In just a few weeks we will be celebrating Easter and with it, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But did you know that there will be a resurrection of everyone who has ever lived?
Acts 24:15 … there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Paul said that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. Jesus affirmed this when He said –
John 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
There is life (both spiritual and physical) for everyone after death. There is going to come a day when God is going to resurrect our bodies.
I. The Resurrection of Christ
We read from the Gospel of Luke
Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8 And they remembered his words…
We will wait until a later time to delve more deeply into the resurrection of Christ. Today I simply want to reiterate the fact that Jesus is alive. Though His enemies did everything they could to keep His body in the grave, the tomb is empty.
But Jesus is not the only one whose body will come alive again. Jesus said – “…hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth…” There is coming a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
Last Sunday I preached to you a message entitled- ‘What Happens When We Die?’ We focused our attention on the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. If you were here you will remember that I stressed 3 points:
1) There were two men
2) Who made two choices
3) And who spent two eternities
Today I want to continue with that thought and preach on – ‘The Two Resurrections.’ Both of these two men will experience one of two resurrections.
II. The Resurrection of Mankind
A. What Happens When We Die?
Again I ask the question – ‘What happens when we die?’ We read from the Bible –
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
‘The dust’ is a reference to the body. What is a human body? According to one resource (About Chemistry.com ), the human body is made up of about $1.00 worth of: Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sulfur, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Iron, Iodine, Silicon, Fluorine, Copper, Zinc, Arsenic and Aluminum. Your skin would be worth about $3.50 if it was tanned and sold at the price of a cowhide. In other words, the human body is worth about $4.50 to $5.00.
But of course, we know that the human body is worth much more than $5.00. The Bible teaches us that God fashioned our bodies out of the dust of the ground and breathed into us the breath of life. At death, the body is buried and over time returns to dust. The soul, as we saw last week, returns to God for Him to assign to it a destiny. We saw from the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus that the souls of the unjust are sentenced to reside in a place of torment. The souls of the just are escorted by angels to a place called Paradise.
The body is buried in the ground and returns to dust, but one day it will be brought back to life. Regardless of what has happened to that body in death, it will be restored back to its original form and will once again encapsulate the soul and stand before God.
B. Two Resurrections
1. Resurrection of the Unjust
Acts 24:15 … there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Who are the unjust? The word ‘unjust’ means to be without righteousness. It means to be “not right” with God. What causes us to be not right with God? The Bible says – Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Scripture teaches us that God is holy and therefore, anything that is sinful is not right with Him. It’s unrighteous. It’s unjust.
We all in some way or another have sinned against God and therefore our sinfulness makes us unjust in the sight of God. What will happen to the unjust?
Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
At this time of judgment, sinful mankind will stand before God, both with a body and soul, to be judged according to their sinful works. The result of this judgment will be an eternal sentence in in the lake of fire, otherwise known as hell. Sinful men and women will be cast, both body and soul, into hell. Here is an interesting thought. Hell will be a terrible place to spend eternity, but here is something that makes it even more terrible. Nowhere in scripture do we see where these resurrected bodies will be any different than the bodies that were buried. Men and women will experience hell with all 5 of their senses. In addition, if their body had some physical infirmity before death, it will most likely have it after death. Think of it for a moment – forever sentenced to suffer from cancer in a lake of fire. What a terrible, terrible thing it will be for anyone to have to experience hell.
Again to quote Jesus on this matter –
Matthew 10:28 ‘…fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’
Some say that those sent to hell will be burned up or annihilated in a matter of seconds. Yet again we must consider what Jesus said –
Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Jesus said that their punishment will be forever.
Revelation 20 would be a terrible, terrible passage of scripture if not for one little phrase.
Revelation 20: 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
There are some who will not experience hell. Those whose names are found in the book of life will not be cast into the fire. What is the book of life?
The book of life contains the names of everyone who has ever made the choice to turn from their sin and to receive God’s gracious gift forgiveness. Sometimes this book is called – ‘The Lamb’s Book of Life.’ In it are all the names of those whose sins have been forgiven because they have received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. We read from the Bible –
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God…
Jesus Christ, the Just One, died for the sins of the unjust ones, so that the unjust ones might be made right with God.
2. Resurrection of the Just
The Apostle Paul said -“… there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15)
a) Who Are the Just?
As there will be a resurrection of the unjust, so there will be a resurrection of the just. Again we must ask –
– Who are the just?
– How is a man justified in the sight of God?
We read from the book of Galatians-
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified .
We cannot earn justification with God. We can’t become good enough to be considered good enough. We can become justified only by placing our faith in Christ’s death on the cross. We must admit that we are sinners and deserving of judgment. We must believe that Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross for our sins. And we must come to Him and seek His forgiveness. We read from the book of Romans –
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
This resurrection unto life will include:
(1) All those who will be saved during the period known as the Church Age
(2) All those who will be saved during the Tribulation Period
(3) All those who were saved during the days of the Old Testament
b) How and When Will the Just Be Raised?
Though much could be said about this resurrection, we will confine our thoughts to just one passage of scripture.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 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:
Whenever a loved one dies, we naturally sorrow. Yet if both we and that loved one are Christians, we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. We have hope. We believe that Jesus rose again and so shall we and our loved ones. Paul calls this our ‘blessed hope.’
Let me quickly give you three truths about this blessed hope:
(1) We have blessed hope because we know that our loved ones are ‘with Jesus ‘
Vs. 14 … them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him…
A few days after my dad died, I began to wonder where he was at and what he was doing. The thought entered my mind, “Is he lying there in the darkness of that cold ground?” I knew all the Bible verses in theory, yet I was struggling as a son who had just said good-bye to his father. But then I remembered what Jesus said to the thief of the cross – ‘today be with Me in paradise.’ I also remembered the encouragement of Paul that said – ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.’ Though my dad’s body was in the ground, his soul was with Jesus.
(2) We have blessed hope because we know what will happen to their bodies
People often ask me if we will recognize our loved ones in heaven. I believe we will because Jesus is going to resurrect their bodies. Yes, He is going to change their bodies so that theirs will be like His, but nonetheless, it will still be their body. Job said –
Job 19: 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
(3) We have blessed hope because we know that we can see them again
1 Thessalonians 4:16 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: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Here is the resurrection of man in a nutshell:
- All those who are ‘out of the Lord’ will be separated forever from the Lord and from their loved ones.
- All those who are ‘in the Lord’ will be forever joined together with the Lord and with each other.
Which resurrection will you be a part of? Will you be a part of the resurrection of the just or the unjust? Jesus said-
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God loves you and He does not want you to perish forever in the flames of hell. He loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for your sins. God wants to release you from the penalty of your sins and to give you a home in heaven. But for that to happen, you must choose to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.