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Christian Biblical Studies
A Heavenly And An Earthly Resurrection
Scripture references are to the King James (Authorised) Version
Q. Is the resurrection heavenly or earthly?
A. Both. The doctrine of resurrection, as expounded by the Apostle Paul, is the answer to the question of why Christ died: that all mankind would have a practical opportunity to regain perfect and eternal life. Christ’s victory over death both demonstrates and guarantees this outcome.
In 1. Cor. 15:22, 23, the two general classes of those to be resurrected are in view (emphasis added):
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his [its] own order: [the] Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
The first reference to ʻChristʼ in v. 23 cannot refer to Christ Jesus, for He had already been resurrected when Paul wrote these words; nor was Christ subject to the Adamic death mentioned in v. 22. Rather, ‘the Christ’ of v. 23 refers to the Church, the Body of Christ. The word ʻcomingʼ at the end of v. 23 is a translation of the Greek word parousia, which has the meaning of a manifested presence – that is, the time when Christ returns in His second advent and makes Himself known to the world. It is during this period that both the heavenly and earthly resurrections occur.
There are two phases of salvation: one of Election and one of Free Grace. Each phase has its own historic period of calling, and each requires a resurrection to complete it. The first calling or opportunity occurs throughout the Gospel (Church) Age, the reward of which is heavenly resurrection. The subsequent, general opportunity occurs after the first is complete, and coincides with the earthly resurrection of mankind from the death state.
As far as humanity is concerned, its earthly resurrection will begin the process of recovery from sin and imperfection, to righteousness and eternal life, a process which will depend on acquiescence to the godly government under Christ then in operation. This period is the Millennium, also referred to in Acts 3: 21 as ʻthe times of restitutionʼ, meaning the restoration of Eden-like conditions.
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