The Reality of Heaven | 1 Corinthians 15:35-50

YouTube video sermon

What we do on Earth affects who we are in heaven!


  • Well, we have spent that last four sermons talking about the importance of the afterlife.
    • The importance of there being an real heaven and a real hell, and the eternity thereof.
    • So this morning we are going to talk about the details of that afterlife, more specifically we are going to talk about what heaven is like, and how that effects our life here on earth.
  • Now as a pastor I get asked a lot of questions about what heaven is like:
    • Will we have halo’s
    • Will our pets be there?
    • Will there be food?
    • Will there be football?
    • What about video games?
    • What are we going to look like?
    • Are we going to be able to hang out with each other?
    • Are we going to eat? Are we going to have to use the bathroom?
  • Have you asked yourselves these kind of questions before? Have you ever pondered what is heaven going to be? I think we all have!
    • In Ecclesiastes it says that “God has put eternity in the heart and mind of man”. Meaning that even though we can’t really seem to fathom eternity, even though everything in our world and our life seems to be temporary… still our minds wonder to eternity, we long for it… we need to know what happens after death… what happens in eternity.
  • And this morning we are going over a section of scripture that describes heaven in clear, black and white terms… And it is probably the most direct and full explanation of what life in eternity will be like… Seconded only to John’s visions in revelation, but revelation is so complex and allegorical that many things get lost in translation when we read it or try to study it.
    • Paul here, however, doesn’t use a lot of weird metaphorical phrases or images… he uses some physical examples to make a point… but he speaks pretty directly to what heaven is going to be like.
    • So as we read and study these scriptures I believe that is going to answer some of our questions, correct some of our misconceptions, and even encourage us here in our daily walks with Christ.
    • I think it’s going to be a fun message this morning, let’s pray!


  • Let’s start this morning with 1 Corinthians 15 verse 35, as this verse frames the rest of the verses today and as such it frames our message this morning:

1 Corinthians 15:35 ESV   But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”

  • So Paul here Paul here preemptively asks 2 questions that he suspects the Corinthians will raise after hearing about the importance of the afterlife.
    • He suspects first that they will ask “How are the dead raised”. The ‘how’ here is not “by what means?” or “in what way?” but rather a ‘how‽ How is it even possible, Paul, for the dead to be raised.”
  • The second question asked is “With what kind of body do they come”. Here we have a question which is basically “Ok, Paul, if the dead are raised and go to heaven… then what kind of body are people going to have… if someone get’s decapitate on earth will they have a head in heaven? What about people who die of leprosy… what kind of body are they going to have”
  • So there are these two basic questions Paul is asked “How is it even possible for the dead to be raised” and “If they are raised into an afterlife, what is that afterlife like”.
    • Paul then spends the rest of the verses that we are going to go over today answering these two questions.

Point One – Life Comes From Death

  • Let’s start by looking at the first question… how is it possible for the dead to be resurrected?
    • By what means? I mean… it’s crazy talk to suggest there is life after death, isn’t it?
  • Paul responds by saying this in verse 36

1 Corinthians 15:36 ESV  You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

  • Point one this morning is that Life Comes From Death
    • That’s what Paul is saying here. Life comes from death.
    • This is as much a spiritual principle as it is a physical one, isn’t it?
      • And that’s what Paul is saying, he is saying “look you don’t have to get spiritual to understand this… it’s almost a natural law… dead things bring way to live things… from death comes life…”
    • And he uses the example of a seed.
      • The Corinthians would have absolutely understood agriculture… I am sure that all of them went to Future Farmers of Corinth when growing up… because agriculture was so hugely important in their society…
      • So Paul using the example, in order to get new live crops, you have to sow old dead seeds.
        • And everybody understands this, it’s not rocket science… you don’t sow a field of living corn stalks to get more corn stalks… You don’t burry a field of living wheat in order to grow more wheat…
        • Instead you take wheat seed from a dead wheat stalk and that dead seed get’s buried and from that dead seed.
      • And not only that, but as we know some of the best fertilizer comes from dead animals… the death of the animal brings life… in fact when a mole dies underground in your yard you can tell because the grass will grow exceptionally well there.
    • So there is this natural principle that life comes from death, there is nothing new here. Even atheists can agree on this concept.
    • Look at verse 36 again: “YOU FOOLISH PERSON” Paul exclaims.
      • Have you ever heard that phrase in school “There are not dumb questions”? Yeah, teachers say that, but they don’t mean it… I know because they would never call on me…
      • I know that I had some stupid questions
      • And this is what Paul is saying here, he is saying “What a Stupid Question!”
    • “By what means is the resurrection possible?” by the same means that we observe on a daily basis! The same divine power that can take a dead mustard seed and turn it into a glorious mustard seed is the same power that can take a dead Christian and turn him or her into a glorious eternal person.
    • Now that line of thinking brings us to the answer of Paul’s second presumed question… Paul presumes that after hearing all of these arguments that the Corinthians will then ask “ With what kind of body do we have after the resurrection.

Point Two – You Get What You Plant

  • The answer to that is our second point this morning: You get what you plant!
    • You know I was so blessed on Friday evening. My family and I took up Shana’s invitation to attend our brother in Christ from Kenya who tragically passed away while visiting friends here in Cedar Rapids.
      • And it was a beautiful service. We worshiped God in 3 or 4 different languages. We prayed for the family, we prayed for each other, and we heard some AWESOME teaching and preaching.
      • One particular preacher was really going to town, his name was Pastor Jere, he was an out of state pastor who was just going for it! He was just preaching the word like there was 10,000 people listening.
      • And in the middle of his message he says this “Don’t you know that you get what you burry? What you plant is what you get!”
      • You see church, if you plant a corn seed you get a corn stalk, if you plant an apple seed you get an apple tree, if you plant a righteous man you get a glorified man for eternity, amen‽”
    • Look what Jesus says in Matthew 25:46

Matthew 25:46 ESV  And these [the wicked] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  • The wicked go into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. That’s what Jesus says…
    • So the question we need to ask is “what determines if someone is righteous or wicked when they are resurrected”.
      • You know sometimes we get this crazy notion that there is going to be some kind of entrance exam when we get to heaven.
      • Like we are going to get to heaven and St. Peter is going to be guarding that gates of heaven and he is going to start quizzing us about our Bible knowledge… and if you don’t know the answers then… well sorry!
    • But of course that is not how it works… it is not how you behave after death that determines your eternal state, it is how you behave before death.
    • A corn seed doesn’t get buried then decide that it’s going to be corn when it grows… no it was decided before it hit the ground that the seed would be a corn stalk.
  • Again, who we are in life determines who we are in death, who we are in death determines who we are in the afterlife.

Hebrews 9:27 ESV  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

  • Unless your name is Lazurus, you are only going to die once. We only die once y’all, we better make sure we are the kind of seed that we want to be.
    • If you plant a corn seed and see that it grows into corn, you can’t dig up that corn seed and try again… right… you can’t be like “Argh, I really wanted an apple tree, let me dig up that seed and try again”.
    • It is the same way when we are buried… you are who you are when you die… you get what you plant.
    • If you plant a mustard seed you get a mustard tree, you plant a grape seed you get a grape vine, you plant a tomato seed you get the most disgusting fruit ever grown on the earth (Seriously if you like tomatoes y’all need to repent…).
    • But y’all, if you plant a born again believer… someone who has been made righteous by the Blood of Jesus in their life… then you get an eternal and glorified righteous person in heaven.
  • It’s pretty simple, and there are some other cool truths about this too that Paul points out to give us some hints about what heaven might look like, check it out:

1 Corinthians 15:38-43 ESV  (38)  But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.  (39)  For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.  (40)  There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.  (41)  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.  (42)  So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.  (43)  It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.

  • Y’all when you plant an apple seed you don’t get another apple seed. That would be silly, you don’t get a one for one exchange… what would be the point?
    • Instead you get a glorious new apple tree, thousands of time larger and more beautiful than that apple seed ever was.
    • Do you think the apple seed could ever comprehend the glory of the tree that it will become?
      • And so it will be with us.
      • Guy’s we are but a bare kernel, a small seed of what is to come!
      • Our new bodies, our new life in eternity is incomprehensibly glorious compared to what our lives and bodies will be like when we are in heaven for eternity.
        • So questions like “Are we going to have to use the bathroom in heaven?” and “Will I be allowed to take naps” are silly questions because those questions are based off of the comforts of this weakly earthly vessel.
        • Guy’s our earthly vessels, our physical bodies, they are perishable… they need all sorts of upkeep just to keep them alive… they are weak and temporary… they are sinful and gross… but our heavenly bodies are perfect, imperishable, glorious, and never ending!
      • Continuing on this line of thought, verse 44 also rejects some misunderstandings we might have about heaven:

1 Corinthians 15:44 ESV  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

  • This verse helps put to rest the misconception that we are all just unrecognizable ghosts in heaven.
    • We are not a bunch of glowing gold blobs floating around in the sky.
    • To the contrary we have actual, recognizable bodies.
      • Not only that, but we are almost certainly going to have flesh and bones… not like we have now, but recognizable as such non-the-less… how do we know this, because we have a record of Jesus’ resurrected body, and look at what the resurrected Jesus says in Luke 24:39

Luke 24:39 ESV  See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

  • So we will have physical bodies, but not like we have now. Jesus was even able to walk through closed doors in His glorified body. So clearly it is not the same kind of flesh and blood that we have now, but it is a glorified version of that, a better version, a perfect version as God originally intended.

1 Corinthians 15:45-48 ESV  (45)  Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  (46)  But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.  (47)  The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.  (48)  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

  • The first Adam, as in Adam and Eve, he gives physical life. When you are born of Adam, when you are Adam’s relative, you are born with a weak and temporary physical body. Physical flesh and blood that dies and passes away.
  • But the Second Adam, Jesus, He gives spiritual life. When you are born again, born of Jesus Christ, it is a Spiritual birth. You are born into a spiritual body that is eternal, imperishable, and without corruption or sin or wickedness.
  • Now take a look verses 47-48 once again, because this needs to sink into all of us… and I know we have said this over and over and over, and we will say it again and again because it is one of the most vital and important truths that we must learn and we must teach as Christians living on earth… look at verse 47 and 48 once again…

1 Corinthians 15:47-48 ESV  (47)  The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.  (48)  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

  • Guy’s everybody comes from Adam… we are all relatives! Even secular science confirms that, we all come from the same patriarch… that is why we all look alike… we all have eyes and hands and feet and noses and mouths…
    • We have different features, things that make us unique, sure, but we all have the same physical features because our physical bodies all come from Adam.
    • And those bodies are going to die, they are going to get buried…
  • The question is, what about our SPIRITUAL bodies… have we been born again? Have we cast off our old selves? Are we living for the dust or are we living for the eternal.

1 Corinthians 15:49-50 ESV  (49)  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.  (50)  I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

  • Guys you MUST be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven, this body doesn’t get to come, and if you have not had a spiritual birth in Jesus Christ, if you have never been born again… then I don’t care how much church you have been to, how many good works you have done… if you have never had a spiritual birth then you don’t have a place in heaven.
    • If you ever doubt that you have been born again, please PLEASE come talk to me or Amanda, or any other leader in this church. We would love to talk with you about it!

Conclusion – What we do On Earth Effects Who We Are in Heaven

  • What’s the take away from today’s message? How can we apply this to our lives on earth?
    • If you are a born again believer and follower of Christ Jesus, then I want you to take this away:
      • Not all seeds are created equal.
      • You see seeds come in all types of viability, from incredibly viable to not viable at all.
      • When a flower get’s pollenated it begins to form nutrients together to form a seed and a fruit around that seed. Sometimes that fruit is incredibly ripe and juicy, and the seeds inside are full of nutrients, just ready to burst into a glorious new plant…
        • Other flowers, because of the lack of nutrients in the soil, lack of sunlight, or lack of water… these flowers turn into pathetic fruit, prone to disease with seeds that, well while they may or may not turn into another plant one day, are not going to grow into nearly as glorious of a plant as the well nourished seed.
      • So it is with us… if you are buried as a born again believe and follower of Christ Jesus as Lord you are guaranteed a new Glorious body in heaven. But there are varying kinds of glory.

1 Corinthians 15:41 ESV  (41)  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

  • You see the Bible makes it clear that there are different rewards for us when we get to heaven, a varying degree of reward or varying degrees of glory.
    • You can see this principle in the New Testament all over… a few verses if you are interested are Matthew 5:12, Luke 6:23, and Luke 6:35.
    • But I think this concept is first clear right here in the book of 1 Corinthians, look back at chapter 3 verses 14 and 15.

1 Corinthians 3:14-15 ESV  (14)  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  (15)  If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

  • Everybody who is born again will be saved and enter into glory. That’s what verse 15 says… but there is a reward for those whose work here on earth survives the judgment of God.
  • What work is that, it is the work of Jesus Christ. Verse 11 makes that clear…
    • And here is the beauty church… we are not talking about Work’s based Christianity… I never want you to go out and do good works just for good works sake, that leads to pride and stumbling…
    • No I am talking about a deepening relationship with Christ Jesus.
    • I am talking about drawing so near to Jesus that you become more and more intertwined with Him, and the more intertwined with Him the more you will share with His reward in Heaven.
    • And yes, the more intertwined we are with Jesus the more good works we will naturally do, not because we want to impress God, but because Christ is our Lord, because He instructs us what to do daily, because we listen, because we obey, because we want to be more and more like Christ.
  • And of course there is going to be more of a reward, because there will be so much more to celebrate!
    • The closer we are to God during this life
    • the more centered on Him we are
    • The more aware of Him
    • The more dependent on Him
    • The more desperate for His mercy,
    • The more there will be to celebrate.
  • The victory of a race hard run is a lot sweeter than a victory won by default.
  • Run the race y’all, draw near to Christ, fight the good fight, the rewards will be eternally sweet, amen‽ Amen!
  • Pray