For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 4:14
One of the great doctrines of the Bible is the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead. It’s not often talked about in churches today, and that’s a shame. It’s spoken of often in the Bible, however, especially the New Testament. Its importance can hardly be overstated. Indeed, without the Resurrection, Paul the apostle calls us, ‘of all men most to be pitied.’ (1 Corinthians 15:19)
The doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead is listed in Hebrews chapter six as one of the elementary principals of Christ. In other words, it is one of the very first things that Christians should be learning about. But, to our shame, they are not. It is not a truth that is often spoken of.
I suspect that it could be because some feel that it is too complicated of a subject. Others may feel that it is difficult for a modern mind to accept. Can we really believe that everyone who has ever lived and died will one day come up out of their graves? Isn’t that a bit far-fetched to believe?
It probably is hard to believe for some. It was also hard for some to believe in the days of the apostles when Paul preached about it. In one of his churches, the church at Corinth, there were some who did not believe it. He challenged those people:
“how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” – 1 Corinthians 15:12
I’m sure the logical mind bucked against the idea of a resurrection. But Paul says, ‘how do you say there is no resurrection?’ He held a different logic:
Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
Many of us know the story of Adam and Eve. We understand how Adam sinned. Adam brought death into the world because of his sin. And the Bible says death passed upon all men because all have sinned (Romans 5:12). We know that. But many Christians miss the next part: just as Adam brought death to everyone, so Jesus brings the undo button. In Adam, all die, in Christ, all will live again. This is the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.
This is a glorious and dreadful doctrine all at the same time. Being made alive again will be gloriously good for some, but an unspeakable horror for others. Jesus speaks about this:
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation. – Jesus (John 5:28-29)
What is Jesus saying? Everyone who has ever lived and died will be raised up from the dead (physically and literally). Some will be raised to live forever in the beauty of God’s new creation. Others will be raised to die again. They will be cast into the lake the burns with fire and brimstone. This is what the Bible refers to as the Second Death (Revelation 20:11-15).
I don’t know about you, but that frightens me. I don’t like the idea of dying for the first time. I certainly don’t want to face a second death. And let me assure you, this second death will be infinitely worse than the first. The first death is temporal, the second is eternal. Don’t go there.
But thoughts about the resurrection of life excite me. I love life. I love my family. I love beautiful weather and clear skies. I love the beauty of nature (God’s design) and the beauty of great cities (man’s design). I like these things. Life can be beautiful. And even in this evil, sin-scarred world, there is still much beauty to be seen. Can you imagine what it will be like when the sin part is taken away? Can you imagine the beauty of both God’s creation and man’s when sin isn’t there to goof it all up? It will be a wonder and a marvel. I’m looking forward to that!
Don’t be fooled by this world! The people of the world will say, “Life is short, live it up while you can!” Don’t listen to such foolishness. This life is indeed short, but our new life will be anything but short. Someone might say, “But I want to see the world before I die, the Grand Canyon, Victoria Falls, the Outback, the great cities of ancient times, the clear waters of the Caribbean, etc.”
You’ll have plenty of time. You’ll have 1000 years to see whatever you’d like.
Don’t you remember what the Bible teaches? Jesus will come to this earth to reign as king for 1000 years (Revelation 20:4). All His saints will be with Him. And you won’t have these old, sinned-ridden bodies that can hardly function from time to time. You’ll have human body 2.0. A body full of life and vigor. What better way to enjoy God’s creation than with a body that actually works!
It’s going to be so good. Don’t miss it!
Is it hard to believe these things? It shouldn’t be. Just as sure as Jesus rose from the dead, you and I will rise from the dead.
Or yet, maybe you won’t…
Behold, I tell you a mystery: 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. – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
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 and Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them I the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
What about those who are alive at Christ’s coming? Those who are alive at Christ’s coming will never taste death. As such, Jesus gives the greater honor to the dead. It is they who will rise first. But then, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the air. Those who are faithful to Christ will thereby escape the terrible time of God’s wrath that will be poured out upon the earth (Revelation 3:10). We will watch from afar as the world is plunged into the greatest darkness it has ever known.
Then, when those days are over, Jesus will part the sky riding on a white horse (Revelation 19:11)! You and I will be with him. He will destroy that man of sin, the anti-Christ. He will set His foot on the mount of Olives. He will enter Jerusalem, not on a donkey this time, but on a noble horse. He will enter Jerusalem and sit upon His throne. The earth will receive her sabbath rest. And we, His saints, will rule and reign with Him for 1000 years (Revelation 20:4-6)!
I’m looking forward to those days!
But, beware, troubled times are upon us. Satan wants nothing more than for you and I to miss the first train out of this world. Those who miss it will be plunged into the time of great tribulation. Many can still be saved during those times, but it will likely cost you your life.
Deception and temptation will be the new normal until Christ’s return. Jesus said that only those watching will be taken. Be ready.
And be excited. Those who died in Christ will meet you that day in the air. It will be the end of difficult times for you and the beginning of wonderful things to come.
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