1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 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. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
Is eternal life a glorious thought to you? I hope so. If it isn’t, it might be because you are still thinking of eternal life as this life going on forever. And of course, you’re right- that is not a glorious thought at all.
But the truth is this: we shall all be changed! All of us who are in Christ will experience the same transformation that Jesus did at his resurrection. Ultimately, like Jesus, we will be transformed into what Paul will call a “spiritual body” that will be able to experience the glory of God face to face. A transfiguration (see day 142) into the spiritual body. A body incapable of decay or death.
In fact, this bodily change is the only transformation we still need in order for us to be heaven ready. In Christ, there is no need for any further transformation of our spirit. No further cleansing needed, no purgatory necessary to root out left over sin after we die. Spiritually, we are the new creation right now.
But our bodies are a different story. They are still perishable. The mortal body must put on immortality. This is the fullness of our promised salvation in Christ – body, spirit, and soul – all conformed to Christ’s likeness.
Sadly, many see eternal life as only a spiritual reality. Remember, for the Greeks in Paul’s day (including the Corinthian Christians) the body was bad. A necessary evil. God would never rescue us bodily. Salvation is a spiritual experience only. Even many Christians today envision Heaven as floating around like angels on clouds. For so many, Heaven is seen as an escape from the physical.
But this is not at all what Paul is teaching us. Notice his language again – For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. Paul is not describing a disembodied eternity. He is describing a better body. Like Jesus at his resurrection, we too will keep this body, it will just be way better. It will be transfigured. And so will everything else. God isn’t going to destroy his physical creation. He’s going to renew it. Make it better. This is the final victory, the victory over death. And all will be imperishable.
So let me ask you, how do you view death?
For most people death is an ending. This is true for many Christians too. We say we believe in an eternity with God and yet we live like atheists. Christians making bucket lists, living from FOMO and asking God for more time on earth so that they might not miss out on some earthly pleasure. Dying with regrets over things they failed to accomplish, or with guilt over things they failed to overcome.
But for the one who is in Christ, death is not an ending, it is just the beginning. It is not defeat, it is victory. It is not the loss of all physical pleasure, it is to enter into pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:10-11. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
God is not promising us an eternity that is static. He is promising us a renewal of all things. A complete reversal. An everlasting life in Christ that moves us in the exact opposite direction from the direction of this life. Rather than a slow march toward physical entropy and death, Jesus will lead us on an eternal march toward greater and greater glory. A never ending journey deeper and deeper into the love and grace of God, experienced both spiritually and physically as souls in his presence? Pleasures forevermore!
“To live is Christ” makes our life an everlasting journey toward greater and greater glory. A journey we will experience both spiritually and physically in God’s presence. This is the imperishable life that God had planned for us since the beginning. In Christ, it is ours once again.
How do you see death? Do you see it only as loss?
You in Christ
How does your union with Christ allow us to re-think how we see death for ourselves and those who are in Christ? Are you able to get excited about an eternity of moving into great and greater glory?
Christ in you
How can this truth impact how you live today? Think about how we try to gain glory now in this life- all the ways that are really unnecessary and possibly even harmful.
Playlist: The presence of God.