Thursday, March 9, 2023

Christ's Return, the Resurrection, and Final Judgment

At the end of the age, Christ will physically return to earth, he will raise the dead from their tombs, and he will judge all mankind. These doctrines are basic doctrines of the Christian faith (Heb. 6:1-2, 1 Thess. 1:9-10). The truth, physicality, and future historicity of these things is clearly taught in Scripture.

In 1 Corinthians 15, it is “this mortal body” that will put on immortality (15:53). It is the body that is raised from the dead. While the body will be changed, it will still be a body. Our resurrection will be the same kind as Christ’s, which was bodily such that the tomb was empty (1 Cor. 15:20-23).

Paul binds Christ’s and our resurrection together such that the denial of one is the denial of the other (1 Cor. 15:12-16). And he teaches that this resurrection of the dead takes place at Christ's coming at the end, when death is destroyed - and death will be the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:23-26).

In John 5, Jesus speaks of a spiritual resurrection unto life (regeneration) that "is now here" (John 5:25), but then he goes on to speak of a future resurrection of the body. "Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28–29).

Although none of us know the day, we are told that God "has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed" (Acts 17:31), that is, by Christ. This day of judgment shall be a good day for those who have believed in him, for they shall be openly acknowledge and acquitted and blessed with their eternal inheritance.

And as Christ's body ascended from earth into heaven, so he shall physically return to earth in the same manner (Acts 1:11).

Those who deny these teachings and teach others to do so are dealt with in Scripture as false teachers (1 Cor. 15:33-34, 2 Tim. 2:16-18, 2 Peter 3:1-7). But for ourselves, these truths are matters of faith and hope and eager expectation, regardless of how long it will be until that great day:

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." (Phil. 3:20–21)

"And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved." (Rom. 8:23–24)

" live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ..." (Titus 2:12–13)

"...what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God ... But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:11-13)

"For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first ... Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thess. 4:16–18)

And so we confess in the words of the Nicene Creed, "...and He shall come again with glory, to judge both the living and the dead ... and we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

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