When Dead Men Will Live Again!
“Jesus said to her: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.’”—JOHN 11:25, 26.
1. (a) For anyone on earth to claim to be “the resurrection and the life” would require what? (b) On what basis is the claimant able to serve as such?
CERTAINLY it would require great boldness for any human to make the assertion, “I am the resurrection and the life.” But that is exactly what that historical figure, Jesus Christ, said about himself more than 19 centuries ago. One of his apostles, named John, heard him say this and recorded it for our benefit today. (John 11:25) Jesus meant that he was such in behalf of dead and dying and already buried humankind. Of course, he himself died a brutal death on an execution stake outside the walls of Jerusalem, and so his own Father, Jehovah God, had to become “the resurrection and the life” to him in turn. On the third day of Jesus’ death, the Almighty God did raise him from the dead and clothed him with immortal life in the spirit world. By miraculously clothing himself with a fleshly body like that in which he died, Jesus revealed himself to his anguished disciples, on one occasion to upwards of 500. (1 Corinthians, chapter 15) Thus he could indeed become the resurrection and the life to humankind for whom he died.
2. Why can no one at all today shrug off the resurrection of Jesus Christ as an idle tale of the first century C.E.?
2 No man living today can laugh and shrug off this authenticated raising of the impaled Jesus Christ back to life as an idle story that gained wide circulation in the first century of our Common Era. With the exception of the medical doctor Luke, who wrote the Bible books of Luke and Acts of the Apostles, all the writers of the 25 other books of the so-called New Testament were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Son of God. One of the outstanding witnesses was a former persecutor of Christians, Saul of the city of Tarsus, who became the Christian apostle Paul, and who wrote 14 books of the “New Testament” in the common Greek of that day.
3, 4. On Mars’ Hill, what did the apostle Paul say to the Athenians about God’s judgment day and the resurrection?
3 Once, when in the highly cultured, highly intellectual city of Athens, the most prominent city of Greece, Paul was haled before judges of the Supreme Court that met on Mars’ Hill, or the Areopagus.
4 With due respect Paul addressed himself to that gathering of intellectuals on Mars’ Hill. It was with no slur against the high schooling of his worldly-wise audience that Paul went on to say, in bringing his witness and defense to a grand climax:
“True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent. Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.”—Acts 17:30, 31.
5. What was the reaction of those of that Athenian audience, and so concerning whom does a question arise?
5 How did that remarkable doctrine of the resurrection of the dead strike those Grecian believers in the immortality of the human soul? “Well, when they heard of a resurrection of the dead, some began to mock, while others said: ‘We will hear you about this even another time.’” They still felt that he was a “publisher of foreign deities.” However, Dionysius, an Areopagite judge, could appreciate what Paul said about a coming day of judgment for all mankind, and he took the matter to heart. A woman named Damaris also did so. (Acts 17:18, 32-34) But how about us today in this far-advanced scientific age? This is no laughing matter!
6. Was the resurrection of Jesus the first case of such raising of dead people, and what will be the possibility for those whom Jesus will yet raise to life?
6 Of course, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not the first case of where dead humans were resurrected to intelligent life. The Bible records previous cases, including that of Lazarus, whom Jesus himself raised to life on the fourth day of his death and entombment. (John 11:1-44) But the case of Jesus’ own resurrection was the most important for all mankind. He did not die again, as the others did; but now, in his resurrected, immortal state, he can be “the resurrection and the life” for humans to an unbroken endless life in perfection, free of the condemnation of death and under God’s universal sovereignty.
7, 8. (a) How do the age lengths of Adam and Methuselah substantiate the possibility for perfected humankind to live forever? (b) How long is the life of Melchizedek reckoned as being, and what does this argue for the life of the one whom he prefigured?
7 The possibility of endless human life on earth when obedient mankind is recovered from the fall into sin and death (through the first man Adam) is substantiated by the fact that Adam, even though he sinned against God, lived for 930 years, most of that time outside the perfect garden of Eden. One of his descendants, Methuselah, lived to be 969 years old. (Genesis 5:5, 27) It was in the year 2370 B.C.E. that Methuselah died, and in that same year the global Flood of Noah’s day wiped out all human and animal life outside the ark in which Noah and his family took refuge. Centuries later, by 1933 B.C.E. at the latest, a priesthood appeared on the earthly scene, that of Melchizedek, who blessed the patriarch Abraham and who had God’s approval. The dates of his birth and death are not given.
8 So his priesthood at Salem, where he was king as well as priest, seems to be timeless. (Genesis 14:18-20) The life possibility of the resurrected Jesus Christ is likened to that of King-Priest Melchizedek, for Hebrews 7:15-17 tells us that the glorified Jesus Christ now has “the power of an indestructible life, for in witness it is said: ‘You are a priest forever according to the manner of Melchizedek.’” (See also Psalm 110:1-4.) So during all the time since his heavenly glorification in 33 C.E., the immortalized Jesus Christ has acted as a High Priest toward members of the human family, in behalf of whom he offered up himself as a perfect human sacrifice. Hence, he can act as a second Adam to the death-ridden human family. When in due time he raises the human dead back to earthly life, it will be with the opportunity for them to gain everlasting life in human perfection in a Paradise extended earth wide. Unlike the first Adam, the self-sacrificing Jesus Christ will not fail in his responsibility toward the human family for whom he poured out his perfect lifeblood.—1 Corinthians 15:22-45.
Dead Men to Meet Again on Earth
9 For the vast majority of mankind who have trodden the earth, the privilege of renewing life on earth under the promised Kingdom of God by Christ will depend upon a resurrection of the dead. Testifying to God’s ability to counterbalance matters justly and perfectly, the apostle Paul, as a witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, wrote: “Since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a man.” (1 Corinthians 15:21) In agreement with his letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul wrote in his letter to the Roman Christians: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) In view of that, Jehovah God could arrange for the descendants of Adam and Eve to be ransomed by the one man who proved to be the exception to the rule set out in Romans 5:12.
10. On what basis could Jesus Christ offer his human life as a substitute and become an Eternal Father to Adam’s descendants?
10 That exception was Jesus, whom God caused to be born miraculously from the Jewish virgin Mary, the daughter of Heli of the royal tribe of Judah. (Luke 3:23-38) As a sacrifice, his perfect human life could be substituted for the perfect human life that Adam had forfeited for all his natural descendants by willfully sinning against his Creator in the garden of Eden. Accordingly, the resurrected Jesus Christ could serve as the “Eternal Father” toward all those of whom the first Adam made himself a sinful father. This leaves it to God’s Son to become their Eternal Father.—Isaiah 9:6.
11. If Jesus Christ and his apostles, while yet on earth, could raise the dead, what about Jesus’ ability in this regard since his own resurrection?
11 When Jesus Christ and his apostles raised people from the dead, this did not relieve them of the effects of the condemnation of death that they had inherited from the first Adam. Hence, even Jesus’ much-loved friend Lazarus died again and came into need of the final resurrection under God’s established Kingdom. But that will afford no problem. If Jesus, when a perfect man on earth, was empowered to resurrect dead humans in order to renew and prolong their earthly life, at least for a while under this present system of things, is he not much more capable of raising the human dead at God’s time, now that he is once again a spirit Son of God? Yes, indeed, due to all the authority in heaven and on earth given to him since his own resurrection and his ascension back to his celestial Father.
12. Was the relationship of Jesus Christ to the human family cut off by the way he was resurrected, and how will he complete the purpose of his human sacrifice?
12 When one of Christ’s disciples, the apostle Paul, was discussing the resurrection in his letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul said: “It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45) The fact that he is spoken of as the last Adam indicates that he still bears some family relationship to the human race. The fact that he is now a superhuman spirit person does not matter. (Psalm 8:4, 5; Hebrews 2:5-9) During the coming judgment day of a thousand years, he will complete the purpose of his perfect human sacrifice by bringing back the human dead with the opportunity of being lifted to perfection on a Paradise earth and having him as their Eternal Father and Prince of Peace. So he will undo what Adam did to them.
13. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, what did He say to Martha about dead and living believers in Him?
13 Before Jesus resurrected his beloved friend Lazarus of Bethany from the dead, he said to Martha, the sister of Lazarus: “Your brother will rise.” Martha thought that Jesus was referring to the far-distant future and responded: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” It was then that Jesus seized the opportunity to make this remarkable statement: “I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.”—John 11:23-26.
14. (a) For a human to exercise faith in Jesus, what does this first require of him? (b) If God chooses such a person for the heavenly inheritance, what is due to take place though he has to die?
14 To exercise faith in Jesus Christ, a human would have to be living and hear or learn about him. The person could then dedicate his life to God through Christ and symbolize this decisive step by baptism in water. If the heavenly Father of Jesus Christ chose to call this dedicated, baptized disciple of his Son to the heavenly inheritance with him, he would beget such a one with his spirit. This would mean that this spirit-begotten disciple would finally have to die as a human. But Jesus said: “Even though he dies, [he] will come to life.” In his case it would be to life as a resurrected spirit creature in the heavenly realm with Jesus.
15. In case one who exercised the proper faith and yet was not begotten by God’s spirit should die, what will be the position of that one at his resurrection?
15 If today a dedicated, baptized disciple who was not begotten by Jehovah God to the heavenly inheritance with Christ, died, as many have done since the gathering of Christ’s “other sheep” began, what then? (John 10:16) Because of his having exercised faith in the One who is “the resurrection and the life,” he would be in a better position with respect to the new system of things right from his earthly resurrection onward, likely from its beginning. (Hebrews 11:35) He would then be early available for special privileges of service under the heavenly Kingdom. In this way the resurrection hope with which he died will be realized, to God’s glory!
16, 17. (a) With regard to resurrection, how about those of pre-Christian times who merely looked forward to the coming of the “seed” of God’s “woman”? (b) By what words did Jesus assure us of their resurrection?
16 Not only will those who have put faith in Jesus Christ since his first coming have part in the resurrection arrangements but those of pre-Christian times who, with faith in Jehovah God, looked forward to the coming of the “seed” of his symbolic “woman,” as foretold by him in Genesis 3:15, will also. That “seed” proved to be the same as what was later called ‘the seed of Abraham.’ (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:16) Such ones who looked ahead to the coming of this “seed” of the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God, included, of course, the patriarch Abraham and his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, or Israel. Confirming the certainty of their resurrection, Jesus Christ, the Seed of Abraham, said:
17 “As regards the resurrection of the dead, did you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31, 32) “But concerning the dead, that they are raised up, did you not read in the book of Moses, in the account about the thornbush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob’? He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living.” (Mark 12:26, 27) “For they are all living to him.” (Luke 20:37, 38) In that indirect way Jehovah God assured us of the resurrection of dead humanity.
18. In view of the promised seed’s nature, God’s friend Abraham was a type of whom?
18 God’s own promise to his friend Abraham was that all the families of the earth would “bless themselves” by means of his “seed.” (James 2:23; Genesis 12:1-3; 22:15-18) Since that “seed” has become a spiritual one, the human Abraham was a typical picture of Jehovah God, for this One alone could become the Father of the spiritual “seed,” now the glorified Jesus Christ in the heavens.
19. In Revelation 20:11-14, we are given a prophetic picture of what?
19 We are given a prophetic picture of the coming resurrection of those dead families of the earth. Revelation 20:11-14 describes it, with some symbolisms, saying: “And I [the apostle John] saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds. And death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.”
20. At the end of the judgment day of a thousand years, what will happen to humans whose names get inscribed in the book of life and to those whose names do not?
20 During the thousand-year-long “day,” which God has “set” and in which “he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed,” the resurrected human dead will have to avail themselves of all the divine provisions made for their eternal salvation. (Acts 17:31) In this sense they will have to “bless themselves.” By passing the final test of their integrity perfectly, they will gain the reward of eternal life in a global Paradise. Otherwise what? “The second death,” from which there will be no resurrection. (Revelation 20:14) Just as it is written, in Revelation 20:15: “Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.”
Can You Recall?
□ Why can no one today shrug off Jesus Christ’s resurrection as an idle tale?
□ On what basis could Jesus become an Eternal Father to Adam’s descendants?
□ If a faithful person not begotten by God’s spirit should die, what will be his position when resurrected?
□ Revelation 20:11-14 gives us a prophetic picture of what?
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Joy will abound when those now dead will live again