From: It Is Time for a Reformation of Christian Thinking

Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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The resurrection of the royal priesthood is the final victory. It is the overcoming of the last enemy—physical death. When the members of the royal priesthood have been raised from the dead they shall be able to stand once more, now in Spirit-filled glory, on the earth. They shall possess the power, the rod of iron of the Spirit, to enforce God’s will on the nations. They shall teach the saved people of God’s ways and bring His Presence to them.

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you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)

There will be a resurrection of the royal priesthood in advance of the remainder of the dead of the earth.

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power [authority], but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The bodies of the members of the royal priesthood will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. Then their bodies will be filled with righteousness, immortality, and glory by the Holy Spirit who is dwelling in them.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)

The bodies of the righteous people who are not members of the priesthood will be raised at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. They will enter eternal life in the Presence of the Lord. They are part of the inheritance of the royal priesthood.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
“and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28,29)

The bodies of the wicked will be raised to judgment. The wicked will, apparently, be cast into eternal fire in their bodies. The intersection of the material and spirit realms at this point, while not clearly understood by us, has enough support in Scripture to warrant our statement.

“And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)

“The corpses of the men who have transgressed”!

Both the judgment and the rewards or punishments have to do with our bodies—with the manner in which we have used our bodies while alive on the earth:

For we [Christians and everyone else] must all appear [be revealed, manifest] before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

In the current teaching of the “rapture,” the impression is given that the purpose of the resurrection of the righteous is to bring us to Heaven. When the Lord Jesus returns He will carry us off to Heaven, it is believed.

A little reflection will reveal that this thinking not only has no scriptural support, it also is not logical. There is no need for our body to be raised from the dead in order for us to go to Heaven. We (the saints) go to Heaven when we die, not when we come to life again. Heaven is the abode of the departed, bodiless spirits, not of the resurrected, glorified saints.

When the Lord Jesus returns in the power of His Kingdom He will bring the deceased saints with Him, the members of the royal priesthood who are destined to govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth (I Thessalonians 4:14). Does it make sense they then should turn around and go back to Heaven? Have the saints descended from Heaven and received back their bodies from the ground so they may return to Heaven? What need is there for flesh and bones in Heaven?

Also, we must consider Paul’s purpose in writing I Thessalonians 4:13-5:4. The early apostles preached the coming of the Kingdom of God—the return of Christ to the earth to do away with sin and death and to bring in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit of God.

The believers in Thessalonica were concerned that their deceased loved ones might not partake of the glorious release and restoration.

Therefore Paul assured them that when Jesus returns, all true saints will enter the Kingdom together. Even those patriarchs and prophets of old (who without us cannot be made perfect) will enter the Kingdom of God at the time of the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth.

If the goal of salvation were to go to Heaven, Paul’s response would have been: “Do not worry. Your deceased loved ones, those who are ‘asleep,’ are now with Jesus and have their reward. When you fall asleep you too will go to be with them in glory. All will be reunited around the throne of the Lamb.”

That is how we would answer today because we are in error concerning the nature of the Kingdom of God.

Paul comforted them with the fact that should Christ return in their lifetime He would bring the deceased with Him. All who are part of Christ would then be gathered together in the resurrection and caught up to meet the Lord in the air—at the level of the clouds just above the earth. The royal priesthood will occupy the thrones in the air that presently are the domain of the fallen lords of the heavens. The thrones in the air govern the spiritual environment of the earth.

The coming of the Kingdom of God is different from our tradition of going to Heaven. Therefore, to place our tradition of the spirit Paradise on a passage dealing with the reuniting of the saints in the Day of Resurrection, and their ascension to meet the Commander in Chief in the air immediately above the earth, is to confuse the “blessed hope” of the Christian Church.

The lack of a clear vision of the hope of the Gospel of Christ, which is the resurrection to eternal life (John 3:16), has produced chaos in the Christian churches. The saints are not pressing toward maturity in Christ, toward the rest of God, because they have been taught to put their trust in a secret translation to Paradise where they will not be held accountable for their conduct on the earth.

If the current tradition were correct, Paul would have spoken of our reconciliation to our loved ones when we die, not when Christ returns and our bodies are raised from the dead.

There is no need for a resurrection in order for us to go to Paradise to live forever.

The purpose of receiving back our bodies is that we may return from Heaven with Jesus and live once again on the earth. In the Scriptures, the resurrection has to do with life in our bodies, not with life in the realm of spirits (I Corinthians 15:22,23).

Ezekiel’s vision concerning the dry bones portrays the assembling of the royal priesthood in the last days and then the raising of the priesthood from the chains of physical death (Ezekiel 37:1-14). The resurrection of the saints is the summoning from the ground of an army, which is in keeping with the description of the first resurrection given by the Apostle Paul (I Thessalonians 4:16).

With a shout (for the battle)!
With the voice of the archangel!
With the trumpet of God!

Here is the onslaught of the Battle of Armageddon, not the sneaking away of the Christian saints for fear they may be harmed by Antichrist or by the tribulation.

So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)

Notice that the dead saints are raised in order to bring them into the land of Israel, not up to Paradise:

“Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)

When Christ descends from Heaven we, His army, every member of the royal priesthood, will be raised from our graves and stand on our feet on the earth. Antichrist and the wicked nations will behold the army of Christ and terror will seize them. Then, to the dismay of the wicked, we shall be raised to meet the Commander in Chief in the air.

Next, we shall descend with the Lord Jesus Christ to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The Battle of Armageddon will be fought. After that, Christ, the Son of David, will be crowned King on the Throne of David in Jerusalem and we shall be with Him. We always shall be with the Lord.

We shall be raised from the dead so we may live in Spirit-filled immortality and victory on the earth. Also, we shall have access to the heavenlies. We shall be as Jacob’s ladder which reaches from earth to Heaven. Here is the restoration of the immortality that was available to Adam and Eve prior to their rebellion against the Lord God. We shall have all the glory that had been available to Adam and Eve—and infinitely more.

The Christian conflict sometimes is viewed as fighting our way up to Heaven, Heaven being viewed as the spiritual fulfillment of Canaan—the land of promise.

Heaven, Paradise, is not the spiritual fulfillment of Canaan. Are there “Philistines” in Heaven? Shall we enter Heaven one city at a time, overcoming and destroying its inhabitants as we proceed?

It is the earth and its nations, not Heaven, that are the inheritance of Christ and His saints (Psalms 2:8). It is the earth and its peoples that are our land of promise, and we shall take possession of the earth by violence, as described by the Prophets (Joel 2:3; Habakkuk 3:16; Revelation 19:11-15).

We understand, therefore, that we are not fighting our way upward into Heaven but downward into the earth. When we entered Christ our new spiritual life was raised to the highest heaven—far above every evil power. Christ, who Himself is the Kingdom of God, has been born in us. He is at the right hand of God, in the present hour and we are there with Him and in Him, and He in us.

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:5,6)

Now we are fighting our way downward from our spiritual position in Christ. We, through the Lord’s grace, are being enabled to bring God’s will to pass in the earth as it is performed in Heaven. This is the entering of the Kingdom of God into the earth, and it will take place in power and glory at the coming of the Lord.

The resurrection of the royal priesthood is the final victory. It is the overcoming of the last enemy—physical death. When we have been raised from the dead we shall be able to stand once again on the earth, this time in Spirit-filled glory. We shall possess the power, the rod of iron of the Spirit, to enforce God’s will on the nations and eventually to teach the saved people of God’s ways and to bring His Presence to them.

(“The Purpose of the Resurrection of the Priesthood”, 4002-1)

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