Thought for the Week - 28th AprilPastor Gareth Watkins
1 Thessalonians 4: 13-16
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Christ is coming again for us. I love the verses above! There’s going to be a shout, a trumpet and the voice of the archangel. This is an event that’s going to happen for those who are believers in Jesus Christ. If we believe in Jesus Christ and He arose again, then those who are asleep will come back again.
In John 5: 28-29 we read:
28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
What a picture and what a reality that is due to come! This is an event in time that we will take part in as believers. I can’t even comprehend how wonderful that will be. All the graves will hear His voice. Christ will come from heaven and the dead will be raised! A lot of people don’t like to talk about that these days, and churches are quite quiet about it. But for us as individuals, we are told not to marvel at this as it’s an hour and day that’s coming to each one of us. All the graves will hear His voice! God is God, and God can create life. All life is made by God. We are told not to marvel, as it’s something that God Himself will undertake and orchestrate. He is coming for us!
Who are the “us”? These are the ones who are the believers in Christ. His own people. The authority of Jesus Christ here, is the authority as of God. He’s part of the Godhead. I believe He’s not Jesus as the man here but Jesus as part of the Godhead. The authority of Christ here is incredible. All of nature is listening to Him, all of time has to obey Him, and all the forces of hell that would have come against Him previously have nothing to say now. Now when He speaks, all of life itself is under His feet. You can feel a powerful Christ. All those who have died will hear His voice.
This Christ they want to mock, blaspheme or call weak, is a powerful Christ! This is the Christ that no human, no animal, no power, no authority, no demon will be over because this is God in action. Nothing will come against it. What a thought! Nothing can prevent this time coming.
For the Christians, there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1). Whatever’s going to happen, whether we’re good enough or not, whether we’ve sinned or not – it doesn’t matter. There’s no condemnation for you if you’re in Christ Jesus.
The resurrected Christ is coming! He will speak to all the dead, and we will be called up to be with Him in His gathering of believers. If you’re in Christ, we are safe. If you’re outside of Christ, then we are not safe. All who are in the graves will hear His voice. All the believers will supernaturally be resurrected from the dead. All the believers will be taken up to be with God.
This is the story that Christ Himself went through. He was resurrected from the dead. He was the first born. He was the head of the body. He went up to be with His Father. He was resurrected from a dead place, to alive, to be ascended with His Father. That resurrection from the dead is a dramatic event that waits for us.
This is an experience of the soul being joined with a new body. This is going to be a God chosen body, a celestial body. Our current bodies are born and made with the sins of Adam in mind. It makes us sick, tired, tempted etc. This new body will not be bound by temptation, evil and sin. That is what we’re looking forward to. The new eternal body, just like Christ did. With Thomas, Christ told him to put His hands in my side. It was a physical body. There’s a new body coming for us, just like Christ experienced, unaffected by the marks of sin. We will be resurrected into a new body given to us by God Himself.
Is it coming? Yes it is. Is it essential for the believer? Yes it is. Is it a central teaching of Christ? Yes it is. Eternity comes.
In 1 Corinthians 15: 35-39 we read:
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
This body is going to die. What type of body will we get? In this passage it starts to discuss that a seed that dies. I read this as our bodies dying. A seed isn’t like the plant that it becomes – it’s a different shape and size. It can be tiny and bring forth a massive, flowering plant. Our natural bodies may go into the grave, but the new body that God will give us will be so very different because of what has been implanted into us now, in terms of spiritual life and spiritual truth given by God, will bear a fruit and a life that we can’t even think of.
We can see the seed and we can see the plant it becomes. That plant can be much bigger and different to the seed, which can be a tiny horrible thing. What is our life going to be in heavenly places? The new body will reflect what’s been put into us now by God. In the seed that was small and horrible were the details of that beautiful flower. We can look at ourselves like we look at that seed, but what’s been sown into the person by God will bring out a beautiful thing later on. We are going to be resurrected from the dead. The body that gets older and greyer stays in the ground. The soul goes onto eternity, and will be clothed according to each seed.
What seeds have been put into you that God wants to see clothed in eternity?
People get wrapped up with the here and now. The best things. Designer clothes. Posh this, expensive that. But that is the part of the life that is going into the grave. It’s transient, temporal and superficial. It means nothing. If we look in the Bible it talks about building your life on wood, hay and chaff (1 Corinthians 1: 12-15). The wood, hay and chaff are these temporal things. Life in the future will be built upon the reality of Christ that is in your life. That is the bit that will flower into something wonderful that will last for all eternity. The things that we have now will be burnt up. We have to work, be diligent and prosper. But it’s not the be all and end all. Our diligence in those things should be superseded by our diligence to Christ.
This life to come is way more detailed and blessed that we’re comprehending now in a physical, natural sense.
The seed has an identity in that what it becomes. The plant can be traced back to the seed. So when we’re talking about going on into eternity, it doesn’t mean we won’t be recognisable. Jesus Christ when He came back resurrected was recognisable. Something in that eternal body that we’ll get will be recognisable for who we are now.
In 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44 we read:
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
We will experience these facts when we are resurrected. We may be weak going into that grave, but we’ll be raised in strength and glory. We may go to the grave in sin and corruption, but resurrected we’ll be sown incorruptible. The answers that we struggle with, God will sort out. What is corruptible in our minds, will be raised up incorruptible when we are resurrected from the dead.
In 1 Corinthians 15: 53 we read:
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Our Christian lives are not only about the now. It’s about the future that will be incorruptible and go on to eternity with God Himself. We go onto something in Christ alone, where He Himself will take a miracle that only He can bring – the resurrection from the dead. If we belong to Christ there is no condemnation.
The thief at this point doesn’t exist. God is over all things. There’s no thieves stealing, destroying, and robbing us. God Himself is taking charge of those who belong to Him. The God who created everything takes charge and the things of the devil get blown away like chaff. As we read in 1 Corinthians 15: 55:
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
God has made a way for the believer! Christ has fought that battle and won that battle. The resurrection has come. He’s raised from the dead that we would go on from this life into the next, and experience all these things through being resurrected from the dead ourselves.
What an encouragement!
Paul ends by writing (in 1 Corinthians 15: 58):
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Our labour is not in vain unto God! Whatever we’re doing and whatever we’re feeling in terms of working for God, our work is not in vain. That is the bit that’s in the seed that lasts until that day that we’re resurrected from the dead.