Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.Revelation 20:6(NASB)
The resurrection of the body is a blessed biblical truth that is often overlooked or misunderstood. Man is a tripartite being, made up of spirit, soul, and body. We are born dead in trespasses and sins but our human spirit is resurrected - or made alive at the point of our salvation. After salvation, throughout our entire Christian life, our soul is being made new through a process of practical sanctification... as day by day our soul-life is gradually being conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus as we grow in grace and mature in the faith. And one day we will be like Him, reflecting His beautiful, eternal, righteous life in every way. One day we shall see Him as He is.
But our bodies are also going to be changed, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. The dead in Christ will be raised incorruptible and the living will be bodily caught up together with them in the clouds. We are saved, spirit (at salvation), soul (through the process of sanctification), and body (at the Rapture). However, there are not three salvations - but one. Salvation occurs when we are born again into God's family, Who gives us an assurance that we are saved spirit, soul, and body. Our justification (spiritual salvation), sanctification (soul's salvation), and glorification (bodily salvation), is 'yes' and 'amen' in Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Although there is one salvation, which embraces us, spirit, soul, and body, the Bible mentions two resurrections 1) the resurrection of the just and 2) the resurrection of the wicked. 1) the resurrection of the saved and 2) the resurrection of the unsaved. 1) the resurrection of saints and 2) the resurrection of the damned. Both saved and unsaved men are resurrected... but their eternal destinies are very different. The destiny of the believer is eternal life, which was secured at the Cross of Calvary and made a reality by faith. But the destiny of the unsaved is finalised at the Great White Throne Judgement, where they will experience the second death.
The Bible identifies and explains these two 'deaths'. Every man experiences the first death, which is a physical death, but only those that are part of the second resurrection - the resurrection of the wicked, will experience the second death. It is unbelievers who did not trust in Christ for their salvation who are part of the second resurrection... and they will experience the second death.
Jesus was the first Man who tasted death - and by His death He destroyed the power of the second death over all who would believe on His name. Having shed His precious blood on our account, He was resurrected from the dead in a body of flesh and bone. Jesus was the first-fruit from the dead and all who trust in Him will partake in the first resurrection, with a body of flesh and bone. Those who are part of the first resurrection will not be hurt by the second death.
There are a number of groups that are part of the first resurrection, 1) Jesus Christ. 2) The New Testament Church. 3) The Tribulation Saints. 4) The Old Testament Saints. 5) The Millennial believers. All are part of the first resurrection because all have been justified, by faith. And Paul tells us that each will be resurrected in his own order, "Christ the first fruits. After that.. those who are Christ's at His coming (the Church). Then comes the end (the Tribulation and 1000 year reign of Christ) when He hands over the kingdom to God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death."
YES! The very next group in line for the 'first resurrection' after Jesus are US - New Testament, Church-age saints! Both the dead in Christ and all living believers will participate in the 'first resurrection' when Christ comes in the clouds to take us to our heavenly home. We will meet Jesus in the air and be taken into heaven at the Rapture which occurs before the seven-year Tribulation. As part of the Bride of Christ, we have the privilege of being made kings and priests. And by grace through faith, we will rule and reign with Him for 1000 years.
The resurrection of the Tribulation Saints and the Old Testament Saints will occur at the end of the Tribulation period at Christ's Second Coming, and Millennial believers will be resurrected after the Millenium.
It is the Tribulation Saints about whom Revelation 20:6 is written, "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ. And they will reign with Him for a thousand years." Martyred saints who trusted in the Lamb of God during the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob's Trouble, will be given certain privileges as outlined in this verse. They are going to be raised incorruptible, having received everlasting life and will serve in the Temple of God for 1000-years, as priests of God and of Christ.
It is wonderful to know that all who have trusted God and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ will take part in this glorious 'first resurrection' but how sombre to realise that all who have rejected God's offer of salvation will have to take part in the 'second resurrection' and will have to face the second death - the lake of fire and eternal separation from their long-suffering God and gracious Saviour. May God have mercy on them while there is still time.
Heavenly Father, it is a sober thought to realise that all who reject God's offer of salvation will take part in the second resurrection and have to face the Great White Throne Judgement and the second death. I pray that You would use me in the time that we have left to witness of the glorious gospel of the grace of God - that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, so that whosoever believes on Him would not perish but take part in the first resurrection and receive life everlasting. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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