Jesus and the future: Resurrection (Part 9)

When Christ returns on the last day, all people will be resurrected.  If death can be defined as separation of the soul from the body, the final resurrection reverses this consequence of the Fall into sin.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 notes “the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” The body of those who have died are in the grave, or are cremated. But where is the soul? Simply said, the soul is either with God or not. From our perspective of time and space, the souls of believers who have died are with God, in His presence.

An example of this is Stephen in Acts 7:59, echoing Jesus’ words as He died: “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”  On the other hand, the souls of unbelievers are not with God.

As stated previously, the resurrection reverses the separation of body and soul that occurred at death. What will our resurrected body be like? Although every specific detail is not given, six main descriptors of our new body are found in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49, and 53.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven… For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

First, Paul states that the resurrected body will be imperishable—it will not experience disease or decay. Second, it will be glorified—there will be nothing shameful about it. Third, it will be powerful—it will not tire or be unable to continue. Fourth, it will be spiritual—it will not be like this natural one. Fifth, it will be Christ-like—it will not be like this sinful one. Sixth, it will be immortal—it will not die.

Death’s curse has been broken by Jesus’ resurrection. During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of the final resurrection, when the soul is rejoined with the body on last day. In John 6:40, He said, “‘For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’” The sequence of the Last Day is given in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Christ will return with the souls of the dead believers, who are resurrected first. After their bodies rise from the grave, being changed into glorified bodies, the living believers’ bodies will be changed instantaneously, without having to go through death. Paul also related that fact in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

The resurrection of the dead is universal: unbelievers’ bodies will rise also. Both Old and New Testament passages speak of this, such as Daniel 12:2 and Acts 24:15. In John 5:28, Jesus declared, “‘Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.’” After the resurrection, one more event takes place before the eternal states of heaven and hell–Judgment Day.

 

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July 02, 2014

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