Bible Truths

Lesson 11 - The Resurrection

In this study we will be examining three resurrections: theresurrection of Christ and what it means for believers, the resurrection of therighteous dead which is called the first resurrection and the resurrection ofthe wicked dead, called the second death. Resurrection means a return to lifesubsequent to death. There are two types of resurrection referred to inscripture: spiritual and physical. Spiritual resurrection is that of the humanspirit being quickened - made alive by the Holy Spirit - from death intrespasses and sins, to a renewed life in Christ ( Ro 6:11; Eph 2:1-7; 5:14).This expresses what being born again means, or the doctrine of regeneration. Itonly takes place in this life. When this life is ended there is no morespiritual resurrection ( He 9:27; Rev 22:11-12).

These scriptures prove conclusively that there is no furtheropportunity after death for salvation, yet a great many Christians believethere is. They misconstrue what the scriptures teach about Jesus preaching tothe spirits in prison in 1Peter ( 1Pe 3:18-20). These are not the spirits ofhumans being given another chance for eternal life as so many believe. They arefallen angels whom God has reserved in chains until the Great White ThroneJudgement, when they will be consigned to hell ( 2Pe 2:4-6). The Greek word forhell here is tartarus, a dark abyss, a place of punishment, a prison for fallenangels ( Jude 6-7). The spirits in prison are the fallen angels of Gen 6 whoproduced the giants of the Old Testament which precipitated Noah's flood ( Ge6:1-7). The word preached in 1Pe 3:19 would be more appropriately translated asherald or proclaim. The Greek word used here is kerusso which means to proclaimor herald, as a public crier, whereas the Greek word to describe preaching thegospel for salvation is euaggelizo which means to evangelise, proclaim the goodnews, preach the gospel. These spirits sinned in the days of Noah yet allhumans who sinned then perished in the flood. They are not kept in a specialprison. Furthermore human spirits are never just called spirits in scripture.Where human spirits are referred to they are qualified as such ( Nu 16:22;27:16; He 12:23). Now to the resurrection of Jesus.

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead isnot just one of the held beliefs of the Christian faith; it is the primary andessential truth of the whole gospel of salvation. Without that truth the gospelof salvation has no purpose. It is the foundational principle of the new birth.Faith in a risen saviour is the very essence of Christian belief. It is acondition of our salvation ( Ro 10:8-10). It is the resurrection, not thecross, which is the focal point of the New Testament. As crucial as the crosswas to God's plan of salvation and without detracting in any way from thesignificance of Christ's pain and suffering on the cross as the central fact ofChristianity, because the cross was the price Jesus paid for our redemption, itwas the empty tomb and the risen Christ that made resurrection life for believerspossible. The resurrection of Christ transforms His death on the cross into thegospel of life ( Ro 4:24-25; 1Cor 15:3-4; Eph 1:19-23; 1Pe 1:3-5). On the crossJesus was no threat to His enemies, but in the tomb He was. His enemies werenot concerned that He would get down from the cross but they were concernedthat He would rise up from the grave. His resurrection had been prophesied inthe Old Testament ( Ps 16:10; 49:15; 68:18; Isa 26:19). And He had foretold itHimself ( Mt 12:38-41; 20:18-19; 27:63-66). As well He had also raised up threedead people: the daughter of Jairus ( Mk 5:22-23, 38-43), the son of the widowof Nain ( Lu 7:11-15) and Lazarus ( Jn 11:41-45). Their resurrection fulfilledGod's purpose for that particular moment in time but Jesus' resurrectionfulfilled God's purpose for eternity. Jesus can never die again, and neitherwill those who are redeemed unto resurrection life with Him ( Jn 3:16, 36;5:24; 11:25-26; 1Th 5:9-11; 1Jn 5:11-12).

Our new life in Christ began at the resurrection. It is truethat we were crucified with Him on the cross and buried with Him by baptismunto death that the body of sin might be destroyed, but we did not become newcreations in Christ until we arose with Him from the grave, i.e. after we haddied to sin ( Ro 6:1-10; 2Cor 5:17; Col 2:11-13; 3:1-3). Ro 6:1-10 and Col2:11-13 do not refer to water baptism as many believe but to believers beingbaptised into Christ by the Holy Spirit at their conversion to Christ and thenliving completely renewed and empowered lives in Christ thereafter. This ismade clearer in Col 3:1-3.

Christ won the victory over sin and death for believersthrough the resurrection, and since He is raised from the dead, believers havethe assurance that the next step in God's plan of salvation is theirresurrection into Christ's glory. This is the certainty we have because Christhas been raised from the dead and He said, "because I live, ye shall livealso" ( Jn 14:19). We do not live anticipating physical death asunbelievers do but in anticipation of Jesus coming again for us, and whether webe living or dead at that time we shall rise together with Him in glory. Thisis assured because He has already risen and ascended to heaven. That is why theresurrection is so important to believers - not only does it guarantee thefuture resurrection of the righteous dead, but it also guarantees the raptureof the saints still living when Jesus comes back ( Jn 14:1-3; 1Cor 15:51-57;1Th 4:13-18; Rev 20:6).

When we partake of the Lord's supper we are sharing in andidentifying with His death and His resurrection from the dead. If Christ wasstill in the grave there would be no body or blood to partake of, but since Heis risen from the grave and lives for evermore, as we take unto ourselves theelements representing His body and His blood, we are taking unto ourselves Hiseverlasting and abundant life ( Ro 5:8-11, 18-19). That is why communion is ahealing and renewal service as well as a memorial service ( Isa 53:5). In thecommunion service we are proclaiming the salvation benefits our Lord purchasedfor us through His death and resurrection. One of the benefits is our ownfuture resurrection ( 1Cor 15:19-23).

Now to what Jesus calls the first resurrection. It isforetold by Job ( Job 19:25-27), King David ( 2Sam 12:23; Psa 17:15), Isaiah (Isa 25:6-8; 26:19), Daniel ( Dan 12:2), Jesus Himself ( Jn 5:28-29; Rev20:4-6), and Paul ( 1Cor 15:20-22, 51-57; Php 3:8-12, 20-21; 1Th 4:13-16).Notice in Dan 12:2, Jn 5:28-29 and Rev 20:4-6 that both the first and thesecond resurrections are referred to. They merge into one but they are twodistinct and separate events in time. The second resurrection will not takeplace until at least 1007 years after the first resurrection (which allows 7years for Antichrist's reign and 1000 years for Christ's millennial reign). Thefirst resurrection includes all the righteous dead from Abel to the very lastone saved in the tribulation. All the redeemed from all ages are included, notjust the Church. This even includes Rahab the harlot ( Josh 2:1-3, 6:17-25; He11:31, Jas 2:25). Jesus said in Jn 5:28-29 that all that are in the gravesshall hear His voice and shall come forth: those that have done good unto theresurrection of life, which is the first resurrection, and those that have doneevil unto the resurrection of damnation which Jesus calls the second death.Those that have done good include Old Testament saints and New Testament saintsalike. We will all be resurrected from the grave and raptured to heaventogether.

The rapture and the first resurrection go hand in hand. Theyare two facets of the one event that will occur when Jesus comes again to takethe saints up to heaven ( 1Cor 15:19-23, 42-45, 51-58; Php 3:20-21; 1Th4:13-18). These scriptures clearly express the Lord's eternal purpose and planfor His saints. The ultimate purpose of His coming back for the saints is sothat they will be with Him in all eternity and taking them to heaven is simplythe first step in His purpose ( Ro 8:28-30). We learn from 1Th 4:14 that whenJesus comes back for the saints He will bring with Him the spirits and thesouls of all the dead saints to be united to their resurrected bodies. Theircorruptible bodies will rise up from their graves and put on incorruption whilethe mortal bodies of the saints still living at that time will put onimmortality. They will all be changed in the blink of an eye (1Cor 15:52). Wealso learn from Php 3:21 that our new transformed bodies will be flesh and bonelike Christ's glorious resurrected body which He showed to the disciples beforeHe ascended to heaven ( Lu 24:36-43; 1Jn 3:2).

The first resurrection covers the period of time fromChrist's resurrection until His second coming ( 1Cor 15:23; Rev 20:4-5). Thereare six different resurrections and/or raptures referred to in scripture duringthis period. The first was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He was firstresurrected, then raptured to heaven ( Lu 24:50-51). Second was Paul theapostle. He was raptured to heaven for a time of learning from the Lord ( 2Cor12:1-4). The next will be "...they that are Christ's at His coming".This includes all the dead saints - Old Testament and New Testament alike. Theywill be resurrected from their graves and then raptured to heaven together withthe saints still living at that time - the Church ( 1Cor 15:19-23; 1Th4:13-18). This signifies the end of the Church age. No person left on earth atthis time will be in Christ. All that are Christ's at His coming will be gone.The next ones to go to heaven will be the man-child ( Rev 12:1-5). It will beraptured in the middle of Antichrist's reign to escape the second half of theGreat Tribulation ( Rev 7:1-4 with Rev 14:1-5). The fifth combined resurrectionand rapture are God's two witnesses ( Rev 11:3-12). The last ones taken up toheaven are the great multitude of saints who get saved during the Tribulation (Rev 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 15:2-4; 20:4-6).

Everyone may not agree with the number, or the order of theresurrections and raptures listed here, but being right or wrong is notfundamental to salvation. All we have to do is respect each other's point ofview and make sure we are included among those that are Christ's at His coming.That is the only thing that matters because scriptures clearly teach that thosewho think they are Christ's, but are not committed to His gospel, will have noplace in His kingdom ( Mt 5:13-16, 20). To demonstrate the impact Christiansshould have on the world Jesus used two common illustrations in V13-16: saltand light. The important quality to note is that salt ought to maintain itsbasic character. If it does not it has lost its purpose for existence and isonly fit to be thrown out. That is a grim warning to Christians who lose theirzeal for the things of God ( Jn 15:1-6). Jesus teaches virtually the same thinghere that He teaches in Mt 5:13-16. It is an ominous warning to those who arenot committed to Christ's gospel. Christians are to be the light of the world.A light is meant to shine and give direction - like a city built on a hill or alamp on its lampstand - all can see it. It is not to be hidden from sight.Light-radiating Christians live so that others can see their good deeds andglorify God in heaven ( Mt 7:19-27).

There are only two options open to those who hear thegospel: they can build on one of two foundations - rock or sand. The rockrepresents the Lord Jesus Christ and His truths and the sand represents our ownrighteousness. Our own righteousness cannot save us. It is only by beingcompletely surrendered to the authority of Jesus and totally consecrated to theservice of God that we can withstand the forces of darkness that beset us inlife ( Lu 13:23-24). We only need these two verses to give us the understandingof what Jesus teaches here. The word strive means to contend for; to competefor a prize; to labour fervently; to take pains; to wrestle; as in an awardcontest, straining every nerve to the uttermost toward the goal. This ispresented right throughout the New Testament as the life task of everyChristian ( Jn 6:24-27; 1Cor 9:24-25; Php 2:12; 3:8-15; He 4:1-3; 2Jn 1:8). Theonus is upon all Christians to contend for the things of God and to reject thethings that cause enmity with God ( 2Th 2:8-12).

This teaches us that after the Church is raptured to heavensalvation will no longer be available to those still living on earth who havealready heard the gospel and rejected it. They will be lost for eternity ifthey do not repent and commit their way to Jesus while the Church is stillhere. This includes members of our own immediate family and other relatives andfriends whom we love dearly, as well as professing Christians not trulycommitted to Christ and others who are backslidden ( Mt 12:30; Rev 22:11-12).These scriptures clearly define those who are Christ's. Rev 22:12 refers to therapture and highlights the impending doom that awaits the unbelievers andreprobates of V11. What a man is when Jesus comes back for the saints is whathe will be in all eternity. Show those who have already heard the gospel andrejected it or are backslidden and apostate these scriptures and explain whatthey mean: that once the Church is gone from the earth salvation will only beavailable to those who never had an adequate opportunity to receive theknowledge of the truth, or to hear and understand the gospel. No one else willever get another chance.

We must never hold out a false hope of heaven to anyone notcompletely yielded to the authority of Jesus and totally consecrated to theservice of God ( Mt 7:19-27). There is no hope of ruling and reigning withJesus throughout eternity without that commitment and consecration in ourearthly life, and there are many scriptures to confirm this. The truth is thereis only one kind of Christian in God's order of things: the born again Christian.No other can enter into the kingdom of heaven ( Jn 3:3-5). The parable of theten virgins in Mt 25:1-13, the parable of the talents in Mt 25:14-30 and theparable of the unfaithful servant in Lu 12:35-48 all teach us that those whoprofess to love God but are indifferent and careless about the things of Godwill forfeit their place in the kingdom when Christ returns for the saints.These are three profitable teachings that we should all know ( Mt 25:1-13;25:14-30; Lu 12:35-48).

Now to the second death which takes place after Christ's1000 year reign on earth ( Rev 20:4-6, 11-15). In stark contrast to the rewardsor loss of rewards, according to their earthly works the saints will receive atthe Judgement Seat of Christ in the first resurrection, here at the Great WhiteThrone Judgement the wicked dead will be judged to determine the degrees ofpunishment they will suffer in hell according to their earthly works ( Lu10:10,15; 12:39-48). Lu 12:47-48 teaches that the greater their knowledge ofGod the worse will be the punishment of those that rejected that knowledge. Itis sobering to think that they are all doomed to a Christless eternity oftorment and damnation yet some of them could have been saved if only weChristians had tried a bit harder. What a compelling motive we have for prayingfor the lost, for preaching what the Bible teaches about hell and for winningsouls to Christ ( Jn 9:4 with Jude 23). Day in Jn 9:4 signifies life and nightsignifies death. Believers must also do the works of God now. Soon it will betoo late ( 2Cor 6:2). " is the accepted time, now is the day ofsalvation."


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