigned to one of the governing thrones in the air that has been vacated, or else placed in our rank in the army that is about to descend to the Mount of Olives.
A third alternative, the one we prefer at the present time, is that the white robe (the house from Heaven) will be given to the deceased saints at some point prior to the coming of the Lord, and then they will return to the Lord Jesus and raise their own remains from the place of burial. At the same time the white robe will be given to those who are alive and remain.
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Revelation 6:11)
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (Revelation 19:8)
Remember, this is the first resurrection and it is only for the true Christians, the disciples, those whose life Christ Is.
The believers of today may not be ready for the Presence of the Lord. If they were caught up to the Consuming Fire of Israel they would be in an agony as that holy Fire touched the fleshly adamic life of their personality.
Could lukewarm church-attenders bear being changed from mortality to immortality while standing on their feet? When they felt their flesh-and-blood systems being changed to resurrection life would they panic? They might withdraw from the process in unbelief. Remember Lot’s wife!
The idea of sinning, self-centered, unbelieving, undisciplined believers being clothed with a body of galactic power like that of the Lord Jesus is enough to frighten anyone to death. If they are biting and devouring one another today with their criticism and gossip, what would they do if they had the power to drive the sun from its orbit?
The hope today seems to be for the younger generation—that the children will have a fresh start and go forth in unprecedented authority and power to prepare the way of the King.
God has ordained praise from the lips of children and infants. Strength will come from the children to silence the enemy and the avenger. This is why there is so much abortion and abuse of children today. The deliverers are being born and “Herod” in his rage is attempting to kill them all.
There may be a few older people who are able to pierce through the doctrinal confusion, but they may be an exception. The moral rot and unscriptural thinking, the self-centeredness, the love of pleasure, the unwillingness to face the severity of God, may be too deeply entrenched to allow most church-attenders to grasp the Kingdom revelation and work that God has prepared for our time.
It may be true that a “Joshua generation” will be raised up who will throw out the garbage of traditions that have accumulated. We need holy, righteous young warriors who are sternly obedient to the Father. If God can find such He may be pleased to pour out His Spirit on them and work a work of salvation in the earth that will exceed the glory of the first century.
Let us of the older generation be very diligent to raise our young people in holiness and righteousness, throwing out the improper use of television and the rest of the morally ruinous American culture. The hope lies with them for we of the older generation may have not done as well as could be expected.
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: (I Corinthians 15:36)
Paul is speaking here of planting seed. A seed does not exhibit life until it dies, that is, until it is planted in the ground. If we are sowing our body to the daily death and resurrection that the Spirit of God ordains for us, then one kind of plant will come forth. If we are sowing our body to the desires of our flesh and soul, then another type of plant will come forth.
Paul views our present physical body as a seed whose destiny is to be sown to the will of God. Our body is to be presented at all times to the Lord as a living sacrifice. This is our reasonable service of worship considering all God has done for us. It is by presenting our body a living sacrifice that we are able to discern God’s will for our life.
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: (I Corinthians 15:37)
If this verse meant that our present body is not going to be raised from the dead, then it would be denying all Paul had said previously.
When a seed is sown, that which germinates and grows is not separate from the seed. It comes from the seed. The seed does not remain in the ground but is part of the stalk that comes to maturity.
Perhaps the greatest miracle of nature is the seed. How a great oak tree can come from a tiny seed passes human comprehension. How a human being can come from a seed is an even greater miracle. The mature organism is a revelation of what was present in the seed.
Our present body is to be sown to the death of the cross. When it comes forth from the grave it will reveal what was present in the seed. If our body has been sown in righteousness, then mature righteousness will result. If our body was sown in the works of the flesh, then corruption will result. We shall reap what we sow.
Our body will not be left in the ground. It will be contained in the mature stalk.
Our inner spiritual nature was born of the Divine Seed. It has the potential for bringing forth a creation in the image of the Father, but it must be tended properly.
The Ark of the Covenant was covered within and without with refined gold. So it is true that our personality must have the gold of Divinity on the inside and the outside.
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. (Exodus 25:11)
In the present hour our body is dead, cut off from the Life of God because of the sin that resides in it. Our physical body will be adopted by the Lord. It will be made alive by the Holy Spirit who is dwelling in us provided we permit the Spirit to govern our conduct. Our resurrected personality, including our body, will reflect the manner in which we have permitted the Life of God to dominate our thinking, attitudes, motivations, words, and actions.
This is why we do not “eat, drink, and be merry.” This is why we endure every hardship, ignoring the pain as we look steadfastly toward the day when Christ and we are revealed in glory.
Verses thirty-eight through forty-one.
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 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. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. (I Corinthians 15:38-41)
It would appear from what Paul is teaching here that the resurrected human body, clothing as it will a resurrected inner spiritual nature, will have a different kind of “glory” than is true of the present mortal physical body.
Paul may be implying also that there will be variety among the resurrected bodies.
The Scripture is clear that we shall be raised and then clothed with our behavior.
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)
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)
Every one of us, believer or unbeliever, will be raised from the place of burial. Then we will be given a body, a robe, that reflects the kind of personality we are. Here is the perfect righteousness and justice of God.
If we have a compassionate nature, compassion will be revealed in our glorified body. If we have a selfish, grasping, treacherous nature, selfishness, grasping, and treachery will be revealed in our new body.
This is why John says:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (I John 3:2,3)
“Purifieth himself”! If we hope to be like Jesus and see Him as He is we must purify ourselves.
We purify ourselves by confessing our selfishness, our grasping, our treachery, our spite, our critical spirit, our lust, our murder, our lying, our stealing. We confess our sins to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and to be cleansed from our sins. Then we look to God for help to draw near to God and to resist the devil.
As we confess our sins and forsake them we are washing our robe in the blood of the Lamb.
If we do not do this, if for whatever reason we do not confess and forsake our sins, it is absolutely certain we will be handed a filthy, corrupt robe in the Day of Resurrection. No amount of faith, mercy, or grace can change one bit the eternal Kingdom law of sowing and reaping.
The reason one resurrected body will differ from another in glory is that the saints differ in the amount of diligence with which they seek and obey the Lord.
Verses forty-two through forty-four.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; 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. (I Corinthians 15:42-44)
It is wonderful to think about the love, joy, and peace that are coming to those who have faithfully, patiently served the Lord Jesus.
The physical body we are “sowing” today is perishable. It is subject to many frailties, tiredness, sickness, and finally dissolution in death. We do not realize it but our present mortal body actually is a prison in which our spirit is being tested. It is a “wilderness of temptation.”
And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
The mortal body we are sowing today is dishonorable. It is an animal body. We cover our animal body with clothes so the shame of our nakedness does not appear. The body that is raised will be flesh and bones but filled within and without with righteousness and eternal spiritual life. It will be a body of glory that is clothed with the Presence of Christ.
The physical body we are sowing today is weak. Demonstrations of strength and athletic ability are pitiful compared with that which will be possible to us in the resurrection, provided we faithfully have followed the Lord. We shall speak the word and mountains shall be relocated. This is just the beginning!
The body we are sowing today is flesh and bones and receives its life from the blood in its arteries and veins. The resurrection body will be of flesh and bones but receive its life from the eternal, incorruptible, resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus. So powerful will be our new life that sleep no longer will be needed. There will be no night there! We shall be eternally alive in the Presence of Almighty God.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening [life-giving] spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
Human beings are living souls. This is the race of Adam. Perhaps the greatest error in Christian thinking is that God has in mind to save our adamic nature, our first personality.
One believer had a vision of the adamic personalities of the saints. They were like many Christmas trees. Each one was ornamented in a different manner, but they were all dead having been cut off at the root.
Adam is to be crucified. God has no intention of making Adam over so he is acceptable. When the Lord proclaimed on the cross, “It is finished,” He meant the adamic creation. The preaching of today is incorrect when it informs people the Lord Jesus is going to repair their lives until they are happy and prosperous on the earth.
The Kingdom of God is Christ. The Kingdom of God is a new race, not a repaired adamic race. The Kingdom of God is a race of life-giving spirits.
It is interesting that the Scripture does not compare living souls with living spirits but with life-giving spirits, that is, with spirits who are able to impart Divine Life to a dead creation.
The proper Christian orientation to life is that we have died on the cross with Christ and have been raised with Him as an integral part of His resurrection.
When we adopt this viewpoint and continue to hold it in faith before God, God begins to make our viewpoint a reality in our personality. Each day some point of our adamic personality is directed toward the cross. Each day we choose to crucify our adamic personality and permit Christ to be formed in us, or else we cling to our old personality.
There is sin in our old personality. It is hopelessly corrupt. God has assigned our entire first personality to the cross so He may destroy the sin that is entwined in it.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)
At first we are in “water to our ankles.” God deals with some aspects of our personality, perhaps with profanity or smoking cigarettes. We are to give up that which God indicates and permit the Life of Christ to take its place.
If we are diligent in “water to the ankles” we are led to “water to the knees.” This time God may be dealing with our habit of criticizing people. If we take our critical spirit to the cross the compassionate, understanding Nature of Jesus will be formed in that part of our personality.
If we are diligent in “water to the knees,” God will take us further. Now He may point out our personal ambition, perhaps in the ministry or in some other area. He may probe even deeper and ask us to surrender some relationship or situation we desire intensely. Will we give God what He requests?
If we, as Abraham, are obedient to God in every area, we are brought into “waters to swim in,” into life immersed in the Spirit of God. Soon we are brought to the “bank of the river” and are planted there as a tree of life. We have become a life-giving spirit.
In the Day of the Lord, the life-giving spirits will bring eternal life to the dead sea of mankind.
Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. (Ezekiel 47:7,8)
To be a living spirit would be marvelous beyond all marvels. But how much better to be a life-giving spirit!
Verses forty-six through forty-nine.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 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. (I Corinthians 15:46-49)
When preparing His sons, the rulers of the endless ages to come, God does not put them immediately into powerful bodies. First God desires to test them in the realms of humility, faithfulness, and obedience. God does this by putting them in bodies that humble them. Our present bodies are not the Kingdom of God but a prison in which we are brought low and taught that man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
In the Day of Resurrection we shall receive that which is spiritual. If we have been faithful in the least we shall be entrusted with the greater.
The first man is of the dust of the ground. His name, Adam (red). Some references say his name refers to the red clay from which he was formed.
The second Man is the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus is representative Man. Jesus did not receive all authority in Heaven and on the earth because He is the Son of God but because He is the Son of Man. The Scriptures assign all authority to man, and the Scriptures cannot be changed in any manner.
Man was created to be the eternal throne of God.
During our present lifetime we are the children of Adam and under the curse of death that was placed on Adam and his environment.
In the Day of Resurrection we shall be as the second Adam, the Lord Jesus. We shall be the Kingdom from Heaven that is to come to the earth. We shall bear the image of God. The name of God, the name of His city, and the new name of Christ will be inscribed on us for eternity.
The saved peoples of the earth will realize we are members of the royal priesthood and that we are the Lord’s representatives. We are in the image of Adam at the present time. In the Day of Resurrection we shall be in the image of God.
But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. (Isaiah 61:6)
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (I Corinthians 15:50)
Flesh and blood is another name for the adamic race. The adamic race is a perishable creation. No doubt it is a prototype, a forerunner of the eternal kingdom that God had in mind from the beginning.
Attempts to reform the adamic nature are a waste of time except as they strengthen and encourage people to press into the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
The Kingdom of God consists of people who have died and been resurrected and an environment that also, so to speak, has died and been resurrected. God is making all things new. The Lord Jesus Christ will be the eternal Center and Circumference of the new creation.
It is useless to attempt to bring Adam into the new creation, into the Kingdom of God. It would be easier to teach a dog to read than to reform Adam so he could partake of the life of Heaven. Adam is the dust of the ground. The new man is from Heaven and is of the life and ways of Heaven. There is no method by which Adam can be brought into the new world of righteousness and eternal life.
Some scientific effort has gone into teaching gorillas and dolphins various human skills. The results are relatively very meager. So it is true that all attempts to make Adam in the image of Christ have very meager results. A human child soon is behaving in a manner that never will be possible for a gorilla. The new creation in Christ soon is behaving in a manner that never will be possible for the adamic man no matter how well trained in religion.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (I Corinthians 15:51)
This verse as well as I Thessalonians 4:17 informs us that some believers will be alive on earth when the Lord returns and that they shall experience resurrection without having died.
Here is a truly awesome concept! Think what it would be like to be standing on your feet and experience the change from mortality to immortality!
No doubt great faith will be required to pass from adamic life to eternal resurrection life without wavering. The majority of the royal priesthood will have died at some point in history, spent the intervening years in Paradise with the Lord, and then have returned with Him to take up their bodies from the place of burial.
But a chosen few will experience the change while still living in mortality—truly a sobering thought! Will it be true of you or me?
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. (I Corinthians 15:52)
The last trumpet is the seventh trumpet of the Book of Revelation. We note that at the time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, God’s witnesses are raised from the dead and stand upon their feet.
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (Revelation 11:11)
The way Paul expresses himself gives the impression that he expected the coming of the Lord during his lifetime. “The dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Apparently Paul did not know two thousand years would pass and the Lord still would not have appeared. Today we have the feeling the Lord’s coming is imminent. But it may be many years away. Our own opinion is that several important events are yet to take place before the Lord returns—events that will require a number of years to complete.
The forming of Christ in our inner nature is a slow process. The change of the body from mortality to immortality will be instantaneous.
Verses fifty-three, fifty-four.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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 is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (I Corinthians 15:53.54)
The first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, the resurrection to eternal life and glory, will be a clothing of what is perishable with immortality. This seems to be speaking primarily of those who will be alive on the earth at the return of the Lord.
We stated before that it is possible those victorious spirits whom the Lord brings with Him will already have been clothed with the robe of righteousness, the body of glory that has been formed by their patient sowing to the Holy Spirit. Then they will enter the remains of their body that sleep in the dust (no matter how scattered or decomposed—consider God’s power!), give life to their flesh and bones, and stand on their feet.
The expression “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption” suggests the possibility that those who return with the Lord will first receive their heavenly body of life and glory and then descend into the dust and clothe their corruptible remains with incorruption.
The promise of the resurrection of the dead is found in several places in the Old Testament.
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 25:8)
Death will be swallowed up in victory as the Lord’s overcomers, His mighty men in whom Christ has conquered every other enemy, descend in Divine power and glory and take up their bodies from the ground, just as the Lord Jesus took up His body from the cave of Joseph of Arimathea.
The victory of salvation, whether found in the Old Testament or the New, is the redemption of the body. This is the life that the Lord Jesus promised to those who eat His flesh and drink His blood.
It is the swallowing up of death in victory that is the goal, the message, the hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Verses fifty-five through fifty-seven.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15:55-57)
That we will live once again on a restored earth is the unequaled hope of the Christian Gospel. The ability to live on the earth is the redemption that is drawing near, because of which we lift up our heads during the darkest of hours. The whole creation is travailing in the pains of birth until the Kingdom of God, including the resurrection from the dead, is brought forth.
People live all their life in the fear of death. The sting of death is sin. The strength of sin is the law. By dying on the cross with the Lord Jesus we become legally free from the Law of Moses. By joining with the Lord Jesus in His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father we escape completely the sting of death and have no fear of death.
The grave claims its authority over every person no matter how righteous, how wise, how strong, how talented. But God through the Lord Jesus Christ has mocked all the power of the grave, death, and Hell.
Whoever will give himself wholly to the Lord Jesus, keeping himself in the place where the Lord continually can give to him His flesh to eat and His blood to drink, who is learning to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, can look forward with joy to the absolute certainty that the dew on his grave will be as the dew of the morning. The hour is at hand when he will take up his body again and walk on a restored earth in an environment totally free from the Divine curse, totally free from every satanic influence.
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs [dew of the morning], and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
Only the Gospel of the Kingdom of God can truly promise perfect victory over physical death and eternal life in Paradise on the earth.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (I Corinthians 15:58)
If we are to attain to the first resurrection from the dead we must remain steadfast and immovable. We must abound in the work of the Lord.
In this brief exposition we have stated that the individual who places his or her trust in Christ will go to be with the Lord. The believer will rest in the spirit realm until the Day of Resurrection.
In the Day of Resurrection the Christian will return with the Lord Jesus, enter his body, and then what he is and has done will be revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ. His life will be reviewed. He then will receive, in the form of a “robe” or “house from heaven,” the consequences of what he did while living on the earth.
(I am uncertain as to the sequence of events, but I believe these elements will be included.)
All shall be revealed before Him whose eyes are as fire.
And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
“I will give unto every one of you [believers] according to your works.”
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)
“To give every man according as his work shall be.”
Satan is rushing about today to make certain Christian pastors and teachers assure their followers that these verses do not apply to them. He breathes into their ear, “Thou shalt not surely die.”
We have a lost generation as a result, a generation that is ignorant of God and His ways.
But now the Book of the Law has been found, so to speak.
And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. (II Kings 22:8)
There was great consternation when the Law was found.
King Josiah of Judah commanded:
Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. (II Kings 22:13)
It was too late for Israel. The wrath of God could not be appeased.
When we go to the Lord today, what do we hear?
“If you will return to Me, then return. Teach the people the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness, holiness and uncleanness, obedience and disobedience. Warn the believers to set their households in order for the judgment of God is soon to fall upon the nations.
“ You will be as My mouth if you turn the churches to righteous behavior. Do not return to them, let them return to you. They will not prosper if they fight against you because I will make you a reinforced bronze wall.”
Go to the Lord and see if what is said in this brief booklet is the voice of the Lord Jesus, or if He says to you, “Don’t worry, you are saved by grace and on your way to Heaven to live in a golden mansion.” Ask Him if there is to be a “rapture” any moment, or if His people are to arm themselves to stand in the evil day.
You will never hear the Lord in the spirit of prophecy speak of a “rapture” to Heaven—never! The “rapture” is a mental concept. It is not of the Spirit of God. Let the prophets judge what we are saying here.
Judgment is in the land. Are we going to warn the people, or do we choose instead to be a false prophet? If we choose to continue as a false prophet, they will die in their sins but their blood will be on our hands.
The general resurrection from the dead will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. At that time every person will give an account of Himself to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul spoke of the earlier resurrection, that is, of the resurrection that will take place when the Lord returns.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [out-resurrection] of [from] the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
It appears to us that those who are to participate in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, will follow a somewhat different procedure.
Since their “sentence” is to be ever with the Lord it is not likely that they will return with the Lord, enter their body, stand before Him, and then receive a body full of corruption.
We think Paul, as He was seeking to attain to the “out-resurrection,” was striving to ensure that His “house from heaven” would be blameless.
If we are correct in this, then it is true that we can enter into the process of judgment now. We can wash our heavenly robe in the blood of the Lamb as we confess our sins and, by God’s help, turn away from them. We can gain victory over the world, Satan, the lusts and appetites of our flesh, and our self-will and self-centeredness.
Then the Lord, when He comes, will bring with Him a robe of such spotless purity, such freedom from worldliness, lust, and rebellion, that we shall be amply prepared to ascend to meet Him in the air and take our place as one of His warriors and kings.
We find the aged Paul, after many notable works in the Kingdom, still was seeking to attain to the out-resurrection. Since this was the case, perhaps we need to review our own standing before the Lord.
It is time now for God’s people to turn again to the Book of the Law, so to speak. It is an “Ezra” time of weeping and separating ourselves from the “wives” (sins and doctrines) we have married. It is a time of rain, the latter rain, that God is ready to pour out on a repentant Church
Some of us have been Christians for many years. Let us tell the young people, the “Joshua generation,” of the glory of God we have seen in time past. Let us inspire them to press forward to the Divine Glory ready to be manifested in our day. If we will do this we will discover we are in the “time of the latter rain,” the era of a Christian witness of unprecedented authority and glory that will prepare the world for the coming of the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords—the Lord Jesus Christ.
(“First Corinthians, Fifteen”, 3967-1)