ATTAINING TO THE INNER RESURRECTION
Copyright © 2011 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.
I have written on this subject before, but it is becoming even more real to me. It must be important, because the Apostle Paul viewed it as his goal toward which he was pressing.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)
The term for “resurrection,” as employed above, may be rendered “out-resurrection.” There is a prefix attached to the noun which means “out from,” as I understand it. The noun with the prefix is not found elsewhere in the New Testament according to my knowledge. However the word for “resurrection,” without the prefix, is the term ordinarily used for “resurrection.”
The reason we should pay attention to this “out-resurrection” is, as I said, the fact that the Apostle Paul regarded it as his goal. Here is the Apostle Paul, with his background of service and fruitfulness, declaring that experiencing the power of Christ’s resurrection and participation in Christ’s sufferings would enable him to “somehow” attain to the out-resurrection.
It is difficult to comprehend Paul expressing the idea that “somehow” he might arrive at this desirable state.
I will continue to elaborate on this kind of resurrection in a minute. But I want to point out that we do not often hear Christian people setting their sights on the resurrection of their body as a condition they might somehow attain to.
It may be true that we have gotten off the track with our traditions. We need to look again at the goal of the Christian salvation. It is not to go to Heaven to live forever. It is to attain to the out-resurrection of the dead.
We notice Paul’s emphasis on the redemption of his body:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:22-24)
Can you see in the above that Paul was groaning for the redemption, that is, the resurrection, of his body? Paul states that this redemption is our adoption to sonship. Have you ever heard that we are adopted as a son of God on the basis of our resurrection?
Paul states further that we are saved in this hope—in the hope of our adoption to sonship. We need to think about this. It is not ordinarily being preached, I believe.
Paul had declared a few verses previously in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans that if the Spirit of God is dwelling in us, that same Spirit will make our body alive. This is, of course, referring to when the Lord Jesus appears and we are changed in the twinkling of an eye.
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 because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
It is true that all people who have lived on the earth will be raised at some point:
“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 what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28,29)
This resurrection will happen to all people, whether or not they participate in Christ’s resurrection power and Christ’s sufferings. So we can understand that Paul was seeking to attain to a part of this resurrection that will not just happen to all people whether or not they press forward in Christ.
The New Testament does in fact bear out that there will be an advance part of the resurrection that must be attained to:
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
Thus the Scripture declares that there shall be a first resurrection, and it must be attained to by efforts on the part of the Christian people:
Those who attained to the first resurrection:
Sat on thrones.
They were given authority to judge.
They were beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the Word of God. It is possible that this is not speaking of physical decapitation but of giving their mind to Christ so that His thoughts must always be guiding them. Our mind is one of our enemies, and we are commanded to bring every thought into subjection to Christ.
They had not worshiped the beast or its image. It may be true that the beast is Antichrist, that is, man worshiping himself; although I think Daniel indicates there will be an individual who sums up in himself the human desire to be one’s one god.
It could be true also that the image of the beast is money, referring to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue.
There probably be will some sort of mark in the forehead or the hand. This may indicate people who think of themselves as God and act in a self-willed manner.
They came to life. Since such people (the participants in the first resurrection) had been spiritually alive prior to this time, as evidenced by their characteristics, this means their bodies were resurrected. Their bodies were redeemed from the authority and power of death.
They reigned with Christ for a thousand years, the Kingdom Age, that often is termed the “Millennium.”
The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. Thus part of the resurrection of mankind occurs at the beginning of the Kingdom Age; and the second part, the main part, at the end of the thousand-year period.
This is the first resurrection. The first resurrection appears to not be preached very often. But it likely is the out-resurrection that Paul “somehow” hoped to attain to.
Those who share in the first resurrection are distinguished by being “blessed and holy.” So it is a resurrection of unusually fervent believers. These no doubt are the firstfruits of the Church, symbolized by so many events of the Old Testament, such as King David’s rule over Judah seven and one-half years prior to governing all Israel. And there are many more such Old Testament types of the dividing of the Church into a Most Holy Place and then a Holy Place.
The second death has no power over them. This is because they have overcome through Christ the seven areas of behavior over which the second death has authority.
They will be priests of God and of Christ. The entire Church consists of priests who represent God to man and man to God. However, those who participate in the out-resurrection are a firstfruits of the royal priesthood.
They will reign with Him for a thousand years, throughout the Kingdom Age.
They along with Christ, and because of Christ, will govern the nations of the earth, just as has been promised in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation to the victorious saints.
Those who are raised in the second resurrection, at the termination of the Kingdom Age, will be judged according to their works. If their name is in the Book of Life, they will be brought forth to citizenship on the new earth, in the new world of righteousness.
If however their works have been evil, and their name is not written in the Book of Life, they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire to be with Satan and his angels for eternity. This is a fate beyond belief in its horrors.
After reviewing the fellowship with God and Christ, and the opportunities for service, that will be enjoyed by those who attain to the first resurrection, I feel confident that every reader of my words will want to know how to attain to this act of God, which shall take place at the next coming of Christ to the earth.
It also is true that those who do not attain to the first resurrection will have to wait in the spirit world, after their death, before they know what their destiny will be when they are judged at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
It may be that there will be opportunities for a change of behavior after death. This may be the case concerning the members of the elect who did not attain to the first resurrection. However it is dangerous to count on being changed in behavior after death.
We have to respond to Christ when He is presented to us and take advantage of the Kingdom resources He entrusts to us. It may be now or later. But if we do not respond diligently to Christ when we have the opportunity, it is highly unlikely we will have a second chance. Offending God is a very, very dangerous action for us to take.
The parable of the sower is an example of someone who did not use diligently the Kingdom treasures given to him or her.
Seeing the advantages of participating in the out-resurrection, the first resurrection, the redemption of our body, what are we as a Christian to do?
Our response simply is this: we have to attain to the inner resurrection today.
How do we attain to the inner resurrection? By learning to live by the Life of Jesus, experiencing the power of His resurrection and sharing His sufferings.
Christ suffered that He might learn obedience to the Father. We have to suffer that we might learn obedience to Christ and through Him to the Father.
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 6:57)
John 6:57 may be one of the most important verses in the Bible. It tells us that God sent Jesus to us and Jesus lives because of the Father, that is, Jesus lives by and from the Life of the Father.
I am so glad the relationship does not stop at this point. If we feed on Christ we will live by and from His Life. Because Jesus is living by the Life of the Father, if we live by the Life of Jesus, we will be living by the very Life of God.
Nothing is more wonderful than to live by the Life of God. This is the inner aspect and essential preparation for the outer aspect of the first resurrection. The Lord Jesus Himself is the Resurrection. The Lord Jesus lives by the eternal Life of God; and when Christ is formed in us, the Resurrection and eternal Life are formed in us.
If we hope to “somehow” attain to the out-resurrection, the first resurrection of the dead of mankind, we first must orient ourselves properly to the work of redemption. The work of redemption begins when we, in water baptism, declare that we have been crucified with Christ and resurrected with Christ.
Then, throughout our entire Christ experience, we must affirm with utmost determination that we have been crucified with Christ and now are resurrected with Christ. Apart from this orientation we will flounder in any number of false concepts and beliefs, being tossed around by all the traditions that are preached today as though they were written in the Scriptures.
Now, having reckoned that we have died with Christ and are risen with Christ, we are ready to begin our journey toward the first resurrection.
Every day we must allocate a part of our thinking, doing, or acting, to Christ. We must ask His judgment of each decision we make. We must look to Christ continually for wisdom and strength. We must pray and read our Bible consistently so we can recognize His present will for us.
Christ always must be obeyed, diligently and completely. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth. There is no other action on our part as important to God as obedience. Obedience is worth more to God than any kind of worship or service.
In fact, learning to obey God may be the most important issue of the present day.
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 6:57)
Please notice once again the above statement by the Lord Jesus. “The one who feeds on Me.” If we are to attain to the inner resurrection we must feed on Christ. We do this by continually, day and night, opening the door of our personality to Him that we may dine together. He dines on our obedience and worship. We dine on His body and blood.
The eternal, resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ is in His body and blood.
Each day we are faced with decisions as to what we are to do. Sometimes there is no problem. We proceed on our way joyfully.
On other occasions we are tempted to do something that we know or think might be displeasing to God. When we choose to do what we believe to be right, even though we sorely are tempted to pursue the questionable behavior, we are fed with the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm. We are strengthened in the knowledge of good and evil, and in the willingness and desire to embrace that which is good and firmly renounce and turn away from that which is evil.
This renewing by the “hidden manna” takes place continually. As we choose the will of Christ, the inner resurrection, which is Christ Himself, grows in us.
However, when we yield to temptation our sinful nature is strengthened.
This is how we “feed” on Christ. It is true in the natural that we do not go long periods of time without eating, under ordinary circumstances. So it is true that we must eat of Christ continually if we are to attain to the inner resurrection.
Sometimes the Substance of Christ is fed to us when the Word is preached. The Word of God builds us up in Christ, in the ability to discern between good and evil and to choose the good and reject the evil. This is why when we leave church we have the feeling that we have been “fed.”
Notice how the Apostle Paul described the crucified and resurrected life:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:2)
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:11,12)
We put to death the misdeeds of our body by confessing clearly to the Lord the sins we are committing. When we do, denouncing and renouncing such behavior, the Lord Jesus is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When we are tempted in like manner in the future we find to our delight that we now have the strength to turn away from evil behavior.
Notice that if we do not put these actions to death “we will die.” We will not attain to the resurrection. But if we are diligent and faithful in confessing and turning away from our sins, with the Lord’s help, “we will live.” This is referring back two verses (Romans 8:11) to the discussion about our mortal body being made alive by the Spirit of God.
We attain to the inner resurrection by confessing our sins to the Lord, and seeking His wisdom and strength in turning away from them.
The following verses tell us that eternal life, the Life of God in Christ, is the product of obedience to God and the resulting holiness:
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22,23)
It is true that eternal life is a gift. However, the gift actually is the gift of obedience to God and holiness of personality and behavior. These gifts result in eternal life. How many Christians live in disobedience and moral filth and believe they are going to go to Heaven to live forever? We really ought to know better than this!
By the way, Heaven is a place. Eternal life is a state of being. Our goal is not the place in the spirit world termed “Heaven.” Our goal, as Paul pointed out, is the state of being referred to as resurrection life. Just because someone is in the spirit world does not mean he or she has eternal resurrection life.
There is great confusion in Christian thinking about the difference between residence in Heaven, and eternal life. God did not give His Son to the world so people would escape Hell and go to Heaven. God gave His Son so people would be able to attain to eternal life.
Salvation is not from earth to Heaven but from the death of Satan to the Life of God.
Christ Jesus has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (I Corinthians 15:51,52)
No doubt Christian people read the passage above and assume because they have made a profession of belief in Jesus Christ they are going to experience such a change in their body. But, as Paul tells us, this is not the case.
The sudden redemption of the body will take place at the last trumpet, the seventh trumpet of the Book of Revelation. We have to overcome the eight behaviors over which the Lake of Fire has authority if we hope to receive the redemption of our body when the Lord returns.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
The resurrection, the redemption that suddenly will take place at the seventh trumpet, is the out-resurrection toward which Paul was pressing with all his might.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. I guess folks who believe in the so-called pre-tribulation “rapture” of all who profess belief in Christ imagine that they are going to be caught up to Paradise in their flesh and blood bodies. In fact, in some cases the pastor has the members of the congregation jump up and down next to their chairs so they will be ready, supposedly in their flesh, to fly up through the roof of the church.
Can you imagine the Apostle Paul counting everything as garbage that he might attain to a “rapture”?
The resurrection from the dead, especially the first or out-resurrection, is, or should be, the principal hope of each Christian person. But it appears to me the resurrection seldom is mentioned except at funerals and Easter services.
How did we become so far removed from the Gospel of the Kingdom?
It might be mentioned that if our destiny were eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven, there would be no need for a resurrection or redemption of our body. Apparently the inhabitants of Heaven get along just fine without a flesh and blood body.
The purpose of the redemption of our body is that we once again might resume our business on the earth. People cannot live any kind of normal life on the earth if they do not have a physical body. However the redeemed body will not be flesh and and blood, but flesh and the Spirit of God.
The hope of a redeemed body, a body that wants to serve God, a body of enormous strength and abilities, a body not affected by tiredness, sickness, or even death—how does that sound to you?
It is likely that our appearance of age may be as young as we wish, although it never can be older than we actually are in our inner nature.
God has given His Son to us that we might have just such a body. The present world, with its endless problems, griefs, temptations, pains, frustrations, bewilderments, is not God’s idea of a world. We were not created to toil seemingly endlessly in order to gain survival, security, pleasure, and achievement! So little love, joy, and peace is true of many of earth’s population.
Rather, we were created to play in God’s Paradise, that is, to engage in occupations that give us the greatest love, joy, and peace in a beautiful, loving environment.
The garden in Eden was such a world. But the Paradise that is coming, that will be governed by Christ and His victorious saints, will be so much more glorious than the garden in Eden that there is no comparison.
In God’s Presence is fullness of joy. At His right hand there are pleasures for eternity.
We owe our fleshly body nothing that we should obey its passions and lusts. A better body is on the way, a body without a sinful nature. We will have eternal fellowship with God and Christ and all of the redeemed in a Paradise that exceeds our fondest hopes and expectations.
Think of the composer who has eternity in which to bring forth his or her compositions.
Think of the inventor who has access to the wisdom and knowledge of Christ.
Think of the teacher who has eternity in which to bring up children into stalwart children and servants of the Lord God.
Think of the authors who can give free rein to their imaginations throughout the ages of endless ages.
Think of God’s rulers who continue to grow in size, glory, wisdom, and compassion as they govern the nations of saved people. After billions of years of earth time have passed they will be great pillars of glory revealing the Persons of God and Christ.
It is likely that the new earth will be very much larger than our present earth. It must be able to support a city that is a cube fourteen hundred miles on a side.
Of the increase of Christ’s Kingdom and of peace there shall be no end. This means that children will be born throughout eternity. We wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?
Soon the population will be too large for the gigantic new earth. So groups of people with their rulers will be sent to live on stars, of which there will be a virtually infinite number. Thus mankind keeps growing throughout endless ages. Each star will have a delightful environment very much superior to the garden that formerly was located in Eden on our present earth.
Think of a patriarch governing your star, a person who always is growing in the image of Christ. Christ always is growing in the image of God. Perhaps God Himself will be growing—at least His family will be growing!
Every human occupation will continue to expand in all of its potential. The arts and sciences will progress past our fondest dreams. There will be universities, music halls, communities of joyous people, and—according to the Book of Isaiah, all sorts of animals that will be the pets of children.
The saints who in the present hour are pursuing the life of victory in Christ are being prepared to govern. The flesh and blood human is little more than an intelligent animal until he or she begins to grow in Christ, in the willingness, desire, wisdom, and strength to utterly embrace iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God; and to utterly renounce and reject all behavior that is not part of the Behavior of the Lord God of Heaven.
So whether we are located on one of the new stars in the new heaven, or on the new earth, or are part of the new Jerusalem which always will be the dwelling place of the royal priesthood, we will be filled with love, joy, and peace. We will have the power of multiple presence so that, like our Lord, we can be in numerous places at once. But Scripture declares that the victorious saints will be pillars in the Temple of God and always will be located there.
The new world of righteousness that I am describing has been in God’s mind from before the time the angels and the spirit world were created. There came forth from the Father the eternal Word, who later was born of Mary. Through the eternal Word the Father created all things, beginning with the various creatures of Heaven, such as the cherubim, the seraphim, and the angels.
In the fullness of time, God created the physical realm—actually a world superior to the spirit world. God always moves from the lesser to the greater.
The eternal plan moved forward, God watching over His Word to perform it. God permitted the first humans to disobey Him so that people (and angels) might one day learn about sin and righteousness. The mighty and eternal moral Law of God was written in granite. The Law served until the Seed came in accordance with the promise given to the obedient Abraham.
Then Christ was crucified to make an atonement for the sins of people, and was raised again, the Firstborn of the new creation. Now it is time for God to make man in His own image, as He planned from the beginning. It is no wonder the Apostle Paul extolled the incomprehensible wisdom of God!
The Life of the obedient Christ was placed in His body and blood so that we might eat and drink of the Life of the Word, the Life of Him who is (as we are becoming) the eternal moral law of God formed in flesh.
Here it is! The plan from the beginning worked out in people chosen from the beginning. They are the appointed rulers of the Kingdom God always has had in mind.
All people born on the earth shall be judged at one point or another. Those who attain to the out-resurrection are being judged now, during their present life, so that no judgment will be necessary at the time of the first resurrection.
The next step is a new heaven with new stars of immense size and glorious colors. These are residences for the immeasurable populations of the future. There is a new earth on which will be located the home of the royal priesthood.
The royal priesthood are the rulers, under Christ, under God, of the worlds to come. Do not be dismayed at the fiery trials you are encountering. Our Lord Himself learned obedience to God through the things He suffered. How much more shall we, who drink sin like water, be obliged to suffer that we might learn stern obedience to God.
Christ is the Firstborn from the dead. Now it is our turn. We cannot govern the creation, the works of God’s hands, until God is absolutely assured of our stedfast obedience to Himself.
It is taking thousand of years to bring forth the members of the Royal Priesthood. Each one considers himself or herself as having been crucified with Jesus Christ. Each one now is learning to live by that inner resurrection life. All things of the creation have worked and are working together for the good of the governing priesthood.
The Church has participated in the first two stages of redemption—forgiveness through the blood atonement and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Now it is time for the final climactic work of reconciliation to God. This reconciliation takes place as through the Lord Jesus Christ we overcome our love for and trust in the Antichrist spirit of the world; the lust and passions of our sinful nature; and our willingness to behave according our own desires and plans.
Each of these three areas of our life must be conquered. We must not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We must diligently and completely confess our sins to the Lord as the Spirit of God points them out to us.
Then—and this is the most critical of the three areas of reconciliation—we must endure the various prisons and crosses that are applied to us. We are denied what we so fervently desire. We are compelled to do that which we may detest. And we never are to seek to escape from our imprisonment, our cross; although we always are to pray that God will help us and one day deliver us.
We have to die to our self-will and self-love. If we save our life we shall lose it. If we give our life to Christ and His Gospel we shall gain unlimited fruitfulness and dominion.
I feel confident that you, as is true of me also, want to attain to the inner resurrection that you might be transformed in body and rise to meet the Lord at His appearing.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
In what area would you like to play for eternity?
(“Attaining to the Inner Resurrection”, 3716-1)