‘Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15: 51, 52).’
My experience is the older I get, the less I like change, but inevitably because of the nature of life, things are always changing. I am no longer the young man I was when I got married fifty-eight years ago! My hair used to be chestnut, and it now is silvery white. I am thankful to the Lord; for He has brought me thus far through all sorts of changing situations. As I look to the future I am excited about the ultimate change, i.e., being transformed by God so as to have a new spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44) – a body like the risen Christ’s! Then I shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2) in all His *glory.
Christ’s Sojourn of Change on Earth
Jesus came to the earth in the form of a Man (Matthew 1:23). Although conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18) He was formed in Mary’s womb. He was nursed and fed by her. He grew and ‘became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him (Luke 2:40).’ At His resurrection He rose to life with a spiritual body, and He ascended to His Father (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9).
Although fully God and yet Man when living on earth, His body underwent the normal course of physiological change and He died, not because He was a sinner, for He had no sin (Hebrews 4:15), but because ‘He gave up His spirit’ (John 19:30).’ His body had been subject to biological change, but after His resurrection He was not restricted by the normal constraints of the physical world; for example, He passed through doors that were locked (John 20:26) and He appeared and disappeared when meeting two disciples at Emmaus. At first they did not recognise Him (Luke 24:13-27) because ‘their eyes were restrained’ (V 16).
It is true to say that He was never restricted by the constraints of nature, for He walked on water, calmed a storm and did many other miracles. However, when He returns to earth He will come as He left, with His spiritual body (Acts 1:11). He will come with His angels for the ingathering of His resurrected saints (Matthew 16:27) who themselves will have transformed spiritual bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
God’s Eternal Plan of Change – His Tapestry of Life, Death and Resurrection
From before the very beginning of His Creation (Genesis 1) God devised His masterplan (Ephesians 1:4, 5; 1 Peter 1:2) which would involve constant change. Because He didn’t want men and women to be ignorant of His plan He sketched out the nature of it in the Bible, and He revealed His grace and purpose (Luke 9:56; 1 Timothy 1:15) through His Son. His plan of redemption can be likened to a detailed tapestry that exists in time and space. It is composed of intricate stitches, most of them too fine for the human eye to see or the mind to fully comprehend (Isaiah 55:9).
This wonderful tapestry tells a story of continual change. Past history has been recorded by the making of countless stitches telling of all manner of happenings: births, deaths, wars, murders, covenants, triumphs, joys, feasts, laws, kings (Daniel 2:20, 21), queens, conquests, defeats, love making, peace treaties etc.. The central and pivotal act recorded in God’s Word is the crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 27:35, 50). Through His selfless death and the shedding of His blood He bought the pardon (Micah 7:18) of all who believe and trust in Him (John 3:16).
The biblical tapestry informs us that God is eternal (Psalm 90:1, 2), and yet by His grace He has granted immortality (1 Corinthians 15:54) to those who will enter His new world (Revelation 21:1). He has always existed, and in this respect He cannot change (Hebrews 13:8). His eternal nature is immutable (Malachi 3:6). Man, by comparison, undergoes much change. He dies and yet his **spirit (soul) never dies. At death man’s soul departs to one of two places: the believer’s to be with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14), and the unbeliever’s to reside in ***Hades until the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).
The Christian’s soul at the death of his body is immediately transported to be with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14). His body then returns to the earth, whether in a grave or under the sea – even as ashes, if cremated. Likewise the unbeliever’s body returns to the earth from where it will be resurrected to be reunited with his soul to face God at the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
There is no escape. All will face judgment – both the redeemed and those who reject Jesus (Luke 10:16); they who are destined for hell. The redeemed will come face to face with Jesus at the Bema Seat for judgment (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10) where they will receive their rewards (Matthew 16:27; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4) for doing good works and for being faithful and for obeying the commands of Jesus (Matthew 28:19, 20). [Please note: they are not saved by their works (Ephesians 2:8, 9).]
So all will be changed; both the elect (1 Peter 1:2) and those who are ashamed (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26) of Jesus.
*The Glory of God
**Mind, Body and Soul [Spirit]
***Hell [See section on ‘Hades’]