#701. THE FULNESS OF THE KINGDOM (30/11/22)
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.
‘I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.’ (1 Corinthians 15:50)
Summary: To enter the renewed creation after Jesus' return, we must have a renewed body that is free from the effects of sin.
We all understand that different creatures are made for different environments. For example, some creatures can live on volcanoes withstanding great heat. Birds can inhabit the air. Fish inhabit water… For us to go underwater or into space requires all sorts of equipment. It’s also true to say that our current bodies cannot live in the fullness of the Kingdom of God. No human being can withstand the full glory of God. Paul tells us that ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God’! To live in the fulness of the Kingdom - after Christ renews all things - requires a new and suitable body.
NO MAN CAN SEE ME AND LIVE!
We read in Exodus:
‘Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 30:18-20)
In the Kingdom of God, we will see God fully. However, no human being in his current state can even see God and live! Our current capacities can no longer take the full glory of God than we can exist on the sun!
THEN YOU WILL SEE FACE TO FACE
This text from Paul seems to contradict what we read in Exodus:
‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ (1 Corinthians 13:12)
The resolution to these two contradictory statements is to understand that in our natural selves, we cannot see God and live. However, in our resurrection bodies, we will have the purity, strength, capacity and composition to withstand the force of His beauty. To inherit the Kingdom of God - to live with God in that new era of sinless, restored and glorious creation, we need a new heavenly body that is no longer made of sinful 'flesh and blood'.
Right now we live in God’s kingdom and taste of the age to come. Right now we are to seek to ‘see God’ to the measure that He permits. We can see as ‘a reflection as in a mirror’, which is something that we should ask for the Spirit to give to us. However, any vision or experience of God and the Kingdom in this life is a deposit guaranteeing the whole inheritance that is to come.
“Father, I thank you I'm going to inherit the Kingdom of God and live with you eternally. I thank you that in that glorious, eternal era, I will experience greater joy than I've ever known. I know that for now "My heart and my flesh may fail" but you will renew me in your presence with greater joy that will eclipse all sorrow. 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.