AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
November 2, 2003 - I Corinthians 15:50-58
There is no Terminus for Truth: a
nd Living Looking towards It
I The Entire Transformation 15:50-51
Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom. It is as simple as that. As Paul put it in II Corinthians 5, there is a body made in the heavens; for there is one which will replace this one, like an overcoat that covers all. Just as you must be stripped bare of self-centredness, self-will, self-perspectives and find in Christ, that heavenly view which suffuses the spirit, and is an anointing from God, on conversion: so on resurrection there is a new dimension. The moans of mortality, the groans of collisions, the piquancies of failing bodily systems, of age, of infancy, all are gone. Now there is a creation as distinctive as the first one, but not for mere test: this is for eternal living! The resurrection body.
We know this is Paul’s meaning since his whole scope has been Adam first, then Christ; death first from sin, then new life from sin’s cancelled guilt in Christ: and thus, continually we find in body, it is the spiritual following the vulnerable. So now, on the resurrection of the Lord’s people, it is in fact NOT the case that what this world now has in its ageing weaknesses, its contagious collisions with devastating microbes and sundering calamities can be in heaven. There is for this pain-free, sublime setting a creation as new in the flesh, as was the saved soul new for the spirit of a man (cf. II Corinthians 4:4, I Cor. 15:41ff.).
You do not need to be perfect to have an appointment with a specialist, or an operation; but you DO need to have the right mind-set, to be sure and confident and to be WILLING. So here: resurrection is not for the perfect, but it IS for those whose spirits being changed, whose hearts being purged, whose guilt being borne by Christ through faith, have the right confidence in Him, and are willing to follow Him wherever He goes. With GOD, such a confidence is NECESSARY (cf. Luke 14:27ff.). In other words, it is the faith of those who ACTUALLY DO, not in word but in fact, take up their cross and follow HIM! These are resurrected to glory, where they actually belong, their imperfection perfected.
‘TWINKLING OF AN EYE’
I Cor. 15:52-55
That is what the Bible states for the time frame of the bodily transformation.
Recently, I have been having extensive eye tests. How amazingly quickly the eye refocuses, grasps some point of changing light at its periphery, is aware. So when the TIME FOR ACTION comes, then the trumpet sounds, as when a race starts, except that in this case, it is that it has FINISHED, and a new kind of race starts, the resurrected human race, not all of them for this new body, but all who have received at His hands, from His pierced hands, the operation of a life-time, the pardon, the peace and the presence of Christ, through the Gospel. First the dead in Christ rise (I Thess. 4), then those who remain who are His at His coming (Rev. 20). Later comes the final resurrection to judgment.
In the end, the dead are now located afresh, all of them: but first those who are Christ’s are called, leaving to their temporary horror, those who remain in a dying world, a dead society and a rebellious world. Now change is the order of the day, as when an embryo finds at last the outer air. As an embryo, it lived as an inward thing; now as born, it lives in an entire new domain, incalculably greater than the womb. So now, in the resurrection, having had the limitations of our circumscribed flesh, its powers, its pains, its growth and its ageing, we are ‘born’ into life, raised into a new and broader realm of understanding, when we shall see God face to face, and know as we are known (I Corinthians 13, Revelation 22).
It happens so quickly that you stagger at the power; but then the entire universe was made in just six days. He spoke and it was done, as Paul declares (II Cor. 4:6). For long the saints have marvelled at the utter corruption of this world; and now, in the twinkling of an eye, they inhabit a new splendour, see eternity as their realm, breath the upper air of divine provision, and find no more pain, the very presence, perspective and love of God made manifest.
III CORRUPTION IS CANCELLED, DEATH DIES and ITS STING IS DRAWN - I Corinthians 15:54-56
Corruptibility, vulnerability to decay, readiness for sin, these are removed like the scaffolding around an unfinished structure, permitting work on its rising walls. The corruptible is illuminated, energized, re-structured, purified and behold, as in a birth, incorruptibility is its lot; mortality, the facility, indeed the ability to die, is removed. Death becomes a thing of the past, a thing if you will, of childhood. Now you are spiritually adult, in form as well as in status!
This done, there is a vital fulfilment of what Isaiah 25:8 had declared, and Hosea 13:14 had explained. Death is swallowed up forever; the covering that sifts the light is gone! GOD HIMSELF said Hosea, would be death’s destruction: He would not relent (cf. Matthew 4:4, Luke 9:51) until He achieved this (Matthew 26:53ff.). Like snake’s poison, the Lord Himself extracted the evil, bore it and broke it, cancelling it in Himself (Galatians 3:10-13).
IV VICTORY IN
CHRIST LEADS TO VICTORIOUS LIVING FOR HIM
I Corinthians 15: 57-58
The VICTORY in coming, crushing sin’s guilt for everyone who believes, breaking death’s bands for His people and rising triumphant in the very face of His enemies, is already gained: it is Christ’s. In Him, the victory over sin, squalor of spirit, meanness of heart, sordidness of flesh, visionless living, purposeless hearts, covetous pre-occupations and all sin, is gained. This being so, says the apostle, be steadfast, immovable. Then the final resurrection perfects life for His people.
What then is for you now, who believe in Him ? Think of those warships like Indomitable, and let no sin, no evil reign over you, but fearless, abound in the work of the Lord. Not as mindless slaves, nor as foolish, but in wisdom build in His kingdom, shine with His light, and be constant. What HE has wrought personally FOR you, now have Him fulfil in what He WORKS IN you (cf. Philippians 2:12-13). And rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).