Hank Explains Resurrection

“Hank, I have a question about resurrection.”

“What’s the question?”

“If we go straight to heaven when we die, what’s the point of the resurrection?”

“That’s a very good question, Ede. I’m happy you asked it. It is very clear in the Word of God, that there are two resurrections. The first one is of those who are saved and the second is of those who are eternally lost. Both groups are dead and buried in their graves until they are resurrected. Why do we continue to mourn for the dead if they are in heaven? Granted, we miss them and wish that they were still alive and with us but if they are in heaven, why do we go to their graves and put flowers there and talk to them? If they were in heaven, would they be happy seeing us grieving for them? If people died and went immediately to heaven, then Jesus should be returning for the living only, right? That’s not what the Bible teaches, though. In John 5:28, 29, Jesus said, ‘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 those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.’ According to Jesus, the dead are in their graves, not in heaven.”

“All my life I have been taught and have believed that when we die, we go to heaven. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, ‘Absent from the body and present with the Lord.’

“Paul wasn’t saying that he would die and then be present with the Lord. His words there are similar to what he said when he was talking about the church member who was sleeping with his step-mother. In his letter to the church, he wrote, ‘For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.’ He is not physically there with them but in his thoughts, mind, he’s with them. Likewise, he wasn’t going to be physically with the Lord when he died but in his mind, he longed to be. He knew that being physically with the Lord will not happen until the day of Resurrection. If he had his way, he would rather be with the Lord but he knows that won’t be possible until Jesus comes again. And Paul knows that when he dies, he wouldn’t have the same body he died with. That’s why he says absent from the body and present with the Lord. When Jesus comes, Paul and all those who are raised from the dead and those who are still alive will receive new, immortal bodies. He said that ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  Our current, mortal bodies will be replaced with immortal ones. It is the mortal body Paul wants to be absent from and be in the immortal body which he will not have until the second coming of Christ. He longs for the day when Jesus returns so that in his immortal body, he could be with the Lord. He said that that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. He said that as long as we are in our current bodies, we are absent from the Lord. That’s why he longs to have the new body because then, he would be present with the Lord. He knew that the body he had would be destroyed but that he would receive a new one not made by hands. He longed for the heavenly body he would receive at resurrection.”

“So, we will have a new body when Jesus comes?”


“But what about what it says in Philippians 1:23?”

“Read what it says.”

She flipped through the Bible until she found the verse. “It says here, ‘For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.’ Does this imply that he is talking about going straight to heaven when he dies?”

“On the surface, it might seem like it but we have to remember that the Word of God doesn’t contradict itself. When Paul said that he desired to depart and be with Christ, he was talking about the resurrection. He wasn’t talking about going directly to heaven at death. He longed to be rid of his tired, aging and worn body and have the new one which he could only receive when he is raised from the dead. We see what happens to a person’s body when they are dead and in the grave. It is skull and bones. The flesh has decayed. Quoting a psalm by David, Peter talked about Christ being raised from the dead so that His body wouldn’t see corruption. Corruption here means destruction which occurs when body decays after death. In his second letter to Timothy, he spoke of finishing the fight and the crowns which he and other believers would receive from Jesus on that Day. Which Day was he talking about? He was talking about the Day of the Lord’s soon coming when he, Paul and the other saved dead. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies.”

“So, when a person dies, he or she goes to the grave and stay there until Jesus returns.”


“So, when Paul talks about being absent from the body and present with the Lord, he’s talking about dying and then, waking up when Jesus comes?”


“But do we have our new bodies before we come out of the graves or after?”

“Paul said that the dead will be raised with spiritual bodies.”

“Weren’t there people who didn’t believe in resurrection?”

“Yes. The Sadducees and some Corinthians didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. In his letter to the Thessalonian church, Paul wrote, ‘we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  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.‘ So, Paul defended the teaching that there will be a resurrection and it will take place at Jesus’ second coming.”

“Didn’t Martha say something about the resurrection too?”

“Yes. When Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again’, she replied, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ She knew that the resurrection would take place on that day when Jesus returns. And more than once, Jesus spoke of raising those who believe in Him and have eternal life up at the last day. You will find that in chapter six of the Gospel of John.”

“So, Jesus Himself has made it clear that people don’t go to heaven or hell when they die but are in their graves. And that there are two resurrections. Those who have eternal life will be a part of the first resurrection and those who don’t have eternal life will be a part of the second resurrection.”

“That is correct. The prophet Daniel was told that there were going to be two resurrections. The angel Gabriel revealed to him, ‘And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.‘”

“Thanks for answering my questions about resurrection. I hope I will be a part of the first one.”

“I hope that we both will be. And God is longsuffering because He’s not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. He wants as many of us to be a part of the first resurrection and for the second death not to have any power over us.”

“So, there are two deaths?”

“Yes. The first death is for everyone–the saved and the lost alike. The second death is for those who are a part of the second resurrection and whose names are not written in the Book of Life. Likewise, there are two resurrections–at the first one those who are saved will have new bodies but at the second one those who are lost will be judged and then, they will be cast into the lake of fire. Both groups will end up where they are because of the choices they will make. And those choices are eternal life or death. It is God’s desire that as many people as possible will choose life.”

“I definitely don’t want to be a part of the second death and resurrection.”

“I will ask you the same question which Jesus asked the man who was born blind. ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’”

“Yes, I do.”

“The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans, ‘that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.’  It is important that you continue to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to have a relationship with Him and to live according to the Word He came to preach.”

“Hank, I would like to do regular Bible studies with you.”

“Just let me know when you’re ready and we’ll arrange the time and days.”

“Thank you.”

“Will you have dinner with me this evening?”

She smiled. “Yes.”

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