The Apostles’ Creed (Part 26)

Many do not understand what it means for the body to be resurrected from the dead. How is it possible for my body that has been in the grace for so long and having decayed, be resurrected? How is it possible for my body that has been cremated and is ashes to be resurrected? How is it possible for my body that was lowered into the sea and disintegrated there be resurrected? The Apostles Creed says …

… the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Remember the last paragraph of the Creed deals with the ministry and continuing work of the Holy Spirit. The intention of God was not to save souls but to save souls for a new and different environment. Adam was to remain in the beautiful Garden of Eden forever … but he sinned and was not only cast out, he died. He was supposed to live forever but sin causes death. We die too and our bodies need to be disposed of just as they were disposed of in Bible times. So here it the thing … however the body is prepared for burial, creation or being cast into the sea, that body will land up becoming part of the elements. How then can this body that is no more, be resurrected to life, everlasting life?

1) The physical body is a vessel for the soul. The soul is the real you. It is your spiritual dimension.

Gen 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

This is where the animal kingdom and the human race are different. Animals don’t have a soul. They live on earth for a season and then they are no more. The human being however has a soul and that soul lives forever. Whilst on earth the soul is housed in the body.

2) At death the soul and body separate. “With the Lord but without a body”. It stands to reason that because the body decays or burns at death the soul cannot remain in the body. Hence the soul departs.

3) God created the soul to have a home. Look at this verse again

Gen 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

God placed the soul into a body, a vessel. He did not create a soul and allow it to exist without a body. The proper place for the soul is to be housed. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul implies that the soul without a body is naked!

4) The first resurrection is that of the soul. Although housed in the body, the soul is dead spiritually until it is born again. This is the “first resurrection”. Consider the following passage:

Rev 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Many have a variety of interpretations for this passage, yet without going into a lengthy exposition, this text refers to those who are born again. They are alive spiritually. Their souls have been resurrected from the dead and they reign with the Lord Jesus. So here is an interesting phenomenon … Adam was to live forever … his soul and body, yet when he sinned his soul died (and was dead until there was a blood sacrifice – Genesis 3:21) and the body was condemned to die (Genesis 3:19) … all believers in Jesus live with bodies that will die, but their souls will live “in life” forever. The unbeliever will die in the body and their soul will live forever, but “in death” because they are spiritually dead.

5) The second resurrection is that of the body. The concept of substitution is enormous. Adam was our substitute when he broke the probationary command. When he sinned, we sinned. As the head of the race, Adam substituted for us. Jesus Christ is the New Adam, the Head of the New Race, the Believing Race. When He died, He substituted for believers. When He rose from the dead He substituted for believers. Of the many things that could be said, allow me to mention two.

(1) His resurrection was “victory” over the world, the flesh and the devil”. This was for us!

(2) His resurrection was a guarantee that we too will rise from the dead unto eternal life. At death, the believing soul is alive and is homeless (bodiless) until the body is resurrected from the dead.

1Co 15:42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 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. The body we will receive will not be the physical body that died, it will be a spiritual body.

When this happens the soul and body will be united.

6) There is a caution here though. At death the soul is in an “intermediate state”, meaning it is without a body. Some speak of the “intermediate state” as “soul sleep”, meaning the soul is unconscious until reunited with the new body. There are even people who imply an “intermediate place” whilst awaiting the resurrected body. The Bible does not teach this. Paul himself declared

Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.

If death is “gain” and if “to be with Christ is better by far”, then the believer who dies goes to be with the Lord Jesus immediately the physical body dies … and awaits his or her resurrected body which is suitable for the soul to inhabit forever in heaven. Did Jesus not say to the “Thief of the Cross” that that very day he would be with Jesus in Paradise? Once again it is the Spirit of God whose task it is to bring this about. That is why He gives us assurance in our hearts that this will be so.

Our Father, thank You for the way You have planned our salvation … but more … the way You have planned our future with You in Glory. Amen.

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