[Papercut Press Publishing] 1999-07-14 - Resurrection

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.

"My question is, what does the Bible say about: When we die, do we 'come alive in heaven' or stay dead in the ground until the 2nd coming?"

In the Wednesday question series I have tried to avoid topics and questions that are controversial or are the subject of strong and varied opinions among Christians. Rather, I have tried to emphasize those topics that are practical and directly reflect upon day to day living. The resurrection of the dead may seem like a doctrinal topic, but really it is one of the most practical subjects we could discuss.

I wish we would talk more about the resurrection. It is a subject that should give us encouragement and stimulate us to live our faith with joy and faithfulness. The idea behind resurrection is that the dead bodies of saints will be made alive again. Outside of the Christian faith death is the king of all terrors.

The resurrection of the dead is found all over the Bible. In fact the book of Hebrews calls it one of the "elementary" things of the Christian faith. (Hebrews 6:1-3) Paul speaks some about the resurrection from the dead in 1 Cor. 15, but it was clearly not an item up for dispute in the early church.

Your question regards the mode of the resurrection. There is some disagreement here among Christians. We do know several things about the resurrection.

  1. God (Romans 4:17) raises from the dead.
  2. The righteous will be raised at the return of Christ and will meet Him in the air. (1 Thess. 4:16-18)
  3. The resurrection body will be a spiritual body, different in some ways from our current body (1 Cor. 15:40-44)

We can form for ourselves some idea about what our resurrection bodies will be like from the accounts of the resurrection of Christ given to us in the New Testament. (Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20,21) We know that Paul says, "We shall be changed," (1 Cor. 15:51) and so we know there will be some difference between our bodies now and then. We also have the promise that in the resurrection, "we shall be as angels." (Luke 20:36)

That, I think, is the clear New Testament teaching on the resurrection. Other issues regarding the resurrection are often the subject of debate and controversy. However, the above is a nuts and bolts approach to the resurrection--a "just the facts" look at this important area of our faith. I hope we can say with Paul, "Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thess. 4:18)

"We are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds....Oh! How precious is the dust of a believer! Though the world mind it not, yet it is precious to God. The farmer has some corn in his barn, and he has other corn in the ground; and the corn in the ground, is as precious to him as that which is in the barn." --Thomas Watson

Soli Deo Gloria,