As Christians, we look forward to the promised end-time resurrection. This event is described by the Apostle Paul in First Thessalonians 4:16-18. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” Paul also gives us comfort by reminding us twice in this letter (1:10 and 5:9) that Jesus will deliver us from the coming wrath.
What a promise! No wonder so many Christians look forward to the call of the Lord when the “dead in Christ” are resurrected and those who are alive are “caught up” to be with the Lord. The resurrection of the Church is part of the classification, “First Resurrection.” This is not a chronological event, but a classification.
In Revelation 20:4-5 John saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus, and also those who had not worshiped the Beast or received his mark. These people “came to life” and reigned with Jesus for a thousand years. These are obviously “Tribulation Saints”; those who lost their lives because they would not worship the Beast during the Great Tribulation. This resurrection described in chapter 20 is also part of the classification called the First Resurrection.
We are told that the remainder of the dead will not be resurrected until the end of the Millennium. This is described in the Revelation 20:6-7 as the Second Death. Those involved in the First Resurrection will have no part in the Second Death, praise God! If there is a Second Death, there is also a Second Resurrection. This is found in the Revelation 20:11-15 when the dead are resurrected and stand before the Lord to be judged. If their name is not found in the Book of Life they are cast into the lake of fire. Again, the Church takes no part in this. May the Lord be praised forever!
The Apostle Paul said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (II Corinthians 5:17) I think we take this statement too lightly. We are different. We are special. We have been given “treasure in jars of clay” to show the all-surpassing power of God. (II Corinthians 4:7) The jars of clay are our temporary bodies. We are blessed with a special dispensation, a special gift. This is our “blessed hope.” (Titus 2:13)
Even so, come Lord Jesus!