ASPECTS OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Words of Righteousness)

ASPECTS OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Although we are heirs and rulers of all things we have been given a temporary, imprisoning body through means of which we are being taught the righteous ways of the Lord. It is a body of humbling (Deuteronomy 8:3). If we are successful in this instruction, if we overcome the obstacles placed before us, we will be given an eternal body at the return of Jesus. This is the first resurrection from the dead—the giving of eternal, ruling bodies to those who have been found worthy. It is the "crown of life," the authority of eternal life in an incorruptible body.

Participation in the first resurrection from the dead is not imputed to us by the Lord nor is it given to us on the basis of mercy. The first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of God’s kings and priests, must be attained to. It is the consequence of permitting the Lord to crucify our adamic nature and form His own Substance and image in us.

Table of Contents

The First Aspect of the First Resurrection

The Second Aspect of the First Resurrection

The Third Aspect of the First Resurrection

The Fourth Aspect of the First Resurrection

The Fifth Aspect of the First Resurrection

The Sixth Aspect of the First Resurrection

The Seventh Aspect of the First Resurrection

ASPECTS OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 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. Revelation 20:4-6

The Book of Revelation is a description of the Day of the Lord. The emphasis is on the return of Christ to the earth, the resurrection of the dead, and the Divine judgment on the conduct of human beings. Revelation :7 is the cornerstone of this vision:

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

When the Lord Jesus returns He will call forth the dead bodies of all people, beginning with His victorious saints.

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. (John 5:28,29)

Apart from the blood atonement, the resurrection from the dead is the most important act of the Divine redemption.

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 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. (I Corinthians 15:16-19)

The Spirit of God has described various aspects of the resurrection from the dead, particularly the first part of the resurrection, in the Book of Revelation. The first part of the resurrection from the dead is the resurrection of the royal priesthood.

The first resurrection from the dead, which will take place at the coming of the Lord from Heaven, is the climax of the redemption of the saints. It is the expression, in the firstfruits of the Church, of Christ' own triumphant resurrection.

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. (Revelation 20:6)

After the cornerstone has been laid (Revelation 1:7), we see in Revelation, Chapters Two and Three the necessary elements in attaining to the first resurrection—the resurrection of the victorious saints, the "chosen" (Matthew 20:16).

It is the author's point of view that the rewards to the overcomer are steps in attaining to the first resurrection from the dead and taken together constitute the first resurrection . It may be observed that the first reward to the overcomer is to eat of the tree of life (Revelation 2:7). The last reward to the overcomer is to sit with the Lord Jesus on His throne (Revelation 3:21).

Our first step toward the first resurrection is to eat of the tree of life. Our final step is to sit on the throne with the Lord. When the first resurrection arrives, the emphasis is on the thrones that govern the creation.

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: . . . . (Revelation 20:4)

The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation call out the victorious saints, the firstfruits of the Wife of the Lamb, from the multitude of Christian believers. These two chapters were announced with "a great voice, as of a trumpet" (Revelation 1:10,11). They include severe rebukes to the seven churches but they promise the rewards of the first resurrection to the overcomers in those churches.

The rewards mentioned in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, such as eating from the tree of life, the crown of life, ruling over the nations of the earth, becoming a pillar in the Temple of God, are for those who are living in the victory of Christ.

The Apostle Paul described his pursuit of the first resurrection or, as we see it, the rewards to the overcomer:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ. (Philippians 3:10-12)

The spiritual counterpart and requirement of the first resurrection begins now—in this present life. The spiritual resurrection of those who attain to the first resurrection commences before the physical resurrection and finishes in the authority and glory set forth in Revelation 20:4-6. Participation in the first resurrection from the dead is not given to us on the basis of grace or mercy. The first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of God's kings and priests, must be attained. It is the consequence of permitting the Lord to crucify our adamic nature and form His own Substance and image in us.

Our resurrected mortal body will be clothed with a spiritual body from Heaven. The spiritual body from Heaven is being fashioned from the death and resurrection we are experiencing now.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inner man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (II Corinthians 4:16,17)

The spiritual body from Heaven is the "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" that is created by our "light affliction."

The body in which we shall dwell forever is not imputed (assigned) to us by grace. It is our resurrected mortal body clothed upon with a spiritual "robe," a robe that is the product of a patient, cross-carrying following of the Lord Jesus through the death and resurrection of our soul.

We shall receive what we have practiced in our flesh. We shall reap what we sow (II Corinthians 4:16-5:10; I Corinthians 15:35-44; Galatians 6:8).

The wicked will receive what they have practiced in the world.

The working of the grace of God in Christ in the victorious saints creates the Life of Christ in us. The Life of Christ transforms our inner man. As this transformation takes place a corresponding "weight" of glory is created before the throne of the Father. In the Day of Resurrection our flesh and bones will rise and be clothed with the heavenly weight of glory, the "house which is from heaven"

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)

After pointing out the necessary elements in attaining to the first resurrection, the Lord Jesus shows us what the Father has revealed to Him concerning some of the other aspects of the first resurrection from the dead.

We must keep in mind that the Book of Revelation is not presenting world or Church history in strict order of time. The vision is of the Day of the Lord and is as the many faces of one diamond, many different vantage points from which to view one scene—the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ. The Church Era is the evening, and the coming of the Sun of Righteousness is the morning, of the sixth day, the Day of the Lord, the day when man is made in God’s image.

You may note that the seventh day of creation has no evening and morning. The new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ is the seventh day, the day of God's rest, the eternal day that has no end.

The First Aspect of the First Resurrection

One important aspect of the first resurrection is the filling of the saints with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ.

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 4:1)

"I will show you things that must be hereafter."

The above verse portrays the spirit of wisdom and revelation abiding upon and in the saint who is living in Christ in heavenly places, who is setting his mind on things above. It is a resurrection and ascension of our spiritual nature in which we learn to walk in heavenly places and our eyes are opened so we can know the "things which must be hereafter."

Compare:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Ephesians 1:17)

And a few verses later:

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 2:6)

Ephesians 2:6 (above) is not a mere figure of speech. It describes a genuine (though not bodily) resurrection and ascension of the believer who is walking in the Spirit of God.

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

In this sense we no longer are in this world. We have been raised together in and with Christ. This is a genuine resurrection and ascension, not merely a legal state being assigned to us. Being raised spiritually with Christ is an actual experience in Heaven, and by faith we are to lay hold on and nourish continually this step toward the first resurrection from the dead.

Many times during our pilgrimage we are pressed nearly to despair. We must remind ourselves constantly of what God has said is true of us in Heaven. We must pray and not faint, asking God to give us Divine wisdom and revelation. An abiding consciousness of life in the heavenlies in the midst of the saints and the elect angels who reside there is an important aspect of the walk of the conquering saint. It is the necessary viewpoint for the march toward attaining to the first resurrection—the resurrection of the royal priesthood.

In connection with this we must keep in mind that the heavens are not far off beyond the stars. They are all around us, including the Heaven of God and Christ. They are invisible but near at hand. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. We already have come to Mount Zion.

There are believers who have dreams and visions and there are others who are as "spiritual" but who do not have dreams or visions nor do they hear voices. All of us can learn to set our minds on the things in the heavenlies although we all do not have the same kind or degree of "vision" in spiritual things.

Some are led in supernatural ways and others in more natural patterns. Perhaps the difference arises from the type of personality we have. But neither the supernatural nor the natural guidance is an index of spirituality. By "an abiding consciousness of life in the heavenlies" we are not speaking of spiritual "vision" but of a life of prayer that keeps us in tune with the Spirit of God.

The anointing with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation enables us to escape the prison of the world and the flesh and to walk firmly and joyously in steps ordained and wrought in Heaven.

There needs to be more of an emphasis in our day on attaining to the initial spiritual resurrection—the resurrection of the sixth and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans, the first and second chapters of Ephesians, the third chapter of Colossians, and the third chapter of the Book of Philippians.

The point is this: apart from attaining to the spiritual aspects of the resurrection it is not possible for there to be a bodily resurrection of the individual to the fullness of glory promised to the saints. The first resurrection from the dead must be attained .

The last enemy that will be destroyed is physical death. The other enemies of the saint, including worldliness, sin, and self-love, must be conquered before the believer is granted the body of resurrection life.

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:26)

Think about the following:

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

We are not raised from the dead by imputed (assigned) righteousness, by grace, by being forgiven. We are raised as part of the royal priesthood by virtue of the fact that through Christ we have overcome the adamic nature and have pressed through to the resurrection of the inner man.

To claim we will be raised as a royal priest and clothed with a body like that of Jesus because we have made a profession of faith in Jesus, is to misunderstand the new covenant.

Notice Revelation 4:1 carefully:

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 4:1)

Some have felt that this verse is speaking of the resurrection of the saints. However, there do not appear to be many points in common between Revelation 4:1, and the major New Testament discussions of the coming of the Lord and the first resurrection from the dead (Matthew, Chapter 24; Mark, Chapter 13; Luke, Chapter 21; I Corinthians, Chapter 15; II Corinthians, Chapter Five; I Thessalonians, Chapter Four; II Thessalonians, Chapters One and Two).

The emphasis in Revelation 4:1,2 appears to be on the spiritual nature of the first resurrection and ascension, not on the bodily resurrection and ascension. Yet there is no question that the major passages of Scripture describing the first resurrection and ascension of the saints are referring to a bodily resurrection and ascension.

If Revelation 4:1 is to be viewed as the fulfillment of I Thessalonians 4:13-5:4 and I Corinthians 15, then we have some questions to ask:

Is the "voice" (of Revelation 4:1) the "last trump" of which Paul speaks (in I Corinthians 15:52)?

Where, in Revelation 4:1, is the "voice of the archangel"?

Where are those "which sleep in Jesus" whom "God will bring with him"?

Where is the descent of the Lord Jesus from Heaven in the clouds with a "shout"?

Where, in Revelation 4:1, is there an implication that we are being delivered from Antichrist and the great tribulation?

Where, in Revelation 4:1, is the raising of human bodies from the dead, the reviving of the old covenant and new covenant saints so they once more can stand on their feet on the earth?

Where is our meeting with the Lord in the air?

Conversely, where in I Thessalonians, Chapter Four does it state that the saints are caught up to Heaven?

Do any of the New Testament passages that speak of the coming of the Lord imply in any manner whatever that the purpose of the first resurrection from the dead is to show to the elect "things which must be hereafter"? Is this the purpose of the making alive of our mortal body? Rather, is it not true that the purpose of the first resurrection is that the nations of this world may behold and be blessed by the Glory of God in the saints (John 17:21; Romans 8:19)?

Finally, what will we do with Paul's warning that "that day" (which he has described in I Thessalonians, Chapter Four and II Thessalonians, Chapter One) will not come before the worldwide apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin?

We do not believe that Revelation 4:1 is portraying the resurrection and ascension of the elect but is more in line with Colossians 3:1-3 and Ephesians 1:17-2:7. The resurrection and ascension of our born-again inner nature is, we believe, a first step in the full resurrection and ascension of the conquering saints.

As soon as John was caught "up hither," he saw twenty-four elders casting their crowns before the Throne of God. Perhaps the twenty-four elders represent those of the Old Testament elect (twelve elders) and those of the New Testament elect (twelve elders) who have been found worthy to sit on thrones in the Presence of God and the Lamb.

Each of them has learned that all his ability to rule in God comes from Christ alone. They cast their crowns before the throne and proclaim the worthiness of the Lord. No person is fit to participate in the first resurrection from the dead, to sit on a throne in the Presence of God and the Lamb, until he has learned thoroughly that apart from Christ he can do nothing.

The Second Aspect of the First Resurrection

Another aspect of the first resurrection from the dead has to do with God's witnesses.

And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven [into the heaven] in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Revelation 11:12)

The two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11 represent the double portion of the Holy Spirit that will be given to Christ-filled saints of the last days. The two witnesses are "killed" by Antichrist, meaning that the Lord will permit the great rebellion against authority to drive the anointed testimony from the cities of the earth.

After Antichrist has been allowed his brief triumph, the Lord Jesus will appear. He will raise His witnesses from the dead and call them up to Himself in a cloud. The resurrection and ascension of the witnessing saints will be the greatest testimony of the Person and will of God the peoples of the earth ever have been given.

The resurrection described in Revelation 11:12 contains more of the elements with which we are familiar than is true of Revelation 4:1. We find the resurrection of the dead bodies, the cloud, the trumpet (the seventh and last trumpet—I Corinthians 15:52), and the loud voices (Revelation 11:15).

Revelation 11:11 describes the open testimony to the world as every eye beholds the hated saints come forth from their graves and stand on their feet (which is the meaning of the term resurrection ).

Christ was declared to be the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit that was exercised in raising Him from the dead and enabling Him to walk out of the cave of Joseph of Arimathea.

The resurrection of Christ could not be kept secret but was proclaimed to the whole world by the empty cave.

In like manner the saints will be declared to be God's sons by the power of the Holy Spirit exercised in raising them from the dead (Romans 8:19).

Our resurrection from the dead will be patterned after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our resurrection from the dead is a continuation of the one resurrection of Christ.

Christ's resurrection and ours will be demonstrated simultaneously in stupendous power and glory at His (and our) glorious appearing from Heaven. This is also expressed in Romans 8:17. He and we will shine as one Light to the world, one open manifestation of the Son of God by the power of the resurrection from the dead.

Whereas Revelation 4:1 points toward a spiritual resurrection and ascension of Christ-filled saints that they may know the future, the resurrection and ascension of Revelation 11:11,12, has to do with the Divine testimony to the world of the Sonship and Lordship of Christ and the extension of God's love and favor to the saints.

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, . . . . (Revelation 1:7)

So far we have mentioned:

. The necessary elements in arriving at the first resurrection, which are the rewards to the overcomer mentioned in Chapters Two and Three of Revelation.

. The initial resurrection and ascension of the born-again inner nature of the believer.

. The testimony to the nations of the earth produced by the resurrection and ascension of the saints.

The Third Aspect of the First Resurrection

Another aspect of the first resurrection is found in the twelfth chapter of Revelation. It is the forming of Christ in the saints. Christ Himself Is the Resurrection from the dead. As He is formed in us the resurrection is formed in us.

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)

The Greek word for "caught up" in the above verse is the same term employed in I Thessalonians 4:17: "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, . . . ."

Revelation 12:2-5, which uses the figure of the woman (the Church) and the male Son (Christ formed in the believers), is closely aligned with the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. John, Chapter Six declares several times that our resurrection from the dead is associated with eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)

The above verse is speaking of Christ who Himself Is the Resurrection and the eternal Life. Christ is being formed in us as we learn to live by eating His flesh and drinking His holy blood.

Christ is the Ruler of the ages to come. As soon as He is formed in us He is caught up to the right hand of the Father in Heaven because that is where He must remain for now. He is waiting for the Father to make His enemies His footstool.

As we stated previously, each true Christian already has experienced a spiritual resurrection and ascension. Our spiritual life is hidden in Christ at the right hand of the Father.

When we receive Christ we are raised to the highest of all thrones. It is not possible to be raised any higher.

The struggle of the saint is not to be raised higher for there is no higher throne. The struggle is for the purpose of maintaining that which is already true and to be able to bring down the throne-life into our daily walk in the earth.

Day by day the warfare continues. Satan uses every device to tear us down from the throne. As Christ is formed in us He is caught up to the throne. Satan seeks continually to occupy us with life on earth so that our personality thinks, speaks, and acts in the appetites of the flesh. By prayer, reading the Word, and obedience we strive to keep our attention and affection on things above where our life is hidden with Christ in God.

The struggle is a travail that Christ, who is the Resurrection and the Life, may be formed in us.

We must always be vigilant so no person will be able to take our crown. Keep in mind that the talents given to us will be given to another if we do not put them to good use. It is entirely possible to be predestined to be a ruler in the Kingdom of God and have someone else receive our crown of life and righteousness because we were careless and foolish.

If we overcome Satan, our life will be established in the throne of God in Heaven and we then will be able to return with Christ in glory to set earth's captives free. This is the meaning of Revelation, Chapter Twelve.

But if Satan is successful in persuading us to live our life in the appetites and things of the flesh, then we will lose our own position with Christ and be of no use to those on the earth whom Satan has bound.

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6)

We must endure to the end in order to participate in the glory of the sons of God.

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)

Sometimes it is taught that we cannot possibly lose what was given to us when we received Christ. This is an error and it may be destroying many who might have lived in victory had they understood that it is only those who endure to the end who finally will be partakers of the first resurrection from the dead.

When Paul was seeking to attain to the out-resurrection (Philippians 3:11, Greek text) it was this aspect—the full realization of the power and Glory of Christ's resurrection in him— that he was seeking to experience; although the last verse of Chapter Three of Philippians reveals clearly that Paul had in mind the ultimate resurrection—the redemption of his mortal body.

There is an initial resurrection and ascension of our inner nature that we experience upon receiving Christ. The initial resurrection must be cultivated each day in a series of deaths and resurrections of our soul until our entire inner nature has experienced crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God.

We are seeking to establish our place among those who stand by the Lord. Because of envy and jealousy, Satan and those whom he influences are always attempting to remove us from our place near the Lord. This is where they used to be and they are furious at the thought of "man" taking their place in the throne room of the palace of the King.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by. (Zechariah 3:7)

The Levitical feast of Firstfruits portrays the initial reaping of our spiritual nature. The feast of Tabernacles speaks of the full reaping of the inner nature of the mature saint (Leviticus 23:10,34)

In John 6:54 (above) Jesus stated, "I will raise him up at the last day."

All the dead, both the righteous and the wicked, will come forth from their graves at the voice of Christ (John 5:28,29).

But we are speaking now primarily of the first resurrection, the resurrection of the victorious saints. It is Christ Himself—His Life—who raises up those in whom He has been formed. It is that body and blood, that eternal Life, that will raise them up at His appearing.

This is the "oil" that we must possess if we would go with Him to the feast (Matthew 25:4). It is the indwelling body and blood that will cause the young eagles to seek and find the "body" (Luke 17:37).

The Fourth Aspect of the First Resurrection

The fourteenth chapter of Revelation sets forth yet another aspect of the first resurrection from the dead. This is the concept that the first resurrection is for a select group of rulers who will dwell in the Presence of the King forever.

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)

It is the writer's conviction that the above verse is referring to the firstfruits of the Bride, to the "only one of her mother" (Song of Solomon 6:9).

The concept that every believer is of the same rank in the Kingdom of God and receives substantially the same reward is manifestly unscriptural (Revelation 22:12). The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation teach us clearly that the first resurrection from the dead, and the accompanying rewards of rulership and responsibility in the Kingdom of God, will be given to those who, through the grace of Christ, overcome their love of the world, their love of sin, and their love of self.

How many cross-carrying disciples do you know? Of the Christians of your acquaintance, how many are totally dedicated to Christ?

The first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place when the Lord Jesus appears, is for the royal priesthood. It is the summoning of the bodies of the chosen from the ground so they may rule with the Lord Jesus on the earth.

The average believer of today would be at a loss if he were raised in the first resurrection in such a sphere of glory. He would be comfortable neither with the Lord Jesus nor with the Lord's "mighty men." He would feel foolish at the Lord's table, never having experienced the fiery Presence of the Lord, never having shared His sufferings, never having known the pain and pressure of the cross of delayed fulfillment. He would be totally out of place among the Lord's heroes of faith.

He would be careless, confused, and disobedient were he placed in some position of responsibility in the Kingdom. As he has done on earth, so would he do if he were raised in that hour. He is not one of the Lord's heroes of faith now. He certainly would not experience joy if he were placed in the company of Abraham, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Paul. How would he feel as the Lord's warriors observed his dwarfed, self-seeking, conniving soul?

There will be subsequent reapings of the vine of the earth, but the people who are described in Revelation 14:1-5 are the "firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)

Being "virgins" means they are not married to things, circumstances, relationships, or ambitions. They worship Jesus alone. They follow the Lord into both pain and joy. They have been selected from among the members of mankind because they love the Lord Jesus above all else.

This description leaves no doubt that the firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb is being spoken of here. The Bride of the Lamb is the Church, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem. It is composed of the elect—the true saints of God.

In many instances the Scriptures emphasize the selection of a remnant from the whole, the choosing of a few who will experience the fullness of God's holy purpose.

My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. . . . (Song of Solomon 6:9)

"So shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:17) corresponds to "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," (of Revelation 14:4).

Also:

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; . . . . (John 17:24)

One of the main purposes of the resurrection and ascension of the elect is the eternal union of the saints with Christ—the marriage of the Lamb. The first and most glorious celebration of the marriage of the Lamb, which is the revealing of Christ and His Body when the Lord returns, is not for the sixtyfold or thirtyfold believers (Matthew 13:23).

We join with the Apostle Paul in laying aside all other considerations in order that we may concentrate every bit of energy and every moment of time on the supreme objective—attaining to the first resurrection from the dead.

The Fifth Aspect of the First Resurrection

Another aspect of the resurrection of the saints is the concept of the resurrection of the righteous . It is the concept of reaping, of harvesting. This aspect is expressed in the parable of the wheat and the tares.

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:30)

The reaping aspect of the first resurrection has to do with removing all that is offensive and lawless from the Kingdom of God and gathering to God the Father what He has planted, which is Christ in us.

As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43)

Two different resurrections are described in Revelation, Chapter Fourteen: first of the righteous, then of the unrighteous.

First, the righteous:

And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:16)

Then, the unrighteous:

And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. (Revelation 14:19)

The aspect of reaping has some of the common factors we look for in the descriptions of the resurrection from the dead: the white cloud; and especially the descent of the Lord Jesus from Heaven to the region of the clouds. We know the Lord will descend from Heaven in order to resurrect us.

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. (Revelation 14:14)

The resurrection from the dead is a reaping of what God has planted. What has been sown indeed will be reaped. We will reap the first resurrection, the resurrection of the saints, the resurrection of the authority and power of righteousness and eternal life, if we continue to press forward in the Spirit all the days of our pilgrimage on the earth.

We know from the Scriptures that the resurrection from the dead includes the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked.

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. (John 5:28,29)

The question of the resurrection is one of doing good or doing evil. It is of the utmost importance that the Christian realize in his very bones that Paul's doctrine of grace does not interfere with this fundamental premise of God's dealings with men. Those who do good will be raised to life. Those who do evil will be raised to judgment. "Accepting Christ" does not change this simple, unchangeable fact.

The whole purpose of receiving Christ is that we may repent and begin to do good, thus qualifying ourselves for the resurrection of the righteous.

Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. (Acts 3:26)

But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance [appropriate to repentance]. (Acts 26:20)

"And do works appropriate to repentance." "Do works "!

In the Day of Resurrection the Apostle Paul will be the first to condemn those who have wrested his doctrine of grace to mean a Christian can continue in his sins, not doing works appropriate to repentance, not turning from his iniquities, and still claim the covering of the blood of Jesus. It is a gross error.

It is being taught today that if I commit adultery God sees Christ instead of the adultery. If I lie God sees Christ instead of the lie. We have made Christ the excuse for our sins. Can any person, Christian or otherwise, truly believe that while we are committing adultery God is seeing Christ instead of our wickedness? Is this not a satanic wresting of Paul's doctrine of grace?

Notice (John 5:28,29 above) that all persons who have ever lived on the earth will be raised from the dead; their bodies once again will stand on the earth. It is not the fact of being raised that is significant, for all will be raised. Rather, it is what happens to our body after it is raised that is so terribly important.

Our body will be clothed with incorruptible life only if we have sown to the Holy Spirit during the years of our discipleship. But if we have not done the Lord's will we will be beaten with lashes. If we have lived a wicked life on the earth we will be cast into the lake burning with fire and sulfur.

It is not the resurrection, it is what takes place after the resurrection that is so vital to our eternal destiny.

Paul's teaching concerning imputation (ascribed righteousness), the attaining of righteousness by believing what God has stated, should not be interpreted to mean that belief in Christ's atonement waives the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. No type or amount of professions of belief can alter the fact that we will receive in the resurrection the consequences of our behavior on the earth.

It is written that he who believes and is baptized will be saved from the wrath of God. This means that if we truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and if our baptism in water signifies a sincere turning away from the world and the beginning of a life of loving and serving Jesus, God will save us in the Day of Wrath.

When we appear before Christ in the Day of Judgment we shall receive the good we have practiced, and also the evil we have practiced unless we truly have repented of the evil and have turned completely away from it. We shall answer for our conduct in the Day of Christ.

We surely have misunderstood the Apostle Paul in this respect. Paul himself lived a righteous, holy, and obedient life. Paul achieved such righteousness of conduct, not by adhering to the Law of Moses but by adhering to the Spirit of God.

Paul taught that the grace of God in Christ accomplishes what the Law of Moses never can accomplish: it releases us from the guilt and dominion of sin so we now are free to walk after the Spirit in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. The Spirit of God always leads us into actual righteousness and holiness of behavior. When we are led by the Spirit we do not fulfill the lusts of our flesh (Galatians 5:16).

When Christians are raised from the dead they will receive what they have practiced in their bodies on the earth, as is true of everyone else. They will give an account to Christ for their behavior in the world.

Any teaching other than this leaves both the teacher and his students open to dreadful punishments in the Day of Christ.

God cannot be mocked. What an individual sows he or she most assuredly shall reap.

The Scriptures are stern when speaking about the future state of those who continue in sin, whether or not they make a profession of faith in Christ (Revelation 2:23; 21:8).

The Word of Christ will stand forever. Those who have practiced righteousness and holiness and have been obedient to God's will shall reap eternal life (Romans 2:7).

Those who have practiced unrighteousness and uncleanness and have been disobedient to God's will for their lives shall come forth to the resurrection of wrath and indignation (Romans 2:8).

Look carefully at what the Lord Jesus stated: ". . . they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:29)

"Have done good; have done evil." This is what the Lord Jesus said. Dare any person deny it?

When a sinner comes to God through Christ he is forgiven all his sins. He is washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.

But after the initial experience of salvation he is to choose through the Holy Spirit to practice godly behavior. If he does not but continues in his worldly ways, he will be resurrected to destruction. The Scriptures certainly teach this clearly.

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For 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. (II Peter 2:20,21)

Those who participate in the first resurrection are "blessed and holy."

The Sixth Aspect of the First Resurrection

Another aspect of the resurrection of the victorious saints has to do with appointing them to the high thrones of rulership and judgment.

The central concept of the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the victorious saints, is the transfer of the rulership of the nations of the earth from the disobedient angels to the conquering saints. The conquering saints are those who have cooperated with the Holy Spirit until Christ has been fully reaped in their personalities. The adamic nature has died and the Nature of Christ has taken its place.

The first part of the first resurrection is taking place in us now as the Holy Spirit is working in us to remove King Self from the throne of our heart and to place King Jesus on that throne. If the first part is not brought to maturity now we cannot participate in the resurrection of the saints in the Day of the Lord. No human being who is ruled by self can participate in the first resurrection. Man was created to be the throne of God.

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:4,5)

What is the purpose of the first resurrection ? It is to place saints on the thrones that govern the world. There is no resurrection (other than that of the Lord Jesus) before this resurrection. It is the first resurrection.

Who will participate in the first resurrection? The believers who have stood faithful to the point of martyrdom for the witness of Jesus, for the Word of God. They have refused to think like the world, to act like the world, to be a part of the world system. They are the Lord's elect and will rule with Him over the nations of saved peoples of the earth (Revelation 3:21).

In reviewing the rewards offered to the victorious saints it is interesting to note that the greatest reward of all—that of sitting with Christ in His throne—is given to those who overcome the world and Satan during the spiritually lazy, pleasure-loving, self-centered, weak-minded age of Laodicea. Where the greatest temptation is, there the greatest glory is possible.

Nowhere else in the Scriptures is the expression "the first resurrection" employed. We pointed out previously that the Greek word translated "resurrection" in Philippians 3:11 is a special term for resurrection and should be translated out-resurrection (implying the first resurrection). The resurrection of Revelation 20:4-6 is the resurrection the Apostle Paul was striving to attain. The mark, the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ, is the first resurrection from the dead.

Let us fasten our gaze on this goal.

What kind of people will arrive at the first resurrection from the dead?

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. (Revelation 20:6)

If we attain to the first resurrection by refusing to participate in the world spirit, and if we stand true to death for the witness of Jesus and the Word of God, we will be eternally free from the authority of the second death, which is the Lake of Fire. We have the assurance in writing from God that we never again can be in jeopardy of the white throne judgment. The maximum penalty given at the white throne is eternal separation from our Creator in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.

The resurrected saints will be gloriously alive forever and will rule and judge on the thrones that govern the nations of the earth. Can you think of anything more wonderful than to be a coheir, an heir of people, with the Lord Jesus Christ?

The stipulation is that we be "beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God," and also that we do not worship the beast, neither his image, nor receive his mark on our forehead or in our hand.

The term "beheaded" may include physical martyrdom. But this would limit the participants in the first resurrection to those who have been decapitated. Literal "beheading" is not nearly as important in the Kingdom of God as the "beheading" of the saint so he no longer is governed by his fleshly mind but by the will of God in Christ. The change from self-will to the will of Christ is the key transformation governing our eligibility to rule with Christ.

Only the personal cross of the disciple can cure the malady of self-will. Until self-centeredness is healed thoroughly we are worthless to God as a ruler or a priest.

The worshiping of the beast and his image has to do with our participation in the world system—particularly in the system of commerce. So great is the love of money in the Christian churches that it is being preached today that the sign of God's blessing is material prosperity. The love of money is the root of all evil and the basis of Antichrist's empire.

The hoarding of money is man's way of refusing to acknowledge that he lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The true saint gains, through Christ's grace, total victory over the love of money. It is impossible to serve both God and money. The believer will eventually hate the one and love the other. It is inescapable.

Death to self-will, and death to participation in the world system of commerce, are necessary for attaining to the first resurrection from the dead. By death to participation in the world system of commerce we do not mean the individual does not buy products from a store. We mean, rather, that he does not make the acquiring of money the central goal of his life on earth.

Riches are deceitful, and it nearly is impossible for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God. Yet in the wealthy nations of our day it is a rare Christian who is free from the love of money. Multitudes of Christians, many of whom are unaware of their danger, already are bound with the Antichrist spirit of the love of money.

Release from the deceptions of the Antichrist money system is difficult to acquire, once one has become accustomed to living in such a system. However, at stake is the saint's position on the throne of the universe; and so it is well worth the effort to gain release from the bondage of trust in money.

The term first means that nothing has come before. The first resurrection from the dead is the first resurrection from the dead.

The resurrection from the dead of the Lord Jesus in actuality was the first resurrection from the dead. The resurrection from the dead of the firstfruits is part of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus because they are an integral part of Him. He is their Resurrection and their Life. Their resurrection is a part of His, a part of the first resurrection.

The same is true, no doubt, of the saints who arose along with the Lord and appeared to the people of Jerusalem (Matthew 27:52,53). Perhaps this select group who were raised at the time of Christ's resurrection served as an honor guard of saints whom God chose to accompany the Lord Jesus as He surveyed the creation He had just purchased with His own blood.

Enoch and Elijah ascended to God; but theirs was not a true resurrection for they had not died physically.

The ascension of Enoch and Elijah were different from what will be experienced by the saints who are alive when the Lord Jesus returns. We who are alive when the Lord comes will be "changed" (I Corinthians 15:52). We shall pass from mortality to immortality. This is a true resurrection.

There is no evidence Enoch and Elijah experienced actual resurrection. They experienced ascension but not resurrection. We know this is true because our Lord Jesus is the "firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18). If Enoch and Elijah had experienced resurrection prior to their ascension the Lord Jesus would not be the Firstborn from the dead.

The Lord Jesus was the first Person to die physically, be raised from the dead, and then receive the glorification of his Body. Enoch and Elijah do not as yet possess glorified bodies, for "they without us should not be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:40).

When the trumpet of God sounds and the Lord Jesus returns to assume His rightful throne as King of kings and Lord of lords, then the bodies of all the saints, the elect of the new covenant and of all other covenants, will be raised from the dead. Their spirits and souls returning from Heaven with Jesus will enter their revived bodies—bodies now made eternally alive by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11).

Next, the living remnant, those who have survived all that has come to pass on the earth during the closing days of the Church Age, will be transformed from flesh-and-blood physical life into the Life of the Holy Spirit of God.

Then all the elect will ascend to meet the Lord Jesus in the air — not in Heaven but in the air. The purpose of our meeting Christ in the air is that we may be assigned to the thrones from which the fallen angels, who have ruled the nations from their spiritual vantage points in the air, have been cast down.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (Ephesians 2:2)

"The prince of the power of the air."

The purpose of the resurrection of the saints is not that we may go to Heaven. We do not need to have our body raised from the dead in order to go to Heaven. We go to Heaven when our physical body dies and returns to the ground, provided we are rightly related to God through Christ.

The purpose of raising the bodies of the saints from their place of burial is that they may rise to meet the Lord in the air and then take over the thrones that have been vacated. The thrones have been vacated because the rebellious angels have been forced from them and hurled into the earth (Revelation 12:9).

The Seventh Aspect of the First Resurrection

The final event in the first resurrection from the dead will be the clothing of all the saints, including Enoch and Elijah and also those saints who rose from the dead after Jesus' resurrection, with a body like that of the glorified Jesus. We all shall be made perfect together.

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 3:21)

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (II Corinthians 5:1)

The heavenly body that will clothe our revived mortal body is our reward for serving Jesus in this life. The grandeur, power, and capabilities of our heavenly body depend directly on the deeds we have practiced during our lifetime on the earth. Our new body is the consequence of our behavior now—in this world. Here is the perfect justice of God: we shall be clothed with our own works; we shall reap what we sow (II Corinthians 5:10).

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)

The first resurrection is the perfection in Christ that cannot be attained until those whom God has chosen have arrived at the glory prepared for them (Hebrews 11:40; I Corinthians 13:10).

It appears that many of the rulers of the world to come will be appointed from the group of saints who remained faithful to God throughout the reign of Antichrist—especially during his mature manifestation in the last days. This is in fulfillment of the words of Jesus: "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first" (Matthew 19:30).

Truly, the Lord Jesus has "kept the good wine until now" (John 2:10; Haggai 2:9).

Some of the greatest heroes of faith of the Kingdom of God will be those who bear witness during the closing days of the present age. "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Daniel 11:32).

Let us review the aspects of the resurrection of the saints we have discussed in this brief article.

. The concept of there being necessary elements in attaining to the first resurrection from the dead. These elements are described in Revelation, Chapters Two and Three.

. The resurrection "in the Spirit" as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation abides on us and we learn to walk in heavenly places in Christ.

. The open testimony to the peoples of the earth as the despised remnant are revived from the dead and brought up to the heaven (Revelation 11:12)—probably into the region of the clouds (compare Acts 1:9-11).

. The formation in the saints, through eating Christ's flesh and drinking of His blood, of the Conqueror, of the Resurrection, of Christ—the Ruler of the ages to come.

. The concept of the firstfruits of the Wife of the Lamb. The first resurrection is for the overcomers, for those whose love for Jesus is so strong and consistent they faithfully have left all else to cleave to Him alone. Their reward is to be with Him forever. Christ and His firstfruits are together always. It is the romance of which all other pure romances are miniature examples.

. Gathering to the heavenly Farmer what He has sown in the earth; the separation between what is of God and what is not of God.

. The changing of the thrones that govern the earth from the authority of the rebellious angels to the authority of the saints who are filled with Christ and who live and move and have their being in obedience to Christ.

. The final event in the first resurrection from the dead, which is the clothing of all the saints, including Enoch and Elijah and also those saints who rose from the dead after Jesus' resurrection, with a body like that of the glorified Jesus. We all shall be made perfect together.

Each of the ruling saints has been crucified with Christ. King Jesus has been enthroned in each of their personalities. They are the victorious saints. Through the grace of God in Christ they have overcome the love of the world, the love of sin, and the love of self. They are servants of the most high God.

It is God's intention to fill the entire creation with Christ (Ephesians 1:10). The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing and blessing all the saved creatures of the universe.

The "land of promise" of the Church, the goal of our endeavors, is the spiritual rulership of the material creation. Being coheirs of Christ, our inheritance is the nations of the earth. The earth itself and all that is therein are our possession (Psalms 2:8).

Christ died and rose again in order that He may be Lord of all.

For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. (Romans 14:9)

In Him we die, and then are raised with Him so we may serve God, under Christ, throughout God's creation. The saints are the royal priesthood of the ages to come.

Although we are heirs and rulers of all things we have been assigned a temporary, imprisoning body through means of which we are being taught the righteous ways of the Lord. It is a body of humbling (Deuteronomy 8:3).

If we are successful in this instruction, if we overcome the obstacles placed before us, we will be given an eternal body at the return of Jesus. This is the first resurrection from the dead—the giving of eternal, ruling bodies to those who have been found worthy. It is the "crown of life," the authority of eternal life in an incorruptible body.

Many have been called to the Divine Glory, but because the some of those who have been called judge themselves to be "unworthy of everlasting life" (Acts 13:46; Revelation 3:4), only a few are chosen. Only a few "graduate."

The last two chapters of the Book of Revelation portray the result of the workings of God through Christ. The new Jerusalem, which is the Kingdom of God, the entire perfected Wife of the Lamb, is established forever on the new earth. A glorious new sky reveals the splendor and majesty of the Lord God. The victorious saints inherit all these things. Each of them possesses a body like that of the Lord Jesus Christ.

They are the sons of God (Revelation 21:7). They shall see the Face of their Father. They shall rule over all the works of God's hands forever—ages without end.