The resurrection of Jesus Christ coincided with the Jewish Feast of the First Fruits, where a portion of the harvest was gathered first and given to the priest for the blessing of the entire harvest. This feast pointed to the resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and was celebrated three days after the Passover. It is also closely associated with unleavened bread. The Passover represents the Cross and the unleavened bread the sinless nature of Jesus Christ. Paul writes about “the first fruits” in I Corinthians 15:20-25. Jesus spoke of this when He described Himself as the grain of wheat that fell to the ground, and died that it might spring to life and bring forth much fruit. (John 12:23-24) However, the rest of the harvest (the Church) is still in place waiting to be “harvested.”
The uniqueness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ sets Him apart from all the religious leaders of all time. The leaders of these religions are all DEAD. However, Jesus Christ is ALIVE. Furthermore, Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. The word “religion” comes from two Latin words, “re,” which means “back” and “ligio,” which means, “to bind.” Combined, they mean “to bind back.” This is exactly what religion teaches - that we must bind ourselves back to God. However, the Bible teaches that it is impossible to bind ourselves back to God. The exact opposite is actually true - God binds us back to Himself in Christ.
In the Person of Christ, God has manifested Himself to all mankind. This was planned in eternity past with each of us in mind. The purpose of this plan was to resolve the Angelic Conflict. You may recall it as the rebellion of Satan (and one third of the angelic host) against God. In order to resolve this conflict and show Satan and the fallen angels that God was fair in sentencing them to the Lake of Fire (Hell), God created man. If throughout the history of the world, only one person trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, it would prove that God was fair in His sentence. As we know, many have trusted Christ as Savior and Satan’s doom is sure. On the other hand, the fate of believers is also sure. God’s plan called for Jesus Christ to become a human being, live a sinless life, die on the Cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the world and be raised from the dead after three days, all in fulfillment of prophecy. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is definitive proof that He is the Son of God and that death has been conquered. For those of us who place our trust in Him, He guarantees us eternal life.
But He also guarantees us a life of meaning and purpose while we are on this earth. We are not talking about a system of legalism or taboos designed to keep us from enjoying life (that’s what religion does). What we are talking about is a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. Doesn’t it make sense that if God created us that He also wants the very best for us? Of course it does! Well, I am here to tell you that He does want the very best for us, and He has designed a plan specifically for each one of us. This plan, when properly executed, will allow us to solve every problem in life utilizing information found in God’s Word. THIS IS WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO LEARN, TO BELIEVE AND TO APPLY THE WORD OF GOD TO OUR DAILY EXPERIENCES. But just like everything else in life, it is a matter of CHOICE. As I have told you on many occasions, God will never force you into a course of action. God in His sovereignty has designed mankind with freewill - the right to choose. The question is whether we will choose God’s plan for our life or our own.
A life lived in light of eternity takes on new meaning. In other words, when we live our life utilizing Divine Viewpoint Thinking instead of Human Viewpoint Thinking, our failures are minimized and our successes are maximized. The reason we have a plan and the power to fulfill it is due to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The same power that raised Christ from the dead enables us to execute God’s plan for our lives. (Romans 6:4,10-13)
In John 11:25, Jesus said to Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live even if He dies.” Because of the Resurrection, believers in Christ have hope (confident expectation) of their own resurrection at the Rapture of the Church. Just as the death of a believer is the Lord’s victory, so the resurrection of believers is the Lord’s victory. The resurrection of believers is the wise and sovereign decision of God. This means that a believer’s volition and individual merit are not factors in the Resurrection or the Rapture of the Church. The Resurrection is strictly God’s victory. So we have no control over the manner or time of our resurrection. This is completely a matter of the wisdom and sovereignty of God. Your resurrection does not depend in any way on your merit or your life. Winners and losers alike receive a resurrection body, equally. No distinction is made between winners and losers at the point of receiving resurrection bodies.
So resurrection is far greater than we can imagine. For in resurrection God makes no distinction between those who completely fail to execute the Christian Way of Life and those who succeed in executing the Christian Way of Life. The resurrection has nothing to do with our winning the tactical victory in the Angelic Conflict or failing to do so. It has everything to do with Who and what the Lord is! The Resurrection is one thing you must completely divorce from any principle of spiritual merit! The time, place, and manner of the resurrection of the Church are God’s perfect decision based on the completion of the Royal Family of God.
This victory illustrates the principle of grace because resurrection is totally the work of God provided for all believers, whether they are winners or losers. Resurrection is divorced from any form of human ability or human achievement. It is strictly a matter of grace. Just as the grace policy of God has provided everything the believer needs for time, so the grace policy of God has provided everything the believer needs for dying, death, Heaven, resurrection, and the eternal state. Therefore, the resurrection of the Church is strictly God’s grace and God’s decision. Therefore, it is God’s timing and God’s victory.
Since the resurrection of Church Age believers does not depend upon any system of works or self-righteousness or human merit, or any form of speculation as to its time, it is strictly based on God’s grace. Resurrection is God’s decision, God’s grace, and God’s victory. Since the resurrection of the Church is divorced from any form of human ability or any form of human achievement, it is compatible with the grace of God. Therefore the Resurrection of the Church is the wise and sovereign decision of God, totally apart from human merit or preparation.
The Rapture is imminent because no prophecy must be fulfilled first. Therefore, it can happen at any time. The time of the Rapture is God’s decision. It is not based on our decision or our desire. In the meantime, we are to live every day as unto the Lord, not every day as unto the Rapture of the Church. Resurrection is a matter of the sovereignty, wisdom, and power of God. Therefore, resurrection is a part of the grace policy of God. Just as we do not know when we are going to die, we do not know when the Rapture will occur. This means that a believer’s volition, works, merit, or service is not a factor in the Rapture of the Church. Therefore, the Rapture is not subject to man’s timetable or man’s speculation.
In I Thessalonians 4:13 Paul wrote, “We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as the rest who have no hope.” When the unbeliever approaches death, it is a time of no hope. But when the believer approaches death, it is only the beginning, and the short time spent on this earth is nothing compared to eternity. We are not to grieve as those who have no hope because the death of the believer is the sovereign decision of God.
In I Thessalonians 4:14 Paul wrote, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again [and we do], even so, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” The soul of the believer never dies. Your soul is alive when you “fall asleep” and alive when you wake up in Heaven. The soul simply leaves the body and goes into an interim body face-to-face with the Lord.
In I Thessalonians 4:15-16 Paul wrote, “For this doctrine we communicate to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trumpet of God; in fact, the dead in Christ shall rise first.” The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit provides resurrection bodies. The trumpet sound is for the assembly of the dead in Christ.
In I Thessalonians 4:17-18 Paul wrote, “Then we who are living and remain on the earth shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort each other with these doctrines.” The Holy Spirit, Who indwells the living believer’s body at the Rapture, will change the believer’s body from a mortal body to a resurrection body. Resurrection is a doctrine of comfort and blessing, but only to those who have personally believed in Jesus Christ.
In I Corinthians 15:53-54 Paul wrote, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Now when this corruptible will have put on incorruption [resurrection body through death], and this mortal [resurrection body while alive] will have put on immortality, then the doctrine that stands written [Isaiah 28:5] will occur [come to pass]: `Death has been swallowed up because of the victory.’” Putting on incorruption is a reference to the resurrection body given to those who have died; a body never again subject to death. Those who are alive at the Rapture will receive an immortal body that is not subject to death and is eternal in nature.
The ultimate victory for the Royal Family of God is the Resurrection. Why is it such a fantastic victory? It is because it includes winners and losers, positive and negative believers. Just because certain believers fail to execute the protocol plan of God, they are not excluded from the Resurrection due to the grace of God. The Resurrection makes no distinction between winners and losers in the Christian way of life.
Physical death of losers does not deprive the Lord of His victory! It’s not our victory! This is obvious for the mature believer, having already had an experiential victory of becoming an invisible hero. But this is the Lord’s victory of grace, since resurrection applies to all believers alike. No distinction is made between winners and losers. So the phrase, “Death has been swallowed up because of victory,” is very important. Man has absolutely nothing to do with receiving a resurrection body. No merit, no distinction is involved.
Resurrection is a total divine victory. Death has been “swallowed up” and destroyed because of Christ’s resurrection! There will be no death in the eternal state. Death is abolished with the possession of the resurrection body. The sign of Christ’s strategic victory over Satan was His resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of the Father. Our resurrection body is an eternal memorial to the grace of God. This is the true meaning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for you and me!