Resurrection of the Dead
> Pastor Thomas
There are a lot of misconceptions of where you go when you die. Some people think they’re going to heaven. I like the story of the rich guy who dies and goes to heaven and stands in judgment, then gets granted permission to enter. The angel was showing him around, and they said, “See that big mansion over there? That belongs to your gardener.” “See that one over there? That belongs to your chauffeur.” The woman who cleans your house? That’s her mansion over there. Then they pull up to this old shack with no windows, no doors; just curtains blowing in the wind. And when he says, “How come?” the angel says, “We can only work with what you send us.” So if you don’t give God much, you won’t get much.
When we talk about the resurrection of the dead, we’re talking about all three resurrections, because there are three resurrections.
Is there a resurrection?
In Jesus’ day, there were people who believed in the resurrection, and people who didn’t. The same holds true today.
- Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
- Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
- There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.
- And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
- And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.
- Last of all the woman died also.
- Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.
Jesus’ answer tell them without a doubt that there is a resurrection.
- And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:
- But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
- 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.
So he says two important things here.
- There will be a resurrection
- When it happens life as we know it will change.
We’ll be like the angels, both in nature and in makeup. (I’m not talking about Revlon.) So Jesus told us some very important things that we need to study.
What does the Old Testament say on this subject?
- And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
- And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
I think Daniel pretty-much said it right there.
- Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Again, the Old Testament definitely speaks of a resurrection.
- For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
- And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
- Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
So here we see that we will have a new body, and there is going to be a resurrection of the dead.
Where do you go when you die?
Do saints go straight to heaven, and sinners to hell and the lake of fire?
You know the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, from Luke 16:19-31. Abraham died and was carried to Abraham’s bosom, and the rich man also died and it says:
- And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
The important thing for us to visualize is this:
- And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
In other words, if you’re in hell, you got there; you’ll stay there. If you’re in Abraham’s bosom, you’ll stay there. The people in heaven, by their nature, would want to comfort those in hell, but they can’t. So we see there is a place of rest, called Abraham’s bosom, and a place of torment, called hell. That’s different from the lake of fire; we’ll talk about that later.
- So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
God was talking about the disobedient. There is a rest that belongs to the people of God.
- And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
- So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
- He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
We’re talking about making a conscious choice to believe God, and to enter into the rest that he has for us.
- Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
- And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
- There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
- For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
- Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
God has a place of rest. Church, that’s got to be Abraham’s bosom. It doesn’t describe heaven. He doesn’t call it a place of glory; he doesn’t call it a paradise; he just calls it a place of rest. So the waiting place for the faithful, for the believers, that resting place, Jesus referred to it as Abraham’s bosom.
Isaiah says this about hell:
- Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
- Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
So sin is so rampant, that hell is like an expanding place. It is getting larger and larger and larger, and people don’t know where they’re going. Don’t you think Satan is planning something spectacular for those who are going to hell? I do. Remember the story of the lady who died prematurely in a car accident, and the angel said, “You’ll be revived pretty shortly; you’re on the right track; just hang on.” So she asked for a tour of heaven, and they gave her one. Then she asked for a tour of hell, and the angel said, “Yeah, go ahead. Nobody’s ever requested one, but it’s just down that path.” She goes down the path and there’s Satan with a cheese-eating grin, leaning on the door. She said, “I’m just here to get the door.” So he kicked in the door, and there was a big beach party with blankets and fires and surfing and music and dancing. She said, “This is hell?” He said, “You’re looking at it.” So she gets revived and goes back, and lives wrong, and she dies and the angel says, “I don’t know what happened to you. You were on the right track, but now you’re going to hell.” She says, “Great.” She grabs her picnic basket and throws her blanket over her shoulder and walks down to the path to Satan. He kicks the door open, and there’s flames and agony and all kinds of torture. She says, “This isn’t what you showed me!” And Satan shrugs, “I lied…”
Satan wants us to think that hell is going to be something that it really isn’t. Hell is truly going to be truly far worse than we can imagine.
- Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
- 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.
And Paul, when he was before Felix, brought to be tried and accused, and Felix told him to answer for himself, said:
- But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
- And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
So in his argument and defense of himself, he talks about his belief in two resurrections, of the just and the unjust.
Order of Resurrections
- But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
- For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
- 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.
The first is Christ the first-fruits,
- That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
So Christ will rise first, then the saints will rise, then:
- 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.
- For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
- The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
So if we’re not around when Christ returns, we’ll go to the grave. But the essence of what God breathed into us will go back to God, and that staging place is known as Abraham’s bosom. They who died outside of Christ, their resting place is called hell. It doesn’t sound very restful, does it? Death will either be restful and enjoyable, or miserable and dreadful. For those in hell, there is something worse coming. And for those in Abraham’s bosom, there is something better coming.
- But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
- Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
- And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
- But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
- All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
- So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
- It is sown in dishonour; 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
- And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
- Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
- The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
- As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
- And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
We know that the step-by-step process is:
- We have this body
- We live this life
- We commit our lives to God
- This bag of bones goes to dust
- Our spirit goes to God
So we sow this body. Too many people are too worried about what it’s going to be like. People put too much energy into understanding angels, when they haven’t even got the earthly on track. Don’t worry about what heaven’s going to be like; just be ready for it so you can enjoy it when it comes.
- Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
- Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
So he’s saying that some of us will be alive when Christ returns and the resurrection takes place. The disciples lived like they would see the coming of Christ. They lived like they might not see their next moment. They expected Christ to come back any moment. If you don’t have that attitude, church, you can be caught unaware. And the consequences are just not worth it. So you have got to be focused on the eternal.
I remember when one of the girls looked up and said, “Is Jesus coming? Look, the clouds are parting!” I’m sure that there were children in Bethlehem who said, “What’s that star mean?”
If we don’t expect Christ to come, we too will miss the signs. We’re all going to be changed, but you might not like what you get changed into. Don’t put on your next body and not like what you have. There’s no return policy.
- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
- For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
So think about it. Are you prepared for what’s coming next?
- In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
That’s just talking about the saints. But the dead which are not saints are going to have a new body, too. The difference between Satan’s demons and God’s angels isn’t the substance they are made of. They both came from God in heaven. So marvel not that they appear as angels of light. Marvel not that they look great.
- For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
- So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
- O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
- The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
- But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
It’s not in vain in God.
- But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
- For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
Again, if you don’t put it all together, you’ll miss the fine points. God is going to pass through those resting places and bring us with him.
- For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
- For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
- Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
- Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
I can’t tell you how many funerals I’ve read this at, and the sad thing is that a lot of them will not be in that first resurrection.
- 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.
So it talks about the millennium, and we’re not going to get into it. But when Christ returns and the trumpet sounds, that begins the millennium.
- And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
- And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
So it talks about two deaths for these guys. We’re going to have three births. We’re born from our mothers; we’re born into Christ, and then we’re born into this new life. But those who are only born once will die twice.
- But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
So we’ve got three resurrections:
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ
- The resurrection when Christ returns, of the just
There are two schools of thought about when a saint dies and when a sinner dies. Some say that you go to the grave and that’s all there is. Once you die, you’re in the grave until the return of Christ, then you’ll either go to be with Christ or go to hell. I prefer the other one, where you’ll either go to Abraham’s bosom or hell. Does it have anything to do with salvation?
- (The millennium reign, then) The second resurrection, of the unjust.
Then death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.
It doesn’t imagine what you imagine that intermediate stop-over to be like, just be prepared. Because when the trumpet sounds, if you’re not in the right departure line, you’ll miss your flight. And that call could come at any time. You could have an accident at work; you could be driving down the highway. You can’t say, “Hold on, God; I’ve got to clean up something!” Don’t be taken unawares.