Thus far we have been on an extraordinary journey discovering the biblical truth about such topics as repentance, faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, and laying on of hands, and today we continue our journey into the fundamental teachings of the faith with a teaching on the resurrection of the dead, since it is the next thing that Paul lists as being among the elementary principles of Christ.
I know, the resurrection of the dead doesn’t seem all that elementary, and neither does eternal judgment, but alas, they are listed as such, and so we must receive them as such. Do you sometimes get the feeling that the primary church knew allot more than we do today? Do you sometimes get the feeling that the primary church was closer to God, and saw more of the power of God than we do today?
This generation of believers, the first generation of believers in fact, considered eternal judgment, and resurrection of the dead to be elementary principles of Christ. I wonder what the going on to perfection that Paul spoke of really is then, if these are just the foundation stones, and the elementary principles?
I want to begin today’s teaching with two scripture passages that highlight the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. After reading these two passages, we see why the resurrection of the dead is a paramount and necessary teaching, one that we must fully understand and receive as biblical truth.
1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:18, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
I wanted to include both verses, so we can understand a deep and fundamental truth concerning the resurrection of the dead. What Paul is attempting to convey to the church in Corinth is the paramount importance of believing in the resurrection of the dead, and of preaching a risen Christ, one who rose from the dead, because if He had not risen, then both his preaching and their faith were useless, worthless, futile, and ineffective. The reason Paul wrote such strong words to the church of Corinth is because there were among that church, at that time some who said that there was no resurrection of the dead. The conclusion that Paul comes to in his letter to the church at Corinth is both piercing and of great importance.
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen!
If Christ is not risen then all is lost. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then our faith is futile, and we are of all men most pitiable. Paul was attempting to convey the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, making it very clear that only by believing in the resurrection of the dead is it possible to also believe in a risen Christ.
The principle or the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is one that is to this day hotly contested among Christian denominations, even though the Bible clearly speaks of the resurrection of the dead both in the Old and the New Testament. The teaching on the resurrection of the dead is an essential one in the Bible, and it is one of the reasons that Paul includes it among the elementary principles of Christ. When we speak of the resurrection of the dead we must understand that it refers to the literal resurrection of the body by God from death, and the reuniting of the body with the soul and spirit from which it was separated.
Job’s simple question in Job 14:14, as to if a man dies, shall he live again? Has caused countless debates, and discussions among believers, but although Job posed this question, the Bible gives us the answer as well. The answer the Word of God gives us is undeniable, and it is within this answer that we have hope in Christ, not only in this life but the life to come.
Throughout the time of the early church, great emphasis was placed on the teaching of the resurrection of the dead, since they were certain that Christ had risen, and that they too would rise at the appointed time. It is the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the fact that the Apostles taught it that ignited the first bout of persecution against the church.
What we must understand is that at first the church had favor with the people, because they were doing good works, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles, but then something happened after Peter healed the lame man, a great persecution arose, and we find the reason for this in the fourth chapter of the book of Acts.
Acts 4:1-3, “Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captains of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.”
It was the fact that they preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead that so disturbed the priests and the Sadducees, so much so that they laid hands on them and put them in custody.
So why is the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead so important? Why is this doctrine important enough that the apostles risked being imprisoned and even killed for preaching it?
Because the resurrection from the dead is the final step in the application of redemption. This resurrection will occur when Christ returns, who will resurrect from the dead the bodies of those who have departed, reuniting them with their spirits, that those who believed in Him might receive glorious bodies as His now is, and go to their eternal reward, and those that rejected Him might go to their eternal judgment.
Although this is not a study on where the soul goes when it dies, and yes, it is a worthwhile study to have if the Lord permits one day, there are a few misconceptions as to where the unregenerate go to once the material is separated from the immaterial, once the soul leaves the body and the body is put into the earth from which it came.
There are two prevalent theories as to what happens to man after he dies that wholly contradict the Word of God, yet are still widely circulated.
The first theory is that of universalism. Universalism proposes that sooner or later all will be saved. During the second century it was taught that sinners would be saved after a temporary punishment of sorts, that they might atone for their sins, and the Universalists of today say that all men are saved, even if they don’t realize it. They come to this deceptive conclusion by taking a handful of scriptures out of context, but wholly overlook relevant passages that dispel their theory.
No, men are not saved regardless of whether or not they believed in Jesus, but only those who believes in the Son of God has everlasting life.
John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Matthew 25:46, “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, (meaning those who did not believe in Christ), but the righteous into eternal life.”
There are countless more scriptures I can site, that dispel the notion of universal salvation, but alas time does not permit it. The Universalists of our generation and of generations past are quick to say that God is love, but they omit the fact that God is also justice, holiness, and wrath.
The second theory that is prevalent even in some Christian circles is that of conditionalism, or conditional immortality. What conditionalism teaches is that the soul is immortal only if it is regenerate, otherwise its final judgment will be its eternal annihilation.
The basis for conditionalism, or conditional immortality is based on an artificial exegesis of two Biblical texts, one found in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, the other found in Matthew 25:41, interpreting death to mean nonlife, or annihilation at a certain point in time. There is no eschatological event in the Bible that even hints at this annihilation of souls yet men continue to teach it to this day.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.