There are many ideas about the subject of the first resurrection. Many would tell us it'll be when the righteous are raised up with the Lord for "a seven-year rapture" and such like. But, we're not interested in speculations. We want the truth because Jesus said we should know the truth and the truth would make us free. So in this, our message, we want to present to you God’s Word. There's much confusion and false teaching that comes from the devil, but all truth comes from God.
First, let's notice what we're told in verse 25:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”
Jesus Himself said these words. This isn't talking about a dream or something in the future; this is talking about the dead—those that are separated from God; those that have sinned. We're told in the book of Ezekiel 18:4, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
Since it's the soul that's dead, it needs to be made alive. So the dead are those that are separated from God and need to come alive. When they hear the voice of God’s words then they will rise. They'll come back to life because Christ’s words give life. It's eternal life! Because Adam sinned, Paul tells us that death passed upon all men, for we read:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
Sin entered the world by one man; that man was Adam. The Word also says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Paul tells us of his experience as he grew up from childhood and said in Romans 7:9, “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”
In Romans 6:23, we're told,
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The wages of sin is death, or to commit sin brings death to the soul. God said, and again I quote Ezekiel 18:4,
“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
Paul, in I Corinthians 15:22, tells us,
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
There are many plain and pointed scriptures that tell us that a man who commits sin is dead.
Paul said in First Timothy, chapter 5, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”
Surely these scriptures are enough to show anyone a sinner is dead spiritually. Since this is true they need to be resurrected. This is exactly what Jesus said would happen when the dead hear and obey His voice.
Let's look into another verse of scripture. Jesus said,
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
In this resurrection, some shall be rewarded with eternal life and some shall be damned throughout all eternity. Let me call your attention to the time when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was a good man. He was a Christian and the Lord loved him.
“Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick” (John 11:3).
So we see Lazarus was a follower of the Lord. Now if there were two resurrections physically then Lazarus should be raised at the first.
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life.”
As long as He's the resurrection and the life, surely He has the power to bring Lazarus to life again.
We all can be a part in the first resurrection if we submit ourselves to God. He's willing, ready to forgive, to change, deliver and raise back to life. He can give us a new life. It's the will of God that none should perish but that all should have life, all rejoice, have joy, and that all should be with Him when He comes again. Now, let's look at John 6:40.
“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
I wonder how many days you'll say there is after the last day? Jesus will raise His people up at the last day.
See, there's not another day after the last day. The last day's the last day. So we see there's only going to be one resurrection when He comes again. Jesus said those that hear His voice, right now, are raised from the dead. We're also shown that a sinner is dead. This being true, the sinner's standing in need of the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ in his life. It's by hearing and obeying the Word of God that this resurrection takes place. God said it pleased Him through the foolishness of preaching to save, to resurrect, and to make alive them that believe.
Now let's look at Ephesians 2:1.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
Through God’s grace we're made alive.
“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5, 6).
The word quickened means to impart life. In this case, or in the case of a sinner, it means to resurrect him from the dead. This's exactly what Paul meant in verse five.
Verse one also tells us that those who were quickened were at one time dead. But, praise God, after the resurrection they were alive. According to Colossians 2:13, Paul said, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”
Notice that in all of these verses of scripture Paul makes the resurrection not the future, but in the past. God hath forgiven you of your trespasses. The words of our Lord again, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
May the Lord bless us today and help us to see the truth of God’s Word. May we come to the place where we can be reconciled to God and give Him our heart. He needs us. May He give us courage, strength and boldness to submit ourselves to Him.