1 Corinthians 15:35-44
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?…
I. These words meant, "HOW CAN THE DEAD BE RAISED UP?" Let us try to find an answer to it.
1. If any man really believe in the existence of a Great First Cause, his answer would at once be, "With God all things are possible." He who built the house, and allowed it to be pulled down, can rebuild it. But we should not rest the answer upon this.
2. What has been done can be. Now, we affirm — and it is the subject of this chapter — that there is now passed into the heavens a man who was once dead — Christ. And this fact rests upon the irrefragable evidence adduced in this chapter; and this evidence is such that when a great infidel went to work to prove Christianity untrue, it ended in his being convinced, by the candid examination of it; and Gilbert West's book is a standing evidence of the truth of the resurrection. We answer the question, "How are the dead raised up?" by saying, It has been done. What God has done He can do again.
II. But the question may mean the curious inquiry as to THE MANNER OF THE RESURRECTION. With what body will they rise? Will it be the same body that was buried? Will all its particles be the same? Will the ashes of Wickliffe, e.g., that, after the body was dug up and burned, were thrown into the river, which carried them into another river, which carried them into the sea — will all those ashes be brought together? Now I shall answer this by showing that when we shall be raised —
1. We shall know that we are the same persons that lived. It is a fact well known that our bodies are continually changing. Unless there were particles being continually taken up, how would the meals that we regularly take to repair the waste, increase the size of the body? The boy of seven, the youth of fourteen, the young man of twenty-one, and the full-grown man of thirty, has really and truly had a fresh body every seven years. Yet which of us is not conscious that we are the same persons that we were as little children — not the same pieces of matter, but the same persons? And this is necessary for the judgment. It is a principle of English law that it is the person that did the offence that must be tried for it. Twenty years may have elapsed since the murderer did the deed; the hand that shed the blood may have been changed in that time; yet he is the same man, knows that he is the same, and is answerable for the crime that was done twenty years ago. We shall, in this sense, be the same, and have to give account of the things done in the body.
2. Others will know us to be the same. The great missionary Moffat, in one of his journeys, fell in with an African king, and began to tell him of the resurrection; and as he went on he saw that iron man's face begin to work convulsively; and when the king could speak he said, trembling all over, "What! do you say that I shall see the men whom I have slaughtered in battle?" He seemed as if he saw before him the victims of his courage, as he had thought, but of his cruelty, as he now began to think. At the great day others will know us, however changed we may be. Seducer, you shall recognise the woman whom you have flung heartless on a cold world, and left to vice, misery, and an early death. Tempter of youth, you shall recognise the thoughtless boys you enticed from duty, and they shall know you. Infidel, you shall recognise those whose little faith you sapped by specious arguments, whose little hope you took away. Hume is related to have shaken the faith of his mother, and when that mother was dying, finding that his arguments would not support her, she sent for him to tell her again what he had told her before, for she found she was sinking into eternity with nothing under her feet. Hume shall meet his mother, and his mother know her son that did this unfilial work upon the soul. And you who are really Christians, you shall recognise every one of those whom you lead to Christ.
3. And yet we shall be changed.
(1) From corruption to incorruption. Decay is sown in our blood, and when we are laid in the grave we are sown in corruption; when we are raised we shall be incapable of decay.
(2) From dishonour to glory. "It is sown in dishonour." Who of us does not know that? But when the body is raised it will be in the glory of Christ as He shone on the Mount of Transfiguration.
(3) From weakness to power. How soon are we tired! How soon does our mind exhaust our body! How soon are we wearied with work and with pleasure too! But when these bodies are raised they will be incapable of fatigue, and capable of exertion such as we cannot dream of now. "They rest not day nor night."(4) Suddenly — in the twinkling of an eye — at the last trump. Conclusion: "They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation."
(W. W. Champneys.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?