In this study we will examine what happens to those who die faithful to God and end up in the first resurrection of the dead.
The Coming of Christ
The first raising of the dead, or resurrection, in God's plan occurs during the time of Jesus' second coming. "The dead in Christ" or "those who sleep in Jesus," deceased Christians, are brought back to life at his return.
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. (1Thessalonians 4:16)
When Jesus returns Christians will "always be with the Lord" (verse 17). When He returns, He will come again to the Mount of Olives with the Saints (see Acts 1:9 - 12, Zechariah 14:1 - 5). Those brought back to life will reign as Kings and Priests on earth (Revelation 20:4 - 6; 5:9 - 10, Daniel 7:13 - 14, 18, 22, 27).
Specifically, this resurrection takes place when the "last trumpet" sounds. This trumpet is the last of seven to be blown (see Revelation 8:1 - 9:21; 11:15 - 18).
" . . . but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant, as quickly as the blinking of an eye. For when the trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised . . ." (1Corinthians 15:51 - 52, see also 1Thessalonians 4:16 - 17)
As Jesus Christ returns to earth "with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. . . ." the dead who have been faithful will rise. Then those still living at the time of the second coming are "caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1Thessalonians 4:16 - 17).
According to Matthew, as Jesus comes with the "clouds of heaven," He "will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:30 - 31). After meeting him in the atmosphere above the earth, the Saints will descend to the earth and land east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4 - 5).
"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)
The battle that takes place during the Second Coming is recorded in Revelation 19:11 - 21. An additional event happening at that time is the binding of Satan for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1 - 3).
If any section of the Bible provides us with the greatest information on the subject at hand it is 1Corinthians 15. This chapter is known as the "resurrection chapter." By studying it we will learn several very important facts.
One of the things we learn is that if Jesus had not risen from the dead then no one else would be able to do so. However, he was brought back to life and is called the "first fruit" of the grave. He is the first individual resurrected with a spiritual body.
12. But if Christ is being preached, that He rose from the dead, how is it that some among you are saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13. For if there is no resurrection from the dead, neither has Christ been raised. 14. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain . . . 20. But now Christ has been raised from the dead; He has become the first-fruit of those who have fallen asleep. (1Corinthians 15:12 - 14, 20, HBFV)
God has a plan
21. For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23. But each in his own order . . . (1Corinthians 15:21 - 23, HBFV)
There is a time order to God's plan for all man. Jesus is the first person resurrected, followed by the dead in Christ at the second coming (1Thessalonians 4:13 - 18; 1Corinthians 15:51 - 56; Matthew 24:29 - 31; Mark 13:24 - 27). After the Millennium, there will be a second resurrection of all those who never heard or never fully understood the gospel (Revelation 20:5). Then God will bring back to life those who knowingly reject his way of life and refuse to repent in order that they mercifully be put out of their misery forever (Revelation 20:14 - 15).
In Luke 14, Jesus teaches us that at the time of his return He will repay or reward Christians for their works in this life (Luke 14:12 - 14).
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work." (Revelation 22:12)
Rise and SHINE!
2 Many of those who have already died will live again . . . 3 The wise leaders (any Christian who dies in the faith) will shine with all the brightness of the sky. And those who have taught many people to do what is right will shine like the stars forever. (Daniel 12:1 - 3)
There will come a time in the future when the dead, "those who sleep in the dust of the earth," awake from their sleep of death. Some of those brought back to life will receive everlasting life. Others will receive "shame and everlasting contempt." This sounds very similar to Jesus' statement in John chapter 5.
"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 - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life . . . " (John 5:28 - 29)
Those in the first resurrection cannot die again because they have been given new spiritual bodies and have received immortality (Luke 20:34 - 36, 1Corinthians 15:52 - 55).