The Kingdom and the Resurrection

The most detailed Biblical teaching on the Resurrection is found toward the close of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. The heart of that chapter reads:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; after that, those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the End, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death (1 Cor. 15:20-26).

This text gives us a great deal of information about the Resurrection. In the first place, we are assured of the inseparable connection between Christ's Resurrection and ours. The Resurrection takes place in two stages: first Christ is raised, and then we are resurrected - firstfruits, then harvest. (Note well: no other stages are mentioned.)

Second, we are told when the Resurrection takes place: "at His coming." Since we already knew that the Resurrection coincides with the Last Judgment, we now know that Christ's Second Coming will be on the Last Day, at the Judgment.

Third, the text also informs us that these events occur at "the End." The end of what? Much needless debate has focused on this phrase. Paul goes onto tell us that the End comes "when He shall have delivered the kingdom to the God and Father, when He shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power." The End here is, simply, the End -the end of time, of history, and of the world. This follows, of course, from the fact that this is the last Day; moreover, this is the end of Christ's conquest of the earth, when He shall have established His total rule over all things, destroying all His enemies. It is the end of the "Millennium," the consummation of the Kingdom- the precise moment when the Book of Revelation, in complete harmony with 1 Corinthians, places the Resurrection and the Last Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).

Fourth, Christ's present reign, wl^ich began at His Resurrection and ascension, continues "until He has put all His enemies under His feet ." This statement comes from Psalm 110:1, where God the Father says to the Son: "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet ." We know that at Christ's ascension He did sit at the Father's right hand (Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 7:55-56; Rem. 8:34; Eph. 1:20-22; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3;8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22). According to Scripture, therefore, Jesus Christ is now ruling from His heavenly throne, while all His enemies are being made into a footstool for His feet. The implications of these texts are inescapable: Christ has ascended to the throne, and He will not return until the last enemy has been defeated, at the Resurrection on the Last Day. "For He must reign, until He has put all His enemies under His feet ."

We must remember that the Bible speaks of salvation in terms of the definitive-progressive-final pattern which we noted before. Definitively, all things were placed under Christ's feet at His ascension to His heavenly throne; in principle, He rules the world now as the Second Adam. Progressively, He is now engaged in conquering the nations by the gospel, extending His rule to the farthest corners of the earth. Finally, the Day will come when Christ's actual conquest of the world is complete, when all enemies have been abolished. This will be the End, when "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow . . . and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11).

Fifth, underscoring the fact that the Resurrection occurs at the end of the Millennium, Paul says that "the last enemy that will be abolished is death ." Christ's present reign will witness the gradual abolition of all enemies, the progressive defeat of every remnant of Adam's rebellion, until only one thing remains to be destroyed: Death. At that moment Christ will return in glory to raise the dead and to transform the bodies of His people into the perfection of the completed new Creation. Later in this passage, Paul elaborates on this fact:

Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but 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 this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor. 15:51-54).

This is paralleled by Paul's other great statement on the Resurrection:

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, who 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 shall rise first. Then we who are alive, who 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 Thess. 4:14-17).

As Paul's words so clearly state, the events of the Last Day include the Second Coming, the Resurrection, and the "Rap-

(the "catching up" of the living saints "to meet the Lord in the air"). The Bible does not teach any separation between the Second Coming and the Rapture; they are simply different aspects of the Last Day. And the fact is that throughout the entire history of the Church no one ever heard of the (so-called) "pretribulation Rapture" until the nineteenth century; it did not become widespread until a few decades ago. Recently, as younger generations have begun to recognize the lack of Scriptural foundation for this novel view, a move toward a more Biblically grounded eschatology has started to take place. The of dominion, the historic Hope of the Church, is again on the rise. Because of the renewed interest in developing a Biblical worldview and applying Biblical standards to every area of life, dominion eschatology is increasingly being discussed and accepted. And, because it is the truth, its establishment as the dominant eschatology is inevitable.

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