Our Two Resurrections
BY GABRIEL OTERO
WHEN WE SPEAK of resurrection, we immediately think of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And because He rose from the dead, we know that we believers will also be resurrected when He returns. But not all Christians realize that their salvation actually involves two resurrections first the spiritual, then the bodily.
Based on John 5:25-29, I would like to share with you some thoughts about these two resurrections. In both cases, we will ask these questions: Who will be resurrected? When will they be resurrected? How will they be resurrected? And why? Then, we'll see how all this applies to us.
The Bodily ResurrectionLet's look first at John 5:28,29: "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."
Who will be resurrected? "All that are in the graves." Now, the grave is a place where dead bodies are buried. In John 11, for instance, where Jesus is dealing with the dead Lazarus, we read in verse 17, "Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already."
We also read in Ecclesiastes 9:10, "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." The grave is a place where none of the things that we do in this world are to be found.
This verse, then, is talking about the bodily resurrection. Notice that "all that are in the graves shallcome forth". This means that not only will believers be bodily resurrected, the unsaved will come forth as well.
Last day. When will that be? This verse merely says, "the hour is coming"in other words, some time in the future. In John 6:40, however, Jesus declares: "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
In fact, the statement "I will raise him up at the last day" appears three other times in John 6. The bodily resurrection of believers will take place on the last day. Since all that are in the graves will come forth, the bodily resurrection of the unsaved will occur on the last day as well.
Even Old Testament believers were aware of that. Remember when Jesus arrived at Bethany after Lazarus' death, He said to the grief-stricken Martha, "Thy brother shall rise again"? Notice what Martha said in reply, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (John 11:24).
Divine command. How is the bodily resurrection going to happen? It says here, "all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth." They will come forth in response to the command of God.
Can someone who died thousands of years ago and whose body has totally disintegrated still come
forth? Yes, with God all things are possible. We don't have to understand it, we just believe it because it is the Word of God.
Eternal separation. Why will everyone that has ever lived on earth be raised? "They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." They are resurrected to face Judgment Day. Only those who have done good will have life thereafter.
The trouble is, as Jesus told a certain ruler, nobody is good except God (Luke 18:19). Romans 3:10 declares, "There is none righteous, no, not one." So, every human being, having done evil, should really be condemned. To be cast into the lake of fire eternally is described in Revelation 21:8 as the second death.
The Good News is that God has provided us sinners with an escape. We read in Revelation 20:6: "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." You see, there is a first resurrection.
The Spiritual ResurrectionLet's look now at John 5:25, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live."
Who are "the dead" as it is used here? Jesus explains it in Luke 15:32. Speaking of the prodigal son that has returned, Jesus says: "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." That young man was physically alive, but spiritually dead.
Jesus also says in John 6:53, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Unless you have salvation through the Cross, in other words, there is no life in you; you are spiritually dead.
Writing to believers in Ephesus, Paul says, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (2:1). In other words, before their salvation, believers were spritually dead.
So, "the dead" in John 5:25 refers to those who, though physically alive, are spiritually dead. This is the condition of all unsaved people, including believers before they have become saved. But they shall live, our text says; they will have their first resurrection.
Little time left. When will this take place? It says here, "the hour is coming and now is", which means right now as well as in the future. Remember, Jesus made that statement nearly two thousand years ago. So, much of the future that was coming then may have already passed, although now is still the time for salvation.
How will the spiritually dead be resurrected? "They shall hear the voice of the Son of Godand live." They will hear in such a way as to give a heartfelt response to the gospel.
The faith required to give such a response does not come from ourselves. We read in Ephesians 2, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with ChristFor by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast" (vv.4,5,8,9).
God is the One who quickens us; He resurrects us by giving us the faith to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. As we surrender ourselves to God in response, we become a child of God.
Hearing the Word. The manner in which this gift of faith comes to us is further explained in Romans 10. Starting with verse 14, we read, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
Thus, to be spiritually resurrected, one needs to hear the Word of God, the voice of the Son of God. As people hear the Gospel, God the Holy Spirit works in their hearts, convicting them of their sins and causing them to repent. God also gives them the faith to believe in Christ. That's why we send missionaries all over the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Why should there be a spiritual resurrection? So that the second death will have no power over us. As we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior, His righteousness is imputed to us. Then, at the last day, we will be found to have done good; our body will be resurrected unto life, everlasting life in the new heaven and new earth.
ApplicationWhat does all this mean to you? It means that if you do not have the first resurrection, then when the second resurrection comes, you will find hell. If you don't believe in Jesus Christ in this life, there is no second chance. So, watch out. No one knows for sure that he will be alive tomorrow. Repent now and beseech the Lord to give you the faith to trust in Christ.
And if you are a believer, then get on with the King's work at once. Go and send forth the gospel to all nations with urgency. "The night cometh," Jesus warns, "when no man can work" (John 9:4). Time is rapidly running out. o
Dr. Gabriel Otero is pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church, 810 Tennant Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037.
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