#700. THE IMAGE OF THE HEAVENLY MAN (29/11/22)
On Sunday, we continued with our series in 1 Corinthians. This week's devotionals are based upon Paul’s teaching on the resurrection body from 1 Corinthians 15:35-58.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.’ (1 Corinthians 15:44-49)
Summary: At our resurrection, shall we bear the image of Jesus the heavenly man’. This transformation has already begun and is to be pursued.
We all understand what it means to have family likeness. It could be the way that we look, our personality or the values that we espouse that are as a result of being in a particular family. The Bible puts all mankind into one of two families. We are either in Christ or in Adam. The family that we are in - Christ or Adam - will determine our attitudes, values and destiny.
This text says a number of things about Adam. He is: ‘A living being…natural…of the dust…the earthly man’. Everybody bears the image of Adam. We are all affected by His sin. His sin has affected every human being so that we all now sin and die.
This text contrasts Jesus with Adam. About Jesus, it says: He’s 'a life-giving spirit…spiritual…of heaven…the heavenly man.’ As we have born the image of Adam ‘so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.’
When we receive Jesus, we are transferred from one family to another (also from one kingdom to another). We are now ‘in Christ’. Adam’s sin has affected all humanity, so Christ’s death for us has affected everyone who receives Him. Although we continue to have a physical body that is like Adam’s, the transformation into Christlikeness has begun in us. Ultimately, at Jesus’ return we will have a resurrection and a resurrection body like Jesus. We will be ‘Heavenly men and women’.
To say that our bodies will be ‘spiritual’ and ‘heavenly’ does not mean that our bodies will be immaterial. We will, like Jesus, continue be physical and material. We won’t be ghostly. To say that, like Jesus, our bodies will be ’spiritual’ and ‘heavenly’ means that all the effects of sin will be removed and the influences of the Spirit on us will be unhindered and perfect.
In this life we live in ‘natural bodies’ that are affected by sin. Our thinking, desires and the weakness of our bodies are all still affected by sin. It is erroneous to think that any aspect of us, this side of Jesus’ coming, will be ‘heavenly’ and perfect. In this era, the sanctification of our character is something we have to prayerfully work hard at. The last phrase in our reading could be translated:
‘Let us bear the image of the heavenly man’.
Let us live like Christ now. Let us press on, by the power of the Spirit, to be more ‘heavenly’.
“Lord Jesus, I thank you that you came into this world, bearing the image of Adam. You came to die for our sin. Through your death I have the hope of resurrection. I thank you that your resurrection power is at work in me today. Holy Spirit, fill me, and continue to make me more and more like Jesus. May my ways reflect your heavenly beauty today. Amen”
YOU MIGHT FIND THIS SONG INSPIRING ON THIS WEEK'S SUBJECT:
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His word recently? How would you like prayer?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
TRUE HOPE LEADS TO WORTHY LIVING
On Sunday, we continued with our series in 1 Corinthians, looking at Paul’s teaching on the resurrection body from 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. In this study, we only have time to consider a few ideas.
Please read the whole of 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
1. THE RESURRECTION BODY
‘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 dishonour, 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.’ (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
What will our bodies be like when they are raised? In summary, we can simply say that they will be like Jesus’ body after His resurrection. Paul uses three contrasts here which tell us a great deal:
i. Perishable to imperishable - This, in essence, means that our bodies will become immortal. Our current existents involves birth, ageing and death; in our future existence, we will never decline. (See also 15:53–55).
ii. Dishonour to glory - Our bodies lack honour in that they are fallen. Sin has corrupted them. The glory of God is defiled in us. Our bodies have appetites that are against the Spirit. We were made in God’s image but we now ‘fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) in our all aspects of our lives including our bodies. When we are raise, we will be glorious. Our whole being, including our bodies, will be restored to the image of God. Our bodies will bring glory to Jesus.
iii. Weakness to power - ‘Weakness’ (astheneia) refers to frailty, illness and suffering. In this age, our bodies are weak and subject to illness. Paul likens our bodies to ‘jars of clay’ that are ‘outwardly wasting away (2 Corinthians 4:7, 16). In that day - When Jesus comes - we will be ‘raised in power’. Our bodies will have new strength and capability. No longer will we be subject to sickness or weakness.
iv. Natural to spiritual - ‘Natural’ means that which is natural to all people. the term ‘natural body’ is a summation of the previous terms; the natural body is fallen and so is perishable, dishonoured and weak. All of us are in this condition by nature. However, when Christ comes and we are raised up, our bodies will be ‘spiritual’. This is not about our being ghostly our lacking substance. Rather, this is a summary of our being perfected by the Spirit at our resurrection (See Romans 8:11).
2. GIVE YOURSELVES FULLY TO THE WORK OF THE LORD
’Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.’ (1 Corinthians 15:58)
The title of Sunday’s message was: ‘TRUE HOPE LEADS TO WORTHY LIVING’. Paul finishes this section with application. A true grasp of our future hope will lead to 'giving ourselves fully to the work of the Lord'. The work of building the local church, sharing the gospel and being ‘salt and light’ in our communities will flow out of true hope. Hope of future resurrection causes us to live for things of eternal worth rather than for the things of this passing era.
i. Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?
ii. What about our future resurrection do you feel most excited about?
iii. Read 1 Corinthians 15:58. Why does true hope lead to worthy living?
iv. What is the ‘work of the Lord’ that we should give ourselves to?
SIV - Let's keep praying and planning for how we can invite people to our carol service on 11th December (4 pm).
SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?
SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?
SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.