The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary. The Tree of Life for the week ending 03-04-01
Anticipating the Resurrection
In our study of Philippians chapter 3, we have been learning our "politeuma" privileges, and the fantastic citizenship we have with our King in heaven. We are now on verse 21, and we have seen a progression of great exhortations from the Apostle Paul in the preceding verses:
Verse 13: "pursuing vigorously what lies ahead..."
Verse 14: "press on toward the objective..."
Verse 16: "keep marching..."
Verse 17: "constantly walk according to the pattern..."
[In verses 18-19, Paul pauses to remind us of the dangers of reversionism.]
Verses 20-21: The reason is now given: "For our citizenship ["politeuma," or heavenly privilege] exists in heaven, from which place we eagerly anticipate the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."
After looking into our politeuma privilege, our true citizenship, we have begun to study the Greek verb"apekdechomai," translated "eagerly wait" in PHI 3:21. It means to eagerly wait or anticipate with patience, or to wait expectantly or intensely for our Lord's return. We have a King in heaven, where we are all citizens, Who is coming back one day to take us home, and we should be "eagerly waiting" for Him. The winner believer who lives in his politeuma privileges will have the attitude that anticipates, with eagerness but also patience, the Lord Jesus Christ coming back from heaven. "Apekdechomai" is also used for this eager anticipation in ROM 8:19, where nature waits for its restoration to perfection at the Second Advent, and again in ROM 8:23,25, for the mature believer, who is waiting for Christ to return in the Rapture, as he goes through undeserved suffering.
ROM 8:19-22 The suffering of nature.
ROM 8:23-25 The suffering of the mature believer.
ROM 8:26-27 The "groaning" of God the Holy Spirit (an anthropopathism).
In PHI 3:21 Paul is emphasizing that the ultimate end and goal of our salvation is our glorification. We should never think of our Christian faith as merely one of being forgiven; forgiveness is the great beginning, glorification is the great purpose. Glorification means full and entire deliverance from sin, evil, and the entire old sin nature in every respect (body, soul, spirit), 1TH 5:23-24. The result is that we shall become like the Lord Jesus Christ, perfect, in glorified bodies. He is already glorified, and we shall be glorified because of our union with Him. Man, in the beginning, had glory, GEN 1:26, "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.'" (Our glory in eternity, however, will be far greater than even the glory man had when he was first created.) In ROM 3:23,"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Man was never meant to "fall short of the glory of God," but he did so through his own volition. Man has lost the glory that he originally possessed, and his behavior demonstrates that loss in every respect. Man still seeks the glory that he feels belongs to him, but he can never find it. This explains man's constant restlessness and unhappiness, and why no one is satisfied with what they have. The world is full of ambition, jealousy, and pride; man is always seeking glory, always trying to rise above his peers and become superior to his fellows. This inward urge largely accounts for the tribulations and unhappiness of life. What a tragic creature fallen man is, with a mass of contradictions - he can not even understand himself, PSA 19:12.
Man cannot explain his restlessness. Man has this feeling that he was meant for something better, and he was! However, instead of being the lord of creation, he is mastered by it. He has become the victim of the creation he was originally appointed to rule and control. Even man's body was not at the beginning what it is now. It did not suffer from diseases, or know pain. It was not what the apostle Paul calls in PHI 3:21, "the body of our humble state."
The original function of nature was in perfect order; however, it was all changed by the fall of man. Nature had its fall with man's because Adam was the ruler of the world, and it suffers through association. Nature was absolutely perfect and then suddenly became imperfect, because man had dominion over the earth and lost it. Only when Christ returns with His people, the "sons of God," will nature again function properly. Nature will provide perfect environment during the Millennium just as it did in the Garden.
ROM 8:23 "also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly [apekdechomai] for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body."
The word "adoption" (huiothesian) means to become an adult son, to be recognized as the heir of a family. Here it refers to receiving a resurrection body. Two redemptions are revealed in the scriptures - the redemption of the soul (when one believes in Christ), PSA 34:22, "The Lord redeems the soul of His servants," and the redemption of the human body, ROM 8:23. The "groaning" in this verse is not of pain but anticipation. Blessings in time are designed to give us a taste for greater blessings in eternity and to give us hope, that is, confidence in the future.
ROM 8:23 "And not only this [the entire creation and its suffering], but also we ourselves [mature believers], having the first fruits of the Spirit [the Holy Spirit influencing our soul under the the filling of the Spirit], groan within ourselves [undeserved suffering], waiting eagerly [apekdechomai] for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body."
PHI 3:20-21 "For our citizenship exists in heaven, from which place we eagerly anticipate the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."
In PHI 3:21, Paul reminds us of the fact that for those who fail, as well as those who succeed in this life, ultimate sanctification is the common purpose. The verb for "will transform" is "metaschematisei," which means to change form, transfigure, and transform. We will be changed from the form of our present body to a permanent body that will last forever, and will move at ease throughout the universe. At the Rapture, the Lord Jesus Christ will meet us in the air, and He will transform our bodies "into conformity with the body of His glory" - the resurrection!
We will live forever in a body just like our Lord's, with one exception - His body will bear forever the evidence of the wounds He suffered on our behalf. There will be only one body in heaven with marks and scars upon it, "the Lamb of God," Rev 5:6,12. These scars and wounds will never be seen as a disfigurement, however; we will see them as precious jewels that charm our eyes and melt our hearts. He is the Lamb of God, His crown of thorns was far more glorious than any crown of gold, and those hands that were pierced and nailed will be our delight to behold, ISA 53:5,"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed." The Greatest Soldier Who ever lived wears the scars of His battle wounds like a badge of honor and will for all eternity.
We have previously studied the punishment our Lord endured prior to His crucifixion and on the Cross itself, but no matter how many times we study this doctrine, it only becomes richer and more powerful. There are so many passages concerning the events after the Cross that are overlooked. First of all, it is important to note that we can recogonize each other in the eternal state, just as we do on earth, LUK 16:22-24, "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'"
Something strange and mysterious is found in the Gospels after our Lord's resurrection - for some reason, everybody seems to have trouble recognizing Him. In JOH 20:13-14, Mary Magdalene is standing outside the tomb where our Lord had been buried, "And they [the angels] said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.' When she had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus." This faithful woman walked and talked with our Lord for three years, and she was very close to Him, but still did not recognize Him. In JOH 20:15-16, "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, 'Rabboni!' (which means "Teacher")." She didn't realize who He was until she heard Him say her name.
LUK 24:13-16 "And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were conversing with each other about all these things which had taken place. And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him."
Why? These men were not just casual acquaintances of the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew Him well; however, they could not recognize His face. They will, however...
LUK 24:17-18 "And He said to them, 'What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?' And they stood still, looking sad. And one of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, 'Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?'"
Notice that the Lord walks right up to them and says, "What are you talking about?"!!! What a sense of humor! InLUK 24:19, "...He said to them, 'What things?'" This is the Lord Himself, Who just three days ago was arrested in the middle of the night, put through six illegal trials, beaten so badly He could no longer be recognized, crucified, buried, and resurrected from the dead that very morning, and He can look them in the eye with a straight face and casually say, "What things?" Verse 24 continues, "And they said to Him, 'The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people.'" In LUK 24:26, the Lord begins to speak about Himself, still without revealing His identity! "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" As they are walking, He then proceeds to give them a seven-mile Bible study. In LUK 24:27, "And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." When they arrived at the village to which they were travelling, they urged him to stay with them. Then in verse 30, "And it came about that when He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them." In a Jewish household, the one who broke the bread and passed it out was always the host, not a guest. In verse 31, "...Their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight." They only recognized Him in the breaking of the bread! What did they see when He broke the bread? His nail-scarred hands! ZEC 13:6 tells us what they saw: "And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will say, 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'"They had walked with Him for seven miles as He taught them the scriptures, but they never realized Who He was until they saw the nail prints.
In Joh 21, the disciples are back in Galilee, where they had been fishermen before Jesus called them, and they are still frustrated, frightened, and confused. They're trying to understand what is going on. Four of them were partners in the fishing business, and in JOH 21:3, "Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.' They said to him, 'We will also come with you.' They went out, and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus." It is true that they are in a boat, there is an early morning mist, and He is standing on the shore, so the fact that they do not recognize Him at first is not a surprise. However, He must have been close to them because He speaks to them in verses 5-6,"Jesus therefore said to them, 'Children, you do not have any fish, do you?' They answered Him, 'No.' And He said to them, 'Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.' They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish." This triggers something in John's memory, and in verse 7 he says to Peter, "It is the Lord." In verses 9-10, when they return to shore, the Lord has prepared a fire, and He tells them "Bring some of the fish which you have now caught," and in verse 12, "Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples ventured to question Him, 'Who are You?' knowing that it was the Lord."What exactly is John saying here? Simply that our Lord's face was difficult to recognize. What a testament to His infinite love for us!
With the exception of His scars, our resurrection body will be like our Lord's in every way.
- His body has flesh and bones, LUK 24:39-40.
- On one occasion He ate food (although, of course, He doesn't need to), LUK 24:30,43.
- He walked through closed doors, JOH 20:19,26; LUK 24:36.
- He was able to appear and disappear, LUK 24:31.
- He could move through the atmosphere and space in any direction, MAT 28:10, Acts 1:9-10.
- Our body will be like His, PHI 3:21, 1JO 3:2.
Our glorification and resurrection, then, are the reason we "eagerly anticipate" His coming. We are in union with Him and share in His victory and His privileges, and therefore, as maturing believers, we pursue vigorously, press on, keep marching, and constantly walk, "For our citizenship exists in heaven, from which place we eagerly anticipate the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory [the "most perfect" body in eternity, with the marks of its wounds], by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."