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The Tree of Life

The Resurrection was the essential hope of all faithful Bible characters. So what is it really about?

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The Resurrection

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The Resurrection of the Dead

Introduction

The resurrection of the dead was the hope of all faithful men and women in the Bible since the beginning of time. Abraham was willing to carry out the difficult task of offering Isaac to God because he believed that God could raise Isaac back to life (Heb 11:19). In the face of death, Daniel was told by an angel not to fear because of the future resurrection which would lead to everlasting life. In the New Testament, despite suddenly and heartbreakingly losing her beloved brother Lazarus, Mary believed that her brother would rise again in the resurrection on the last day.


To paraphrase the apostle Paul - "If there is no resurrection, our faith is useless, and we are of all men most miserable. If there is no resurrection, we might as well stop preaching." Quite simply, the resurrection was the most fundamental hope of all faithful bible characters.


This leads us to question why we hear so little about the doctrine of the resurrection today. What's even more puzzling is that we don't hear much about this concept despite the fact that there's an entire chapter of the Bible dedicated to it!


It's Scriptural Basis

1 Corinthians chapter 15 is referred to as the chapter of the resurrection, and it was written by the apostle Paul because there were people in the church at Corinth who denied that there would be a resurrection of the dead. So, Paul wrote to them about the absolute importance of the resurrection and how a future day of resurrection is the essential hope for all who have died in Christ.


Why It Matters

The reason it was so important to Abraham, Daniel, Mary, and Paul is that they believed that when a person died, they were unconscious, an idea that is scripturally described as sleep. As Paul again says, if there is no resurrection, "then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." (v.17-18) Without the future day of resurrection, those who are dead would be without hope. That would be it! The end. They would remain forever in the dust of the earth, dead and unconscious for eternity.


What It Is

This leads us to another question: If this teaching was the essential hope of the faithful, and if it is so important as to require an entire chapter that speaks about how important it then what is the resurrection all about? Does it really refer to a literal raising of dead bodies from the grave?


Well, Paul explains it like this: "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." (1Co 15:22-23)


In other words, the death and resurrection of Jesus is the pattern for all those who believe. Just as Jesus literally died, we all die. And just as Jesus went to the grave, we also go to the grave. And as Jesus was raised from the dead, those in Christ will also be raised. Like Jesus, they will be brought back to life.


When It Will Happen

But there is a crucial difference. Jesus only spent three days sleeping in the grave, but those who have died, for the most part, have to wait much longer. They will be raised on the day that Jesus Christ returns to the earth. For some, that may only be a few days, but for others, they will have been sleeping in the dust for thousands of years.


Passages, including 1 Corinthians 15, describe events that will take place very soon. There will be a trumpet blast, and those asleep in the grave will hear the sound. We don't know if there will be the sound of a literal trumpet, but we do know that those who are dead will be awakened.


What Happens After

The righteous that are raised will have their nature changed. No longer will they be mortal; instead, they will be blessed with the privilege of living forever. In their new state, they will no longer suffer the effects of sin. Their bodies will be incorruptible - unable to sin and not subject to pain or sickness. These faithful men and women will be made like unto the angels and like unto Jesus Christ himself.


The Comfort It Brings

So when we are faced with the loss of a loved one, or when we face the prospect of death ourselves, the Bible tells us not to be sorrowful or be afraid but to remember the promise of the resurrection, just like Abraham, Daniel, and Mary. 


Because death is not the end but a beginning, just as one awakes out of sleep, those who are dead will awake. Just as one who awakes from sleep to a new day, those who are dead will awake to a new life. Soon, Jesus will return, the graves will be opened, and those who are faithful will be given that new beginning: eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

STUDY NOTES
The Resurrection

The Resurrection

The Resurrection was the essential hope of all faithful Bible characters. So what is it really about?

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