A continuation of our study of Philippians, in preface to our study of Philippians 3:15-21
(Originally written by Samuel Dunn, a nineteenth century British minister and theologian)
The Washington Post recently asked readers to describe the world today in one word or phrase. Some of the answers were unprintable in a family newspaper, but the top three responses were: Exhausting. Lost. Chaotic.
Who doesn’t feel this is an exhausting and an exhausted world, one that has lost its way and is descending into chaos?
Sometimes I feel exhausted, lost, and chaotic too, but that’s when I take time to revisit the ancient church of the Philippians. I take my seat, as it were, and imagine the leader calling the service to order with news that a letter had just arrived—through the hand of a traveling church member—from Rome. It was from Paul, the apostle who had planted the church years ago.
It wasn’t a long letter. Four short pieces of parchment, but every verse is special. Today I want to take an excursus on Philippians 3:20 and 21, which says: But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly away a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body.”
We’ll exegete that passage in a week or two, but today I want to do something different with this podcast. I would like to share with you a tremendous sermon about what our resurrection and glorified bodies will be like. The Bible says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead will rise first. Then we who are alive will be caught up into the air to meet the Lord in the clouds.”
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul said the body is sown into the earth as a perishable object, but will be raised imperishable and incorruptible. John said that when we see Him we will be like him.
Well, on this special edition of my podcast I want to read to you some excerpts from a sermon preached on Sunday, October 16, 1842, in the South-Parade Chapel in Halifax, in England. The sermon is titled, “The Glorified Body,” and the preacher was Samuel Dunn, a Methodist pastor who wrote over 70 books.
Even with language slightly dated, I think you’ll catch the spirit of excitement Pastor Samuel Dunn had about our future bodies in this sermon. He said:
As Christ is risen from the dead; as He has destroyed the destroyer, spoiled the grave, burst the barriers of the tomb, opened the iron gates of death, our resurrection will follow. He rose in our nature, as our representative. His resurrection was a proof, a pledge, an earnest of ours…. The resurrection will be a miraculous work, performed by Christ. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ will all be made alive.”
It is also plain that the same body will be raised again. However wondrous and glorious the changes in its qualities and form may be, the substance will be the same…. If God gave not the same body we once inhabited, it would not be a resurrection—a rising again—but a creation.
[Job said], “In my flesh shall I see God.” There are difficulties connected with the subject; that the body after it has been reduced to dust, and that dust blown by the winds or washed by the floods or consumed in the fire or transmuted into plants and animals; shall be raised again, and that a sameness shall be preserved. But He who first formed it from the dust of the earth shall effect it. To omnipotence, it is possible—it is easy.
It should also be kept in mind that the apostle is speaking in the text exclusively of the righteous; of those who have believed in Christ, who have suffered for Christ, who have had the sting of death extracted from the souls by the blood of Christ. Of those who have fallen asleep in Christ…..
The body is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made; it is the most beautiful and curious piece of mechanism that was ever constructed. The dignity of its form, the symmetry of its parts, the nature of its different organs, the relations which they bear to each other, and to external objects, all show the hand of a divine architect. But in its present state it is subject to numberless infirmities. There is a constant tendency to disease. Some diseases disfigure the body, others torture it, while others rapidly corrupt its solids and poison its fluids. No powers of medicine, no skill of physicians, can preserve it in perpetual existence…. Death takes hold of the frame. It is screwed up in a coffin, consigned to the grave, and speedily becomes a mass of nauseous, putrid matter. It sees corruption.
[But then] the voice of the Son of God shall strike on its dull cold ear, and it shall start up, obedient to the call. Then it shall no more be subject to pain, disease, decay, mutilation, disruption, dissolution, disorganization, degradation, putrefaction. It will no longer be the nurse of violent appetites and passions or the seedbed of weaknesses, pains, and maladies.
Its substance will be indestructible and unchangeable; its inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and will never fade away. There will be no more hostile attacks, infectious particles, unwholesome sweats, poisonous threats, or malignant vapors, conspiring to its destruction. It will be no more be flushed with fever, or with consumption, suffocated with asthma, or strangled with infection, swollen with dropsy, or racked with rheumatism…. It shall flourish in immortal youth, in undecaying luster, ever beautiful and ever young.
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things have passed away.
The eye shall be adapted to the splendid scenery of that world, the ear to its melody and harmony, the smell to its glorious flowers, and the taste to the fruit of the tree of life…..
It shall be so beautified and covered with excessive brightness so as to exceed all that is beautiful and splendid on earth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun…. The countenance will yield to the impressions of the pure soul, filled with peace and beaming with love….
The glorified body of Christ will be the model after which the bodies of His people shall be formed…. We shall not only see Him; we shall be like Him. The first glimpse we see of Him as we come forth from the tomb will be a transforming one. A powerful influence shall emanate from His effulgence, which shall have an immediate and necessary effect of assimilating us into His likeness. Our glorified body shall be like His, as it appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration, when its glory so irradiated His garments that they became as white as snow. Like His, as Saul beheld it on his way to Damascus, when its brightness eclipsed the light of the noon-day sun. Like his, as represented to John in Patmos, when His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, his eyes as a flame of fire and his countenance as the sun shining in all its strength.
Like His body, now that it is raised to the pinnacle of the universe, seated on the throne of light, closely allied to Deity, beheld, admired, beloved, adored by cherubim and seraphim. The bodies of the saints shall be faithful transcripts of His.
But the splendor of the resurrection body surpasses all our conceptions. It shall be in glory—fairer than the fairest flower, purer than the unspotted firmament, brighter than the morning star, more radiant than the midday sun, more splendid than Adam’s body in paradise, more illustrious than angels. It shall be like the body of our Lord Jesus Christ….
[Our resurrection bodies] will be supported and pervaded by a power of which at present we can form but little conception…. They will excel in strength…..
[Your resurrection body] will possess the power of moving, perhaps, from world to world with greater celerity than the sunbeams and with greater ease than we can now pass from the chapel to our respective houses.
As the bodies of Enoch, and Elijah, and of our Lord went up into heaven, so shall the bodies of all the saints, unaffected by the laws of gravitation or by the pressures of the atmosphere. We shall have the power of adapting them to every…employment…. The eye may have the power of seeing minute objects immensely distant, and the ear of catching the faintest sounds…. We shall move without weariness, cogitate without exhaustion, contemplate the loftiest objects without difficulty.
If the body shall be so glorious, how great must be the glory of the soul!