It is a clear teaching of scripture that there will be a resurrection from the dead before judgment will take place:
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him (Jesus), I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day”. John 11:24
“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead”. Isaiah 26:19
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” Daniel 12:1-3
“Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just“. Luke 14:12-14
“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:34-36
“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” Acts 17:32
Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? Acts 26:8
From these passages it can be seen that to believe in the Bible one must accept the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead. This is not to say a ‘resurrection’ of a soul leaving a body to float to heaven upon death. Many of the passages above, and we will soon see later in this article, that the Bible speaks of a literal, bodily resurrection from the dead.
In fact, God’s promises which make up the gospel message actually demand a bodily resurrection:
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise… And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect”. Hebrews 11:8&40
The fallacy of mainstream Christendom is to preach the doctrine of the “immortal soul” – a doctrine which can trace it’s roots right back to ancient pagan beliefs. The Bible does not teach such a thing but rather that the soul dies and the dead are unconscious (Ezek 18:4, Psalm 146:3-4). Therefore by changing the true Biblical teaching on what happens when man dies the churches around have also had to distort the teaching of the resurrection. What is the point in a full bodily resurrection at some future point in time, if men and woman already have immortality in heaven now? Therefore to open ones mind to reject the concept of heaven going upon death also allows for one to accept the Bible teaching of the resurrection.
Just after the resurrection a ‘judgment’ will take place when Christ returns of the accountable and responsible after which either a reward or a condemnation will follow.
Again this can clearly be demonstrated by these verses:
“…who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick (the living) and the dead” 1 Peter 4:5
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned”. Matthew 12:36-37
“…for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” Matthew 10:26
“…judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” Romans 2:16
“why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” 2 Corinthians 5:10
“ … he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God, to be the Judge of quick (living) and dead” Acts 10:42
“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be”. Revelation 22:12
“And as Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled…” Acts 24:25
This ‘judgment’ is a future event when all those responsible will be judged. It is clear from scripture this will occur when Jesus returns to the earth:
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word…” 2 Timothy 4:1
Not all will rise for Judgment
It is important to note that the Bible does not say all human beings that ever lived will rise. Consider these passages:
“Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” Daniel 12:2
“O Yahweh our Elohim, other lords besides Thee have had dominion over us: but by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased; they shall not rise…” Isaiah 26:13,14
“Yea, a man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep” Job 14:10-12
“Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” Psalm 49:20.
Therefore although the Bible teaches that a resurrection will occur it is not for all of mankind. Those “understandeth not” will not be raised but will remain dead like the beasts.
Who will be raised?
In simple terms all those who have been called to a knowledge of God’s truth in the gospel will be raised from the dead for a judgment on what they have done with this privileged.
The gospel is what we Christadelphians define in our ‘Statement of Faith’ and it concerns two key doctrinal themes “the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12). It must be sadly noted at this point that most people who would claim to be “Christian” do not understand or believe in this gospel and will therefore not be raised for judgement but will remain dead.
It is a clear Bible teaching that knowledge brings accountability. To know God’s gospel is to become accountable to God as to what you have done with that knowledge.
Consider this Divine principle highlighted in these passages:
“to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” James 4:17
“Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” John 9:41
“he that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” John 12:48
“It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” 2 Peter 2:21.
Therefore, based on this principle of ‘accountability’ based on being ‘enlightened’ by Gods word, all those who hear and understand the gospel will be raised to give an account at the judgement as to what they have done with this knowledge. Some will have rejected it and will have to answer for this. Some will have accepted in baptism and become ‘responsible’ to God to hold to the things they have committed themselves to. Responsibility is the state of being answerable for something entrusted to one’s care. This is the position of those who have been baptised and taken on the saving name of Jesus Christ. Within this group there will be those who later, after accepting, will fall away. There will also be those who hold fast. These three groups within those who are enlightened will all be raised for judgment as we can see by this passage:
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1 Peter 4:17-18
The context here is judgment within those who have been enlightened . Here we have three classes of people who will be judged:
- “Those that obey not the gospel” – Those who heard it but rejected it – it follows the next two classes obeyed the gospel at some point
- “The righteous” – Those who heard, accepted, obeyed and held fast to the end.
- “The ungodly & sinner” – Those who accepted but then have fallen away.
This table may help to illustrate the different categories of mankind as defined in scripture:
The results of the judgment
In Daniel 12 we read of two simple outcomes at the judgment:
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2
So men will either be given eternal life or will suffer shame and “everlasting contempt” – in other words they will eventually be returned to the grave from whence they had just risen to suffer eternal unconsciousness. Before returning there will no doubt be a recognition of the great failer and spurned opportunity of the individual who had been in the privileged position of being called to the hope of glory. Consider this verse:
“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:11
Eternal life is a gift
Because Christ did not sin he overcame the result of sin cursed nature – death. By being associated with him through baptism and obedience we have the opportunity to be raised and to be made immortal like he has been:
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-23
“And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.” 1 Corinthians 6:14
“Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” 2 Corinthians 4:14
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:25
Because we sin we are worthy of death but because of faith in Christ’s sacrifice in which he condemned sin we have a chance of being given (as a gift, not a right) eternal life:
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“For our conversation (way of life) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Philippians 3:20-21
“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 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.” John 6:39-40
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8
This is the wonderful hope of the true gospel and God’s purpose with the earth – to fill the earth with immortal beings (Habbukuk 2:14) who have all declared His righteousness by living lives of faith and obedience and who have sort to condemn sin in their bodies as Christ did.
M Davies August 2014