WE BELIEVE in the resurrection of every person; to eternal life for the believer and eternal punishment for the unbeliever. (Matt. 25:31-46, Rev. 20:10-15, Matt. 7:21-23)
When writing to the Corinthians Paul expressed astonishment that some among them did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. “How is it?” he exclaimed. Or to paraphrase, “How is this possible? Don’t you know that if the dead are not raised then your faith is worthless and you are lost in your sins?” (1Cor 15:16-19)
By this he links the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age to the resurrection of Christ and unequivocally declares that without both of these events there is no Christian faith. Is it any wonder then that this foundational teaching (Heb 6:2) continues to be undermined or even neglected today?
Many pastors, instead of teaching their congregations on this subject, tend to relegate it to the funeral service where it is more of a “hope so” rather than the living hope of the church (1Pet 1:3). And in a culture that disdains absolutes and a church that often cringes at any idea or orthodoxy, many believers are confused or ignorant regarding the foundation of the faith they profess.
But those of us who love Christ and glory in the River of His Presence must not shrink back from preaching the whole counsel of God. We must not confuse the Father’s Love and Healing with the wishy-washiness of our time and we must not leave out the portions of truth our church culture deems unpopular or polarizing. They should not just appear as doctrinal statements in our church visitor packets for the studious to analyze, but should be written on all of our hearts and minds.
We should be determined then to proclaim the following facts regarding the resurrection of the dead and hold fast to the faith which has been delivered once and for all time to the saints (Jude 1:3, Heb 3:14, Col 1:23).
- The resurrection of the dead is a literal event. Each person who dies physically will be resurrected physically and stand before Christ. There are no exceptions (Dan 12:2, John 5:25-29, Rev 20:4-6).
- The righteous will be resurrected to eternal live in God’s kingdom whereas the wicked will be resurrected to eternal death and judgment in the lake of fire away from the presence of God (Dan 12:2, Mt 5:22-30, Luke 12:5, John 5:24, Heb 6:2,Heb 10:26-27, 2Thess 1:9,Rev 20:15).
- Those who die in Christ will be resurrected with a glorified body like Him and those who remain alive at His coming will have their bodies changed in the twinkling of an eye (1Thess 4:16-17, 1Cor 15:51-53, Phil 3:20-21).
Towards the end of his life while imprisoned in Rome, Paul who had undoubtedly concluded that he was close to martyrdom, expounds on what he believes should be the attitude of every believer (Phil 3:15). It is to gain Christ and be with Him (Phil 1:23, 3:8), to be ready for the heavenly call (Phil 3:14), to be heavenly minded rather than earthly minded (Phil 3:17-21). This is the hope of the church! And if we are not among those who are still alive at His coming, may we be among those who experience the power of His resurrection (Phil 3:10) so that we may lay hold of that for which we were laid hold of (Phil 3:12) and be able to know Him as He really is.