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Levels of Resurrection - The Book of Revelation
Week 32, 2018
This week we come to:
The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.
This is the first resurrection.
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.
Here we see that there are two resurrections. The one addressed in last week’s text was the “first resurrection,” which is again mentioned here as those over whom the second death has no power and who are priests of God that reign with Christ through the millennium. This is just the beginning of their eternal life. So we have two resurrections and two deaths addressed here.
Hebrews mentions those who are a part of the “better resurrection.” This is corroborated in other Scriptures as well, making it clear that there are levels of resurrection. What qualifies us for one or the other is alluded to as those who will be a part of the first resurrection are overcomers and martyrs, or those who lived the life of the cross and sacrifice for the purposes of God. This seems to infer that those who believed in Christ for the atonement of their sins but went on living for themselves more than for Him will not be a part of the first resurrection, but rather the second.
We should always keep in mind that when something is ambiguous in Scripture, that is what the Lord intended. To try to make it more specific and clear than it is would be a dangerous assumption. Many heresies are the result of men trying to carry to logical conclusions that which God has only revealed in part. For something to be a doctrine of the church it must be clear in Scripture, and anything else we must put under the category of an opinion, as the Apostle Paul did in some of the things that he wrote. So the following is my opinion, derived from my studies of what others have written on this, which I felt was reasonable but not enough to give it the high position of a doctrine of the church.
I would also add here that there are generalizations made by many teachers that take some Scriptures and try to apply them too broadly. That there is a heavenly resurrection to the “divine nature” has often been applied to everyone, when it is the “better resurrection” that is only attained by the overcomers. It seems that the rest who attained eternal life by their faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for their sins will be resurrected on the earth as men. Scholars have assumed that these are the ones who make up much of the population of the earth during the millennium.
Some teachers attribute those resurrected on the earth as men as being the “foolish virgins” who were waiting on the Bridegroom, but without the zeal and wisdom He deserves. They attain eternal life, but not on the plane with the overcomers. Others have made the distinction between those who are invited to the wedding feast and those who have attained to being part of the bride. We have also noted that there is the “great company” that stands before the throne in Revelation 7, and the overcomers in Revelation 3:21 that sit with the Lord on His throne.
All of these distinctions in Scripture make it clear that there are levels of resurrection that are higher than others. We may only speculate about what they are, but the fact that there are greater rewards for greater devotion and service in this life is clear in Scripture. The rewards that are clear are to be a part of the royal family of God as joint heirs with Jesus, to those who will be His subjects in the kingdom.
To be the lowest subject in the kingdom in the age to come will be better than the best life we could have in this age, but the higher levels are beyond what we can even comprehend. Even so, the pursuit of the “better resurrection” is far more important than anything we could attain with our pursuits in this life. This was obviously what the Apostle Paul meant in Philippians 3 when he wrote that he did not think that he had yet attained. He was obviously not talking about salvation as he attained eternal life the moment he believed in the atonement. He went on to say that he was forgetting what he might have boasted in before to seek the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Those who attain to the “high calling of God in Christ” will obviously still reign with Christ over the earth during the millennium, but as those sharing His divine nature. What comes after that we can only speculate about, but we know it will be wonderful for all. The restored earth will be wonderful, and to be resurrected as men without sin and disease will be wonderful as well. We also know that God Himself will dwell on the earth among men.
Then we are told of a time when the earth, seemingly the whole physical universe, is rolled up like a scroll. We know from science that there will be a time when even the biggest stars will have consumed all of their fuel, and the physical universe will go dark. Because all who trust in the atonement of Jesus have eternal life, it seems there will be a time far in the future when all are given spiritual bodies.
Next week, I will share some personal prophetic experiences in the heavenly or spiritual realm that helped me to understand some of these distinctions. We will then move on to the exciting conclusion of the Book of Revelation.
next week 33