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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Who Will be Resurrected from the Dead?

The Bible and history make it clear that Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead. This is the foundation of the Christian faith. But who else in addition to Jesus will be resurrected from the dead? The quick answer is, "Everyone!" The exceptions will be believers who are alive when Jesus returns to earth.
From the King James Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 says,

51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 adds,

14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

These verses tell us that believers who are alive when Jesus returns will be instantly changed to an immortal, incorruptible state of being. They will be like Jesus. So we see that dead believers will be resurrected and believers who are alive when Jesus returns will be changed. What about everyone one else? What about unbelievers? What happens to them? 1 Corinthians 15:21-23 states,

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order...

All who die will be resurrected. Jesus says in John 5:28-29,

28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 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.

(Note: The word damnation is a poor translation and is inconsistent with John 5:22-30 where the Greek word krisis is used 5 times. Krisis means decision, tribunal, justice. Three times it is translated judgment, one time condemnation, and one time damnation in verses 22-30. I'm not sure why the King James translators did this, but it can cause confusion as the word damnation definitely carries a different connotation than judgment. The resurrection of judgment will involve unbelievers being judged according to their deeds done in this life. See Revelation 20:11-15 for more on this judgment.)

Jesus makes it clear that all who are in the graves--the good, the bad and the ugly--will be resurrected. Some will enter into the blessed life of the believers, others will go through Jesus' righteous judgment in order to be brought to the point of honoring the Father and the Son, as taught in John 5:22-23,

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father....

The purpose of judgment is to bring people to a point where they honor the Father and the Son. Believers will work with Jesus in the judgment. 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 teaches,

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?...Know ye not that we shall judge angels?

Revelation 20:4-6 reveals a one thousand year gap between the "resurrection of life" and the "resurrection of judgment":

4And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on 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.

What an awesome time that will be! Don't miss it! Turn from your sins now and follow Jesus with all of your heart! Then you will be blessed by being part of the first resurrection.

It is clear that all people who have died will be raised from the dead. Thus, all people will be saved from death. Jesus is truly the "Savior of the world," as the Apostle John calls him in 1 John 4:14. However, not all people will be saved from the wrath of God that will be poured out in the time of judgment upon unbelievers. These are people who reject Jesus and because of this are unforgiven, and "die in their sins" (John 8:21,24). The purpose of this wrath/judgment is to bring all people into obedience to God so that they will honor Him from a heart of love. Eventually, all people will be delivered from God's wrath by Jesus.Jesus says in Matthew 15:8 to the hypocrites,

This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

God is not pleased with lip service that has no heart behind it. And He does know when we are being sincere or hypocritical. No one fools God. Only fools think they are fooling God. I have to regularly examine my own heart to see if I am being sincere towards God. God has given me the responsibility to guard my own heart and keep it in line, just like He gave you responsibility for your own heart. Sometimes I need to adjust my heart to get it back in the right place with God. Where is your heart towards God right now? One of the best ways to check your heart is to look at your own actions, hear your own words, and examine your own thoughts. A heart that is right with God will lead to a life that is obedient and pleasing to Him.

Jesus says in John 14:23,

He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me...

God's desire is for all people to love Him as He loves them.  He is wise enough, caring enough, patient enough and powerful enough to make His desire a reality. The post-resurrection judgment of unbelievers will lead them to honor the Father and the Son with their lips and their hearts. The future resurrection of all people should encourage us that this life is not all that God has for us. Are you living your life as though you only get 70 or 80 years (if you are lucky) and then it's over? See the big picture. It is beautiful. Though it will be very difficult in the judgment for those who reject Jesus now, the end will be as God desires it to be, and that is very good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Famous Universalists

     Most Christians I know do not believe Jesus will save all people. Often when the subject of Jesus being the Savior of the world is brought up, non-universalist Christians ask, "Who else believes in universalism?" They want to know if there are any "famous" Christians alive today who are universalists. Are there any TV preachers or best-selling Christian authors who are universalists? I don't know that there are. But does that really matter? I know some very famous people who are universalists that have complete confidence in God's ability to save all people. I'll briefly list some of them.

Jesus (He's pretty famous) In Luke 9:56 He said, "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save." Jesus said this to two of his closest followers, James and John, after they wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans who did not receive Jesus. You can see the difference between man and Jesus when it comes to how they treat their enemies. Man destroys; God saves. 

John the Baptist (somewhat famous) said of Jesus in John 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world." John knew why Jesus came--to take away our sin--all of it.

John the (famous) Apostle wrote in John 5:21-23 these words of Jesus, 21"For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them; even so the Son quickens whom he will. 22For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son:  23That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honours not the Son honours not the Father which has sent him." Through His righteous judgments Jesus will cause all people to honor Him. And when Jesus completes His work all people will be more than happy to honor Him.

Apostle Peter (another famous guy) preached about Jesus in Acts 3:21, 21"Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." All things will be made right in God's time.

Apostle Paul (yeah, he's famous too) wrote in 1 Timothy 2:4, "[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." What God wants is good--the salvation of all men. Believe that God will get what He wants, because He will. He truly is the Almighty.

Moses (famous) wrote about God's command to Adam in Genesis 1:27-28, 27"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" Even though Adam did not accomplish God's plan to fill the earth with very good people bearing the pure image of God, God hasn't changed His original plan. It will be completed by the "last Adam," Jesus. Read the very encouraging verses in 1 Corinthians 15:21-28 to see how He will do this. 

Isaiah (wow, another famous guy)- Chapter 26:9, "...for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. There will come a time when all people of the world will learn righteousness. Why not start now by getting to know Jesus and following Him? If you come to Him now you can escape the wrath to come and the judgments that are part of that wrath. God cannot overlook our sin as if it isn't real. The only way to be forgiven of our sin is through faith in Jesus.

Daniel (somewhat famous)- Chapter 2:35,44 35"Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. 44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." These verses speak of God's righteous kingdom ending all of man's wicked kingdoms, filling the whole earth, and standing forever. See also Daniel 7:14 & 27.

This is enough "famous people" support for me to put my faith in God's desire and ability to save all men and complete His goal of having the earth filled with very good people who bear His pure image. All people will worship and obey Him with hearts full of love and gratitude for His mercy and grace toward all of us, though none of us deserve it. Praise His name! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?

In the Bible book of Hebrews chapter 10, verse 9 says, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." Jesus came to do His Father's will. God's will regarding the salvation of mankind is clear. 1 Timothy 2:4 - "[God our Savior] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." This will happen. Matthew 18:11 - "For the Son of man (a title Jesus used to refer to Himself) is come to save that which was lost." Jesus came to save people, and everything that was lost when Adam first sinned. Jesus will  eventually restore all things to their right condition. Acts 3:21 says the heaven must receive Jesus "...until the times of restitution of all things..." Jesus will not fail in His mission.

When He came to die for the sins of the world, He finished the work He was given to do during the first part of His mission. He will come again to complete God's will and bring it to its fullness. Jesus still has much work to do. We must have the faith to believe that He can and will do it. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 speaks of work Jesus has yet to do.

20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27For he has put all things under his feet. But when he says all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
God will be all in all when Jesus has finished His work of restoring all things. Look forward to the day when everything, including you, will display the glory of God.