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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Paul had many people ask him about what heaven would be like since Jesus met him one day on the road to Damascus and he saw a glimpse of what will come. He saw the risen Lord and just a taste of what heaven might be like when time comes to an end. He learned from Jesus’ apostles that we would be changed when he came to take us home with him. So as is common with us, we wanted to know what we would be like. We live in these frail bodies and we suffer all kinds of things in this world. Will we still have the pain, the scars, the memories, and the nightmares that plague us here?
Paul had some interesting things to say to us on that account. We go back to Paul’s letter to the congregation in Corinth as he tries to help them understand just how confused and unknowing they really were. We ask the same question, though, don’t we? We want to know what the other side of life will look like. We want to know for sure if there really is a heaven and hell. We want to know what life will be like when we cross to the other side of eternity.
The people in Corinth were especially concerned because Jesus said he was coming back soon. It had been years since he left. Some of their congregation died. Jesus hadn’t come. The Romans made life difficult for the Christians. The Jewish leaders made life difficult for the Christians. The pagans who believed in a pantheon of gods made life difficult for Christians. The whole world made life difficult for Jesus’ followers just like he said they would. So what happened? Should they still wait? Was Jesus’ promise real? Was he really coming back? And if so, what would really happen to them?
Here are Paul’s words of encouragement to them.
35 Now I know what some of you are thinking: “Just how are the dead going to be raised? What kind of bodies will they have when they come back to life?” 36 Don’t be afool! The seed you plant doesn’t produce life unless it dies. Right?37 The seed doesn’t have the same look,the same body, if you will,of what it will have once it starts to grow. It starts out a single, naked seed—whether wheat or some other grain, it doesn’t matter— 38 and God gives to that seed a body just as He has desired. For each of the different kinds of seeds God prepares a unique body. 39 Or look at it this way:not all flesh is the same. Right?There is skinflesh on humans, furryflesh on animals, featheryflesh on birds, and scalyflesh on fish. 40 Likewisethere are bodies made for the heavens and bodies made for the earth. The heavenly bodies have a different kind of glory or luminescencecompared to bodies below. 41 Even among the heavenly bodies, there is a different level of brilliance:the sun shines differently than the moon, the moon differently than the stars, and the stars themselves differ in their brightness. ...
50 Now listen to this: brothers and sisters, this present body is not able to inherit the kingdom of God any more than decay can inherit that which lasts forever. 51 Stay close because I am going to tell you a mystery—something you may have trouble understanding: we will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be transformed. 52 It will all happen so fast,in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! 53 We’ll step out of our mortal clothes and slide into immortal bodies, replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life.54 And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, when we put immortality over our mortal frames, then it will be as Scripture says:
Life everlastinghas victoriously swallowed death.[j]
55 Hey, Death! What happened to your big win?
Hey, Death! What happened to your sting?
Have you ever thought about what that change might be like? Jesus talked about how a seed must die before a plant can grow from it. So picture, if you will, an acorn. We know oak trees come from acorn’s the seed that produces those magnificent trees. I’m sure you’ve seen a few of them. Hard shelled things about ¾ of an inch across. Although there are a variety of different nuts we eat, the acorn is one we don’t. If you examine that small receptacle of life, would you ever think a giant oak would grow from that little seed? A tree looks so different from the seed from which it sprouts. So does a corn stalk look different from a single kernel of corn. Or a watermelon seed different from a watermelon. Pick any seed and tell me if you could guess what its plant would look like when mature. I don’t believe you could.
Jesus and Paul tell us this flesh that houses our eternal spirit is just a seed. When it dies, a spiritual bodies emerges from it just as an oak emerges from an acorn. What will our spiritual bodies be like? I can’t tell you. Will we look the same? I don’t think we will. I think we will know each other as we are perfected by his resurrection power. I think we will understand perfectly. I think we will see God in his triune perfection. Paul says we will be changed in the blink of an eye. Paul doesn’t describe that change except that we will be clothed in a new, spiritual body. An immortal one. One that can never decay or die. We will have a body that will live through eternity without pain or sadness or deformity or anything but the perfection of the image of God he placed within each of us.
What will we look like? Will we really care? Does the acorn care what the tree looks like that comes from inside its tiny shell? Does the apple seed care how many apple live inside it? Does a wheat germ care how many grains of wheat will come from it when the farmer plants it in the ground? So why should we care what this new spiritual body will be? Suffice it to say our spiritual bodies will be exactly right because God will grow them. He planned this millenia ago. We can trust him to make the spiritual body that springs from the seed of our fleshly body exactly what he plans.
I cannot even imagine what it might be like. Just like I could never imagine what plant would come from a particular seed if you placed it in my hand. I think our spiritual bodies will be as different from our fleshly bodies as a plant is from the seed from which it comes. Does that bother you? It doesn’t bother me. It’s one of those things I figure God has taken care of and I don’t need to worry about it. I trust him to know what he’s doing. I can’t make an oak tree. All I can do is plant an acorn. I can’t create a field of wheat. All I can do is plant some seeds. I can’t create a spiritual body. All I can do is prepare my fleshly body for the next step. I can give myself to God. I can follow his commands to the best of my ability. I can ask forgiveness from him. Then I can let him do his work in me and when time ends, he can change me into something I never dreamed. He will give me a spiritual body something we cannot now imagine.
Will we all be the same? I don’t know. Will we be able to distinguish one person from another? I think so since Paul talks about bodies, plural. Will we remember anything of this body when we put on the next? I don’t know. Does it really matter? Will we care about this life after we move into the next? I’m not sure we will if we find ourselves in heaven with God. I think we will be so engaged in worship and the work he gives us to do in heaven (I really believe he has work for us to do there, also), we won’t think about or worry about what happened here. The only thing we will remember from this side of eternity is that sacrifice he made for us so we could be with him. Everything else from this side of life will just fade away.
The Corinthians wondered what was happening to these frail vessels that kept dying while they waited for Jesus’ return. Paul let them know Jesus was still coming. His delay didn’t mean he wasn’t coming back. It means God is gracious and wants us to share his story to influence as many as possible to come into his kingdom. His delay is because of his mercy and grace. He wants as many as possible to come to him. Paul also wanted them to know our frail, sickly bodies weren’t the things that would survive and follow us into heaven. These things that deteriorate and decay are just seeds and one day from this fleshy seed will sprout a spiritual body like nothing we can begin to imagine.
Do you ever wonder what will become of this lump of clay you reside it? Don’t worry about it. Just like with the acorn and the oak, you can’t begin to imagine the new you. Be ready and then be blown away by the magnificence of God’s creative act in you.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.