We often find ourselves in a good-natured discussion with someone concerning man’s condition in the by and by. We have to admit that we cannot comprehend any state separate from the physical being. But it is beyond denial that the physical body, such as we have right now, will not be our abode in the hereafter.
First of all, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:40 this: There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. (NASV)
Then in 1 Corinthians 15:50; Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (NASV)
So what will we be?
Let’s let Paul continue with his views, in verses 52 through 54: “Behold I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
It is my contention that those who die before the return of Jesus comes, will never again be seen in this flesh and blood body.
Why should we? Why would God round up all the molecules of dirt, ashes, etc and rebuild this old body for us just so he could change us? No, flesh and blood will all be discarded by us and we will be something far greater…not physical, but spiritual!!
Let us get one more viewpoint, which is John’s, in 1 John 3:2-3; “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
With all this, we can see for sure that we will be the same type being as is God! And we know that God is a spirit. This answers some of the questions. Now if we can only determine just what a spirit is. My feeble concept of a spirit is a mentality, a mind if you will, the intellect. And you may ask, how can an intellect function or even survive outside a human brain? Well, I don’t know the answer to that. But I believe that God can arrange that. How can we see without eyes? God is the light and I believe that he can arrange that, too. Without a physical body, there will be no physical pain…there’s nothing to hurt. Without a physical body, there is no need for food…you couldn’t eat it if you tried. You see, with the absence of the physical body, all the lusts of the flesh will cease. In the absence of the flesh, there will be nothing to give forth pain, fatigue, cold sensations, heat sensations, and on and on.
What dies? The physical being dies. When God said in Genesis 1:26 “And God Said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” He had reference to the Spirit of man. God is not physical, so He could not have meant in the physical likeness of Himself. It is this spirit in man which does not decay, is immortal and will live forever. Where is his choice.
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding”. (Isaiah 40:28)
We all know that angels, God the Father, God the Son and even the Holy Spirit, have appeared to man on earth. God has the ability to appear in any form He likes. He appeared to Abraham as a man (Genesis 18:1-33). He appeared to Moses as a fire in a bush (Exodus 3:1-22). The Holy Spirit appeared to the people with the appearance of a dove that came and lighted upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16).
We may form our own ideas as to how this will be. But we know this, God is capable of anything and He loves His children and wishes the best possible for them. So, we may rest assured that what ever form we may have or the method of seeing or speaking to one another will be far better than this life in the flesh. He makes no mistakes. Life as a spirit will be infinitely greater that life in the flesh has been. It is well worth our strongest effort to attain that life. Paul tells us this:
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 KJV) Read this entire chapter.