September 3, 2014
I Corinthians 15:49-54
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Sally Cook wrote a poem entitled “An Artist’s Death“, published in August 25, 2014’s edition of National Review. Speaking of the artist’s dead body laid out in a funeral home, the last three lines run thus:
Tear as it will at beauty, death can do
Nothing to lay its guts and sinews bare —
Still, you lay satin-bound, beyond repair.
Beyond Repair? This is the secular view of death that even too many Christians seem to hold. Death is final, and nothing can reverse that. A dead body is Beyond Repair!
But let me direct you to what St. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:49 through 54:
…as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the
image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and
blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit
incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but
we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at
the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on
incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this
corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immor-
tality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is
swallowed up in victory.”
Yes, I know this reads like a fairy tale to those who don’t have the faith to believe it. After all, this scripture states that a dead person – one who has died believing in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior – has the hope of resurrection and being transformed into a new, perfect and eternal heavenly body! And it would be a fairy tale but for a couple of scriptural facts:
• SomeOne has already “been there and done that!” I don’t know how the artist in Cook’s poem arrived at that dead condition, but it was not a serene death! She writes:
They’d patched your broken face and made it new,
And covered breaks in bone to make you fair
Again with makeup, mucilage and glue.
This could have been a description of Jesus Christ – after the Jewish leaders and Romans were done mocking, beating, whipping and crucifying Him – all except for the broken bones. For it is prophesied in Psalm 34:20, “He guards all His bones; not one of them is broken.” But the Lord was so mangled when they laid Him in the grave, Isaiah described in prophecy, “They shall see my Servant beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know it was a human being standing there.” (Isaiah 52:14 – The Living Bible).
Yet when He came out of the tomb three days later, He was perfect! More than perfect, He was so made new by the power of God that His physical body – yes, it was physical (see Luke 24:39) – was perfectly suited for eternal spiritual living with the Father in heaven!
And “…we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” I John 3:2 says, that “…we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (See also Philippians 3:20 and 21; I Thessalonians 4:13 through 18).
• Paul’s “fairy tail ” words have come from the Lord Himself! In Galatians 1:11 and 12 the apostle states:
…I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me
is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught
it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
And Jesus Himself emphasized, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). And so it is the Lord Himself who says, “…we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
So is such a body as described in Cook’s poem Beyond Repair? NO! Not if that one died holding a vibrant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! We Christians have a future that is perfect! And that future is eternal! And the only alternative is an equally eternal hell!
And so I close this blog with a challenge to you – what God through Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30:19:
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before
you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you
and your descendants may live….