The body was the first part of man God formed. It will be the last part of man He will save. Salvation is not only an event, it is a process. With reference to the salvations of man, verb tenses help our understanding. Our spirits have been saved. Our souls are being saved. Our bodies will be saved. Without the salvation of the spirit through faith by grace, the sanctification of our souls and redemption of our bodies would be impossible. Without the resurrection of our bodies, the Christian faith becomes a tragic hoax.
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise.
16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.
17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. NKJV [Emphasis added.]
The hope of the Christian faith is more than just moving to the great beyond at death. God’s promise to us is not an eternal existence as non-corporeal spirits playing harps on puffy fields of white. The eternal Son of God forever welded Himself to human frame in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. He did this for the love of His Father and His creatures. Our salvation will not be complete until we are changed or resurrected.
23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. NKJV
The release of our present physical limitations does not come through the escape of our spirits from our bodies but from the fulfillment of what our bodies are destined to be in Christ. We are tempted to despise the body because we feel decay and death even as we live our lives. But the hope of the Christian is not to die and become a naked spirit. The hope of the Christian is to have our mortal bodies swallowed by life, to be transformed through the life-giving spirit of the Last Adam.
2 Corinthians 5:2-5
2 Here indeed, in this [present abode, body], we sigh and groan inwardly, because we yearn to be clothed over [we yearn to put on our celestial body like a garment, to be fitted out] with our heavenly dwelling,
3 So that by putting it on we may not be found naked (without a body).
4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan under the burden and sigh deeply (weighed down, depressed, oppressed) — not that we want to put off the body (the clothing of the spirit), but rather that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal (our dying body) may be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection].
5 Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise]. AMP
Israel lived in the hope of the resurrection of the just and the unjust. There is a primary requirement for one to be eligible for resurrection; namely, one has to be dead. The Christian hope is a better hope because it is a living hope. When Christ returns, we will not all be dead.
1 Corinthians 15:50-55
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? KJV
We shall not all sleep. Not all of us are going to go through physical death. But all of us, living saints and buried ones, will be changed. The corruptible—the dead and decaying bodies—will be transformed in their resurrected bodies. They will be incorruptible. And those of us living who face the specter of death daily even as we wait for His return? We will put on immortality.
1 John 3:2-3
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. KJV
The true hope of our physical transformation in Christ Jesus presses us toward the purification of our souls. Why? Because when we understand that we will face Jesus in our transformed and resurrected immortal and incorruptible bodies, we will have a desire for the encounter to be a blessing and not a curse. Perfect bodies have fully functioning nervous systems. Pleasure and pain will be felt in the fullest. We face the potential of both, which is the topic we will examine in our next post.