Salvation and Resurrection
The biblical faith is forward-looking and foundational to our salvation is the resurrection of the dead. That event will coincide with the arrival of Jesus. It is based on the past resurrection of Jesus, and our salvation will remain incomplete until he raises the dead, transforms those believers who remain alive, and “gathers” ALL his saints to himself (“He will send his angels, and they will assemble his elect from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven”).
Writing to the assemblies of Rome, Paul declared that if the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, then He that “raised Christ Jesus from among the dead will quicken even our death-doomed bodies.” Thus, the future “quickening” of our bodies is connected inextricably to Christ’s past resurrection - (Romans 8:9-11).
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At present, we possess “death-doomed bodies,” not because they are physical, but because we have been condemned to bondage, decay, and death by our sins. Even though we are indwelt by the Spirit, because of Adam’s transgression, we remain subject to death. We are, in the truest sense, MORTAL.
If God is to execute His plan of redemption and recover all that was lost, salvation must include the human body and the physical creation since the latter was also condemned by Adam’s transgression to decay and death.
The biblical doctrine of salvation is centered on redemption. The Creator of all things will not abandon what he created originally and declared to be “Very good!” He will rescue and transform it, and resurrection is an act of new creation.
The Spirit of God attests that we are “coheirs” with His Son. We, therefore, will be “glorified together with him.” Even the creation is “ardently awaiting” that day since it also has been subjected to “vanity,” and so longs for deliverance.
On that day, the “creation itself will be freed from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.” The possession of the Spirit is the “first fruits” and guarantee of this future resurrection life, therefore, we also “ardently await the adoption, namely, the redemption of our body.”
In his Letter to the Romans, Paul writes about the bodily resurrection of believers and the appearance of the New Creation, two connected events that he elsewhere links to the “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus and the “Day of the Lord” – (Romans 8:15-23, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 2 Thessalonians 2:1).
RESURRECTION IS VITAL
In Corinth, some believers denied the future resurrection. Paul responded by pointing to the Gospel that he first delivered to the Assembly, “How that Christ died for our sins, and was buried, and that he has been raised on the third day.” If there is no resurrection for us, then “even Christ has not been raised,” and if not, then the Gospel is void, the Apostles lied, and we are all “yet in our sins.”
Paul once more bases our future resurrection on the past resurrection of Jesus. Just as God raised His Son from the dead, so he will raise believers at His Son’s “arrival” - (1 Corinthians 15:1-20).
The resurrection of Jesus was the “first fruits of them who have fallen asleep.” Just as death came through Adam, so the “raising of the dead came through one man, and in Christ, all will be made alive.” This will occur at the “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus when he consummates the kingdom and subjugates all his enemies, including the “last enemy, Death” – (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).
Resurrection does not mean the resuscitation of “death-doomed bodies” or corpses. Our present body is “sown in corruption but will be raised in incorruption.” It will be a body fitted for life in the Spirit, and we will exchange mortality for immortality.
Paul did not see the physical body as incompatible with the Spirit. The difference is the kind of body one has, whether a “body of the soul” or a “body of the spirit.” Just as we now bear the “image of the man of the earth,” Adam, so we will “bear the image of the man of heaven,” Jesus.
When he does “arrive,” we who remain alive will be transformed, and those who have died will be raised from the dead, then together, all of us will receive “immortality…for whenever this mortal will clothe itself with immortality, then will be brought to pass the saying, ‘Death has been swallowed up victoriously’.” – (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).
When the Thessalonians expressed their grief over the deaths of fellow believers, Paul reminded them that they were not without hope. If we “believe that Jesus died and rose again, so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.” He will descend from Heaven and the “dead in Christ will rise first.” Then both the living and newly resurrected saints will “meet” him as he descends from Heaven.
As in Corinth, so in Thessalonica, Paul connects the future resurrection to the past raising of Jesus, and to his future “arrival.” This will be a collective event - ALL believers will be raised and transformed at the same time.
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In his Letter to the Philippians, Paul demonstrates just how foundational the resurrection hope is. Having counted all things as loss for the sake of Christ, his life became centered on pursuing Jesus - “If by any means I may attain to the resurrection from among the dead.” If he did not participate in the resurrection, his salvation would remain incomplete – (Philippians 3:10-11).
The consummation of the biblical doctrine of salvation lies in the future. While upon repentance our sins are forgiven and we become “heirs with Christ,” the final realization of that promise remains incomplete until his return, and with the resurrection of the dead, the everlasting “New Creation” will dawn.
- Abolishing Death - (Paul reminds Timothy of Christ’s resurrection and victory over death since false teachers are denying the resurrection of believers)
- Final Events - (In explaining the future resurrection, Paul lists the key events that will precede or coincide with the arrival of Jesus)
- The Death of Death - (The arrival of Jesus at the end of the age will mean the end of the Last Enemy, namely, Death - 1 Corinthians 15:24-28)