The Resurrection of the Body

We have been meditating on the Rapture of the Church (scroll down to read that devotional). This same event that we call the rapture is the same event in a different passage of Scripture that we call the resurrection. At the rapture of the church our bodies will be instantly changed just as Jesus’ body was when He was raised from the dead. Paul writes to the church at Corinth about the same event of the dead being raised:

50Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52in 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 will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).

Notice this same event is preceded by the blast of a trumpet and the dead are raised. There are not two raising of the dead. The rapture and the resurrection are one and the same. Our earthly tent, this sinful body we all have in this world, will be changed instantaneously. We are told that this change occurs in “a moment” (v.52). The Greek word used is atomō, we get the English word “atom” from this word. It describes an atomic particle of a second—instantaneously we will be changed. Twice the word “changed” is used and only in this passage of scripture. The Greek word is allagēsometha. It means to change, alter, transform. Paul the apostle, before he tells us about this transformation, introduces this event by writing about what happens to seeds. Let’s try and understand what he is communicating. We need to go back a bit in the passage as he writes about the process of how we as Christians come to receive a glorified body:

35But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:35-42).

Paul uses the analogy of a seed. He says that a seed differs greatly from the plant that comes from it. He is saying that our physical body is but a seed that, when sown at the death of the body, will be greatly changed when this sinful age is over and the resurrection of the body occurs. Before we move on to talk more about the resurrection body, we have to talk about how this transformation comes about. We’ll do that tomorrow.

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

The Rapture of the True Church

In yesterday’s meditation, we talked about the coming of the Lord for His Church, those who are born-again of the Spirit. We have talked about the rewards that He will give for character, faithfulness and service. Over the next few days we will look at the resurrection body that believers will be given at the coming of Christ. The Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19), and at the coming of Christ, He will send forth His angels and gather those who have received His free gift of salvation:

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other (Matthew 24:31).

At the coming of Christ, the church is raptured or caught up together with Him in the clouds:

13Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

This passage above is the classic passage about the rapture of the church. As we have said elsewhere in these studies, the word Rapture is not found in the Bible. We get the English word “rapture” from the Latin word rapere which is the translation of the Greek word Harpazo. This word literally means to be snatched up. It is translated into the English in the passage above with the words “caught up” (v.17). This event will be preceded by a loud shout from the Lord Jesus Himself. I wonder what words will issue from His lips in a loud command. Notice that a loud trumpet call will be heard also. Those who have died/slept in Christ, are brought with Christ at that coming (v.14), and are instantly changed and reunited with their body. Although they have been in heaven with Christ, He will bring them with Him—those who have fallen asleep/died in Him (v.14). Those believers who are still alive on Earth at that time will see this happening before they themselves are caught up together with all believers all over the world. As we have been saying over the last few days, it will be a homecoming to the Lord as well as a time of rewards for all those who belong to Christ. What an awesome day that will be. When that Day comes, all who have repented and walked with Christ, yet have passed on from this life will receive a new body. Those also on Earth will be changed in an instant (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). We will think on the new body we will receive over the next few days. I hope to see you in the clouds (v.17).

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

Going Home

1“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3).

There is something special about coming home. All of us have experienced what it is like after being away, whether for vacation, work, or some other reason, to come home to what is familiar. There are sounds, smells, and visual reminders when we walk back into our familiar surroundings. It is a very comforting feeling, the feeling of being at home. We even say, about some relationships, that we feel “at home” with a person. What we really mean is, that person makes us feel like we can kick back and be ourselves, like we are when we are at home. I am reminded as I write this, that today, there are many people all over the world who have been forced to leave their homes, forced to leave family in some cases, and all that they hold dear. Everyone should have a place of rest, a place to call their home. Jesus promised us, before He left this earth, that He went to prepare such a place for us. A place where we will dwell with Him, a home like no other. The home we have known in this life, no matter how humble, or how grand, will pale in comparison to what He has prepared for those who are His.

There is the story of an old missionary couple, the Morrison’s, who were finally returning to America after serving Christ as missionaries in Africa. On the same ship was Teddy Roosevelt, the American president at the time, who was returning from an African Safari. Bands and parades were going on in New York as everybody turned up at the dock to welcome Teddy as his transatlantic liner came alongside the quay. The crowds and press were waiting just to catch a glimpse of Teddy finally returning home. The Morrison’s were despondent as they left the port that day as they had little money, only enough for a very simple apartment. Henry was quite sad as he saw the welcome that Teddy Roosevelt received. He told his wife that something had to be wrong, as they had given 40 years of their lives for Christian missionary work, and no one cared enough even to come to the dock to welcome them home. His wise wife told him to go to the Lord in prayer about it. A little while later he returned, with a beaming smile on his face, having been reminded by the Lord, “You are not home yet, Henry.”

If you ever grow weary of this life, remind yourself, “You’re not home yet.” Likewise, if you grow complacent because of an easy lifestyle and put all of your resources and effort into enjoying the comforts of this life, think about this: This is not all there is. This is not your eternal home. This life is just for a short while.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1-4).

If you have placed your trust in Christ, the time will come when the Lord will come for us, and we will pull out our tent pegs and collapse the tent, either at departure from the body (death) or when our Master and Lord will return for us according to His promise in the scriptures above.

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

Preparing for Death 6 (Scroll Down for Part 5)

We are thinking on the rewards that a believer in Christ will receive when Jesus comes and this evil age is at an end. The Lord said for us to not store up treasure on earth, but store up our treasure in heaven. What do you think are things that you can store up and take with you to heaven? I am sure this is not a comprehensive list, but there are three things that come to mind.

  1. Other people, as in the lives that we have helped along the way.
  2. The things we have learned, e.g. the Word of God that is imprinted in our hearts.
  3. The character of Christ that’s been molded by the Holy Spirit into your inner being.

Spiritual Investment

Now, back to thinking through what we are building with our time, energy, talents, and money. There is an interesting parable that Jesus teaches in Luke 19:11-27. It’s a story about a nobleman who goes on a far journey to receive for himself a kingdom. Before he goes, knowing that it will be sometime before he gets back, he gives his ten servants an amount of money each, a mina, which equaled about 3 months’ wages for a laborer. He tells them to each engage in business, to put the money to work, or invest spiritually, until the nobleman returns. The Greek word that is translated by the phrase “put this money to work” (NIV) or “occupy” (KJV) is pragmateuomai. It means to do business, to invest, or trade with a view to bringing a return on the investment. It is interesting that we get the word pragmatic from this Greek word. Pragmatic means to deal sensibly and realistically with something. We are to sit down and think through ways that we can pragmatically invest our resources in such a way as to get a maximum return for the kingdom of God.

Knowing the character of our Nobleman, King Jesus, we should labor and invest in the things that He has on His heart. That which He cares most about is people—we must have a heart for people if we are to build with gold, silver or precious stones. In the parable, the first steward invested and put the master’s money to work and brought a return of ten for his one mina. The response from the Nobleman was for the steward to not only keep the ten minas but also the reward was ten cities. A vast difference between what was invested and the reward for the labor.

Personally, I think the cities are metaphorical language to help us understand that for what we do for Christ in this sinful world, i.e. how we care for the people for whom He cares, there will be a vast difference between what we invest and the awesome reward that He will give on that Day. I don’t know what the reward will be, but I can wait to find out. Your duty and mine for our Noble Master is to put our character, our time, energy, and resources into His Kingdom. As Christians, we are strangers and pilgrims in this world.

Again, if you have truly believed and placed your trust in Christ, you will enter the eternal kingdom. Your entrance into the Kingdom of God does not depend on your works, but by receiving the gift of God—eternal life in Christ, but those who truly believe should invest their resources into people, while we still have time to invest.

Prayer: Father, cause us to be aware that every day is a preparation for eternity. Help us to be open to the ways that You want to teach us and prepare us for that day. Thank You for watching over us until that day comes. Amen.

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

Preparing for Death 5 (Scroll Down for Part 4)

In the last few days, we have been thinking through the rewards of the believer, and have come to the conclusion that character is the goal of our faith. We will be rewarded by how much of the character of Christ is in us.

Dictionary.com defines the word character as: “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.” We are being transformed day by day in the area of our souls and spirit through every event that we experience. Everything in life is a test of our character, and a man’s character is accurately measured by his reactions to life’s inequities. Reputation is not character. Reputation is what men think you are; character is what God knows you are. If we respond in obedience to the Spirit of Christ in each situation we encounter, we are made more and more into the image or likeness of Christ. If you are a Christian, you are predestined by God to be made into the representation of Jesus Christ.

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:28-29, Emphasis mine).

God foreknew you and predestined you to be made in the image of His Son. We can easily go by this passage without thinking through the implications of what the Spirit wants to teach us. We cannot blame God for the bad things that have happened in the course of our lives. Sometimes, these things have happened because of our own choices. What God says is that He will use each situation to work good into our lives if we will be open to His teaching and leading us by His Spirit. The wonderful thing is that God has seen the end from the beginning. He had each of us on His heart before the world was made. He foreknew you and predestined you to be shaped and molded into a person like His Son. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). The Message Bible translates that verse in this way, “Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” The work of God in the world is to prepare you for eternity.

“Character on earth will prove an everlasting possession in the world to come” (J.C. Ryle). If you want to be great in the sight of God, how are you responding to the difficult circumstances that have come your way? Are you ready and prepared to meet your God? How much of His character will you reflect in that day?

What do you want the outcome of your life to be? What do you want for Jesus to say to you on that day? He will say to many, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” and I hope that you are a believer and that He will say it to you, dear reader. If you want to be effective with your life and leave the world a bit better by being here, then it is wise to stop and ask yourself what kind of a difference are you making with your life? Is it a difference that only lasts for this life, or is it something that is eternal? Do you labor for temporary rewards for your skills, time, energy, and money that you spend, or for eternal rewards? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matthew 6:19-20). Please help us, Holy Spirit, to live for eternity.

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