This perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
–1 Corinthians 15:53
Death comes to everyone. Why is that so? Paul explained the theological reason for death in 1 Corinthians 15:22: “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” When Adam sinned, his guilt was passed on to everyone who has ever lived. Paul explained in Romans 5:12, “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” We are all guilty before God, and the proof is that we all die.
That is the theological reason we die, but there is a practical reason we must die as well. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 15:50, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” Translation: your body was not designed to last forever. I doubt you need a pastor to tell you that! Our bodies wear out; they have a shelf life. When actress Katharine Hepburn was in her seventies, she said, “When you’re my age, it’s like you’re a car, and first a tire blows, and you get that fixed, and then a headlight goes, and you go get that fixed. And then one day, you drive into a shop, and the man says, ‘Sorry, Miss, they don’t have this make any more.’” Paul said we have to exchange these perishable bodies for new, heavenly bodies if we are going to inherit the kingdom of God.
Death is the way that happens. In verse 51, Paul continued, “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” In the Bible, “sleep” is a euphemism for what happens to believers when we die. Our souls do not go to sleep, but our bodies go to sleep awaiting the resurrection. Paul was saying not all believers are going to die–there is a generation that will be alive when the rapture occurs–but we are all going to receive new bodies. And it will happen “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” (v. 52).
Paul described this moment further in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “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.” What a sight that will be when the bodies of believers of ages past will be raised, and as we are all headed to heaven, in the twinkling of an eye we will receive heavenly bodies that are designed for all eternity! We will all be changed. Why? “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). God says we must die so we can be prepared for eternity.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “From Tragedy To Triumph” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.
Peter W. Kaplan, “Katharine Hepburn Makes a Comedy about Death,” New York Times, November 27, 1983, https://www.nytimes.com/1983/11/27/arts/katharine-hepburn-makes-a-comedy-about-death.html.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.