Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who Are the Saints?

[This article is based on material from our book, The Truth Revealed in Romans. You can read the entire book free on our website: www.biblestudybooksfree.com.]

Saints are commonly considered to be extremely virtuous, kind, and patient people. Or, saints may be considered as religious, pious people (i.e., a holy person), especially if they have been officially honored with this title by a Christian church. Some consider saints to be people who have died and gone to heaven. And, some (usually Christians) believe that saints are God’s chosen people.

The implication in most of these common definitions is that people are called saints on the basis of their behavior. Paul addressed this issue in Romans 1:7: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” To explain what Paul meant in this verse, we must consider four words: all, beloved, called, and saints.

Because these words are all adjectives, not nouns, they should be followed with a noun, either written or understood (i.e., one or ones) by the reader. In other words, this verse should read: “to all those who are in Rome, beloved (ones) of God, called (ones), sainted (ones).” Paul used these adjectives to describe everyone in Rome.

To all, or some?

This letter was probably sent to the small church in Rome. But, was Paul writing only to the believers, which many people claim? Or, was it, as Paul said, written to everyone in Rome? The word all comes from the Greek pasin, which “emphasizes the individual member of the class denoted by the noun (Rome), every, each, any, scarcely different in meaning from, the plural ‘all’.” [Ardnt, William F. and F. Wilbur Gingrich. Translation and Adaptation of the Fourth Revised and Augmented Edition of Walter Bauer=s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd Edition. (University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 681]

If Paul were writing to each individual, as determined by the noun Rome, then he was not limiting his letter to only some of the people in Rome. When he said “all” he did not mean only the believers; he meant everyone. Paul was sent to all the Gentiles, and the “all” in Rome included the Gentile “called ones” to whom Paul was to preach the good news. When Paul wrote “all” he meant all; he did not mean “some.” Furthermore, when he said “all” he included unbelievers as well as believers.

Many today believe that “all” refers only to believers in Rome. The result, however, transforms God’s gift of grace, into man’s act of faith, indicating that God reacts to what man does. This is completely backward. Men are to react to what God has already done, i.e., given them salvation. [For more about this, see our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation. You can read the entire book free on our website: www.biblestudybooksfree.com.]

Paul did not begin his letter to the Romans on the foundation of faith, but on the grace and love of God toward men. Men cannot do anything that will influence God to love them. God already loves them, and he has al­ready bestowed a full salvation upon them. This includes not only the “all that be in Rome,” but all those in the entire world, including those regarded as “sinners.”

Beloved ones

God loves because his nature is love. His love is not generated by any quality in man. Instead, God’s love creates value. That which God loves has no value in itself, but is given value by being the object of his love. Agape does not simply confirm worth, it creates worth.

What reason could “all those in Rome “ give that would cause God to love them? Was it necessary for them to do something to cause God to love them? Men can be called “beloved” because God loved us even before we became believers. This is a result of grace.

Called ones

By mistranslating this word as a verb, not an adjective, many people have missed the true sense of what Paul was saying. They were not “called to be saints” (as the KJV says), but they were “called ones.”

This calling was not something they did, but describes what they were. God called them through Jesus, the Christ. They had nothing to do with being “called” because God initiated the action.

Sainted ones

In the phrase “called to be saints” (KJV), the words “to be” are italicized, indicating that these words were not in the original Greek manuscript. Therefore, the phrase is actually “called saints,” a very important distinction. Paul was not addressing his letter to “those called to be saints,” but to those “called ones, sainted ones.” The adjective “sainted” clarifies how God viewed them.

The word saints comes from the Greek adjective hagiois, usually translated as holy, or holy (ones) which means sepa­ration, or separate. Why were they addressed as "separated (ones)"? By the death of Jesus, all those in Rome — and in truth, all those in the world (past, present, and future)―have been separated, made holy (ones), or sainted (ones), to God, and by God, through his son, Jesus.

According to Paul, these adjectives describe things done by God, regardless of the worth of the people involved. God loved them all, called them all, sainted them all. It had nothing to do with the merit of the people involved, or whether they believed or not.

If they did not become sainted ones until they believed, then their faith would be the factor by which God would regard them as sainted ones. This would be the very thing Paul preached against. Paul was refuting the Jewish teaching that men only merit being “beloved” ones, “called” ones, or “holy” ones by something they do.

Many today still believe the extremely pervasive teaching that “all” refers only to believers in Rome. The result, though, transforms God’s gift of grace into man’s act of faith, whereby God reacts to man. This is completely backwards. People are beloved ones, called ones, and sainted ones because of God’s grace, not because of anything they do, not even because of their faith.

So, who are the saints? The answer is: all of us. Thank God, we do not have to be worthy to have God love us, call us, and saint us! We were completely worthless, yet God’s grace and love sought us out! All of us are beloved by God, called by God, and separated (sainted) to God.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What do you believe about the resurrection?

Most Christians today believe they will go to heaven when they die, presumably to live the good life. Only a few know much about what the bible says about being raised from the dead, or resurrection. For many Christians, the resurrection seems incredulous, and nearly impossible to believe.

It is true that the scriptures raise many questions about the resurrection which remain unanswered. A simplistic belief about going to heaven is far easier to believe, and it makes more “sense” to many. However, as Jesus said to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29). Like the Sadducees, most Christians simply do not understand the scriptures, nor do they understand the power of God.

Not much is said about the resurrection in most churches. One reason for this is because the emphasis today is on “going to heaven,” a concept not found in the Bible. It is simply incompatible to preach about both the resurrection and going to heaven. In fact, the prevailing belief about going to heaven turns the resurrection into irrelevant nonsense. If people are already in heaven, why resurrect them so they can go back to heaven again?

Many people actually confuse heaven with the kingdom of God here on earth. The belief about heaven has even largely replaced the message of the kingdom, which is the message that Jesus and Paul. However, the Bible teaches that our life in the next age will not be in heaven, but in the kingdom, right here on earth. The fact that Jesus was called “the Christ” refers to his role as king during the future kingdom.

As an aside, Christ is not the second name of Jesus, but a title. The word christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word messiah, and it simply means “the anointed one.” In the Old Testament, only a high priest, a prophet, or a king would be anointed into office. The New Testament refers to Jesus as the anointed one who presently is high priest, and who will be king over the entire earth during the coming kingdom of God.

What do the scriptures really say?

What we can say for sure is that there seems to be a great deal of confusion about the resurrection. The question, then, is what do the scriptures actually say about the resurrection?

A good place to begin might be in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. In I Corinthians 15:3, Paul said “I delivered to you as of first importance…that he (Jesus) was raised.” He then proceeded to list many of the people who had actually observed the resurrected Christ. He even said that if the dead are not raised then even Christ has not been raised, and that would label all those who had claimed to see him as false witnesses, or liars.

“Out from among the dead ones”

Many of the learned philosophers of his day thought Paul was strange because he preached the resurrection. Acts 17:18 notes, “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.”

The resurrection is central to the gospel, or good news, that the apostles preached. Paul actually tied Jesus and the resurrection together as equally important. In Acts 17:30-31, Paul said that, “God...hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” This was emphasized even more in I Corinthians 15:12-23.

Please note that the Greek manuscript uses ek, out from the dead. Jesus was separated from all the dead. He was resurrected out from the dead as a first-fruit unto God. Paul said this was God’s assurance that everyone (all men) would be resurrected when Jesus returns to initiate` the kingdom of God here on earth.

The word resurrection comes from anastasis, which means, “raising up, or a rising up as from a seat, or from the dead.” (Thayer, p. 585). In other words, if someone who has lived and died is then resurrected, he stands again. It occurs 42 times in 40 verses, only in the New Testament, and mostly in the words of Jesus or Paul.

Many of the verses with anastasis speak of “the resurrection” (for example, see: Matthew 22:28, Matthew 22:30, Matthew 22:31; Mark 12:23; Luke 14:14, Luke 20:33, Luke 20:35, Luke 20:36; John 11:24, John 11:25; Acts 2:31, Acts 4:2; I Corinthians 15:42; Philippians 3:10; II Timothy 2:18; Revelation 20:5, and Revelation 20:6). The definite article sets this apart as a special event, the event of the resurrection, a major event to occur at the end of this age.

Among the Jews, the Pharisees were looking forward to a resurrection, and Jesus taught that there was a resurrection which would take place in the future, an event called “the resurrection.” The Sadducees, however, did not believe there was going to be any resurrection. They held that the dead simply stayed dead. Jesus said they erred because they did not know the scriptures or the power of God (see Matthew 22:29-32).

Matthew 22:31shows that Jesus was definitely teaching that the dead were going to be resurrected. In fact, Jesus taught the resurrection of all the dead. One resurrection. The resurrection. By doing so, he was also teaching that God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31-32).

One resurrection with two aspects

Paul also spoke of both the resurrection of all men, and the resurrection “out from among the dead ones.” Please follow this closely, because failure to understand these two different aspects of the resurrection causes much confusion.

Acts 23:6 says, “But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.”

Look closely at what Paul said. He was arguing the fact of a resurrection which is to take place sometime in the future. A resurrection of the dead. All the dead.

The Sadducees said there would not be a resurrection of the dead. Paul said there would be, and for proof he told them Jesus was not only raised from the dead, but out from among the dead ones. This point needs to be emphasized. Jesus was not only resurrected, but he was resurrected out from among the dead ones because he was altogether without sin. This indicates a physical resurrection with a spiritual aspect.

In “the resurrection,” although some people will come forth displaying attributes of physical life (they will move, breathe, understand, see, and hear), according to the Bible they will still be spiritually dead. Death is a spiritual reality as well as a physical fact. It may also be a state of mind, a state of circumstance, or a state of sin. For instance, Paul spoke of gossiping women as being dead while they yet lived (I Timothy 5:6). People can be operating in the sphere of death, thereby being what the scriptures call “dead” even though they are still physically alive.

God raised Jesus first, not only to demonstrate that Jesus was without sin, but also to demonstrate his power. According to Romans 1:4, Jesus was, “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

While the KJV often states, “resurrection from the dead,” the Greek manuscript actually says, “resurrection out from among the dead” (i.e., Luke 20:35). This is an important distinction, and this mistranslation is the source of much confusion. Jesus said that although all people will be resurrected, only those accounted worthy would be able to “obtain that world.” Other verses make it clear that “obtain that world” means that only those worthy ones would be allowed to rule in the kingdom with Jesus.

God raised Jesus from the dead to demonstrate what he has in store for others who are obedient to him: namely, a resurrection out from among the dead ones. In other words, this is like a resurrection within a resurrection. While all men will be resurrected, the righteous, or just, or worthy will be separated from the dead, or unjust, or unworthy. That is what Jesus meant by saying “out from among the dead.”

Everyone will be resurrected

In Acts 24:15, Paul wrote, “...there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” In Romans 8:19, Paul said the whole creation awaits the revelation of “the sons of God.” Jesus had identified who they are: They “...are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), the sons of the resurrection, the ones who are separated from the resurrected dead, or unjust ones.

By including both the just and the unjust, Paul was referring to the resurrection of all the dead. This is one complete resurrection, not two different resurrections. Paul said there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. In other words, there will be one resurrection of all the people who will be separated into two groups, the just and the unjust.

The just are called the sons of God (Revelation refers to them as overcomers), and they will be a royal priesthood, a chosen people, acting as priests of God and priests of Christ. They will carry out the will of God, and rule and reign with Jesus Christ. They will also intercede with God on behalf of the other people upon this earth, including the resurrected unjust, or “dead” ones.

Jesus also dealt with the two aspects, or two groups, of “the resurrection.” First, everyone will be resurrected. Second, those who “obtain” will be separated from the resurrected unjust, or dead ones. These “obtainers” will enter the next age in a place of blessing as chosen servants of God.

Jesus elaborated on this point in John 5:28-29. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

Here again we see the two aspects: the resurrection of life for the just, and the resurrection of damnation for the unjust. The just will enter the kingdom to rule and reign with Christ. The unjust ones will be ruled over by the just ones.

Hope and the resurrection

Recall that in Acts 23:6, Paul said “the hope and resurrection.” It is a hope, not an established fact. Regardless of whether people are just or unjust, they will be resurrected at the same time. That is the fact. However, everyone will not achieve the “out from among the dead ones” aspect of resurrection. The point is that when believers hope in the resurrection, it is not just to be resurrected, but to be resurrected “out from among the dead ones.” To achieve this aspect, they must be accounted worthy.

To be judged worthy does not mean that people must be sinless. Only Jesus has ever been without sin. All others have sinned, and therefore they are not without sin. People can only claim righteousness through the faith, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was why God raised him out from among the dead ones to be the first to experience the ek, out from, resurrection.

In the same sense, those judged worthy will also be raised out from among the dead ones. Although they are sinners, their obedience, their hope, and their faithfulness will result in their being raised out from among the dead ones. Those people who are unbelieving, disobedient, and hopeless will be resurrected, but not “out from among the dead ones,” because they are the dead ones.

In Acts 24:16, Paul said, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.”

Why did Paul add this thought? He not only taught one resurrection with two aspects, but he also based his obedience on this view of the resurrection. He wanted to be accounted worthy of obtaining the life to come.

Peter also spoke of this hope. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:3-5). Our hope for salvation (or entry into the kingdom in a state of blessing to rule with Jesus) is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the first to rise.

The resurrection is still future

Some people say a spiritual resurrection has already taken place, and Jesus is now reigning spiritually in the world. When Hymenaeus and Philetus claimed that the resurrection was already past, Paul refuted their claim. In II Timothy 2:18-19, he said, “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Why people persist in believing something that is blatantly declared false by the scriptures remains a mystery.

Paul’s correction of this error destroyed the theory of a spiritual resurrection (although it is still prevalent today). The resurrection is yet to come, but it will happen. Both the just and the unjust will be resurrected at one time, but with a difference. The just will be resurrected “out from among the dead ones,” and thus separated from the unjust, the spiritually dead ones.

Resurrection and judgment

In John 5:24-29, Jesus spoke in rebuttal to the Jews: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

This scripture contains several insights. Everyone in the graves will hear his voice and come forth. Those who have done good will be resurrected to life, and those who have done evil will be resurrected to a verdict of damnation, or guilt. The word damnation comes from kriseos, which literally means to be accounted guilty. However, it does not include any sense of what the penalty might be.

The resurrection includes a separation of two groups of people, the just and the unjust. The just are resurrected to life, the unjust to damnation. Just because the bodies of all are quickened, it does not mean all are alive in the same way. The unjust are physically alive, but they are not spiritually alive, nor are they in a place of blessing. The evil dead come forth physically alive, yet they are considered to be dead ones, spiritually speaking.

In John 11:25-26, Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

Jesus was referring to the two spheres of spiritual life and spiritual death. Though believers may die physically, they never enter the sphere of death, or that of evil, or unbelief. They are in a place of blessing with the Lord, awaiting the resurrection (redemption) of their bodies.

In Romans 2:5-11, Paul taught about the judgment to come. Notice that the separation is made according to people’s deeds. “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.”

What Paul stressed was obedience to the truth. People will be rewarded according to their works. In other words, the people will not be judged, but their works will be judged.

Paul taught more about the coming judgment in II Corinthians 5:10-11. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

Here, again, is the element of judgment. There is a consequence (or reward) for doing good and a consequence for doing evil. One consequence is a blessing; the other is not. This is very important; Paul even said that he persuaded men because he knew the terror of the Lord.

Why was Paul so emphatic about persuading men to do good? In the KJV, the word “done” is italicized, which means it does not appear in the Greek manuscript. Without this word, the verse reads: “that may receive each the things in the body, according to what he did, whether good or evil.” Berry’s translation (George Ricker Berry, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, KJV) says, “Everyone may receive the things in his body, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad.

This is probably one of the most misunderstood scriptures in the Bible. The word in comes from dia, which is usually translated as “through” instead of “in.” Paul said that people will receive, in their resurrected bodies, the things, or the results, of what they did while here on earth.

In other words, their resurrected bodies will give evidence of their judgment, whether their deeds were good or evil. This judgment will be received dia, through, the body. Good deeds will result in a spiritual body, while evil deeds will result in another physical body. No wonder Paul sought to persuade people to submit to God’s spirit at all times.

In Galatians 6:7-9, Paul said, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

The reaping of corruption will be a future reaping, just as the reaping of life everlasting is in the future. Paul was not speaking about the natural process of corruption which takes place after the physical death of the body. He was referring to the bodies people will receive at the judgment mentioned above.

Paul was again referring to the separation during the resurrection. Perhaps this is why he repeatedly mentioned that he desired the ek resurrection, out from the dead ones. If people sow to the flesh they shall reap a physical body of corruption at the resurrection. If people sow to the spirit, they shall reap life everlasting, or a spiritual body, at the resurrection.

Jesus was the first to be resurrected “out from among the dead ones.” He was resurrected in a glorified body subject to the spirit, and he demonstrated this new body on many occasions following his death and resurrection. Even so, the resurrected just ones will have the same kind of body that Jesus received.

The judgment for what many call “heaven or hell” took place at the cross when Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world. That judgment was settled once and for all, for everyone. The judgment indicated here is a different judgment, which has nothing to do with sending people to “heaven or hell,” as so often preached. This judgment will be the reward for what people have done with their lives. Those judged good will receive spiritual bodies; those judged evil will receive another natural body subject to death.

The judgment described in II Corinthians concerns people’s works which determine the condition of their resurrected body, and their condition during the kingdom age. This is the reward for their works, whether good or evil. Those who receive a spiritual body will rule and reign with Christ. They will rule over those who receive another natural body, or those described by Jesus as being in outer darkness.

People need to remember that God loves each of us, no matter who we are, and he has provided the means for us to accomplish everything he requires of us. If people love God in return, and serve him on the basis of love, there is no need to fear the resurrection judgment. If people live in rebellion to God’s love, looking forward to the judgment can indeed be fearful.

The works of all people will be judged, those who are still alive when Jesus returns, as well as those who will be resurrected. Those whose works are judged good will be rewarded with a spiritual body like the one Jesus has. Those whose works are judged evil will be rewarded with another natural body, as corruptible as the ones we have now. Both groups will have a part in the kingdom; one group to rule, the other to be ruled over.

Jesus will judge our works to determine what kind of resurrection bodies we will receive. When our faith is properly based, God operates through us to bring forth the works which will stand the scrutiny of Jesus. When Paul said he wanted to know the power of his resurrection, he was referring to this power which judges our works.

Resurrected or raptured?

In I Thessalonians 4:16, Paul referred to one group of the resurrected when he said, “the dead in Christ [who] shall rise first.”

This verse indicates the sequence of the resurrection for those who will obtain the out-resurrection, or the “out from among the dead ones” resurrection. The dead believers, those dead in Christ, shall rise first. Then, the believers who are alive will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

If people come forth with a body like the Lord’s, they will be able to rise and meet him in the air. Those with natural bodies will be unable to rise to meet him. This is the result of the separation, or the out-resurrection judgment Paul has been talking about.

Notice that this resurrection is accomplished by a shout of power, egersis. Everyone will come forth. Only those who are judged worthy will be able to meet him in the air and escort him back to rule and reign over this earth.

The word coming is derived from parousia, which was used to express the activity when a king came to rule over his city. The citizens of that city would go out to meet the king and escort him to the city over which he would reign. Those who are dead in Christ, or living in Christ, will go out at his parousia to meet him and escort him back to his kingdom here on earth.

In other words, being able to rise and meet Jesus in the air will be evidence of the out-resurrected ones. This is not a “rapture” of believers into heaven, but an indication of judgment and spiritual rewards.

Resurrection and role in the kingdom

Revelation 20:1-15 refers to the 1,000-year kingdom and the role reserved for those who obtain the out-resurrection. Verses 20:4-6 say, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”

The words “lived not again” (verse 20:5) were not used in a resurrection sense. Lived not again comes from ouk anezesan. Ouk is the absolute not. Anezesan is a compound word formed from ana, again, and zoe, spiritual life. The resurrected unjust come forth with natural bodies, and they cannot have spiritual, or eternal, life (zoe) until sometime after the 1,000 years, in the ages of ages. Exactly how and when this may happen is not disclosed.

This verse does not say they will not be resurrected; but they will not be in the same state of blessing as the resurrected just ones who have a spiritual body like Jesus, the Christ. Verse 20:5 says this is the first resurrection. In Greek, this was written in an emphatic manner and probably means the most important, or chief resurrection. This is the resurrection of the sons of God, which was the resurrection of utmost importance to Paul.

Then, in the latter part of Revelation 20, John described the great white throne judgment, which is the judgment that takes place at the end of the 1,000 years. When the 1,000 years are expired, the resurrection and judgment of those who have died during the 1,000 years will take place at the great white throne.

This is the second judgment for those who did not receive spiritual bodies in the first resurrection, but continued to live in natural bodies during the next age, the kingdom of God, the 1,000 year reign of Jesus, the Christ. Revelation 20:15 says that those whose names are not in the book of life will be cast in the lake of fire. [Detailed commentary on the Book of Life can be found on our blog at, http://bibletalkfred.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html. Detailed commentary of the Lake of Fire and Brimstone can be found on our blog at, [http://bibletalkfred.blogspot.com/2008/02/lake-of-fire-and-brimstone.html]


# There will be a resurrection when Jesus returns, “the resurrection,” the first resurrection, the most important resurrection.

# This resurrection has not yet occurred, but it will happen at some point in the future.

# There will be another resurrection at the end of the kingdom age for those who die during the kingdom age.

# When Jesus returns, all the dead will be resurrected, both the just and the unjust. Regardless of whether people are just or unjust, they will be resurrected at the same time.

# While this is one resurrection, it identifies two groups of people . One group, the just, will be separated from the other group, the unjust, during the process of the resurrection.

# The just, or worthy, will rule and reign with Christ for 1,000 years during the kingdom age.

# The unjust will be ruled over during the kingdom age.

# When believers hope in the resurrection, it is not just to be resurrected, but to be resurrected “out from among the dead ones.” To achieve this result, they must be found worthy.

# The resurrection includes a consequence (or reward) for doing good and a consequence for doing bad. One is a blessing; the other is not. Good deeds will result in a spiritual body, while bad deeds will result in another physical body.

# The works of all people will be judged, those who are still alive when Jesus returns, as well as those who will be resurrected.

# Those who are judged worthy, the just, will be resurrected to life, and will receive glorified spiritual bodies, like the one Jesus received when he was resurrected.

# Those whose works are judged unworthy, the unjust, will receive natural bodies that are subject to corruption and death.

# Just because the bodies of all are quickened, it does not mean that all are alive the same way. The unjust are physically alive, but they do not have the life of God, nor are they in a place of blessing. The unjust come forth physically alive, yet they are considered to be dead ones, spiritually speaking.

# When we yield ourselves to God, he works through us to bring forth the kind of works which will stand the scrutiny of Jesus as he determines what kind of resurrection bodies we will receive.

One final thought

You will not hear much about the resurrection in most churches. One reason for this is because the emphasis today is on “going to heaven or hell when we die” a concept not found in the Bible. It is incompatible to preach about both the resurrection and going to heaven.

In fact, the prevailing belief about going to heaven turns the resurrection into irrelevant nonsense. If people are already in heaven or hell, why resurrect them since they have already been judged? However, the Bible teaches that our life in the next age will not be in heaven or hell, but in the kingdom, right here on earth.

We leave you with a question. Since Jesus and Paul directly tied the resurrection and the kingdom together, with no mention of heaven or hell, why does the organized church place so much emphasis on heaven and hell instead of preaching the resurrection and the kingdom?

[This article is based on excerpts from our books, What Scripture Says About Salvation and The Apocalypse of Revelation. You can read both books entirely free on our website: www.biblestudybooksfree.com.]

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fred Kenison Dies

Fred Kenison, God’s faithful servant, and my friend and mentor, died this week. He was just a few weeks shy of his 94th birthday. I will miss him immensely.

Fred called himself a simple country boy, blessed by the grace of God. But, I also believe that Fred was uniquely gifted by God to explain the deeper truths of the Bible to this age, almost like a modern-day prophet. I’m quite sure Fred would not go that far, although he readily credited God with whatever he was able to see in the scriptures.

Fred had a double ability to explain scripture. On the one hand, he could lay out the details verse-by-verse to reveal things that I never realized were there. On the other hand, he had a big-picture view of scripture from Genesis to Revelation, and he could unravel the major themes of the Bible, such as the covenant, the kingdom, and grace.

Fred studied scripture for three reasons: (1) because he believed God called him to study; (2) because he sincerely enjoyed it more than anything else; and (3) because he wanted to encourage others to study the Bible. His main point, and one that he emphasized regularly, was to get people to study the scriptures, and think things through for themselves.

I often marveled at how Fred could uncover so much truth in the Bible. I would like to quote what he said about that in his memoirs.

“Every time I prayed, a question came to my mind: “How much understanding do you want?” For awhile, this puzzled me because I thought that I wanted to know everything I could understand about the scriptures. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was still in training, and I had no idea of what was ahead of me.

"A bit later, the church was sponsoring a week of special services. It seemed to me that God was saying that if I wanted to know more of the scriptures all I had to do was stand before the church audience and verbally recite doubled numbers. He said that the highest number I reached would be the number of scriptural truths revealed to me. At first, I questioned whether this was really God speaking. I couldn’t conceive of God asking me to do something which seemed to be so inane, so I didn’t do anything. For the next couple of days I didn’t sleep much, and I again felt that my disobedience had brought me under the discipline of God.

"The next night, I waited until the service was about over and I went forward to speak. I began to recite the sum of doubled numbers: 1+1=2, 2+2=4, 4+4=16, 16+16=32, 32+32=64. God had said I couldn’t reveal what I was doing, and this made the experience much more humiliating. I only got a short way, less than a hundred, when everyone began to laugh and have a good time at my expense. I was so embarrassed that I quit. Bad as I thought this humiliation was, it was nothing compared to what I would receive later when I started teaching what I learned in the scriptures.

"When I got home that night, it seemed to me that God kept telling me all night long that if that was all I wanted to know from the Bible that he would close the rest of the book to me and I would be back where I was before. I definitely didn’t want that! So, the next night I stood up and began to double numbers again. Again, the people began to laugh, but as I continued some of them asked, “What do you think you’re doing?”

"I didn’t answer, but continued to recite doubled numbers, and some of the people became angry. By this time, I didn’t care. If this was what I had to do for God to give me a greater understanding of the Bible, then I no longer cared what the people thought. Finally, I doubled the numbers until I had reached 524,288, and then I sat down. I couldn’t explain to anyone what this was all about and I didn’t tell anyone about this for several years.

"I don’t know why I wasn’t supposed to tell unless it was to force me to live with the humiliation. From that time, God began to show me things that I had never even imagined, and I didn’t care what people thought about it anymore. I was rejoicing all the time as new insights, new truths, and new understanding leapt off the pages to me. What a joy it was to have the Bible open up to me in a new, unique way.”

For those who measure success by large numbers, Fred was not successful. He did not found a church, nor did he want to. His admirers were few, but that didn’t bother him. He said that God called him to study and teach, to point out the truths of scripture revealed to him. Fred certainly remained steadfast and true to that calling.

Unfortunately, announcing God’s truth is not always the way to build a large body of followers. Fred pointed out that none of the Old Testament prophets had many admirers or followers, and even Jesus had only a small group of followers. In fact, the scriptures show that the more truth Jesus revealed, the fewer followers he had.

The briefest of visits was always long enough for Fred to turn the conversation to something about the Bible. Studying scripture was both his vocation and avocation. As he put it, “I can think of nothing more pleasant than studying God’s word, just for the fun of it. While others may enjoy various hobbies, to me, studying scripture is my relaxation and entertainment.”

I wish I had met Fred many years ago, although I am very thankful for the hours I was able to spend with him. It has been my privilege to edit his eight books, and several articles, and there is still more to do. The eight books were all published in print and seven are now available free on our website. If you have not yet read what he wrote, I strongly encourage you to do so. www.biblestudybooksfree.com.