Series: Maintaining this Hope
Jesus’ Return and the Redemption of our Bodies
Let’s start off with our beginning passage in 1Jn. 3:1-3,
“(1) See what marvellous love the Father has bestowed upon us–that we should be called God’s children: and that is what we are.
For this reason the world does not recognize us–because it has not known Him.
(2) Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been fully revealed. We know that when whenChrist reappears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. (3) And every man who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself so as to be as pure as He is.”
We’ve realized that we need to focus more on the return of Christ.
Who can give me at least 2 major reasons for this?
- The early church taught on it regularly.
- Its purifying effect.
To go further with this, topic last week we spent time in Romans 8 where Paul encouraged the believers in Rome regarding the Christian life and the return of the Lord by addressing these things:
- That we have passed from death to life
- That the LAW of the spirit of LIFE (union with and knowing God) is in us
- That the righteousness required within mankind will be progressively fulfilled in us so long as we continue to walk in the spirit.
- That our suffering now in this life, will result in the fullness of our salvation at His return:
- Our souls transformed (be like Him)
- Our bodies transfigured (be like Him)
- That walking in the spirit is accomplished by setting our minds of the things of the Spirit.
What I failed to mention was in practical terms – HOW do we do that?
How do we ‘Walk in the Spirit’?
Well Romans 8:5 tells us that walking in the spirit is the direct result of setting our mind on spiritual things. So, how do we “set our minds on the things of the Spirit”?
Well, the primary way is to set our minds on the word of God and the person of our Helper the Holy Spirit.
John 6:63 tells us that Jesus told His disciples that,
“The Spirit is the One Who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
So if we want the LAW of the Spirit of Life (union with God) to fulfill its function in our lives, we need to set our minds on the things of the Spirit…and among the first steps towards that goal is filling our mind with God’s word.
Now this is where there is often a disconnect. Those who are very aware of attempting to obtain righteousness by the works of the flesh, are very sensitive to ANYTHING which suggests human involvement. Trust me, I understand! Nothing about reading, studying, meditating on God’s word can be an act of the flesh IF it is done WITH the Holy Spirit of God!
When the Bible speaks against “works of the flesh” it is NOT speaking against our involvement or participation in our relationship with God. IF IT IS in fact a relationship it REQUIRES BOTH PARTIES to be INVOLVED! When the Bible mentions the “works of the flesh” it is talking about either outright sin (Gal. 5:19-21) OR when we attempt to OBTAIN righteousness by external works. THAT is NOT what we are talking about here. Walking in the Spirit requires that we are focused upon the ways and words of God. I think the following verses help illustrate and clarify what the scriptures mean by “setting our minds on spiritual things”.
Does it require some effort on your part – OF COURSE IT DOES! Any relationship requires effort, but not all effort fits the biblical description of a “work of the flesh”.
Consider some of these verses:
Psa 1:1-3, “(1) How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners, or join a group of mockers! (2) Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. (3) He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
Isa 26:3-4, “(3) You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. (4) Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”
Psa 119:9-11, “(9) How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word. (10) I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let me wander from Your commands. (11) I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.”
Psa 119:25, “My life is down in the dust; give me life through Your word.”
Psa 119:103-107, “(103) How sweet Your word is to my taste–sweeter than honey to my mouth. (104) I gain understanding from Your precepts; therefore I hate every false way. (105) Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. (106) I have solemnly sworn to keep Your righteous judgments. (107) I am severely afflicted; LORD, give me life through Your word.”
Psa. 119:130, “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”
God’s word gives light and life! So in order for the Light of God to penetrate our hearts leading us to and furthering our union with Him, we must be people who love, read, study and meditate on His words!
This is relational at it’s core! Anyone who has every been in love with someone, looks forward to hearing their voice and reading their words. It is like being emmersed into a person when we are hungry to know them and can feast upon their presence and their thoughts.
The REASON this is true in human relationships is because it is true of our relations with our Maker!
Sadly, it is something the body of Christ in major world countries have largely let fall to the side as this video illustrates…
Out of the abundance of the heart…
God’s thoughts and ways are in His words because they come from WHO HE IS – from the abundance of His heart!
To aid us in our understanding, God has divided his Word into segments – it aids us in our comprehension of their scope, intentions and meaning.
Consider the following:
- “(7)The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
- the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
- (8) the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
- the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
- (9) the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
- the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.”
They are relationally desireable…
“(10) More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (11) Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
They help us as the created, see and think like the Creator…
“(12) Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. (13) Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. (14) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
He has given us words, laws, precepts, statutes, commandments & PROMISES.
It is BY His promises that we become LIKE Him.
In the past, we were often overly focused upon Old Covenant promises, but the promises we are to be the MOST focused upon are those He made to US in Christ – which by the way are largely the same He gave to Abraham. Promises of righteousness by faith.
2Peter 1:3-4, “(3) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, (4) by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
One of these promises that He made us is that He would return for us.
That promise – IF believed in and hoped upon will produce purity in us according to our opening verse found in 1Jn. 3:1-3.
As recorded in John 14, Jesus told His disciples following the last supper on their way to the garden of Gethsemane “(1) Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (2) In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”
And at Jesus’ ascension, what did the angel say to the disciples?
Acts 1:6-11, “(6) So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (7) He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. (8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (9) And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (10) And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, (11) and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Or in His final revelation to the church in Revelation 3:11; 22:7,12 &20?
“Behold, I am coming quickly!…and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”, to which the Spirit and the bride say Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
That return, for those who are still alive when He returns will be very similar to the departure of Enoch and Elijah both of which did not see death…and for those who HAVE died, it will be very similar to Moses’ body, which DID die.
You remember that God met Moses on top of the mountain, showed him all the lands of the Promised land before he died and God buried him with His Own hand. Well, his grave was never found. That may not seem important on the surface, but it sure seemed important to satan because according to Jude 1:9 he contended with Michael the archangel regarding Moses’ body.
Perhaps the reason was because Moses may have experienced a type of personal rapture.
If you remember on the mount of transfiguration, Jesus was transformed before Peter, James and John and then, Moses and Elijah appeared in glory with Him.
If they were still dead spiritually and physically because Jesus had not yet died and rose from the dead – then they would not have appeared glorified!
They were believing in a coming Messiah and it was accounted to them for Righteousness!
Hebrews tells us that Enoch did not see death, but was translated. That word translation means almost the exact same thing as transfigured.
This happened to Enoch because he pleased God!
My point is this…
So far, we have established two reasons why it is important to speak much about the return of the Lord, and now we are adding HOPE to that list.
Thinking about, longing for and anticipating the return of our Lord…
- was spoken of MUCH in the early church
- has a purifying effect within us
- is part of our great HOPE.
Hope is anticipation of good with patience
Hope, according to Romans 8 where we were last week, is something which is looked forward to with great joy and anticipation. In this case our hope is our glorification which follows this age of suffering.
As we have already read this morning, it is at His return that we receive our reward which INCLUDES our becoming JUST like Him AND the glorification of our bodies.
So I am going to read a transitional scripture now, as you are turning to 1Cor. 15 so we can learn about this part of our reward and glorification.
You turn to 1 Cor. 15 and I will read Heb. 6:13-20.
“(13) For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself: (14) I will most certainly bless you, and I will greatly multiply you. (15) And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise. (16) For men swear by something greater than themselves, and for them a confirming oath ends every dispute. (17) Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath, (18) so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. (19) We have this hope–like a sure and firm anchor of the soul–that enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where (20) Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
Our hope enters the presence behind the veil – the presence of our returning Lord and King and it serves as an anchor for our soul! Anchors keep you from drifting! Can you see how maintaining this Hope – encourages purification in our lives?
Now, Paul’s encouragement in 1 Cor. 15 is regarding Jesus’ return and the fact that it will be AT His return that our bodies are glorified.
As I said last week, we REALLY need to give proper weight to Paul’s beginning words here…
“(1) Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. (2) You are also saved by it, IF you hold to the message I proclaimed to you–unless you believed to no purpose.”
Notice that Paul says that this topic of the resurrection of Christ, His return AND our physical resurrection is a clarification OF THE GOSPEL and IS your salvation UNLESS you believed to no purpose.
What does he mean by that?
Well, at the end of the chapter he tells us to
“… be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” In other words, if these things are NOT true, then the Christian faith is a farce and your labor and faith are to no avail! FURTHERMORE, IF you only believed the message in order to avoid judgment, but not to labor for the Lord – then you believed for no purpose.
The Purpose of salvation is NOT to avoid hell, nor to gain heaven – but to be united to God in life and purpose – which is to establish and further His kingdom – His rule and reign. We will read about the kingdom and God’s rule in just a little bit.
That rule begins with our own heart yielding ever more and more to His lordship, but also encouraging others to enter the Kingdom through loving and trusting surrender to His Lordship as well!
All of this becomes evident in this chapter, but I want you to hold on to the fact that not just initial belief, but continued belief and adherence to the Gospel (which includes suffering the putting off of the sins of the flesh) are all prerequisites to our glorification. Paul said that this suffering is NOT worthy to be compared with the Glory about to be revealed TO and WITHIN us!
So picking back up in verse 3 Paul says,
“(3) For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:
- That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4)
- that He was buried,
- that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (5) and
- that He appeared to Cephas,
- then to the Twelve.
- (6) Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time, most of whom remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
- (7) Then He appeared to James,
- then to all the apostles.
- (8) Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.”
So what was MOST important? Death, burial and Resurrection!
WHY? Well Paul is about to confirm what we already know and believe in here and that is that if it happened to Jesus it happens to us!
- If He died – we die
- If He was raised – we rise
“(9) For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
(10) But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. (11) Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we preach and so you have believed.”
Now Paul said all of this in preparation for his point.
He was showing the strength of the message by its proofs of eye-witness testimony. It was imperative that these facts be well established as facts!
This is repeated a few times in the letters of the Apostles, most notably at the introduction of 1 John. John tells us that the surety of his words were that it was first hand, eye-witness testimony of not just himself, but many others as well.
It was not based upon hearsay or fables.
Establishing the coming, the death and the bodily resurrection of Jesus was and is an indispensable part of the gospel.
Now as for WHY Paul was addressing these truths again to a group who already knew them, (remember he was clarifying something they already knew)… Paul said his reason was to make the actual message clear.
There were some believers in Corinth who had begun to believe and teach that the resurrection of our bodies is NOT part of the gospel OR that it had already happened in the past.
Though we do not know exactly how this was taught or illustrated it is very likely that these teachers were pointing to all those who rose from their graves at Jesus’ resurrection as is recorded in Matt. 27:50-54,
“(50) Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. (51) Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. (52) The tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had gone to their rest were raised. (53) And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. (54) When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”
In any case, Paul knew this distortion of the Gospel had to be set right. It was the basis for their salvation! So the Holy Spirit influenced Paul to argue along these lines…
“(12) Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”?
(13) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; (14) and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith.”
Are you seeing the connection and the importance of this reality and our belief in it?
“(15) In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ–whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. (16) For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. (17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
“(18) Therefore those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. (19) If we have placed our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.”
Paul is here speaking of the reward. The same reward Jesus spoke of in His promises to us – some of which we read earlier. It is the same reward that James and Peter taught, that the writer of Hebrews told us to not cast away our confidence in…this is the reward!
If we claim there isn’t one and that when we die there is no resurrection then – our faith is to no point! We have believed to no purpose.
Why would that matter? Because the resurrection we are talking about is progressive. Romans 6 tells us that Jesus died once for all to sin but forever lives unto righteousness. The death and resurrection of the body is only PART of this…the final part.
We will have to pick back up here next week.