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Walker, MN

Feb. 24, 2019       The Resurrection

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Many years ago, the King of France, Louis 15th (XV),   ordered that no one could speak about death in his presence. He tried to avoid any visible sign, or symbol, or place that would remind him of the mortal nature of life in this world. *Can you imagine how hard that would be?   A foolish king; we all know that we can never escape this last great enemy of ours;    anymore than an ostrich can escape its enemies by sticking its head in the sand.

I’m glad that, like last week, again this week we get to hear from one of the greatest chapters of the Bible, 1 Cor.15. Thru Paul, the HSp is carefully explaining the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His power to overturn death itself is the greatest of all miracles; and it’s a foundational piece of the Christian faith. Believing in the Lord-of-Life, we do not have to fear death. In mercy for us Christ died; but in power for us Christ rose again. Therefore, He is our sure defense against death, and He is our cornerstone of life.

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By the things Paul writes, it seems that the Christians in Corinth had some doubts about our bodies after the resurrection at judgment day. They had more questions than the answers God was providing;   so they were beginning to doubt that there even was a resurrection.

You & I have heard =or have had= some of those unanswerable questions. Q like:

1) What about a person who dies in an explosion and there’s no remains?   2) What about a miscarried baby when they’re only partially formed?   3) What if a person dies in the ocean and is eaten by fish?   4) If a baby dies, are they going to be a baby in heaven? 5) What about a really old & wrinkly person, what age will they be in heaven? 5) What kind of body will a person have if they are crippled, or blind, or deaf when they die?  Sometimes the best answer is no answer; because we don’t realize how foolish or how irrelevant some of our questions are

Sometimes, because of our limited ability to understand God’s things, His Word comforts us with the truth generally;   and then with faith, His truth covers all our questions,  of every time & of every place & every condition. Let’s review what God is saying here about our promised resurrection.

V.35:   But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”   You foolish person!   Foolishness is opposite of faith;

a foolish person has a snide attitude about God’s things. For example, the person who mockingly says, ‘there’s no way the whole universe was created in 6 days.’

Biblically, that person is a ‘fool.’ Paul cites a sarcastic question here: ‘how are the dead raised = with what kind of body?’  What Paul means is that our fallen human reason can ask so many questions;   but the answers are beyond us. We can be like immature children who would not be able to grasp the simple things of the infinite ways of God. God does not explain to us HOW His Word created all things out of nothing; He spoke, and it was. Likewise, we cannot hope to understand the way He will reassemble & reanimate the ashes & dust of all people at the Day of Resurrection.

So, with no answer, God calls on us to trust Him;  it is enough for us to believe His Word of promise:   that just as sure as we can see life & death in the world,   so He assures us that He is able; that there will be things to come that we cannot see or imagine. We will each have a resurrection; and a real, bodily life beyond this one.

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Paul goes on, V.36:   What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.”

It’s quite natural to be aware that a seed going in to the ground will be transformed; it doesn’t stay a seed. *Do we feel bad about the little grains of flower seeds that we rake into the ground? No; in time they’ll be a green plant with beautiful flowers. *Do we feel sorry for the seed-potato we plant?   No; we gladly sacrifice it, and we patiently wait for it to become a flowering plant with many large potatoes underneath. Dying seeds & living plants are an ongoing gift of God’s creative hand.

So it is with people.   There must be a transformation into sinless & eternal living with Him. And, we cannot receive that new thing without giving-up the old. It’s a big change,  but to obtain what is far better, we must leave behind what is no longer any lasting good.

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Now, about our body, says V.37, When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat, or of something else. But God gives it a body as He has determined.”

Generally, it doesn’t matter what kind of body we have now; whether we have a whole body, or parts missing; /whether we are intelligent or impaired; / healthy or sick; / young or old; / still flesh or reduced to dust & ashes.   There are so many variables = too many; so God doesn’t answer all the possibilities for us. His answer is simple: the body dies, but He will resurrect us, and we will be ourselves = but far better.

We are assured that our next body will be designed as proper & complete in His sight.   *Isn’t that the answer we really need?  We will be perfectly fitted for our home in His heaven; and then, for the new earth.

No matter what our dying circumstances, it’s not the body that’s planted that matters,

or where, or how. The Creator knows each & every one of His creatures; He tracks us & cares for our body & life.  And our body of the future will be far better.

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*What kind of better? Paul uses 4 examples: “The body that is sown is perishable,

it is raised imperishable; /   it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; /   it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; / it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”

We are so familiar with our perishable, dishonorable, weak, & natural body, it’s hard to fathom what this kind of body will be like.   It will be imperishable = no decay, or disease,

it will last forever;   Glorious = without sin, or shame;   Powerful = will never tire, or lack for strength; and Spiritual = we may not be limited to 5 earthly senses, living face to face with our God.

Martin Luther describes this resurrection transformation this way:   “The body, weak and devoid of all strength and power, though it may be now & when it lies in the grave,   will be so strong   that with one finger it will be able to carry this church …and play with a mountain as children play with a ball ….nothing that it decides will be impossible for it …it will become so light and nimble   that it will soar both down here on earth and up above in the heavens in a moment.”   Whether his examples are accurate or not, he was trying to describe the newness & strength of what we will be.

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And finally, The Spirit makes it clear that this wonderful change is a gracious gift to us from a loving Savior;   who Himself took on our nature, so that we could share His nature.

We can’t answer all questions, and we don’t need to.   It is enough that we believe God’s Word of promise about what is to come. And then, for our comfort & faith, the Father also showed us what will be   by demonstrating with His Son. In His death & resurrection, Jesus has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep in Him.

By nature, we are subject to the fallen & tragic effects of Adam’s sin.   From Adam, we are only natural; we lost the real ‘spiritual’ part. The wages of Adam’s sin was 2 deaths: the death of our spiritual life, and the death of our physical body. But God sent a ‘second Adam’; who was strong & obedient to delivered to us; He brings to us a life-giving spirit == a new birth by water & Spirit.

The sting of death has been removed. The sting was the spiritual curse & punishment for our sins; a separation from God.   But by substituting His perfect life, by the shedding of His Holy Blood as payment, God has forever cancelled our debt & punishment. In Christ =with this faith= we are already beginning to live new lives, even before we receive our new bodies.

Just as certainly as new life springs up after a cold dead winter, and just as the planted seeds will one day be flowing plants, so we are looking forward to our resurrection, and our transformation.   It can hardly be put into human words.   Yet it is true; and to the Christian who trusts in God’s Word of promise, even without giving us all the details, what a great comfort it is, as we & our loved ones face earthly death.

*Didn’t our Creator give us physical bodies? So He has also promised us real spiritual bodies, designed for living with Him.   He has taken away the sting of death; He has calmed our fears & doubts.

One pastor said it this way(poetic): Imagine what we will experience;   imagine stepping onto a shore and finding it paradise; and taking hold of a hand and finding it Jesus’ hand; and breathing new air and finding it heavenly air;   feeling invigorated and finding it immortality;   passing from storm and tempest to an unbroken calm;   imagine waking up and finding it home!

Centuries ago the Spanish fleet had this inscription on their flags: NON PLUS ULTRA, which means “Nothing more beyond.”   They thought they had conquered everything; they couldn’t see beyond their own kingdom.  But then Columbus came to the Americas, and they decided to remove the NON from their flags;   they had to admit, PLUS ULTRA ; there was   “More beyond.”

In John 11, at the death of Lazarus, Jesus said to Martha,   I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And he who lives and believes in Me will never really die. Do you believe this?”    

 Our faith answers with Martha: Yes, Lord; we believe.

Amen