The Doctrine of Resurrection: Soul then Body
It is important on Resurrection Sunday each year to understand why Christians, who are not normally too talkative about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, are so taken with this particular doctrine. Granted, some Christians are excited for the pagan festivities that accompany this day (Easter traditions), more than the prospect of the dead being raised to life. I will presume that because you are reading this, you are of the latter group.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29). This means He is first in importance. After all, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God the Father (Jn 3:16). The many brethren, elect from every nation, are all adopted sons, having received the Spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15, 23).
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep (1 Cor 15:20),” and this statement of fact also teaches us that there is more to come. First fruits are the fruits that are ripe before the other fruit in a harvest season. A farmer or vinedresser will know the quality of his season’s harvest by the first fruit. Christ is the first fruits from the dead, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Cor 15:23).
There is a resurrection to come on the last day, the Day of the Lord, the Judgment Day, and Day of our Salvation. When Christ Jesus, our Lord and King, comes in glory, all souls ever conceived will be raised from the dead. Each one will have a resurrection body that will be theirs for eternity, whether that be an eternity in heaven or an eternity in hell.
In this one resurrection event, there will be two groups: those who did good deeds to a resurrection of life; and those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (Jn 5:29). Death will have lost its sting and its victory in this event, for death will be no more, that is, in its first sense death of the mortal/perishable body (1 Cor 15:55). The natural body will have run its course, and now the spiritual body will run its course in eternity (1 Cor 15:33, 46).
At the trumpet sound, on the last day, the dead will be raised. Judgment and salvation will be visually obvious, by the two types of resurrection bodies. Today, the regenerate ones are visually indiscernible from the unregenerate. All are conceived in Adam, spiritually dead in his original sin (Rom 5:12). Sin nature is embedded in the dead soul (Eph 2:3). The manifestation of sin is a lifelong testimony of the flesh. This body of sin is a walking body of death.
The soul of the regenerate has been made alive in Christ, by the Spirit of God (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3). The soul is comprised of the heart and mind. In Christian conversion (repentance and faith), this new life becomes evident. A change of heart (Ezek 36:26) and a change of mind (Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 2:16) produce a change in behavior and works. The reign of sin is replaced by the reign of grace. The Christian looks the same in his outward appearance, but there is a metamorphosis of the soul.
Regeneration is the resurrection of the soul. This only occurs in the elect of God (Eph 1:4–5), God’s chosen people from every nation (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 5:9). With the regeneration of the soul comes a permanent token or pledge of the resurrection body to be raised, after death, and on the day of Christ’s second coming. The token is the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9, 11). The Christian, being changed in heart and mind, knows he has someone else living inside of him. He is Holy Spirit-possessed.
The Christian is changing. It is the abiding Spirit who is changing him. This work of the indwelling Spirit is called, “sanctification.” This is the will of God for His elect, redeemed people (1 Thess 4:3). The Holy Spirit is making the saint holy, in accordance with God’s imperative for His people to be holy, as He is holy (1 Pet 1:16). Christians comprise God’s one holy nation (1 Pet 2:9), the Israel of God (Is 49:6; Gal 6:16), Christ’s body, the church.
The Holy Spirit sets the Christian heart and mind on the future (Col 3:2). This is why Christians get excited on Resurrection Sunday. What happened to Christ Jesus on the Sunday following Passover, in history, is also our future hope of the resurrection of the body…then glorified!
There is a Man who sits on the throne of God in heavenly glory (Rev 7:17). He has a physical body. His body is imperishable, immortal, and glorified. He will never die, again. He lives, forevermore. He dwells in the perfection of holiness, where there is no sin, no corruption, no darkness, and no death (Rev 21–22). Christians will be like Him, when we see Him face to face, as He is in glory. This will happen in a twinkling of an eye on the last day.
Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25). Those who die in Christ, while they live in their natural bodies (Gal 2:20), will suffer the death of their bodies (2 Cor 5:1). With the experience of the resurrection of their souls (Jn 3:1–8), they have no fear in the death of their bodies. God’s beloved know resurrection life by way of regeneration (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), and they have the hope of the resurrection of their bodies, unto glory, living in them.
Resurrection Sunday (arguably every Sunday) is a celebration of Jesus Christ, raised from the dead (1 Cor 15). It is a day of Christian hope, for our souls have already passed from death to life. This is the hope of glory planted and living in us. New life is manifest in our souls, and it is soon coming to our bodies. This is the doctrine of the resurrection: soul then body.
Spokane Valley, Washington
November 27, 2022