What people believe about heaven will determine how they live on earth.
For the most part, the 50,000 non-Christians who lived in Corinth didn’t believe in life after death. Their behavior reflected this conviction.
The main interests in Corinthian society were status, wealth, health, beauty, power, success, and the like. American culture appears to imitate that of the first-century Greco-Roman world.
The church in Corinth had approximately 60 members, who were in danger of having the practical expression of their faith swallowed up by the surrounding culture.
There is more to life.
Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15 to challenge the belief that there is no life after death. His second letter was written one year after the first, and once again he emphasized the truth of resurrection life.
— 2 Corinthians 5.1-4 – For we know that, if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly dwelling, for surely when we have been clothed in it we will not be found naked.
For while we are in this tent, we groan under our burden because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Paul’s description of life after death is complicated, but scholars like N. T. Wright have explained it like this.
(1) Life after Death – Followers of Jesus can expect to experience life after the human body dies.
Jesus told Martha about life after death and demonstrated it by raising her brother from the dead.
— John 11.25-26 – Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and teaching assure us that those who trust their lives to him will never die.
We are not immortal souls, who are able to live independently on God. Resurrection life is completely dependent on the power of God.
(2) Life after Life-after-Death – Verses 1-4 and 1 Corinthians 15 describe a new resurrection body that will be given to followers of Jesus after life-after-death.
I must confess that I don’t understand how this will work out. The Bible seems to indicate that there will come a time when followers of Jesus will have a resurrected body fashioned by God.
I’m sure there will be many surprises for us when we get to heaven. What God does with the body will be one of those surprises.
We can be assured that God who loves the world so much that he gave his only Son for our salvation will have a blessing beyond our greatest dreams awaiting us there.
I frequently allude to this passage when I officiate a funeral service. The thought that there are no hospital beds, IV drips, disease, injustice, and so much more in heaven is a great thought.
The fact that we will have a body that is perfectly suited for a heavenly existence is a grand thought. Our heavenly existence will be shaped by the character and nature of God.
In fact, what makes heaven such a glorious place is that the atmosphere of heaven involves a continual experience of God’s love, joy, peace, and more.
The Spirit’s Down-Payment
Our future existence is completely dependent on God. This chapter describes God’s role in our future with dramatic prose.
Our present-day personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit let us know that heaven is real.
— 2 Corinthians 5.5 – The one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a down payment.
The life we experience with God through his Spirit gives us a small glimmer of the joy to come.
The belief that we will spend eternity with God should transform our day-to-day existence.
Here-and-now issues of status, wealth, health and more will fade in the light of our glorious future.
As we meditate on our heavenly home, it will change our understanding of present issues.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.
Please email your prayer request to email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.