THE REQUIREMENTS AND PURPOSES OF THE TWO RESURRECTIONS
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
There are two principal resurrections of the dead. The first resurrection will take place at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, at the time when Christ returns to earth with His saints and holy angels. The second resurrection will occur at the end of the Kingdom Age, after the earth and sky to which we are accustomed have passed away. The purposes and requirements of the two resurrections are an important aspect of the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The first resurrection has to do only with the royal priesthood of God. No judgment will take place at the first resurrection. The first resurrection itself is the sentence handed down from a prior judgment. However, the second resurrection will be followed by judgment at the hands of Christ.
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THE REQUIREMENTS AND PURPOSES OF THE TWO RESURRECTIONS
There are two principal resurrections of the dead. The first resurrection will come at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, at the time when Christ returns to earth with His saints and holy angels. The second resurrection will occur at the end of the Kingdom Age, after the earth and heaven to which we are accustomed have passed away.
By the term “resurrection of the dead” we mean the reassembly and reviving of the dead physical body.
The first resurrection has to do only with the royal priesthood of God. No judgment will take place at the first resurrection. Each member of the royal priesthood will have been judged prior to the sounding of the trumpet of the Lord. When the Lord appears, the victorious saints will be raised to be with Jesus for eternity.
The second resurrection will be followed by judgment at the hands of Christ. At the second resurrection, those who are raised will enter either into everlasting life or else into everlasting torment, depending on the nature of their works, whether righteous or wicked.
All persons who have lived on the earth will be raised from the dead. Each body will be reassembled and revived so the individual can stand once more in his or her flesh and bones.
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 first resurrection has its own requirements for participation. It is the resurrection to which the Apostle Paul was striving to attain (Philippians 3:11). Only a relatively small number of people will be raised in the first resurrection. It is for the royal priesthood. There is a specific Divine purpose in the raising of this “firstfruits” out from among the dead bodies.
There is no requirement for attaining to the second resurrection. But there is a requirement for entering eternal life at the time of the second resurrection. All who are not raised in the first resurrection will be raised in the second resurrection, there to enter eternal life or eternal torment.
It can be seen that each of the two principal resurrections, the first and the second, has its own requirements and its own purposes. The two resurrections are very different in their requirements and their purposes.
Let us consider for a moment the second resurrection. It is the one that includes the great majority of people who have lived on the earth.
The Second Resurrection
At the second resurrection the dead will be judged out of the books in which the deeds of people are recorded. Then the Book of Life will be examined to see if the individual’s name is there. If the person’s name is found in the Book of Life he will be permitted to enter the Kingdom of God and to eat of the tree of life. If his name is not found written in the Book of Life he will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:12-15).
The participants in the second resurrection can be divided into two groups: those who have heard the Gospel of Christ and those who have not heard the Gospel of Christ.
Those who have heard the Gospel of Christ will be judged on the basis of whether or not they have received the Gospel and also on their subsequent manner of life as a Christian believer.
Those who have not heard the Gospel of Christ will be judged on the basis of their works alone.
The current teaching that Christian people will not be judged according to their works is in error. The Scriptures teach clearly that every person will be judged according to his works and will receive the good or the evil he has done (II Corinthians 5:10).
The current teaching that those who never have heard the Gospel of Christ will be condemned because they have not received Jesus, is abominable. Will God assign to eternal torment an individual, a child perhaps, or a baby who never has heard the Gospel, on the basis that he or she has not accepted the atonement made by the Lord Jesus?
Such a concept is not at all in keeping with the ways of the God of Heaven or with any reasonable standard of equity. God always is reasonable. It is religious people who draw unreasonable, false, abominable conclusions from their theological beliefs.
The basis for assignment either to eternal life or to the Lake of Fire is our works, whether we have done good or done evil (John 5:29). Righteous works bring the person to eternal life. Works of wickedness bring the person to condemnation.
In our zeal for advancing the concept of Divine grace we have wiped out the New Testament stress on righteous behavior. The result of our error has been the destruction of the Church of Christ. The people do not live righteously today because they have been taught that God is concerned only with our “making a decision for” His Son, not with how we behave.
Could there be a more deadly error than this?—one more opposed to all Christ represents? Could any device of Satan be more effective in blotting out the testimony of the churches?
There is a wicked, blind, proselytizing error throughout Christianity. The notion that lukewarm church-attenders because they profess belief in Jesus will be carried to beds of bliss in Paradise, while ignorant people and babies will burn in the Lake of Fire for eternity because they never heard of Jesus, is one symptom of this blind, pharisaic spirit.
If we hear the Gospel we must accept Jesus and be baptized in water, repenting of our sins. If we hear the Gospel and do not do this we come under condemnation. No amount of good works on our part will avail to permit our entrance into eternal life if we reject the Lord Jesus when He is presented to us.
Also we must, after receiving Jesus, practice the good works of the Kingdom of God. We must walk in righteousness and holiness, obeying God, showing mercy and humility in our attitude and behavior. If we do not do this we stand in danger of having our name blotted out of the Book of Life.
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)
The statement “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life” reveals clearly that it is possible for a member of the golden lampstand, the church of Christ, to have his or her name blotted from the Book of Life.
It is not that we add to our salvation by practicing righteousness or that we earn our salvation. Rather it is that the salvation in Christ always produces and is accompanied by righteous, holy, and obedient behavior. Whoever truly is in Christ is a new creation, a righteous creation. If this is not the case, if there is little or none of the fruit that always accompanies true salvation, then we have received the grace of God in vain. We still are in our sins.
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (I Corinthians 15:2)
It is possible to believe in vain!
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (II Corinthians 6:1)
If we do not truly repent and serve the Lord, our receiving of Jesus, the sweeping of uncleanness out of our “house,” has done little more than prepare the way for seven devils worse than the first to enter us.
Faith apart from works of righteousness is dead!—absolutely dead! It is worse than worthless because the Christian faith apart from righteous works tends to destroy our natural adamic integrity, making us as salt that has lost its taste. We become good for nothing in the world.
God’s people of today must be warned of the fact that God will not acquit the wicked. The place for rebels against God is the Lake of Fire. We cannot use our profession of belief in Jesus as a legal maneuver with which to outwit God so we can practice wickedness and inherit eternal life. This is what many Christians are doing today and they will reap what they are sowing. God cannot be mocked.
We must believe, be baptized, and then practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Anything other than this will bring chastening on us and may place in jeopardy our very salvation.
The person who never has heard the Gospel will be judged according to his understanding of God’s will, his conscience being a help in this regard. If he is a good person, practicing righteousness, behaving honorably, not harming his fellow man, he will inherit eternal life. If he aids the Lord’s saints he will be blessed of the Lord.
He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. (Matthew 10:41)
The Gospel has been given so the poor of the world, especially those who walk humbly before God, can inherit eternal life. This is the Good News.
We gain eternal life by walking righteously as the Lord Jesus enables us. We have stated previously that we are required to receive Christ if we have been presented with the Gospel. If we reject the Lord Jesus, no amount of godly behavior will qualify us for eternal life. On the other hand, a profession of belief in Christ will not qualify us for eternal life if we do not turn away from our wicked behavior and live to please the Lord.
Let us see if the Scripture teaches us that good works will qualify us to enter life.
Speaking of the second resurrection, that which will take place at the end of the thousand-year period, the Apostle Paul states that this day will be the “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).
Then the Apostle continues to describe how the Lord will judge every man according to his works:
Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:6,7)
How do we gain eternal life? By patient continuance in well doing.
There is no other way.
But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, (Romans 2:8)
What will happen to us, Christian or not, if we obey unrighteousness?
We will experience Divine indignation and wrath.
Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (Romans 2:9)
Every person who practices evil, who engages in adultery, fornication, lying, stealing, occult practices, pride, covetousness, drunkenness, malice, hatred, will be paid in tribulation and anguish whether he is a Jew, a Gentile, or a Christian. There is no respect of persons with God. God judges all equitably.
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (Romans 2:10)
What will be given to the person who works good? He will receive glory, honor, and peace, whether he is a Jew, a Gentile, a Christian, or of any other race or creed.
Christians have ignored and perverted this clear teaching of the Apostle Paul. The result has been the moral destruction of the Christian churches. They are worthless as witnesses of the Person, will, way, eternal purpose, and Kingdom of Almighty God.
God will not have fellowship with the doer of evil works whether or not the individual professes faith in Christ.
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (Romans 2:12)
We think we are in harmony with the Apostle Paul when we state that as many as have sinned in the Gospel will be judged by the Gospel. The Gospel of Christ states in many passages that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21, for example).
Every person who is raised in the second resurrection will be judged according to his works. Those who have practiced righteousness will be permitted to live on the new earth. They will inherit the Kingdom of God. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the new Jerusalem and eat of the tree of life (Revelation 22:14).
The wicked never will be permitted past the walls of the new Jerusalem.
The judgment of the people of the sheep and goat nations is an example of how the Lord Jesus will judge people according to their works.
All nations will be gathered before the Lord Jesus. They will be raised from the dead and will stand before the white throne of Christ.
Some of the people Christ will place at His right hand. Some of them He will place at His left hand.
Those at His right hand have treated Christ’s brothers with kindness. They have practiced righteousness.
Those at Christ’s left hand did not treat the saints with kindness. They practiced wickedness during their life on the earth. They despised the elect, God’s witnesses, and lived in pleasure.
To the righteous it is given to enter the Kingdom of God, into eternal life.
But the wicked shall be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matthew 25:34)
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41)
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:46)
It is clear in the New Testament that those who practice righteousness will enter eternal life. Those who practice evil will be assigned to torment.
Men have changed the Gospel of grace into an alternate route to eternal life, into a means of having fellowship with God while we continue in lawlessness. The purpose of the Gospel is to give us hope through the forgiveness of our sins, and then to provide many Divine helps and guidances so we can learn to lead a righteous and holy life.
In the New Testament, as well as in the Old, life always is associated with righteousness. Eternal death always is associated with sin and rebellion against God. Christ did not come to make us righteous by imputation (ascribed righteousness), except as a beginning blessing so we may find and start on the narrow, pressured way that leads to eternal life.
The wages of sin always is death. The gift of God is eternal life. The gift of eternal life is not like a gift of money. The gift of eternal life is the gift of an opportunity to follow Christ to the attainment to life.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)
The “end” of holiness is everlasting life. The outcome of sanctification is eternal life.
God never confers the fullness of eternal life on a sinner. Rather, God forgives the sinner and touches him with the Spirit of God, which is a promise of a fuller redemption to come in the future if the sinner continues to abide in Jesus. The sinner then is able to choose to live a righteous, holy, and obedient life. It is the practice of living in righteousness that brings the fullness of life into the personality.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12)
The righteousness of the blood of the Lord Jesus applied to our account makes it possible for God to put Divine life into our personality. But after that, the believer must choose to follow the Spirit of God into the righteous ways of the Lord.
If he does not follow the Spirit but chooses instead to live in the appetites of the flesh, he will lose the eternal life that had been given to him.
For if ye live in the appetites of 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)
The darkness and death he has chosen will overcome his personality. He had been given life initially because of his receiving of Christ, but he has chosen to walk in death rather than in the life that had been given to him as a gift. He will die spiritually as a result of his choice.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:12,13)
The Gospel of the Kingdom, of salvation, is preached in terms of the promise and warning of the second resurrection. It is at the second resurrection that men will enter eternal life or else into eternal torment. The great mass of earth’s people will be raised from the dead at the second resurrection—that which will occur at the termination of the thousand-year period.
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)
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:46)
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 5:29)
The First Resurrection
The first resurrection has requirements and purposes that are quite different from those of the second resurrection. The first resurrection is that of the overcomers, of the Lord’s firstfruits, of the pillars of the eternal Temple of God.
Whereas the righteous of the second resurrection enter life, the first resurrection is the raising to the thrones of glory and judgment those who have shared in the power of Christ’s resurrection, and in His sufferings, while still in their mortal bodies.
Perhaps one of the clearest statements concerning the first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place when the Lord Jesus appears, the resurrection of the nobility of the Kingdom of God, is as follows:
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. 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)
Notice the following facts and concepts included here:
- They sat on thrones.
- Judgment was given to them.
- They were beheaded for the witness of Jesus.
- They did not receive the mark of Antichrist.
- They lived.
- They reigned with Christ during the thousand years.
- The rest of the dead did not return to life until the thousand years were finished.
- They are blessed and holy.
- The second death has no authority over them.
- They are priests of God and of Christ.
- This is the first resurrection.
It can be seen how very different the first resurrection is from the second resurrection. The dead do not come from the sea, from death, and from Hell, as in the second resurrection. The participants in the first resurrection are victorious saints. They are blessed and holy to the extent that the Lake of Fire, the second death, has no claim on them. The second death has no claim on them because there is no sin in them over which the Lake of Fire has authority (Revelation 2:11; 21:8). Their works have been wrought in God.
These are the enthroned judges of the Kingdom, the mighty kings and judges of the ages to come, the priests of God and of Christ. They will reign with Jesus throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age by the power of incorruptible resurrection life. They have been crowned with life.
The saints of the first resurrection are not raised to be judged. They are the judges! They are not raised to enter eternal life, or eternal torment. They are life itself—the Life of Christ being revealed in sight of the nations of the earth.
The books of record are not opened when the overcomers come from the sleep of death. The Book of Life is not opened. None of this is necessary because they already have overcome, through the Lord Jesus, the forces of sin and death. They have boldness in the Day of Judgment because they are living by the Life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who are dwelling in them.
These saints are given back their bodies in advance of the remainder of the dead. They have attained to the out-resurrection, that which the Apostle Paul was seeking to grasp:
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
The first resurrection is a rare prize indeed, a heavenly calling, a mark toward which the saint is to press.
But how many will arrive at this early resurrection?
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
We have stressed the point that the righteous of the second resurrection enter life. The saints of the first resurrection already are filled with life. When the trumpet sounds, announcing the coming of the Lord from Heaven, the eternal Life of God that has been developed in the victorious saints throughout the tribulation period will be revealed before the nations (Isaiah, Chapter 60). The peoples of the earth will come to the Light of God in Christ in the saints, now shining on the earth. Then the saints will be raised to the greater Light that has appeared in the heaven above us.
It reminds us of the lamps in the earthen jars of Gideon’s army. When the jars were shattered the inner lights blazed forth, typifying the Light of God shining from within the saints in the Day of the Lord.
If we would participate in the first resurrection we must be filled with the eternal life, the “oil” of God, today. We must be living in victory today. Otherwise there is no point in our being raised; for the purpose of the first resurrection is to give back their bodies to the victorious saints so they may rule and minister with Jesus during the thousand-year Day of Atonement, the Jubilee of release. During the Jubilee the Body of Christ will be perfected and the nations of the earth taught righteousness.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)
The first resurrection from the dead is created in the disciple now. This is why the Apostle Paul was seeking to attain to, or arrive at, the early resurrection (Philippians 3:11).
Notice the inner source of the first resurrection:
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)
“By his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” “That dwelleth in you”!
The making alive of our mortal body is not accomplished by our entering an external life, as in the case of the second resurrection, but by the Spirit who is dwelling in us. The resurrection will come from the eternal Life that already has entered us and will, in that Day, expand to include all of our personality.
At the sounding of the trumpet of the first resurrection, the heavenly body of eternal life that has been created by our responding correctly to tribulation will be given to us (II Corinthians 4:7-5:5).
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will be dwelling in our soul and will have become an eternal Part of our soul. We shall be a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45). The Divine “gold” will be in us. The Divine gold also will come upon us as we are clothed with our body from Heaven.
As was true of the Ark of the Covenant, the “wood” of our mortal frame will be overlaid within and on the outside with the “gold” of Divinity.
We then shall be the Wife of the Lamb and qualified and competent to ascend to be joined together with Him in the air as the complement of Christ. Christ, Head and Body, will perform on the earth the work of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42:1-7; 61:1-11).
The participants in the first resurrection are the Lord’s trees of life. They are the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God. Those who are raised in the second resurrection will have access to the trees of life, to those who have been raised in the first resurrection. In this manner those raised in the second resurrection will enter the eternal life that was raised in the first resurrection.
Such is happening today, as God brings to us those whom He has found worthy of eternal life. We then share the Life of Christ with them.
Eternal life always comes from God through Christ through the members of the Body of Christ. The Lord Jesus is the Vine. The members of His Body are the branches through whom the Life of the Vine flows to a dead creation. This is true even now (although to a lesser extent than will be true in the future) provided we are sowing each day to the Spirit of God.
We see this pattern in Ezekiel, Chapter 47. There are the waters to the ankles, to the knees, to the loins, and then waters to swim in. This is a symbolic portrayal of the growth in eternal life of the consecrated believer.
As soon as the saints have passed through the judgments, deaths, and resurrections that take place during their pilgrimage on the earth they become trees of life growing along the banks of the river of eternal life. It is from them that eternal life will flow to the dead creation.
Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. (Ezekiel 47:7,8)
There was only one tree of life in the midst of the garden of Eden. In the Day of the Lord there will be very many trees of life growing along the banks of the River of Life. The one tree is Jesus. The “very many trees” are the saints growing out from the roots of Jesus.
The expression “east country” signifies the rising of the sun of the Day of the Lord. The “desert” symbolizes the dead creation. The “sea” represents the mass of mankind. Truly, the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).
The deliverance and glory of the thousand-year Kingdom Age will come from within the saints. The glory will be revealed in us. Christ will be revealed in us:
When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:10)
The glory and release of the thousand-year Kingdom Age is being created in us now.
The benefits of the thousand-year Kingdom Age are being formed in us who are the firstfruits of mankind to the Lord. We now are experiencing the Day of Atonement—the reconciling of every aspect of our personality to God. At times it is very difficult to cope with the prolonged, severe, detailed probings and cuttings of the Lord as He deals with each of our sins and each dimension of our self-will and self-centeredness.
God permits us to go many years with some prayers unanswered, while other desires are granted quickly. The unanswered prayers are for the purpose of developing Divine Life and Nature in us.
As we travail in prayer concerning our difficulties the wall against sin of the new Jerusalem is being created in our personality (Judges 2:21-23; 3:1,2). The precious stones of the foundations of the wall are formed in us under great heat and pressure. The transparent gold of the street of the holy city, of the way of faith, is developed and refined in us. The glory of the thousand-year Kingdom Age is being created in us now.
It is we who will go throughout the earth bringing the Presence, the will, the ways of God. The knowledge of the Glory of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). This means that the Glory of God will pour from the personalities of the saints as a river of life entering and purifying the “sea” of mankind (John 7:38).
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:4)
It is the Lord’s trees of righteousness (Isaiah 61:3) who will repair the desolations caused by Antichrist (that abomination who causes desolation!). Whenever men make themselves God, desolation results. Then the God-filled saints must go through the land and repair the ruined cities.
God is dealing with us now in the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. The Jubilee of release from sin and self-will is beginning in us, for the trumpet of the Jubilee is blown on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9). After the Day of Atonement comes the feast of Tabernacles. God and Christ enter us and make us Their eternal throne. The waters of eternal life always flow from the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. As we are crucified and He lives in us, the Resurrection and the Life is dwelling eternally in us. The resurrection and life that we have become because of His Presence in us will be raised at the sounding of the Lord’s trumpet. There will be the shout of war and the voice of Michael the Archangel as he prepares the army of angels for the Battle of Armageddon.
The first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, is described in I Thessalonians 4:15-18. Notice the expression in verse 16: “the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
“The dead in Christ.”
The first resurrection has to do with our being in Christ.
In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus explains to us what it means to be in Christ.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:54-57)
We learn from the above that:
- Whoever eats the flesh of Christ and drinks His blood already possesses eternal life.
- Jesus will raise up whoever already possesses eternal life.
The flesh of Jesus and His blood are the necessary food and drink of him who would aspire to the resurrection that is out from among the dead.
All persons will be raised at the last resurrection. Therefore, when the Lord speaks of raising up people who live by His flesh and blood, implying that they are raised by His Life as a result of living in and by His life, He of necessity is speaking of the first resurrection. There is no need to partake of Christ in order to be raised in the second resurrection.
It is the individual who is eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood who truly is abiding in Jesus, and Jesus in him.
Whoever is eating of Christ is to live by Christ as Christ lives by the Father.
We understand, therefore, that the expression in Christ, as employed in I Thessalonians 4:16, is not referring to the individual who at one time has indicated a willingness to accept Christ as Savior and has been baptized in water, who is professing faith in the facts of the atonement and resurrection, and who by the fact of church affiliation and belief is nominally a Christian. This may be how we define a Christian today but it is not a true concept of what it means to be in Christ.
To be in Christ is to be living by Him as He lives by the Father. Consider in what manner, to what extent, Christ lives by the Father. The Father is Christ’s Life. The Two are One—totally, inseparably One! All that is found in Christ is found in God. All that is found in God is found in Christ. The two Lives are one Life. The Wheel of God dwells forever in the Wheel of Christ (Ezekiel 1:16). Christ is the eternal Chariot in whom God rides.
In this same manner we are to be one with Christ. We are to be totally, inseparably, one with Him. All that is found in Christ is to be found in us. All that is found in us is to be found in Christ. The two lives are to become one. The two are to live as one eternal Life. The Wheel of God and of Christ is to dwell forever in the wheel of the saint. Each saint is to be an eternal chariot in whom the Godhead dwells to the ages of ages (Psalms 68:17—NIV).
But how are we to receive the body and blood of Christ? To him who overcomes will be given to eat of the hidden manna. As the tribulations of life pressure us and beat us down, and we call on the Lord in our distress, the Life of Jesus lifts us up.
As we press forward in faith, encountering numerous dreads, pains, confusions, and call on the name of the Lord, the Life of God in Christ enters us and raises us up. In this manner we learn to live by the body and blood, by the Life Substance of Christ. It is the way of cross-carrying obedience to the Lord.
Few believers of our day appear to be willing to embrace the way of cross-carrying obedience. They forever are seeking to be looking for relief from the pains of life. They do not have the patience to wait before God and hope in Him. As a result, their life is one of defeat and ignorance of God.
They are seeking deliverance from their tribulations. God desires that their tribulations be the instrument through which He can work eternal life in them, but they prevent this operation by their insistence on peace and pleasure now. By seeking to maintain a satisfactory life in the flesh in the present world they are defeating their own resurrection. How many are doing this today?
We do not mean to imply that we should not be calling on God for deliverance from all our problems. We indeed should do so. We must do so. We must pray always—in every situation. The afflictions of the righteous are many, but the Lord delivers them from every enemy of spirit, soul, and body as they call on Him (although some deliverances may not be realized in fullness until the Day of the Lord).
The consecrated saint grows in the image of Jesus as he fights onward in the Lord. But the modern believer often does not grow. He does not fight the good fight. He doesn’t understand there is a fight to be fought! He runs here and there seeking deliverance, meanwhile blaming the devil, people, and God for the fact that he is not able to conduct his life as he sees fit and receive all he desires.
He thinks God exists in order to give him whatever he wants. He seeks pastors who will pamper his flesh. He is a baby—self-willed, impatient, self-centered, not being able, because of his immaturity and selfishness, to bless God or man.
The material prosperity of the twentieth century is not conducive to creating attainers to the first resurrection. We must come out of the present materialism and seek God with our whole heart. Such a withdrawal from one’s culture can be very distressing. How difficult it is for those who possess riches to enter the Kingdom of God! The Kingdom is gained most easily by the poor of the world.
Paul’s primary concern was not that of deliverance from his problems. Rather, he cried out for deliverance from the sinful flesh he was dragging around. Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Paul’s chief desire was to gain righteousness and to please Christ.
The first resurrection is the answer to Paul’s supplication. For if we have pleased God, the Lord Jesus will remove every vestige of Satan’s influence from us at that Day and clothe us in the white robes of eternal life. The first resurrection is the redemption of the physical body, the acknowledging of us as the sons of God on the basis of our being raised from the dead.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)
This is the first resurrection.
The second resurrection will come after a thousand years have transpired, after the passing away of the earth and the heaven with which we are familiar. Then the dead will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The first resurrection is the clothing with additional life those who already have attained life. To those who already have life, more shall be given. The Lord will descend from Heaven to meet them. They will be changed from mortality to immortality and then will rise to meet Him in the air.
What a glorious scene this will be! How dreadful for those who see the resurrection and ascension taking place but who do not have the qualifying life in their personalities (Revelation 11:11)! How marvelous for God’s saints who, through Jesus, have gained victory over sin and self-centeredness even while dragging around a sin-filled body in a sin-filled environment! Truly the Lord is well pleased with them.
Our day is one of great opportunity. Many who are last in time will be first in the Kingdom of God. Our day also is one of great lawlessness. The Antichrist spirit of economic security and gain is prevalent, even among nominal Christians. The False Prophet, the spirit of religious delusion, has perverted Christian thinking and doctrine to such an extent that Christian teaching is leading people away from God rather than toward God.
Christian preaching, with its holding forth of traditions and fables in place of the Word of God, has produced churches that are much more of Babylon, of religious confusion, than they are of Christ.
Now is the time to press into the Life of Jesus until we are filled, filled, and filled again with resurrection life. Wherever resurrection life is not present in our personality the forces of decay and death enter rapidly. The pressure of the spiritual darkness always is present to invade any vacuum in us. We must live in the Spirit and be filled with the Spirit—always.
The great majority of earth’s people, including professing Christians apparently, will be raised in the second resurrection. There they will be dealt with fairly, for God is not anxious to send His creatures into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. God is willing that all persons come to the truth, repent, and be saved from wrath.
But very great wrath indeed awaits every individual who, knowing of the love and mercy of God, chooses instead to serve the god of the present world.
There are a few who are pressing forward, as was Paul, in order that they may arrive at the out-resurrection from the dead. The discipline imposed on them is total!—unsparing!—seemingly at times without mercy on their flesh and soul.
These are the children of the King. They are the heirs apparent to all the possessions of the King. They are the members of the royal priesthood, the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:1). They stand on Mount Zion and sing a new song they have learned from the Spirit. Only they are able to learn the song because the learning of it requires a depth of love for Jesus that the victorious saints alone possess.
Let us not be weary in well doing. We will reap in due season if we do not give up in unbelief and discouragement.
Any person who is called of God to be a member of the royal priesthood can attain to the first resurrection of the dead, if that is what he or she desires above all else. But he must serve the Lord Jesus with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength throughout each day of his discipleship on the earth. If he stumbles he is to get back up on his feet and fight on.
It is impossible for a man or woman, boy or girl, to be completely happy until he or she is doing the Lord’s will. All God asks of a human being is that he does God’s will for him as an individual; that he lay hold on the unique calling and goal God has established for him.
If we will do that, if we will serve God each day, praying for strength and wisdom, doing what we can to obey and please God, we will be raised at the time and under the conditions that have been designed for us. We do not have to strive to be a king, or for glory, or to do “great things for God,” or to make any other extreme effort to establish ourselves in the Kingdom of God. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.
All God requires of any person is that he fear God and keep His commandments, that he walk in righteousness and humility, showing mercy toward his fellow creatures. Whoever will choose to do this will please God and God will raise Him up in that Day in great peace and joy. He will enter the place prepared for him from the foundation of the world.
(“The Requirements and Purposes of the Two Resurrections”, 3251-1)