SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
November 14, 2004
We Thank God for the Blessed Hope of Our Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:42-57
Key Verse: Where, 0 death, is your victory? Where, 0 death, is your sting? – 1 Corinthians 15:55
We like to say that no one can predict the future, that no one but God knows what the future holds. That is true in a general sense. However, it is also true that Christians “know” that resurrection is in their future. We call it our blessed hope, or our confident hope, that through faith in Christ we have victory over sin and death.
As believers we possess a glad certainty that because Christ was raised from the dead, we shall be raised also. The grave is the end of life only for the perishable body for God will give us a new body, a spiritual body that is eternal. Our earthly body is the seed, Paul says, from which God will bring forth our heavenly body. This new body will be imperishable, allowing us to spend eternity in heaven. There, with the redeemed, we will offer endless praise to the Christ who raised us in power and glory.
The older I become, the more eagerly I anticipate the gift of a new body. My body of flesh is perishable. My body parts are wearing out. Year by year the strength of my body is diminishing. One day I will be able to say, “Thank you, body, for all you have done for me. Now I must leave you to decay and return to dust, for the Father has given me a new body, a perfect body with no blemishes or weaknesses.”
Though I do not know how, I believe my new body will be such that my friends can recognize me. My personality, that part of me which is more than flesh and bones, will be preserved in my new body. My friends who see me in my new body will say, “There is Walter.” In heaven we will know and be known as the unique persons God has made us. Jesus recognized Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter recognized them also. They appeared “in glory,” in spiritual bodies, but they were recognizable. They were not merely ghosts!
This fuels my hope for heaven. There I will be able to recognize and enjoy the fellowship of dear ones I have loved and lost here on earth. There are so many I am eager to see again! What joy shall be mine to see again my son David, my mother and my father, my sister Laurida, my brother-in-law Gene Williams, my wife’s mother Sarah Brown, my sister-in-law Dot Peavey, Uncle Mac Johnson, and dear friends like Warren Thompson, Thomas Samford, Griffin Lloyd, and a host of others who touched my life. I have a long list of people I want to thank again for their influence in my life!
Can I know for certain that God will raise me from the grave with a new body? All I can say is that this is my conviction. This is my blessed hope, not a faint hope or a wish. Why am I convinced? This is where faith comes in. I believe what the Bible teaches. I believe the promises of God. God does not lie. I believe the promises of His Son Jesus. I accept them all at face value. I believe, for example, that Jesus meant it when he said, “Because I live, you will live also.” I am betting my life that Jesus was right!
I am confident of my coming resurrection because of the testimony and witness of the Apostle Paul. Paul was a smart man, much smarter than I am. Paul believed what God said and what Jesus said. Paul bet his life that Jesus was right. Paul was so convinced that he was willing to suffer and finally die for his faith, so that Gentiles like me could receive the good news of the gospel. I am betting my life that Paul was right.
For more than 53 years I have gone with families to cemeteries to bury their loved ones. Hundreds of times I have spoken these words, “Forasmuch as Almighty God has received unto himself the soul of our departed (brother or sister), we therefore tenderly commit his body to the ground, in the blessed hope that as he has borne the image of the earthly so also he shall bear the image of the heavenly.”
That is not mere ritual to me. Those are not idle words. I truly believe that the believer whose body is planted in the ground will, by the grace of God, “bear the image of the heavenly” in a new body. I truly believe that the God who raised Jesus from the dead will one day raise me and give me a new body “like his own glorious body.”
I truly believe that when the pastor presiding at my funeral says, “We commit his body to its resting place but his spirit we commend to God,” that God will say, “Thank you. I will take over now. I have already given Walter a new body and even now I have my angels showing him around his new quarters.” About that moment, I hope to peer through the thin veil that separates the earthly from the heavenly and shout GLORY loud enough that even my deaf friends can hear me.
Do I think I deserve resurrection? No, not at all. I know I do not deserve it. Why, then, am I convinced that I am going to heaven? Because I have trusted Jesus Christ for my salvation and His grace is all I need to be saved. I know that my works will not save me. I know that church work can actually kill my spirit, especially if I do it for the wrong reason. I know that my only hope of heaven is the mercy of God.
The good news is that His mercy has already been offered to me by the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, and I have accepted it. My sins have been dealt with, and I am washed in the blood of the Lamb. Though I am not worthy of it, He has given me blessed assurance that Jesus is mine and I am His, now and for all eternity.
To all who are burdened by doubt and unbelief, I say please turn around and go with me to the Father’s House, the one that is eternal in the heavens because it was not made with hands. If you will turn, and trust Jesus, he will give you the blessed hope of a new body after your old one has been discarded. Then you can live with confidence that, by the grace of God, you are bound for the Promised Land. The look on your face will convince others that you really are.
+ + + + (Contact Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org)