Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Dead in Christ Shall Rise First.

The Dead in Christ Shall Rise First. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “.. and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall they ever be with the Lord.”

In my last status, we looked at how the first century saints who were alive at Christ’s Parousia were TRANSLATED into the fullness of the new covenant order without first passing through physical death at the consummation of the kingdom.

At the Parousia of Christ, there is a resurrection and in this verse, it is the dead in Christ 4:16. But just who are the dead in Christ? Before going to into the Old Testament prophets, I would ask you to please consider just one piece of evidence that persuades me who are “the dead in Christ.”

After his appearance before the governor, Paul continued to remain a prisoner in Caesarea for at least two more years. When the time came that Felix would step down from the governor‘s seat, Portius Festus became governor in his stead. After only a few days, King Agrippa and his wife Bernice came to visit the new governor, to pay their respects. Upon learning of the matter concerning Paul, King Agrippa expressed his desire to hear Paul himself. And so, consequently, Paul now makes his appeal before the king (Acts 26:6-8). He said, And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, o King, I am being accused by the Jews. Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?

In light of the evidence shown, above should there really be any question that “the resurrection” was indeed “the hope of Israel.” Those saints who lived under the Old Covenant that had died, God had not yet fulfilled all the promises He had made to them [Israel]. Paul spoke these words to King Agrippa some 34 years after the cross. These are the dead in Christ.

It’s very interesting that in the Old Testament we see a connection between the “end of the old Jewish age“ and “the resurrection. The Prophets as we promised earlier, and of whom Paul spoke in his defense were, for example, in Daniel 12:1-3, some 600 years B.C.. In the account by Daniel, we read of this promise in 12:1-3, as he prophesies concerning the promise of “the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” The word "resurrection" does not appear in the Old Testament, but the concept does.

Now notice these words of hope [of the resurrection] by David. Psalms 49:15 (NKJV) But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah This verse expresses hope that God will provide salvation beyond the grave, one of the few Old Testament references to life after death.

Speaking of Abraham, “he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”? (Hebrews. 11:10) Abraham had in mind, the “heavenly” city of Jerusalem not the “earthly” land of Canaan?

It is clear from the above verses that Paul sees the resurrection of the dead as that which fulfills "the hope of Israel dead.." Listen carefully to Paul as he tells us the reason why Christ came the first time Romans. 15:8 “For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision [old covenant Israel], on behalf of the truth of God, to confirm the promises given to the fathers.” Christ came to confirm the promises given to the fathers [Israel].” Salvation is of the Jews. (John 4:22)

Prior to Jesus' Messianic work, no one went to Heaven. John 3:13 (NKJV) "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. If prior to Jesus' Messianic work, no one went to Heaven where did people go when they died? They went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for where they were prior to the resurrection is Sheol or Hades. In the New Testament the Greek word is Hades. What this place amounted to was a waiting area for disembodied spirits.

The Old Testament uses the word "Sheol" to refer to a place in the depths of the earth. The expressions, "go down" or "brought down" are used twenty times in connection with Sheol. The "depths of Sheol" are mentioned six times (Deut. 32:22; Ps. 86:13; Prov. 9:18; 15:24; Isa. 7:11; 14:15). Four times Sheol is described as the farthest point from heaven (Job 11:8; Ps. 139:8; Isa. 7:11; Amos 9:2). Often Sheol is parallel with the "pit" (Job 17:13-14; 33:18; Ps. 30:3; 88:3-4; Prov. 1:12; Isa. 14:15; 38:18; Ezek. 31:14-17). Nine times it is parallel with death (2 Sam. 22:6; Ps. 18:4-5; 49:14; 89:48; 116:3; Prov. 5:5; Isa. 28:15,18; Hos. 13:14; Hab. 2:5). Sheol is described in terms of overwhelming floods, water, or waves (Jonah 2:2-6). Sometimes, Sheol is pictured as a hunter setting snares for its victim, binding them with cords, snatching them from the land of the living (2 Sam 22:6; Job 24:19; Ps. 116:3). Sheol is a place of no return (Job 7:9; 10:21; 16:22; 21:13; Ps. 49:14; Isa. 38:10). People could go to Sheol alive (Num. 16:30,33; Ps. 55:15; Prov. 1:12)

To be taken out of Sheol and brought into the presence of the Lord is what the Bible calls resurrection. God had promised to redeem His people from the grave: Hosea 13:14 (NKJV) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.

So the dead in Christ, where the saints like Moses, Abraham, David, Daniel, etc. that were resurrected fully into the presence of God and the living saints were changed of translated into it at the end of the Jewish age, or Old Covenant without passing through death. Which we know this to be in AD 70.

In John 11:25-26 (NKJV) Jesus said to Martha, Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

There are two categories of believers that are being discussed here. Those old covenant saints that believed in Christ, but died (physically) shall live (spiritually) V. 25 For those who died under the Old Covenant Christ was the resurrection. And whoever lives (physically) and believed in Christ will never die (spiritually) V 26.

Where there is no death, there is no need of a resurrection. We have eternal life and can never die spiritually. Therefore, we don't need a resurrection. At death, we go immediately to heaven as spirits..

The resurrection was a one time event in which the Old Testament saints were brought out of Hades or "Sheol" into the fulness of God’s presence. As believers, we live in the presence of God, and at physical death, we simply drop the flesh and dwell in the spiritual realm. Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.