July 30, 2013
“…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” . (1Corinthians 15:50)
Another arresting statement made by Paul in his great resurrection chapter is that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, because corruption cannot inherit incorruption. What Paul means by this statement is that we cannot go to heaven with a physical body. When God decides that He wants us in heaven, He must perform a metamorphosis on us that prepares us to spend eternity with Him in heaven. God works that miracle metamorphosis through our death and resurrection.
As Paul describes the resurrection of believers at the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ he also tells us that those who are living when Jesus returns will be changed. They must be changed because they cannot enter into heaven with their physical bodies. They, too, must experience a miracle metamorphosis to prepare them for heaven.
Here Paul is declaring a sixth eternal value: our heavenly bodies will be so much greater than our physical bodies we must experience a metamorphosis to live forever in heaven. This is just one more way the Scripture consistently tells us that heaven is greater than earth and the best things in life for believers await them in the eternal dimension of life.
The Shepherd Psalm of David tells us that God makes us lie down to discover the green pastures and still waters of life. But, then we get up again and the green pastures turn brown and the still waters become disturbed. Many see a metaphor of the believer’s death as the Great Shepherd coming into our life making us lie down in death that He might give us the green pastures that never turn brown and the still waters that never become disturbed in heaven.
July 24, 2013
“Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4: 16)
Many years ago when John Quincy Adams began crossing a street, he was in such poor health it took him five minutes to approach the other side. A friend who was passing that way asked, “How is John Quincy Adams this morning?” He replied, “John Quincy Adams is doing just fine. The house he lives in is in sad disrepair. In fact, it is so dilapidated, John Quincy Adams may have to move out soon, but John Quincy Adams is doing just fine, thank you!”
John Quincy Adams was no doubt acquainted with the verse of Scripture I have quoted. Paul writes that we have an outward man and an inward man. In two of my favorite translations the outward man, or our body, is referred to as a common earthenware jar and a little clay pot (JB Phillips and the Living Bible Paraphrased.)
Paul declares a fourth eternal value: Our inward man is a greater value than our outward man. These verses Paul wrote to console those who were persecuted at that time are also a consolation for persecuted believers today or those who may be in the final stages of cancer that is causing their physical bodies to perish. When they have prayed for healing and it appears that God is taking them home, their inward man can be renewed while their outward man is wasting away.
As some believers study the resurrection chapter they want to believe they will hold on to their physical body. The great news is God is going to replace our little clay pots with spiritual bodies.
July 19, 2013
“It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:44)
Have you ever seen a dragonfly with its double wings moving like a helicopter from one flower to another? This amazing creature actually begins its life under water. For about two years it exists as a shellfish with a long narrow body like a knitting needle.
If you did a cross section on that shellfish you would find that it has two respiratory capacities. With one it can absorb oxygen from passing water through its body like other shellfish; however, it has another respiratory system that will one day breathe air.
When the two years of its underwater life have ended it rises to the surface of the water, moves to where land begins, dries its magnificent wings in the sun and then begins the second dimension of its existence.
The Apostle Paul writes that we are also designed to live our life in two dimensions and God has provided a body for us to live in each place. He has given us a body so we can live on earth and a body so we can live in heaven. Paul labels our earthly body “a natural body” and our heavenly body “a spiritual body.” He then identifies a third spiritual value: A spiritual body is a greater value than a natural body.
Since I have spent several decades trapped in a quadriplegic body I really resonate with Paul when he declares that a spiritual body is prepared for me. How I look forward to that spiritual body that will not have the limitations of my present body. With great joy I anticipate the spiritual body God has prepared and Christ has made possible for me.
Do you value your spiritual body?
December 20, 2012
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“This is heaven.” declared a small boy.
“We’re spending Christmas at God’s house!”
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their Savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring.
Those children all flew into the arms of their King.
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”
(This poem, written by Cameo Smith, honors the children killed last Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.)
We read in the Gospel of Matthew: Then Herod… put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under…” (Matthew 2:16). Think of the children who stormed heaven’s gates shortly after the first Christmas.
There is much in this life that makes no sense until we have an upper story and an eternal dimension to what we believe. The eternal dimension is the most important dimension of our existence. It can make sense out of some of the inexplicable tragedy caused by evil.
April 22, 2012
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23: 1-3)
These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible loved by Protestants, Catholics and Jews. They describe our relationship with God. They tell us that when God is our Shepherd we have green pastures, still waters and a full cup that never empties. This is because our great Shepherd makes us lie down. He may use problems we cannot solve to make us lie down. However, since we are creatures of choice we can choose to get up again. When we do our green pastures turn brown and our cup empties again. He then restores our soul by driving us into the paths of righteousness that restore us.
Many devout souls also love this psalm because they see in it a description of a believer’s death. To them death is the great Shepherd coming into a life for the last time making a devout person lie down so He can give them the green pastures that never turn brown and the full cup that never empties in the eternal state. The only way He can give us these eternal blessings is to make us lie down in death.
The key to these eternal blessings is found in the opening words of the psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Meditate on these words one word at a time. They are the key to living here and in the hereafter. Can you say that He is your Shepherd today and always?
April 12, 2012
“Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.” (1 Corinthians 15: 49)
Have you ever watched a dragonfly move from one plant to another with its two sets of wings making it possible for it to hover like a helicopter? A dragonfly actually spends the first two years of its existence at the bottom of a large body of water. When that phase of its existence comes to an end, it rises to the surface of the water, climbs up on the bank and lets it wings dry in the sun. Then it spreads those magnificent wings and begins the second dimension of its existence when it becomes an aeronautical wonder.
Easter reminded us that like the dragonfly we are meant to live out our existence in two dimensions. If you did a cross-section of that under-water dragonfly you would see that it has two respiratory systems. It has one for living under water and one for breathing air in the second dimension of its life.
If you could do a spiritual cross-section on a born again believer you would find that we are also equipped with two systems. We have an outward man and an inward man. Our outward man is just a little clay pot in which our eternal inward man lives.
We are told in the great Resurrection Chapter (1 Corinthians 15), that we are given a body for living this life and we will be issued another body for living in the eternal state. According to Paul, that new body will be a spiritual body that will equip us for living throughout all eternity. I don’t know about you but as a bed fast quadriplegic I’m really looking forward to being issued that new body!