The four doctrines that have been discussed (repentance from dead works, faith, baptism and laying on of hands) have all been directly related to this present world and to the scene of time.
However, the remaining two “elementary truths”, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, we are taken by the revelation of God’s word out of this present world and beyond the scene of time into a new realm – the realm of eternity.
Eternity is not merely an immensely long span of time or the endless extension of time. Eternity differs in its nature from time. It is an altogether different mode of being. It is God’s own mode of being, the realm in which God Himself dwells.
What is resurrection?
The resurrection is the resurrection of the body. At death, the soul and spirit of a man is released from its earthly vessel but the physical body will decompose and return to dust. But at the resurrection, we will be given an immortal body.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – 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 15:53-55
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”
“Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. “
1) THE FIRST RESURRECTION
This takes place at the end of the Church Age, at the Second Coming of Christ (1 Thes. 4:13-17, John 5:28-29, Heb. 11:35, Rev. 20:4-6)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.[a] 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a[a] thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Not all Christians will participate in the First Resurrection. This is only for the overcoming saints. Unbelievers will not be raised at this time.
Philippians 3:10-11 “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; If by any means I might attain unto the [out] resurrection [from among] the dead.”
Paul’s desire and goal was to attain the First Resurrection. This word “resurrection” Paul uses in Phil. 3:11 in the Greek is a compound word, meaning the out-resurrection from among the dead. This implies that only some of the dead are raised at this time, not all of them.
Paul wanted to be in this special, select group of “called out ones from among the dead.” Paul wanted a “better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35).
Why is it important for us to be part of the First Resurrection?
Those who will be raised from the dead in this time will receive their glorified bodies and rule and reign with Christ during His millennial reign. They will be kings and priests who will teach God’s statutes to the nations. Second death has no power over them. (Revelation 20:4-6)
Who qualifies for the First Resurrection?
Experiencing Philippians 3:10-11, which includes:
- Knowing God in an intimate way
- Knowing the power of His resurrection (1Cor. 15)
- Knowing the fellowship of His sufferings (Luke 9:23-26)
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
- Being made conformable to His death (Galatians 2:20)
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Those who are beheaded for their witness, having refused the mark of the Beast (Revelations 20:4-6)
Those who are blessed and holy – meaning that they have been counted worthy by receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. (Romans 5:17)
17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
2. The General Resurrection
This takes place at the end of the thousand-year reign (Millennium) of Christ upon earth (Revelation 20:5, 20:11-15).
5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
The Great White Throne Judgment
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[a] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[b] 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Who will be included in the General Resurrection?
- Everyone who has died from the beginning of time – the evil and the good.
- Majority of those resurrected at this time would be the wicked.
- The believers who did not qualify in the First Resurrection.
- Believers who were born and died during the Millennium.
What happens to Christians who do not make it in the First Resurrection?
They continue to live out their lives into the Millennium. Longevity of life will be restored and people will probably live as they did before the flood (i.e. hundreds of years – Isa. 65:20). They will die and go to heaven until the General Resurrection at the end of the Millennium. However, Paul was encouraging his converts to be holy so that they could have the hope of the Second Coming of Christ and a better resurrection.
The First Resurrection is the supreme hope and goal of a Christian’s life on earth. If we believe in the resurrection, our life’s aim and purpose must be like Paul’s – to attain it. (Phil. 3:12-14)
Every generation has the hope of being a part of the Second Coming because it is the dead who rise first (1Cor. 15:13-14,19). But we should also understand that God has criteria to which every generation must measure up.
Just being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit is not the criteria to rule and reign. This is why Paul was so concerned with his message of perfection. To be perfect, a man must walk in the path that God ordained for his life. Otherwise, he will not qualify for the millennial reign. Only those who are holy and overcomers will be raised incorruptible at the coming of the Lord.
May we endeavor to live our lives in such a manner pleasing to God that we may qualify, by the grace of God, to have a part in the First Resurrection, and be kings and priests with the Lord in the Millennium.