In line with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, questions have been asked by believers concerning the manner of resurrection and the constitution of the future body.
At His resurrection, Christ received a new, glorified body that was “flesh and bones”: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet” (Lk 24: 39-40).
Like their risen Saviour, all believers will be given a glorified body. When and how will they receive this new body? To answer this question, we need to understand that man is made up of body and soul. This mortal body will soon die. At death, the soul is separated from the body. The body is buried, but the soul which is immortal is delivered from the corruption of our earthly bodies and ushered into our Saviour’s presence in Heaven.
According to the Westminster Confession of Faith XXXII.1, “the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies” at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
When Christ returns to earth, the body which has been buried will be raised up as an incorruptible and immortal body. Both body and soul will then be joined together perfectly. This truth is revealed in I Corinthians 15: 50-54: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 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. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 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” (cf I Thess 4: 13-18).
We will be endowed with glorified bodies befitting our new home in Heaven. The apostle Paul tells us that our bodies will be raised by our Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory. He “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Philp 3: 21). How wonderful to know that our corrupt and vile bodies will be wonderfully transformed “like unto his glorious body”.
What our glorified bodies will be like remains a mystery. But they will have certain qualities which our earthly bodies do not have. “We get a glimpse of what our resurrection bodies will be like when we recall Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. He still had visible wounds, and His disciples could physically touch Him, yet He was able to travel effortlessly and appear and disappear at will. He could go through walls and doors yet could also eat and drink and sit and talk. Scripture informs us that ‘our vile body’ will be ‘fashioned like unto his glorious body’ (Phil 3: 21). Indeed, the physical limitations imposed by sin that hinder our ability to fully serve Him on earth will be gone forever, freeing us to praise and serve and glorify Him for eternity” (www.gotquestions.org/resurrection-body.html).
Our earthly body is susceptible to aging, infirmities, diseases and ultimately death. But our glorified body will be incorruptible, free from sickness and decay: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; 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” (I Cor 15: 42-44).
“There will be no sickness, and no calamity; and there will be no mental sorrow arising from remorse, from disappointment, or from the evil conduct of friends. And what a change would this produce – for how full of pain is the world now! How many lie on beds of languishing; how many are suffering under incurable diseases; how many are undergoing severe surgical operations; how many are pained by the loss of property or friends, or subjected to acuter anguish by the misconduct of those who are loved! How different would this world be, if all pain were to cease for ever; how different, therefore, must the future state of the blessed be from the present!” (Albert Barnes). Is any frail and sickly? Do not despair. There is a coming day, when all suffering saints will be made perfectly whole.
We thank God that for His redeemed people, Death has lost its sting (I Cor 15: 55). In the resurrection, all who die in Christ will have a glorified, perfect and immortal body which will be free from all physical limitations and frailties. We look forward to that blessed day of our Saviour’s return when He “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body”. Amen.