The Resurrection of the Dead

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What is the resurrection of the dead? Is there more than one of them and, if so, how many more? What is the purpose of a resurrection in God's plan? Will those not called and converted in this life someday have a full chance at salvation?

Without a doubt, the Bible does teach that there will be a resurrection of the dead. What few people realize, however, is that this raising of the deceased will occur in two, possible three, major phases.

The first resurrection of the dead occurs at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (1Thessalonians 4:16) when the righteous will be raised as powerful spirit beings (1Corinthians 15:42 - 54). A second raising of the dead will also occur after the 1,000-year reign (the Millennium) of Christ on the earth. This resurrection is for all those who never have a full chance at hearing or understanding the gospel message (Revelation 20:5).

There is also scriptural evidence suggesting a third and final resurrection. Its purpose would be to bring back from the dead all those who willfully, and with full knowledge, reject God and what he stands for (they committed the unpardonable sin) and refuse to repent (Daniel 12:2).

Unfortunately, there is no single passage in the Bible that clearly discusses all the resurrection events at the same time. There are some sections, however, that do discuss two of them such as (Revelation 20:4 - 5, see also John 5:28 - 29).

Resurrection of Christ
Resurrection of Christ
Marco Basaiti, 1520

What most people overlook when studying the Bible is that God plans to save the vast majority of humanity not in this life but after he raises them from the dead in a resurrection! This period of redemption is referred to as the Judgment Day and occurs after Jesus' Millennial rule (Revelation 20:11 - 13).

The Judgment Day is a time when countless BILLIONS will be resurrected back to a physical life so that they can receive a full opportunity, an opportunity they never really had in this life, to understand God's truth. Ezekiel's strange vision of an incredible number of dry bones (Ezekiel 37) discusses this momentous event.

All those in the second resurrection will finally have their minds opened and given a chance to repent so that they can receive God's spirit. They will have to, as all those who came before them, live a physical life of overcoming and building righteous character (possibly lasting for one hundred years - see Isaiah 65:20).

Those who God deems worthy of salvation will have their names written in the book of life (Revelation 20:13, 21:27) and be given the gift of living forever.

A possible third resurrection of the dead exists to handle all those who have committed the unpardonable sin. They, at one time, understood the truth but then knowingly and willfully rejected it (Matthew 12:32, Hebrews 6:4 - 6, 10:26 - 27, etc.). They have hardened their hearts against the Eternal, refuse to repent of their sins and, like the devil and his demons, have made him their enemy. They must be put out of existence FOREVER, in a lake of fire (Revelation 20:15, 21:8), before a brand new earth and universe is created (Isaiah 65:17, Revelation 21:1).

The Bible is unclear as to when and how God will administer the eternal death penalty to all those who fully reject his ways. One possibility is a distinct third resurrection that would occur one hundred years (Isaiah 65:20) after the second one. It would include all those who died, before the white throne judgement, who knowingly rejected the truth.

These people, along with those still alive who became wicked after the second resurrection, would together be thrown into the lake of fire.

God could also take care of all the wicked without performing a distinct resurrection. He, as part of the white throne judgement, could bring back from the dead all those who have rejected him up to that point. Those deemed unrepentant and wicked, at that time, would be exterminated. Those who reject him during the hundred years after this event, since they have already experienced one physical death (1Corinthians 15:21 - 22, Hebrews 9:27), would not experience another one or a resurrection but go straight to their destruction.

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