In front of most traditional churches stands one or more crosses. This has become the quintessential symbol of professing Christianity, supposedly serving as a reminder of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
However, aside from its pagan overtones, it is used as a trite, superficial symbol that trivializes a pivotal event—Christ’s resurrection—into nothing more than a marketing gimmick.
In its simplest form, when the Bible references resurrections, it is referring to restoring life to someone after he has died. This could be from a physical death to a physical life, or, as with Jesus Christ, from a physical death to spirit—the goal for all of God’s people and eventually mankind.
Like every other biblical truth, religions of this world blur, distort or hide the clear teachings of the resurrections as found in God’s Word. The confusion stems from their misunderstanding of resurrections, and of when and how often they occur.
The most known attempt to justify their understanding is the popular false doctrine of the immortal soul. This feeble effort does nothing but add confusion.
Imagine one has within him an immortal soul—inherent life. What would be the need or purpose of a resurrection? Upon death, he would already be alive as a spirit being, “looking down from heaven,” as the thinking goes. This would mean that any resurrection would bring a supposed immortal spirit back to a PHYSICAL body! How awful! Freed from the bonds of the physical body, and supposedly living in heaven for decades, centuries or millennia, one would be forced to return to a physical form!
The Bible is Clear
God’s people understand that we do not have an immortal soul. When we die, we are dead.
But without a resurrection, each of us will simply remain dead!
God’s purpose for mankind, the reason for Christ’s Church, the truth of the gospel, warning the nations of Israel, and countless other doctrines would be irrelevant without a resurrection to eternal life (I Cor. 15:13-19). Christianity serves no purpose if nothing exists for us beyond this physical, limited and temporary life.
Clear instruction and basic logic did not stop false ministers in the first century from teaching against the concept or need for the resurrection.
However, Jesus was most plain—and repeated His teaching on the matter throughout the New Testament: “Marvel not at this [a growing number did!]: 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” (John 5:28-29).
As the Rock of the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:1-4), Christ also inspired the prophets and patriarchs to teach of a coming resurrection in Job 14:14-15 and Daniel 12:2.
As the “Firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29), Christ’s resurrection is extremely important for all true Christians. Many in the world understand Jesus’ death paid for our sins—but they miss the all-important reason for His resurrection: “We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
Jesus Christ now lives in and through His servants (Gal. 2:20). God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, resurrected Christ to a glorious spirit body—and will do the same for those following His truth and who live the way of “give.”
Much confusion has arisen about the purpose and number of resurrections, because most fail to understand that God’s plan is done decently and in order (I Cor. 15:22-23).
The First Resurrection will consist of 144,000 saints with whom God has been working for the last 6,000 years, those begotten with the Holy Spirit (vs. 20-23; also see I Thessalonians 4:16.) The term “First Resurrection” is found in Revelation 20:5-6, a wonderful moment that will usher in the Millennium.
Verse 5 also references the Second Resurrection in an inset or parenthetical thought: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” Obviously occurring after the Millennium, the magnitude of this event is almost impossible to comprehend. Scores of billions of people who have never understood or known the true God will be resurrected to physical life and given a chance to obey Him and develop His character. Read Revelation 20:13 to understand the colossal scope of this larger resurrection. Ezekiel 37:1-14 will further build a picture in your mind of all that will be needed as billions are resurrected and taught the truth. They will be given 100 years to grow in holy, righteous character and be born into the God’s Family as spirit beings (Isa. 65:20).
Regrettably, not everyone will be willing to obey God. After the 100 years, some few will actually choose the Third Resurrection. Both Daniel 12:2 and John 5:29 reference this event, but it is covered in more detail in the book of Revelation: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15).
Finally, notice that God mercifully erases even the memory of those who are cast into the lake of fire: “They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore have you visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish” (Isa. 26:14).
But a loving, merciful God gives every human being a chance to be born into His Family.
Study each resurrection, employ the tools of Christian growth, and make certain you attain the First Resurrection!