On Good Friday my wife and I went to see a new Christian film, The Case for Christ. This is the true story of Lee Strobel, a Chicago crime reporter whose world turned upside down when his wife became a Christian. Before this, they were both avowed atheists. Strobel decided that the only way to win his wife back to reason was to disprove Christianity. And the way to do this was to disprove the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as an historical event. The film traces Strobel’s investigation into the nature and evidence about the Resurrection. It is an excellent film, which I highly recommend.
Watching this movie caused me to reflect on several conversations I have had in recent weeks. They have all concerned the nature of the resurrection—not the Resurrection of Christ, per se, but the afterlife we will all experience. You see, I have heard several committed Christians, mature Christians even, who have made statements something like this: “Our bodies are only a shell, the real person is spiritual.” “In eternity we will be spiritual beings, not physical.” “When someone dies, they leave their bodies behind, and the real person, the soul, goes to heaven. There we will live forever.” How often have we all heard statements like this? The sad fact, though, is that all these statements are false. They are completely opposed to biblical teaching. Such statements are actually closer to ancient Greek philosophy than they are to the Bible. For many of the Greeks believed that the body was evil simply because it was material in nature. Their view was that spirit is a good thing, but matter is bad.
The Bible presents a totally different view. God made man to be both physical and spiritual in nature. To be human is to corporeal (a body) and non-corporeal (a soul and/or spirit). We are both material and non-material. This is the way God created man in the beginning and it will be how we exist in eternity. To exist in a purely spiritual form without a body is like being unclothed, incomplete as human beings (see 2 Corinthians 5:1-10).
It is for this reason that the Scriptures teaches that after we die we may exist in a non-bodily form temporarily. But there is coming a day of resurrection when all the dead, godly and wicked, believers and unbelievers, will be raised in resurrected bodies that will exist forever. This is plainly taught in Daniel 12:2, John 5:28 and Revelation 20:4-5, 12-13. It is evident from Scripture that is a true bodily resurrection, an actually bringing the dead to life again, into revitalized existence as body and spirit (see Isaiah 26:19). Indeed, the very word “resurrection” refers to the raising up of a corpse, a dead body coming to life again.
So far this has only happened with Jesus. The Scriptures tell us that Christ is the first-fruits of the resurrection—He is the prototype, if you will (Colossians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 15:20). He is the only person who has been truly resurrected. Others (like Lazarus) were resuscitated, brought back to an earthly life. But they died again. Christ has been raised in a new, glorified, transformed body that will never die again. And the marvelous truth is that we shall be like Him. What He is like in His resurrected state, so we will be. We will experience a new resurrected physical body, just as He has (see Philippians 3:20-21, 1 John 3:2).
What will this resurrected body be like? We don’t know much. But we do know some things for sure, for the Bible gives us indication of the nature of the resurrection body. It will be a real body, physical in nature—but it will also be different, a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:35-53). It will be glorious, immortal, imperishable, incorruptible. Daniel describes it being like a shining star or sun (Daniel 12:2-3).
Probably the best way we can understand the resurrection body is to look at the only person who now has one—Jesus Christ. What was Jesus like after His resurrection? Consider these facts:
- His body was physical. He was not just a spirit (Luke 24:37-39)
- His body could be touched (John 20:17, 20:27; Luke 24:39; Matthew 24:9)
- He handled physical objects (Luke 24:30, John 21:13).
- He could eat (Luke 24:41-42).
- He had breath (John 20:22).
- He himself emphasized that He was “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39).
He was definitely a real man in a real physical body.
Yet, this body was different. It was the same in some ways. He was still recognizable as Jesus of Nazareth. The Scripture is clear that it was truly His own body that was raised from the dead (John 2:19-21). His resurrected body even had the same wounds as He experienced on the Cross (John 20:25, 27). Yet, this same body was now resurrected, glorified—and different. His body could do things that our present, natural bodies cannot do. For example…
- He could change His appearance so that He was not recognized (Luke 24:15-16).
- He could appear inside a locked room (John 20:19, Luke 24:36).
- He could disappear at will (Luke 24:31).
- He was not bound by gravity (Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9-10).
- His body could not decay (Acts 2:31, 13:34-37).
- His body was glorious (Acts 9:3, Revelation 1:12-18).
Again, we must emphasize that the nature of the Christ’s resurrection body will be paralleled by the resurrection bodies of all believers. We will be like Him!
So while looking forward to heaven is a great thing, looking forward to the resurrection is an even better thing. Yes, we have hope for a spiritual life in the presence of God. But we also have hope for something on an even grander scale. We will dwell with the Lord in fully resurrected bodies. We will be complete and fulfilled as human beings—body, soul and spirit. We will achieve the ultimate state of human life that God intended from the very beginning. This is really something to anticipate and look forward—eternal life as fully developed human beings, dwelling in the presence of God forever.
Truth Builders is a ministry initiative of Advancing Native Missions. However, the content of this site is the personal opinion of Victor Morris, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions, views or conclusions of Advancing Native Missions, its leaders or staff