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Come Out

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

     It is wonderful to be together again as we are able to look in to the Word of God and to be able the apply it to our lives and to witness it principle and precepts, promises and prophecies to others. The title for the lesson is: “Come Out”.  And our text is from the New Testament gospel of John chapter 5 verses 28 thru 30, the words of our Lord Jesus.  Please listen to the Word of God.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done what is good will rise to live, and to those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.  By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just., for I seek no to please myself but him who sent me.

This is the Word of God.  May he add his blessing to the public reading of his word.

     Many Christians believe and teach that there will be only one resurrection from the dead of everybody at the same time but for different destinies.  This is the primary position of most in the mainline churches.

     One of their primary proof texts of one resurrection of mankind only, is John 5:28-29 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

     True, if this were the only biblical text on the resurrection of mankind it would be proof of only one resurrection.  But even this text needs further clarification.  Here while Christ referred to resurrection in general, he did not specify only one, general resurrection.

     The New American Standard Bible is a better translation from the original Greek in John 5:29 “and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds, to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”

     Here we see Jesus clearly distinguished between the resurrection of life versus the resurrection judgment for the condemned.

This same distinction is found in: Luke 14:14 “…you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” therefore implying separate resurrections.

     Furthermore, there is the clear teaching of Revelation 20:4-6 “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”

     So, as with any teaching or doctrine of scripture the truth lies in the whole counsel of God not just some passages.  Scripture is all God breathed and cannot contradict, therefore, we must strive to harmonize all scripture on every subject.

     The Bible reveals that the dead are resurrected in a specific sequence not all at once in one resurrection.

Consider from First Corinthians 15:22-24 “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.”

     The Greek word “tagma” which to New International Version translates “turn” in verse 23 stresses that the dead are raised at different times: First: “Christ, the first fruits.”  The imagery of harvest, “first fruits” is key here.  In Biblical times the harvest had three stages.  First the gathering of the first-fruits which were offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.  This points us in type, or typology to Christ.

     Second in turn verse 23 “when he comes, those who belong to him.  That is the church when the Lord Jesus returns in the air for his bride, the church.  In the harvest imagery this corresponds to the regular harvest but not all is taken at this time.  This regular harvest is a type of the gathering of the church: the dead and living at his return, corresponding to the catching up or rapture of the church as being harvested.

     Third in turn, as with the ancient Biblical harvest, is the collecting of the gleanings.  This refers to some of the harvest left for the poor and needy.  This corresponds to the final turn of the resurrection of the righteous at the end of the Great Tribulation.

     In type, typology, this points us to the raising of the tribulation saints, martyrs in Revelation 20:4 “…souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus.”  And the Old Testament saints in Daniel 12:1-2 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people will arise.  There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.  But at that time your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered.  Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”

     Notice in First Corinthians 15:24 “…Then the end will come.”  That is the consummation, when the unrighteous, the only ones not already revealed will be resurrected for the judgment of the condemned, which is at the second resurrection at least 1007 years later.  The Greek word “eita” translated in the New International Version “then” in verses 23 and 24 almost always describes chronological sequences of events.  Although scripture does not explicitly mention them, believers in natural bodies who die during the Millennium, will presumably receive their resurrection, glorified bodies immediately.  Yet, consider from Isaiah 65:22 “…For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people.”  So, there will be great longevity of life during that time of renewal and regeneration.

So, the first resurrection of the righteous includes:

     Resurrection of Jesus Christ (first fruits).

     Resurrection of believers of the church age from Pentecost to the Rapture (regular harvest).

     Resurrection of Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints at the end of the Great Tribulation (gleanings)    

     each in its turn.

The second resurrection of the unrighteous includes: all the unjust who rejected God and his grace.  All at one time they will be judged and condemned at the Great White Throne Judgment after the Millennium and before the new heaven and new earth.

     Consider from Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.  Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.  Another book was opened, which is the book of life.  The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

     So, regarding for example Acts 24:15 “and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”  This statement need not prove one general resurrection of all, the righteous and unrighteous at the same time.  Paul here was affirming the truth of the eventual resurrection of all mankind without qualification to the timing or sequence of their being raised.

     That the second resurrection of the unrighteous is after the millennium is confirmed by the Revelation 20:7 “When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison.”  The white throne judgment of the unrighteous is revealed later chronologically in Revelation 20:11-15.

     Likewise, in John 5:28-30, Jesus was not emphasizing one resurrection but revealing his divine power, in conjunction with his Father, to raise and judge the dead as in our passage “…come out, those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.  By myself, I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”Also, we should not think from this passage that the source and means of salvation of mankind is according to our human achievement or good deeds.  This belief would clearly contradict scripture.

     Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from your selves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”  So, God is the source of our salvation, and his grace is the means of our salvation.  However, it is also revealed: Ephesians 2:10 “for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Again, its God who takes the initiative. Therefore, believers saved by the grace of God, through faith, still need to show external evidence of God’s salvation by our good works.

     Consider in this same context John 3:20-21 “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he does has been done through God.”  While good deeds do not save, they do provide the basis for divine judgment.  Deeds verify, validate the condition of the heart.  So, salvation is by God’s grace thru faith in Christ proven by his lordship in our lives.  We receive Jesus Christ as our Savior but also as our Lord.  A faith that saves is proven by our character and our works in Christ Jesus and for his sake in his kingdom.

     As someone has written: “Thus good deeds reveal the presence or absence of salvation, but do not produce it.  They are its effect, not its cause.”

     The promise of First Corinthians 15:22 “…in Christ all will be made alive.”  Even unto eternal life with God is a precious truth to us in Christ.  This truth provides great hope for believers in the forever future that should also motivate us to good deeds in Jesus’ name and for his kingdom now in the present.

     So, we have these truths that are provided to us in scripture as inspired by the Holy Spirit and as we pay heed to the understanding and sharing the whole counsel of God.  

                   David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.


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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33