7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
By way of quick review, Paul declares in this passage that he has lost everything of his former life, but proclaims that what he has lost is worthless compared to his gain in Christ. We thoroughly examined what the Word has to say about abiding in Christ, and then surveyed what the Bible says about righteousness, affirming that God is the only source of true and enduring righteousness, but that God credits the faith of believers as righteousness, clothing us in His righteousness when we come to Him in faith, surrender our lives and wills to Him, and repent of our sin.
Paul continues now in verse 10, speaking again of knowing Jesus and the power of His resurrection. Tonight, we’ll focus strictly on what the Word of God has to say about resurrection, and we’ll come back next time to look at the rest of verses 10 and 11. A thorough treatment of the subject of resurrection is found in 1 Corinthians 15. We won’t go over that chapter in detail here, but I highly recommend everyone study it.
Interestingly, the word “resurrection” is not found in the Old Testament at all, although God’s ultimate defeat of our ancient enemy – death – is prophesied…
“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.”
He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken.
The first use of the word “resurrection” – ἀνάστασις anastasis – is found in Matthew 22:23 – in the famous mnemonic verse by which we remember the difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, and were therefore very sad… you see (see also Acts 23 – Paul in his trial before the Sanhedrin using this doctrinal rift between Pharisee and Sadducee to stir up debate among them).
In Matthew 22, some of the Sadducees are attempting to discredit Jesus by asking a convoluted question about a widow who died after being pre-deceased by her husband, and each of her husband’s six brothers who had all married her in turn, in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 25:5. It is a silly question, especially considering that the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection at all. They obviously didn’t actually wish to hear an answer, but were only using the question to be contentious. Very often, the Christian evangelist will be asked similar questions by people who have already rejected the Gospel, and are not genuinely seeking answers. We can all take a lesson from Jesus’ reaction. Rather than becoming angry, flustered, or confounded, He uses the opportunity to give the unbelieving Sadducees and modern believers alike an insight into what our lives will be like in Heaven…
29Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. 31But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
Note that, as usual, Jesus based this teaching on the Holy Scripture that both the Sadducees and Pharisees highly revered. How strange it is that, although people may study and learn the Word, most don’t recognize Jesus as the fleshly embodiment of that very Word by whom all things were created. Interestingly, Jesus did not use this chance to argue whether or not there will be a resurrection. He takes resurrection as a given assumption, just as the Word never makes any argument about the existence of God. The fact of God’s eternal existence and His creation of the universe by the power of His Word are taken by the Bible from the very start as fundamental Truths, not subject to question…
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
In our evangelism, we also need to take this same approach. There are certain unassailable foundations of our faith…
- The existence of one and only one triune God by whose Word all things were created
- The infallibility of God’s written Word by which God may be known by men
- The universal sinfulness of mankind, and the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in payment of the rightful punishment for our sin – death
To be effective in evangelism, the Christian must be convinced of these Truths, taking them as fundamental assumptions upon which our witness is based, not subject to compromise. We strengthen this foundation by the study of God’s Word, and memorization of specific passages – e.g. the “Romans Road.”
Who will be resurrected? – Everyone (well almost everyone)!
The Bible declares that all men have an eternal future. Scripture upon scripture speak of the distinction between mankind’s mortal bodies, and eternal spirit. All people live forever. The concept of bodily death as the end of men’s existence is unbiblical. All of us will live forever. The question is – In what manner and form? In order to understand what the Bible has to say about resurrection, it may be helpful to divide people up into a few different classes…
1. Jesus – fully God, yet fully man.
2. Old Testament saints – Those who believed in God’s promised Messiah but died without ever seeing Him – e.g. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses (see Hebrews 11) including Lazarus in Jesus’ parable of Luke 16:19-31. Note – Enoch and Elijah are special cases – they are bodily with God even now, and will not be resurrected.
3. Old Testament non-believers – e.g. the rich man in Jesus’ parable of Luke 16:19-31.
4. The dead in Christ – i.e. those who believed in the deity of Jesus and confessed aloud Jesus’ lordship prior to their death. This includes those who believed, but died prior to Jesus’ resurrection – e.g. the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43), and probably the three wise men who visited and worshiped the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12), and Simeon and Anna, who met and worshiped Jesus as He was brought to the temple to be circumcised (Luke 2:25-38).
5. Believers who remain alive when Jesus returns for His church.
6. Old Testament and church age martyrs killed for their faith.
7. Tribulation saints – those who come to belief between the rapture of the church, and the second coming of Christ with His saints at the final battle.
a. Those martyred for their faith.
b. The 144,000 sealed Jewish male virgin witnesses (Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-3)
c. Those who survive through the tribulation and into the millennial reign of Christ.
8. Those who die in unbelief during the tribulation.
9. Those who come to belief during the millennial reign of Christ on (the current) Earth.
10. Those who die in unbelief during the millennial reign.
The Bible declares that all of these will be resurrected except Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) – who never died, Jesus – who is already resurrected, and the living believers who are caught up in the rapture of the church – who will not need to be resurrected because their earthly bodies will be transformed into their resurrection bodies as they are caught up to join Jesus in the air, and thus will always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). I have found nowhere in the Word where the fate of the 144,000 sealed witnesses is delineated. It is possible that they never die, and will instead be transformed like Enoch, Elijah, and the living believers at the time of the rapture of the church. The same may be true of those who come to belief during the millennial reign. Moses may also be a special case as we shall see.
Note that Mary of Bethany’s brother – Lazarus (John 11:1-45) – and others who were raised from death by Jesus or the apostles are not special cases, since they presumably went on to die ordinarily following their temporary restoral to life in their earthly bodies, and still await their permanent bodily resurrection along with everyone else except those noted above.