The Resurrection


Because He Lives - We Also Shall Live

No Single General Resurrection



John Hoole - June19, 2011




For the last few weeks we have been studying what the Bible says concerning death.  Last week I showed you a chart depicting what happens when a person dies.  Let me quickly show it again.  We have given considerable time to the part of the chart dealing with the subject of “death”.  Today, we are going to study the “resurrection” part of the chart.


In 1989, the Armenian Earthquake needed only 4 minutes to nearly flatten an entire nation, and kill 30,000 people.  Moments after the deadly tremor ceased, a father raced to an elementary school to save his son.  When he arrived, he saw that the building had been leveled.  Looking at the mass of stone and rubble, he remembered a promise he had made to his son.  No matter what happens, I’ll always be there for you.”  Driven by his own promise, he found the area closest to his son’s room and began to pull back the rocks.  Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children.  “It’s too late,” they told the man.  “You know they are dead, You can’t help.”  Even a police officer encouraged him to give up.


But the father refused.  For the next eight hours, then 16, then 32, 36 hours he dug.  His hands were raw and his energy gone, but he refused to quit.  Finally, after 38 gut-wrenching hours, he pulled back a boulder and heard his sons’ voice.  He called his boy’s name, “Arman, Arman!”  And a voice answered him, “Dad, it’s me!”


Then the boy added these priceless words, “I told the other kids not to worry.  I told them if you were alive, you’d save me and when you saved me, they’d be saved, too.”  “Because you promised that no matter what, you would always be there for me.”


God has made the same promise to us.  He said He would come back.


John 14:1-3 NKJV records the words of Jesus.


1.      "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

2       In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3       And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.


Yes, like the earthquake, the rocks will tumble around us in our Christian walk.  Yes, the ground will appear shaky at times.  But the child of God needn’t fear for Jesus has promised to return and take us to be with him.


At this moment, when Christ shared that He would return, He didn’t give any information as to when His return would occur.  I believe the early Christians were probably expecting Him to return in their lifetime.  But as time went on, they started to have questions.  Some of their members had died since Christ had left, and they began to wonder about their loved ones.  They wanted to know what would happen to those who had already died when Christ returns.


The people in the church at Corinth didn’t yet have either of his two letters to them, when they were asking these question of Paul.  They write to Paul about their concerns and questions.  What would happen to their loved ones who had died when Jesus returns?


Paul responds with his first letter to them – called First Corinthians.  For the first 6 chapters, he teaches them truths they needed to know.  When chapter 7 begins, it reads “Now concerning the questions of which you wrote to me.”  For the rest of his letter Paul is answering their questions.


Again, they didn’t have a completed New Testament at that time.  Today, you do, and because of that, you should be able to readily answer their questions.  Let me pose some of them to you.




                   Yes, most assuredly !!




The resurrection of the human body from the grave is clearly taught in God's Word.  Job, the oldest of the patriarchs, makes mention of a physical resurrection.  In Job 14, he asks a question about it.


Job 14:14 NKJV


14     If a man dies, shall he live again?


A few chapters later, Job provides the answer to his own question.


Job 19:25-27 NIV


25     I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

26     And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;

27     I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!


It should be evident that Job was firm in his belief in the resurrection of his body, as well as a future life beyond the grave.


Consider Abraham, the founder and father of his race.  He lived to be 175 years old and "died in a good old age" (Genesis 25:7-8).   But we are told that "he looked for a city which had foundations, whose building and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:10).  He never saw that city in his earthly life, for earth to him was a "strange country."  This godly patriarch, like others after him, had a "desire for a better country," a "heavenly one, where God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:16).  But Abraham believed that the heavenly city would be inhabited by a fleshly body, believing "that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead..." (Hebrews 11:19).


David was also confident of a future life.  He said: "My flesh also shall rest in hope" (Psalm 16:9).  And he continued: "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness (Psalm 17:15).  This is not a spiritual awakening, but David is talking about his physical body."


2 Corinthian 4:14 NIV


14     …..we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.


                   The certainty of our resurrection is predicated on the surety of Christ’s resurrection.


Before Paul gets to the questions posed by the church members at Corinth, in the earlier chapters, we find him already beginning to set the stage for his later response.


1 Cor 6:14 NIV


14     By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.


God has raised Jesus Christ as a guarantee that He will do the same for us.  The same power that raised Christ from the dead, will also be used to raise us from the dead.


Acts 24:15 NIV


15     And I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.


There is definitely a day coming in which all the bodies that are in their grave will be resurrected, both the godly and the ungodly.


Many people have been taught that there will be one general resurrection and one judgment.  In such a scenario, everyone who had ever lived would be resurrected at one time and all of us – the just and the unjust – would be judged at the same time.  The sheep would be separated from the Goats before the Great White Throne.


The question that naturally arises is this:




John 5:28-29 NKJV


28     Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice

29     and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.


We affirm our belief in the resurrection of the human body from death and the grave.  Without this hope:


         •  Our Christian faith is vain.


         •  The Bible is not a true and reliable record,


         •  The men who wrote it were poor deluded victims of falsehood,


         •  Jesus Christ is the world's biggest impostor.


But, the Bible is so clear on this subject of the resurrection, that we admit no confusion or doubt.  The Bible very clearly states that all who have died will one day be resurrected.  That is true for believers and unbelievers alike.


If this verse in John 5 were taken alone, one might get the impression that all the dead, both the righteous and the ungodly, are resurrected at the same time.  Then after that happens, each person would be judged and sent in either of two direction.


         a.       a resurrection of life

         b.      a resurrection of condemnation


Some would say that the separation between these two groups occurs after a common resurrection.






Some people, among them some Christians, have been taught to believe that there is only one "general resurrection" of all the dead at the end of the world.  This is a serious error which has robbed many believers of joy and victory in this life.  Nowhere in the Bible are we taught that the bodies of all men and women will be raise at the same time.


The Bible teaches that the difference between the resurrection of the righteous and the ungodly is more than just a difference in character or nature.  There is also a difference in time.


I do not believe the Bible teaches of a GENERAL RESURRECTION, where everyone is resurrected and all stand before the judge at the same time.  Neither the time nor the place or the judgments are the same for both righteous and unrighteous.  In fact, I believe it is very clear from Scripture that there are multiple resurrections which will happen at different times.


One passage that makes this easy to see is in Revelation 20


Revelation 20:6 NKJV


6       Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power,…..


Notice the words, the first resurrection.  Those words establish the fact of at least a two-fold resurrection.  Of necessity, if there is a first resurrection, it logically follows that there must be a second.  Otherwise, it would be absolutely meaningless to employ the term “the first.”


If we peruse the preceding verses in Rev. 20, it should be apparent that there are at least two resurrections, separated by 1,000 years or more.


In verse 5, it refers to “the rest of the dead”.  He is referring to those who did not have a part in the first resurrection, and will not reign with Christ for a thousand years.  These, it says, “lived not again until the thousand years were completed.”  Verse 14 identifies these, after their judgment, will experience the “second death.”


Revelation 20:13-15 NIV


13     The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

14     Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

15     If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


In an earlier lesson, we defined the “second death.”  Death of any kind means separation.  The second death means eternal separation from God.  So, in this passage we see that the two resurrections mentioned here occur at different times.


Another passage clearly teaching multiple resurrections with different timing is Phil 3:10-11.


Philippians 3:10-11 NKJV


10     That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

11     If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from among the dead.


Someone might ask, "Where are two resurrections mentioned in these verses?"  And if they are somehow mentioned, where is the difference in timing?  Look at those last four words.  It doesn’t say “resurrection of the dead” but “resurrection from among the dead.”


The phrase “from among the dead” is translated from the Greek “Ek Nekron.”  In Greek the word “EK” means “out of” or “out from.”  “NEKRON” means “the dead.”  Putting the two together, we have a resurrection “out from the dead.”  The inference is that some of the dead will be resurrected out from among the rest of the dead, who are not yet being resurrected.


Paul wanted to be part of the “first resurrection”, which would separate him from among the wicked dead.  The righteous would be taken out, leaving the ungodly remainder still waiting their resurrection.  Some theologians refer to the resurrection of the godly as the “Out Resurrection” -- a resurrection out from among the dead.  Again, the inference here is that there is a resurrection of the godly that is different in timing from the resurrection of the ungodly.


Let’s consider just a few more Scriptures that emphasize a resurrection of the godly, which is separate and apart from the resurrection of the ungodly.


Matthew 24:31 NIV


31     And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.


                   Notice that this speaks of gathering only the elect.


Luke 14:14 NKJV (Speaks of helping the poor, maimed, lame and blind - vs. 13)


14     And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."


                   Nothing here is said about the resurrection of the unjust – only the just.


Luke makes no mention in this verse or its surrounding context about a resurrection of the unsaved.  Indeed, the unsaved will be raised, but not for a considerable length of time after that of the saved.


Luke 20:35-36 NKJV


35     But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead [Again: EK NEKRON], neither marry nor are given in marriage;

36     nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.


                   This verse addresses those who are “counted worthy” as having part in this resurrection.


Hebrews 11 speaks of many in the hall of faith.  Each person mentioned had individual and varied experiences they went through, but remained faithful.  Verse 35 (NKJV) says: And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. If there is a “better resurrection,” it follows that there must also be a “not so good” resurrection.


Note the striking characteristics in these references: “His elect, the just, those accounted worthy, and a better resurrection.”


No, there is no general resurrection, where we find all, both saved and unsaved, raised from the dead at the same moment.  Yes, there is a resurrection that is unique for those who have been godly.  And Yes, we will immediately be taken into the presence of our Lord.


Earlier, I mentioned that the last two thirds of the Book of First Corinthians, finds Paul addressing questions the Corinthian church members had written to him.  And in the second to last chapter – chapter 15 – we find one of the best passages in the Bible, covering the subject of the resurrection.


Look at a short section of this great chapter.  Again you will notice, like he did in chapter 7 that we read earlier, he links our resurrection to that of Christ himself.


1 Corinthians 15:17-23 NIV


17     And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

18     Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

19     If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.  

20     But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

21     For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

22     For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

23.    But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterwards those who are Christ's at His coming.


         "Because He Lives, We Also Shall Live."


Notice the phrase in verse 17 - Christ is "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."  The apostle Paul uses one of the annual Jewish holy days to describe the resurrection of Christ.  The Feast of Firstfruits is the third of the seven annual holy days of the Jews.  What is the significance of using this description?


In the ceremony of the Israelites on the holy day of Firstfruits, the Jews would bring, as a sacrifice, a sheaf of the barley harvest to the priest.  This was the initial fruit of the harvest - a sign of a harvest of more fruit to come.


Just as the firstfruits were a pledge of the coming harvest that would be presented to Jehovah, so our Lord's resurrection is a promise that all who are in their graves, having trusted Him, will be raised and brought into the presence of the Father.  Speaking to believers, the apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit says:  "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive."  It is only because He was raised that we will also.