Part 2. The Seed of the Body (Scroll further down for Part 1)

We are continuing in our meditation of what the resurrection body will be like. Paul the apostle wrote using the analogy of a seed and a plant in his first Corinthian letter (1 Corinthians 15:35-57). He wrote about Adam, the first man, being a living seed to bear all of us in his image. He then went on to say that the Last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit (Verse 45). Paul had already written earlier that what happened to Adam happened to us all. He was representative of all of us because he was the federal head of the human race. It may not seem fair for all of his progeny to inherit his sin nature, because the life of that seed, Adam’s sin nature, was passed to all of us. But Christ has come Himself to be the federal head for all who receive His full pardon. In this way, God brings new life through another seed, one that is perfect and free from sin. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). Just as Adam gave us our physical body, and with it, our sin nature, Christ also gives us this seed of new life planted in our hearts. He came to give us life!

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).

The body that is sown in the ground is completely different from the one raised. Our resurrection body will be raised imperishable, which means that it cannot perish. It will not wear out, grow old or ever get sick or diseased. Just as we received life in the physical realm from Adam, our forefather, so Christians receive spiritual life from the last Adam. Christ is called the Last Adam, to say that we should not expect another. As we have put on Adam’s likeness, thanks be to God, we will also put on the likeness of the glory of Christ.

50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).

Oh, how I long for that Day to arrive. Death has been conquered by our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to His glorious name!

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Resurrection Body. Keith Thomas

The Seed of the Body (Part 1)

We are continuing our thoughts on what the Resurrection body is like that we are given at the coming of Christ (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). The apostles John and Paul wrote about this transformation in this way:

  1. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).
  2. Just as our physical life was inherited from Adam in that we became like him, in the same way we will also be like the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, at the Resurrection: 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49).
  3. But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, that there will be varying degrees of glory between believers that occurs at this change (vv. 38-42). He likens it to differing degrees of brightness between planetary stars and planets. Our physical bodies have been created by God to live in the physical realm, however, this body is to be redeemed and changed into the spiritual and physical body that God has planned for us to put on. Those who are Christ’s will shine with God’s glory according to how much of the character of Christ is in us.

The life that we received from Adam, is not enough for us to enter this heavenly kingdom without this addition of the life we receive from Christ—the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). I believe that God’s plan for redeemed humanity, the Church of the Living God, is for the saints to be able to live in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm, just as Christ did in the 40 days after His resurrection. Christ Jesus has not left His body on Earth somewhere; He abides in heaven with a physical yet spiritual resurrected body. Isn’t that true of Enoch, the man of God? God enjoyed his company so much that he took him up to heaven in his physical being: “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).

We are told the same thing of Elijah. He, too, was taken up to heaven still clothed with his physical body (2 Kings 2:11). Some say that Enoch and Elijah are the two witnesses that are mentioned as testifying to the world’s sin as mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 11:3). These two individuals have yet to die once (Hebrews 9:27), so it is possible that they come from heaven to testify of God’s grace and then are killed. Of course, three and a half days later God raises them from the dead much to the anger of Antichrist’s followers (Revelation 11:11). Spiritual life only comes at the death of the physical seed planted; the Lord Jesus Christ was that heavenly spiritual seed that gave His life for us as a seed:

23Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:23-25).

We’ll carry on this thought of the seed of the body tomorrow.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Resurrection Body. Keith Thomas

Preparing for Death 4 (Scroll down for parts 1-3)

2 Corinthians 3:18.

We have been meditating on the fact that the Lord sees everything we have ever done for Him, and nothing escapes His attention. The day will come when, as Christians, we will gain our inheritance given to us in Christ before time began.

34Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” 37“Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” 40“The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:34-40).

I find it interesting that the believers had forgotten the acts of kindness that they had done, but God hadn’t. He recorded every act of kindness, and He will reward us openly at the Judgment Seat of Christ. To whom was He referring to in calling some the least of His brothers? I think it would be those around us who are little noticed. Perhaps, they are those who cannot help themselves, those sick, or in prison. He is ever close to those who are poor in things of this world, those that are strangers to us, those who are in bondage to a religion of works. He wants to use each of us to set them free, to visit them, to feed them—not only bread and water but also to give them the Bread of Life, too (John 6:35).

The Reward of Christlikeness

Preparation for eternity can only take place while we are here on Earth because we graduate to eternity with the character that we have at death. I believe that our “position” or “rank” in heaven depends on how much of the servant nature of Christ we have demonstrated while on Earth. To whatever degree the character of Christ has been imprinted on your life while on Earth, that will be your degree of reward in eternity. The word character was first used to describe the imprint on paper of the letters of a printing press. God has sought to divinely imprint the nature and the character of Christ deep into your soul for others to read.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When we come to Christ, our spirit is renewed or made alive from its dead state of being apart from God (Ephesians 2:1, 5), but there is still work that needs to take place on our soul—our mind, will, conscience and emotions. God wants to renew and transform that inner part of us as we meditate on His Word and are obedient to His Spirit. King David said it well in the Shepherd’s Psalm: “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3). Peter, in his first letter wrote: “For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9). Our mind, will, and emotions are to be brought under the leadership and guidance of the Spirit of God. Character is the goal of our faith. We will be rewarded by how much of the fruit of the Spirit, the character of Christ is in us. Help us, Holy Spirit, to die to ourselves that we may put on Christlikeness.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study Preparing for Death. Keith Thomas

The Persecution of Pastor Tson

igreja-perseguidaIt was late in the summer of 1977 and Romania was under communist rule when the Baptist minister put all his worldly concerns in order after the manner of a dying man. Buoyed by the courage of his wife, Elizabeth, Pastor Tson prepared himself for certain martyrdom. He was to meet an officer from the secret police in the restaurant of a nondescript Romanian hotel. The communist officer had pledged to do what previous secret police officials had failed to do: silence Tson’s ministry by offering him a secular job in exchange for a promise that he never again preach the Gospel. Turning down the job spelled at least hard time in a prison camp. It might very well mean execution. Tson met with the man, and without flinching turned down the job.

“I told the man, ‘Now I am ready to die,’” Tson said. “‘You said you were going to finish me as a preacher. I asked my God and he wants me to continue to be a preacher. Now I have to make one of you two angry and I decided [it is] better [to] make you angry than God. But I know you, sir; you cannot stand this kind of opposition and you will kill me in one way or another. But I accepted that and you should know that I have even put everything in order and made ready to die. But as long as I am free, I will preach the Gospel.’”

The communist officer was equally unflinching in his response: He told Tson to go and preach the Gospel. “He [the officer] made up his mind that if I was ready to die for it, then I should have it,” Tson said. “And for another four years until they exiled me, I continued to preach with nobody disturbing me because that man, a key man in the secret police, decided I should be free to preach because I was ready to die for it.” He was arrested and imprisoned several times in Romania during the 1970s and charged with being a Christian minister. Each time he underwent several weeks of intense interrogation, beatings and mind games before finally being exiled from the country in 1981.

“When the secret police officer threatened to kill me, to shoot me, I smiled and I said, ‘Sir, don’t you understand that when you kill me, you send me to glory? You cannot threaten me with glory.’ The more suffering, the more troubles, the greater the glory. So, why say, ‘Stop this trouble’? Because the more [suffering], the greater the glory up there.” During one particularly harrowing session of interrogation, Tson told his inquisitors that spilling his blood would only serve to water the growth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of the theology of suffering, he learned, was that tribulation is never an accident but is part of God’s sovereign plan for building His church.

“I told the interrogator, ‘You should know your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying,’” Tson said. “‘Now here is how it works, sir: You know that my sermons are on tape all over the country. When you shoot me or crush me, whichever way you choose, [you] only sprinkle my sermons with my blood. Everybody who has a tape of one of my sermons will pick it up and say, ‘I had better listen again. This man died for what he preached.’ Sir, my sermons will speak 10 times louder after you kill me and because you kill me. In fact, I will conquer this country for God because you killed me. Go on and do it.’ “Dying for the Lord is not an accident. It’s not a tragedy. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the ministry. And it’s the greatest way of preaching.”

Tson said he has learned that Christians suffer for two primary reasons: as witnesses to the Gospel and to perfect the church of Christ. He recalled being encouraged by a valuable truth that a British theologian taught him: The cross of Christ was for the propitiation of sins, but the cross each Christian is called to bear is for the propagation of the Gospel.

What on Earth are you Building?

p1010075-004As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these tremendous buildings! Look at the massive stones in the walls!” Jesus replied, “These magnificent buildings will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another” (Mark 13:1-2).

Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem was one of the Wonders of the World in its day.  In the time of Christ they had been building it for 46 years (John 2:20), and as Christ was talking, the building had still not been completed.  The Jewish people were very proud of Herod’s Temple; it was one of the ways that Herod was trying to win his way into the Jewish people’s heart, even though he lived an ungodly life.  I have lived in Jerusalem for more than a year and a half of my life, and many times have walked up on the Temple Mount and reflected on the fact that every stone was literally thrown down just as Christ prophesied. It was totally destroyed in 70A.D. by the Roman General Titus. Josephus the historian speaks of more than a million Jews being killed when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and set fire to the Temple. The gold of the Temple melted into the cracks in the walls, so every stone was separated to get at the gold. The result being that each stone of the temple was thrown down from the Temple Mount.

When Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman in John 4, the big issue to her was whether or not she should worship at the temple that was in Samaria or the one in Jerusalem.  Jesus said, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (vs.21-23).  What was He saying?

God is not as interested about buildings—He is interested in us. What concerns Him is the temple of the heart.  Paul the Apostle wrote about this when he said “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). It’s seems to me like he was writing something that was 101 basic Christianity to the Church in Corinth using the words “Don’t you know” to remind them.

Isn’t it easy to get sidetracked into building what can be seen by men rather than what is seen only by God? I notice that the first Temple was called Solomon’s Temple, the second being Herod’s Temple.  Maybe that is why God allowed the magnificent structure of the Temple buildings to be destroyed. The buildings were about what men had built.  I don’t want to be disappointed at the end of my life by what I have built with my time, energy and money, and I don’t want you to be disappointed either. Jesus said that we were to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:2-3).  Is it about me? Does it have my name on it? Why am I building it? Is my labor truly glorifying to Him or is it bringing glory to me? Is it magnificent to men but lacks value to God?

The things we build here on earth may be magnificent for a time but have little if any lasting value. The things that last are issues of the heart and character. I am convinced that many of you will be greatly rewarded for things that man has not recognized but God alone has seen.

Prayer: Please don’t let me get sidetracked into investing into things of this world; I truly want to build something that is glorifying to you.

Keith Thomas