by David Sielaff, November 2009
Read the accompanying Newsletter for November 2009
You are the object of creation. So is every other son and daughter of Adam. Each of us is a child of God created in His image. You continue to live because God wills it to be so — moment to moment, heartbeat by heartbeat, breath upon breath. 1 At some time in the future your life will end, your heart will take its last beat, your breath will cease, you will lose consciousness, and you shall die. Your body will begin its decomposition to dust, your spirit returns to God, and your soul ceases to exist until you are resurrected. If you believed that Jesus was resurrected from the dead and that He is your Savior, 2 then your next conscious moment, your next conscious realization will be amazing. If you hold fast to your profession of faith (Hebrews 10:23), then this is your future.
Every human being will be resurrected to a fleshly mortal body, some to a resurrection of life, presumably you, me, and all believers, and the rest to judgment (John 5:28–29). 3 Jesus was resurrected to the flesh before He received His immortal Spirit body. 4 You too will be resurrected to the flesh. But almost immediately you will notice air rushing past your naked body. That sensation will only last a moment and you may not even notice it, because “in the twinkling of an eye … we shall be changed.” Changed from what, to what? This is easy to know. We shall be changed from corruption (our mortal resurrected body of flesh) to incorruption (our immortal spiritual body). Read the full passage carefully:
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We [you, me, and all believers, 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 above] shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Then the apostle Paul explains why this must occur:
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”
1 Corinthians 15:51–54
You (and all believers) will be resurrected to mortality so you can take that first breath. Then you will almost immediately be changed from your resurrected mortal bodies into your immortal spirit body, just as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead to a mortal body, then He put on immortality. How can we know He was raised with a mortal body? Well, when Mary Magdalene met the resurrected Christ at the tomb, He had not yet ascended to His Father. He instructed her not to touch Him.
“Jesus said unto her, ‘Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but [you] go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’”
Jesus could not approach God the Father in a body of mortal flesh because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). We are also told that His own blood of sacrifice was put on the altar in heaven (Hebrews chapter 9) which is before the Mercy Seat, the throne of God. At some time after He spoke with Mary, Christ ascended. During this passage into heaven He was given His immortal and incorruptible body.
In this matter, as in most everything regarding salvation, the events of Christ’s resurrection show that He is the example for you and me in our resurrections. But there are differences. Christ sprinkled His own blood upon the altar. You and I will not do that because He did it for you and for me:
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal [eonian, age-lasting] redemption for us.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal [eonian] Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Hebrews 9:11–12, 14
Christ was by then immortal and performing His actions “through the eonian spirit” when He sprinkled His own blood on the altar to complete and validate His sacrifice. Then He approached the throne of God, “to appear in the presence of God for us” (in Greek “the face of God,” Hebrews 9:24), something impossible for a man of flesh. Christ’s sacrifice was accepted and He was invited to sit at the right Hand of God the Father in Heaven (Hebrews 1:3). You, because of your status of being “in Christ” are figuratively seated there also. After all, as it says in Hebrews 9:24, He did it “for us.”
Let us look in greater detail at what will happen at the moment of your resurrection. A great deal will happen in that split second.
As indicated above, in your future resurrection you will not wait long to “put on” your immortality. That change will occur “in the twinkling of an eye.” This will be a great blessing because, although your resurrected mortal body will be healed, you will be naked. Your nakedness will be for the briefest time and then immortality will wrap like a cloak around you. 5 You will have a new body. With total and perfect memory you will be able to recall that moment forever.
Why will God resurrect you to a physical body and then have your body dissolve into your spiritual body? God’s creation gives us the reason. Your physical body is like the kernel of a seed. When the seed germinates, the material in the seed dies and is absorbed into the plant. 6
“But someone will be protesting, ‘How are the dead being roused? Now with what body are they coming?’ Imprudent one! What you are sowing is not being vivified [quickened, made alive] if it should not be dying. And, what you are sowing, you are not sowing the body which shall come to be, but a naked kernel, perchance of wheat or some of the rest. Yet God is giving it a body according as He wills, and to each of the seeds its own body.”
1 Corinthians 15:35–38 Concordant Version
Note again the word “naked,” translated “bare” in the King James Version.
Our present physical bodies of flesh literally groan to put on our immortality. I am not just talking about aging. Everyone groans to put on immortality:
“For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that has wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 5:2–5
The immortality you will “put on” (1 Corinthians 15:53–54) shall cause your old physical body to disappear, just like the kernel of the seed seems to disappear when the plant begins to sprout. Jesus uses the same figure in John 12:23–25. The seed must die when the plant comes forth. At your resurrection God will do that for you almost instantly. In fact, your spirit body is waiting for you at this moment.
You have an invisible seed within you as well. You are at the present moment:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed [your body of flesh], but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever [permanently].”
1 Peter 1:23
The seed that Peter is referring to (and Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15:38 above) is a seed within you that is incorruptible, has no relation to flesh at all. God’s Holy Spirit melds with the “spirit of man” within you (Proverbs 20:27; Ecclesiastes 3:21; Zechariah 12:1; 1 Corinthians 2:11). “The spirit itself is testifying together with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16, Concordant Version). The two spirits blend as one within you at this present moment. 7 That is the incorruptible seed. But at present that seed is still connected to your soul. Except for a very, very few who will be alive when Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17), you must die to receive your body of spirit.
In the moments following your “putting on” immortality and incorruption you will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit surging through your body giving you life and energy and a feeling of power you never felt before. You may even “breathe” God’s Holy Spirit (John 20:22). 8 Your body will be composed of spirit, but you will be able to form flesh and bones, just as Christ’s body is presently spirit, but He manifested as flesh and bones when He chose (Luke 24:39). As strange as it will be, your body will seem familiar. This is because your body will be specially designed for you:
“In my Father's house are many mansions [abodes]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
What do mansions and abodes have to do with your body? Read what the apostle Paul writes. He seems to be referring to Jesus’ statement in John’s Gospel:
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal [eonian]. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle [our body] were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal [eonian] in the heavens.”
2 Corinthians 4:18–5:1
Christ’s body after the resurrection was not only familiar to Him, it was also familiar and recognizable to His apostles and disciples. They were able to interact with Him, touch and feel His wounds (Luke 24:33–43; John 20:19–29), and eat with Him (John 21:1–14; Acts 10:41), although He hid his identity to the men on the road to Emmaus to teach them important lessons (Luke 24:13–35). When He wished to be recognized, they knew who He was. Your body will be able to do the same. You will be able to go through solid objects as Christ did (John 20:19) and go through the air (Acts 1:6–11). As you rise at your resurrection you will notice things around you. You will notice the angels who took you into the air to change your body:
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: ... And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Matthew 24:30–31 (cf. John 11:52)
You will be able to see the angels as they are. They will no longer be invisible to you. “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 1:14). They may look like humans when physical, but they will not be like you. You will be able to know and understand the differences. Angels have their own bodies, substance, and spirit which will be different from yours (Hebrews 1:16). First Corinthians 15:38–44 relates to such kinds of differences, although the context does not specifically address angels.
Hebrews chapters 1 and 2 do specifically address the subject of angels and their difference from Christ and, by extension, their differences from you as a future resurrected child of God. Apparently the audience and readers of the Book of Hebrews (many scholars think it was a sermon written down by a secretary) misunderstood some basic facts about the relationship of angels and Christ. They were badly misinformed about angels. Some thought that Jesus was an angel. It is made clear in Hebrews that no angel ever was, nor can ever be, a son of God. Certainly Christ Jesus, the Son of God was not an angel (Hebrews 1:5). 9
Consider your legal position relative to God and Christ. Legally you were “in Christ” before the foundation of the world. 10 At this present moment, if you have God’s Spirit within you, then you are “born again” now. 11 At this moment in our pre-resurrection life, God labels and considers us “children of God.” I emphasize this important point because it means that you are a newborn, an infant in the sight of God. Your infancy has a direct bearing on what will happen to you after your resurrection from the dead.
You and all believers are called “children of God” if we have the Spirit of God within us (sometimes called “sons and daughters of God” 2 Corinthians 6:18). 12 This is not a metaphor. You are a now born son or daughter of God if you have God’s Spirit within you. John says this several times in several ways:
“If you know that he is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of him [now].
Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and
it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.”
1 John 2:29–3:3
You are not a potential child of God. You will not achieve your status as a child of God after your resurrection from the dead. You are presently a newborn child of God:
“Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, … But [you were redeemed] with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: …
[you] Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. …
Being born again [now], not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible [seed], by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever [aion, for the age]. …
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes [now, at the present moment], desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”
1 Peter 1:18–19, 21, 23, 2:1–2
Peter’s is saying that you (by extension) are “born again” at the present time (from incorruptible “seed,” by the way). Then Peter describes you as one of the “newborn babes” desiring milk. Paul says the same:
“For whoever are being led by God's spirit, these are sons of God. For you did not get slavery's spirit to fear again, but you got the spirit of sonship, in which we are crying, ‘Abba, Father!’
The spirit itself is testifying together with our spirit that we are children of God [at this present moment]. Yet if children, enjoyers also of an allotment, enjoyers, indeed, of an allotment from God, yet joint enjoyers of Christ's allotment, if so be that we are suffering together, that we should be glorified together also. …
that the creation itself, also, shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
Romans 8:14–17, 21, Concordant Version
After your transition to immortality you will see Christ in the air along with thousands (maybe millions, who knows?) of other believers since the time of Adam and Eve.
“Now we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are reposing, lest you may sorrow according as the rest, also, who have no expectation. For, if we are believing that Jesus died and rose, thus also, those who are put to repose, will God, through Jesus, lead forth together with Him.
For the Lord Himself will be descending from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the Chief Messenger, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall be rising first, Thereupon we, the living who are surviving, shall at the same time be snatched away together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And thus shall we always be together with the Lord. So that, console one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 Concordant Version
You will be flying, without a conveyance like a throne or cherubim. You will not have a horse although Christ will be riding a horse upon His return, and so will the army following Him:
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. … And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
This event will commence the Kingdom of God on earth. The physical earth will undergo a rest of a 70 year jubilee. You, along with all other resurrected children of God, will receive 70 years of training. 13 The early part of the training will be simple. What will you learn during this new beginning of your resurrection life?
The ekklesia at present, which includes you, is nurtured by Christ. God’s word is washing, cleansing, and perfecting you. You do not realize it any more than a newborn understands what a parent does when he or she cares for, feeds, cleanses, diapers, and puts clean clothes on that infant. Look at what Christ does for His ekklesia:
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church [ekklesia], not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. … For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord [nourishes and cherishes] the church [ekklesia]: For we are members of his body, [members] of his flesh, and [members] of his bones.”
Ephesians 5:26–27, 29–30
Some of our knowledge about God is shown through creation (Romans 1:20). A review of early human development may apply to your post-resurrection experience during the 70 year education. At your resurrection you will transition from infancy to a new status of childhood. All the work and learning and character that you developed in this physical life will have its fulfillment. The apostle Paul’s purpose as a teacher was to bring all members of the ekklesia of God to maturity. The fulfillment of that maturity will not occur prior to your resurrection. It is a goal. Paul said that he worked …
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
As an infant you went through developmental stages. In the weeks and months after birth you learned to focus your eyes, recognize sounds, identify faces and objects, learn tastes, become sensitive to touch, make sounds, and grasp objects. At the same time you were helpless and could do nothing for yourself insofar as your safety, well-being, and growth were concerned. You were learning about your surroundings, and at an incredibly fast rate, as you performed your constant tasks of ingesting, eliminating, crying, gurgling, and sleeping. As an infant you never realized that everything important for your health and well-being was being provided for you. You did not know much about what was going on around you, nor did you really care.
All you cared about as an infant was for your wants should be satisfied — now! — even when your needs were provided for. When you were happy you learned to smile or laugh. When there was discomfort, you cried. You concentrated on your immediate desires and wants, because that was the only thing you could know. The entire time you were learning very quickly without realizing it: about yourself, your body, your wants, and increasingly about the world around you. 14
As a born again child of God, a babe in Christ, you go through a similar process — you ingest food, you taste, you learn, you eliminate, you cry a great deal, and you are learning at a tremendously fast rate. Sometimes you flail with your hands and scratch or hurt yourself. We all do the same things. 15 In Hebrews the apostle Paul talks about “the mature.” In spite of their maturity they are still very, very young, yet their maturity is sufficient for them to eat solid food of the more mature teachings of Christ:
“Now solid nourishment is for the mature, who, because of habit, have faculties exercised for discriminating between the ideal and the evil.”
As a born again child of God you are being perfected. That is God’s purpose toward you and the goal of every parent. God is working for you and in you through Christ. By the way, He is highly pleased with you:
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, … Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ …”
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations [trials]; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
After your resurrection you will still be young. It will take some 70 years of non-stop education for you to get “up to speed” on everything you need to know and do as a child of God Almighty. You will be functioning as a servant to others, just as Christ will serve you (Matthew 20:26–27; Mark 10:43–44). You will train and prepare to assist and educate others during the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11) or help reconcile the celestials to God. If God considers you a babe now, I submit that after your resurrection you will be in something like the toddler stage of development. You will be an immortal, incorruptible child of God, but you will need to learn to do many things.
What do toddlers do? They touch. They grasp. They taste. They explore. They laugh and they cry. They learn to walk. They walk and fall. They run and fall. They stand and fall. They pick themselves up, usually not hurting themselves when falling. Of course, after the resurrection you will be incapable of hurting yourself. God’s Holy Spirit, combined with the character God formed within you during your life now, will train you and prevent you from hurting yourself or from hurting others through word or deed.
You will suffer however, but not from physical pain. You will suffer and grieve by seeing other mortal beings hurting themselves. 16 Jesus grieved over the acts of the people of Jerusalem and Israel (Matthew 23:37; Mark 3:5; Luke 13:34). In Luke 19:41 Jesus wept over Jerusalem, yet He knew full well that every person would eventually be saved. He wept over their future suffering. So too He wept for and with Mary in her anguish over her brother Lazarus’ death (John 11:1–44). She knew Lazarus would be resurrected (John 11:23–24). She said “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” And she knew Jesus was the Messiah and Savior (John 11:27). Nevertheless, she wept from her sorrow. Jesus wept with her.
Will you be any different? You shall have compassion then, just as you have compassion now.
Will you be overwhelmed with all your senses, your power, your vitality, your sensations, your capabilities? No, God will provide for that. For the first time you will be able to fully express your thanks and love to God your Father and Christ your elder brother. You will see their faces for the first time.
“And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Ephesians 3:8–11 Concordant Version
All this will require extensive education so you can “work” to assist the reconciliation of all creation. Most all you can know about your resurrection can only come from Scripture. We have this assurance: “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7). The gifts of God’s grace shall continue through the ages, up to when Christ hands over the Kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28). By that time we shall have reached our full maturity as children of God.
How then should we live now? Paul tells us clearly:
“Put on, then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, pitiful compassions, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another and dealing graciously among yourselves, if anyone should be having a complaint against any. According as the Lord also deals graciously with you, thus also you. Now over all these put on love, which is the tie of maturity.
And let the peace of Christ be arbitrating [ruling or deciding] in your hearts, for which you were called also in one body; and become thankful. Let the word of Christ be making its home in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing yourselves; in psalms, in hymns, in spiritual songs, singing, with grace in your hearts to God. And everything, whatsoever you may be doing, in word or in act, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God, the Father, through Him.”
Colossians 3:12–17, Concordant Version
God will always give the “riches of His grace” to us, but our motivation should be to do good and righteous acts because it is good and righteous to do such things. That is true spiritual maturity.
David Sielaff, November 2009
2 This is the apostle Paul’s straightforward statement of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 (Concordant Version):
“Now I am making known to you, brethren, the evangel [Gospel] which I bring to you,
which also you accepted,
in which also you stand,
through which also you are saved [at this present moment],
if you are retaining what I said in bringing the evangel [Gospel] to you, outside and except you believe feignedly. For I give over to you among the first what also I accepted,
 that Christ died for [the sake of] our sins according to the scriptures, and
 that He was entombed, and
 that He has been roused the third day according to the scriptures.”
This is the Gospel through which you are saved. See also John 1:12 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14.
3 The King James Version translates the end of John 5:29 as “resurrection of damnation.” The word translated “damnation” is derived from krisis, a common Greek term which simply means “judgment,” occurring 47 times in the New Testament. The proper rendering should be “resurrection of judging.” God and His will can be resisted but not thwarted (1 Timothy 2:4).
4 Using Christ as the example for what our experience will be, see Dr. Ernest Martin’s comments in chapter 16, “Resurrections from the Dead,” the section “All Resurrections Will be to Mortal Life” from his book Essentials of New Testament Doctrine.
6 Paul’s analogy from nature is not that of a caterpillar transformed into a butterfly. That is an occult concept frequently presented in New Age teaching today. The proper biblical analogy is that of a seed that germinates to grow and become a plant.
7 Regarding the Spirit of man, see Job 32:8 and 33:4; Ecclesiastes 3:21; Zechariah 12:1; 1 Corinthians 2:11, 14. I discuss the spirit of man in the Addendum to Dr. Martin’s article “Abortion and the Bible.”
8 Christ appeared to His disciples the evening of His resurrection: “He exhales and is saying to them, ‘Get holy spirit!’” (John 20:22, Concordant Version). This was before Pentecost. When Christ breathes on you, things happen.
10 You did not exist before you were born of a woman. In this respect we are all unlike Christ, who was created. As God’s first creation everything else was created through Him (Colossians 1:15–20; Hebrews 2:10–11; and Revelation 3:14).
11 See Dr. Martin’s presentation “The Arrogance of Man” where he notes that being “born again” (a scriptural phrase, John 3:3, 7 and 1 Peter 1:23) does not mean being “begotten again,” as demonstrated by comparing 1 Peter 1:23 with 2:2 in its own context.
12 Put all the verses together from the synoptic Gospel writers (Matthew 5:9, 20:36), the apostle John (John 1:12, 11:52; 1 John 3:1–2, 10, 5:2), Paul (Romans 8:14–21, 9:8, 26; Galatians 3:26, 4:7; Philippians 2:15; Hebrews 2:13–14), and Peter (1 Peter 1:14).
13 Dr. Martin discusses the 70 year period after Christ’s return in his article “Salvation and the Biblical Doctrine of Deification” in the bold green titled section “How Long Will We Remain ‘Infants’ and ‘Children’ in the Resurrection?”
14 Look at your situation. You demand that your “wants” be supplied now! You should be praying for God to supply your “needs.” Yet you and I are still infants to God and Christ. We are loved and cared for and fed and cleansed, and then loved some more. After our resurrection we will all be stunned to learn how we have been nurtured by God and Christ.
15 Yes, there are gradations of growth as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:9–13, “When I was a child, I spake as a child …” If you read carefully, the apostle Paul is discussing person-to-person relationships and the importance of love between people. The human-to-Christ and human-to-God relation is what is important. The difference between a babe in Christ and a “mature” Christian is probably analogous to the difference between a newborn and a 1 year old child.
16 Nothing is worse for a parent than to see his child in pain or suffering, and not being able to ease that pain.
17 First Corinthians chapter 3 deals with rewards in verses 8–10 and 13–14:
“Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”
18 See Dr. Martin’s articles “The History of the Revelation of the Mystery,” “The Mystery and the New Covenant,” and of course throughout his book The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine, available online free.
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