Resurrection of the Dead Live Forever in a Perfect Body!
Summary: Death holds no fear for those who know Jesus as Savior. He promised that, at His Second Coming, all the faithful will rise from the dead in perfect, immortal bodies and will spend eternity in His glorious presence.
There was an expectation of the resurrection as far back as the Old Testament.
Job 19:25-27a [Job said] I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
•• Job probably lived at least 1,000 years B.C., and perhaps far earlier than that. Yet he already had the personal revelation of the resurrection from the dead. He knew that "in the end", long after his death, his Redeemer would stand on the earth and Job, "in [his] flesh ... [would] see God." He clearly expected to live again bodily after death in the presence of God.
•• This hope of resurrected life thrilled Job's heart — "How my heart yearns within me!" — as it should thrill ours today.
Isaiah 26:19 But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise — let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy — your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.
•• The great writing prophet Isaiah had the revelation. He saw and wrote of the dead rising, their bodies living again, the earth descriptively "giving birth to her dead". And note that this promised, joy-filled hope was to those who belong to God — "your dead will live, Lord ... and shout for joy". (We will see later that the lost rise again also, but not to a resurrection of "joy")
Daniel 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
•• Daniel gives early hints of two distinct resurrections — of the saved and the lost. We will look (below) at this truth as it is developed clearly in John 5 and Revelation 19-20.
Jesus promised that believers would be raised from the dead.
John 6:40 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 them up at the last day.
•• Jesus spoke of a specific "last day" — the Second Coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22-23) — when all who have "looked to" Jesus in faith will be raised from the dead to live eternally in His presence.
The New Testament Christians were confident of their future resurrection.
Acts 24:15 ...I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
•• The apostle Paul assured his listeners that "there will be a resurrection..."
•• For Christians this is a great reason for "hope in God". There is life beyond this life, beyond the grave!
John 11:25-27 Jesus said to [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied. "I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God..."
•• Martha believed Jesus' promise of resurrection for those who believe in Him.
•• And she properly based her faith on the revelation of who Jesus is — the Messiah (the Christ), the Son of God. Her faith was immediately vindicated (vss. 43f), when Jesus displayed His resurrection power by bringing her brother Lazarus back from death to life in the sight of Martha and the other onlookers. He will do the same to millions of believers at His Second Coming!
There are actually two resurrections of the dead.
John 5:28-29 "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear [my] voice and come out — those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned."
vs. 29, KJV 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.
Acts 24:15 ...there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
•• Paul preached what Jesus had revealed, that there will be two resurrections — a resurrection of life for the righteous, a resurrection of damnation for the wicked.
•• A "millennium" of 1,000 years separates the "first resurrection" of the redeemed from the later resurrection of the lost. We will see this described in Revelation, chapters 19 and 20 (below).
1) The first resurrection — of the saved
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
vs. 23, KJV But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
• I believe strongly that correct end-time doctrine depends greatly upon properly understanding the timing of the resurrection.
• In this first resurrection, it will be "those who belong to him" who rise. When will this happen? "When he comes". At His second coming.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until 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.
• Believers alive and left until the Lord's second coming will not precede the dead in Christ! To the contrary, "the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them."
• This disproves the nonbiblical doctrine, popular in some circles, of a pretribulation rapture. Living Christians will not be caught up to the Lord 7 years (or some say 3-1/2 years) prior to the resurrection of the dead in Christ. They will "not precede ... [but] will be caught up together with"the dead in Christ at this first resurrection, which Jesus called the "resurrection of life".
Revelation 20:1-6 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And 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. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 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.
• This 1,000-year period, the Millennium, begins immediately after "the beast" (antichrist) and his "false prophet" are defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ and the armies of heaven and were cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 19:11-20).
• Notice that among the "blessed and holy" who came up in this "first resurrection" at Jesus' second coming (recall 1 Corinthians 15:23) were those martyred during the beast/antichrist's reign of terror (vs. 20:4). This scene of the first-resurrection saints is showing all the raised-to-life redeemed of all the ages right up to the moment of Jesus' return to earth in glorious victory.
2) The second resurrection — of the lost
Revelation 20:5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)
• We have been seen (vs. 6) a millennium of the redeemed joyfully living and reigning with Christ.
• Now, in Rev. 20:5, we are shown the timing of the earlier references by Daniel, Jesus, and Paul to a second resurrection. It occurs at the end of the millennium (that is, 1,000 years after the first resurrection). Daniel called it an awakening to a life of "everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). Jesus called it "the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29, KJV). The apostle Paul referred to it as the "resurrection of ... the wicked" (Acts 24:15).
• The tragic destination of these lost souls, raised up at the end of the millennium, is the "lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15).
Our resurrected bodies will be like Jesus' resurrected body!
Phillippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
•• When the "Savior from there" (from heaven) comes to earth the second time, all those who over the centuries have "eagerly await[ed]" Him will be transformed.
•• What the apostle Paul calls our "vile" mortal bodies will be "fashioned like unto [Jesus'] glorious body" (Philippians 3:21, KJV). Just think of that. Our bodies in the resurrection will be like His! Perfect bodies, immortal bodies, glorious bodies "like His"! Bodies fashioned for eternal life — "like His"!
•• At His coming the dead in Christ will rise again and those alive and remaining until His coming will be caught up to the Lord together. And we will be instantly, eternally changed!
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.
Luke 24:39, 42f Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have... [42-43] They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
•• Jesus' disciples were startled (vs. 37) when He unexpectedly appeared to them after His rising from the grave. Remember that our resurrected bodies will be like His. And His body, he said, had flesh and bones and, as we see, was able to eat. Some more amazing qualities of our future glorified bodies are seen in the following verse.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49, 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 image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man...  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
• The perishable body now will then be imperishable. • Dishonor will be turned to glory. • Weakness will give way to power. • The natural body will then become a spiritual body. Still a "body", but not subject to the limitations of our current bodies. • Our transformed bodies will bear Christ's image. • Currently mortal, we will then be immortal.
John 14:19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
•• Anticipating His own upcoming crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and return to heaven, Jesus spoke to His followers words that should ring loudly in our ears today — "Because I live, ye shall live also." (KJV) Jesus' resurrection is the guarantee of the believer's resurrection.
•• The promised resurrection — the certainty of the believing dead rising to life — is one of the most joyful of all biblical truths. Those who know Christ will rise from the grave immortal, imperishable, glorious, powerful, never again to experience pain, sickness, or death. Our bodies, though frail and mortal now, on that great Resurrection Day will be "fashioned like unto [the] glorious body" of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.