Meet the Resurrected You
Jesus says of the new earth, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). This means he will restore creation to its former pre-curse glory, and likely give it greater beauty and wonder than the original. We, and the new world, will become far better and in that sense far different. But we will be the same people, without sin; and it will be the same world, without evil and suffering. All will be made glorious.
Resurrection — Christ’s and ours — is a cornerstone of the Christian faith. Yet how many of us ponder what our resurrected selves will be like? You might think Scripture doesn’t say much. In fact, it tells us a lot, and gives us solid reasons to deduce much more.
For instance, Paul wrote, “[The body that] is sown is perishable; [it] is raised imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. . . . It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42–44). The term “spiritual body” doesn’t mean an incorporeal body made of spirit — there is no such thing. Body means corporeal: flesh and bones. A spiritual body will still be a body. But it will be spiritual, under the holy control of a redeemed and righteous spirit.
God made Adam from the earth to live on it, not float on the air. He joined spirit and body to make us completely human. He did not design us to be disembodied spirits as Plato taught, yet sadly, many Christians believe just that. To be with Christ in the present heaven is better by far than living on earth under the curse. But Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 15 that we will not be eternally complete until our resurrection.
Was Jesus Only a Ghost?
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). Christ’s post-resurrection actions offer us a preview of what resurrected people will do — including preparing and eating meals, conversing, and traveling. If Jesus had been a ghost, we would become ghosts. More importantly, if Jesus had only been a ghost, redemption wouldn’t have been accomplished.
The risen Jesus told his disciples,
“See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. . . . [Then] he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:39–43)
Jesus didn’t just say he wasn’t a ghost; he proved it. Likewise, he “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Whatever else a glorified body is, it is first and foremost a resurrected body.
In Acts 1:11, an angel explained, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way. . . .” The resurrected Jesus who lived among them forty days before ascending is the same Jesus in soul and body who will return to raise his people’s bodies from the grave. Why didn’t Jesus immediately ascend to heaven? Perhaps partly to show his design for resurrected people to live on a physical earth.
You Will Still be You
Bible-believing Christians often ask me, “Will we become angels when we die?” Somewhere they have gotten the idea that whatever we may be after death, we won’t really be human. No wonder so few Christians look forward to heaven. Humans are not drawn to the idea of becoming inhuman.
Scripture portrays resurrection as a matter of continuity from our present into our future lives. The Westminster Confession says, “All the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other . . . united again to their souls forever.” Selfsame and none other unequivocally mean we will still be us.
When I became a Christian in high school, my mother saw many changes, but she still recognized me. She said, “Good morning, Randy,” not “Who are you?” My dog never growled at me — he knew exactly who I was even though I was a new person in Jesus. Likewise, this same Randy will undergo another significant change at death, and yet another at the resurrection.