We have a double responsive reading tonight, because what we are discussing tonight is a big subject. We will be talking about the Coming Resurrection of Christ’s Children. Let’s start in:
2 Corinthians 5:1-9 (KJV) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:  If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.  For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.  Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.  Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
These Earthly Bodies Are But Tents
There will come a day when our bodies cease to function. Yet that will not be the end of our lives. When we draw our breath for the very last time on this earth we do not cease to be. The Apostle declared in our first responsive reading:
2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
As the Apostle speaks of THIS TABERNACLE he is referring to our earthly bodies. Invested by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle chooses his words carefully. He calls our bodies “our earthly house of this tabernacle”. The “tabernacle” or the Greek σκῆνος skēnos means “a tent, a temporary home”. The soul is housed in a tent or a temporary home while on this earth.
I remember as a young man taking my wife and children camping in England on the weekends. We would take out our tent, erect it, set up camp, and stay in that tent like it was home. Yet this tent wasn’t home – it was but a temporary dwelling place, a place to accommodate us while we traveled and pilgrimaged. When our time was ended we folded up the tent and moved on. We did not cease to be, but where we were ceased to be for us.
Our bodies are but tents. Temporary, fragile. Our home was made of stick and brick, with a shingle roof and doors that could lock. Our true home was substantial, but our tent while camping was flimsy, portable. It could keep the rain from us, but was not meant to be forever. It was only temporary.
If and when our bodies break down God has a more permanent building for us, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens. We have a Heaven that we go to when we die. And we who are saved …
2 Corinthians 5:2-4 (NKJV) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
When we packed up our tent to go home it was often with a bit of sadness, for we had a good time while we were camping with the kids. We made memories. We had a great experience. But though there was some sadness, we looked forward to home. At home we could shower, and sleep in our beds, not on the ground. At home we had a stove to cook on, not a camp fire. And at home the bugs didn’t bite us. We had air conditioning and heat. Home was much better.
I woke up Thanksgiving Day after a bad night, tossing and turning throughout the night. And I groaned, wishing that I was in that place where mortality might be swallowed up of life. Oh Beloved, no Christian in his or her right mind is afraid of death. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). We are in tents now. But we wish to be clothed upon, that God would give us our resurrected bodies, that our aches and pains would be no more. We are on a journey now, and are pilgrims living in tents, fragile and flappable tents.
These bodies hold our souls, but these bodies were never meant to be permanent. Our God and our Father is immortal, and our bodies must be as our souls are, immortal, substantial, better than they are now.
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NKJV) Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
While we are in this body we are on mission for our Father. Ambassadors of Heaven, we are not in Heaven proper. We know this because sin, like a forest fire, is all around us. But when we vacate this tent – when we are absent from this body – we are present with the Lord. Not sleeping. Our souls do not sleep. The Apostle John looked into Heaven and saw:
Revelation 6:9-11 (KJV) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the SOULS of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
John saw SOULS gathered around the Throne of the Lord. These SOULS were not sleeping, but knew what had happened to them, and cried out to the Lord Jesus. These SOULS were given white robes to show that they were redeemed of Christ (for has not Jesus promised …
Revelation 3:5 (KJV) He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. )
Oh praise His Name, His Children shall be with Him when they leave this tent. Praise His Name, we shall be clothed in white, for we have washed our robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). Praise Him!
We are in tents that we must leave, and our souls must fly to the Jesus Who we love and Who loves us. We leave here, and go home. We leave these tattered rags, these broken bodies, but we do not remain without clothing.
There is a coming Resurrection. For those who are Christ’s this resurrection will be a reward. For those who are not Christ’s this will be a terrible day of judgment.
Christ Is The Prototype Of Our Future Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:12-22 (KJV) Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.  But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
There is a Coming Resurrection. There is a Coming Resurrection for God’s Children, and a Coming Resurrection for Adam’s Children. The Prophet Daniel wrote:
Daniel 12:2 (KJV) And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Those who have received Christ shall live forever. But those who will not receive Christ – they are under condemnation.
John 3:16-18 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
In Adam all die, but in Christ shall all be made alive. This is what God wants for all, if you will but receive Him as Lord and Savior.
When Christ died, He died for our sins. But when Christ rose from the grave, this was proof that God accepted the sacrifice that Christ made. Christ rose again to show us that we must rise again. When Jesus died on that Cross, He did not sleep or cease to be conscious for three days and three nights. We are told in Ephesians that Christ presented Himself to the Old Testament Saints.
Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV) … “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
Jesus Christ came to undo all the wrong that Adam brought. Dying on the Cross, His soul left His earthly tent in order to share Himself with the saints of old. He descended to where they were, then ascended into Heaven with them, that He might fill all things. But Jesus did not stop here. He returned to earth in His resurrected body, a glorious permanent home that was different from what He had before. The Apostle says:
1 Corinthians 15:12-15 (KJV) Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
Jesus died. He left His tent. But He rose again to show us what God has in store for His Children. Jesus gave us everlasting life. Not just as souls, but has promised us bodies that will be as permanent and lasting as the souls He has given us. Christ was buried and rose from the dead, and as He was so shall we be. We are tied to our Savior. He saved us from sin. He saved us from hell. He saved us from death. And He saved us so that we can be permanently clothed upon, that our mortality can we swallowed up by the immortal.
1 Corinthians 15:16-18 (KJV) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
The Apostle tells us that the dead must be resurrected, for Christ was resurrected. If Christ was not resurrected, then they which are fallen asleep in Christ – those who have left their tents sleeping in the earth – are perished! The two go together.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (KJV) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Jesus is the firstfruits of them that slept. He is the prototype of what God has in store for us. Jesus was born into a temporary tent. He lived. He died. He left that tent. He was buried – His body slept. And three days later He rose from the grave, ever to live immortal, undying. And so shall we who have received Him be!
In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive!
We are born into this life children of Adam, offspring of the first man and woman, steeped in sin. When Adam sinned by eating the forbidden fruit he and his wife were not only cast from Paradise, they lost the Tree of Life. Death entered the world. But Christ came to conquer sin and death. Those who “die” now in Christ but sleep. Their bodies go to the ground, and their souls go to the Christ Who loves us so. The resurrected body has not yet been given to the saints, saved by the Blood of Christ. The Apostle said:
1 Corinthians 15:23-26 (KJV) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Christ is the firstfruits, the first One Who has a glorified body. But the Lord promises that each and every one of us will also be as Christ is. Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. When Jesus comes again in an event we call “The Rapture” Jesus will return with the souls of His saints. We are told in:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
What a glorious day that will be. Jesus the firstfruits will come, and the Scripture says even so them also which sleep in Jesus WILL GOD BRING WITH HIM. Those whose bodies “slept” in the ground will be the first ones resurrected. Jesus will bring the souls of the dear departed Saints with Him, and these Saints will be the first to get their resurrected bodies. But then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, ever to be with the Lord. If you are fortunate enough to be alive when Christ comes, you will not experience the leaving of this tent, but the changing of the tent. But it does not matter, precious Child of God. For each and every Christian is on a journey that will ultimately end up with you and I having a glorious, incorruptible body.
Leaving Our Bodies Is Not Unnatural But Necessary
1 Corinthians 15:35-37 (KJV) But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:  And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
Death is not an evil thing, but it is a part of this present life.
There will be a day when all death ceases. Jesus will destroy all death, and all death shall be placed into the Lake of Fire, along with the corrupt and the unbelieving, the cowardly, the fearful, the sinner who refuses the Christ. Paul uses a beautiful image here, the image of planting. A seed does not grow unless it is buried. The seed, when buried, does not resemble what it will one day be. Whether it be a seed of corn or of wheat or of okra or of squash, the seed may look like PART of what it will one day be – but not the whole.
To leave this tabernacle is not unnatural. To plant this tabernacle is not unnatural. It is a part of the process that Christ showed us in Himself. When Jesus died, He did not die fearful. As He died He forgave those who killed Him. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” our Savior said. As He died, He tended to His earthly responsibilities. “John, My mother is now your mother. Mary, John is now your son.” He was matter of fact. He suffered in death. “I thirst”. But Jesus never feared death, for He is the Conquerer of Death. “It is finished” He declared. Jesus killed the killer. Jesus conquered the grave. Buried, He came back to this earth on the third day, the number three being the number of the Triune God. Jesus died, defeated death, then rose again. Praise His holy name!
Our corrupt bodies, like the seed of the plant, must die. We must leave these tents to get our eternal tent. The Apostle goes further:
1 Corinthians 15:39 (KJV) All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
Here is God’s answer to the Darwinian nonsense we call evolution. “All flesh is not the same flesh”. We are not descended from animals, but were made of God in His image. There is the flesh of mankind, the flesh of beasts, the flesh of birds, and the flesh of fishes. Each flesh is different.
Now hear me, Beloved.
The flesh you now have CANNOT inherit God’s Heaven!
That broken body you have – that gets more broken daily –
Cannot live in God’s glorious presence!
You need the glory of the resurrected body – and God will take care of this. God is able. The God Who made all the heavenly bodies we see about us in the night sky:
1 Corinthians 15:40-41 (KJV) There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
When you see all the glorious things that God has made, the limitlessness of space, the sun, the moon, this earth. You can only imagine how glorious the glorified body will be. What will be best about our future bodies is this …
1 Corinthians 15:42-46 (KJV) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The body that is buried is buried because it is corruptible, cancerous, broken. It has sin in it. It is weak, frail. But the body that God will give us at Christ’s coming is incorruptible, immortal, glorious, powerful, supernatural. The body we have now we inherited from that sinner Adam. The body we will one day have we will inherit from the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. And it will be perfect, eternally perfect. It will be a body suited for Heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:49-54 (KJV) And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall 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 shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
Oh Beloved Child of God, the best is yet to be. The dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. This is what Christ purchased for us with His Blood. This is what Christ promises to us with His resurrection. Death is not our enemy, but a home going for the Child of God. Praise Him! Praise him! It is this knowledge that leads us to be faithful in serving Him. The Apostle ended with:
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (KJV) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
What we offer in Christ is immortality to whosoever will. So we we are stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. We do what we do so that others can come into His Family. We are blessed, and thankful, and want others to be blessed as well.
Christ is the door of the sheep! Let us lead others to our Great Shepherd! For His glory. Amen.