Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Resurrection of the Body: Part I of V

I recently taught through 1 Corinthians in a class at my church, climaxing in my favorite chapter in the Bible- 1 Corinthians 15. I tried to whip some thoughts together on the importance of believing in the resurrection of the body- not just Christ's bodily resurrection, but the coming resurrection of all people. I'm not about to embark on an exhaustive study on this blog, but I'd like to post some thoughts.

I envision this as a 5-part series. This is the first post, simply laying out some thoughts on the issue. Part 2 will look at Romans 8 and Revelation 21-22 to see how the resurrection of the body is a part of God's total work of re-creation. Part 3 will look at 1 Corinthians 15, since this is the NT's longest discussion of the subject. Part 4 will be a quick look at some early Christian writers from the post-NT era, as well as a couple early Christian creeds. Part 5 will deal with the "so what?" question and give some reasons why we should even spend time thinking about this.

I've found that many American Christians (I can't speak for the rest of the world) are not even aware that the Bible teaches that God will raise people from the dead. Many feel that when believers die, they go to heaven and spend eternity there with God. This, however, is not really the teaching of the Bible. This isn't to deny that believers go to heaven when they die, it's just to say that the NT teaches that there is more to expect beyond this. As N T Wright has said (countless times at this point), the NT is concerned with "life after life after death", unlike we who tend to await "life after death."

While I'm tempted to pontificate why this lack of reflection exists, I think I'll spare everyone. I'll just simply note that this topic is largely ignored and I'd like to see that changed for reasons that will come up in the following posts (which may, of course, take me a few weeks to put up). I invite my reader(s) to comment as we go, though understand that no one post will contain everything within it. I will endeavor to explain what the NT teaches without forcing you to spend hours of your day scrolling through paragraphs of repetition.

I'll be dealing with the resurrection of believers more than unbelievers, for 2 main reasons. First, the Bible doesn't say much about the resurrection of unbelievers, but it says enough for us to know it will happen. Second, my audience is mostly Christian, and I want to encourage us through this study more than anything else.

And who knows, before I'm done working on this series, Christ Himself may return and we'll experience rather than reflect on what Daniel prophesied (12:2): "Multitudes who sleep in the dust will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." I would welcome the interruption.

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