God’s Word teaches:
That the Resurrection of the dead is taught in the Bible as clearly as the immortality of the soul. Every individual who has ever lived will be resurrected, some to honour and glory and others to everlasting shame and contempt – Job 19:25-27; Psalm 71:20; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28,29; 1 Corinthians 15:12-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16; Hebrews 6:1,2; Philippians 3:8-11; Revelation 20:4,6,12,13.
The Resurrection of the dead is a cardinal and an important doctrine of the Bible. As a matter of fact, all who die in this world will undergo physical resurrection before the Great White Throne Judgment. This doctrine shows that there will be a resurrection of body joined with the soul to meet the Lord either in peace and joy, or meet Him as Judge in condemnation, eternal punishment, and torment of hell fire. Jesus, the Prophet come from God, declared in John 5:25, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” The fact of the Resurrection of the just and unjust rings through the teachings of Jesus Christ (John 6:40; 11:25; Matthew 16:21; 22:23-31). Job spoke of his eyes and flesh seeing God after worms have destroyed his body (Job 19:25-27). Isaiah spoke of the earth casting out the dead (Isaiah 26:14-19). Daniel spoke of the awakening of many that sleep in the dust, some to everlasting life, and some
to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). In like manner spoke David (Psalm16:10; 17:15). Old Testament saints (Hebrews 11:35), New Testament saints (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-18; Luke 24:1- 49; John 19-21), including Paul (Acts 17:18,32), Peter (1 Peter 1:3; 3:21), even Herod the wicked king and the generality of the people of his day believed in the resurrection of the dead (Mark 6:14-16).
The form to be associated with the resurrected body of the just is exemplified by the glorified body that Jesus, the first fruit, had after His resurrection (Luke 24:26-43 John 20:11-20,24-31; 1 John 3:2). All resurrected bodies will be immortal (Daniel 12:2; Mark 9:42-48). The resurrection bodies of saints will possess different degrees of glory. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:39-54).
In the intervening period between death (when the body and soul are separated) and the resurrection, one may ask: Where is the soul? The soul of a saint of God goes immediately to meet God in heaven.
The repentant malefactor on the cross received forgiveness and assurance of Jesus: “Today shall thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 24:39-43). Righteous Lazarus died and was “carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom” where he was comforted (Luke 16:19-31). Stephen at death said, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” ready to receive him (Acts 7:54-60). Paul was “willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). Many other references of Scripture confirm that the soul of the saint rejoices in God’s presence at death (Philippians 1:21-23; Ecclesiastes 12:1,7). On the other hand, when a sinner dies his soul goes immediately to hell. In hell fire, he is conscious; he can see, feel and hear (Luke 16:19-31). The timing for the resurrection to life of the just and resurrection to judgment of the unjust is well spelt out in the Scripture in accordance with the ordained programme of God. The resurrection of the saints of God also variously described in Scriptures as resurrection of life (John 5:28,29), resurrection of the just (Luke 14:13,14), a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35) and the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6), has four phases:
- The resurrection of Christ, the first fruit (1 Corinthians 15:3,4,12,20,23).
- The resurrection of the Church age saints at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-16).
- The resurrection of the tribulation period saints (Revelation 20:3-5).
- The resurrection of Old Testament saints at the second advent of Christ to the earth (Daniel 12:2; Isaiah 26:19).
All the saints of God that ever died would resurrect in the first resurrection. Not a soul will be left behind. What joy! What triumph!! (Revelation 20:6). “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” The second resurrection is still part of God’s programme but deals with the unsaved dead. There is a difference in time of one thousand years between the first and second resurrection (Revelation 20:5-15). The second resurrection is also described as the resurrection to damnation (John 5:29). There will be everlasting punishment and torment in the lake of fire for all who partake in the second resurrection
who missed the first resurrection and whose names are not found in the Book of Life (Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:11-15).
As in the early church when Hymenaeus and Philetus erred concerning the truth by teaching that the resurrection was past already, thereby making shipwreck of their faith and that of all those who followed their false doctrine, there are many false teachers today who “know not the scriptures nor the power of God” and overthrow the faith of many (2 Timothy 2:17,18; Matthew 22:23-32). Today many false teachings on the resurrection of the dead abound having the same devastating effects on all who believe them. Among such doctrines are a) Annihilation and b) Purgatory. The doubt, unbelief and scoffing of sinners will not prevent the complete resurrection programme of God for both the saved and the unsaved, the same way it did not hinder the resurrection from the dead of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ (Acts 23:8; 2 Timothy 2:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:12-23; Romans 3:3,4). The resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of the saints of God form the foundation of our Christian faith (1 Corinthians 15:16-20). “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. BUT NOW IS CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD”!
To partake in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the saved, there must of necessity first be a spiritual resurrection while in this present life, whereby the spirit is quickened from death in trespasses and sins, and the whole being renewed in the glorious likeness of God to a life of righteousness and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:14,16; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Hebrews 12:14).