Index To All Six Sections
Part I... Defining "Heaven" as The Promised Kingdom of God
Part II... The Location and Nature of Heaven... The Promises and The Prophecies
Part III ... Jesus' Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body
Part IV... A New Heaven and A New Earth
Part IV B... No More Sea?
You Are Here Part V... What The Bible Says About The Resurrected Body
Part VI... Will There Be Time and Space In The New Earth?
Part VII... The Bema or Judgment seat of Christ, and Rewards in Heaven
Glorification of The Body
The years we have on this planet are plagued, to a greater or lesser extent, by mishap, tragedy, disease and finally death. Not only have we been rendered more susceptible to disease and an untimely death by improper nourishment, pollution and the presence of chemicals in our food and water supplies but, considering that people used to live a lot longer than we do, there is little doubt that, over the years, our very make up has been adversely affected. The possibility of some form of genetic damage is a strong one..
Even if we eat right and stay relatively healthy, we are susceptible to a myriad of factors well beyond our control. At one end of the spectrum are plagues that have killed millions, at the other end the single drunken driver that jumps the median on the freeway.
Even if we manage to escape the more serious misfortunes and reverses that befall too many of our fellow humans, most of us (past the age of 50 anyway) are reminded of our advancing years on a daily basis... gray hair, baldness, wrinkles, hair in the ears, "age" spots, joint pain and stiffness, forgetfulness etc. We wish we had fewer aches and pains, more energy, more flexibility, fewer wrinkles, and did not have to resort to glasses and hearing aids. The list is endless. There is no question that our lives on earth would be far more fulfilling if our bodies stayed youthful, healthy, and energetic.
Sadly, not only does old age often lead to a diminished sense of identity and personal worth but, as we both physically and mentally decline, a sense of inevitability, of helplessness, if not hopelessness, grips us all when we confront death, be it our own or that of a loved one. [Also See The Answer to Death... The Message of The Bible]
Considering that all of the above is not the prettiest of pictures, certainly a sure promise of a new and glorious body that will last forever would be something to turn cartwheels about.
So what does the Bible tell us?
The Bodies of Believers
After He had finished creating this earth and everything in it (including man made in His image), the Bible tells us that "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good". God was apparently satisfied with His design, with absolutely no indication in Scripture that the body He created was a mere prototype, and that He would some day change man into some form of spirit being. However as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:50 ...
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
"Flesh and blood" denotes such bodies as we have here, bodies that are fragile, weak, liable to disease, subject to pain and death and, as such, would be ill adapted to a world where there shall be no decay and no death. [Barnes] However the good news is that they will be transfigured. 1 Corinthians 15:52 tells us
"..the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed". [Emphasis Added]
Additional evidence for the fact that our present bodies will be changed, not made anew, is seen in Isaiah's prophecies which say...
The mind of the hasty will discern the truth, And the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak clearly... Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. (Isaiah 32:4, 35:5-6 NASB)
Just as we have now, in the coming worlds we will have eyes, ears, the power of speech, mental faculties, legs etc. with one major difference. All present problems, both physical and mental, will be healed.
The Bible does not go into all that much detail about the new body, which makes it impossible to describe it with absolute certainty. However, based on what the Scriptures do say, it is possible to make some reasonable assumptions. For example, Paul says the old creation will be new and improved...ie. imperishable, glorious, powerful and spiritual, as shown by the underlined words...
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. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NASB)
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. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:52-53 NASB)
Conformed To Christ's Body
In fact, as Philippians 3:21 tells us, we are going to be conformed to Christ's body which means, like Christ, we will be raised physically
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. (Philippians 3:21 NASB)
Which, of course, leads to the question of what we know about Christ's body after he was resurrected.
To begin with, Christ was raised with a physical body. Acts 13:33-37 tells us that He was not allowed to undergo decay, which means that His body had to be resurrected from the grave. This is confirmed by Luke who wrote that the tomb was empty (24:1-6). Moreover, we can be certain Jesus' resurrected body was the same one He had before He died because it bore the wounds from the terrible ordeal He had been through. Additional proof that He had a real physical body is seen in the fact that Christ actually invited the disciples to touch Him, and there is more than one account of them doing so (Matthew 28:8-9, Luke 24:39, John 20:27). Besides which Jesus ate with the disciples after the resurrection. Acts 10:40-41 says
God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. (NASB)
We also know that Jesus was not limited by the laws of physics.. Indeed, much of what He did after the resurrection would be termed a "miracle" by us who are. For example, He appeared inside a room that apparently had locked doors, and was able to ascend into Heaven. For details on which 'heaven' Christ ascended into, See The Word "Heaven" in The Bible in Section One HERE.
So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19 NASB)
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9 NASB)
It is true that God has always been able to give the human body abilities, which it does not naturally possess. For example, not only did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stay alive in a burning furnace, but not one hair on their heads were singed, their clothes were undamaged and they did not even smell of smoke. (Daniel 3:19-27 NASB). Peter once walked on water (Matthew 14:29) and, on one occasion, Philip was moved from one place to another without the benefit of conventional transport. However, the Biblical emphasis is on the fact that our bodies will be imperishable and, in some way, glorious.
Just because Jesus was able to do some things after His resurrection, does not necessarily mean these will be the norm for our resurrected bodies.
We simply do not know.
Will We Remember This Life?
Isaiah 65:17 says "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind (NASB), which has caused many Christians to believe that they will not remember anything about this life. However, this cannot possibly be true since there are many indications that believers will recall details of their lives on earth before they were resurrected.
For example, from the two references to the bema as the judgment seat of Christ, it seems to be clear that this judgment is reserved for believers whose salvation has already been secured by faith in Jesus Christ. Completely separate from the general White Throne judgment spoken of in Revelation 20:11-15, the purpose of this bema judgment by Jesus Christ is to reward believers based on how faithfully have used their lives for the Lord, or how well they have built on the foundations given them. If they have no awareness of what they have or have not done in this life, then the rewards will seem to be quite arbitrary.
In his first epistle, John exhorts believers to "abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming" (1 John 2:28 NASB). No one can shrink away in shame unless they remember what it is they feel shame about.
Additionally, Revelation 21:12-14 says that the 12 gates in the walls of the holy city, Jerusalem will be inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Similarly, the twelve foundation stones of the city were inscribed with the names of Jesus' twelve apostles. This would be completely meaningless if no one remembers the tribes or the disciples.
So what did Isaiah mean?
It is very likely, in fact more than likely, that although people will not forget everything that went before, the former things will not, as the second half of the verse states "come to mind". In the joy and abundance of the new kingdom, people will, in the absence of death, mourning, and pain, be able to get over, or separate themselves from the painful memories of the past.
He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8 NASB)
and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4 NASB)
The Bodies Of Unbelievers
However Christians are not the only ones who will have their bodies raised. The Bible speaks of more than one resurrection..
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2 NASB)
Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29 NASB)
having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. (Acts 24:15 NASB)
The difference is that Christians will have their bodies raised to everlasting glory; those who have not accepted God's offer of salvation, which is forgiveness for sin and eternal life, will have their bodies raised to judgment and destruction. [See Salvation]
And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
Also See Hell
Continue On To Part VI... Will There Be Time and Space In The New Earth HERE