Attaining the Resurrection

Leaving the Grave Behind

Pastor Jerry Gillis - April 29, 2018

Community Group Study Notes

  • How does our view of heaven and eternity impact how we live on earth today?
  •  Why is the belief in a bodily resurrection such an important piece of our faith in Christ?
  •  What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard in Sunday‚Äôs message?

 


Abide


Memory Verse

"So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." (2 Corinthians 5:9)


Sermon Transcript

So before we dive into finishing this series in our text, kind of the two verses that we've been studying in Philippians chapter 3 verses 10 and 11, which we'll be there in just a moment, I want to ask you a simple question before we get started, and it's this: if you had the opportunity to know your future, would you want to? If you had the opportunity to know your future, would you want to?

Now, it's a simple question but it takes a lot of thinking because sometimes you may or may not know what you're getting yourself into. For instance, if I were to say to you, "Would you want to know if you'll still be living when the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl?" Some of you are going, I want to know that and some of you are going, I don't know if I want to know that. Here's the question: could you handle the answer? If the answer was no, can you handle that? If the answer was yes, can you handle that?

See maybe what you don't realize, even in answering that question is that as you think about that question going, you know what, I really would like to know if I'm going to be alive to see a Bills Super Bowl, embedded in that question is, you would also know when you're going to die. So is the answer you want that or you don't want to know that? I don't know. It can be a little bit challenging. Would you want to know the future if you had the opportunity?

There are a lot of people that are motivated that way and it's part of the impulse of our lives. We want to know what's coming next. It's part of the impulse of our lives, I get that. We don't want to know too much, but we want to know some. But part of that impulse is why people do all kinds of weirdness to try and figure that out. That's why they consult horoscopes, and why they go to astrology, and why they try to talk to psychics or it's why they always go to Chinese places to get the fortune cookie. Always trying to figure out what's coming next. What is my future? What does it look like?

There's still others that are afraid of it because they're not really sure what that holds. They don't know if they would want to know the future or not. They're kind of nervous about that. Is it good? Is it bad? What's going to happen? Is it going to be in a week? Is it going to be four weeks? What's going to go on? I don't know if I want to know that. Still other people don't want to know what their future looks like because they're afraid that they might sabotage it somehow if you see down the road, this is what's going to happen. And then you're like, you're so freaked out that you never get to that place because you've sabotaged it and now it's not the real future because you've messed it up.

I don't know if you have these dilemmas in your life. Maybe you do, maybe you don't. There was one science fiction writer who's a Russian Armenian American science fiction writer, present day, who talked about this very idea. Her name was Vera, and here's what she said. She said, "Would you like to know your future? If your answer is yes, think again. Not knowing is the greatest life motivator. So enjoy, endure, survive each moment as it comes to you in its proper sequence. A surprise." That's her perspective. Maybe that is or is not your particular perspective. I don't know.

Some of you may say, "Naw, I don't really want to know it because I'm afraid I would sabotage it." That reminds me of a story, a proverbial story about a young girl who got to travel backwards in time, think Marty McFly, Back to the Future. She got to travel backwards in time and she met who her grandfather, but when he was a young man. And she met him and she started to tell him all about who she was. "I'm your granddaughter from the future." And he believe her. They started talking and she started describing to her grandfather how all of these things would happen and they were going to have fun times together and these are the things that they would do. It would be really spectacular. He was loving this, and then he said, "Hey, I know you told me about your grandmother, which would be my wife but could you," he sheepishly said, "could you tell me her name?"

And so the young girl said, told him her name and he was like, "What? I have my first date with her tonight." So he goes on the date with her and he begins to tell her all about his granddaughter who's from the future that he just met with and told her all about the things that they were going to do , the fun that they were going to have, the places they were going to take her, and she immediately thought he was nuts. She left and never talked to him again. The end of the story.

You think to yourself, I don't want to sabotage my future. If I were to know it, I'd be a little concerned about it. Well, what if we asked God like, "God, would you let us know our future?" I think God would say to us, "Yes and no." There's a sense in which God doesn't reveal everything to us about our lives, but there is also a sense in which God tells us some things about the future that we can know. There's some of it that's a mystery and there's some of it that's pretty clear.

And so when we get to what we're talking about in this passage of scripture in Philippians chapter 3, we get to the very end of it. What we know about Paul is this, is that Paul's great passion was to know Christ, to know the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. This was his great hope. In fact, when we look at our text, we see Paul saying that very thing. He says in Philippians chapter 3 verses 10 and 11: "I want to know Christ, yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." And then this last part: "And so, somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead."

Now, when we read that word, somehow, we might think to ourselves, is Paul not sure about this whole idea of the resurrection because he says "and somehow attaining to the resurrection of the dead"? Is Paul kind of going, "Ooh, I hope so. That would be really cool but I don't know." No, this is not Paul expressing doubt. You see, in virtually every book that Paul wrote, in virtually every letter that Paul wrote there is an obvious confidence in the idea of the resurrection. Not only of the resurrection of Jesus, but also what that means for those of us who follow after him.

Paul wasn't confused by that. Paul wasn't setting that aside going, "Oh, I doubt that." See, when Paul used the word, somehow, Paul was actually not sure how he was going to attain this glorious new reality. Because what Paul was looking for, listen to this, Paul was looking for the return of Jesus. And Paul didn't know if the return of Jesus would happen in his lifetime, and if so, he would be transformed instead of resurrected from the dead. Or if he was going to die first and then ultimately be resurrected from the dead to this glorious new resurrected existence.

You see, when Paul says, somehow, this isn't a matter of doubt, this is a matter of what is going to happen. Is Jesus going to return in my lifetime or am I going to die first? That's what he was getting at. Now, the reason that I tell you that, is because we figure that out very soon in the next few verses following the verses that we just read in 10 and 11. And what Paul does is he gives us a summary of his thoughts on the idea of Jesus coming and resurrection and all of that.

Now, he unpacks this in so many different places in a variety of his letters, but here in Philippians, we get just a summary view of what that looks like. In fact, fast forward in Philippians 3 to verse number 20 and 21, and it says this, Paul says: "Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

You see, what Paul was saying to us here in this kind of summary, is that he's saying to us that Jesus is the power behind the resurrection for us and that he is the model for the resurrection of us. He's the power behind it and he's the model for it. In fact, let's look at those verses again. I'll highlight that for you, so you see it. "But our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

You see both things in there. That Jesus is the power behind our resurrection and that Jesus is the model for our resurrection. We'll be like him and the power's going to come from him. You seeing this so far? I'm sorry. Am I alone? Are you seeing this so far?

All right. That's good. You see when I ask a question, you answer me or we will stay here in awkward silence for the remainder of the time. It will make for fantastic television, by the way. All right.

That being the case, what we know about Paul is for Paul, for him to live is Christ. Life is about Christ. It's about knowing him and becoming like him. And by the power of Christ, we are ultimately going to be made new. And that's going to happen when Christ returns. In fact, if we sampled some of Paul's other writings, we couldn't sample all of them. But if we sampled a few, listen to what he says in Romans chapter 8: "But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His spirit who lives in you."

That not only means that he'll transform us in the now, but it's also talking about giving life to dead things, dead actual bodies that will be resurrected. Listen to what he says in Colossians chapter number 3: "Since then, you've been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things, for you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears then you also will appear with him in glory." Beautiful truth about the idea of coming resurrection.

And then here's what we read in 1 Corinthians chapter 15: "But if Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam, all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. But each in turn, Christ the first fruits, then when he comes, those who belong to him."

Christ is the first one resurrected from the dead. And then when he returns, those of us who have died by faith in Jesus who are in Christ will be raised like him. So Paul talks about this idea, this truth that we need to wrap our minds around because what we're getting at here is the last portion of what Paul says. He says, I want to know Christ. I want to know him in the now. I want to know the power of his resurrection. I want to know the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. I want to be conformed into the image of his death and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

You see, this is something that the future has been told to us. We are not unclear when we read the New Testament about what our future hope is, the idea of the resurrection. But there is a bit, and I want to pause here for just a moment. There is a bit of mystery. There is a bit of unknown related to our future. We know a little bit, but we don't know as clearly when we look at what happens to us right after we die. You see, there's this idea that we're going to be resurrected from the dead, but when is that going to happen? When Jesus comes.

We've already established that. Paul has said very clearly that when Jesus comes, there's going to be a resurrection of our lives. We are going to be resurrected from the dead and we will be resurrected like him. But what about when we die? What happens then? Until he comes. That's a question that runs through everybody's minds, but what I want to do is I want us to make sure that we don't get reductionistic with the way that we talk about life after death. You see, I'm afraid that the narrative has gotten kind of sour and kind of boring. And it's nowhere near the glorious truth of what the scripture reveals to us. It's just gotten kind of boring.

In our day to day existence, we say the same things all the time. Somebody dies that knows Christ and it's like, man, I'm just looking forward to going to heaven when I die. Now, if you understand that rightly, that's a perfectly fair thing to say. But if you understand it wrongly, it's a bad narrative that we need to correct. I'm just looking forward to going to heaven when I die. I don't think Paul actually lets us get away with reducing the glorious truth that he's trying to show to us by simply saying I'm looking forward to going to heaven when die.

By the way, when we fast forward to the end reality, the issue is not about us going to heaven. The issue is about heaven coming to us. You see, even Jesus taught us to pray that way, right? Our Father, the one who is in heaven, holy or hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You see, ultimately, when we look back to the garden, what we have is we've got heaven and earth come together in one place. When we fast forward and we look at the tabernacle in the mobile tabernacle when the children of Israel were traveling around, the tabernacle was a picture of heaven and earth coming together in one place.

When we look at the existence of the temple and the filling of the temple with the spirit of God and the manifest presence of God, we've got heaven and earth coming together in one place. When we see the person of Jesus Christ who is God with skin on. We have heaven and earth coming together in the person of Jesus who is the new temple, who is the new tabernacle, who is the new creation of all things. And then when we fast forward for those of us who are in Christ, when we look all the way to the end of the Book of Revelation, God says, "I will be your God and you will be my people." There is a new heaven and a new earth and heaven and earth have become one all over again. This is always what the New Testament is teaching us. It is not reducing it down to, hey, I'm looking forward to going to heaven when I die because heaven is coming to us.

Now, why this is so important for us is because we can't get away with this reductionistic view because when we say, I'm just looking forward to going to heaven when I die, everybody says that. Everybody says the same thing. Oh, they're in a better place now. Everybody says that. It doesn't have to be uniquely Christian. Everyone says that, right? And here's the mental picture that we give to the world around us. Basically, it's we're some disembodied existence floating around on clouds with harps and little naked baby angels. That's what we've given them and they're thinking to themselves, I'm not particularly interested in a disembodied existence floating around on a cloud with harps and little naked baby angels.

And so they don't even think this is a really great hope. I don't know what your great hope is. That sounds kind of boring and creepy. It is so much richer than that. We see, here's the thing, talking about heaven is sort of hard. The reason it's hard is not because heaven is not a worthy subject to talk about. It is. But it's hard because of the sentimentality that's associated with it. We've made it things it might not be.

It's also hard because when we talk about it we are thinking about people, real people, people that we love. People that knew Jesus that we love that have died. And it matters to us what's happening on the other side. It matters. My family just learned yesterday that my sister-in-law's mother died yesterday. Real people. Really matters. Really matters to me. So I want to understand as best I can, but this is a part of the mystery. This is a part of where it's a little bit, it's a little bit more murky and misty for me. If I'm being honest. Because the scripture doesn't talk a lot about that. It fast forwards us to the idea of resurrection, that that's the great hope.

But the Bible does talk about it to a degree, but here's the problem. Sometimes when I talk to people and I've done a lot of funerals in my life unfortunately. Sometimes I'll hear people saying, "Well, so-and-so, you know they didn't have the use of their legs when they were older and so they were just wheeling around and stuff, but they loved Jesus and now they died and they are dancing up in heaven." Or I'll hear someone say, "You know so-and-so died and now he's running on the streets of gold."

Now listen carefully, dancing with what? Running with what? You need a body to do that. You need a body. And it's coming, but it hasn't come yet. Well then, okay Jerry. What are we talking about? See, we've sentimentalized this idea in sometimes non-Biblical ways and we've crunched together things that we just want it to be as opposed to what the Bible says it is.

Now, Paul did talk about this idea very briefly in what I perceived him to talk about it in his second letter to the church at Corinth. He talked about this very briefly and I want us to run through that for just a second because I want to get to a place that I really want to get you when we talk about this idea of resurrection, because Paul says, "I want to know Christ. I want to know the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. Becoming like him in his death and so somehow to attain to the resurrection of the dead." The resurrection of the dead. The resurrection of the dead. That's the great hope.

So what about the in-between time? Well, listen to what Paul says. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, he says: "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed." The earthly tent he's talking about is our present existence. This earthly tent. If it's destroyed, "we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." Stay there for a second. "An eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." You see, sometimes what you do with a wrong narrative is you read that as if this is the great city. This is the great heaven. This is the great place that we're going to. No, no, no, no. This is the great body we're going to receive.

He is contrasting the earthly tent we live in with the building we will get from God. Listen to what he goes on to say. Next verse. "Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling. So that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord for we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done in the body whether good or bad."

I'm going to summarize because I don't want to spend all our time here, but I'm going to summarize. Paul is talking about an existence of nakedness that he's longing for. Being out of this earthly tent, which is so restrictive at some points, but he's not longing for the fact of being naked. He wants to be fully clothed. In other words, he's talking, I believe, about the idea of when we die that our soul goes into the conscious presence of the Lord. Just as when Jesus said to the man, the thief on the cross. He said, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise." That this is the same kind of idea. The idea of Paradise. That the soul goes into the conscious presence of the Lord and is safe and secure and comforted until such a time that Jesus returns and we put on our heavenly dwelling.

We put on our immortal dwelling where mortality is swallowed up by immortality in our physical, glorified, resurrected existence. You see, why am I telling you this? I'm telling you because the idea here is Paul is saying he longs to be clothed with that resurrection body, but he knows that's not coming until Jesus returns. And so he doesn't want to be found naked for a long period of time.

Why do we need a resurrected body? One, so that we won't continually be naked. That there's not ... Our life is not supposed to be a disembodied soul forever. Our life, listen to this, our life is about a glorified body just like Jesus'. It's not about being a disembodied soul forever. You know the second reason that we need to be clothed? So that we can stand before the judgment seat of Christ, he says. How do you stand before the judgment seat of Christ without a body? That's part of what's he's implying in this text.

Now, this is one of the very few places that you will find in the entirely of scripture that talks about this kind of intermediate time before the return of Jesus when we will be granted this resurrected, glorified existence. And so I say to you, there's a bit of mystery associated with this. But I think that timeframe is what Jesus refers to as Paradise, where we're absent from the body but we are present with the Lord. We are in the presence of the Lord. Our souls are cared for and comforted in the presence of the Lord. And that's a glorious thought. That's a beautiful thought. That's a tremendous thought.

And it's this idea of Paradise or maybe even the idea of John 14: "In my Father's house are many rooms." You see, that word, monay in the Greek language is actually the word that refers to kind of a hotel on the way to a final point in the journey, not so much the final destination. You see, I think that's all talking about this idea because it's pointing us to a future reality and that future reality is resurrection.

You see, Paul makes it clear that the power of our resurrection is Jesus and the model for our resurrection is Jesus. And if that's the case, let's ask a couple of quick questions, what was Jesus' resurrected body like? Because when we understand that, we'll start to understand what we're going to get. Because we're going to be made like him. Let me give you a few things. What were some of the characteristics of Christ's resurrected body? Here's the first one. It is a physical body. I don't want you to miss this. It's a physical body.

Look in Luke chapter 24. Here's what it says. "While they were still talking about this, the disciples, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, peace be with you. They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost." Okay, you're going, okay, that makes sense. He was dead, now he's not dead. It's gotta be a ghost. "And Jesus said to them, why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Touch me and see. A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still didn't believe, because of joy and amazement, he asked them, do you have anything here to eat? And they gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and he ate it in their presence." Are you picking this up?

This is a physical existence. He shows up among them after his resurrection and they say, "It's a ghost." Jesus says, "Chill. Hug it up. Bring it in. Look. Touch. Feel. By the way, I'm hungry. Do you have some fish?" Ghosts don't eat fish. That's a fact. I am dropping facts. Ghosts don't eat fish. Don't let that be the only thing that you get when you walk out of this place, all right. If people are going to ask you, "Hey, how was Sunday? What was your pastor's message about?" Ghosts don't eat fish. And they're like, "Wow, I've never coming to that church. That's weird. So weird." But ghosts don't eat fish, right? This is a physical body.

In fact, I want you to hear because this translates what Jesus had is what we will be like. Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 15. He says: "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. 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."

Now, I don't want you to be confused here. Because when you see it's sown a natural body, but it's raised a spiritual body, you're thinking to yourself, yes, we have physical bodies. They die and then we get a spiritual body, but that's like a ghost kind of thing. No, it's not. Because when you read these terms in the Greek, sometimes the English translation is not so great because we can't fully say the things that they're saying in Greek. Because they use two ... Here's the contrast, it's between two words, psychikos and pneumatikos. That's what he was talking about there. He was talking about psychikos, which is the natural body or the physical body and pneumatikos, which is translated as the spiritual body.

But here's the thing. It's not talking about material, physical versus immaterial, ghost-like. That's not what it's talking about. That's the reason that ikos is on end of each of those terms, because what that I-K-O-S means, it's talking about the energy behind them, not the material they're made out of. In other words, it's the difference of saying ... on one hand saying, is your car made of plastic or is it made of steel? Or asking this question. Does your car run on gas or does your car run on electricity? That's a completely kind of question. That's the question Paul's addressing here.

He's saying there's one that has been animated by the flesh that has been in part, animated by the spirit, but in part animated by the flesh, but now this body is going to be animated by the spirit of God in full. In other words, let me say it to you easily. The contrast is between corrupted physicality and incorruptible physicality. This is the present earthly tent and the incorruptible physicality is the resurrection glorified body. Is that starting to make sense a little bit? I hope it is. That's what I want you to pick up on because it's not a disembodied kind of thing.

It's a physical body, but also secondly, the body is incapable of dying. This resurrected body we're talking about, it's incapable of dying. This is really good news, by the way. In fact, notice what Paul says in Romans chapter 6. He says: "If we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again. Death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died of sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

We're reminded just from this passage of scripture that because Jesus died and rose from the dead, he cannot die again. That is going to be true of us. We are getting the same kind of resurrected body because it's going to be imperishable. It's going to be immortal. That's what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. Notice how he uses those two terms.

"I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable." Cannot die. "And we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to true. Death has been swallowed up in victory." We cannot die again.

This is a part of the truth of the resurrection. So it's a physical body. It's a body that's incapable of dying. But third, I'll say this easily, this body's upgraded to a new operating system. I figured some of you'd understand that language. This resurrected body is upgraded to a new operating system. Look at what Luke and John show us about Jesus' body and what he did. Luke 24 says: "When Jesus was at the table with them ... " this is talking about Cleopas and Cleopas' wife probably. "He took the bread. He gave thanks. He broke it and he began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him and he disappeared from their sight." Okay.

And then look what John says in John chapter 20. "On the evening of that first day of the week when Jesus had risen from the dead, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, peace be with you. After he said this, he showed them his hands and side and the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."

We just learned two things about how his body, his new glorified existence, his new resurrected body is not subject to the old operating system. So in other words, he can walk into rooms that are locked and not have to use the door or anything. I don't know what that's all about, but I want one. And he apparently can travel at the speed of thought. He's with them and then he's not. When you read what's happening between Jerusalem and Galilee, when you're reading the Gospels, you're going, wait a minute, how did he get there so quickly? He was just here, now he's here. I don't know, but he's not subject to the old operating system. And neither will we be.

(singing)

You see, that's a horrifyingly bad narrative. Harps and clouds and naked baby angels is not what the testimony of the New Testament is. It's not the reality of the resurrection. So this is Jesus had a physical body. It was a body that will never die again. And it's a body that's not subject to the old laws. But let me give you a fourth thing. This body will bear a glorious continuity. This body will bear a glorious continuity. Let me see if I can explain what I mean when I say that.

You probably remember this happening after Jesus' resurrection chronicled in John chapter 20. It says: "Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying and as she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, the angels asked her, woman, why are you crying? She said, they've taken my Lord away and I don't know where they've put him. And at this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn't realize that it was Jesus. And he asked her, woman, why are you crying? Who is it you're looking for? Thinking he was the gardener, she said, sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him. And Jesus said to her, Mary, and she turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, Rabboni, which means teacher.

Isn't it interesting that in Jesus' resurrection appearances, what most often happens in the resurrection appearances are they don't recognize him at first, but then they do. Why is that? I don't know, but it's kind of like this. It's Jesus, but it's not. It's him, but it's not. There's a continuity. It's almost as if they don't recognize him at first notwithstanding the fact that they don't expect to see a dead person now living again, right? But even then, walking person to person, face to face, I'm telling you this right now, right now, I could use any example that I wanted to.

My grandmother, my grandmothers, Evelyn and Blanche, both of their souls are in the presence of Jesus. But I promise you, if I were walking down the road and I saw Evelyn and Blanche, I would know those are my grandmothers. I would know. It might take me a minute, because I would be kind of stumped, but I know what they look like. I know who they are. I would recognize them. There is something about the resurrected form that is hard to put our finger on because it's as if I don't know who that is and then all of a sudden, it's like I do know who that is. I do. It's Jesus. They'd been with Jesus every day for three years. And they don't recognize him and then they do.

Why? Because there's this glorious continuity. Because it's him. But in their heads they're going, but it's different than him. You see, Paul gets this idea in 1 Corinthians 15 when he says this: "Someone will ask, how are the dead raised and with what kind of body will they come? How foolish. What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you don't 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. And to each kind of seed He gives its own body." I'll cut it off right there.

See, here's what Paul's reminding us of, by the way. You don't plant wheat and get grapefruit. You see, when our bodies die, when this seed is planted, it will be resurrected. It will take on a gloriously different form, but there will be a continuity in recognizing that's still Jerry. He looks way better, but that's him. That's him. You see, this is the beautiful reminder for all of us because it means I believe that we will know one another. We will experience one another. We will still, in a glorified state, still understand who we are. But we'll be different.

Now I know this raises a million different questions in our heads, right? Like how old will we be in our resurrected form? I don't know. Some scholars like to speculate that we will be in the prime of life just like Jesus was. That maybe we'll be 33 or something, in the prime of life. Some of you are younger than that, going why would I want to be old? Some of you are older going, that sounds good to me. But here's the thing. Why do we care? Listen to this. Why would we care what age we are in our resurrected form when we will be ageless? Why would we care? All I know is it's going to be glorious. Glorious.

What about a baby that dies at birth? What about them, Jerry? I don't know. I don't know what their full, glorified existence will be, but it might very well be that we will be able to see the fulfillment of all they would be, gloriously so. What about the woman with Down Syndrome? I don't know. But it will be glorious. Glorious. You see, this is the hope that Paul was talking about. This matters to the way that we think because we've bought into such a bad theology of life after death and we've wrung it down into, "I'm looking forward to going to heaven when I die." And it doesn't sound any different than everybody else of any religion anywhere.

But the hope of the gospel is Jesus and Jesus has risen from the dead. And he is the first fruits of all who will put their faith in him. So that means we can live with abandon for the glory of God because when we die, our souls will go into the presence of Jesus where they will be cared for and comforted in some kind of Paradise state which is a little foggy and misty to me. But when Jesus returns, we will be resurrected into a glorified body that is immortal, that can never die, that we can hug, that we can kiss, that this is going to be an exceptional, glorified beyond our ability to comprehend kind of existence and heaven and earth will come together as one and we will then be able to serve and love and know Jesus and serve and love and know one another in this kind of existence. That is something that people would hear and go, "I am interested in listening more." Instead of harps and clouds and little naked baby angels.

You see, what Paul's getting at, I think, at the conclusion of this text that we've been studying is that truly knowing Christ is the greatest and only hope for the future. But we need to be reminded that truly knowing Christ is the greatest and only hope for today. Paul's passion was to know him in the now. And his hope was the security of the future that he's promised. I pray that's our security. Let's bow our heads together.

Before you're dismissed, you might be here and you've never actually come to the place of surrendering your life to Jesus. I need you to understand something, that this promise, this future is so extraordinary and glorious, but it's only for those who have been transformed by faith in Jesus. It's not just a promise to everyone, everywhere for all time. This is only those who have turned away from themselves and their sin and put their faith and trust in Jesus, knowing only he can save them, only he can transform them, only he can make them new. This is about surrender of our lives to him. And that gives us a power in this life to live like Jesus through his spirit. And it gives us a hope for a future that is beyond our ability to grasp how awesome it is.

So if you've never come to a place where you've surrendered your life to Jesus and begun a genuine relationship with him, then I hope when we dismiss, you'll come right across the atrium into the fireside room. We would love to take a moment and talk to you about what it looks like to be a disciple and follower of Jesus.

And Father, for all of us, we may have heard truth and scripture today that we've never been able to put together before, never thought about it before but I pray that you would help to reshape the narrative in our minds so that we understand the actual glorious, beautiful, incredible promises that you have given to us in Christ. And that we have a consummation of history that is going to be all things made new. Heaven and earth, a new heaven and new earth where they become one and we, in a real, resurrected, physical, immortal, imperishable existence will live in that place. How extraordinary because, God, you will be our God and we will be your people.

There will be an intimacy with you that will be beyond our ability to comprehend in this life. We thank you for the promises you've given to us. The hope that we have for our future and thank you even for some of the misty part that we fully don't know. But what we know is that you can be trusted. That's why we want to know you in the now. We want to learn to trust you deeply in the now because you can be trusted. The one who died for us, the one who rose from the grave, the one who is presently interceding for us can be trusted above all.

We thank you for that truth. I pray you would write it on our hearts and you would help us to be a people who with abandon and with surrender understand what it means to know you in the now, Jesus. Because we have such a secure and blessed and incredible hope that's not just some disembodied existence somewhere, but we have a hope of real, new life in a real, physical, supernatural, imperishable body like yours. How we thank you for that.

I thank you that all through eternity when we see you, Jesus, what we're going to note most of all is not medals hanging around your neck, but scars on your hands and feet. And I don't know if our bodies will reflect some of the scars of having served you. But if they do, we would count it an honor because we'd be made like you. We thank you that all of this is only possible because of your grace, God, to us in showing us mercy with heaven coming to us in the person of Jesus. And we express the words that Paul expressed, we eagerly await a Savior to come and to transform our lowly bodies to be made like your glorious body. And in that hope, we will serve you and will serve the world around us for the glory of Jesus. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.


More From This Series

The Power of His Resurrection

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 1 - Apr 8, 2018

Participation in His Sufferings

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Apr 15, 2018

Conformed to His Death

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Attaining the Resurrection

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Apr 29, 2018

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