Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What Sort of Bodies Will We Have in Heaven?

I just read a thought-provoking article on the resurrection of the dead. I wanted to share it with you. I don't agree with the author's views on burial vs. cremation: I frankly don't think it matters what we do with the bodies we now live in. Our resurrection bodies are what matters. But his point--that burial is a testimony to the world that we expect to rise again, like the seed planted in the ground in Paul's imagery from 1 Corinthians 15--is a valid one. If you'd like to read it, click this link. Be sure to scroll to the bottom and read the comments from others who have read the article. There's a very interesting debate going on there, with some good points raised by both sides.

This is an especially relevant issue this week, as we look forward to Easter. This Sunday, we'll be studying the classic Easter text: 1 Corinthians 15. But we won't be using it to defend the historicity of Christ's resurrection, or to talk about how important that first Easter is to us. Instead, we'll talk about a resurrection that stands now in the future, not the past: Our own resurrection from the dead. That, after all, is what 1 Corinthians 15 is really about. Hopefully by now (if you've been attending or following our series on Heaven) you understand that Heaven isn't an ethereal, disembodied existence floating on clouds, but a flesh-and-bone life eternal in a real body on a redeemed Earth. But what sort of bodies will we have? That is the topic we'll examine this Sunday. I hope to see you there, and I hope you're inviting a friend!

5 comments:

Mona said...

Jeff, reading your blog makes me wonder about the "flesh and bone" idea you mentioned for our heavenly bodies. I've found no scripture that supports that idea. You did go on to say "on a redeemed earth" by which I assume you mean when Christ reigns on earth for a thousand years after the tribulation and Armageddon, but what about folks in heaven right now? And for us, if we die before the Rapture? I'm reassured by Thessalonians that we will for sure have new, perfect bodies in heaven (I'm looking forward to that), but nowhere do I read that our bodies will be flesh and bone, like we have now. When Jesus reappeared after His resurrection, walked and talked, even ate a fish breakfast with a few disciples, He had not yet ascended to heaven, so presumably at that point He still had a flesh and bone body, though nothing I've read says anyone actually touched Him and verified it. In fact, on the mount of Transfiguration (and isn't that why it's called "transfiguration" because His body was rendered different, into a heavenly form), the description laid out there would seem to be the kind of heavenly body we Christians might all have in heaven. The kinds of bodies we might have on the "redeemed earth" I know nothing about. I'm not even sure it should be referred to as heaven. After all, heaven is a real place - why would God make it disappear just because Jesus and the believers there come back to earth for a little while? And maybe I'm confused about that, too - I find that most of Revelation is confusing and the symbolism used is too much for my humble, finite mind. Maybe you can shed some light on what I've mentioned. Thanks!
I enjoy your blogs.
Mona Follis

Jeff Berger said...

Mona,

I don't think we simply live on a redeemed Earth during the millenium (I'll talk more about all the different millenial ideas in a later message). I mean that's where we will spend eternity...on the New Earth. I believe Heaven now is the New Jerusalem...then, as described in Rev. 21, that comes down here and the entire Earth is redeemed.

As for flesh and bone bodies, I am assuming (as many other interpreters do) that our bodies will be like Jesus' resurrection body. It looked like Him, he was able to eat (as you pointed out), so it was like His previous body in some ways, but it also had different powers (ability to appear and disappear, ascend to Heaven, et al). I think it's noteworthy that when Stephen looked up into Heaven and saw Jesus, he recognized Him. He didn't say, "I see some fantastic, brilliant creature." He said, "I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." Obviously, John saw a different side of Jesus in the Revelation, which indicates to me (as does the Transfiguration), that Jesus can take on a form that speaks of His divine glory. But He still has a body, nail scars and all. And so shall we. At least, that's what I believe. If I'm wrong, it'll only be because God has an even better idea.

Anonymous said...

Jeff-Thank you for the articles you have been posting. They're very readable and thought-provoking and have been a daily reminder of the special nature of this week.
Kristy

susannutter said...

I've got a question - it's sort of a silly one - have you read the Apocalypse of Peter? I believe it is a gnostic gospel? Anyway, I read some of it - wow - absolutely terrifying. Reading it, along with the Heaven sermon series, how can we as Christians be so relaxed about telling others about salvation through Jesus Christ. Makes me want to literally "run" and tell everyone!

Jeff Berger said...

Susan,

No, I haven't read any of the Gnostic works, although I have some familiarity with them. I can see why one would find them interesting, but my philosophy is that the early church rejected those books, so I probably can spend my time in better ways than reading them. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with reading them, as long as we don't equate them with Scripture. But as for your statement...absolutely the information about Heaven makes me anxious to share with as many people as possible.