WITH WHAT BODY DO THEY COME?
When people are introduced to the truth of the resurrection, all
kinds of questions come to mind. How is it possible? Well, of
course God can do it. But HOW? Does He keep records on every
person who has ever lived and died? Is He keeping records on you
and me - TODAY?
by William H. Ellis
Steeped in Greek philosophy which made its deceitful way
into modem Christianity through the Roman Catholic Climb fathers,
we find it difficult to conceive of the "resurrection of the
dead." Like the Corinthians, we quickly ask: "But, how does God
do that? What will these resurrected people look like? How will
we be able to recognize our relatives who have died?
The famous Catholic philosopher Thomas Aquinas had a real
problem with the concept. The way he saw it, a resurrection
wasn't possible because it wasn't logical. He might have said:
"How can God resurrect someone, for instance, who has been eaten
by a cannibal? Or, more to the point, what about the cannibal?
Every cell, molecule and atom of a cannibal's body is made up of
all the cells, molecules and atoms of everyone he has ever
eaten!" Aquinas just didn't get it, did he?
Oddly enough, those who have watched any of the episodes of
the science-fiction TV show "Star Trek" take for granted what
they see on the small screen. They have no difficulty imagining
how the technology of the future can transport people from
spaceship to planet and back again, rearranging their molecules
precisely so that they go and arrive in mid-sentence, never
losing a moment of thought. If they leave the spaceship fearful,
they arrive on the planet fearful; if they leave angry, they
arrive angry - even their emotions are intact.
If the inventors and creators of science fiction can imagine
it, surely God can actually do it! Perhaps we don't know how, but
we do know that God, our Creator, keeps records in some form.
In the Record Books
When the resurrected dead, the small and the great, stand
before God Almighty and begin to live lives which are judged and
measured by the books of Scripture (Revelation 20:12), there is
another book mentioned ,the "Book of Life" (Revelation 20:12,15).
Some kind of records are kept. Notice what God says about
the way the faithful behave: "Then they that feared the Lord
spake often one to another: and the Lord harkened, and heard it,
and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that
feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name" (Malachi 3:16).
Paul wrote to the Philippians assuring them his fellow
laborers have their names written in the Book of Life
(Philippians 4:3). In doing so, Paul was only writing what Jesus
Himself had told the disciples: "But rather rejoice, because your
names are written in heaven" (Lake 10:20).
The apostle John, after the vision of Revelation, wrote: "He
that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and
will not blot out his name out of the book of life" (Revelation
Although a record is kept, it is possible to have it blotted
out or erased. Notice that is just what happens to those who make
the mistake of worshipping the "beast" of Revelation 13:4: "And
all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are
not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the
foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).
Those who are written in that Book are called "the general
assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in
heaven..." (Hebrews 12:23).
Even Moses was aware that God could erase his name from that
record. In fact, Moses so loved the stubborn, rebellious, sinful,
and wicked people of Israel in the wilderness, he was willing to
sacrifice his place for them: "And Moses returned unto the Lord,
and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made
them gods of gold. Ye now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if
not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou has
written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned
against me, him will I blot out of my book" (Exodus 32:31,32).
What Kinds of Records?
Jesus told His disciples: "And fear not them which kill the
body, but are not able to kill the soul [psuche]: but rather fear
him which is able to destroy both soul [psuche] and body in hell
[gehenna]. "But," He continued a verse later, "the very hairs of
your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:28,30). Luke records
Jesus' assurance, "there shall not an hair of your head perish"
(Luke 21:18), a promise repeated in Acts 27:34.
Is God aware of and recording the number of the hairs on
each of our heads? It appears so! After all, we are told He can
know the number of sparrows that fall, and we, as part of His
creation plan, are of greater value to Him than many sparrows
Detailed records are kept, but the emphasis is on more
important matters than whether we are balding or not, although
apparently even that is included.
God is primarily concerned with the development of our
character into God like character. So, He watches and records our
deeds and actions, our comings and goings (Psalm 121:8).
Although we can't earn salvation and the free gift of God's
grace, we will be measured according to how we behaved - how we
measured up to God's revealed will in the books of the Bible
Note especially Revelation 20:13: "And the sea gave up the
dead which were in it; and death and hell ("hades" the grave)
delivered up the dead which were in them..." Those eaten by
sharks, those buried in ancient archeological tombs, all will be
restored to physical life in the general resurrection.
It's back to the same question we starred with, the question
the Corinthians asked: "With what body do they come?"
In the Psalms, God reveals just how much of our
individuality is kept and recorded. Notice Psalm 139:13-16. David
is aware of the miracle of life God has granted.
"For thou has possessed my reins: for thou has covered me in my
mother's womb." The Hebrew sense for the word covered here is
"woven" or "knit me together." From the moment of conception, the
newly-begotten child is patiently knit together as the days of
pregnancy pass. The DNA strands which joined in conception from
father and mother now create the unique separate person to be
born. Even the whorls of the child's fingerprints are formed in
"I will praise then; for I am fearfully [awesomely] and
wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works: and that my soul
(nephesh) knoweth right well.
"My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret,
and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth."
God knows the myriads of compounds, chemicals, and minerals
which compose our bodies.
When David speaks of his "substance" here, he is referring
specifically to the framework of his skeleton, organized with its
tendons and muscles, each accomplishing the engineering feats of
leverage, balance, and force which allow our bodies flexible,
powerful, delicate movement.
When he mentions he was "curiously wrought" the Hebrew word
gives the sense of "embroidered" like an intricate tapestry. How
fitting a description of the interweavings of our nervous systems
and the tiny capillaries to the strong arteries of our
"Thine eyes did see my substance," David continued, and in this
place the word substance is a different Hebrew word than that
used above. This time it is better translated "unfinished, yet
imperfect work." God knows that our fantastically complex human
bodies are as yet unfinished and unperfect, "yet being imperfect;
and IN THY BOOK ALL MY MEMBERS WERE WRITTEN."
Psalm 139:16 says that the details of our physical bodies,
the construction of our skeleton, the very workings of our human
flesh and bone are recorded in God's records!
We know that the DNA record of each of us describes every
detail of our physical life.
Is it hard for us to imagine that God has a way of recording
that to use later when He brings human bodies to life in the
resurrection? With such accurate records, you would certainly be
able to recognize your loved ones because they would look just as
you knew them to look while they were alive before.
David continues: "My members were written, which in
continuance were fashioned." These members were growing and
changing and yet the records were kept, even "when as yet there
was none of them."
God does reveal some things about how He works. Although
much of the details we can only begin to grasp, He gives us
assurances that He knows what He is doing and has the power to
fulfil His promises to us.
He knows our thoughts (Psalm 139:1). He knows what we do,
day by day and night by night (verses 2,3). He even knows our
unspoken thoughts and words (verse 4). No wonder David wrote:
"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot
attain unto it" (verse 6).
But, what of our personalities, the qualities that make us
who we are beyond physical appearances?
Turn to Psalm 56:8: "Thou tellest my wanderings." When we
stray from God, or just wander aimlessly about not knowing what
to do with ourselves, God knows it.
"Put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy
book?" Yes, even our deepest emotions, moved by our deepest
feelings are recorded IN GOD'S BOOK.
Through His Word and through His servants, God gives us an
insight into the way He works. Thomas Aquinas never understood.
In discussing the subject with His disciples, Jesus reminded
them: "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and
what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops"
Entered on this Website October 2007