Many people have a model of the afterlife that is too simplified. For them it is either Heaven or Hell. To make it even more positive, many have scratched Hell from this list. It is just universal happiness. Who wouldn’t want that? We cannot believe this into existence, however. The Bible would teach us that we are merely hiding from the truth.
For those who do believe in Heaven and Hell, but just Heaven and Hell, the idea of the resurrection of the body does not fit in their model. Why would anyone want that? Still, the resurrection of the body is a prominent part of biblical afterlife theology.
Here are some important things to remember as we approach the topic of the resurrection. First, the wages of sin is death. Death has a two-fold meaning for a human. First, it is the aging, expiration and decay of our physical being. Second, it is the forsaking by God of our immortal nature–our soul. Through a connection to Jesus the forsaking of our soul is no longer necessary, because Jesus was forsaken for us. As we all know, this is not true for the physical death of our body. Our body needs to die, decay and go away because sin, that is sinful nature, is an integral part of our physical body. It would be fair to say that we are suffering the wages of sin until the day of the resurrection of our bodies, because our body is a part of what we are. We are not a soul renting a body. We are body and soul.
God has redeemed us so that we can be both a body from this physical realm and a soul connected permanently to Jesus, who is also body and soul. In a way, His plan is to return things to the way they were supposed to be in the first place.
The resurrection of the body is primarily a Judgment Day event for the whole of mankind. I say, “primarily”, because it has already happened once. Jesus is resurrected. The Bible calls Him the “first-born of the dead”. This title naturally implies more to come. There is a big difference between being resurrected (like Jesus) and raised from the dead (like Lazarus for instance). A resurrected body is fundamentally different from the body that died. It is no longer subject to aging, dysfunction or death. A person raised from the dead was still going to die again. They were merely repaired and reanimated.
In my next entries, I will look at some the passages that speak of the resurrection of dead. It is a long-standing expectation that raises interesting questions.