Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Your Body and You

Your Body

By Dennis Pollock

A secular perspective leads to the conclusion that we are our bodies. There is no inner us, no spirit, no soul, no invisible essence of men and women who will survive and go on after the heart stops beating, and brain activity ends. This is an idea Christians have never accepted and for good reason. The Bible teaches us the exact opposite. According to Scripture, we are not our bodies; rather we live in our bodies.

Here’s a shocking thought: no one has ever really seen me. Even though some people have been in church services where I preached and “seen me” preach in person, and others have “seen me” on YouTube videos, in truth no one has ever seen me at all. Because what people think they are seeing of me is not the real me. They see my body, the vehicle I wear as I maneuver through this world. But this body they see, this face they see is not me at all. And the day will come when I will shed my body, just as a caterpillar sheds his skin. I will leave my body behind, and in my spirit I will go and be with the Lord. As Paul aged, and experienced many difficulties in life, he became more and more eager to leave his body behind. He wrote:

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

In the Body

Over and over the Scriptures declare that we are in our bodies, but we are not our bodies. The apostle Peter envisioned his death he was certain would soon come to pass, and wrote: “…knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me” (2 Peter 1:14). What a strange way to describe death: “I must put off my tent.” Tents are temporary housing- places we can go in and out of. They can be quite useful in certain situations, but no one would ever permanently remain in a tent. At night we may enter our tent for protection and for privacy, sleep seven or eight hours, wake up, and then come out of our tent and be about our day’s activities. We never confuse our tent with ourselves. We may be in the tent, but we are not the tent, and any suggestion that we are the tent would be ridiculous. And so it is with our bodies. Soon Peter would be “putting off his tent” and going to be with the Lord Jesus. Like one might take off a winter coat after coming into his house, so Peter would soon be taking off his “tent” as he was transported into that realm where Jesus lives.

Once the father of a very sick girl came to Jesus and begged Him to come and heal her. Jesus agreed, but on the way someone came from the man’s home and told him not to bother Jesus about this, for the girl had died. Jesus immediately comforted the man and told him, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50). When they reached the house, Jesus went to the room where the dead girl was lying, took her by the hand and commanded her to arise. The Bible tells us, “Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.” If, upon being raised from the dead her spirit returned, it must follow that upon death her spirit had left her body. But now it had returned.

What does Paul tell us? – “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Sadly, most people don’t seem to get this. Sometimes people go to the graves of their dead spouse or parent or child, and start talking to them, as though 1) They can hear them, and 2) They are actually right there, listening from under the ground. They may say something like, “O Mama, I miss you so much! Mama, I need you to comfort me. I need you to tell me what to do? Mama, Mama, what do I do, which way should I go?”

But the truth is, Mama can’t hear a word they are saying. She is not anywhere near that grave. If Mama died in Christ, she is in heaven now, in the presence of Jesus and all the other believers who have “fallen asleep in Christ.” Mama is not six feet underneath the ground, Mama is far away, enjoying the glories of heaven, in a life with Jesus where there is no suffering, no pain, and no more death. All that is in the ground is the tent that Mama used during her brief time on earth. Or to use a more modern concept, our bodies are our cars that we drive around and go from place to place during our short seventy, eighty, or ninety years on earth. Eventually the cars wear out, stop working altogether, and are put in a junkyard, which we call a cemetery. When we take our last breath, and our heart beats its last beat, we slip right out of those junkers, and our spirit joins our Savior, if indeed Jesus is our Savior and we have been born again during our time on earth.

Eternal Sleep or Eternal Life?

This is precisely what the Holy Scriptures teach us. And whether we believe this will determine the way we view life and the way we view death. If this is not true, if Christ was deluded or a fraud, then life has no real purpose, apart from providing us a few brief decades to try to grab a little pleasure before we seek the long sleep of eternal unconsciousness. This would mean that all our noble efforts to help others, all goals and plans we set for our lives were nothing more than an exercise in total futility. Everything we achieve in this life, all our brightest hopes and dreams, our noble philosophy, all our relationships, loves, quests, and pursuits will be extinguished in an eternal ocean of non-existence. And ultimately the sun will burn itself out, the earth will become a frozen rock, and the history of billions and billions of people will be forever forgotten, as though we had never existed. Not a very pleasant prospect.

So how do we know which version is true? Could the secularist be right when they insist that we are nothing more than a cosmic accident? Or should we trust the far more encouraging perspective of the writers of the Scriptures who tell us that this life is merely a very brief probationary period, where we can either receive a ticket to an eternal life with the God of love through Jesus Christ, or be disqualified and be sent to that place where there is only darkness, misery, and regret?

We can know that the Biblical revelation is the correct one, because Someone has come to our planet from the other side, where God dwells. He is Jesus Christ, and He lived a life like nobody else has ever lived. He healed every sick person.  He touched and raised people from the dead with a simple command. He walked on water, touched lepers and made them well in an instant, and told violent storms to cease – and they listened and obeyed. And this same Jesus, who did things nobody else has done, and has become the most famous Person who ever lived, had a lot to say about life, death, and eternity.

Though We Die, Yet We Live

When Jesus came to the tomb of his dead friend Lazarus, Martha, Lazarus’ sister gave Jesus a sort of indirect rebuke by declaring, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 12:21). She tells Him that she believes that Lazarus will live again, at the resurrection of the dead. Jesus tells Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” Jesus told Martha, and He is telling us that though our body will die, we shall live, if we believe in Him. According to Jesus, and He surely ought to know, there is a life beyond this life for the believer, and it goes on forever and ever. And since this is true, it means that our earthly life is but a tiny, tiny fraction of our future life. How well we do on earth, how much money we make, how many friends we have, how nice of a house we live in, how expensive a car that we drive – none of this is of much significance in comparison to the one all-encompassing issue of whether we have received Jesus Christ and been given permission to enjoy this life on the other side which will endure a trillion, trillion years and more after we breath our last breath on earth, and our friends gather together at the farewell service.

The patriarch Jacob’s wife, Rachel, died while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. The Bible says of this event: “And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin” (Genesis 35:18). Notice the phrase: “as her soul was departing…” Rachel was in the act of dying, and the Biblical description of this event was that her soul was leaving. Rachel’s soul had inhabited her body until that time, but now it was departing. She was stepping out of the vehicle which she had occupied all her life on earth and was making her way to that place where the children of God reside after death.

Understanding this enables us to live out our lives here on earth with purpose and without the fear of death. When our youth gives way to middle age, or our middle age gives way to old age, we have no cause for depression. Why obsess over making our way through this time of trial, this extremely temporary state where we have the opportunity to obtain our passport to eternal life by putting our trust in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ? Who would want to live for thousands of years, wearing the same old, tattered, worn-out, smelly overcoat? Who would prefer to drive a decades-old junky car, which leaks oil, is hard to start, sends out black fumes, vibrates like crazy, and has paint peeling off in huge chunks, when he could driving a brand new spotless automobile in pristine condition and with one hundred times the power? The writer of the Book of Hebrews commends the believers who came to his aid while he was in prison, declaring:

…you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven (Hebrews 10:34).

Tasks Nearly Complete

A vastly superior and eternal inheritance is waiting for us in heaven. Our mounting years and increasing wrinkles are not something to bemoan. They are exciting reminders that we will soon cease to dwell in the land of the dying, and forever inherit the land of the living. Youth is great for the young, but there is a wonderful anticipation that comes with aging in Christ. But beyond looking forward to heaven and being with Jesus, there is also a tremendous satisfaction that our “mission” is nearly over. The majority of our assignment given to us by Christ is complete. Mission: accomplished. Most of us by this point bear the scars of our fight of faith. We are not quite so sure of ourselves as we were when we were new in the faith, but our confidence in Christ is light years beyond those days. All is well; our time of translation is near. This must have been what the apostle Paul felt when he wrote to Timothy:

I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:6-7).

Our flesh is worn-out, our youth is long past, our mind isn’t as keen as it once was, our memory is a bit dim, our looks are gone, but our faith is still strong, and our hope in Christ is greater than ever. We are at peace. We know that our body is not us, and we are not our bodies. And when Jesus calls us, we shall slip out of this tent we have been wearing, and have “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”



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