Relevant Truth Article 9, Resurrection from the Dead
Both this article and the next differ in that all mankind will be partakers of the subject matter, some willingly, and some unwillingly, whereas the first four and the seventh articles deal with experiences that are conditional upon acceptance of Christ as Lord and Saviour.
The Bible speaks of the resurrection from the dead throughout the Old and New Testaments. Here are some examples:
Job 19:25-26: For I know that my redeemer lives and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
Psalm 17:15, As for me, I will behold your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Your likeness.
Isaiah 26:19, Your dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Daniel 12:1-2, And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of Your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Matthew 16:21, From that time forth, began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
John 11:21-25, Then said Martha unto Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever You will ask of God, God will give it to You.” Jesus replies, “Your brother shall rise again.” Martha says to Him, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said unto her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live...”
Hebrews 11:35, Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.
[Note: In the case of Martha’s brother, and those referred to in Hebrews 11, the references are to one resurrection that is temporary (being resurrected to finish living out the rest of this temporal life), and one that is permanent, which in this case is called the “better resurrection”.]
There are two resurrections referred to in the Bible:
The spiritual resurrection is referred to in the Bible as being born again (John 3:3) and begotten (1 Peter 1:3, James 1:18). It is something that takes place when by faith; one repents of sin and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of their lives. Two things take place internally when one has this experience:
1/ Titus 3:4-5, But after that, the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
Simply put, the Holy Spirit cleanses the human spirit of every aspect of sin, thereby resurrecting it to life and into relationship with a sinless and holy God.
2/ 1 Corinthians 3:16, Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
The presence of the Holy Spirit becomes resident in the now cleansed human spirit to accomplish a number of essential purposes:
1/ Philippians 2:10, For it is God who works in you both to do and to will of His good pleasure.
God does a supernatural work by the presence of the Holy Spirit to enable one to submit to His will and do the things that please Him.
2/ John 16:13, Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.
The Holy Spirit conveys truth into the human spirit so as to lead one in the direction of truth. He also reveals future events. This is done by revealing the prophetic written Word of God, and also by the gift of the Word of Wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8; Acts 21:4, 10-11). This will be covered at another time.
3/ John 14:26, But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The Holy Spirit brings comfort (the unsurpassable peace of God) into one’s life, even when outwardly there is no possibility of any personal peace. He teaches believers the things that pertain to life and godliness in Christ Jesus, and He brings the truth of the Word of God into remembrance.
This resurrection only happens while people are still living on earth in their mortal bodies, for the Word of God declares in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this [death of the mortal body] the judgement.
Jesus spoke of this spiritual resurrection on one occasion to a curious Pharisee. The gist of what we need for this article is recorded in John chapter 3:1-6:
V1-2: There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
The same came to Jesus by night and said unto Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God: for no man can do these miracles that You do, except God be with Him.”
Jesus answered and said unto him, “Except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
[Note: A couple of interesting things are found here. First, Nicodemus admitted that he and his peers knew that Jesus came from God, but most of them, being maliciously envious, refused to believe in Him. [Matt 27:28; Mark 15:10]
Secondly, Jesus left no other recourse for being able to “see” the kingdom of God, except to be born again (experience the spiritual resurrection). His use of the word “see” is significant. This Greek word [eido] means more than just seeing with the eyes. It means to perceive with understanding, which only happens by the presence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life after the “born again” experience.]
V3-6: Nicodemus says to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
Jesus answered, Verily, verily; I say unto you, except a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Nicodemus tries to reason out what Jesus is talking about but totally misses the mark. So, Jesus explains that there are actually two births one must experience in life in order to see or enter into the Kingdom of God. One is a natural birth (flesh), and the other is spiritual (by the Holy Spirit).
[Note: Scripture indicates there will only be born again believers and the godly host of heaven (angels, etc.) who already exist that will partake of the Kingdom of God. No existing demon or fallen angel is able to accept Christ to enter into the Kingdom of God. Their eternal fate was sealed when they chose to rebel against God in the ancient past (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).]
Everyone, regardless of whether or not they have been spiritually resurrected, will have a physical resurrection. Jesus spoke of the physical resurrection of the human body numerous times. One time He referred to the whole of humanity from Adam and divided them into two categories:
John 5:26-29, “For as the Father has life in Himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.”
At some point in the future, the Lord Jesus will call out, and every dead body worn by a human being will respond, (rematerializing from molecular breakdown if necessary) and come out of wherever they have been existing, for however long a time. For whatever His reason, the Lord does not mention the time factor or various resurrections in this discourse. Rather, He speaks of the final destinations of the two groups of resurrected people. One group will experience the resurrection of life while the other the resurrection of damnation.
Since it will take too long to cover the various physical resurrections that have already occurred (temporal, except that of Jesus) in both testaments, and will occur (permanent), let us focus on all the resurrected at that point in the future, just prior to the establishment of the new heaven and earth by God.
Revelation 20:5-6: But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has a part in the first resurrection. On such the second death has no power…
Leading up to a certain point in time which culminates with the beginning of a thousand year period, all those who are born again will have experienced their physical resurrection. According to verse 5, the rest of the dead who did not experience the first physical resurrection will finally partake of their physical resurrection when they are to be judged by God. Sadly, these people will be raised up in immortal bodies only to be judged, condemned, and sentenced to an eternity in hell.
Those who experience the first resurrection, regardless of when it takes place, have the born again experience or spiritual resurrection in common. This must be so because “…if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9b). Also, as a result of this, they have their names written down in what the Bible calls the Lambs book of Life (Revelation 21:27). Those not found written in this book are eternally lost (Revelation 20:15).
As those who sincerely believe in the Lord Jesus, and live for Him, all of this is a cause for great joy. Jesus, has overcome death and the grave, and given us the honour of partaking in His holiness and resurrection life forever; presently, in a spiritual context, and later physically as well. On the other hand, many around us are moving blindly forward into an eternity so horrific that we cannot imagine. Should they fail to accept Christ and partake of the spiritual resurrection while living in this life, they are doomed. For…He who believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he that believes not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)
Hopefully, a better understanding of the resurrection of the dead will spur us on to be more proactive in sharing the simple gospel message of Jesus Christ that everyone needs to believe and receive and to be saved from the “wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)