Today, Thursday December 23
The Resurrection of the “Dead in Christ”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
We have been talking about the “rapture” of the church, which takes place in the first phase of the second coming of Christ. The word “rapture” is not used in the English translation of the Bible but is a word that we use to best describe what the Bible means when it says “we are caught up”. (1 Thessalonians 4:17) When the rapture takes place, it is clear that there is also a resurrection of the “dead in Christ”. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
A very good questions is, “Why does there need to be a resurrection of the dead in Christ if they are already in heaven. We have noted already in these chats that the scripture teaches “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. We do believe that after our loved one in Christ draws their last breath on earth that their next one is in heaven. Their soul and spirit are immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord in heaven but they leave their body with us here on earth and we go through the process of a funeral and buried their body.
The reason we believe that there is a resurrection of the body of the dead in Christ is because we believe that this physical body that we lived in for so many years on earth, is very unique and special (we only get one). It was the only way we communicated with our friends and loves ones. Through these bodies we recognized and experienced each other. We can only speculate what kind of temporary body they get when the soul and spirit of the believer goes to heaven at the moment of death. I personally believe that it is not a spirit floating around in heaven but it is a literal body that will be clothed in white linen. And in this temporary body, they will be about to talk, hear and see. They will eat and fellowship with Jesus and their loved ones that are already in heaven.
I believe that in heaven they have limited knowledge of the events that are happening on the earth. They are in the grandstands of heaven cheering us on to live for the Lord and eternity. (Hebrews 11 & 12) When Jesus comes back at the rapture, these dear saints in their temporary bodies, are going to come back with Him. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14) When the Lord gives His shout for those of us who are on earth to be caught up with Him, immediately the bodies of these deceased believers will rise first out of their earthly resting places to be reunited with their soul and spirit that comes back with the Lord!
At this exact moment, “in the twinkling of an eye”, we are all changed from corruptible mortal bodies into immortal, incorruptible bodies! These bodies will have the same characteristics that the body of Jesus had after His resurrection! “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) But we also will keep our original race and physical characteristics that we had on earth but they will be perfected! This is indicated in Revelation 7:9; “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands…”
The old hymn writer, Jim Hill exclaimed, “What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, and I look upon his face, the One Who saved me by His grace. When He takes me by the hand and leads me through the Promised Land. What a day, glorious day that will be!” Are you ready for that glorious day?