Not everybody believes in resurrection – the raising alive of the dead. Perhaps you don’t. The disciple Thomas didn’t either, He did not even believe Jesus had been resurrected, despite his fellow disciples telling him they had met him. But then … …
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 20
And the apostle John, apparently keen that others appreciated how he, and many others, were witnesses to this great event, tells us about it and guarantee its truth!
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 1 John 1
THE TRUTH ABOUT RESURRECTION
A fundamental cornerstone of God’s plan with His creation revolves around the subject of man being resurrected from the dead – this is in complete contrast to the basis of beliefs concerning heaven-going and the immortality of the soul.
WHAT IS RESURRECTION?
It is a raising of the body after death from the earth and a subsequent transformation of it to an immortal nature. By the way, you need to be aware that Jesus spoke of death as a sleep for those that followed him faithfully, because he knows they will be raised alive again. Here’s an example,
11 … he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11
Now, consider the following passage from the Bible.
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15
This “change” is a marvellous process by which God will transform a mortal, corruptible body into a immortal and incorruptible one.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15
Resurrection is a two-stage process, for before “this mortal can have put on immortality”, the body which may have laid in the ground for many centuries must be reassembled and caused to stand again on the earth. The standing is for a specific purpose – to be judged:
10 … … for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Romans 14
Jesus Christ is the judge and his Father has given him the task of raising the dead, and he said to them that had heard the gospel.
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. John 5
IT IS THE ONLY HOPE OF SALVATION
There is no mention in the Bible of immortal souls which can provide continuance of existence after death. The apostle Paul, however, said that we could be saved by our hope, but this must be in what God has promised.
16 The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. Psalm 115
Just as the leaders of the Jews hated Jesus and brought about his undeserved death, so they hated Paul and strove to get Paul condemned to death by the Romans. Paul in his defence made clear what his hope was.
6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. Acts 23
To Paul this is “the redemption of our body” Romans 8:23. For this hope was so valuable to him that the apostle was prepared to
8 … count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3 (NKJV)
WHAT IS A RESURRECTED BODY LIKE?
Jesus is the only example of resurrection so far.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 1 Corinthians 15
He spent some time with his disciples after his resurrection so that they were able to describe him. From their description in Luke’s we can see that it was Jesus, not a ghost or a spirit –
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them. Luke 24
However, his body, though substantial, was not flesh and blood. As Jesus said of his faithful followers rewarded with eternal life …
36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Luke 20
They will have a truly wonderful new body …
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21
HOW CAN OTHERS BE RESURRECTED?
Jesus will return to the earth to bring many out of the ground to judge them. Those judged worthy will be miraculously changed to incorruption by Jesus.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6
WHERE WILL RESURRECTION BE ENJOYED?
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5
He was quoting from a Psalm where the text continues,
11 … and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. Psalm 37
He was not referring to the present dispensation of things but to a future one on this earth. The Bible is about the earth and its inhabitants and their relationships to God who has made them both. Nowhere does this God promise a reward in heaven for the righteous. It will be on this earth when Jesus returns to reconstitute its politics and establish on it the kingdom of God.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14
This marvellous reward of a transformed body and a part in building God’s future kingdom on earth is promised to those who hope in His promises and obey His commands in this life. It is vain to hope, however sincerely, for what God has not promised. It is vital to hope and strive for what He has promised. And we have seen the Bible tell us all are free to do just this and for those who will do it there is a glorious and satisfying future indeed.
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