I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. – Acts 24:15

 

What do you believe about the resurrection? It’s important to know what you believe about the resurrection of people as well as the resurrection of Jesus since our hope of eternal life is closely connected to our understanding of the resurrection. The apostle Paul in his defense before the Roman Governor Felix said:

  • Acts 24:14-15 – 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the

Paul tied his hope to the resurrection and said it was based on his understanding of the Old Testament.

The word “resurrection” is found 41 times in 40 verses of the New King James Version Bible and is referred to in numerous other places in the Bible. The phrase “raised from the dead” is found 12 times in the Bible (NKJV – Mark 6:16; John 12:1, 9; 21:14; Acts 3:15; 4:10; Romans 6:4, 9; 7:4; 1 Corinthians 15:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:8). What does the Bible say about the resurrection and why should we care about it? That’s what we will consider in this series entitled, Resurrection Revelations

Resurrection Revelations from the Old Testament

There are incidents of resurrection in the Old Testament. Elijah was used by God to raise the widow’s son (1 Kings 17:17-22). Elisha was used by God to raise the Shunammite’s son (2 Kings 4:32-35) and his bones led to the raising of an unnamed man (2 Kings 13:20-21).

In what some people see as the oldest book of the Old Testament, the book of Job, we find this reference to the resurrection of the physical body:

  • Job 19:23-27 – “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!24That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever!25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!     

Apparently from the earliest of times people like Job had an understanding of bodily resurrection.

King David spoke of the resurrection and how it is the basis of gladness and hope when he was inspired to write:

  • Psalm 16:7-11 – I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.8I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.10   For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (See also Psalm 49:15; 73:24)

It should be noted that this is a Messianic psalm and is applied in the New Testament to Jesus (Acts 13:35).

The prophet Isaiah referred to bodily resurrection when he was inspired to write:

  • Isaiah 26:19 – Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.

Hosea, a contemporary of Isaiah was inspired to refer to the bodily resurrection when he wrote:

  • Hosea 13:14 – “I will ransom them from the power of the grave;  I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.”     

The prophet Daniel spoke of bodily resurrection when he was inspired to write:

  • Daniel 12:2 – And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.     

And the resurrection is linked not only to individuals in general but is linked to the Messiah (Psalm 16:10 as mentioned above and in Isaiah 53:10-12). Resurrection is also used to speak prophetically about Israel as a nation. Ezekiel used the imagery of dead bones being brought back to life to depict prophetically the resurrection of the nation of Israel (Ezekiel 37:1-14). The idea of resurrection was therefore something that was introduced in the Old Testament and not a merely a New Testament phenomena.

But despite these references and others in the New Testament that refer to the belief in resurrection by Old Testament believer (John 11:24; Hebrews 11:35) there seems to have been an element of uncertainty and even denial about the resurrection in the Old Testament. Job expressed it when he was inspired to say:

  • Job 14:7-14 – “For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And that its tender shoots will not cease.8Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground,9  Yet at the scent of water it will bud And bring forth branches like a plant.10  But man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last  And where is he?11  As water disappears from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dries up,12 So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep.13  “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past,  That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!14  If a man dies, shall he live again?  All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes.    

 The Sadducees, Jewish liberal religious leaders of Jesus day denied that there was a resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Luke 20:27; Acts 23:8). Some have lightheartedly commented it was because the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection that they were sad-u-see. We have to go to the New Testament for the full revelation on the Resurrection.

Resurrection Revelations in the New Testament

It is in the New Testament that we get the fullest revelation of the resurrection. What do we see revealed by God in connection to resurrection in the New Testament?

First, Jesus believed in and taught the resurrection. Jesus taught that there was such a thing as a bodily resurrection. We see him correct the Sadducees and in the process confirm that there is a resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33). Jesus taught that there was a reward for helping the poor that would be given “at the resurrection” (Luke 14:12-14). When Jesus was persecuted by the religious of His day He responded by speaking of His being equal with the Father (John 5:1-24) and in the process spoke of the two resurrections saying:

  • John 5:25-29 – 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Jesus believed in and taught that the resurrection was a reality to be expected.

Second, Jesus proved resurrection is possible by raising from the dead Himself. The apostle Paul was inspired to write in this regard:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – 12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Because Jesus rose from the dead it proves it can be done. We can not rise from the dead on our own, but when we put our faith in Jesus we are assured to follow Him in resurrection.

It is reported that at the close of the Battle of Waterloo, upon the issue of which hung the destinies of Europe, the English people were anxiously awaiting news of the result. Their only means of communication was a system of signal lights flashed across the English Channel. The fog became so dense that only a part of the message was made out. It read, “Wellington defeated.” Gloom settled upon the English. But imagine their joy when the fog lifted and they received the whole message, “Wellington defeated the enemy.”

When Christ was crucified, His disciples were so enshrouded by the fogs of doubt that they saw but one meaning to the sad event, “Christ defeated.” All hope was gone; Christ was dead. But Easter morning brought the glorious fact of the risen Lord, and the message read, “Christ defeated the devil.” How glorious! By dying, Christ conquered the grave; by ascending, Christ made possible our ascension even to heaven. Hallelujah! “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – William Moses Tidwell, “Pointed Illustrations.”

Third, resurrection of Jesus and others is not impossible or even incredible because of who God is. If you believe in God and that nothing for Him is impossible (Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:26; Luke 1:37; 18:27), then not only is resurrection of our bodies not impossible, and not incredible, but it is very possible and credible because of who God is. The apostle Paul expressed this when he was inspired to say in his defense before King Agrippa:

  • Acts 26:8 – 8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

The implication is that we should not think of the resurrection as incredible.

Fourth, the resurrection of Jesus validates and confirms the gospel. Without the resurrection there is no gospel. This is the teaching of the New Testament which states:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 – 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

The resurrection is God’s stamp of approval for the atoning substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). By Jesus raising from the dead he showed that His work on the cross was accepted by God as the just and satisfactory recompense for the sins of the world and was efficacious to defeat the last enemy, death (Romans 6:23). Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we hear the New Testament proclaim:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 – “O Death, where is your sting?O Hades, where is your victory?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus is the fulfillment of Scripture (Luke 24:45-46) and God’s stamp of approval and our tangible proof that salvation from sin and resurrection to eternal life is possible and available through faith in Jesus (John 3:16).

And because of this the resurrection is seen to guarantee: of the forgiveness of our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17); of our justification or salvation (Romans 4:24-25; 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:14-17); God’s enabling power to live holy lives (Ephesians 1:18-2:10); the fruitfulness and worth of our labor (1 Corinthians 15:58); and our own resurrection (Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; 2 Corinthians 4:14). The resurrection is the basis of our hope (1 Corinthians 15:18-19). The resurrection of Jesus confirms the deity of Jesus (Acts 10:40; Romans 1:4) and is the basis for His exaltation (Acts 4:10-11; 5:30-31; Philippians 2:9-11). The resurrection marks the beginning of the reign of Jesus as Lord of the Church (Ephesians 1:19-23). The resurrection serves to warn the sinner of Judgment Day where Jesus will sit as the righteous Judge of all men (Acts 17:31). The resurrection seals the fate of Satan (Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:10).

Fifth, the resurrection of Jesus is reasonably provable. The empty tomb proves Jesus rose from the dead (John 20:1-9). The angels testifying to Jesus’ resurrection is evidence that it is true (Matthew 28:5-7). Even the enemies of Jesus, who made a feeble attempt to cover it up admitted Jesus had been resurrected from the dead (Matthew 28:11-15, 62-66). John and Luke testified that there were many infallible proofs (John 20:20, 27; Acts 1:3). The apostles believed in the resurrection of Jesus and preached it boldly in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:22; 4:2, 33; 17:18; 24:15). They saw the resurrection as reasonable (1 Corinthians 15:35-49). The early Christians who predominantly came from the ranks of Judaism believed so strongly that Jesus had been raised from the dead on the first day of the week that they changed their day of worship from the normal Saturday Sabbath to the first day of the week (John 20:1, 19; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Only the power of the resurrection of Jesus could move them to make such a change in their patterns of worship.

You may have never heard of Sir Lionel Luckhoo. But if you open the Guinness Book of Records you’ll discover he is listed as the most successful trial lawyer ever – he had 245 successful murder defenses in a row! To give you an idea how good that is, Perry Mason was a TV show about an unbelievably good lawyer. The producers had him lose a case after 70 successful ones, because they didn’t think anyone would find him credible.

Yet despite his fame, success, and wealth he felt empty inside. The older he got the more meaningless life appeared. Then at 63 he turned his analytical skills to the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. He found that the message of Jesus’ resurrection satisfied his personal needs and his intellectual questioning. “I have spent more than forty-two years as a defense trial lawyer in many parts of the world.” he later wrote. “I say unequivocally the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt!”[1]

Sixth, the enemies of God center their attack on the resurrection. The early teaching of the apostles was mocked by the intellectuals of their day because of the teaching of the resurrection (Acts 17:32). The apostles and early Christians were persecuted because of their belief in the resurrection (Acts 23:6; 24:11-15). And the New Testament letters reveal that the resurrection was a target of those even in the church who strayed from the truth of the resurrection (2 Timothy 2:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:12).

Seventh, the resurrection is a source and basis for hope. Paul was inspired to write in the New Testament:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 – For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,
  • Philippians 3:8-11 – 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

We live in fallen failing dying physical bodies but because of the resurrection we have hope that once we die, through the resurrection of the body we will receive new bodies with eternal characteristics.

Eighth, when we see resurrection in the New Testament we see it as physical bodily resurrection. In the New Testament we see Jairus’ daughter physically raised from the dead by Jesus (Matthew 9:23-25). Jesus also physically raised a widow’s only son from the dead (Luke 7:11-15) and physically raised from the dead his dear friend Lazarus (John 11:43-44). When Jesus died there was an earthquake and the tombs opened and many saints were bodily resurrected and came out (Matthew 27:52-53). Later in Acts Peter was used by God to raise Dorcas physically from the dead (Acts 9:36-40). In the future two witnesses from the Lord will be bodily resurrected in the plain sight of the entire world (Revelation 11:3-14).

One of the aspects of the hope we have in the resurrection is that our physical bodies will undergo a change. Paul writes:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:51 – 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—

What will our resurrection bodies be like? They will be like the resurrection body of Jesus (Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2). Jesus was recognized by His disciples (Matthew 28:9-20; Mark 16:9—20; Luke 24:33-53; John 21:7) and touchable (Luke 24:39) therefore, we will be recognizable and touchable in our resurrection bodies. Like Jesus, in our resurrection bodies we will be able to eat (Luke 24:41-43; John 21:12-13). Like Jesus resurrection body our resurrection bodies will not be limited by time, space or gravity (Luke 24:31; John 20:19, 26; Acts 1:9). Our resurrection bodies will be incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:42); glorious and powerful (Romans 8:18; 1 Corinthians 15:43), spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:44, 49), and eternal (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Ninth, everyone will be resurrected in the end. The New Testament speaks of two resurrections. Jesus said:

  • John 5:28-29 – 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

There are two resurrections; a blessed resurrection of the just to eternal life (Revelation 20:6) and reward (Luke 14:14) and a resurrection of the unsaved to eternal condemnation (Daniel 12:2).

The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, takes place at the end of the Millennial (1000 year) reign of Christ (Revelation 20:5-6). The first resurrection seems to have a number of parts to it. Paul speaks of an “order” to the resurrection of the righteous (1 Corinthians 15:23). The word “order” (Greek tagma) is a military term that conveys the thought of ranks or companies of troops. The word “afterward” (Greek epeita) indicates a lapse of time.[2]When we look at the resurrection of the righteous we see a number of stages, parts, or groupings to it.

Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection and leader of the resurrection procession (1 Corinthians 15:20). The first group that follows Jesus’ resurrection would appear to be the righteous Old Testament saints. Prior to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus all who died went to either one of tow places both of which were located in Sheol (Old Testament term) or Hades (New Testament term). This was an abode with two compartments; one for the righteous referred to as Abraham’s bosom, the other a place for the unrighteous to await judgment. We see this place described for us by Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 where the dead beggar Lazarus (not the same as Jesus friend in John 11) is in the comforting arms of Abraham and the rich sinner is in a place of torment. When Jesus died on the cross He descended to this abode and led the righteous out of Abraham’s bosom to heaven (Ephesians 4:8-10). Why had the righteous Old Testament saints been kept in Abraham’s bosom? Because the actual sacrifice for sin by Jesus had not yet been accomplished, therefore, Old Testament saints waited in this abode (Romans 3:21-28).

The second group of resurrected saints would appear to be those raised at the Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The Bible states that for the New Testament Christian who dies, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8). The Christian who dies now goes immediately into the presence of Jesus. But it would seem that resurrection bodies are not given until “His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:23), at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Revelation 4:1) or the Rapture of the Church.

There is a third group mentioned in the New Testament which are the Tribulation saints or those who are martyred for their faith in Jesus during the seven year Tribulation period described in Revelation 6-19. These Tribulation saints are resurrected at the 2nd Coming of Jesus at the end of the seven-year Tribulation (Revelation 20:4).

Tenth, the resurrection is a work of God. The New Testament teaches that the Three Persons of the Trinity do the work of resurrection. God the Father is said to have raised Jesus and will raise us (1 Corinthians 6:14; Matthew 22:28-29; Acts 2:24; Ephesians 1:19-20). Jesus is said to have raised Himself from the dead and will raise us from the dead (John 5:26-29; 6:39-40, 44; 10:18; 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; Ephesians 5:14). The Holy Spirit is said to have raised Jesus and will raise us from the dead (Romans 8:11; Ezekiel 11:19).

 

  1. Wilbur Chapan told the following story in “Present Day Parables.” Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965. The former Prime Minister of Great Britain was revered in life for his leadership and, just prior to his death, he planned his own funeral in detail. It was a short, traditional Church of England service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It began with the choir chanting “the sentences” beginning “I am the resurrection and the life.” When the coffin was placed upon the bier, the whole congregation sang “Who Would True Valor See, Let Him Come Hither.” No time during the service was Churchill’s name mentioned. All glory went to Jesus Christ. The 30-minute service ended with the Archbishop of Canterbury standing on the altar steps facing the congregation with his cross of office in his hand and offering a benediction. Then came the national anthem, and as it ended a trumpeter, high in the galleries of the dome on the eastern side, sounded Taps, the bugle call signaling the end of the day. As the last note died away, a second bugler silhouetted against the narrow windows over the western door replied with reveille, the wake-up bugle call that signals a new day. It was Churchill’s way of letting others know that he still lives because of Christ.

 

Yet he had trials, both many and heavy; but if I were asked, “When have you seen him most triumphant and joyous in his trust in God?” I should reply, “When, with a beaming face, he has expressed his unbound confidence in God that the trial must be one of the ‘all things’ that ‘work together for good.’ ” Every weakness or trial, being cast upon God, became to him a source of strength. In response to that infinite love which called him from a life of sin as a young man, he loved him, everybody and everything; so that the highest pleasure was found in seeking to please him whom he esteemed it his highest privilege to serve.

Again, the Bible was no mere text-book to him, but the medium of constant communication between him and his heavenly Father. Nor was the expression, “Praying always,” a mere figure of speech; but his daily practice.

Another special characteristic was his great humility; always was nothing — Christ everything. Not long ago a friend said to him, “When God calls you home, Mr. Mueller, it will be like a ship going into harbor in full sail.” “Oh, no, he said, “it is poor George Mueller, who needs daily to pray, ‘Uphold my goings … that my footsteps slip not.’ ” Some may be ready to say, “A spiritual giant has fallen.”

He has not fallen; he has been raised to his reward.

Wednesday was the first time he allowed that he was weak or weary, and that same night a heavenly escort was sent to take him in triumph up, up into the presence of the Lord, who would not let him labor with any sense of weariness after seventy and more years of such faithful service. The precious casket that had held his spirit so long fell back to our loving care, and we reverently place it to rest until the resurrection morn — Address at Funeral of George Mueller.

What do you think about the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Have you pondered it? Has it had an impact on your life? Have you taken the time to take in the revelation God has provided through the resurrection of Jesus Christ? If you haven’t already done so, let this resurrection season be the time for you to take in resurrection revelation. Then it will be able to similarly be said of you too, they “have not fallen; they have been raised to their reward.”

[1] Source: reported in Ross Clifford, Leading Lawyers Case for the Resurrection
Applications: resurrection of Christ, apologetics

 

[2] John Walvoord, Things to Come, Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids MI, 1958) pages 402, 403