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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.