ANTICIPATING THE RESURRECTION
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
(Rom 8:19 NASB)
In stark contrast to the early church, there is very little conversation about the resurrection in the fellowship of Believers. Also, it is not often preached or taught from the pulpit. Instead, the focus has shifted to a preemptive event, namely an event where Jesus Christ will “appear secretly” to snatch away the latter-day church before the onset of the Great Tribulation, or for some others, before the outpouring of His fierce wrath. In essence, the hope is no longer in the promise of receiving an incorruptible body of glory at the second appearance of Jesus Christ, (Rom 8:16-25; 1 Cor 15; 1 John 3:2). Rather, the hope has shifted to an early climactic removal from the earth in order to forego tribulation, or to be more specific, to forego the possibility of martyrdom, (Mat 24:9-14; Rev 6:9-11; Rev 13:15-17; Rev 14:9-13).
It will benefit our study if we first and foremost lay down the principle truths pertaining to the resurrection, and thus establish a base line of measurement in order to rightly apply Scripture. More often than not, Scriptures pertaining to the resurrection are used to substantiate the secret snatching away through the rapture. As faithful stewards of God’s Word, we have to divide the Word with great responsibility, and passages pertaining to the resurrection can only apply to this specific event, (2 Tim 2:15).
The resurrection is the hope of every Believer, the promise of receiving a glorified body as the final stage of redemption. The final stage of redemption, namely the redemption of our bodies, is in fact part of the Believer’s eternal inheritance. The apostle Paul explains that this final stage of redemption, namely the resurrection of our bodies into an eternal state of glory, is in fact “the moment in time” when Almighty God will reveal to the whole universe who the people are whom He has set apart as “first born sons” to inherit His eternal Kingdom, thus the “revealing of the sons of God” or “the adoption of sons.” This revelation is so important and climactic, that the whole universe or creation is in “anxious longing.” This anxious anticipation is likened to “suffering the pains of childbirth together,” until this longing for the resurrection would come to pass, for on this climactic day, the whole creation will be set free from its subjection to the curse of futility, (Rom 8:16-25).
The apostles clearly taught that the resurrection will be inseparable to the visible and climactic second appearance of Messiah. The apostle John wrote, ‘Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is,’ (1 John 3:2); and Paul explained, ‘For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself,’ (Phil 3:20-21). [See also Col 2:3-4.]
To the church in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul clarified that not one of those belonging to the Kingdom of God will be excluded from the resurrection. Paul explains that those who died in Christ Jesus (from Adam to the last to die in Christ before He returns), will all partake of the resurrection. He states, ‘But we do not want you to be uniformed brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the 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, and thus we shall always be with the Lord,’ (1 Thes 4:13-15).
Finally, the resurrection of those considered to be “sons of God,” will all, at the same time, receive incorruptible bodies as the fulfilment of the promise received through the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead, for He is the First Fruits promise of the resurrection, (1 Cor 15:20-23). The apostle Paul gives an extended teaching on the resurrections in 1 Corinthians 15. He describes in detail how the corruptible bodies of those who believe unto Christ Jesus, will change in a moment of time, explaining, ‘Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, be 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed. For the perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality,’ (1 Cor 15:51-53).
All arguments taken into account, one can by no means apply the aforementioned Scriptures to the rapture, for they clearly, in context of exegeses, pertain to the resurrection.