Salvation: Past, Present, and Future (Part 3)

Last week we began looking at the future aspect of salvation.  We learned that we will be set free from the presence of sin.  In the past we were saved from sin’s penalty.  In the present we are being saved from sin’s power.  In the future we will be saved from sin’s presence.  When we became Christians God did not take away the sin nature within us.  He left it in.  In the future we will be saved from this indwelling presence of sin.  This was our first point last week.  Let us continue now with our second point related to our future salvation from sin.

Secondly, our glorified bodies will be our future resurrected bodies.

The bodies we have now are not the bodies we will keep.  These bodies are only seeds to be planted, from which our eternal bodies will come from at the resurrection.  These decaying and degenerating tents are corrupted by sin, and are unfit for the kingdom of God.  They are patterned after Adam’s body, and are only suitable for life here on earth.  But, our new spiritual bodies will be fit for God’s kingdom, patterned after our Lord’s resurrected and glorified body.  Turn to 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 and lets read.  Notice 4 features of our resurrection bodies.

First, they will be imperishable.  He says in verse 42, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.”  In verse 53 he also says, “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable.”  These new bodies will have an eternal durability – they will never wear out and they will never die. Illustration. Lot’s of the food in our cupboards and refrigerators have expiration dates – they are perishable.  If we don’t eat them before they go bad we have to throw them away.

Our current bodies are like that – perishable.  They have an expiration date set.  But our new bodies won’t.  There will be no shelf life or expiration date with our glorified bodies because they will never go bad.  They will be completely immune to sickness, decay or disease.  Our coming glorified bodies will give us a perpetual state of perfect health, strength, and vigor.

Think about this:  in the kingdom of God we will sit around and reminisce about the former days of medications, surgery, rehabilitation, chemotherapy, pain and so on.  If there are archeologists during the next age they will probably dig up things like pill boxes and bottles, crutches, wheelchairs, syringes, etc.  None of those will be needed when we receive our new bodies.  All those things we are now plagued by in these fallen bodies will be foreign to our glorious resurrection bodies in the future.

Secondly, our resurrection bodies will be glorious.  Verse 43, “it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.”  This is supported also by Philippians 3:21, “[He] will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body.”  Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”  Our bodies will be glorious

I like what Wayne Grudem says, “Our resurrection bodies will show the fulfillment of God’s perfect wisdom in creating us as human beings who are the pinnacle of his creation and the appropriate bearers of his likeness and image. In these resurrection bodies we will clearly see humanity as God intended it to be.”

Notice again what Paul says in verse 43, “Sown in dishonor, raised in glory.”  Right now our bodies are bodies of dishonor because of sin.  They are bodies of sin and there is no glory where there is sin.  But the bodies we are raised with will be glorious because all effects of sin will be absent.  It is suggested that these bodies will be both beautiful and bright.

First of all, these bodies will be beautiful.  God knows beauty and beauty was part of what He called good in His original creation.  I bet we can’t imagine how beautiful Adam and Eve were, the freshness of perfection after just being created, untouched by sin.  But when sin entered the world it has brought a ruinous effect on us in all ways – even our physical appearance.  One author says these coming bodies will combine the beauty and strength of youth with the maturity of age.  Think about that:  Aging will not touch these bodies.  Why?  Because aging is the effect of sin leading our bodies to death.  Aging is death pulling us closer and closer.  Each day now is one more day closer to death.  This doesn’t just mean how many days we have left.  It means physically as we age we are slowly with each passing day conforming to death in our physical constitution.  But in our glorious bodies they will have all the beauty that comes from freedom from sin.

Another aspect of our appearance that will contribute to our beauty will be how bright we are.  In other words, when it says we will be glorious, it may be indicating that bright light will shine around us.  So often in Scripture glory refers to the outward shining of God’s radiance.  Theologians say this glory we have in our new bodies means that there will be bright light surrounding our glorified bodies.  Remember Jesus said in Matthew 13:43, “The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” In Daniel 12:3 the prophet is told, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”  Furthermore, we remember that God’s glory was shining from Moses’ face – so brightly he had to wear a lamp shade over his head.  When Jesus was transfigured bright light was shining from Him.  If we take all this together then we can reasonably anticipate that we will be surrounded by a glorious light radiating out from us

Thirdly, our resurrection bodies will be characterized by power.  Verse 44 says, “sown in weakness, raised in power”.  I think this power relates to two aspects.  First it refers to the fact that God will raise us up BY His power.  He has power to give life.  It says in Romans 1:4 that God raised Jesus up with power.  Jesus said in John 5:21, “Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.”  Jesus told Martha in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life”.

These bodies are weak and getting weaker with each day.  Since these are our sin-ridden bodies they must die so our new bodies can come forth.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:37, “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.”  We die in weakness and that weakness is caused by sin.  This is ultimately seen in our death which is the ultimate weakness – our inability to live.

Second, though, this refers to our new power as resurrected and glorified humans.  Our bodies will be characterized by strength and vitality.  They won’t be weakened by sin.  They will have new capacities for new kinds of strength and power so we can do all that God wills for us in His Kingdom.

Fourthly, our resurrection bodies will be spiritual bodies.  Notice verse 44, “sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.”  At first we might think Paul is saying our spiritual bodies will be non-physical, like some sort of vaporous or ethereal ghost like form.  But notice he doesn’t say “physical” versus “non-physical”.  He says natural vs. spiritual.  What does that mean?  Well he tells us in the text.  Notice verse 40.  Then notice verses 44-49.  These decaying and degenerating tents are corrupted by sin, and are unfit for the kingdom of God.  They are patterned after Adam’s body, and are only suitable for life here on earth.  But, our new spiritual bodies will be fit for God’s kingdom, patterned after our Lord’s resurrected and glorified body.  These bodies are like seeds, which must be sown.  But what grows is not like what was planted, 1 Cor. 15:37-38 says, “When you sow you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed…to each kind of seed God gives its own body.”  So our glorified bodies will be both like our current bodies but also very different.

One more thought on this, many theologians point out that these spiritual bodies will be spiritual because they are physical bodies completely subject to the will and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Whereas these bodies we have now are characterized by the age we now live in.  Spiritual here essentially means the spiritual capacity of these bodies to carry out God’s will; they are perfect and pure vehicles for expressing God’s holy will and accomplishing His plans.

Thirdly, the glorification of our bodies will happen when Jesus Christ returns for us.

We want the Lord to return to us so we can finally be with Him and see Him.  We want Him to return so we can be with all those believers who have gone before us.  We want Him to return for us so we can be delivered from His wrath to come on this earth during the Tribulation.  And, we want Him to come so our salvation can be completed by the transformation of our bodies to be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21).  Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Conclusion

There is a hymn called Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand by Henry Alford.  It pictures thousands of glorified believers streaming through the gates of heaven on the day of Christ’s return, and ends with a prayer that Christ would come back quickly.

Ten thousand times ten thousand in sparkling raiment bright,

The armies of the ransomed saints throng up the steeps of light

‘Tis finished all is finished, their fight with death and sin:

Fling open wide the golden gates, and let the victors in

What rush of alleluias fills all the earth and sky!

What ringing of a thousand harps bespeaks the triumph nigh!

O day, for which creation and all its tribes were made;

O joy, for all its former woes a thousand –fold repaid!

O then what raptured greetings on Canaan’s happy shore;

What knitting severed friendships up where partings are no more!

Then eyes with joy shall sparkle, that brimmed with tears of late;

Orphans no longer fatherless, nor widows desolate

Bring near thy great salvation, thou Lamb for sinner’s slain;

Fill up the roll of thine elect, then take thy po’r, and reign

Appear, desire of nations, thine exiles long for home;

Show in the heav’n thy promised sign; thou Prince and Saviour, come.”

Salvation: Past, Present, and Future (Part 2)

What do you mean you are saved? Saved from what?” That is the question we started with last week. Our answer is that we are saved from sin. We are looking at the 3 aspects of salvation from sin. First, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ as the One who died for our sins we are at that moment forever saved from the Penalty of our sin. This is called Justification, which means to be legally cleared of the charges in God’s court and declared righteous. If you are a Christian then this occurred at that moment in the past when you first put your trust in Jesus Christ and became a Christian. The Bible says that God no longer sees us “in sin”, but, now He sees us “in Christ”. We have a new standing before God, a new position where we have been set apart by God and for God.

Illustration. Evan said something to me one time when I was getting my nice clothes on for some event: “Dad are you getting your ‘handsome boy’ clothes on?’” In our house handsome boy clothes are those clothes that aren’t like other clothes. They are set apart from everyday clothes. Handsome boy clothes are what you wear for special occasions, they’re better quality and better looking than your everyday clothes. You’re more careful with handsome boy clothes than you are with your play clothes. When we became Christians God set us apart, and now we’re given a special position. All our old clothes that were dirty and filthy from our sin were taken away from us, and now He has clothed us with pure white righteousness.

Secondly we learned that we are in a lifelong process of being saved from the ruling power of sin in our lives. This is Sanctification, which relates to our daily conduct being transformed to be more like Christ and His righteousness. Justification removes the consequences of sin from us immediately and totally. Sanctification removes the conduct of sin from us, incrementally and gradually.

Think of Sanctification like ironing clothes. When you pull clothes out of the dryer they are clean, but, they usually still can’t be worn quite yet. That’s because they need to be ironed to get all the wrinkles out. When you become a Christian you are pulled out of the dryer all clean of your sin. But, now you need to have your wrinkles smoothed out so that the Lord can use you more and more. Getting the wrinkles out will take place for your entire life.

So we covered those 2 last week: saved from the Penalty of sin and saved from the Power of sin. We were saved from sin in the Past which dealt with sin’s penalty. And we are currently being saved in the present from sin’s power. This week we need to conclude this topic with the final point: Salvation from sin in the Future.

Several passages speak of our future salvation. Read Romans 13:11; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 3:2-3.

#3: Salvation in the Future: Saved from the Presence of Sin

Salvation from sin in the Future refers to our being saved from the Presence of Sin. This is called glorification. The Bible tells us that we will experience something in the future called glorification. In Romans 8:30 it says, “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified He also glorified.” Glorification has to do with our bodies being glorified. Philippians 3:21 says Jesus Christ will in the future when He returns “transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” Each of us who belong to Jesus Christ will receive a glorified body like His. What can we know about these bodies?

First, it means we will finally be set free from the presence of sin in our bodies. Justification is the removal of sin’s penalty. Sanctification is the removal of sin’s power. Glorification is the removal of sin’s abiding presence in us. Remember last week we taught that even though we are forgiven for all our sins, the sin nature still lives inside of us and it is still manufacturing sinful desires within us? When we are divorced from the sin nature in the future

Well the vehicle the sin nature uses to express itself is our bodies. In other words, the sin nature works to control our bodies so that we use our bodies to act out the sinful desires we have within us. For us as Christians we find this inner desire to do good is simultaneously met with fierce opposition also from within us. It’s not the devil, it’s not the world, it’s us – something inside of us. In other words we have a sin nature inside of us that God did not remove when we were saved and that sin nature makes us want to use our bodies and minds for sin. Yet, at the same time we have a new nature that makes us want to use our bodies and minds for righteousness (Romans 7:15-23; Galatians 5:17).

This inner struggle we have to act out righteousness is a bitter thing for us. Paul cried out in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?!” He then answers his own question, “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Just like Paul, we who love the Lord Jesus Christ hate that we find in ourselves a competing want to sin. We now know righteousness because we know Christ, and so we hate that we still have powerful attractions to sin. We love Him and want to please Him and this makes us hate the sin that still resides within us, constantly pulling us away from Him.

This is why I am learning more and more from Scripture that as Christians death is a welcome emancipation from this bitter war with sin being waged right within us. Peter describes it as a war when he says in 1 Peter 2:11, “…abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your souls.” James also describes it as an inner battle in James 4:1, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” Passing on from this life separates us from sin’s presence and brings us into the Lord’s presence. As believers our view of death is radically changed by Jesus Christ. Hebrews 2:15 says all men were held in slavery to the devil “by their fear of death.” But now with Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55 we say, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death is your sting? But thanks be to God, He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Death is a release for us Christians. It is that final threshold to full and complete liberation from sin where we are set free from this body of sin (Romans 6:6). At last it will come, emancipation from the corrupting influence of our sinful bodies – yet this is only through death. For every one of us as Christians there is that daily inner struggle with sin. We hate it (Romans 7). But that struggle now is only temporary. Someday we will released from that most intimate and savage war that is waged within us. If you love righteousness and hate sin then this release is something that will be most desirable to you. The more you grow spiritually the more sensitive you will be to this war inside yourself. But understanding the hope we are given of a future glorification, the more eagerly you should welcome that coming day.

Imagine that first feeling of ultimate purity when the contamination of sin is taken away from you. We can’t imagine it because we have always lived with sin inside of us. It’s like trying to imagine sunlight when you’ve been blind you’re whole life. It’s like trying to imagine what it feels like after a hot bath with lots of soap if you’ve never taken a bath. You’ve always been covered in dirt. We’ve always been dirty with sin – how can we imagine anything else? Oh but wait, it’s coming. The worst thing would for us to have to live in these bodies forever, always sharing this body with the presence of sin. Praise God that we will be glorified and that it is yet to come!

Salvation: Past, Present, and Future (Part 1)

Being a Christian means being saved.  But, what does it mean to be saved?  How would you answer someone if they asked you, “Saved from what?”  There are 3 aspects of salvation we are going to examine today:  Salvation from sin’s Penalty, Salvation from Sin’s Power, and Salvation from Sin’s Presence.  These refer to how we have been saved in the past, how we are being saved in the present, and how we will be saved in the future.

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