RESURRECTION

THE GATEWAY TO ETERNITY

We have seen that there are only two eternal destinies from which mankind can choose. Different world philosophies and religions have confused this issue, offering a multitude of alternatives. But the Bible teaching is clear. Holy Scripture does not support these man-made theories, however reasonable some of them may sound.

The Bible stresses the importance of understanding that we have only two alternatives to choose from, eternal life or eternal death.

The Bible also stresses the importance of understanding just how it is that we arrive at that eternal destiny. If we would have an accurate perspective on life, death, and afterlife, we must understand the scriptural teaching on this subject also. Once again philosophies of all sorts have obscured the plan that is revealed in God's word. And again we run into a familiar problem. Many different teachings on this subject claim to be supported by the Bible. Can that be true? Does the Bible really contradict itself? Can it lend support to different teachings on the sam subject at the same time?

There are, of course, numerous ways that human traditions have come to be associated with the Christian religion. Because these traditions have become so interwoven with Bible teaching on the subject of our eternal destiny, there are a few things that are helpful to remember in our study. In the early centuries of the Christian church, the world was saturated with philosophies and religions of all kinds. Most of these claimed some explanation for mankind's destiny. Some of these systems appeared to be quite practical in offering solutions for immediate problems and answers to the question of future existence. Others were wildly fantastic in their claims. Christians explored many ways to express their faith to the masses of people involved in these various other beliefs. In seeking to find common ground, they would occasionally bend their explanations so far as to distort the true scriptural teachings in order to appeal to non-Christians. Sometimes people who became Christians after belonging to another faith, interpreted scripture in a way that would harmonize with beliefs they once cherished. Some of these concepts became accepted by large numbers of Christians and remain with us even today. This lesson will seek to bypass the traditions that have accumulated over the centuries, and see what the Bible says about the way we arrive at our final destiny.

1.

What tremendous power did Jesus claim to have? John 10:17,18

Helps and hints: While most people have the power to end their lives, none of us can claim the power to be able to resurrect ourselves after death. Jesus Christ is the only man ever to walk the earth who had that power.

2.

How does the apostle Paul express the importance of understanding the truth of the resurrection? 1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Helps and hints: Paul was not involved with religious issues for the sake of fad, or to play the role of the pseudo-intellectual. He saw in Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, the one who could save men and women from the effects of death. Paul reasoned that if Christ Himself had not risen from the dead, He certainly could not raise anyone else. But Paul had seen the risen Savior with his own eyes as he travelled on the road of Damascus. For him, this reality is the very beginning of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be a hoax, or at best another man-made religion hoping to solve the problems of the world. It was a marvel to Paul that anyone could claim to be a Christian and not believe in the resurrection.

3.

What did Jesus say about His power to raise the dead? John 5:28,29

Helps and hints: There are several important points to notice in this passage. In the first place, Jesus tells us that he will eventually resurrect everyone who has ever lived and died on planet earth, both good and evil. Secondly, Jesus makes the distinction between two resurrections, one for those who receive eternal life, and one for those who will face the final judgement. Notice that just a few verses earlier, in verse 25, Jesus said, "the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." Jesus raised a number of people from the dead while He was here on earth. And those whom He spoke to did indeed live. But He did not call everyone. In verse 28 He points to a time still in the future when all will hear His voice and will come forth from the tombs.

4.

When did Jesus say the time of the resurrection will be? John 6:40

Helps and hints: Here Jesus is specifically referring to the resurrection of life, as spoken of in John 5:29. This, He says, will be at the last day. This is the last day of earth's history as we know it. The great event that will take place at that time is the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus desires that there shall be no mistake on this point. "The last day" is mentioned four times in chapter six as the day for the resurrection of those who believe in Jesus and receive eternal ylife. (see verses 39, 40, 44, 54).

5.

How does Paul describe the last day? 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Helps and hints: This is a picture of the Second Coming of Christ. The call of the archangel is actually the voice of Jesus Himself. It will awaken the dead. Jesus is frequently pictured in the Bible as the leader of the heavenly host, hence His title as the archangel. Trumpets, in Bible symbolism, stand for judgement. The trumpet of God signals that the final judgement has arrived for the wicked. Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica. These people were worried that only those who were alive when Christ returned would receive eternal life. Paul wanted them to understand that the dead will not be left behind, but will be resurrected at the Second Coming of Jesus.

6.

How does the prophet Isaiah describe this event? Isaiah 26:19

Helps and hints: Even in the Old Testament, some were familiar with God's plan to resurrect His people, restoring what was lost through death. Isaiah had this hope.

7.

What other prophet shared Isaiah's hope? Daniel 12:2,13

8.

Who will be raised with Daniel and Isaiah at the first resurrection? Revelation 20:5,6

Helps and hints: Only the righteous dead will be raised at Christ's Second Coming, those who are to receive eternal life. They reign with Christ for 1,000 years before the wicked are again brought to life. Those who rise in the first resurrection are truly "blessed" because they will never again be subject to death.

9.

Who decides which resurrection each of us will come up in? John 5:21,22

Helps and hints: It is the Son, Jesus Christ, who makes the final decision on each person's eternal destiny. He will be the judge of all those who refused to take Him as their advocate. But everyone will have had the chance to take Him as their Savior, and thereby avoid that judgement. In reality the decision will be ours.

10.

What does Paul claim as the key to receiving eternal life? 1 Corinthians 15:22,23

Helps and hints: It is only "in Christ" that anyone will receive eternal life. This is to be not arbitrary decision. Those who have accepted Him as both Lord and Savior, and have been brought into harmony with the principles of His kingdom, will be privileged to share that kingdom through eternity. Notice that this passage stresses the time Christ's people will be "made alive." It is at His Second Coming.

11.

Not all of the righteous will be resurrected at the Second Coming of Christ. What will happen to the others? 1 Corinthians 15:51,52

Helps and hints: Some of God's people will still be living on the earth at the time of Christ's coming. These will never see death. Instead they will be "changed". The process is not described, but the result is certain. They will receive eternal life just as surely as those who are raised from the dead.

CONCLUSION:

The "Blessed Hope" of Christians throughout the centuries has been the promise of the resurrection from the dead. While all will resurrected, only some will receive the life of eternal life. In the words of the prophet Daniel, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." The nature of these two destinies will be discussed in the next lessons.

It is a sobering thought that no matter what our condition has been in this life, only those who have learned to appreciate the standards of conduct demonstrated by God Himself in the life of Jesus Christ will be able to share the blessings of an eternal existence in a purified universe.

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Matthew 16:26


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