Your body will be raised in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet

Ds J Bruintjes
1 Korinthiërs 15:35 - 58
Preek Inhoud: 

A bright young girl of fifteen was suddenly cast upon a bed of suffering, completely paralyzed on one side and nearly blind.  She heard the family doctor say to her parents as they stood by the bedside: “She has seen her best days, poor child!”

“No, doctor,” she exclaimed, “my best days are yet to come, when I shall see the King in His beauty.”

My best days are yet to come!  That is amazing.  Paul has given us the history of death.  We have read that the last enemy being abolished is death (it is interesting that “being abolished” is in the present tense).  It’s happening through the rule of the Resurrected One.  Now.

We have been raised, we are being raised, and we will be raised.  We will be raised physically from the dead.  Yes, you and me.  The real you and me, in this building, that is included here.  He is talking about us.  Our bodies.  Our creation.  Our life.  Forever.

We will live.  Not just as souls playing imaginary harps on imaginary clouds, but as real body and soul humans in a real creation with trees, and grass, and play, and work, and invention, and beauty, and worship through it all.  My prayer is that this gives tremendous hope to you all who have had to do with death.  And you who fear death.

Your body will be raised in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet:

  1. You will sprout from the seed that is you
  2. You will be in the image of the second Adam
  3. For you, death is dead
  4. You are called to live today as the beginning of eternity


You will sprout from the seed that is you

Verse 35, “But someone will ask how are the dead raised?  With what kind of body do they come?”  These are probably questions that the doubters were asking in the Corinthian church.  Good question, isn’t it?  How are the dead going to be raised?  You see these people were not naïve.  They knew that according to the rules of science dead people stay dead.  Sometimes people today think that the resurrection was just naïve belief of ancient people.  But to think that the people living 2000 years ago were naïve is naïve.

But, Paul says, look around you!  The answer is staring you right in the face!  “You foolish person!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies!”  Back then everyone lived off the land.  There was no Pick ‘n Pay, Checkers, or even Woolworths.  And two things were obvious to these people. 1) A seed that was sown had to die and be buried to grow.  And 2) Although the entire DNA of the plant is in the seed, the plant looks nothing like a seed. This, says Paul, is similar to the resurrection.  “What you sow is not the body that is to be, but 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.” 

It’s amazing imagery, to think that when we bury a body in Durbanville Memorial Park, or Stikland, we are sowing seed.  The first creation is like a seed that will blossom into the second creation.  Everything is there in the first.  Just like the DNA of the whole plant is found in the seed.  Everything that makes you, or me, is already there!

Paul goes on with the first creation, as a seed pointing toward a new creation.  “For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for birds, and another for fish.  There are heavenly bodies and there are 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 in the sun, and another glory in the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”

Where else do we have this language?  That’s right, in Genesis 1, God made all things according to their kinds.  The birds according to their kind.  The fish according to their kind.  And plants according to their kind.  He references sun and moon here and talks about the difference in glory.  Also, in Genesis 1 He talks about the greater light to govern the day and the lesser night to govern the night.

The point is that we ought here to be thinking back to Genesis 1 and 2 with the first creation.  And seeing that all has a form of glory.  But there is a definite difference between a candle and the sun.  There is a difference between  Adam – an earthly body – and Christ – a heavenly body.  We need to be thinking about a real creation – a real resurrection – but greater.  More lasting.  Eternal.  Imperishable.  Unimaginable.  And this is the difference he now explains.  The difference between the creation of Adam and the resurrection of all those in Christ.


You will be made in the image of the second Adam (v. 42-49)

Verse 42, “so it is with the resurrection of the dead.  What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.” There is sameness, and difference.  What is sown is that which is raised.  But that which is raised is not at all look like that which is sown.  You will be absolutely you.  And you will be different.  As different as an acorn from an oak tree.  When that body is buried, “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.”

Meet your future you.

Life without death

“ what is raised is imperishable” (v. 42).  Perishable means can decay, grow weak.  No decay.  No age.  No hips that need replacing.  No virus to infect.  No cancer.

Because of sin, every minute of life on earth has been laced with brevity, fragility, and futility.  The whole creation, including our bodies, have been enslaved to corruption (Romans 8:21).  What is sown is perishable.  Cars may collide, hearts may fail, cancer may emerge, surgeries may backfire, influenza may overpower.  Death mercilessly cuts, robs, cheats, and grieves — for now.  But God will give us a body that death cannot harm or threaten.  And we have the guarantee of that in Gods Spirit, which has been given us, so that we now already become inwardly what we will be outwardly – like Christ.

Life without sin

 “It is sown in dishonor,” Paul says; “it is raised in glory” (v. 43).  What does it mean that our bodies are sown in dishonor?  It means we are all like sheep have gone (and go) astray.  It means none of us — no, not one — is without sin.  It means we all, without exception, have fallen short of the glory of God.  But one day, we will be ourselves soaked in glory.  Beholding glory, face to face, we will become glorious.  Reflecting on this glory, C.S. Lewis writes,

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.”

Raised in glory!  What a sight it will be to behold, beloved.  What a promise when you are frail.

Life without weakness

 “It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power”.  The longer we live in the bodies we have, the more we have to deal with weakness.  That won’t be true forever.

Weakness has a beautiful, God-designed, God-honoring, and temporary purpose.  In a broken and weak world longing for healing, strength, and freedom, our weaknesses highlight the power of God to save and sustain.  He chose the weak things to shame the wise.  For now, “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  In glory, though, our power, not our weakness, will magnify his surpassing power.  His power will always be greater than ours, but He will trade our frailty for real stability, ability, and strength.

Life perfectly empowered by the Spirit

“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” The temptation is to interpret “natural” as “physical,” and “spiritual” as “non-physical,” leading to a view of the resurrection body that is immaterial and non-physical.  But that is exactly not the point he is trying to make.  This is about the difference between “ordinary human life” and “a life indwelt by the Spirit of God”.

“Thus it is written, the first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam because a life giving spirit.”  How did the first Adam become a living being?  Well, Genesis 2 tells us.  God breathed into him the breath of life.  He became living, but the question is, could he give anyone life?  No.  He could not.  Not even if he had obeyed perfectly.  But not so the second Adam – the last Adam – He became a life-giving Spirit.

The natural came first, then the spiritual.  As Paul writes, “But it is not he Spiritual that comes 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.”  Again, he is going back again and again to Genesis 2 here.  We are made from dust.  From the very beginning we were to be taken up into God.

That we would be like Him – not be Him – but be like Him.  That we would be as close to God and participate in the divine nature without being God.  

And all of humanity is separated into these two categories.  Or you are from the dust, or you are those who are from heaven.  And if you are from heaven, then just as you now resemble the first Adam now, you will resemble the second Adam – Christ then.  “As was the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  Being conformed to Christ takes place now – Gods future has broken into the present moment; we are being conformed to Christ Spiritually, but one day we will also have a body like his.

“Just as we have born the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”


For you, death is dead!

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”  We won’t go into the kingdom as we are now.  Of course, not.  How can the temporal inherit the eternal?!

“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.”  Behold!  Pay attention!  Look!  We will be changed.  Us.  Here.  Then put faces to it.  Look around you.  It’s so important to see the reality of who you are and what you will be!  Not all of us will sleep the sleep of death.  Some will be transformed.  Changed!  Continuing from this life into that.  The fact that we will continue should say something about the life we live now.

 “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and the mortal body must put on immortality.”

PUT ON!  This body will put on.  This body will not disappear.  I like the word “must” there, don’t you?  It must happen because Christ has won!  No decay, no wearing, no running down, and no death.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal put in immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”  I love that – death is swallowed up in victory.  Death, the great swallower, is himself swallowed up.  For every single person in Christ that death takes – it loses.  At the moment of faith already – death’s sting is lost. 

And we declare with the church of all ages, “O death where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  The sting— this implies that there is a sharp, painful thrust against our soul when we die.  And Paul says it’s gone.  It will not poison.  It stings you and tries to kill you and it can’t.  Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life.”  There is no death in death for those who believe in Christ.  The sting is gone.

“The sting of death is sin.”  The sting of death is sin.  What does that mean?  It means that death is terrible because of sin.  Death is damnation and hell and gnashing of teeth and outer darkness because of sin.  “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  Because of sin, death is punishment.  It is the final sentence: away from God and away from joy into misery that never ends.  That’s the sting.  And that’s because of sin.

And then he says in verse 56b, “The power of sin is the law.”  This punishment, this legal sentence of misery, has binding power, because the law of God tells us what to do and renders God’s curse if we rebel—which we all have done.  So, what makes death terrifying is our sin, and what gives that terror such force is that the entire law of God stands behind it.

Then Paul says in verse 57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  God did something—“thanks be to God!”  And what did He do?   Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’”  1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”  The curse of the law is satisfied, the sins are carried away.  Death is powerless.  It has lost its teeth.  It has lost its sting!


So live today as the beginning of eternity

The sting of death is removed.  There is no condemnation.  No hell.  No fear.  Though your body be laid in the grave, your life will never end.  And if life does not end – this life – then we can know that what we do in this life has eternal meaning.  Some people think he is only talking about ministry – but I think it is much broader.

Now verse 58, Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

What if you raised children for 18 years and just when they are ready to flourish in college they die?  Have you wasted 18 years of investment in that child?  What if you have spent three years building your home, and just a few weeks before you move in it burns down?  What if you have written manuscript and the computer breaks, and you lose the whole thing?  What happens with all that you do at death?  That’s the question.

Therefore, my beloved brothers.  This is the Spirit talking through Paul.  Beloved.  This is your pastor talking.  Beloved brothers and sisters.  What we do is not in vain.  Our relationship is eternal. 

Paul says, THEREFORE! because you know you have victory over death in Christ.  THEREFORE!  Since God in Christ has conquered death.  DO NOT LIVE ANYMORE IN THE LIGHT OF DEATH.  Stop trying to live this life for fame, money, ease, whatever!

Therefore, be steadfast – that is unshakable and unwavering, not being tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine you find on Youtube, or every preacher you hear, not moved by your circumstances and how life looks around you.  Christ is raised!

Immovable does not mean stay in bed.  Rather it means being so rooted in the gospel promises.  Being so found in Christ, that the storms of life don’t whack you around, and cause you to be a different person.  When circumstances and situations become difficult, and you are tempted to move or shift your hope off the gospel into money, or fame, or a marriage relationship you know you shouldn’t have.  Be steadfast.  Unwavering.  The gospel is real.  Keep it in mind.

We are steadfast and immovable, abounding in the work of the LORD!  Let’s abound in the work of the Lord, brothers and sisters.  Let’s not shift from the hope of the gospel.

But ABOUND in the work of the Lord.  Do lots of it.  Be overflowing with the work of the LORD.  It is not just being a pastor, missionary or teacher in a Christian school.  This is for all of us!   Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  This “everything” includes changing a diaper and hammering a nail, writing an exam, playing a sport.  If you cannot do it in the Name of Jesus, you should not be doing it.  Like 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat, or drink do everything to the glory of God.”

You do this KNOWING that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  You are abounding in the world because you know it is not empty.  It is not wasted.  The main thought here in his conclusion is that if you get this chapter, and if you realize your work in the Lord has eternal value, you are going to overflow!  This church will overflow with the work of the Lord.

If death is dead therefore labor is NOT IN VAIN.  If death was not dead, labor would be useless.  But since it’s not we can labor with raising a child, build a house, and write a book, that seems to go up in flames with death, death is defeated.  Which means the reward is not just in this life.

Like Jesus says in Luke 14:13-14…

Failure to emphasize and proclaim the future hope of a physical resurrection can make sanctification optional, as it removes continuity between the actions of the believer in the present and their standing and reward in the future.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must live and act in the same way that we will in eternity.  Or, as put quite eloquently and succinctly by another Roman citizen, “What we do in this life, echoes in eternity.”