Rising from Death: Is it Physical or Spiritual or Both?
Rising from death: is it physical or spiritual or both? This question has been the center of much Christian theological discussion ever since the accounts of Jesus rising from death.
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
27 April 2014
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Peter 1:3–9
Rising from death: is it physical or spiritual or both?
This question has been the center of much Christian theological discussion ever since the accounts of Jesus rising from death; and even to this very day, we continue to be asked about this and about how it relates to animals also being in heaven.
In addition to these questions are the questions about the rapture; where human beings, and most likely animals, are translated directly to heaven with their body without passing through a physical death here on earth, but the Bible only tells us about two such people, Enoch and Elijah.
However, these examples, and particularly Elijah’s helps us answer the questions before us…rising from death: is it physical or spiritual or both?
We know that Elijah was raised physically directly into heaven, but when he appeared with Moses and Jesus on the mount of transfiguration, he was clearly in spiritual form, as was Jesus when He was transfigured.
We also know that Jesus’ dead body must have been rising from death along with His spiritual being, because it disappeared from the tomb.
But when Jesus appeared to Mary in the garden, she didn’t recognize Him at first, which strongly indicates that His form was transfigured in some way, and the fact that He told her not to touch Him because He was not finished transforming is to us further proof that there is a transformation taking place with all physical bodies in the heavenly realm.
So, at least for now, the answer to our question…rising from death: is it physical or spiritual or both, must be both, for Jesus could appear and disappear and even pass through walls after physically rising from death.
Let’s now take a look at Psalm 16:1-11, and the way the psalmist pictures himself in the heavenly will of God very much like Jesus.
1. Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in Thee.
2. I said to the LORD, “Thou art my Lord;
I have no good besides Thee.”
3. As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
This delight is for the people who are living in the heavenly will of God here on earth even in the midst of immense corruption and evil.
4. The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their libations of blood,
Nor shall I take their names upon my lips.
We have previously pointed out the fact that there is no place for animal sacrifice in the heavenly will of God, and that all such earthly practices are from our corrupted human society.
And here in verse 4 the psalmist calls attention to the fact that the ungodly people of the world, in his day, were the ones doing the sacrifices, and he will have no part in their offering of blood nor will he even mention their names.
The psalmist speaks as one who wants to be rising from death and not contributing to it.
5. The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
Thou dost support my lot.
6. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
In other words, the psalmist sees his inheritance in the heavenly will of God.
7. I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
8. I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
10. For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
Later in today’s message we will see that Peter refers to this verse as describing Jesus’ resurrection.
11. Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fulness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
This is living in the heavenly will of God.
This is rising from death.
This is life.
Now let’s take a look at what Peter told the people gathered together on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:22-32…
22. “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know —
23. this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
24. “And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
There is no death in heaven; thus, our rising from death is an integral part of our going to heaven.
25. “For David says of Him,
‘I was always beholding the Lord in my presence;
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
26. ‘Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted;
Moreover my flesh also will abide in hope;
27. Because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades,
Nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
This is proof that a thousand years before Jesus walked upon this earth, the people knew about heaven and hell, and the heavenly will of God.
We are to be constantly rising from death in everything we do, even as we live upon this earth.
28. ‘Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
Thou wilt make me full of gladness with Thy presence.’
This is rising from death and living in the heavenly will of God.
29. “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
30. “And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne,
31. he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.
32. “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
We may not be witnesses to this miraculous event, but by hearing and faith we can believe.
Now let’s go on and look at 1 Peter 1:3-9…
3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4. to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5. who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Our physical bodies may not rise into heaven with our spiritual being upon our death, but when Christ returns, we are told that we will once again be joined with our transformed physical bodies.
But in the meantime, our true rebirth in Jesus Christ transforms our spiritual being into a heavenly being.
This is being born again.
This is the beginning of our rising from death.
6. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
7. that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
8. and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
9. obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
The soul of every true believer is part of our spiritual being, which will be with the Lord forever and ever.
And since all the animals were created as living souls just as we were, this same promise of rising from death belongs to them, too.
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