Text: 1 Corinthians 15: 51-55 — 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, andthe 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. 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?
Introduction: I don’t think many of you would disagree that the human body, as designed by God, is a machine that is full of wonder. People around the world are constantly discovering new and fascinating information about it. Listen to some of these observations: (1) Scientists say the higher your I.Q., the more you dream. And the average human dream lasts 2-3 seconds; (2) the largest cell in the human body is the female egg; (3) you use 200 muscles to take one step; (4) the average woman is 5 inches shorter than the average man; (5) your big toes have two bones each while the rest have three; (6) a pair of human feet contains 250,000 sweat glands and each one has about one trillion bacteria residing on it; (7) the acid in your stomach is strong enough to dissolve razor blades; (8) a single human brain cell can (the key word here of course is can) hold five times as much information as the Encyclopedia Britannica; (9) it takes food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach; (10) men without hair on their chests are more likely to get cirrhosis of the liver than men with hair (please don’t try to show us that your low risk); (11) at the moment of conception, you spent about half an hour as a single cell; (12) your body gives off enough heat in 30 minutes to bring half a gallon of water to a boil; (13) the enamel in your teeth is the hardest substance in your body; (14) when you are looking at someone you love, your pupils dilate; they also dilate when you are looking at someone you really don’t like; (15) your thumb is the same length as your nose. Pretty interesting, isn’t it? Well, in this our tenth message in the preaching series “the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” I want to share a few more ideas found in the Bible with you about the human body. Since I preached on this same topic several weeks ago, some of you may see this sermon as a bit redundant … but I want to assure you it really isn’t. While it is true that I taught on the parts of our bodies (our hands, feet, eyes, ears and voices) and how they can be used to accomplish both good (in glorifying the Lord)and evil (when used to participate in sin), this morning I want to look at our physical bodies once again, but this time from a slightly different perspective as we consider our mortality and God’s promise to us regarding the resurrection of the body. Now perhaps you haven’t considered that everyone, including those who reject Christ, will experience a resurrection, but the Bible is clear about it. We’re told that some will be raised to judgment and others to life (John 5:28-29 – For an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment). If you’ve ever read or recited the Apostle’s Creed, you have affirmed your belief in this important doctrine (I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic (universal) church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting). Now because we as Christians anticipate this resurrection to life, it is important that we try to understand what it means for us? So please join me as we look at 1 Corinthians chapter fifteen and discover more about the exercise of God’s lordship over our human bodies.
I. What We HAVE in Our Bodies. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Bible tells us the moment we’re born, our bodies begin the slow process of decay (2 Corinthians 4:16 — … we do not lose heart, though our outer man is decaying). Now when we are young, we don’t think about it. Our bodies seem like they’ll never wear out. We can run and jump and play all day. But as the decaying process slowly continues, we find these same things to be a little more difficult until finally we can’t do them anymore. I remember several years ago when I was thinking about the aging process, I asked my mentor who is thirty-four years older than me … When do you start feeling old? At first, he just laughed and then said, “You never feel old. Inside I still think I can do all the things that I did as a young man. No, you don’t feel old in your mind; rather your body tells you’re old.” This, I’m learning, is a truth from which there is no escape (unless of course the Lord returns soon). Your body and mine are in the process of wearing out. For you it may be decades before you feel the effects of decay; for me it’s a month to month thing, but either way it’s certain to happen. The writer of Ecclesiastes certainly understood this. That’s why he said, “Remember the Creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come … when the keepers of the house tremble and the strong men stoop, when the grinders (teeth) cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows (eyes) grow dim (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 3).” It’s not easy to accept that one of the effects of the fall is the slow death of our bodies, but that’s what God has said. He told Adam that because he and his wife (Eve) had eaten the forbidden fruit, they would return to the ground, since out of it they were taken … “for dust you are and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19).” This is the very thing that Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians 15 … HE DOESN’T STATE IT, BUT HE ASSUMES THAT ALL OF US ARE VERY AWARE THAT OUR BODIES ARE WINDING DOWN, NOT UP! They are a gift from God to be sure, but they are not designed to last forever. They are slowly decaying. Illustration: In my study this week, I came across a list of signs that you’re getting older. Since it’s something all of us can look forward to, here are a few for you to consider: (1) Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work; (2)the gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals; (3) you sit in a rocking chair and can’t get it going; (4) your knees buckle, but your belt won’t; (5) your back goes out more than you do; (6) you have more hair in your ears and nose than on your head; (7) you fall asleep, but your family worries you’re dead; (8) your children begin to look middle aged; (9) the little old lady you helped across the street turns out to be your wife; and (10) you quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks in the room. O the joys of aging as our bodies slowly break down!
II. What We FACE in Our Bodies. If you look at most lists of people’s fears, you’ll discover that speaking in public comes in at number one, with death second. I like what one comedian has to say about this: “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two! Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Death may be talked about as the great adventure, but I suspect most people (including many of us would rather go to Disney World. Here’s what the Bible has to say about the death of our bodies. First, death is the result of God’s judgment of sin (Romans 6:23 – for the wages of sin is death). Second, death is not the end of everything (Hebrews 9:27 – It is appointed for men to die and after this comes judgment). Third, Christ conquered sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 – The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ). And fourth, death is still an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26 – The last enemy to be destroyed is death). Now if you’re a Christian, you already know that death is the result of sin and judgment is the display of God’s righteousness. Most believers accept these two realities. In fact, that’s why many of us came to Jesus in the first place. The issue for a lot of us centers around truths three and four … and it goes something like this: If Christ conquered death, why do we still have to die? Here’s my answer to this question: It seems to me that death is a way for God to limit the believer’s exposure to sin and corruption (Genesis 3:22 – The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever). The Lord did not want us to live forever in a fallen condition. From the very beginning He had in mind something better for mankind. In this sense, then, death demonstrates the grace of God on display to believers who through faith in Christ can anticipate an eternity in heaven with God enjoying a life free of the encumbrances of sin and death. Having made this point, I don’t want you to think, as some do, that death has always been simply a natural part of our existence. Death was not in God’s original plan. It came as the result of sin. When sin is done away with, death will be as well. This is the blessed hope of the Gospel message. Those who put their trust in Christ will live, even if they die (John 11:25 – Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, though, he die, yet shall he live). Though it may have displayed God’s grace, death is still an enemy.
III. What We ANTICIPATE in Our Bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-55 — 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. 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?”). Our bodies are decaying, and they’re going to die. But the rest of the story must now be told. When our bodies are raised from the grave we will experience complete victory over sin and death. No longer will we be subject to the fallout of either one. Our resurrection bodies will not wear out; they will not get sick; nor will they age. They will demonstrate the fulfillment of God’s perfect wisdom in creating us as human beings, made in His likeness. Only then will we see one another as God intended. This will be the time when our redemption is made complete. It is a future event that will happen in a moment when Christ returns. John 6:40 says, “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him has eternal life. I will raise him up on the last day.” Until then, the soul of the believer who dies is with the Lord, but he will not have a resurrection body until the second coming of Christ. When someone says of a person who has passed, “I know he’s up there riding horses today,” the Bible wouldn’t agree. That person doesn’t have a body yet. That will come later. But when the time comes we will have new bodies fit for new people who live in the New Jerusalem!! Hallelujah.
Applications: Four things to think about when it comes to our bodies from another passage — 1 Corinthians 6:13-20.
· Take comfort in your body — it will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 6:13b-14 – The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power). Rick Warren, the pastor Saddleback Church in California, says, “God never wastes anything. He gets the maximum use out of all He creates. Right now you are living in the 1.0 version (the first edition) of your body. You will get the 2.0 version (best edition) of your body in heaven.” While we only know some things about that body, we are certain that it will have no blemishes as ours do today. It will never suffer pain or face destruction. It will be imperishable, immortal and incorruptible. These promises should fill us with hope that though the outer man is decaying, a day is coming when we’ll enjoy new, resurrected bodies that will never again know the effects of sin.
· Take care for your body — it is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19 – do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…?). Today when we hear of someone vandalizing a church or synagogue, we generally get real upset because we see it as a destructive act against a house of God. But the truth is … when a person receives Christ as Savior and Lord, God the Holy Spirit comes to reside in that individual, and in this way, our bodies become His temple, His residence. This means that when a believer does something to abuse his body he is acting like a vandal who willfully attempts to destroy God’s property. (If you’re suffering from an addiction to alcohol, drugs, medications, porn or whatever, I hope this speaks to you.) I’m not sharing this thought to put anyone under a pile of guilt, but merely to point out that if our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then we have a responsibility to look after them responsibly.
· Take account of your body … it was bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20a — … you were bought with a price). Sometimes it’s difficult to place a precise value on something. Take for instance your home. You may think its worth $250,000, but the truth is, its value is only equal to what someone else is willing to pay for it. Using that standard, we can say with a high degree certainty, that our bodies have tremendous value. We know this because of the price paid for our redemption. In order for us to be delivered from sin and death, God had to send His only Son to die as our substitute and take our death upon Himself. This is what the Bible means when it says that Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). So, if you are ever in doubt about your value to God, just consider how much He was willing to pay to purchase your salvation. It cost Him the life of the Lord Jesus Christ (See John 15:13)..
· Take control of your body — It is meant for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 6:20b – Glorify God in your body). These clay pots do not belong to us. God created our bodies and they belong to Him. I know this idea conflicts with the predominant view of things over the last fifty years. Many people like to think that they can do whatever they want with their bodies because they have the right of ownership. This is much of the argument used today to support the right of women to abort their unborn children, but the Bible does not agree. We are not free to do whatever we want with our bodies and here’s why: We are not our own. After all, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalm 24:1). And as our rightful owner, God expects us to glorify Him with our bodies. Any believer who aspires to this cannot afford to relinquish control of his body to the urges of his sinful flesh, but he must exercise self-control over his body and use it in ways that please and honor the Lord.
Conclusion: As we wrap this up, consider these words adapted from Tim Keller (from Jesus Vindicated): When my wife was growing up, every summer her family spent two weeks at a small compound of cottages on the shores of Lake Erie. Today the cottages are all gone—in fact that part of the beach is gone. Whenever she visits this childhood vacation spot, she weeps because she knows the beach is irretrievable. That sense of irretrievability is like a death. Now the older we all get, the more we realize that certain losses are irretrievable; they’re gone, and that sucks the joy out of our lives. But here’s where Christ’s resurrection offers something unique. Even religions that promise a kind of spiritual future or spiritual bliss, only offer consolation for what you’ve lost. But the resurrection of Christ even promises the restoration of what you’ve lost. You don’t just get your body back; you get the body you always wanted but you never had. You don’t just get your life back; you get the life that you always wanted … that you never had. But Jesus Christ is walking proof that you will miss nothing. Nothing! It’s all coming in the future. It’s going to be unimaginably wonderful. There is no religion, no philosophy, and no human being who can offer this kind of future. And as Christians our hope for the future is based on the historical fact of the resurrection. So, if you are not a Christian, let me ask: Why wouldn’t you want that? Even if you don’t like different aspects of the Christian faith, why wouldn’t you want this hope for restoration? You’re not being honest with yourself if you don’t want that. Who wouldn’t want a resurrection to life as opposed to judgment? Let me close with this question: Are you confident that if you died today, you would have the kind of life you’ve always wanted with the Lord in heaven … that through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, you would experience a complete restoration of what was lost at the fall? You can be certain by repenting of any attempt to save yourself from God’s judgment and trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord.