The Resurrection of Life
By David Brandt Berg
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”—1 John 3:2 (Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible verses are from the King James Version.)
When Jesus comes, a wonderful miracle takes place—the Resurrection. All of those who belong to Him, all the saved, will then have a glorious resurrection—either from the dead or instantly changed and raised from the very face of the earth, from the living. Then we will all go to be with the Lord to have the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb, while the Wrath of God is being poured out upon those who remain on the earth.
His return and our consequent resurrection are spoken of many times throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Many times we’re told in various ways of this great, apocalyptic event. Although the word “rapture” itself is not found in the Scriptures, it is a handy little word because it sums up the coming of the Lord in the clouds, the sounding of the trumpet, the dead being raised, the living saved being translated, and all of us being gathered together to be with the Lord.
The apostle Paul gives a very revelatory insight into this marvelous event in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4: “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) He says, “I don’t want you to be so ignorant that you don’t know what’s going to happen when Jesus comes. I don’t want you to sorrow over death, not realizing there’s going to be a resurrection.”
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14) Those who are asleep in Jesus is an oft-used expression and it means “the dead in Christ,” as explained in verse 16 of this same chapter—those who have died in the Lord, born-again Christians who have already gone on to be with Jesus. All of our dear loved ones who have departed from this life are already with the Lord. Their bodies, you might say, are asleep and have gone back to dust if they’ve been there long enough. But they themselves, their spirits, are not sleeping in the grave. They’re with Jesus. “For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) They’ve “departed to be with Christ, which is far better.” (Philippians 1:23)
Jesus will come back with the spirits of all these departed saints so that they can pick up their new resurrected bodies. God wants to prove that He can raise the dead, so He’s going to raise them from the dead, literally, but in a new body—a new resurrected body like the one He had when He rose. That’s going to be beautiful! Their new, glorified, supernatural, resurrection bodies are going to rise and are going to get together with their spirits at the moment of Christ’s coming.
So the dead in Christ are going to come back with the Lord, and He says that “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord”—those of us who are still living when Jesus comes—“shall not prevent them which are asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15) The literal meaning here is that they which are alive will not precede or go before them which are asleep. The Lord says He’s going to let them be resurrected and rise first. Those who have died in the Lord and have gone on to be with Him go first.
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17) With one sudden, supernatural, miraculous, mighty stroke of God, He waves His wand of power, and presto! We who are alive will be changed, translated, and raised incorruptible, to meet the Lord in the air. People talk about the thrill of skydiving! Your body will be changed right on the spot, from a body that’s merely alive to a body that’s going to live forever!
“Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep”—we’re not all going to die in the Lord; some of us are still going to be alive when the Lord comes—“but we shall all be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51) He says it’s a mystery, since it’s pretty hard to understand and explain, because how can you explain that an old corrupt rotten body that’s been in the grave for hundreds or even thousands of years is going to come to life and be perfectly whole and even better than it was before?
“We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump”—as quick as you can bat your eye, as quick as you can wink or blink your eye. “For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1Corinthians 15:52)
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:53) Somehow, through a miracle, God is going to do for our bodies even as He did for Jesus. Of course, Jesus wasn’t dead for nearly as long as many people have been.
“He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.” (Philippians 3:21) You’re going to be like Jesus was after His resurrection! He walked with His followers and talked with them. He even ate with them and drank with them. He cooked for them once. (See Luke 24:43; John 21:9–14) In your new resurrection body you’ll be able to eat, sleep, drink, and do whatever you can do now. But you’ll also be able to do some things you’ve never been able to do in your natural body.
Jesus was not only able to do these natural things, but when they were in a locked room with all the doors barred, all of a sudden He came walking right through the locked door. (See John 20:26) You’ll be able to walk through walls, doors, fly up through ceilings and appear and disappear, just like Jesus did. You’ll be able to travel not just with the slow speed of sound or light, but with the speed of thought from one place to another!
When Jesus suddenly appeared from nowhere to His disciples in that locked-up room, it says, “They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.” (Luke 24:37) They were almost scared to death, as they thought they were seeing a ghost! But Jesus said to them, “Touch Me, feel Me, see that it is I Myself; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have.” (Luke 24:39) He didn’t say flesh and blood, “for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” because “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” (1 Corinthians 15:50; Leviticus 17:11)
His resurrection body was made of flesh and bones. But of course it was quite a bit different from the bodies we now have. And when He told doubting Thomas, “Put your fingers into the nail prints in My hand and thrust your hand into the wound in My side, and be not faithless but believing,” (John 20:27) it showed that it must have been like the same body He died with if the wounds were still there.
When Jesus comes and that great trumpet sounds, you’re going to trade in your present, old, worn-out, fleshly, earthly model for an entirely new heavenly model like the body He had after His resurrection. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) When Jesus comes, we shall see Him as He is, face to face, and be like Him.
The supernatural, miraculous, resurrected, transformed bodies of the future are going to be like the angels of God. “Neither can they die anymore: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:36)
But just because you’ve received your new resurrection body, remember, it’s still going to be you. You’re even going to look a lot the same, only better, much better. But it’s going to be you, the same body; otherwise it wouldn’t be a resurrection. And if someone’s natural, fleshly body has completely returned to the dust, or if they were cremated and their ashes sprinkled over a vast area, if God has to take every single proton, electron and neutron and make up the atoms again and bring them back together from the dirt or from the ashes or from the smoke or from whatever and wherever it is, He will bring it back together.
“For if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. For God, who hath raised up the Lord, will also raise us up by His own power. And when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:54–55, 57)
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