Do you have an immortal soul that will go to heaven or hell? No! You await a resurrection.
[Steve Myers] Jesus made a shocking claim and people were astounded.
They just couldn’t believe it. The Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill Him partly because of this teaching. Christ taught that this is a matter of life and death!
In fact, the teaching of Jesus contradicted the common belief of His day. Not only that, it also opposes what most Christianity believes today. Perhaps it even challenges what you’ve assumed.
What was it that spurred the religious leaders of Jesus’ time to hate Him? Christ astonished them, teaching that you don’t go to heaven upon death. Listen to what He told them. “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” (John 5:28-29).
But what exactly did He mean? How could it be possible that the dead will hear His voice? Aren’t the good who have died in heaven already? Why would Christ include all people who have ever lived? How does this fit into God's overall plan for salvation?
Stay tuned as we examine these questions and more here on Beyond Today, with “Shocking Teachings Of Jesus: The Dead Will Live Again!”
Jesus’ shocking teaching of the resurrection jolted the leaders of His day to anger and hatred. He not only chastened them and corrected their misunderstanding but He also taught about God’s true plan for mankind.
Do you understand that plan? Would Jesus’ teaching shake your understanding? What exactly did He say?
When Jesus Christ Himself spoke of what lies in the future, He said, “So don’t be amazed when I tell you these things, for there is a day coming when all who have ever died will hear My voice calling them back to life, and they will come out of their graves!” (John 5:28-29 TPT)
Jesus said all. Everyone will rise from the dead. Shocking as it may seem, Christ Himself taught that your departed loved ones are not off in heaven right now. Does that sound farfetched?
Many are astonished to realize that people do not have immortal souls. That means that we don’t go to heaven immediately at death. God has something different in mind. His ultimate purpose for your life is that you be given eternal life in His family through a resurrection.
Just before shocking those religious teachers Christ verified it with another remarkable statement. He said in John 3:13, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
Surprising? It should shake the foundations of those who believe you go to heaven, hell or even purgatory at death. Jesus Christ our Savior adamantly taught otherwise!
The English Standard Version says it in this way, “All who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).
God's ultimate purpose for our lives is that we be given eternal life in His family through a resurrection. Did you know, in fact, the Bible reveals that there is more than one resurrection? I’ll have more on that in just a moment.
Now if you’re surprised at what Jesus taught you need to recognize the importance of the resurrection of the dead teaching. Just how significant is God’s instruction on rising from the dead?
Did you know that the resurrection of the dead is listed in scripture as one of the basic doctrines of true Christianity? God’s inspired word says, “So let us move beyond the simple teachings about Christ. Let us grow up as believers. Let us not start all over again with the basic teachings… [Now, next he lists those fundamental doctrines and he mentions]… “They taught us that people will rise from the dead” (Hebrews 6:1-2 NIRV). Another translation of the Bible puts it this way: “So we should be finished with the beginning lessons about Christ. We should not have to keep going back to where we started. We began our new life by turning away from the evil we did in the past and by believing in God. That’s when we were taught about baptisms, laying hands on people, the resurrection of those who have died, and the final judgment.” (ERV)
So we see that Jesus’ teaching is critical. It’s a central teaching of God that all who ever lived will be brought back to life.
The teaching of the resurrection of all those who have died is not just a New Testament idea either. The Bible is consistent. This doctrine is found throughout the Old Testament as well. The truth about life after death was spoken of by King David in Psalm 17:15. “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”
The prophet Isaiah also understood and preached about this amazing basic truth of Christianity. “Those of our people who have died will live again! Their bodies will come back to life. All those sleeping in their graves will wake up and sing for joy. As the sparkling dew refreshes the earth, so the Lord will revive those who have long been dead” (Isaiah 26:19 GNT).
You see we find that resurrection is a basic Bible teaching, even though so many mistakenly believe in immortal souls going to heaven. This is significant. There is no biblical teaching that links the resurrection of the body and the false idea of a soul’s immortality.
We see a powerful example of this as Jesus Himself faced the crucifixion. We are told that “He took peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and troubled. He said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake’” (Mark 14:33-34 CSB).
While Jesus wasn’t afraid of dying, He doesn’t face suffering and death as if He just can’t wait for it. “He went a little farther. Then He fell with His face to the ground. He prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want’” (Matthew 26:39).
If mankind has an immortal soul or if he is an immortal soul, I wonder if Jesus would have felt this way. It seems to me that Christ would have faced the liberation from a physical body in a much more triumphant way. But instead we find that “while Jesus was on earth, He begged God with loud crying and tears to save Him. He truly worshiped God, and God listened to His prayers” (Hebrews 5:7 CEV).
It’s important to see that sin and death had to be conquered. It took the suffering and death of our savior for us to even have the possibility of life after death. He clearly taught that we don’t already have immortality to go to heaven or hell at death. No wonder the Holy Word of God says in Ezekiel 18:4, “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine; the soul who sins shall die.” (NKJV)
Because a soul, a person, can and does die, God has a plan to overcome death. It is true, “for the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5 NKJV). The truth reveals that the resurrection is God’s way to deliver mankind from death.
Here’s another remarkable statement that we should note. It’s from the prophet Daniel, who also understood God’s great plan. He recorded for us: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2 NIV).
The apostle Paul explained that Jesus conquered death and is “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). In other words, Christ paved the way to the Kingdom of God, so that those who truly are devoted to Him can have an expectation of the resurrection. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus…” (Hebrews 6:19-20).
Jesus overcame death and was the first, the forerunner, and His resurrection makes eternal life possible because He was “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). So what does that tell us? The Bible leaves no doubt; there will be others to follow in time.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5).
When Jesus returns to earth, those who are brought back to life or changed at that time are called “firstfruits.”
“Firstfruits” is a term used to indicate the first part of a harvest. In the Bible, this part of the harvest was considered holy. As God’s people, truly converted believers are described this way: “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). And again in Revelation 14:4, “These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”
The Bible is speaking here of a resurrection to everlasting life as a spirit being. The destiny of those that are true followers of God, those true disciples of Christ, whether dead or alive, they’re looking forward to this resurrection. It’s also described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
Did you notice what’s left out when Jesus returns? Not all are raised to life at this time. Only “the dead in Christ” are resurrected then. So imagine it. True Christians who have lived and died over the centuries, and those believers who are still alive at that time, are the ones who are changed and raised to life.
The Bible describes this as the first resurrection. A resurrection to spirit life: “for our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body [that is our physical, our material body] that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).
This first resurrection occurs at the time of Jesus’ return. That’s when Christ’s disciples, His true followers, will experience what the Bible calls the “better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35).
Here is part of the reason why it’s a better resurrection. The Apostle John wrote about it, about the reward for the firstfruits. “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).
When the Bible says that “the second death has no power,” that means that those in this resurrection will live for eternity. They will never be subject to death again.
God inspired David to write about it in this way: “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11).
Remember that the resurrection of the firstfruits is not the only raising of the dead. Jesus said all would be raised. But keep in mind, not all are raised to life at the time of His return.
Let’s think about another aspect of this for a moment. The Bible shows that there is a different category of people, another group that are not a part of that first resurrection. Consider this. Imagine someone who was a believer somehow they now choose to reject God’s calling and His will. What if a person knowingly comes to despise God and His way of life? What if a person who has intentionally refused to live the way that God wants them too? What happens to that one, what happens to the one who knows better and yet chooses to live in rebellion?
The Bible does tell us what will happen to them. Scripture says, “If (one) abandons his faith, there is no use even trying to lead him to repentance. By their sin of apostasy, they re-crucify the Son of God, and have publicly repudiated Him” (Hebrews 6:4-6; TPT). “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27 NKJ).
In other words, the Bible reveals that an individual in this sad state has only the lake of fire to look forward to, which will end his or her existence for eternity. The Apostle John describes it this way, “They will come out of their graves! …those who have practiced evil will taste the resurrection that brings them to condemnation!” (John 5:29 TPT). These individuals who have received the Holy Spirit but then knowingly and willing turn away and reject God, they will face their fate and die for eternity.
So far, we have seen that the all in “all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come forth” are divided up into different groups. One group we discussed is the faithful firstfruits raised to eternal life at Christ’s return. Then there is the other group we examined that will be raised to condemnation.
But there is one more. There is another category of unbeliever. What will happen to all of those who have never had the opportunity to choose or to reject God’s way of life? There are many sincere Christians who believe that people must “accept Jesus” right now in this life or they’re lost forever. What will happen to those in remote areas of the world that have never even heard the name of Jesus? Are they lost forever? Just bad luck for being born in isolation from Christianity?
Now this is important. Does God love all or will He condemn those who never had a chance?
What about those billions of people who have lived their lives and they’ve never come into contact with the truth and have had no chance at salvation? Is it fair for God to destroy them forever when they never had a real opportunity to understand his will?
Peter was inspired to write, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). You see God wants everyone, all to come to repentance! And Apostle Paul added that God “... desires all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
No wonder Christ said: don’t be shocked, someday everyone who has ever lived will come to life again. Because God is merciful and has power over death, He will provide an opportunity for salvation to everyone. This fits perfectly with the teaching of Christ that shocked the people of His day. That all will hear His voice and be resurrected.
Even the masses of humanity who have never even heard the name of Jesus will have a chance for salvation. The Bible teaches that all will have a real opportunity through the biblical doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and God’s judgment.
You may know that God will resurrect the righteous to spirit beings at Christ’s return but have you ever noticed what most read right over in Christ’s teachings?
The shocking teaching of Jesus shows that there will be another resurrection, a second resurrection. Christ spoke of people being resurrected back to physical life even from different time periods. They will come face-to-face in “the day of judgment.” Notice Matthew 12:41. “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the south will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”
God will bring back to life all these unbelieving people. They come from throughout time and from various locations such as Sodom, Tyre, Sidon and Nineveh along with the Queen of Sheba. All of them at the same time as those people who heard Christ speak those words in the first century.
The only way for this to be possible, the only way for people who lived hundreds of years and generations apart to physically live again at the same time, is for God to raise all of them together.
Now this resurrection is very different than the first. This is a resurrection to physical life and not spirit. Coming back to physical life again will enable those in this second resurrection to have their only chance for salvation. Scripture is plain about the fact that all people have only one chance at salvation. But what Jesus taught is that a second chance at physical life is not the same as a second chance at salvation.
The Book of Revelation speaks of this second resurrection exactly as Christ did. Notice Revelation 20:5 “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.” (NKJV)
Here we’re told that all those who never had an opportunity to know God and Jesus Christ will be raised to physical life. Verses 11 and 12 expand on this. In a vision the Apostle John states, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” (Revelation 20:11-12 NKJV)
Did you notice that this cannot be talking about the resurrection of the faithful followers to spirit life that was spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4? These are called “the rest of the dead.” So these people cannot be the righteous. But instead they are those who died without a chance at salvation. Those resurrected in this group are people who never completely understood the truth of God.
Rather than them being condemned to eternal suffering or never awakening from death, they will come to life again. This will be a resurrection to physical life, during which they will have the opportunity to repent and receive God’s Holy Spirit and then live forever.
Here's how you can know that this refers to a second resurrection. If these people understood and obeyed the truth in their lifetime, God would have resurrected them to spirit at the return of Jesus Christ in the first resurrection. Or, if they understood the truth and rejected it, the only unfinished part of God’s judgment would be the death sentence. No further judging would be necessary in either case.
If you think about it, you know that most people throughout history who are in the grave did not know the meaning of Acts 4:12. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
If there were no second resurrection, the majority of people down through history would suffer unfair condemnation to eternal death in the lake of fire without ever having a chance at conversion because they have not known the true God.
But God is fair, He is just, He is merciful. He has a plan for all humanity to have an opportunity for salvation. Those brought back to physical life in this second resurrection will have the opportunity to repent and receive God’s Holy Spirit; and if they do, then they too will be given eternal life.
There is so much to learn about this subject. Let’s recap what Jesus taught.
Christ taught that all would be raised from the dead, but each in their own order.
1. First those who are righteous followers of God will be raised to spirit at the return of Christ.
2. Next, all those who never knew the true God throughout the history of mankind will be raised. The Bible calls this the second resurrection, raised to physical life, to have their first opportunity to repent and choose God’s way.
3. Third. There will also be another resurrection to condemnation. Those who had His spirit, had an opportunity for salvation and intentionally refused to live God’s way of life and chose to live in rebellion will have their life eternally ended.
Now, if God is opening your mind to understand His truth, now is the time to act. The doctrine of resurrection reminds us that there are no second chances. But it is comforting to know that He promises to mercifully give everyone a first chance.
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The vast majority of human beings have not known God. The shocking teaching of Jesus reveals that when the time is right God will resurrect all and give them the same opportunity the true followers of Jesus Christ have right now.
Our flesh and blood bodies are not designed to be permanent. They are just a temporary existence created for a much greater spiritual purpose. This is why the resurrection is such a key doctrine of the Bible. It encapsulates the hope we have in a real transformation to be glorified members of God’s family for all eternity.
Now’s the time to understand even more about God’s plan for you. Read your Bible. Prove the truth about the resurrections. Learn about the reward for those who humbly serve God. Have faith. If you repent and obey God, you will receive the free gift of eternal life as a member of God’s holy, eternal family.
That’s our program for today. Thanks for joining me and don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about Beyond Today. Tune in again next week and join us in praying, “Thy kingdom come.” For Beyond Today, I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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