Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the epistle of the apostle Paul in the New Testament which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically..today’s selected passage is found in verses thirty-five through forty-seven of the fifteenth chapter of the epistle. The more I read the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle of the apostle Paul written unto the saints which were at Corinth, the more I am absolutely and utterly gripped at the tremendous power that is contained therein. It is quite obvious—even from a cursory reading of this particular chapter—that this entire chapter is dedicated and devoted to the reality of resurrection—not only a physical resurrection which every saint of God shall experience, but also a spiritual resurrection. Before we even delve into the resurrection which the apostle Paul speaks of within this particular chapter, it’s first necessary to take a journey back into the sixth and eighth chapters of the epistle which the apostle wrote unto the saints which were at Rome. I am convinced that before we can even speak of a physical resurrection that can and will happen in the last days, it is first necessary that we take a look at and carefully examine a spiritual resurrection which we can experience in the here and now. It is true that we are living and do presently live in the already but not yet, but there is a specific reality which we as the saints of God can experience and live in until that day comes when we shall experience the physical resurrection of the dead. In fact, I am utterly and completely convinced that it is this spiritual resurrection that is a precursor and signpost for that physical resurrection which can and shall take place in the last day when the trump shall sound, and the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the dead which are in Christ shall rise form their graves, and then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet our Lord and Saviour in the heavens.
Before we begin taking a look at the physical and natural resurrection which can and shall take place on that day and in that moment when the trump shall sound, it is first necessary to examine the spiritual resurrection which positions each and every saint to experience that reality and manifestation. If you turn and direct your attention to the sixth chapter of the epistle which Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome you will find absolutely incredible language that provides us with a present reality we can experience in the here and now which points to the ultimate reality of experiencing the resurrection of the saints in the last day. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the sixth chapter of the epistle he wrote unto the Roman saints beginning with the first verse:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know we not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is cedar is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that Her liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus SChrist our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:1-14).
I am also reminded of the words which the apostle wrote in this same epistle which are found in the eighth chapter—“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, He is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:8-11). These words which we find in both the sixth and eighth chapter of the epistle unto the Romans must also be considered together with the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Ephesian congregation—words which are found and recorded in the second chapter of the epistle. Beginning to read with the first verse of the second chapter we find the following words—“And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation I’m times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made Unis sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Cherish Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made night by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconciled both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were far off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:1-22).
It is quite obvious from earth of these passages that there is a spiritual resurrection which each and every saint of God can experience in the here and now. While it is true that in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth we find a tremendous amount of language concerning a physical resurrection that has yet to take place, there is a resurrection which we can and shall experience in the here and now. The apostle Paul repeatedly and continually spoke unto the churches and unto the Gentiles how they were once separated and alienated from God, and how they were even enemies of Christ. Furthermore, the apostle Paul would go on to speak of being dead to sin, and our being crucified with Christ in order that we might experience the power of resurrection right now. Did you know that it is absolutely possible for you to experience the power of resurrection right now within your life? In fact, there are countless men and women who have experienced the power of resurrection continually and repeatedly within their lives. Consider if you will the words and language the apostle Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of the second epistle he wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth—“For the love of Christ constrained us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, He is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:14-20).
The words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Roman saints as is recorded in the sixth chapter, as well as those words which are recorded in the fifth chapter of the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints are absolutely remarkable, for they both speak of a newness of life, and a new creature and creation which can and shall be experienced within the here and the now. While it is certainly true that we hope for a resurrection of the dead which can and shall take place when the trumpet shall sound, there is a resurrection which we can and shall experienced within our lives at this very moment. In fact, if you read and study the New Testament—specifically the Pauline epistles—you will discover that there are indeed two distinct resurrections which can be experienced within the life of a saint of God. There is a resurrection that takes place in the here and now which is a resurrection that can only take place if we allow ourselves to be crucified with Christ, and to be baptized into the death of Christ Jesus. Within the sixth chapter of the epistle written unto the Romans the apostle Paul declared that if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. This is absolutely astounding and remarkable, for in Christ’s resurrection—and only in Christ’s resurrection—can we truly and in fact experience this dual resurrection within our lives. It is because Christ died, and was buried in the tomb, and rose from the grave on the third day that we can not only experience this resurrection in the here and now, but also a resurrection from the dead that can and will take place in the last day. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible it is that you do not have to wait until that day to experience the power of the resurrection of Christ within your life. What’s more, is that you do not have to wait to experience the same Spirit and the same power which raised Christ from the dead, for you can experience that very reality in the here and now. It was true the apostle Paul did in fact believe that there would be a resurrection from the dead when the dead which are in Christ shall rise from their graves to meet Him in the air, but the apostle Paul also preached and believed that there was a resurrection which could be experienced now—a resurrection that not only gave us something to look forward to at the last day, but also something to enjoy in the here and now.
WHILE YOU WAIT, HERE IS SOMETHING TO ENJOY AND EXPERIENCE! The more I consider the words which the apostle wrote in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth, as well as the words which he wrote in various other places in Scripture, the more I can’t help but be absolutely captivated and gripped by the fact that there is an experience with resurrection which we can experience and enjoy now. When reading the account of Lazarus’ death you will find Jesus speaking with Martha and her response when Jesus declared unto her that her brother shall rise again—“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha’s saith unto Him, I know that He shall rise again in the resurrection of the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in my shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:23-36). The account of Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead is absolutely critical for our understanding, for it reveals the very reality I have been presenting unto you. Within the account of Lazarus’ death and burial within the tomb we find Martha declaring unto Jesus that her brother shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Martha did believe her brother would rise again at the appointed time at the last day, but she did not believe that her brother could rise now. Oh how I absolutely love Jesus’ response to Martha through His words, but also through His actions, for Jesus revealed that it is possible to experience resurrection in the here and now. I am absolutely and utterly convinced that the account of Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead powerfully demonstrates and reveals the tremendous reality that there is a resurrection which we can enjoy and experience now. It was true that Lazarus did in fact die, and that he had been buried in the tomb for four days, but Jesus was offering a resurrection that would take place before the last day. I OFFER YOU A RESURRECTION BEFORE THE LAST DAY! Did you know that there is an overwhelming and powerful offer for you and for me to enjoy and experience a resurrection today in the here and the now? What we must recognize and understand is that there will be those present upon the earth when the trump sounds who will not have tasted death because they will be caught up together with Christ along with those which were dead in Christ. Since they never experienced the resurrection from the dead as the saints who have gone before, there had to be an experience which they could enjoy and experience in the here and now.
LIVE WHILE YOU WAIT! When I read the account of Lazarus’s death and resurrection, I can’t help but find within the account of this man a powerful testimony and prophetic truth that it is possible to experience a resurrection in the here and now. It was indeed and was in fact true that Jesus would experience resurrection from the dead after He would be killed and crucified upon a cruel Roman tree, and after He would be baptized in the tomb for three days. Before Jesus was ever crucified upon the cross atop Golgotha at Calvary, however, there would be a resurrection that would take place in the life of one whom Scripture records Jesus loved. I am so grateful and thankful for the account of Lazarus’ resurrection, for it within and through the account of his resurrection that we can encounter the powerful reality that there is a resurrection which we can experience in the here and now. There are men and women who might very well be looking forward to and waiting for the resurrection of the dead at the last day, and yet they never take the time to enjoy and experience the resurrection which they can experience and enjoy in the here and now. BEHOLD, I GIVE YOU THE EXPERIENCE OF RESURRECTION BEFORE RESURRECTION! BEHOLD, I GIVE YOU A TASTE OF RESURRECTION BEFORE RESURRECTION! What is so absolutely remarkable about the account of Lazarus’ life is that he was one of the few individuals in history who experienced two deaths, and would experience two resurrections. In the account found within John’s gospel we discover Lazarus’ death and his subsequent burial within the tomb, in which he lie for four whole days. Once Jesus showed up at the tomb, however, the grave and death itself had to release its grip and hold on Lazarus, and he came forth from the grave fully and completely alive. With that being said, however, there would come a point within Lazarus’ life when he would die for the second time, and this time Jesus would not show up outside his tomb and grave calling him to come forth. Lazarus would die a second time, and while we don’t know at what age he died a second time, we know that once buried this second time his body would not emerge from that tomb. Lazarus would not experience resurrection again until the last day when he would be caught up together with those in Christ which are alive and remain to meet Jesus in the air.
WOULD YOU EXPERIENCE RESURRECTION NOW? When I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the various churches, and when I consider them in light of the account of Lazarus’ resurrection from the grave, I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by the fact that there is a resurrection we can experience and enjoy in the here and the now. Lazarus’ account reveals and demonstrates unto us that while there is a resurrection which can be experienced at the last day, it is possible to experience resurrection in the present. Oh how very few men and women there are who actually enjoy and experience the tremendous power of resurrection that is made available to them here on this side of that last day. The account of Lazarus’ resurrection from the grave powerful demonstrates the fact that there is a resurrection that is available to us which we can not only experience, but also enjoy. If you read the twelfth chapter of the gospel of John you will find Jesus eating supper at the house of Mary and Martha, but you will find that present at that supper was Lazarus who sat at the table with Jesus as they all ate and enjoyed fellowship with each other. I absolutely love the account of Lazarus sitting at the table with Jesus at supper in the house of his two sisters, for it seems to present us with the powerful reality of enjoying resurrection in the here and now. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Lazarus was raised from the dead, he didn’t immediately die a second time, but was given the ability to enjoy resurrection life with his sisters, and perhaps even with those who knew and loved him. What’s more, is that the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel seems to suggest and indicate that immediately after he was raised from the dead he even had the chance to enjoy resurrection with Jesus the Christ who raised Him from the dead. Pause for a moment and consider that—the fact that not only was Lazarus raised from the dead by Jesus the Christ, but he was also able to sit at the same table with Jesus and eat supper and fellowship with the one who had allowed him to experience resurrection from the dead. Oh how we must recognize and understand that there is a resurrection which we can experience and enjoy in the here and now—a resurrection which is a sign post and prelude to a resurrection that can and will take place at the last day.
When you consider the account of Lazarus’ resurrection from the grave, it’s worth noting that his resurrection did not include the type of body which the apostle Paul mentioned and wrote about in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthians. When Lazarus was raised from the grave and from death to life, he was raised with flesh and bones just as he had previously. Similarly, when Jesus was raised from the grave and from death to life, He too was raised up with flesh and bones—a reality that is expressed in the twenty-fourth and final chapter of Luke’s gospel. Consider if you will that which Luke records after the two men who met the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus came unto the disciples and the others with an additional word of confirmation that Jesus was in fact risen from the grave—“And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He said unto them,, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 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” (Luke 24:36-39). A similar reality is manifested in the twentieth chapter of the gospel which John wrote concerning the life and ministry of Jesus—specifically in the twentieth chapter of the book. Beginning to read with the nineteenth verse we read the following words—“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when He had so said, He shewed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19-20). If you continue reading in this chapter starting with the twenty-fourth verse you will find even further confirmation that when Jesus was raised from death to life He was raised with flesh and blood, and with a natural body—“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:24-29).
It’s necessary that we understand both the resurrection of Jesus, as well as Lazarus, for when they were raised from the grave and from death to life, they were raised with flesh and bones and blood, as we saw within the accounts of both Luke and John. When you come to the thirty-fifth verse of the fifteenth chapter of this first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation you will find additional commentary and language concerning resurrection, but the apostle Paul now transitions to the type of body we receive when we experience the resurrection at the last day. Consider if you will the following words which were written by the apostle Paul—“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of what, or of some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed His own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star different from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raise 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. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first with which spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As it the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:35-49).
With the words which are recorded in this particular portion of the chapter the apostle Paul goes on to describe the resurrection that will take place at the last day, and how when the saints of God are resurrected on that day, they will not be resurrected with flesh and bones and blood as Lazarus was, and even as Jesus was when He was raised by the Spirit from death to life. When Lazarus was raised from death to life, the body he was raised from death to life in was in fact the same body he had prior to dying and being buried in the tomb. As such, that body was susceptible and vulnerable to death and decay just as any other human and physical body was at that time or since then. The resurrection which the apostle Paul spoke about in this passage of Scripture was a resurrection that was completely different and unlike any earthly resurrection, for the resurrection which will take place at the last day is a resurrection that will cause that which is corruptible to take on that which is incorruptible, that which is natural to take on that which is spiritual. The apostle Paul is absolutely clear that when this resurrection takes place in the last day our physical bodies are absolutely and completely transformed and can never and will never be subject to the elements of the earth such as death, decay, and the physical elements. In all reality, I am convinced that we must do everything within our power to enjoy and experience the resurrection we can experience in the here and now, for it prepares us for the resurrection we can and shall experience at the last day when the trumpet shall sound and the dead in Christ shall rise to meet the Lord in the air together with those saints which are alive and remain. I absolutely love that although we read the words of the apostle Paul concerning a resurrection which can and shall take place at the last day when our natural bodies will take on that which is spiritual, there is a resurrection which we can experience in the here and now. What’s more, is that while our physical bodies aren’t transformed in the here and now, we can experience and enjoy a new man which is given unto us upon the death of our flesh.
Consider how the apostle Paul writes unto the Corinthians and declares “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Consider also the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Ephesian congregation—“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Consider also the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Colossae—“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Colossians 3:10). The resurrection which we can experience now does not offer us the type of body which Paul speaks about toward the end of the first epistle unto the Corinthians, but the type of resurrection we experience now offers us an entirely new man that is indeed a new creature in Christ, which comes only after the old man has died, been put to death, and crucified with Christ. What’s more, is that it is this resurrection, which we get to experience and enjoy in the here and now which prepares us for the resurrection which we shall experience at the last day, and it is this new man and new creature that prepares us for the transformation of our physical bodies at the last day. The ultimate question is whether or not we are willing to allow our old man, our old nature, our flesh to die and be buried with Christ in baptism in order that we might experience the resurrection which can and should be enjoyed now. Until and unless we experience that first resurrection, I would dare say we cannot and will not have or take part in that last resurrection which can and will take place at the last day. Oh that we would not only yield ourselves to the death and destruction of our flesh, but also that we would yield ourselves to the quickening work of the Spirit who can raise us up from death to life and provide us with an entirely new man and new creation which is in Christ in righteousness.