1 Corinthians 15:35-49
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the text of 1 Corinithians where the Apostle Paul explains the believer's resurrected body.
I don’t know anyone more dedicated to the great fundamental doctrines of Christianity than the Catholics. Today I was in the office, and Laurie was there, and so I asked her, who do you think said that? Well, she said, Well, surely a Catholic. And, no, it was one of the leading Southern Baptists. Now, think of that. Think what he’s saying. I don’t know anyone more dedicated to the great fundamental doctrines of Christianity than the Catholics.
Now, here is another quote. “I have found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of Orthodox Catholics.” Who made that statement? Well, you would never guess. Billy Graham. Let me read it again. “I have found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of Orthodox Catholics.”
This is an interview with Billy by Terry Mattingly of the Denver Mountain News, Rocky Mountain News as the Denver paper, as probably you know. The interviewers around the subject of evangelical, what does evangelical mean. Now, euaggelion is the Greek word that means gospel, good announcement, announcement of something that is good. That’s the meaning of gospel, good news, we know. So Mr. Graham was asked –and incidentally I like Billy. I know Billy. He is a — he is a very — he was a man of real integrity in the midst of a number of other preachers whose testimony is questionable. But his organization is an organization with integrity. I want to make that very plain.
This is a question of the word of God. These are the points that are important. So he was asked, what is evangelicalism? How do you define evangelicalism, Terry Mattingly one of the reporters said. Actually, Billy said, that’s a question I would like to ask somebody, too. Now, this is the world’s best-known evangelical. Come on, I said, if you can’t define this common religious term then we can call it quits. Frankly, he went on to say, the word has become blurred. I mean, you go all the way from the extreme fundamentalists to the extreme liberals, and somewhere in between there are evangelicals.
Now, there is another little discussion here about universalism, but I don’t want to waste too much time. Later, Mr. Graham says, evangelicalism might be the opposite of universalism, but it would be the opposite of many other things as well. My answer would be couched probably in more positive terms. Mattingly interjects. He thought it over. Then Mr. Graham said, I think a person who accepts the Apostle’s Creed is an evangelical, or the Nicene Creed. Mr. Mattingly then asked him, Is the Pope an evangelical? Mr. Graham said, This one is. We’ve had some interesting discussions about that.
Now, to my mind, that raises questions about the doctrines of Christianity as they are taught and preached today. If we cannot define evangelicalism as something that marks us out as different from those who believe that salvation is through the sacraments of the church, that the truth is not simply in the Scriptures but in tradition, if salvation is not by faith alone, by Christ alone, through grace alone, then we don’t really have evangelical Christianity at all.
These things are important. This is the fundamental truth of the word of God. Let me make it more personal. It’s the fundamental truth concerning our Savior Jesus Christ that salvation is through him and through him alone. That’s why we call him savior. We don’t call churches saviors. We don’t call other men saviors. We call Christ Jesus the Lord, our Savior, and we mean precisely that if we follow biblical teaching.
So maybe if I point this out, you will at least understand why, from time to time, in our day it’s very necessary for anyone who teaches the word of God to warn concerning the encroachment of unbelief and apostasy in the church of Jesus Christ. No one likes to do that because there are always people who say I just want to be friendly with everybody. But a person who isn’t Christian can never do that because the cross, the Scriptures tell us, is offensive to natural man, just as it was offensive to us when it came home to us, and we realized that we were sinners. We didn’t like what we were told. You need to find Christ as your personal savior.
In the Presbyterian church when the gospel was preached to me by Donald Grey Barnhouse, I wasn’t happy to be told that I was lost, but I thank God that he had the courage to stand up in our pulpit and say, You’re lost. You’re lost if you’re not committed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Well, now, let’s turn to our subject tonight, our resurrection body. Let’s bow in a moment of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee and praise Thee for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we thank Thee for the resurrection, for the hope of the resurrection. And we thank Thee for the Apostle Paul, who in the midst of many, many trials, constant trials, constant suffering faithfully has been an instrument for the salvation of Gentiles for the writing of the inspired Scriptures from his hand and pen and has made it possible for us now to read the truth and respond to it. We thank Thee for him. We thank Thee for all of the apostles and prophets, above all, for our Lord himself. We practice that our study of his word may bring clarity to our minds, conviction to our hearts and boldness in our Christian testimony.
For Jesus’ sake amen.
[Message] Tonight we are turning to 1 Corinthians 15, verse 33 through 49, and I think I’d like to read the verses right now. So turn to 1 Corinthians 15, verse 35. The apostle has just been talking about resurrection and various aspects of it. And now in verse 35 he says,
“But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’ Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.”
Those are very simple facts that we all know — we frequently don’t reflect on them. The fish has flesh. We have flesh. But the flesh of the flesh is happy in water, and we’re happy out of water. One of the commentators said, If the fish have philosophers, then the philosophers among the fishes would say it’s impossible for a person to live out of water. That would be their experience. And I guess if the fish do have philosophers — I must say I do doubt that — if they do have it, that’s what they would say, “there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. And all of these fleshes have different aspects that define them.
“There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
The denial of bodily resurrection is basically a heathen response to the gospel truth. We remember when we read the Book of Acts that this is one of the greatest themes of the Book of Acts. And in Paul’s preaching and in the apostle’s preaching, the resurrection was very important to them. In Acts chapter 17 he preaches the gospel in Athens in Greece you may remember. And when he finishes his message in Acts 17 in verse 32 through verse 34 Luke says, “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’”
So, in other words, the preaching of the gospel produced the reaction of mockery. It produced the reaction of reconsideration. We will hear you again on this point. And then Paul goes on to say some believed. Well, my — one of my old teachers from the University of Edinburgh, in one of his writings, has said with reference to the Aereopagus where the message was given that 20 centuries have echoed the laughter of the Aereopagus. And that is true. Plato argued for a future life in the Phaedo but no resurrection because the body for most Greek thinkers was the prison of the soul. And so, consequently, no resurrection was very suitable for Greek people that the body was essentially evil. And so to be delivered from the body was a kind of salvation for them. With Christianity it’s quite a bit different. In Christianity, the resurrection of the body is not only there, it’s important.
And to deny the resurrection is a heathen response to the truth. When an individual says, “I don’t believe in the resurrection,” that is not a nonChristian response, that is a Pagan response. That’s precisely a Pagan response. It’s important for us to remember that.
Now, Paul in another place in one of his writings in 2 Timothy chapter 2 in verse 18 condemns one form of the resurrection there — that is, of the resurrection’s denial. But basically to deny the resurrection is to have Pagan views. It’s very common in our evangelically — I say professedly evangelical churches to have individuals who deny the resurrection. They are Pagans, although they meet with those who made profession of truths. They are really Pagans. We have many Pagans in our Christian churches. We have Pagans, no doubt, in Believer’s Chapel. I don’t know who they are, but when you gather people together, you undoubtedly have, almost always, Pagans who are there. The evil one is anxious to have them there so they can cause difficulty for the saints.
Why must there be a bodily resurrection? That’s a natural question, and I think it’s a fair question. Why should there be a resurrection? Why must there be a resurrection? Well, I would like to suggest to you there must be a resurrection because it’s the completion of the redemption of the cross which Jesus Christ has been responsible for and, therefore, we don’t have the fullness of the redemption of our Lord Jesus until we have the resurrection of the body.
Listen to what Paul says in Romans chapter 8 in verse 23. He says, “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (verse 23) Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, (that is, we possess the Holy Spirit, the firstfruits of divine redemption) even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. We have a partial redemption at the present time. The resurrection will complete our redemption. We are not redeemed fully as the Scriptures say that we are to be until there is the resurrection of our body.
Philippians chapter 3 is another passage we might refer to in connection with it. So consequently the resurrection is absolutely necessary for the completion of the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I know that there are people today who have questions about this, and there are people also who have differing views about some of these things. Some of them even tell us that we can have our redemption now. We have faith healers about us who say that you can have your redemption now. And if you are getting healing constantly, you’re not getting the fullness of redemption. Christians get sick just like other people. Christians die just like other people. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures say, It’s appointed to men that once to die and after this the judgment. We don’t have the redemption of our body yet, and we will not have the redemption of our body until the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And yet the airwaves and the TV screens are filled with people who tell professing Christians that if you are not getting healing today, you’re not getting what Jesus Christ has purchased for you today. We say our Lord has purchased that for us and we shall have it, but it’s not for today. And the very fact that the great — as far as I know, every faith healer who is dead and all the faith healers who have died disprove their doctrine. All the great faith healers of the past are in the grave at the present moment. Those very ones who told us that the problem that we have is we’ve not asked for the healing that is guaranteed us by the Scriptures. They’re in the grave, too, just like everyone else. We ought to be sensible enough to realize that when a person tells us that we can have healing today, that’s not, according to the Scriptures, a promise that is for all of us today.
Now, it’s possible, of course, for us to pray and have healing here or healing there in accordance with the will of God, but all of the saints ultimately shall die if our Lord does not come. There’s a lot of difference between a healing here and a healing there from some illness or difficulty we may have and the healing that comes with the resurrection of the body when I have a new glorious body like our Lord Jesus Christ’s only body.
So let’s keep that in mind as we look now at our passage. What sort of body shall we have? Paul’s answer, incidentally, is similar to the Pharisees. They believed in the resurrection of the body. Remember? Well, actually there is a lot of similarity between the things that Paul says in his epistles and what was said by the Pharisees of the time. That, of course, is to be expected because Paul was a Jewish man, a well-taught Jewish man. So it’s not surprising that he should have views on many points that were Pharisaical views. They were students of the word of God, misled of course by our Lord Jesus Christ, but nevertheless on many points, Paul’s teaching is true to their teaching, and their teaching is true to Paul’s.
Two questions begin verse 35, but someone will say, Who is the someone? Well, we’ve had in verse 12 the apostle saying now if Christ has preached that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? So evidently the “someone” of verse 35 is one of those some of verse 12. As a matter of fact, that’s not the only place. In verse 34 we just had the words awake to righteousness, do not sin for some do not have the knowledge of God. So those some are part of the body of the Corinthians with whom they’re acquainted, and some of them doubt the resurrection and some don’t have knowledge of God. In fact, both — both of those have not the knowledge of God if they doubt the resurrection. So someone will say, some of those that don’t have the knowledge of God, Paul says, those perhaps who deny the resurrection, that body, how are the dead raised up? First question that question, of course, raises the question of the possibility of a resurrection of the body. How are the dead raised up? Not the method but the fact, the possibility of the resurrection.
The second question, And with what body do they come? This of course is a question concerning the nature of the resurrection body. That would be natural, of course. The answer to the how is in verse 36, foolish one. Isn’t that interesting? The apostle calls them a fool. That’s what he does. He calls them a fool? Why? Well, because the chances are what they were doing was trying to catch the apostle. In other words, they wanted to make him look like a fool. So they asked him the question, the same kind of question people ask today. If you tell a person, I believe in the resurrection of the body, how is a dead body going to come out of the grave? And, furthermore, how is a dead body that has been dead for years and years and probably now is nothing more than dust, how are we going to have a resurrection of the body? All of these questions, the apostles had to face, too.
So the apostle does what Offenser does he parries this question, this attempt at a reductio ad absurdum, a reduction to that which is absurd, if you want the technical Latin expression to it. So he replies to them because that’s what they are. They are trying to trick him, and so he just says fool. You fool. Now, if they had asked him a question with — like, Apostle Paul, I would like information. I don’t understand anything about this. Could you tell us some facts about the resurrection? He wouldn’t have replied that way. These fellows wanted to catch him, and so he answers them that way. In fact, doesn’t the Bible say something like that in Proverbs, you answer a fool according to that fool’s questions? So, anyway that’s what he does.
Now, what Paul does is to say there are two errors that we must avoid. First of all, the body that comes out of the grave is not the same body that we place in the grave. The body that we place in the grave has been affected by the deterioration of decay of sins and its effects. So that precise body coming out of the grave is not the body placed in the grave. I’m telling you ahead of time. When they put my body in the grave and you look and say, There’s a Dr. Johnson’s body — I hope your say there is the body. I hope you don’t say — I hope you’re not so dumb to say there’s Dr. Johnson because I won’t be there, and I will be embarrassed that you say that because then I’ll realize my teaching didn’t have much affect on you. But that is not like the body that’s going to come out of the grave. In fact, I doubt that you would even recognize me as I come out of the grave except by some special illumination that were granted to you. I’m going to look so marvelous when I come out of the grave, and so will all of the Christians that come out of the grave. So we want to bear that in mind. There is going to be an identifying feature about my body. It will be my body, but it will be so different that you will have hard time finding the identifying feature of it. It will be the same but not totally the same. So the body is not the same body precisely, but it’s not an unrelated body. There actually will be identifying features that mark me out from you. But I won’t envy you. I will be happy with what I have, and you will be happy with what you have, and you won’t be running in a mirror to see if you can approve of what the Lord has given to you. They won’t have no necessity for mirrors in that day.
So the apostle says the same body is an error, an unrelated body is an error. It’s generally like Christ’s body. In fact, that’s what Paul intimates very forthrightly. In Philippians 3, verse 20 and 21 where he says, For our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, our body of humiliation, that it will be conformed to his glorious body according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself. Transformation. But it’s the same body, yet so transformed that it’s not absolutely the same, although related. Do you get the point? In other words, there’s a continuity between the body I have now and my resurrection body. It’s not your body. It’s not a general body we all participate in. There’s a continuity, my body. There is an identity. My resurrection body is mine. It’s not yours. And yet there is diversity among the resurrected individuals. Paul says it’s like sowing a seed, as a matter of fact. Now, sowing a seed is an interesting illustration because, as we all know, when seed is sown what comes up doesn’t look a whole lot like what has been placed in the ground. If you know you take a seed of a flower — and it’s not very nice looking, not very pretty. There’s really nothing about it. It’s very insignificant. If you’ve never known what is going to happen and you put it in the ground and then you see what comes up and some beautiful plant comes from a little seed, well, that’s what Paul is talking about here when he says perhaps wheat or some other grain, God gives it a body as he pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, another of birds. It talks about the celestial bodies and how they differ. There’s one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another glory of the stars. One star differs from another star in its glory so also is the resurrection. So it’s like sowing seed.
That raises some interesting questions because there are interesting things that one may learn about sowing seed. Place a little grain of wheat in the ground, get down to the root of what comes up is remarkable, and you may wonder, is it the same thing? Is it still there. And if you were able to dig out — dig down to where you had planted the seed or the grain, you would find, yes, it’s still there, that the root of the wheat stock is there. It’s actually the same thing, but how different out of the little shell out of that has come the stock of the wheat, so in the resurrection.
People who study these matters, and I certainly do not, tell us that our body is not the same body that we had just a few years back. I don’t know what scientists say now, but at one time they said the body that you have is not the body that you had seven years ago. It has actually become a different body. Then later on scientists says, no, it changes completely every three and a half years. So if someone should come up to you, hasn’t seen you for four or five years, and say, my you’re looking good. I haven’t seen you looking quite so good, you could really reply scientifically and say, Well, actually, you’ve never seen me. What you saw was what I used to be, but I’m different now, completely different. And so there are certain things about us that grows, our hair grows for a while and our nails grow and various things do grow, but our entire body is changing continually, so we are told scientifically.
Now, one of the greatest objections to the resurrection is an objection that is not easily set aside. We discover that when a body is buried in the grave or sepulcher, it returns to the earth. It loses its organic form. It becomes resolved in due time if no extraordinary influence is intervened literally into dust. And preacher, in the past at least — they don’t say this as much as they used — stand by the coffin and say dust unto dust. In other words, we came from dust. We are going back to dust. And all that will be there is dust. And some people like to make fun of the resurrection and say, if there’s going to be a resurrection of all of the bodies that have been placed in the grave and there have been many Christians who died down through the years, the air is going to be full of flying particles of dust, isn’t it?
Roger Williams was one of the great men of America. He was the founder of Rhode Island and a very strong and able Baptist believer, a missionary to the Indians, an outstanding Christian. Martha is descended from him. And so I’ve had a lot to live up to with Roger Williams in the family all of the time. You may not know this about Roger Williams, but Roger Williams was buried and later, many years after his death, it was decided that he needed a better burial than the one that he had had. So they went to the place of his grave, and they dug down where his body was and they discovered that the roots of an apple tree which was over the grave had entered the skull of Roger Williams and followed along the line of his backbone, dividing at the tips and turning up the feet so that the whole body had been absorbed by the apple tree. And that’s why as the Rhode Islanders passed, they used to say, hi, Roger, years after he was buried. I made that up. Some of you are looking at me. They didn’t know that, but I think you can see that this would pose problems for the resurrection but not for the Apostle Paul because he says, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. So Roger Williams will have a glorious resurrection body, just as all of the saints will have a glorious resurrection body. It will be his body, identified as his, specially his. So we leave that up to our infinitely, powerful, our omnipotent God in heaven. It has been illustrated by some that we can illustrate our body as being the same body, perhaps in this way. If we had a brick building in mind and if we gradually removed brick by brick from time to time from that structure putting another brick in, after a period of time we would have an entirely new building, but nevertheless, it will be a building located in the same place, the same structure, the same style, and that might illustrate as well as any, what our resurrection body will be.
Identity, definite identity, but not the same in the sense of the same body that was placed in the grave, but it will be ours identically connected with the body that has been buried.
The world has all different kinds of ideas and, you know, I’ve told you I read Ann Landers every morning, and one of the second blessings I had was to discover that she also was on Sunday. And for years I didn’t realize that she also wrote on Sunday and answered letters. And during the years I collected a few little things that have to do with the Bible, people asking her questions. One of them was about the resurrection, and this individual wrote Ann Landers a bizarre letter and said she had six large gold crowns in her mouth, and she expressed her faith in the resurrection but she was concerned over leaving the six golden crowns to her sister. She said, At the resurrection, I presume I will need those six golden — gold crowns, and, furthermore she says — I’m quoting these words exactly from her letter — dentistry might be a lot more expensive by the time I rise again. The waiting period to get an appointment might be worse than it is now. Well, you can see she believed in the resurrection, but she had a very mundane idea of what it was to be married.
Well, another person wrote Ann back in 1982 remarking on the fact that a man had wanted to be buried in his 1939 Dodge. And he had written to Ann about it, so this individual added his little incident to what the man had suggested. And he spoke of a man who wrote in his will that, quote, he wanted to be buried in his front yard on a highway from Roanoke to Radford, Virginia, so he could watch over his property, and his wash was granted. And his wish was granted. The casket was put in the ground straight up, and this man says, I was at the funeral and signed him as witness from Biloxi, Mississippi.
Paul, I’m sure, would not have been greatly impressed by these descriptions of what the resurrection really was all about. We, of course, would like to know shall we recognize those whom we have known and whom we have loved. And George MacDonnell has written some very interesting books that Scots — that he was a Scot and Scots and others have loved answered the question by saying, shall we be greater fools in paradise than we are here. Yes, we will be able to recognize one another when we are in our resurrection bodies. The Hebrews — the rabbis discuss these things, too. In fact, in rabbinic literature there is a section in which Queen Cleopatra wrote to Rabbi Meir and asked how we are going to rise from the dead. Are we going to rise naked, or are we going to rise in our clothes? And so shall we be nude when we come from the grave or shall we have clothes? And he answered the question this way. He said if we are put in the ground in our clothes, then he was quite convinced we would rise in our clothes, and he used a Hebrew form of argument, the calver homer because, he said, if the grain of wheat is put in the ground naked and it rises up clothed in the beauty of the plant himself, then we can reason from that if a person is buried in his clothes that he will come up in his clothes. So if you are buried in Hart Schaffner and Marx clothes, you will come up in most glorious kinds of clothes, much greater — just like the wheat — the grain of wheat comes up in the beautiful plant of the wheat or the rose from the roots and so on. This is steep theology, and I know some of you may be lost by this, but I thought I would add it because you might be falling asleep.
Now, in verse 42 through verse 44 we have the application to the resurrection body. Notice verse 42, so also. So also is the resurrection of the dead. Resurrection, we’ve said, means transformation, four particulars are singled out. I don’t think it’s necessary to really labor the meaning of them. Number one he says, the body is sewn in corruption. It is raised in incorruption. The perishable body is placed in the grave. It is raised in a body that is imperishable. It will never die. We will be perfectly happy with it. It will be glorious, magnificent, and we will have it forever. Marvelous to think about.
Second, verse 43, It is sewn in dishonor, it is raised in glory. There is an ethical tone in this because, you see, the reason that we lie in the graves today as we do with our flesh corrupting, the moment life leaves, corruption begins. Signs of corruption have already begun. You can see it in my body. I can see it your body. And even when we’re very young, those signs begin to appear. That’s why Paul calls us all perishing. The word of the cross to those who are perishing foolishness. Perishing, present tense. We — from the moment we breathe our first breath, we are on the way to death, but particularly when we’ve stopped breathing, then the greatest speed of decay begins to take place. It’s from dishonor to glory, the ethical tone. Dishonor because we’ve sinned. The race has sinned. Adam has sinned. We have been born in sin. We prove the Scriptures’ truth by the way we have lived to the present day.
Thirdly, verse 43, It is sewn in weakness, it is raised in power. This, I think, is an eschatological note because the idea of power suggests the future. It is, as he says, sewn in weakness, and it is raised in power. What we cannot do today because we are losing strength, our life is fleeing from us. We’re becoming weaker and weaker. We’re going to be ultimately strong, infinitely strong, and eternally strong. Power.
And, fourthly, in verse 44 it is sown a natural body. The use of the body, not its substance is not in view. It is a body at the present which is the means by which the soul carries out its life, but then he says it is raised a spiritual body. Natural and spiritual are adjectives that mean formed to be the organ of. Our present body is formed to be the organ of our souls, our cells. The future body is a body that is formed to be the housing of our spirits, that part of our being that is related to the Lord God himself. Formed to be the organ of the soul, formed to be the organ of the spirit.
People, of course, always want to know, well, what does it look like? What does the resurrection body look like? Well, I, of course, have not seen the lord. The apostle saw him. They gave us some descriptions of the glory of our Lord’s appearance. We have that in the word of God, but precious little, so we don’t really know. But let me read the confirmation of Scriptures concerning this, and then we will just say a word about that.
In verse 45 we read — and here is the confirmation of Scripture concerning the last Adam. And so it is written, Paul says, the first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam — we’ve said this so many times, but I want you to be sure you get it. The Bible is very, very exact in its language. I wished that we could communicate that to you. Most of our difficulties could be solved if we realize the Scriptures are written with precision, spiritual precision. The Bible does not say that Jesus Christ is the second — well, I should take this back. We have Adam as the first man. We have our Lord as the last Adam, not the second Adam because there’s no other Adam than the two. They are both the heads of human — a human body. In Adam’s family is everyone, everyone. Everyone ever in the human family belongs to Adam. He’s our father, but the last Adam is the head of the redeemed only, the redeemed. Our lord is called the second man because there are other men but he’s called the Last Adam. He’s not called the second Adam because there’s no other Adam by which we may be related to God. Please remember that.
I have often said this, but I was at the seminary — when I first came to Dallas Seminary, one of the things I liked to do was to over to the library. The library was small enough in those days, about 25- to 30,000 books. After a month or two, I was familiar with a lot of the books of the library. And I would frequently go up and down the aisles and pulling out books of titles that I liked or attracted me. And I took one out that was a book that had been given to the library by H.A. Ironside, and I looked, thumbed through its pages, and then suddenly on one of the pages there was a note that said, no, the last Adam. And I read and the author had said that Jesus Christ was the second Adam. So he was reading along, and he said erased that out and said, no, the last Adam. I didn’t know exactly why he did that, to tell you the truth later. But later on I discovered why Dr. Ironside said that, just what I’ve told you, there are only two Adams, not a first, a second, a third, and a fourth. Only two, the first and last. They are the heads of two groups of people. The two Adams are representatives. The two Adams are covenantal heads, and that’s all.
You’re either a descendent of Adam only or you’re a descendent of Adam and our Lord. And if you’re a descendent of our Lord, spiritual descendent, then you belong to the family of God.
So Paul says and so it is written the first Adam became a living being, the last Adam became a life-giving soul both men stamped their characteristics on their races. Both men were at one time sinless, Adam in the Garden of Eden, our Lord throughout his existence and eternally. Both are born without a human father. Adam didn’t have a human father, our Lord doesn’t have a human father, conceived by the Holy Ghost, conceived by the Virgin Mary.
So Paul says the first man was of the earth made of dust, the second man is the Lord from heaven. Notice, second man, not the second Adam, second man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust so also are those who are made of dust as is the heavenly man so also are those who are heavenly. And as we are born, the images of the man of dust, we must also bear the image of the heavenly man. So incidentally there’s no predicate in verse 47. The first man was of the earth made of dust and the second is the Lord from heaven. No — no real predicate describing what the second man’s descendents are like because no one could describe the glorified body satisfactorily. People who are not yet glorified. What did it look like? What does it look like? I don’t know. I have seen some suggestions.
There is seen through the atmosphere someone has said what we call sheen. Nothing else can express it. We have the golden sheen of sunlight, the silver sheen of moonlight. It’s transparent and yet it’s visible. You can see the rays passing through the atmosphere and yet you yourself can pass through the rays. It seems as though Christ’s body when gloried had very strong similarity — similarity to light. His eyes flashing as a flame of fire, his hairs shining like golden wool, his very feet burning like molten brass in a furnace. You will see the figurative picture of our lord in Revelation chapter 1 here in this description. His very feet burning like molten brass in a furnace. His countenance was like lightning. His raiment like the snow which the sun shines on and transfigures to gems. It seems as though when Christ was transfigured, the holy emotions, the desires of his heart shown through a transparent body and turned the whole into a body of sunshine. And so the Bible gives us a hint of what it cannot describe.
We know from the appearance of our lord on the mount of transfiguration and the description that Luke gives is that his body was heteros, that means different, another of a different kind. It was the kind of body that of which — the glory of which shone out. It was different, something that those who saw him never had seen before and have not seen throughout the remainder of their lives. We don’t know what the resurrection body is going to look like, but I, for one, am looking forward to having just such a body. I’m ready to be rid of this one. There was a time when I liked this one and didn’t want to leave it, but now I can look forward to having the resurrection — resurrected body that our lord is going to give to all believers in Jesus Christ.
There’s an old story that I like. I used to tell this when I was young, but it’s more meaningful to me now. Two old believers were talking to one another, bidding each other good-bye. They were Octogenarians. I’m not that old yet. Don’t think I am. I’m not, but soon. Good night, John, one of them said. We’ll soon be 33. The friend heard this and said, You will soon be 33? Why you’re 84 now. Oh, yes, they replied, but we’re going to be like him, and he was 33 when he was nailed to the cross. Well, actually, we’re going to be even better. We’re going to have glorified bodies like our Lord Jesus Christ’s own glorified body. That’s the hope of all believers in Christ. It’s the completion of the redemption.
So I’m not interested in what the faith healers today tell me. The Bible tells me if I pray and if it’s God’s will, healing will come. But it’s all temporary. All of those great healers who have made a lot of noise down the last hundred years, they’re in their lives. There are living ones that are dying. They’re not there yet, but they will be if the Lord doesn’t come. They all will be there. You can look at them and see the evidence. They wear glasses. Look carefully at their teeth, they have fillings. They have other indications of the fact that they are failing, and so we look for the glorious resurrection body.
It’s the heritage of every believer in Jesus Christ. It’s the completion of what that — of that which he died for on the cross at Calvary. We know it shall be ours because we already have the anticipations of it. We have the sense of the forgiveness of sins in our hearts. We’ve looked at the cross. We’ve seen forgiveness of it in the words of God. The Holy Spirit has brought home to our hearts a conviction that that is the truth, and we have given ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and he has brought us the conviction of the forgiveness of our sins. He’s responsible for that. He shed his blood that we might not only have the forgiveness of sins but the conviction that we have the assurance of the forgiveness of sins.
My prayer for you is that you, too, may have the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins grounded fundamentally in what our great savior has done, the last Adam. And in what the Scriptures say by the inspiration of the spirit concerning him, flee to him, trust in him, believe in him and have life and hope. Let’s bow in prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful and thankful for this great promise, the resurrection of the body. How marvelous to know that there lies before us the fullness of divine redemption and with a savior at the right hand — at Thy right hand, Father, praying for us, we know in all of our weakness, in all of our failure, in all of our from time to time unbelief, that’s our destination. We thank Thee. We praise Thee. Strengthen us, encourage us, use us, Lord, for Thy glory. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.