Salvation, pt 3

March 27, 2016 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: Doctrine

Topic: English


Growing up, one of the phrases I remember learning was “Instant gratification.” It was something I was told I shouldn’t get used to. Parents were cautioned not to allow their children to get used to it either. But things have changed now.

Instant gratification is fully built into our culture. It’s the norm. It’s part of what comes with the age of the internet. Some people go so far as to say that having access to the internet is a necessity of life. It’s no longer a luxury.

The internet isn’t, in itself a bad thing, but it isn’t all good either, especially when it comes to battling against the desire for instant gratification. Sometimes, the closest we get to some kind of delayed gratification is waiting for something on a playlist to come up next. But even then you can just click ahead and skip right to it. We have an entire generation that it being patterned for instant gratification.

We call it On Demand. Youtube, Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Firestick. You get exactly what you want, exactly when you want it. I’m not saying these are all bad things. But left unchecked, they feed the part of us that is only interested in instant gratification. And that kind of thinking, sadly, has crept even into the church.

People want short answers. They want quick solutions. And they struggle to look ahead toward the future. That means that Christianity gets minimized to the here and now only.

And this affects our view of salvation. Some pastors even feed their congregation the message that they can expect the best of this life, they can experience their full potential today. And, they say, any kind of frustration is a result of a lack of faith.

That’s a very dangerous teaching. And it runs against what we’ve been learning for the last couple weeks as we’ve been studying salvation. Salvation does have an instantaneous component. That’s called justification. It happens at the moment of salvation, the moment of regeneration, the moment of faith. A person is instantly declared righteous by God on the basis of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

But that also begins a life-long process called sanctification. It’s not immediate. It’s a growth. It takes time. It takes personal effort. You are becoming more like who you are in Christ. You are becoming a more holy person is your thinking and your speech and your conduct.

But there’s a final component of salvation that many people don’t think about very often. Or if they do, they might not use biblical ideas. And that is the future part of salvation. Justification was about being saved from the penalty of sin. Sanctification is about being freed from the power of sin. And glorification is about being saved from the presence of sin altogether.

Do you ever stop to think about that? Do you ever pause to consider what life will be like in a world without sin either outside you or inside you? You should.

First John 3:3 says that whoever fixes their hope on that future glorification purifies himself. In other words, thinking about your glorification helps you in your sanctification.

Romans 8 says that even in times of suffering, we have the hope of glorification. It says that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

This hope is not just a New Testament hope. Even through the Old Testament it was the hope of those who trusted in the one true God.

Job 19 says “After my skin is destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom my eyes shall behold.”

Psalm 49 says “God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol. He will take me.”

Psalm 73 says “afterward you will receive me to glory.”

Hebrews 11 even says that Abraham even believed that his son Isaac would be resurrected.

All throughout history, those who trusted in God had the assurance of resurrection. Of a life after this life. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has set eternity in the heart of man. That’s why practically every religion in human history has tried to think about what happens after you die.

This life is not the end. But the only truth we have concerning the next life is found in God’s Word. Jesus taught about it. John 5:29 says everyone will be resurrected. Those who honored God will receive a resurrection of life. Those who were evil will have a resurrection of judgment. And that will be for eternity.

Today, we’re not going to talk much about God’s judgement. We’re going to focus on the resurrection unto life. When you were saved, God saved all of you. He didn’t just save your soul or your spirit, He redeemed every part of you, including your body.

But the redemption of our bodies is something we have to wait for. Turn with me for a moment to Romans 8:22. Paul is addressing the topic of suffering. And he says that our suffering isn’t worth comparing to our future glory. That future glory will be an undoing of the Curse upon the earth. An undoing of the effect of sin on the world. We’re anxious for it. Rom 8:22.

Earth is groaning. But it’s not just that the earth is going to be remade. So are the people of God. Rom 8:23.

Who we are in Christ isn’t fully represented in our bodies right now. So we’re waiting. We’re groaning.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Easter? What does this have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? The short answer is EVERYTHING! It has everything to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 15. This is where we’ll be looking for the rest of our time today. First Corinthians 15.

The Corinthian church was a church with problems. Corinth was a city of immorality and idolatry. It was a corrupted city. And even though people were being saved, even though people were being justified, they still had a long way to go in the process of sanctification. So Paul’s letter addresses a lot of issues.

He talks about divisions in the church. He tells them what a true apostle looks like. He writes to them about a man who is sleeping with his step-mother and how they need to address it. He talks about lawsuits in the church. He addresses the sexual immorality in the church. He gives them instructions regarding marriage. He talks about idol worship and eating meat from an idol’s temple. He deals with head coverings and spiritual gifts and orderly worship. These were all issues the church had to deal with.

But in chapter 15 he gets to an issue that was on his heart—the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some people didn’t understand the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And as a result people were falling away from the truth. Some group was actually teaching against the resurrection, saying it wouldn’t happen. They said this life was it. There’s nothing next.

So Paul responds by saying: Don’t fall away. Stay close to the Scriptures. Believe in the resurrection. In chapter 15, verses 3-8, Paul emphasizes the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was what the Old Testament Scriptures said would happen. And it was witnessed to by the believers. At one point, over 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus. This was not wishful thinking. It was an actual event.

  And, of course, He appeared to Paul. He gave Paul the ministry of preaching the truth. And with that, Paul gets to the point. Verse 12. 1 Cor 15:12.

If there is no such thing as a resurrection, then you’ve got some problems. And Paul spells out those problems in the verses that follow. Denying a resurrection (in general) means denying the resurrection of Jesus (specifically). On top of that, it would mean Paul’s ministry was meaningless. That would make our faith meaningless.  Worse than that, it would mean that Paul and the rest of the apostles were liars. If there was no resurrection, all of Christianity is meaningless. It’s pointless.

Romans 4:25 says Jesus was raised for our justification. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the stamp of authentication on Jesus and what He accomplished. If he didn’t rise from the dead, then why should we care about anything else He talked about? He said He would rise. So if that wasn’t true, how can we know anything else he taught was true?

Roman 6:4 connects the resurrection to our sanctification. It says: Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too walk in newness of life. So the Resurrection is vital to understanding justification and sanctification.

But here in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul specifically applies the resurrection of Jesus Christ to our glorification. It’s what Christianity is all about. Look at verse 19.

Christianity is not simply about being a better person, or getting a better family, or feeling better about life. It’s about what is next. If there is nothing next, then why go through all the difficulty of fighting sin and preaching the message and glorifying God. Look at verse 30. 1 Cor 15:30-32.

What Paul is saying here is: If there is no life after this one, then just live as best you can. Do whatever everyone else is doing. Have all the fun you want.

And that’s what some people were saying in the church. So Paul continues: 1 Cor 15:33-34.

The people weren’t thinking clearly. The church lacked holiness. Some in the group had no knowledge. In fact they taunted the idea. 1 Cor 15:35.

These are sarcastic questions. But Paul answers their question anyway, because he knows it will benefit the church to learn about glorification.

What is glorification going to be like? Now, just to be clear—we’re not specifically talking about what happens immediately after death. The Bible teaches that when a believer dies, his soul leaves his body and goes to be with the Lord. Jesus told the thief on the cross “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” But that Paradise is not our final destination.

One day Jesus will return and our spirits will be reunited with our new glorified bodies. If you haven’t died yet, you’ll be instantly transformed. Every believer, whether they already died or are still alive will get a glorified body. What is that body going to be like?

Philippians 3:21 give us a hint. It says that Jesus will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body. That helps a little. Our bodies will be like Jesus’ was after the Resurrection.

Obviously that includes a moral or spiritual perfection. Sanctification will be complete. We’ll be holy and blameless and pure and perfect. But what about our bodies?

The specifics of that come to us here in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul uses the analogy of a seed. A tiny little thing that looks unimpressive, but becomes something magnificent. The outer shell dies, and something new comes to life.

Paul also uses nature and creation to point to God’s ability to make any kind of body he wants. He can make impressive things, and he can make really impressive things. So Paul says: 1 Cor 15:42.

Paul is going to give us FOUR descriptions about the resurrection body. And he does it by contrasting it with the current body. Verse 42 has the first one. Our current body is perishable. The glorified body is imperishable. What does that mean?

To be perishable means to be corruptible. It deteriorates. Those of you who are younger don’t get this as much now, but most of us over 30 know this to be true. Our body decays and deteriorates. It’s like milk. It goes bad. And when you die, it all speeds up. You start to rot. When Jesus went to visit Lazarus, he had only been dead 4 days. And Jesus said “open the tomb.” Their response was, “Lord, it’s gonna stink!” This body decays. It’s perishable.

The Greeks of that time looked forward to being rid of the body. But Paul says, No, you’re getting a new one. And the new one will be imperishable. It’s incorruptible. No decay. No signs of aging. Some people think that Paul might even be talking about the opposite of decay. Like there is an infinite flourishing. An eternal maturing. We’ll be constantly improving forever. And that may be the case. The new body will be imperishable.

The next description is this. 1 Cor 15:43.

Let’s talk about the glory first. This is our second descriptor. The term dishonor refers to a lowly state. It’s a sad life. It’s a life of pain. It’s not a life people want. We get sick. People die. Even if you think this body is glorious, it’s only for a short while. Time takes its toll. And it wins. You look at most people who are in their 90s and the word that comes to mind is not glorious. You look at a corpse, and “glorious” is not the word you think of.

But Paul says the new body will be one of glory. It’s not something to be ashamed about. It will be something of splendor. A thing of beauty. Jaw-dropping. Impressive. No more sorrow. No more pain. No more difficulty. Only joy. It is raised in glory.

Number 3. It will be raised in power. This life is powerless. It’s weak. We think we’re strong, but put a man in a room with a lion and see how powerful he is. Even the guys who hit the gym all the time, they get to a point where they can’t lift it anymore. Muscles fatigue. The body has limits.

This weakness is even related to our battle with sin. We want to do good, but we can’t. We want to stop sinning, but we can’t. We live with a certain amount of frustration. We’re weak.

But the new body will be one of power. One of ability. What kind of power? What kind of ability? Well, you can start with what Jesus did after the Resurrection. He talked. He walked. He reasoned. He could think. First Corinthians 13 says we shall know fully.

The Resurrected Jesus was touched. He ate fish and a honeycomb. And He even walked through walls. We see that in John 20. So it’s a physical body, but a body with much more abilities than ours right now. And when Jesus’ time on earth was complete, He ascended into heaven. All by himself. He didn’t get a tornado, like Elijah did. He just ascended. Past the clouds and all the way to heaven. That’s amazing power! And our body will be like His! Imperishable, glorious, powerful, and number four: spiritual. 1 Cor 15:44a.

Paul isn’t saying that our new bodies are just a spirit. We already know they will be physical. He’s saying that it will be perfectly aligned to our spirit. Right now, we are natural. Our body pulls us into a direction different than our spirits at times. You want to be awake, but your body just wants to sit in bed. You want to be kind, but you’re hungry and you haven’t had a cup of coffee. There’s a tension between your body and your spirit. And when you die, the distinction is made even more clear. Because all that’s left is the body without a spirit. It’s just dead cells.

But the resurrection body is spiritual. It’s perfectly aligned to your spirit. There’s no mismatch. Your body and your spirit are on the same page now. Your physical capacities match your thoughts. Whatever you’d like to do, you do it. That’s what heaven will be like.

My son is three and a half. And sometimes, he asks me if he’ll enjoy specific activities in heaven. I tell him: Look, in heaven, whatever people want to do, they’ll be able to do. That’s the truth. Your desires will change. But whatever you want, wherever you want to be... you’ll be. Moving at an unknown speed around the infinite space of the new creation. Enjoying the food you want. Enjoying the people or the places you want. Forever. No tension with your body.

There’s no: Oh, I wish I could... You just do it. No fatigue. No sleep needed. No hunger. No nighttime. When you eat or lie down, it’ll be for the joy of it. Not because your body needs it.

That’s the glorified body. It is imperishable, without decay. It is glorious, without shame. It is powerful, without weakness. It is spiritual, without frustration.

That’s what you will be like if you are in Christ. Here’s how Paul sums it up. 1 Cor 15:49.

We’re all children of Adam. So we’re like him. We’re made of dust. We turn back into dust. But if you are in Christ, you will be like Him. Resurrected with a new body. It’ll still be you, but a new you. We’ll still have the world, but it’ll be a new world. Made especially for the glorified people of God.

Revelation 21 describes it like this: No more tears. No more death. No more mourning. No more crying. No more pain. The former things have passed away.

So many people resist God. And they ask: Why are there so many problems in the world? Why isn’t God doing anything about it? ... And you should be ready to respond. God cares. God is doing something. God has already done something. This world is suffering because of sin. The world is corrupted because people are corrupted. You are corrupted.

But God sent His Son Jesus Christ to free people from sin’s corruption. He died on the cross to pay the penalty of sin. He rose from the dead, demonstrating His power over sin and death.

And He will rescue His own from the judgment of God and transform this world into something brand new. He’ll even transform your body into something amazing! And God calls you today to repent of your sin and believe in Jesus Christ!

Confess your sin. Turn from it. And be baptized. Receive the free gift of God in Jesus Christ. Don’t waste any more time.

For those who turn to Christ. For those who surrender their lives to Him now, the resurrection will not mean judgment or condemnation. It will mean victory. Satan is called the ruler of this world. He enslaves people to sin. And the expression of that enslavement is death. Everything is dying. But in the new creation, there is life. There is victory. Look at verse 55. 1 Cor 15:55-57.

This is why Easter matters. This is why Resurrection matters. This life is not the end. We can face difficulties with hope and joy and peace and confidence. We can persevere, because we know how it ends. It ends with victory for Christ and all who are Him.

So Paul ends this discussion with one short encouragement. And with this we’ll end. Verse 58. 1 Cor 15:58.

Let’s pray.


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