the two resurrections

The Word for today:
1 Corinthians 12

mark this: (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

1 Corinthians is absolutely loaded with spiritual answers. At the same time, it raises just as many spiritual questions!

Stand in the Rain has been waiting for 1 Corinthians, because it’s the perfect place from which to launch a series of articles that will (we hope) sort out some of the Bible’s paradoxes.

Ten years ago, I stumbled across a reprint of the original (1909) Scofield Reference Bible. Printed in the back was a lengthy article called “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.”

As I read it, so many of scripture’s internal “contradictions” melted away. And so, leaning heavily on Scofield’s original, we present this abridgement to you. We hope, pray, and expect that some concepts which once seemed logically irreconcilable will start to make seamless sense!

***

The Bible teaches, clearly and emphatically, that all of the dead will be raised:
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)

But not all of the dead are raised at one time. A partial resurrection of believers (“saints”) has already occurred:
The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52-53)

Two widespread resurrections will occur in the future. They will happen at different times and they will consist of different people:
Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)

In the book of Revelation, the two resurrections are again mentioned together. Moreover, the interval of time between the two resurrections is given.

First, the resurrection of life:

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years…This is the first resurrection.  (Revelation 20:4, 5b)

A thousand years later, the resurrection of judgment:

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended…Then I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.  (Revelation 20:5a, 12-13)

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Note: Resurrection concerns the bodies of the dead. At the time of physical death, the disembodied spirits of the dead are instantly in conscious bliss or woe. (See Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Luke 16:22-23.)

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the five judgments

The Word for today:
1 Corinthians 11:2-34

mark this: (John 19:17-18)
And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him.

and this: (2 Corinthians 5:10)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

and this: (Revelation 20:11)
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

1 Corinthians is absolutely loaded with spiritual answers. At the same time, it raises just as many spiritual questions!

Stand in the Rain has been waiting for 1 Corinthians, because it’s the perfect place from which to launch a series of articles that will (we hope) sort out some of the Bible’s paradoxes.

Ten years ago, I stumbled across a reprint of the original (1909) Scofield Reference Bible. Printed in the back was a lengthy article called “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.”

As I read it, so many of scripture’s internal “contradictions” melted away. And so, leaning heavily on Scofield’s original, we present this abridgement to you. We hope, pray, and expect that some concepts which once seemed logically irreconcilable will start to make seamless sense!

***

The widespread notion of a “general judgment,” a day when everyone is to be judged, is not found in the Bible:

“It is a serious error to speak of the Judgment as being one great event, taking place at the end of the world, when all human beings, saints, sinners, Jews and Gentiles, the living and the dead, shall stand up before the “Great White Throne’ and there be judged. Nothing can be further from the teaching of the Scriptures (1).”

 The Scriptures speak of five judgments. These five judgments differ in four general respects:

(1) the subjects of judgment
(2) the place of judgment
(3) the time of judgment
(4) the result of judgment

~~~ The Five Judgments ~~~

1. The sins of believers have been judged.
Time–A.D. 30
Place–the Cross of Jesus Christ
Result–death for Christ, justification for the believer

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him. (John 19:17-18)

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24)

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)

2. “Self” in the believer must be judged.
Time–anytime
Place–anywhere
Result– correction, discipline

But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:7)

(See also 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Samuel 7:14-15; 2 Samuel 12:13-14; 1 Timothy 1:20.)

3. The works of believers are to be judged.
Time–when Christ comes
Place–“in the air”
Result–“reward” or “loss” — “but he himself shall be saved.”

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:9-10; see also Romans 14:10)

Important! Note that the sins of believers (see Judgment #1, above) have already been judged at the cross of Jesus Christ! The question of the believer’s salvation was forever settled there. Judgment #3 (the Judgment Seat of Christ) refers only to the works of the believer. (The believer’s works are to be evaluated and, if deserving, rewarded.) The judgment of unbelievers–at the Great White Throne–is described in #5, below. No one who has trusted Christ for salvation will appear at the Great White Throne Judgment.

4. The nations are to be judged.
Time–the glorious appearing of Christ (see Matthew 25:31-32; 13:40-41)
Place–the valley of Jehoshaphat (see Joel 3:1, 2, 12-14)
Result–see Matthew 25:46. A believing remnant who have turned to Christ during the Great Tribulation will be saved “to eternal life;” unbelievers will be consigned “to eternal punishment.”

5. The unbelieving dead are to be judged.
Time–after the Millennium (see Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:5)
Place–before the Great White Throne (see Revelation 20:11)
Result– No one is saved at this judgment.

Only unbelievers will appear at the Great White Throne, where they are judged according to their works. No one is saved at this judgment, for no one is saved by works: We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

No believer will appear at the Great White Throne Judgment! Their salvation was already secured at the cross (see Judgment #1) where their sins were judged. Their rewards were determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ (see Judgment #3) where their works were judged.

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(1) Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost

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salvation and rewards

The Word for today:
1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1

mark this: 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Corinthians is absolutely loaded with spiritual answers. At the same time, it raises just as many spiritual questions!

Stand in the Rain has been waiting for 1 Corinthians, because it’s the perfect place from which to launch a series of articles that will (we hope) sort out some of the Bible’s paradoxes.

Ten years ago, I stumbled across a reprint of the original (1909) Scofield Reference Bible. Printed in the back was a lengthy article called “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.”

As I read it, so many of scripture’s internal “contradictions” melted away. And so, leaning heavily on Scofield’s original, we present this abridgement to you. We hope, pray, and expect that some concepts which once seemed logically irreconcilable will start to make seamless sense!

***

The New Testament contains a doctrine of salvation for the lost, and a doctrine of rewards for the faithful services of the saved. It is critically important for the Bible student to comprehend the distinction between these doctrines. So carefully note the following contrasts:

1. Salvation is a free gift…

Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.” (John 4:10)

Come, everyone who is thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you without money,
come, buy, and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost! (Isaiah 55:1)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

It is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved. It was nothing you could or did achieve – it was God’s gift to you. No one can pride himself upon earning the love of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9/Phillips)

…but rewards are earned by works:

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Matthew 10:42)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
In the future, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. (Revelation 22:12)

‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ (Luke 19:17)

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

2. Salvation is a present possession…

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. (John 3:36)

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)

Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace. (2 Timothy 1:9)

And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace. (Luke 7:50)

He saved us– not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)

And this is the testimony: that God has given to us everlasting life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 5:11)

…but rewards are a future attainment:

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)

You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:14)

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. (Revelation 22:12)

And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:4)

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day. (2 Timothy 4:8)

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. (Matthew 25:19)

***

So, let’s review these essential concepts:

1. Salvation is a free gift…
but rewards are earned by works.

2. Salvation is a present possession…
but rewards are a future attainment.

With these principles in mind, passages that once might have baffled us will now make perfect sense.

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the believer’s two natures — part 2

The Word for today: 1 Corinthians 8, 9

mark this: 1 Corinthians 2:14:

The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

and this: John 3:3:

I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

and this: 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Yesterday, we read the bad news–all about the old nature, which every person is born with. It wasn’t pretty.

But today we’ll be reading good news–all about the new nature, which every believer is re-born with.

***

While unbelievers are born once, believers are born twice. Jesus told Nicodemus — a moral, religious man — that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The believer, while still having the unchanged and unchangeable old nature, has received a new nature:

a new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

This rebirth is a brand-new creation, not just a washed and polished version of the old:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan – this rebirth comes from God.  (John 1:12-13/NLT)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The new man is inseverably linked with Christ:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3-4)

For to me, to live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

And this is the record: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12)

***

But the new, divine nature, which is Christ’s own, co-exists with the old nature:

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. (Romans 7:18a)

It is not a peaceful co-existence:

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. (Romans 7:18b, 21)

Between the two natures there is conflict. It is painful even to read the battle between the two “I’s”– the old Saul of Tarsus and the new Paul — in Romans 7:14-25. This experience discourages and perplexes new believers, who are so dismayed to find the old nature–with its old habits and desires–reasserting itself, that they may begin to doubt their acceptance with God.

***

The presence of the old nature, however, is not an excuse for “living down” to it. We are taught that the old self is dead –“crucified with Christ” — and we are called upon to make sure it stays that way!

The “power” that enables us to mortify (“make dead”) our old nature is the person of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every believer:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17)

By the Spirit put to death your sinful actions. (Romans 8:13/GNT)

So instead of resisting the misdeeds of the old nature by force of will, or by good resolutions, turn the conflict over to the indwelling Spirit of God, just as Paul did somewhere between Romans 7 and Romans 8:

“Romans 7 is a record of the conflict of the regenerate man with his old self, and is, therefore, intensely personal. “I would,” “I do not,” “I would not,” “I do,” is the sad confession of defeat which finds an echo in so many Christian hearts. In the eighth chapter the conflict still goes on, but how blessedly impersonal! There is no agony, for Paul is out of it; the conflict is now between “flesh”–Saul of Tarsus–and the Holy Spirit. Paul is at peace and victorious.”  from “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth,” by C. I. Scofield, 1896

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the believer’s two natures — part 1

The Word for today:
1 Corinthians 7

mark this: 1 Corinthians 2:14
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

and this: John 3:3
I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

1 Corinthians is absolutely loaded with spiritual answers. At the same time, it raises just as many spiritual questions!
Stand in the Rain has been waiting for 1 Corinthians, because it’s the perfect place from which to launch a series of articles that will (we hope) sort out some of the Bible’s paradoxes.

Ten years ago, I stumbled across a reprint of the original (1909) Scofield Reference Bible. Printed in the back was a lengthy article called “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.”

As I read it, so many of scripture’s internal “contradictions” melted away. And so, leaning heavily on Scofield’s original, we present this abridgement to you. We hope, pray, and expect that some concepts which once seemed logically irreconcilable will start to make seamless sense!

***

Q. Why do some people “get it” and some don’t?
A. Here’s why:
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Q. What does “natural man” mean?
A. It means he was naturally born. That, of course, would include every person on the face of the earth.

Q. So if everyone is naturally born, how can anyone understand “the things of God.”
A. Some are also supernaturally born.

Q. Say what?
A. I’ll let Jesus explain it:
“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:3, 5-6)

Q. So those who can “see” the kingdom of God are born twice–“of water and the Spirit?”
A. Right. They are born naturally and supernaturally.

Q. So if I’m born again, I’m supernatural?
A. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But you are super-natured!

***

We hear the term “born again” a lot, but what does it mean? The full extent of its meaning is best understood by contrasting the born again believer with the person who is not born again…

The Believer’s Two Natures

The Scriptures teach that every believer is the possessor of two natures.

One nature, received by natural birth, is wholly and hopelessly bad.

A second, new nature (received through the new birth) is the nature of God Himself, and therefore wholly good.

Here’s what God thinks of the old (“Adamic”) nature:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalms 51:5)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12)

God does not say that none are refined, or sweet tempered, or generous, or charitable, or religious. But he does say that none are righteous; none understand or seek after God. As genial and moral as many unbelievers are, they “make God a liar” every day by rejecting His Word and His Son:
Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. (1 John 5:10)

An “unregenerate” person (not born again) may be amiable, generous, talented, and religious, but he can neither obey God, nor please God, nor understand God. He just doesn’t–he can’t–‘get it:’
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7-8)

Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:3)

***

The believer, meanwhile, while still having the unchanged and unchangeable old nature, has received a new nature:
a new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

Tomorrow, we’ll find out more about the new super-natured self.

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