I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body.
The Apostles’ Creed deals with the highest themes regarding the nature and work of God. It discusses each member of the Trinity one by one, and at the end it states several other important subjects of Christian belief. Here – almost at the end – it proclaims a truth not held in high regard by many Christians. It simply says, I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body.
Ancient Greek philosophy divided the world into the material and the spiritual. Many of them thought that spirit was good and the material was bad. In their thinking, to be really spiritual you dealt only with things of the spirit. The material was unconnected to the spiritual.
To people who thought this way, the declaration of the Apostles’ Creed, I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body was strange – perhaps even offensive. There is nothing more material than these bodies we live in. It was easy for someone from that culture to think that God had no plan for the body, and that He was only concerned about the salvation of our spirits, not our bodies.
But God is concerned about our bodies. Some people are so “spiritual” that they think anything “material” is of no interest to God. But look at what the Lord says about our bodies in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (click here for more on this passage). God is interested in the whole person. Not just the spirit; not just the soul; but spirit, soul, and body all together. God has made provision for the salvation of every aspect of our being, and the ultimate salvation for our bodies is called resurrection. That’s why the creed proclaims, I believe in the resurrection of the body.
We also understand that this is God’s final answer for the problems of our human bodies. We know that God does wonderful, miraculous healings today. Yet many go unhealed, and bodily suffering usually just gets worse and worse as we get older and older. Yet God’s ultimate plan isn’t to keep patching up these old tents we call bodies. His ultimate plan is to resurrect theses frail tents into glorious mansions.
So the body matters. It matters now – Paul says that bodily exercise does profit, even if it is just a little (1 Timothy 4:8). It will also matter then, on the day when Jesus takes these bodies and transforms them into something glorious.
By the way, some people have taken this obvious interest God has in our physical bodies, along with the understanding of ancient pagan burial customs, and have concluded that cremation is wrong for Christians. They feel it is a desecration of this body that God will one day resurrect. We can understand this perspective, and respect the wishes of any Christian who does not want to be cremated. At the same time, we recognize that cremation does to the body in ten minutes what ten years in the ground does all on its own. No matter what state the atoms of our body are in when that moment of resurrection comes, God will know how to assemble those atoms into a glorious resurrection body. We should all be able to say, I believe in the resurrection of the body.