What kind of body will we have in Heaven? The Bible is clear that Heaven is not a state of mind or an ethereal existence where spirits float about. Heaven is a real place where human beings interact with God and His Son Jesus, with angels and other created beings, and with each other. People who are in Heaven right now have some sort of spiritual body (Matthew 17; Revelation).
But did you know that the current Heaven is not our final destination? And that people in Heaven don’t yet have their final body?
God has promised to “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). He plans to create a “new heavens and a new earth” that are untainted by sin (2 Peter 3:10-13). The new earth is our final destination where we will live with God forever (Revelation 21).
God has also promised to give us new bodies that are untainted by sin. When we accept Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. His plan is for us to become “conformed to the image of His Son” – not only in character, but also in body (Romans 8:29).
Christ was resurrected from the dead, and like Him, God will raise those who trust in Him as Savior and Lord. Someday soon, Christ will return to earth to take His people to Heaven. He will change our bodies to be like His glorious, resurrected body (Philippians 3:20-21).
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a 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.”
The apostle Paul describes this event in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15. (Note: Many people refer to this event as “the rapture”, meaning the “catching away” of the believers. The word “rapture”, however, does not actually appear in the Bible.)
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-52
“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
Our body will be like Christ’s resurrection body. What was His body like? According to accounts of Christ’s appearances to His followers after His death and resurrection, His new body was similar in some ways to His earthly body. It was also very different.
Christ’s resurrection body looked and felt similar to His previous human body. It had both form and substance. His disciples could recognize Him. They could both see and touch the wounds in His hands and feet. Christ ate food before them.
What was different? Christ’s new body was not subject to limitations of time and space. He could pass through walls and appear and disappear at will.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, the apostle Paul uses the illustration of planting a seed to answer two questions: “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” Below are excerpts.
1 Corinthians 15:36-54
“That which you sow [plant] does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else…So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
“If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body… The first man [Adam] is from the earth, earthy; the second man [Christ] is from heaven…Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly…But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Our earthly body is mortal and perishable, subject to disease, aging, and death. It is sown in dishonor, tainted by sin. It is weak when tempted.
But our new spiritual body will be immortal and imperishable, free from disease, aging, and death. It will be free from sin, no longer subject to temptation. It will be like Christ’s resurrection body, glorious and powerful.
Imagine what it will be like to have such freedom! In Romans 8:23, the apostle Paul says that we who have the Holy Spirit are “[groaning] within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body”.
At Christ’s return, we will overflow with joy. Revelation 20:6 says, “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection” (the resurrection of the believers). But there will be another resurrection, this time of unbelievers to stand before God’s throne for judgment. For them, it will be a time of great anguish as they are condemned to eternal separation from God. In their spiritual bodies, they will feel the torment of hell forever (Revelation 20).
Do you have a personal relationship with God through Christ? Do you have assurance that you will live with Him forever? Make your future with God secure today. Read “How Can I Know God?”.
What Do You Think?
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