You Must Die First to Live at Last

Posted By on Jan 1, 2021 |

Agrarian Metaphors for Resurrection Truth

It is concerning how many Christians are increasingly adhering to this temporal life, when believers know death is inevitable and heavenly bliss awaits.  Scripture teaches we will “obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:4); yet some cling to that which is fading away.  When a Christian dies his soul immediately is with Jesus Christ in heaven, “…absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8, cf. Luke 23:43).  Moreover, in the future our physical bodies will resurrect, be united with our souls and live gloriously with the Lord for all eternity. 

Jesus used an agrarian illustration when instructing His disciples; not only of His death and resurrection, but the miraculous power He will have when He is glorified: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (Jn. 12:23b, 24—emphasis added).   Dr. John MacArthur explains: “As the sown kernel dies to bring forth a rich harvest, so also the death of the Son of God will result in the salvation of many.” 1

The Apostle Paul also employed an agrarian metaphor when he rebuked the doubting Corinthian believers, regarding the certainty of the resurrection and the amazing metamorphosis which takes place: “You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  And that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. (1 Cor. 15:36-38).   As Dr. John MacArthur states:

Before Christ could bear fruit of salvation for us, He had to die.  Likewise, before we can participate in the fruit of His resurrection, or bear fruit in His service, we too must die…The seed loses its identity as a seed and becomes more and more like a mature plant.  But the seed itself…looks nothing like the mature plant, the body which is to be.  Only after ceasing to be a seed does it become the mature plant the farmer harvests 2    

When we receive resurrected bodies, wewill become complete and equipped for everlasting life in heaven.  That truth appears inconceivable and unimaginable to our finite understanding; yet we will no longer have a veiled understanding of God: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” (1 Jn. 3:2).   “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12).  Our glorified bodies will be unhindered by sins corruption and the frailty of mortality: “It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:42-44).   

Since it is inevitable that every person will die and stand in the presence of God, let us cease striving hold onto this temporal life, and zealously labor to proclaim the gospel, and serve the church to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58).

1 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (NKJ), Word Publishing, 1997, –Footnotes on John 12:24, pg. 1640

2 John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 Corinthians, Moody Publishers, 1984, pg. 433-34