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Scripture Studies

The Future Resurrections

resurrectionsThe resurrection of the dead is one of the foundational tenets of Christianity, yet very rarely we hear from the preachers today talk about it. They would rather want to assure believers of some “heavenly abode” for their departed loved ones.  However the Bible speaks very plainly and even emphatic about it. Just what is resurrection and why we should look forward to it?

Consider what Jesus said in John 6, after the miraculous feeding of the five thousand and revealing himself to be the true Messiah (Saviour), the “Living bread” that comes down from heaven, he declared:

“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. (verse 39)

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.(verse 40)

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day(verse 44).

“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (verse 54).

Four times in these verses, Jesus Christ underscores the importance of our faith in Him and the Father, if we want to be part of that resurrection. There will be resurrection of the dead, and according to Jesus, this will take place at the “last day”—in a yet future time!

In fact this is one of the core teachings of Jesus, He himself the first one to be resurrected to life and immortality, proving that He already conquered death, and now has power over it! As He earlier articulated on,

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).

Our faith in the works of Christ in us through His Holy Spirit is what makes us ‘heirs’ of the eternal promises (Romans 8:17).  This is our continuing and future blessed hope.  The apostle Paul understood this very clearly, and that it must be consistently preached and taught, he wrote:

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

And as Paul further amplified on this, he said that the resurrection will come in stages,

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

As Jesus Christ now being the “firstfruits”, then there will be more to be resurrected at His coming. This is the “last day” that Jesus himself spoke of.

The apostle Paul even hinted when and how the resurrection will happen. He described,

“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (verses 50–52).

Still not convinced? Consider what Paul intimated in his first epistle to the church at Thessalonica. He wrote reassuringly, 

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [a metaphor for death], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18)

Moreover, the Bible reveals that there will be at least two resurrections.

The prophet Daniel saw in a vision, two very different outcomes of resurrection,

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 2:2). 

Again, as Paul referenced on this in a defence of his work and apostleship,

“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” (Acts 24:15-16; see also Christ reference in Luke 14:14)

Indeed, even with much trial and persecutions, it is still rather better for God’s people to be part of the first resurrection, as the book of Hebrews tells us,

“Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” (Hebrews 11:35)

Speaking of the resurrection of the saints in the first resurrection, the apostle John affirmed,

“And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4-6)

What a glorious day it will be! Then it will just be the beginning to eternity for the immortal (having received eternal life) children of God!

Finally, Revelation 20:12-13 identifies those comprising the second resurrection as they were judged by God at the “great white throne judgment” prior to being cast into the lake of fire.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.”(Revelation 20:11-13)

The second resurrection, then, is the raising of all unbelievers; and this second resurrection is connected to the “second death” (Revelation. 20:14).

So the only question remains for you is: which of the resurrections would like to be part in?

The decision is yours.

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