Keep Plodding and You’ll Succeed (1 Corinthians 15:35-58)

Scripture: “Dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT)

35-38 Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

Reflection: (1 Corinthians 15:35)

Paul launches into a discussion about what our resurrected bodies will be like.

If you could select your own body, what kind would you choose – strong? athletic? beautiful?

Paul explains that we will be recognizable in our resurrected bodies, yet they will be better than we can imagine, for they will be made to live forever.

We will still have our own personality and individuality, but these will have been perfected through Christ’s work.

The Bible does not reveal everything that our resurrected bodies will be able to do, but we know they will be perfect, without any infirmities (See Philippians 3:21).

39-41 You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!

Reflection: (1 Corinthians 15:39-41)

Paul compares the resurrection with the growth of a seed in a garden.

Seeds placed in the ground don’t grow unless they “die” first.

The plant that grows looks very different from the seed because God gives it a new “body.”

There are different kinds of bodies – people, animals, fish, birds.

Even the angels in heaven have bodies that are different in beauty and glory.

Our resurrected bodies will be very different from our earthly bodies.

They will be spiritual bodies full of glory.

42-44 This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!

Reflection: (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Our present bodies are perishable and prone to decay. Our resurrected bodies will be transformed.

The spiritual body will not be limited by the laws of nature. This does not necessarily mean we’ll be superpeople, but our bodies will be different from and more capable than our present earthly bodies.

Our spiritual bodies will not be weak, will never get sick, and will never die.

45-49 We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends.

Reflection: (1 Corinthians 15:45)

Because Christ rose from the dead, He is a life-giving Spirit.

This means that he entered into a new form of existence.

He is the source of the spiritual life that will result in our resurrection.

Christ’s new glorified human body now suits His new glorified life – just as Adam’s human body was suitable to his natural life.

When we are resurrected, God will give us transformed, eternal bodies suited to our new eternal life.

50 I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom?

51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!

Reflection: (1 Corinthians 15:50-53)

We all face limitations.

Some may have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

Some may be blind, but they can see a new way to live.

Some may be deaf, but they can hear God’s Good News.

Some may be lame, but they can walk in God’s love.

In addition, they have the encouragement that those disabilities are only temporary.

Paul tells us that we all will be given new bodies when Christ returns and that these bodies will be without disabilities, never to become sick or die.

This can give us hope in our suffering.

Reflection: (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

Christians alive at that day will not have to die but will be transformed immediately.

A trumpet blast will usher in the new heaven and earth.

The Jews would understand the significance of this because trumpets were always blown to signal the start of great festivals and other extraordinary events (Numbers 10:10).

Reflection: (1 Corinthians 15:54-56)

Satan seemed to be victorious in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and at the cross of Jesus.

But God turned Satan’s apparent victory into defeat when Jesus Christ rose from the dead (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-15).

Thus, death is no longer a source of dread or fear.

Christ overcame it, and one day we will also.

The law will no longer make sinners out of us just because we cannot keep it.

Death has been defeated, and we will have hope beyond the grave.

58 With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

Reflection: (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Paul says that because of the resurrection, nothing we do is useless.

Sometimes we become apathetic about serving the Lord because we don’t see any results.

Knowing that Christ has won the ultimate victory should affect the way we live right now.

Don’t let discouragement over an apparent lack of results keep you from doing the work of the Lord enthusiastically as you have opportunity.