THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
Copyright © 2008 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. What does this mean? Are resurrection and life the same thing? When we are resurrected, does this mean we as a Christian will automatically enter eternal life? Perhaps it is time to clarify what the believer can expect to face when he or she stands before God in the Day of Resurrection.
Table of Contents
THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; (John 11:25—NIV)
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3—NIV)
The resurrection is one matter. Eternal life is another. The Lord Jesus is both the resurrection and the life.
We know the Lord Jesus came to bring us eternal life. What does this mean? And what relationship does eternal life have to the resurrection from the dead?
Another thought we will include in this brief essay is that God deals in one manner with people who are members of the nations of the saved, and then in a different manner with people who are members of the royal priesthood, of God’s Israel. Perhaps during the Church Age everyone who is saved is also a member of the royal priesthood; but whether or not this is true has no bearing on the present discussion.
Definitions. We need to think deeply about what we mean by “dead,” and also what we mean by “eternal life.” A conventional, shallow interpretation of these two terms makes it impossible for us to think clearly about the resurrection and eternal life. The Scriptures do not always use the terms death and life as rigorously as we will in this essay, but the reader soon will see the reason why we are being so specific.
By eternal life we mean the knowledge and Presence of God; in particular we mean the Being and Substance of Jesus Christ.
By eternal life we do not mean biologic life. We do not mean the ability to breathe, move, grow, reproduce, think, speak, smell, see, hear, or to perform any other feature of physical life. We do not mean that our ability to do these things will continue forever. Now, think hard about this because otherwise you will get lost in our reasoning.
By death, or being dead, we mean the knowledge and Presence of God are not present. The Being and Substance of Jesus Christ are not present.
By dead we do not mean the individual no longer can breathe, move, grow, reproduce, think, speak, smell, see, hear, or do anything else we usually mean by life.
Really consider our definitions of death and eternal life. Establish them solidly in your thinking. When you do we can proceed.
Resurrection. To begin with, let us consider and then set aside the resurrection of our physical body. Notice carefully the following passage:
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29—NIV)
“All who are in their graves.”
Can you see that every individual will be raised from the dead? Even though we have been at ground zero of an atom bomb, God, our Creator, is well able to reassemble our flesh and bones.
Our physical frame will not be raised by eternal life. It will be raised by the spiritual energy that operates the universe. No angel has eternal life, has the Being and Substance of Jesus Christ; but the angel lives, moves, and has its being by the spiritual energy that operates the universe. Eternal life, however, is reserved for God, Christ, and those people whom God deems worthy of the world to come.
At the present time our physical body is dead because of sin.
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10—NIV)
This means the Being and Substance of Jesus Christ are not in our body. Our body is not as yet part of the Life of God.
When our body is raised from the dead it still, initially, will be dead because of sin. It will be raised by Divine energy but not by what we have defined as eternal life.
Eternal life. Now let us lay aside the resurrection for a moment and discuss eternal life.
We can gain eternal life now.
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. (John 6:27—NIV)
We can be given eternal life when the Lord comes.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:29,30—NIV)
All of the eternal life we gain now, immediately ascends to be in Christ at the right hand of God.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4—NIV)
We have been raised with Christ and our inward eternal life, our knowledge and Presence of God, are now hidden with Christ in God.
The only people who will appear with Christ when He returns are those whose Life He is. To actually have Christ as our life means very much more than merely taking “the four steps of salvation.” Having Christ as our life is gained as our adamic nature is brought down in weakness and God’s Life takes it place.
Our dead body remains on the earth, working, playing, reproducing, sleeping, eating. This is the life of the adamic animal. The adamic animal remains forgiven provided we are pressing forward in Christ. Everything depends on our living in Christ, abiding in Christ!
If we are gaining ground in Christ each day, then we are laying up treasures in Heaven. These treasures include the increments of eternal life that we are gaining each day of our discipleship. They now are at the right hand of God in Christ. They are an integral part of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Let us turn to the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. Perhaps the clearest discussion of gaining eternal life now, of gaining the Being and Substance of Christ now, is found in this chapter.
Here we find the Lord invites us to live by His body and blood, stating that these are eternal life.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” (John 6:53-57—NIV)
It is stated clearly in the above passage that the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ compose our eternal life, and that there is a relationship between gaining inward resurrection life now, and having Christ raise us up in the Day of the Lord.
Our body, as we have explained, is dead because it is void of the knowledge and Presence of God. Now the Lord Jesus is offering to feed our inward nature with the knowledge and Presence of God, which is eternal life, which consists of the Lord’s body and blood.
How do we learn to eat Christ so we can live by Him as He lives by the Father?
We eat Christ by looking to Him for every aspect of life. Every time we turn away from our sinful nature and choose to obey the Lord, He feeds us with His very Life.
The Lord tells us, in the sixth chapter of John, that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood He will raise us up, resurrect us, in the last day. This is the resurrection to eternal life.
The Apostle Paul was seeking to attain the resurrection to life.
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11—NIV)
We know Paul was not seeking just to be resurrected, for all shall be resurrected. Paul was pressing toward the development of Christ in his inward nature so his body would be filled with Christ in the Day of the Lord.
The point is, if we do not seek Christ and live by His Life, then we have no eternal life stored up for us at the right hand of God in Christ.
Now we see clearly that our body is dead because of sin, void of the knowledge and Presence of God in Christ. Our inward nature is alive at the right hand of God and is increasing in life each day as we obey the Spirit of God.
When we are called forth from the grave our body is still void of the Life of God. It has been raised by eternal energy, not by the Life of Christ.
It is what happens at this point that determines our eternal destiny.
Our Christian mythology has us, after we pass away physically, reclining at our ease in our mansion. Even if this were true, and there is no scriptural basis for this idea, even if we have been in Heaven for two thousand years, the moment will come when the voice of Christ calls our body from the grave, and then our spiritual personality will be joined to our body.
Doing good and doing bad. What will take place then?
We shall stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and receive back what we have done in our body.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—NIV)
Notice how the above verse corresponds to John’s statement:
And come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:29—NIV)
“The things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” “Those who have done good.”
Christians often ignore these two verses as though they are not the Word of God, or have been superseded by “grace.” However, they indeed are the Word of God and will never be superseded by grace!
God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; But glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (Romans 2:6-10—NIV)
God wants us to do good, not to try to use Jesus Christ as a means of avoiding doing good. Will we ever learn the simplicity of the Gospel?
In the Day of the Lord, if we have done good we shall receive the good we have done in the form of Divine Substance that will fill our dead flesh and bones with eternal resurrection life, with the knowledge and Presence of God.
In the Day of the Lord, if we have done bad we shall receive the bad we have done. In this case our body and inward spiritual nature will remain without the Being and Substance of Christ. What will happen to us then, whether we are permitted to enter the new world of righteousness, or are put into the outer darkness, or Hell, or the Lake of Fire, depends on the decision of Christ.
This is what it means to reap destruction.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8—NIV)
Notice that the destruction proceeds from “his sinful nature” whereas the eternal life that will make alive our body also will proceed from the life that we have gained through the body and blood of Christ.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)
There is nothing more just, more equitable, than the fact that each person will receive in the Day of Resurrection that which he or she has practiced while living on the earth. What we are doing now is forming in us that which will be our portion when the Lord comes. External rewards are one matter, and there shall be these also. But what is in us as a result of our behavior today will be our clothing when our frame is raised from the dead.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12)
Will believers turn on their teachers in that hour and demand to know why they were told not to worry because they would enjoy Paradise forever if they believed in lawless grace?
We cannot substitute our traditions for the written Word and expect God to honor our substitution!
Let us now think about the expression “doing good.”
It is just as it states in II Corinthians 5:10: we receive that which we have done in the body, whether good or bad.
According to John 5:28,28, if we do good we will be resurrected into eternal life. If we do evil we will be resurrected into condemnation.
This is true also in II Corinthians 5:10. The issue is one of doing good or bad, not that of accepting Christ.
Does this mean we can refuse Christ and choose to just do good and hope thereby to enter eternal life at the coming of the Lord?
Not at all, for Christ said plainly that if we do no believe in Him we will be condemned.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18—NIV)
What, then, is the explanation.
First of all, the Scripture stands as it is written. Our fate in the Day of Resurrection will depend on how we have lived, whether we have done good or bad things during our life.
I know Christians will be upset by this, but the Scriptures stand as written. They do not change according to our traditions.
The difference between God’s elect and the people of the world. In order to understand the relationship between doing good, and salvation by grace through faith, we first must comprehend the difference between the salvation of the members of God’s elect, His royal priesthood, and the salvation of those who are not of God’s elect.
No person is elected to be saved. God is willing that all repent, believe in Christ, and be saved.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9—NIV)
This is not true of the members of the royal priesthood. They have been chosen from the beginning of the world. When the appointed time of each member arrives, the Lord reveals the slain Lamb to him or her and then proceeds to weave the white robe of the priesthood, so to speak.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29—NIV)
Because of this difference in calling, “doing good” differs from one group to the other.
To the person elected to the priesthood, to be a saint, a holy one, the standard is set very high. We are commanded to present our body a living sacrifice, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus. We have to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
The Spirit of God deals with us night and day, day and night. Every nuance of thought, word, and action is considered. Sometimes we are required to go to a difficult mission field, or to serve in some sort of ministry. This is how a member of the priesthood does good.
The Lord is exceedingly strict with us because in the future we will be His rulers and judges.
Now if we, as a member of God’s elect, do not obey the Spirit of God, choosing to live in the spirit of the world, in our fleshly desires, in our self-will, then we are doing bad.
Those Christians, the priests of God, who do good will enter eternal life in the Day of Resurrection.
Those Christians, the priests of God, who bury their talent, will be thrown into outer darkness. We have not done good so we are not resurrected to eternal life.
Several times in the Gospel accounts the Lord speaks of the punishments that will be administered to unfaithful, lazy servants.
They will receive the bad they have done.
Next we come to people who are not members of the royal priesthood; who have not been called from the beginning of the world to be the brothers of Christ.
Doing good refers to the decent things they do in their lifetime, their faithfulness to their family members, their kindness and gentleness with people, and especially to the way they treat the Lord’s brothers, the saints.
Doing bad speaks of what we are seeing in the American society today as people murder, rape, rob, cheat one another.
Numerous Americans are of the opinion that God does not know what they are doing. They engage in sexual intercourse and then murder the baby, citing their “reproductive rights.” They practice homosexual behavior, knowing that such perversity is condemned in both Testaments. Why is homosexual behavior condemned? Because the eternal servants of God can only be brought forth through a woman in childbirth. We must be born physically before we can be born again into the Kingdom of God.
The practice of homosexuality is Satan’s way of preventing potential servants of God from being born into the world. So also is abortion.
So all of the wickedness that Americans suppose they are getting away with because God doesn’t see them, or there is no God, or they are saved “by grace,” or whatever other rationalization they employ, is all smoke and mirrors. At some point each person shall hear the voice of God. He shall come forth, his body from its place of interment and his spirit from the spirit realm. Then he, professing Christian or not, shall indeed receive what he has practiced during his lifetime on the earth.
There is so much wickedness all around us! We fret ourselves to death. It helps very much to understand that every single action, wicked and righteous, has been recorded in writing by the angels and remains in God’s perfect memory.
No one will escape the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping, whether or not he or she is a Christian.
A Christian does good by obeying the priestly calling which is administered by the Holy Spirit.
An individual who is not of God’s elect, who has not heard or perceived the Gospel of the Kingdom, who does not have this kind of calling, does good by obeying his conscience. As Paul says in the first chapter of Romans, nature itself instructs him. The heavens declare the Glory of God and their testimony has gone to the ends of the earth, and throughout every age.
A Christian does bad when he neglects his salvation; when he refuses to heed the Lord’s invitation to come out of the world and live unto God, to not entangle himself or herself with the affairs of this life.
A person who has not been called from the beginning of the world to be part of God’s Israel, of the royal priesthood, does bad by searing his conscience until he or she is performing all the wicked acts described in the first chapter of the Book of Romans.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. He is going to raise every person from the place where his or her flesh and bones have rested in the ground or in the water.
There is no attaining to this resurrection. It is sure to all people. In the last days we all, while we are in our flesh, shall see God.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27—NIV)
After the resurrection. It is not the resurrection that is so important. It is what takes place after our flesh and bones have been raised that is so critical in terms of our future. If we have done good we will enter eternal life in our body. The Scripture cannot be broken.
If we have done bad we shall have brought ourselves into a state of corruption and destruction. Whatever Christ decides our destiny shall be, according to what has been written in the books of record, shall happen to us while we are in our body. If we are thrown into the Lake of Fire it will be in our body.
No human body will be unclaimed. The human body was made by the Lord and it will spend eternity somewhere.
God so loved the world He gave His only son that whoever will choose to believe in Him may have eternal life. This means we can gain eternal life, the Being and Substance of Christ, in our inward nature, in the present world. Then, when the Lord returns, that eternal life will come down as a robe, or house, from Heaven and make alive our physical body—alive in the sense of being filled with the Being and Substance of Jesus Christ.
This is the white robe of the priesthood. This transformation will take place at the next coming of the Lord from Heaven.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8—NIV)
The righteous acts of the saints. The doing good by the saints—good behavior that results from the Life of the body and blood of Christ that they have eaten and drunk each day of their discipleship.
At the last judgment, at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, all other members of mankind will stand before Christ and His saints, at the White Throne Judgment.
Then the books will be opened, and also the Book of Life. If any person’s name is not recorded in the Book of Life he or she will be thrown in his or her body into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
The remainder of the people, no doubt the vast majority (God did not create billions of people with the idea in mind of throwing almost all of them into eternal agony) will then be brought into the new world of righteousness and given a portion of Christ. Everyone in the new world will be part of the resurrection of Christ. God and Christ will be in each one.
This great multitude of people, whom I have just mentioned, constitute the inheritance of Jesus Christ and His coheirs. They are the people whom the royal priesthood will govern, bless, teach, judge, chasten, and love. If it were not for the nations of saved people we would have no inheritance. I guess we would sit in Heaven for eternity and discuss the weather. This would be boring after three hundred years, particularly if there were no weather worth discussing.
The bottom line is this: You, dear reader, are determining your eternal destiny by your actions today. Grace and mercy will never affect the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. Grace and mercy enter now and help us change what we are sowing
Grace and mercy do not enable a wicked person to reap eternal life. Rather they are available to the wicked individual so he or she may be forgiven and then turn away from the wickedness in order to enter eternal life.
Obviously we are in great need of a reformation of Christian thinking because, according to the Scriptures, multitudes of Christian people are not going to appear with Christ in that they have not made Him their life. They have chosen instead to live according to their sinful nature, trusting in an unscriptural “grace” to ensure their entrance into Heaven.
The majority are ignorant concerning the realities of the Day of Resurrection, supposing they will be caught up to Paradise in an unscriptural “rapture” apart from the moral change that always is necessary if we are to have fellowship with God.
It is time for the American Christians to repent and begin to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
(“The Resurrection and the Life”, 3703-1)