The Mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead
By Li Cheng
Brothers and sisters, may you have peace in the Lord! Thank the Lord for His preparations that have allowed us to fellowship the truths of the Scriptures here, and may the Lord guide us. Today, I want to fellowship with everybody about the topic “resurrection of the dead.”
As people who believe in the Lord all know, the resurrection of the dead refers to something that will happen when Jesus returns. This is also something that we as Christians are looking forward to seeing. Now, just how can “the dead” be resurrected? Many people will think of chapter 37, verses 5–6 in the Book of Ezekiel: “Thus said the Lord Jehovah to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live: And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am Jehovah.” In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, verse 39, Jesus said: “And this is the Father’s will which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” In chapter 15, verses 52–53 in the Book of 1 Corinthians, it reads: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Furthermore, if people go by the literal meaning of these verses, they will believe that, in the last days, when the Lord comes, He will perform many great and miraculous things. With His almightiness, He will resurrect the bodies of the saints that have been sleeping for generations in the Lord. He will raise them up from their graves, from underneath the earth or from underneath the sea. At that time, the millions of skeletons that have already rotted beneath the ground or that have long been lost under the sea will instantly be given new life, they will become immortal and enter into glory. How spectacular this scene will be! These are also our perspectives and imaginings about the resurrection of the dead. Just how will this prophecy be fulfilled? Is it really going to be as supernatural as we imagine? Will the Lord accomplish the resurrection of the dead in accordance with our imaginations?
We all know, God’s wisdom is higher than the heavens. What God does exceeds our thoughts and imaginations. In the Bible, it is recorded: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, said Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). As creations before God, we are as insignificant and lowly as dust. We will never be able to fathom God’s work. This is similar to that which is recorded in the Bible when Jesus talked to Nicodemus about the way of rebirth: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus understood the words of Jesus in a literal sense. He believed rebirth meant emerging once again from one’s mother’s womb. Using his mind and imagination, he understood a spiritual matter as if it were a matter of the material world, and this sort of understanding is totally wrong. Additionally, when Jesus was talking with the woman from Samaria, He said, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14). At that time, the woman from Samaria did not understand what the Lord was saying. She thought that “the water” the Lord was offering was the same water that people drank. As a result, she said, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw” (John 4:15). Actually, the water that Jesus was referring to was the Lord’s word. He was referring to the water of life. The woman from Samaria only understood the literal meaning of what Jesus said and thus she misunderstood the meaning. From this we can see that God’s word is the truth and it conceals the mysteries of God’s work. If God did not reveal these mysteries, our understanding would be very limited. Likewise, if we only understand the literal meaning of the prophecy, resurrection of the dead, wouldn’t we be making the same mistake that Nicodemus and the woman from Samaria made? Therefore, when it comes to prophecies, we must maintain reverence, seek more, absolutely not interpret the text literally, not rely on our conceptions and imaginings to delimit them and, furthermore, not rely on our own personal meaning to explain them.
Now, just what does resurrection of the dead refer to? What do “dead person” and “living person” refer to? For thousands of years, not a single person has been able to clearly answer this question. Only God is able to unveil these mysteries. Now, the Lord has already returned in the form of the incarnate Almighty God. He has expressed millions of words and has uncovered all the mysteries that are within the Bible. Let’s all take a look together at the words of Almighty God. Almighty God says: “God created man, but then man was corrupted by Satan, such that people became ‘dead men.’ So, after you have changed, you will no longer be like these ‘dead men.’ It is the words of God that set people’s spirits alight and cause them to be reborn, and when people’s spirits are reborn, then they will have come to life. When I speak of ‘dead men,’ I am referring to corpses that have no spirit, to people whose spirits have died within them. When the spark of life is lit in people’s spirits, then people come to life. The saints that were spoken of before refer to people who have come to life, those who were under Satan’s influence but defeated Satan. … Originally the man made by God was alive, but because of Satan’s corruption man lives amid death, and lives under the influence of Satan, and so these people have become the dead who are without a spirit, they have become enemies who oppose God, they have become the tools of Satan, and they have become the captives of Satan. … The dead are those who have no spirit, those who are numb in the extreme and who oppose God. They are foremost those who do not know God. These people have not the slightest intention of obeying God; they only rebel against Him and oppose Him and have not the slightest loyalty. The living are those whose spirits have been reborn, who know to obey God, and who are loyal to God. They are possessed of the truth, and of testimony, and these people alone are pleasing to God in His house. God saves those who can come to life, who can see God’s salvation, who can be loyal to God and who are willing to seek God. He saves those who believe in God’s incarnation and in His appearance” (“Are You Someone Who Has Come to Life?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Almighty God’s words explain to us what “dead person” and “living person” mean. In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve. They were living human beings with spirits, they possessed conscience and reason and they were able to manifest God and honor God. Afterward, they were seduced by Satan into eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result, they were filled with the poison of Satan. They were no longer devoted to God nor did they obey God. They had lost any semblance to the people God had created in the beginning. Even though their flesh still lived, in God’s eyes they had already become dead people with no spirits. Presently, we are being corrupted more and more by Satan. We are full of Satan’s corrupt dispositions such as arrogance, selfishness, treachery, maliciousness and greed. It has gotten to the point where, when we encounter something that is not in accordance with our own ideas, we complain to God, judge God, resist God and betray God. In God’s eyes, we are also dead people with no spirits. From this, we can see that “dead person” refers to those who are living under Satan’s influence, those who have corrupt natures that resist God and those who are enemies of God. Alternatively, “living person” refers to those who have cast off satanic corrupt disposition, those who have restored their conscience and reason, those who have knowledge of God, those who obey God and those who love God. These people have a place for God within their hearts. In all matters they are able to seek the truth, grasp God’s will, practice in accordance with God’s words and the truth and no longer act by Satan’s life rules. They are people who have triumphed over Satan’s influence and have returned to God. These are living people with spirits and they are truly those who have been resurrected from the dead.
After understanding the difference between “dead person” and “living person,” some brothers and sisters may ask, how will the prophecy of resurrection of the dead be fulfilled? Before answering this question, let’s take a look at an example. Even though our sins have been atoned for by Jesus and pardoned, the root of our sinning has not been resolved. We still live within our satanic corrupt dispositions. We commit sins and then confess to them day in and day out. For example, we are unable to keep God’s commandments and we are unable to put the Lord’s words into action. We are like those in the secular world who follow the tides of the world, lusting after wealth and fleshly enjoyment. We are dominated by our satanic natures, such as being arrogant and conceited, crooked and treacherous and selfish and base. We frequently rebel against God and resist God. We like to show off amongst crowds of people. We bear witness to ourselves so others will view us highly and we vie over status with God. For our own personal benefit, we are able to do treacherous things and employ underhanded means, tell lies to deceive people and fight openly and maneuver covertly with others. We are even able to pledge false oaths and give empty promises before the Lord. While our mouths say that we love the Lord, in essence, we are making bargains with the Lord. We try to exchange our external toil, the things we abandon and our expending of ourselves for the Lord’s bestowments and blessings. We believe in the Lord, yet we do not honor Him as great. We do not have a place for the Lord within our hearts. Instead, we worship celebrities, great people, pastors and elders, and so on. If we are unable to cleanse our corrupt dispositions, how can we become living people and how can we attain God’s approval and enter the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, we still need God’s more advanced salvation.
Jesus said: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). Clearly, the Lord will return in the last days to express truth and do the final stage of His work of bestowing life upon man. Almighty God’s words say: “If people wish to become living beings, and to bear testimony to God, and to be approved of by God, they must accept God’s salvation, they must gladly submit to His judgment and chastisement, and must gladly accept the pruning and dealing of God. Only then will they be able to put all of the truths required by God into practice, and only then will they gain God’s salvation, and truly become living beings” (“Are You Someone Who Has Come to Life?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In the last days, in order to save us completely from Satan’s domain, God has incarnated once again. He uses the name of Almighty God to launch His work of judgment that begins in the house of God. We have experienced the judgement and chastisement, the dealing and pruning and the trials and refinement of God’s words. We truly understand the factual truth of our own resistance and rebellion to God and our satanic nature and essence. At the same time, we have some understanding of God’s righteous and holy disposition. We see the real salvation that God has for us. Furthermore, we come to hate and forsake our own satanic dispositions. We are willing to put the truth into action, rely on God’s words to live as human beings, throw off our corrupt disposition and satisfy God’s will. We have received the truths that God expresses and made them into our lives. We have attained true obedience to God, love for God and we live out a genuine human likeness. This is how a “dead person” can change into a “living person,” which is to be resurrected from the dead. This also fulfills Jesus’ words: “And this is the Father’s will which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39). Clearly, being resurrected from the dead is accomplished and fulfilled through the judgement work of Almighty God in the last days, and it is not as supernatural as people imagine it to be. Brothers and sisters, what God wants are living people and not dead people. Only living people can honor God and bear witness to God. Only living people are qualified to inherit God’s promise—to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Only by accepting Almighty God’s work in the last days, experiencing the judgement and chastisement of God’s words and accepting the truth as our lives can we be resurrected from the dead!
Thank God! All the glory belongs to God!