Our hope of resurrection

A belief in being raised from the dead is such a fundamental Bible teaching that the Apostle Paul says we waste our time if we don’t believe in a real bodily resurrection. Paul explains in (1 Corinthians 15) that if there is no resurrection, then Jesus Christ was not raised. If Jesus was not raised, then there is no forgiveness of sin and no hope for anyone, dead or alive. The wrong faith is therefore of no value. If we deny the hope of resurrection, then our hope is limited to this life only and Paul says we are to be pitied more than all men.

A lone tombstone in a cemetaryYet Paul says this is not the case. Paul tells us that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead after three days in the grave. He reassures his readers by saying that many people saw the risen Christ, and that these eyewitnesses could be relied upon. The established fact that Jesus rose from the dead means that those who associate themselves with him can look forward to the same reward in the future.

God’s promises demand bodily resurrection

God made promises to faithful men and women, such as Abraham and David. Because God keeps His promises, and the promises were not fulfilled during their lifetime, it follows that men and women of faith must be raised if they are to receive the promised inheritance.

When the Apostle Paul was defending his faith to King Agrippa (Acts chapter 26), he explains that the promises to Israel demand the hope of resurrection, and that this should not be considered strange. In verse 8, Paul asks the question, “Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” To Paul, resurrection was both necessary according to scripture and had been demonstrated in Jesus.

A theme through scripture

Resurrection is spoken of throughout the whole of scripture. Take this example from the Old Testament:

But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. – Isaiah 26 v 19 (NIV)

The New Testament continues with the same teaching, informing us that the resurrection will take place when Jesus returns to the earth:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first … and so shall we ever be with the Lord. – 1 Thessalonians 4 v 16-18 (KJV)

A dramatic change

For believers raised to eternal life there will be a massive change; mortality will be exchanged for immortality. Again, the Apostle Paul sums this up for us in his letter to the believers in Philippi:

We eagerly await a Saviour … who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3 v 20, 21 (NIV)