How many resurrections?

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Death is an enemy of the living (1 Corinthians 15:26). Death entered the world when the first man, Adam, sinned (Genesis 3:6, Romans 5:12). Is death the end of me? If death is my end, is there any real hope while I live? Let’s answer these questions from the Bible.

Is death the end of me?

When G-d created Adam, He placed him in the garden of Eden and told him he was free to eat of any tree in the garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The consequence of eating from this tree was death (Genesis 2:15-17).

Ever since Adam sinned, death has been at work in the world. While driving my car to visit my grandchildren, I pass numerous hospitals and cemeteries along the way, and sometimes I see one or two crows in the road pecking at the carcass of an animal struck dead by another vehicle. We know that death is at work in the world simply by our daily experiences.

I am not a young man anymore; the strength of my youth is gone. Is death the end of me?

If death is my end, is there any real hope while I live?

There is good news! Death need not be my final end! After our first parents (Adam and Eve) sinned, G-d promised a remedy to the problem and consequence of sin (Genesis 3:15). This verse in the New King James Version of the Bible reads “… And I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This prophesy is being fulfilled by Jesus Christ because He is the ultimate seed of the woman Eve, the mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20).

Jesus is the only begotten son of G-d (John 3:16), born of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:35, Luke 2:6-7), and is therefore without sin; however, He was bruised by Satan when He died on the cross for the sins of all Adam, but He will ultimately crush the head of Satan, that old Serpent, called the Devil (Revelation 12:9), when He throws Satan in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

Two resurrections

The Bible teaches that there are two resurrections from the dead, the first completing the work of G-d’s great plan of salvation, while the second leads to final spiritual death and eternal punishment for all who reject G-d’s salvation.

The first resurrection will be completed in three phases:

  1. The first resurrection began when Jesus was raised from the dead. He is the “… firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20). After Christ’s resurrection from the dead, numerous old covenant believers were also raised from the dead and went into Jerusalem and appeared to many people (Matthew 27:52-54). Grant Jeffrey wrote this about that event: “With their resurrection, the Lord proved forever his claim to be the Messiah and affirmed his power over death, providing a resurrection to eternal life for all who would receive his offer of salvation.” (Grant Jeffrey, General Editor, NIV Prophesy Marked Reference Study Bible, copyright 1998 by the Zondervan Corporation, article on page 1219, “The Resurrection of the Body”).
  2. Sometime in the future, Jesus will return to gather His church together to meet Him in the air. First, all new covenant believers who have died will be raised from the dead and given glorified bodies like His, and then all the remaining believers still alive at that time will be instantly changed and clothed with a new and glorified body like His (1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). This future event is called the Rapture of the Church.
  3. Sometime in the future, during the period of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), also known as the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:14), many people will be martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ, and will be raised from the dead when Jesus returns (Revelation 19:11-21) at the Battle of Armageddon in Israel (Revelation 16:14).

Thus the first resurrection includes all people who have died in Christ and have been raised from the dead in Him, together with living believers who will be miraculously changed when He comes for His church, plus all the saints martyred during the Great Tribulation, and those saints coming out of the Great Tribulation, plus a select group of old covenant believers who were raised from the dead after Christ was first raised from the dead to prove the power of God over death. “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of G-d and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6).

The second resurrection includes all people who, from the beginning until the end, have rejected G-d’s pardon for Adam’s sin and have died in their sins. This group of people will be raised from the dead after the millennial reign of Christ on earth to stand before the One true G-d while He sits in judgement on His great white throne, to be judged and to be made to bow the knee before Him (Philippians 2:9-11), and then sentenced to eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15, Daniel 12:2).

Real hope for the living

Recently I was listening to a recorded reading of the book of Leviticus. The book of Leviticus contains many laws and regulations given to the Israelite’s by G-d through Moses. While listening I heard again and again that violating some of G-d’s laws requires the death of the one who violated the law. The work of the Levite priests must have been very hard and without a doubt very bloody, having to sacrifice so many animals over and over again to cover the sins of the people. At once I understood that all of this hard and very bloody work looked forward to the time when the promised Seed of the woman Eve would be bruised and die once for the sins of all Adam.

I am convinced that the death of Jesus on the cross has fulfilled the requirements of G-d’s laws, and because I believe G-d, I, like Abraham, am credited with Righteousness (Genesis 15:6). My sins and guilt and shame are not merely covered, they are taken away (John 1:29, Hebrews 10:11-25). I am forgiven! I am set free! I am no longer in Adam! I am no longer a slave to sin! I am now in Christ, a new creation! (2 Corinthians 5:17). I am born again (John 3:3) and can perceive the kingdom of G-d! This is indeed good news! This is the gospel of Jesus Christ! I thank G-d, my creator and my savior and friend for the Light that is in me. I am thankful because I am among those who will share in the first resurrection! I rejoice because my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27).

Choose life

If you have read this testimony, you must make a choice – believe G-d as I have believed G-d and be saved or continue in your sins and risk dying in your sins and facing the judgement of G-d at His great white throne at the second resurrection.

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