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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES » 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Evening Sermon: What Benefits Do Believers Receive From Christ At The Resurrection?; Baptist Catechism 41; 1 Corinthians 15:35–49

Baptist Catechism 41

Q. 41. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?

A. At the resurrection believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, in full enjoyment of God to all eternity. (Phil. 3:20,21; 1 Cor. 15:42,43; Matt. 10:32; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thess. 4:17)

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35–49

“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”(1 Corinthians 15:35–49, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what the tree of life signified for Adam in the garden of Eden? We know what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil signified. That forbidden tree signified rebellion against God. God commanded Adam not to eat of it and threatened that in the day that he ate of it he would surely die. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would lead to death, and conversely, eating from the tree of life would bring life, just as the name implies. But wasn’t Adam already alive? Indeed he was! And not only was he alive, he was alive in paradise. He stood in right relation to God! What more could he ask for? 

Well, the presence of the tree of testing and the tree of life suggest that God had more for Adam. The one tree was a threat to him, but the other held forth the promise of life — presumably a higher form of life than at that time possessed should he pass the test that was before him by keeping the covenant of works.

As you know, Adam failed. He ate of the forbidden tree and entered immediately into the state of death, which is eternal separation from and enmity with God. Never did he eat of the tree of life, therefore. He was barred from that tree. God “drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24, ESV).

What was it that Adam forfeited? What kind of life was it that was offered to him through that tree of obedience? 

If the only scripture we had was Genesis 1-3 then I suppose we could only speculate. But the rest of scripture answers this question with great clarity. The tree of life held out to Adam the offer of life eternal; consummate life; spiritual life; life in glory. This is what the scriptures mean when they say, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In sin Adam, and all who are in him, fail to enter into this state of glory.

For the sake of time I will put it this way. If you wish to know the kind of life and the kind of body that Adam would have been given would he have abstained from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and eaten from the tree of life instead, then consider Christ in his resurrection.      

Christ, the second Adam, obeyed God. He earned the right to eat of that tree of life. And he did enter into the glory of the Father. His earthly body went into the grave, but from there it was raised by the power of the Holy Spirit. To use Paul’s metaphor, the body of Christ was, like a seed,  sown perishable but raised imperishable. It was sown in dishonor; it was raised in glory. Christ, the God man, died according to the flesh, but he was raised in the flesh never to die again. He completed the circuit that the first Adam failed to complete. 

But listen carefully to this: when Christ entered into glory, he entered as a forerunner. He entered into glory so that he might in due time bring others into glory also. As Paul says elsewhere: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:20–24, ESV).

Last week we learned that when the believer dies their body goes into the grave and their souls do immediately pass into glory. That will be a great blessing to pass into the presence of God himself. But this week we learn that that is not the end for the believer. Instead, at the resurrection — that is is to say, when Christ returns to bring everything to a conclusion — believers will be raised up in glory, openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, in full enjoyment of God to all eternity.”

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1 Corinthians 15:35–49

Some have wondered what kind of body we will have in the resurrection. As I have already said, the short answer is that our resurrection bodies will be like the one that Christ has. 

One, know that our resurrected bodies will be physical. Remember how Christ ate and drank in the presence of  his disciples to prove that he was not a phantom, but that he had been raised physically. 

Two, know that our resurrected bodies will correspond to the ones we have now. Though Christ looked different in some ways, he still had the marks in his hand and feet from the nails. Now, I am not saying that we will bear our scars for all eternity (maybe we will). Certainly the marks on Christ’s hands and feet serve a special purpose. They remain to function as an eternal memorial to the sacrifice that he made on our behalf. But the point is this, Jesus was recognizable. His resurrection body corresponds to the same body that was put in the grave nearly 2,000 years ago. And so it will be for all who have faith in Christ. 

And three, know that our resurrected  bodies will be spiritual, just as Christ’s body is spiritual. Now, that might seem like a contradiction to you. We tend to think of things as being either being physical or spiritual, but not both simultaneously. But this is exactly how Paul uses the term “spiritual” in that 1 Corinthains 15 passage that was read at the start of this sermon. In verse 44 he say that resurrection bodies are “sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.” So, in the resurrection we will have a body — a physical body like Christ’s physical body — but this physical body will be “spiritual”. What is meant by that? Paul means that our resurrected bodies will be glorified, perfected, empowered, and forever sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. This is what it means to be raised in glory. This is what it means to have life everlasting. 

Paul’s metaphor of the relationship between the body of a seed and the body of the plant that springs from that seed is brilliant. Both the seed and the plant are physical. Both bodies correspond to one another. The body of the plant that springs from the earth is more glorious than the body of the seed that was placed into the earth. But God has designed both the body of the seed and the body of the plant. And so is the relationship between our earthly bodies and the body that will be ours in the resurrection. The risen Christ is the forerunner, the firstfruits, the prototype. “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus]” (1 Corinthians 15:49).  

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Catechism Explained

This is precisely what our catechism teaches, among other things.

Q. 41. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?

A. At the resurrection believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, in full enjoyment of God to all eternity. 

Notice a few things about this answer. 

One, we are talking about believers here, and not those outside of Christ. Those outside of Christ will be our focus in the following question. 

Two, the language of glory is used here. Christ suffered in the flesh to bring many sons to glory, to quote Hebrews 2:10.

Three, notice the connection between the resurrection and the day of judgment. Again, “at the resurrection believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment.” According to dispensational premillennialists there will be a long gap between the resurrection and the day of judgement, but the scriptures nowhere teach this. In fact, the scriptures teach that on the last day Christ will return to raise the day, to judge, and to usher in the new heavens and earth. There will be many things that happen on that last deay (including the resurrection), but this will be one event with many components, and not many isolated events spread over a long period of time. This is what Paul so clearly teaches in 1 Corinthians 15:22ff: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:22–24, ESV). The premillennial dispensationalists see gaps of time in the scriptures where there are no gaps of time to make room for what many have called Protestant version of purgatory. When Christ returns he will raise the dead, judge the world, and make all things new. 

Four, those in Christ will be “shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment.” Believers will be acknowledged as children of God, for they were adopted in Christ. And believers will be acquitted (a legal term), for they were justified through faith in Christ. What a terrible thought to be judged by God in Christ. But what a wonderful hope we have. We will not be judged, but will be openly acknowledged and acquitted instead, thanks be to God.

Five, believers will be made “perfectly blessed” at the resurrection. We will be blessed at the moment of death when our souls are brought into the presence of God. But at the resurrection we will be perfectly blessed. 

This is because, six, we will in that moment be glorified “both in soul and body” as whole persons. As I explained last week, those with faith in Christ will be blessed in soul when they die, but their bodies will go into the grave. For this time we will be blessed, but incomplete. At the resurrection we will be whole persons against,”made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body.”

Seven, notice that the thing that will make heaven heavenly is the “full enjoyment of God to all eternity.” Stated differently, God is the blessing. His presence is what makes heaven heavenly. King David knew this. And Christ knows this. Listen to Psalm 16:8-11: “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:8–11, ESV)

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Conclusion

Q. 41. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?

A. At the resurrection believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, in full enjoyment of God to all eternity. (Phil. 3:20,21; 1 Cor. 15:42,43; Matt. 10:32; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thess. 4:17)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Evening Sermon: What Benefits Do Believers Receive From Christ At The Resurrection?; Baptist Catechism 41; 1 Corinthians 15:35–49


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