THE BETTER RESURRECTION
Does the Bible teach more than one resurrection??? We need to look deeply into this subject to understand what is going to happen to us when we die! Is there more than one resurrection? The Bible indicates that there is.
“Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection. Hebrews 11:35
How many times have you heard your minister or preacher refer to the "better resurrection?" Maybe not at all, but it is in your Bible. The Bible is a mysterious book. One of the greatest reasons that people can’t “understand the Bible” is that it often conflicts with their old religious traditions passed down from one generation to the next!
To truly understand the truth of the Bible, we must believe God‘s word even if it conflicts with our long held traditional beliefs. To fully understand the Bible, we must take all the scriptures on a subject and put them together. For example, to understand what happens to us when we die, we need to look at everything we can find on that subject in the Bible.
Even though most religious folks believe that we go to heaven when we die, it might be shocking to know that the Apostle Paul taught the resurrection. Paul said, “...how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain (useless), and your faith is also vain.” l Corinthians 15:12-14
The apostle Paul was actually thrown in jail because of his belief in the resurrection. This was one of the "hot button" issues that triggered a major persecution of Christians after Christ died. In Acts 24:21, during the trial of the apostle Paul, he states, “touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.” The Sadducees, who were his chief persecutors, did not believe in the resurrection. They not only attacked Paul, they went after the other apostles and the whole early church on this very issue of whether or not there was a resurrection! The Sadducees had even tried to entrap Jesus on the subject. Luke 20:27 reveals where they stood, “Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection.”
These Sadducees were the chief priests. They are the very ones who gave Judas Iscariot 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus Christ. The real cause of the earliest persecution of Christianity was because of their belief in the resurrection! Read what the Sadducees did to the apostles in Acts 4:1-3,
“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold (jail) unto the next day: for it was now eventide.”
Obviously there was great conflict between all Christians and the powerful Sadducee element on the subject of the resurrection. Which side should you be on in this question about the dead being resurrected?
Should we follow the doctrines of Christ, or that of the Sadducees? Can we know for certain that the “resurrection” was taught by Christ, and the apostles??? Yes, we can! It is listed as one of the 6 major doctrines of Christ in Hebrews 6:1-2. These are the six doctrines that outline the foundational teachings that should be followed by anyone who claims to be a Christian.
THE DOCTRINES OF CHRIST in Hebrews 6
1. Repentance from dead works
2. Faith toward God
3. The doctrine of baptisms
4. Laying on of hands
5. The resurrection of the dead
6. Eternal judgment.
Are there 2 resurrections?
Jesus said, in John 5:28-29, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 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.”
The word damnation used here is from the Greek word “krisis” which is translated “judgment” 41 times, compared to only 3 times that it is translated damnation. The translators should have rendered it “the resurrection of judgment.”
There seem to be two separate resurrections mentioned by Christ here and the apostle Paul also seems to be speaking of two different resurrections in Acts 24:15 when he says, “...there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
We know the Bible definitely teaches one resurrection...that is for certain, BUT does it teach two major resurrections? YES IT DOES! How can we prove it??? The book of Revelation proves it when it speaks of "the FIRST resurrection.” Obviously, if there is a first resurrection then automatically, there HAS TO BE A SECOND ONE!
“Blessed and Holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him (Christ) a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6
The FIRST resurrection is the “better resurrection” since it comes 1000 years earlier than the second one. AND...those who rise in this first resurrection are no longer subject to death and they are given positions of rulership. Because people do not understand this “first resurrection” they try to explain it away by calling it the “rapture.” A term, by the way, that is not in the Bible!
When Christ comes back, there will not be a “rapture,” as some mistakenly suppose... No, Christ’s return is when the FIRST resurrection will occur. “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 : 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.” Those that know their Bibles, know that Christ will rule the earth at His return and will not go back to heaven ---but His feet will land on the Mount of Olives and He will remain on the earth to rule it for a thousand years.
Here’s the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, about what happens after Christ returns! Zechariah 14:4-9
4 And his (Christ’s) feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
The Bible is uniform in it’s teaching that Christ will rule the earth with the saints at the first resurrection, which comes at His return.
Have you ever wondered why Christ came preaching the coming Kingdom of God??? Daniel 7:27 says that “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." The book of Daniel also prophesies, “... and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Daniel 7:22
WHO ARE THE REST OF THE DEAD?
But what happens at the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth? What happens to the billions and trillions of people who have lived and died since the beginning of man’s existence on the earth? They did not come up in the better resurrection. Are they condemned to an ever burning hell, as some teach, just because they were born and died before the time of Christ? (Read our article called “The Road To Hell” to find out more.) Trillions of people have never even heard the name of Christ. Are they condemned to burn forever and ever for something that is not their fault? Are babies condemned because they had the misfortune to die young and never had a chance to accept Christ as their savior??? Believe it or not, some religions teach that God is that kind of monster! But we know better than that.
The Bible says, “THE REST OF THE DEAD LIVED NOT UNTIL THE THOUSAND YEARS WERE FINISHED.” (Revelation 20:5) This second resurrection is not to rulership, nor is eternal life automatically promised to those that come up in this resurrection. They will be under “judgment” and they will have the possibility of the second death hanging over them. Is this then the resurrection of damnation that the Bible
The translators may have used the word “damnation” but they usually translated this same word as “judgment.” Again, I repeat, this word “damnation” is from the Greek word “krisis” which is translated “judgment” 41 times, compared to only 3 times that it is translated damnation. The translators should have rendered it “the resurrection of judgment.”
In fact, Christ Himself calls this second great resurrection “THE JUDGMENT.” Note that He uses the phrase “rise up,” when he speaks of “the judgment.“ Which is what happens to the dead in a resurrection! “The queen of the south shall rise up in THE JUDGMENT with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in THE JUDGMENT with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” Luke 11:31-32
What is “the judgment?” The concept of judgment is already familiar to us all. You go before a judge and you don’t know which way he will rule, in certain types of cases...you could either go free OR you could receive the death penalty. No one knows ahead of the trial…a judgment has to be made at the end. Strong’s concordance says that judgment simply means “decision...for or against.” This judgment process can go either way, just like any trial can go.
At the end of the thousand years, when the rest of the dead are resurrected, some will be condemned, but others will receive eternal life. BUT, it is not an automatic judgment of doom. What happens to each person will be according to their works after the books (Bible) have been opened for them and they understand what God wants them to do. Don’t forget that billions of little babies are part of the “rest of the dead.” Do you really believe that everyone will receive automatic damnation including all these little babies??? That would not be fair...NO, all these people will be given an allotted amount of time and ample opportunity to learn the right way and then they will receive either salvation or damnation according to their works. Revelation 20:12-15 tells us more about the resurrection of judgment!
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 (decided for or against) 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.
It says during this resurrection that the “books” will be opened. This is from the Greek word Biblios, which is where our word Bible comes from. Their minds will be opened and they will understand the truth and be taught from the books of the Bible. (Biblios) Also, the book of life will be opened and those that choose to sin purposefully against God will have their names blotted out of it. Think that sin has nothing to do with condemnation? Note what God tells Moses,
...“Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” Exodus 32:32
There is an obscure scripture in the Old Testament that may be referring to the massive judgment resurrection in Isaiah 65:20. “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner (“those that commit sin”) being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” Everyone will get one hundred years and at the end, those that commit sin shall be accursed. They will be blotted out of the book of life because of their sin!
Thankfully people are not popping into hell one right after the other when they die. The Bible describes the final destruction of the wicked as happening on one day!
“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” This is the death that one never wakes up from....this is the second death!
In Psalm 37:38, God says transgressors will be “destroyed” which is from the Hebrew word “Shamad”, which means “utterly perish.” Note again that the wicked will be utterly destroyed together... “But the transgressors shall be (utterly) destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. (utterly) Psalms 37:38
WHAT DOES REPROBATE MEAN?
What about those who God rejects for the first resurrection? Will they also be given a chance in the second resurrection? It looks like it.
An interesting thing to note is that the word reprobate or re-probate means tried twice (and lost both cases…) The “reprobate” ones are those that could have qualified to be in the first resurrection, but have rejected God. So they come up with the “rest of the dead” in the second resurrection. Again they fail their test... These are the ones who continue to sin willfully, ...meaning they choose to break God’s law on purpose.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that reprobate means “rejection because of failure in trial.” Nelson’s Bible Dictionary says it means “one who fails to pass a test and is rejected.” Eventually we all will fall into one of two categories...wheat or chaff. “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12
These reprobate ones have failed the test that would have allowed them to come up in the first resurrection so they come up in the second resurrection. They still have the same character that caused them to reject God and fail in the first place so they blow their last chance too. they are RE-probate... tried twice and twice lost. They are the “chaff,” good for nothing but to be burned up when the earth is destroyed by fire shortly before the new heavens and the new earth. They are the “twice dead” of Jude verses 12 and 13. Only those that have lived twice can die twice!
“...trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” There is no blackness blacker than eternal death....
Malachi 4:1, 3-4 also describes the Lake of Fire, which is the second death. “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble (chaff): and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. vs3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”
God tells us three times in this passage that the complete destruction of the wicked falls on ONE DAY, and it leaves them neither root nor branch...nothing will be left of them! Is there anything they could have done to stop this disaster in it’s tracks??? Verse 4 right in context of the destruction of the wicked says as a warning,
“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.”
God’s not so subtle admonition here is to remember the law of Moses, if you want to avoid the Lake of Fire! The placement of verse four directly after the description of the Lake of Fire cleverly infers that we can avoid being one of the wicked who are burned up, by repenting of our sins and keeping the law with all our hearts. We are going to have to do it sometime, if we don’t want to burn up like chaff, so why not get started now!
If you haven't read "The Road to Hell...", it tells more about this subject.
THE CHURCHES OF GOD