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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Two Appearances of the Bride, continued
Blessed and holy are those who have part 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 20:6—NIV)
If you read the above passage carefully you may get the sense that those who are raised in the first resurrection are an elite group. Notice also that this is not a resurrection to salvation but to rulership; also that, in contrast to the resurrection at the end of the thousand years, no books of judgment are opened.
These people have been judged prior to the appearing of the Lord. They have confessed their sins and turned away from them. They have made themselves ready for the marriage, therefore the second death has no authority over them. This appears to be true for only a small minority of all who claim to believe in Jesus Christ.
Do you see now where we get the term "first resurrection"? Does it sound like anything you are interested in? Well, it must be attained!
Now we will look at the writing of a man whose main goal in life was attaining the resurrection from the dead. From his attitude and teaching we can see the importance and desirability of attaining the resurrection from the dead, and also how one goes about attaining this resurrection, the one that will occur when the Lord returns.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11—NIV)
If there is another passage in the Bible as incomprehensible, as astonishing, as neglected as the above, I would like to hear of it.
How is it possible that the aged Paul, now in prison in Rome, could be trying to "gain Christ?" Paul's efforts at this point in his life make our "four steps of salvation" appear as the threadbare formula it actually is. Unless the Apostle Paul was some kind of exception, which I doubt seriously, it requires a lifetime of seeking Christ if we are to gain Christ. It takes a lifetime of seeking Christ if we hope to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Since the people who are raised in the second resurrection have no vote in the matter, they are raised whether or not they wish to be, Paul must be referring here to the first resurrection because it is the only resurrection that must be attained!
It is worthy of note that the term translated resurrection in "attain to the resurrection from the dead" is unique in the Greek New Testament in that it has the preposition "out from" prefixed to it. Paul is not speaking of the resurrection of the dead but the resurrection out from the dead.
To be continued.