‘And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17)!’
What is Christianity about if it isn’t about being raised from death to life by the power of God? Everything centres on Jesus. If He was not raised from the dead, what hope is there for anyone? This is the central belief of Christianity, which is made effective by faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9) in the Son of God.
The Bible tells of more than one resurrection, but let’s start by looking at the resurrection of Jesus. The Man (Acts 2:22; Romans 5:15) Jesus, truly died. He gave up His spirit [with a small ’s’] – in other words His life (John 19:30). There’s no doubt whatsoever that He died on the cross (vv 33, 34). He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43), and on the third day He was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4) by His Father (Acts 3:15; 4:10; 13:30; Romans 4:24; 8:11; 10:9; Galatians 1:1; 1 Peter 1:21). Thereafter He was seen over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3) by many witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-7); then He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).
Jesus was the firstborn, the pre-eminent One who would rise from the dead and others would be conformed to His image, i.e., those foreknown and predestined by God (Romans 8:29). These will rise from the dead at the second coming of Jesus: ‘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 all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52).’
Those believers mentioned above shall inherit eternal life with the Father and with His Son (John 3:16), but there are those who will be resurrected for condemnation:“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).”’
Timing of the Resurrections
Depending on how you interpret the Scriptures, the two resurrections may take place simultaneously or separately:
If you are an a-millenarian you believe you are living in the millennium which is also the church age, and Christ rules His church now. You believe He could come at anytime to raise both those for eternal life and those for everlasting hell (Mark 9:43). He will judge both separately (Matthew 25:31-46).
If you are a post-millenarian you will believe the millennium is yet to come, after which there will be a simultaneous resurrection of those who have done good and those who have done evil (John 5:29).
If you are a pre-tribulation pre millenarian you expect Jesus will come for believers before the tribulation, and for there to be a final resurrection of unbelievers, i,e, the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) after the millennium.
If you are a classical pre millenarian you believe you are living in the church age which is also the age of the tribulation. You expect Christ to come for the resurrection of believers (Matthew 16:27) and for the drawing of living believers to Him in the sky. From that time onwards [in their glorified bodies] they will rule with Christ during the millennium (Revelation 20:6), after which there will be the resurrection of unbelievers and their judgment at the White Throne (vv 11-15).
Whatever your views, Christ will judge all people (Acts 10:42) after they have been resurrected from the dead. You know not when He will come, so be prepared; for He will come when you will not expect Him: ‘“But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:43, 44).”’
Believers, take heart: ‘“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).”
Unbelievers, repent and believe (Mark 1:15) for your salvation and resurrection to life everlasting (John 11:25, 26).