The future that God has for His children is one that we can discuss and speculate about, but until it actually happens, we cannot truly comprehend how marvelous it will be. Paul describes the process of our joining with Christ and becoming like Him by likening the metamorphosis we’ll undergo to that of a seed which transforms into a plant. One would never imagine that a dry husk could become a glorious stalk of wheat or a beautiful flower. The difference is so stark that if we didn’t know better because of God’s promises, we’d say it was a foolish concept.
Paul starts out with the idea that we have an earthly body; however there are also heavenly bodies. We tend to think of the inhabitants of heaven as incorporeal spirits, i.e. unembodied and spectral, like ghosts. Yet, in some shape, manner or form, they have a body that is suited for heaven.
What we know on earth is only what we see. We have a physical body that is weak and made of flesh. It breaks down, ages, and perishes. But for those in Christ, we have a new existence to which we look forward when we die. Paul describes this in 1 Corinthians 15:42-43:
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.
Consider the difference in how we are now to what we will be. Today we perish; tomorrow we have a body that cannot die. The bodies of flesh are also deeply steeped in sin – to our shame and dishonor. Yet, when we die in Christ and are raised with Him, our new bodies will have a certain glory about them. With this current existence, what do we know but weakness and illness throughout our lives? God may have granted us strength and good health if we’re fortunate, but the human condition is one of deterioration. In our resurrection, that all changes as we gain a body that is steeped in the power of God capable of doing marvelous works.
In our creation, God formed the first man out of dust. That is what we remain. Ecclesiastes 3:20 reminds us of this:
All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
Everything changes because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. He was and is a man of heaven; He is now a man with a spiritual body. Look at what God promises through the writing of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:49:
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Whatever this spiritual body is that Jesus has, we who are His will likewise have the same. This is the glorified body that we speak of when we discuss the Rapture of the church and the transformation we who love Christ will undergo.
These verses from 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 hold the promise of our change and union with Christ in the most marvelous event any of us can imagine:
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
All this will happen instantaneously. One moment we are what we are in the flesh, the next instant, we have become like Jesus and inhabit glorified bodies. No longer will we suffer illness and pain because this dying flesh will be no more. What once was destined to perish becomes immortal. Who can even conceive of that?
It’s why we can say and sing along with Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55:
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
No longer will death hold its grip on us. No longer will we go to the grave in sorrow. In the coming years – in the not-to-distant future – we will watch as Death itself is thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14).
How we will rejoice along with all the inhabitants of heaven! God’s purposes will be accomplished. We – His human family – will be with Him forever!