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The Mystery of Our Resurrection

The Mystery of Our Resurrection

The Mystery of Our Resurrection.

MYSTERY: a sacred secret hidden in the heart of God until the appointed time of revelation; a truth that can only be known by divine disclosure; spiritual insights into God’s way of thinking and planning; hidden truths revealed by God that are beyond human intellect and reason; divine knowledge that can only be understood through the Holy Spirit; God’s thoughts and plans revealed to believers and hidden to doubters and unbelievers.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be transformed – in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the shofar trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed, beyond the reach of death, never to die again.” (1 Cor. 15:51).

The Jewish Belief in the General Resurrection: The common Jewish understanding of the resurrection during Jesus’ time was echoed by His friend Martha during their conversation about Lazarus… “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24). In the Hebrew Bible, the resurrection of the body was made clear in Daniel 12:2, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake in everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the heavens.” Job also clarified the traditional Jewish view on the resurrection of the body in Job 19:25-27“For I know that my Redeemer lives. And He shall stand at last on the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know: That in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes behold, and not another!” The Jewish belief in the general resurrection continues to this day, as it is listed as one of the core Articles of Faith. Orthodox Judaism considers resurrection one of the cardinal principles of Rabbinic Judaism.

The Christian Belief in the General Resurrection: Starting with the Source, Jesus mentioned or taught on the universal resurrection a number of times: John 5:28-29; John 6:40; John 11:25; and Luke 14:14. As a foretaste of the general resurrection, Jesus raised a number of people from the dead, including His friend Lazarus. Another foretaste was when, amazingly enough, many dead believers buried near Golgotha were raised to life when Jesus died (Matt. 27:52). The early Christians continued this belief as the Church expanded, as Paul preached in Acts 24:15, “I have hope in God, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust.” Paul led the way in teaching about the resurrection of the body, as one can see below. Both of the major Christian creeds contain a statement of belief regarding the resurrection…. The Apostles’ Creed states, “I believe… in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.” And the Nicene Creed states, “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

What: The resurrection of the body, also called the general resurrection or the universal resurrection, is the belief that there will be a raising of all the bodies on earth, dead and alive, on the last day, rising to universal judgment, at a time to be determined by the Lord. At that event all people will be resurrected in body form, both the believers and the unbelievers. Death is only temporary as things are sorted out at the judgment. Those who believe in Christ will go on to live forever with Him. Physical death will be openly and finally defeated at this future resurrection. Those believers who have died will rise from the dead and meet Jesus in the air. Those who are still living will also join Jesus and everyone else in the clouds. Where the judgment fits into this event is unclear. At this resurrection, the bodies of the believers will be transformed.

How: We are confident that this resurrection will happen because of the “First-Born of the Dead“, Jesus Christ Resurrected. Jesus opened the door to the general resurrection through His own triumphant defeat of death in His body. We aren’t privy to the exact order of events at the end of the world. How the resurrection and the judgment fit together remains a mystery. We do know that everyone will hear the voice of Jesus while in the grave (John 5:28), and the bodies will be unburied. We do know that a shofar trumpet will sound, somehow around the world in such a way that everyone will hear it. We also believe that believers will appear with Christ in glory (Col. 3:14). We also know that, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be judged according to the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10).

Who: We know from Scripture that there’s a lot we do not know about what we shall become at the resurrection of our body. (1 John 3:2), but believers can accept the fact that we will all be radically changed into new creatures, transformed by the power of God (1 Cor. 6:14). We know that our earthly bodies will be changed into heavenly bodies, our physical beings into spiritual beings. The temporary nature of our bodies subject to decay will be transformed into eternal bodies, from mortal beings into immortal beings. (1 Cor. 15). As Paul said, that which was sown in weakness will rise in power. We know that our new bodies will be filled with light (Matt. 13:42). We see too that our new bodies will be just like the resurrected body of Jesus (Phil. 3:21 and 1 John 3:2). It is a comfort to know that our resurrected bodies in the new Kingdom will forget how to moan, cry, or writhe in pain, for there will be no need to do so.

Death: Judeo-Christian belief holds that death is a prelude to the after-life. Death is a temporary stoppage of life on earth. Biblical authors often referred to death as sleep, because it was similar to going to sleep, losing consciousness, and then awakening again without being aware of what happened during the sleep. What it will look like when our eternal souls reunite with our transformed bodies is a mystery that can’t be revealed till it happens. When we are dead, we are not conscious of the passage of time. It’s like when we are asleep. 2 Corinthians 5:8 implies that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. Is that what this looks like… When we die, we are not aware of time or place, and when the Lord comes to claim us, when we resurrect from the dead, it will seem like we went straight from death to new life, even if a million years have elapsed. We do know, we do believe, that Jesus Christ will indeed raise us to new life for an eternity with Him, no matter how it all happens and what it looks like.

A Final Word: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down – that is, when we die and leave this earthly body – we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up in Life. God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit.” (2 Cor. 5:1-6, NLT).

A Note on the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit is God’s “guarantee” of what will come. His work in our lives today assures us that the healing process will be thoroughly completed in Christ’s presence. Each time the Holy Spirit reminds you of Scripture, convicts you of sin, restrains you from selfish behavior, or prompts you to love, you have evidence that He is present. You have the Spirit within you beginning the transformation process. Whether you deal with aches and pains or even disabling limitations, trust God that His total renovation of your body and soul is in process.” (NLT notes in Study Bible).