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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN RESURRECTION -
Resurrection is possibly the single most important doctrine in all of
Christianity. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 Paul writes to the believers in
Corinth stating that "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching
vain, and your faith is also vain."
According to this statement by Paul, all of our faith is vain unless
Christ be risen from the dead. The importance of the resurrection of
Christ and the subsequent resurrection of believers in Him cannot
afford to be overlooked. Josh McDowell, a noted Christian apologist
After more than 700 hours studying this subject, and thoroughly
investigating its foundation, I have come to the conclusion that the
resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious,
heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the
most fantastic fact of history.
The Greek word for resurrection is anastasis, and means to make to
stand, or rise up. The term resurrection is never used directly in
the Hebrew Old Testament, but is alluded to in such passages as Psalm
16:10-11; 49:14-15; Daniel 12:2; and Isaiah 49:14-15. At the time of
Christ, the concept of a bodily resurrection was commonly held by the
Jews as illustrated by the reply of the scribes following an
explanation of the resurrection by Christ (Luke 20:39).
The fact of resurrection can hardly be disputed when interpreting the
Scripture literally. However, there is much confusion or ignorance
regarding the program of resurrection. The Bible seems to indicate
that all human beings will eventually be resurrected, but not all at
the same time.
THE RESURRECTION BODY
The first phase of God's resurrection program involves the
resurrection of Christ. Christ is called the first-born from the dead
(Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). Paul speaks of an order of resurrection with
Christ being the firstfruits (1 Cor. 15:23). This means that he is
the first risen of a new humanity that shall share with him in the
glory of a risen body. The Scriptures indicate the Jesus was
resurrected in a physical body as evidenced by his invitation to the
apostles to see his hands and feet and recognize that he had flesh and
bones (Luke 24:39). He also consumed food (Luke 24:43) and allowed
Thomas to put his hand in His pierced side (John 20:27). The Bible
teaches that the resurrection of believers will be in the like manner
as the resurrection of Christ; meaning they will be resurrected bodily
(Phil. 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2; Psalm 17:15). The apostle Paul seems to
give the most exhaustive account of the resurrection of believers in
1 Corinthians 15. Many mentions are made of the fact that the body
will be resurrected, but it is unclear as to the substance of the
body. This is the only passage in Scripture which makes a direct
reference to the substance of the body, and it still remains very
vague. Much speculation has been offered as to the nature and
substance of this resurrection body, but J. A. Schep seems to have
presented the most likely conclusion when he states:
The orthodox Jews of those days, as is generally recognized, believed
strongly in the resurrection of the body of flesh, even to such an
extent that the most crude conceptions were propagated.
Consequently, when Jesus spoke of the resurrection of the dead and the
apostles taught the resurrection of the body, there was no sense in
emphasizing the fact that the resurrection body would consist of
flesh. For themselves as orthodox Jews and for their Jewish hearers or
readers this was to be assumed. Even their Hellenistic, gentile
hearers could think of nothing else when they heard these Jewish
apostles speak of the resurrection of Christ and of the future
resurrection of the dead.
Many have objected to this concept on the basis of cremation and other
physical destructions of the body. They conclude that since the
bodies have been destroyed, there can be no bodily resurrection.
Speaking of the resurrection body in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says of
man that God shall give him a body (v. 38). This is the "technical"
problem answered. The answer is not found in any theory of corpuscles
or cells or particles or natural theology, but directly in the act of
God. God is perfectly capable of creating or recreating any body he
There is another problem that comes up regarding the resurrection
body. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that "flesh and blood
cannot inherit the kingdom of God," yet in Luke 24:39 it says that
Christ's body was "flesh and bone" but no mention is made of blood.
The resurrection body will have no blood because there will be no need
of it. The purpose and duty of the blood in the present body is to
supply nourishment to the wasting cells that are constantly in need of
repair. Where there are no wasting body cells and tissue there is no
need of blood.
Paul explains further in 1 Corinthians 15 that there are celestial
bodies and terrestrial bodies, and these bodies are different. Verses
2 and 53 explain that our bodies will be changed and the mortal body
will become an immortal body. Blood is the source of all life and
when our bodies become immortal there will be no more need of blood.
Thus sufficient evidence has been given to show that the believer's
resurrection body will consist of flesh and bones.
THE RESURRECTION PROGRAM
In Scripture two different kinds of resurrection are anticipated in
God's resurrection program: the resurrection to life and the
resurrection to judgement. The twofold nature of the resurrection is
clearly seen in such passages as Acts 24:15 which says there shall be
a resurrection of the just and the unjust. Some feel that a literal
translation of Daniel 12:2 plainly teaches two resurrections. This
passage is translated by some of the most eminent Hebrew scholars as
follows: "And (at that time) many (of thy people) shall awake (or be
separated) out from among the sleepers in the earth dust. These (who
awake) shall be unto life eternal but those (who do not awake at this
time) shall be unto contempt and shame everlasting."
In the book of Revelation John writes of a first resurrection: "But
the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were
finished. This is the first resurrection." (Rev. 20:5). Logic would
indicate that if there is a first resurrection, there must also be a
The first resurrection can be designated as the resurrection to life.
John 5:29 states: "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." This is also called a better
resurrection in Hebrews 11:35.
The second resurrection can be called the resurrection to damnation
(John 5:29). This resurrection includes all who are raised to eternal
condemnation. It is not chronology that determines who is in the
second resurrection, but rather the destiny of the one raised.
Revelation 20:11-13 states "And I saw a great white throne, and him
that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away;
and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and
reat, stand before God...And the sea gave up the dead which were in
it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them... The
dead mentioned here can only refer to those who were left behind at
the resurrection to life.
While it is clear that there are two distinct phases of the
resurrection program, there is more involved in the entire
resurrection program. The Apostle Paul gives us an outline of the
events in the resurrection program in 1 Corinthians 15:20-24.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But
every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they
that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh 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. The phrase "but
every man in his own order" is an indication that there will be a
division in the resurrection program. The Greek word for order
(tagma) is a military term meaning company, troop, band, or rank.
The parts of the resurrection are viewed as the marching battalions
in a well-organized parade of triumph. In this sequence of
resurrection parade Christ is admittedly the battalion leader or the
"first fruits" of the harvest that promises a great abundance of like
fruits to follow at the appointed time of harvest.
A second group to be resurrected is indicated by the word "afterward."
Some feel that "they that are Christ's" refers to only those believers
who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ in this present church
age. Others conclude that this group involves all the saints of God
including Old Testament saints, church age saints, and tribulation
saints. However, since Paul is outlining the program of resurrection,
it would seem unusual for him to omit any one particular group. Thus
Paul would be saying that the second great group would be the saints
of all ages who are raised because they belong to Christ and this will
have been accomplished by the second advent of Christ.
Finally Paul says "then cometh the end." Some feel that the word
"end" refers to the end of the resurrection program, while others
speculate that the end refers to the end of the age as indicated in
Matthew 24:6, 14; and Luke 21:9. Pentecost states: The Greek word for
end (telos) in its basic usage refers to the end of an act or a state
and has to do with the termination of a program, it may be preferable
to understand that Paul is including the final or end resurrection in
the marching groups here depicted.
Finally it is necessary to consider the resurrection of the nation
Israel in the resurrection program, for they too are promised a
literal resurrection (Daniel 12:2-3; Isaiah 26:19). Many have
speculated that the Old Testament saints of Israel will be
resurrected at the time of the rapture of church saints (1
Thessalonians 4:16). However, they fail to recognize the difference
between the church and Israel in the program of God. The passage in 1
Thessalonians refers to the dead "in Christ." This can only refer to
those who have believed on Christ through faith (Philippians 3:9) and
those who have been baptized in Christ by the Holy Spirit (1
Corinthians 12:12-13). Since Israel has never experienced the baptism
of the Holy Spirit which would place them "in Christ," this phrase can
only describe those saints of the present age who are thus related to
A proper order of events in the resurrection program has been
correctly outlined by Pentecost as such: (1) The resurrection of
Christ as the beginning of the resurrection program (1 Cor. 15:23);
(2) the resurrection of the church age saints at the rapture (1 Thess.
4:16); (3) the resurrection of the tribulation period saints (Rev.
20:3-5), together with (4) the resurrection of Old Testament saints
(Dan. 12:2; Isa. 26:19) at the second advent of Christ to the earth;
and finally (5) the final resurrection of the unsaved dead (Rev. 20:5,
11:14) at the end of the millennial age. The first four stages would
all be included in the first resurrection or resurrection to life,
inasmuch as all receive eternal life and the last would be the second
resurrection, or the resurrection unto damnation, inasmuch as all
receive eternal judgement at that time.
(Cont. The Importance of the Christian Resurrection - Part II)
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN RESURRECTION -
THE DESTINY OF THE RESURRECTED
The resurrection of all, whether saved or unsaved, will result in an
eternal dwelling place. Those believers who have died in the past
have departed to be with the Lord. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8
that to absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. However,
this is not the final abode of the righteous, for the believer must
still receive his resurrection body. In Paradise, man is said to be
"incomplete," because at death the real man--the spiritual nature
separates and leaves the physical body on earth. Before man can be
"trinity" (body, soul, and spirit) again he must get his physical body
which will be resurrected. All the righteous are in paradise awaiting
their resurrection bodies.
(CIE footnote: "All the righteous are in paradise awaiting their
resurrection bodies." This statement is in dispute. When Jesus was
finally ascended, "He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the
right hand of God." [Jo 3.13; 20.17;Ro 10.6;Mr 16.19] Therefore to be
present with the Lord, is to be in Heaven with Christ and God. The
fact that the souls of men must await rejoining with a resurrected
body, does not require their presence in Paradise [a waiting place
which was located in the earth, separate from, but adjacent to hell]
When Christ said to the theif on the cross "Today you shalt be with
me in Paradise", and when the scripture teaches that he also said
"As Jonah was three days in the belly of the fish, so will the Son of
Man be three days in the belly of the earth" [rough paraphrase], we
find that paradise is in the center of the earth. Most theologians
consider it separate from, but adjacent to, hell [hades]. It, today,
still exists and is empty, since scripture does not indicate that it
was removed. Also, God would have to be in paradise too, since Christ
sat down at his right hand, and believers are absent from the body
and present with the Lord when they die [from the prior view, in
paradise]. The following account of Hell, and it's purpose, is correct
though, as far as I can see.)
Sabiers further states:
It should be carefully noted that no saint has yet entered the final
heaven, nor is any sinner yet said to be in the final hell. Paradise
is not the final heaven for eternity. At death the souls of the
righteous go to this paradise in the presence of Christ, not to the
final heaven. This eternal heaven, which the saints will occupy after
they receive their resurrection bodies, is described in the last
chapters of Revelation, and should not be confused with the present
paradise, which the righteous occupy until the resurrection.
The final abode of the righteous after the believers receive their
resurrection bodies is called "a city whose maker is God" (Heb.
11:10); a "building of God" (2 Cor. 5:1); a place of "many mansions"
(John 14:2); a "better country" (Heb. 11:16); and the "new Jerusalem"
(Rev. 21:2). A complete description of this eternal dwelling place
is found in Revelation 21 and 22.
When the wicked die they go to the place referred to in the New
Testament as hell (hades). It must be noted that although the word
hades is most often rendered hell, it does not refer to the eternal
place of punishment for the unrighteous.
The eternal abode of the unrighteous after the second resurrection
(resurrection to damnation) is also rendered hell in the New
Testament. This is the Greek word gehenna and refers to a garbage
dump in the valley of Hinnom outside the city of Jerusalem. This
place was known for the fire that continually burned there and it is
identical in meaning to the lake of fire (Mark 9:43; Rev. 14:10-11;
Thus it has been determined that both the saved and the wicked shall
be resurrected and receive some form of eternal body. Each is
destined to spend eternity in either heaven or hell.
The hope of the righteous is found in the resurrection from the dead
and the subsequent reunion with Christ (2 Cor. 4:14). The wicked,
owever, have no hope, but rather only eternal punishment awaits
those without Christ (Rev. 20:13-15).
As Christians awaiting that blessed hope, we must do all we can to
take the gospel to those who await an eternal hell.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count
slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
McDowell, Josh. Evidence that Demands a Verdict. San Bernadino, Ca.:
Here's Life Publishing, Inc., 1979.
Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come. Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Academie Books, 1958.
Ramm, Bernard. Them He Glorified. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm.
B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963.
Sabiers, Karl. Where are the Dead? Los Angeles, California:
Christian Pocket Books, 1959.
Schep, J. A. The Nature of the Resurrection Body. Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964.
Compliments of the Manna System
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