Monday, January 18, 2016

Second Phase of the Coming King Jesus

Second Phase of the Coming King Jesus

In is critically important to right theology to understand that the “first resurrection” involves three phases.  The first Person to have been resurrected was the man Jesus, who is also the Christ; God in human flesh.  Because Jesus has been successfully resurrected and glorified, he became the “firstfruit” of the New Creation.  The very fact of the “firstfruit” guarantees the future harvest.  Therefore, the celebration of the resurrection/glorification of Jesus (commonly referred to as Easter) is also the celebration and anticipation of the future second phase of the “first resurrection” that we know as the Rapture of the Church.   It is critically important to see that the resurrection of Church Age believers takes place in three phases, Christ Jesus having already completed the first phase assuring the second and third phases.  Paul refers to these three phases of the “first resurrection” in I Corinthians 15:23 as “every man in his own order.”

“17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (I Corinthians 15:17-23).

There is much confusion about what form the resurrected and glorified body will take.  It is also important to understand that this resurrection of the body is not merely the resurrection of a dead, corrupt body of flesh to be as it was before death.  The resurrected body of the believer will be glorified.  This means the new body will not be the same as the old body.  The new body will be eternal, it will not grow old, and it will not suffer from any of the limitations or contaminations of the corrupt fallen body.  The fact is that our present body is but the seed of our new body.

Understanding that the new body will not be the same as our present physical body is a difficult thing for most people because we merely think in terms of renewal.  For instance, when we trade in an old car for a new car, we understand that although the new car will be new, it will still be much like the old car.  It will probably still have four wheels, and engine, transmission, steering wheel, brakes, and etc.  However, it is still just physical new kind of the old kind.  It will immediately begin to wear out, rust, decay, and become old.  This dynamic will not be part of our new bodies.  Our new bodies will not be new of the old kind.  Our new bodies will be new of a different kind.  When the coming King Jesus calls believers from the grave and from this world at the Rapture, we will immediately be transfigured to a new kind of body.

“35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Corinthians 15:35-50).

In order to escape temporal and earth-bound thinking regarding the complete transfiguration of our human bodies upon glorification, God has given us additional insight in I John 3:1-3.  The concept communicated in the believer’s transfiguration upon glorification is directly connected to our having become “the sons of God.”  We are already positionally “sons of God” by salvation, spiritual rebirth, and the indwelling seal of the Holy Spirit of God.  Yet, there is another aspect that has not been completed actually.  This aspect is glorification, is to be transfigured to be like Jesus was when He ascended into Heaven.

“1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:1-3).

Upon glorification, the “born again” believer will experience the kind of freedom that Jesus spoke about in John 8:32 – “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  The freedom of which Jesus spoke was the complete freedom from the bondage of the Sin Nature.  The “born again” and glorified believer will be completely free from the fallen corruption of his spirit due to the infection of pride and worldly lusts.  At the rapture of the Church, “born again” believers will experience for the first time in their lives perfectly pure selflessness exemplified by the vicarious life and vicarious death of Jesus Christ.  They will experience for the first time the purest forms of appreciation, adoration, reverence, and worship of God.

In most part, before our glorification, the understanding of eternal life has more to do with the benefits of eternal life to us.  Our focus is upon ourselves rather than upon the fact that once we are glorified, our thinking will be focused primarily upon the glory and Person of God.  Everything else that is worldly, or even earthly, will seem petty and superficial.  This will be true even about the then visible glories of Heaven.  We will not merely be in awe of God because we will then see Him in all His glory.  We will be in awe of God because we will see Him from the perspective of our own perfect selflessness.  We will see Him comparing what we really are as a created being to what He really is as our Creator.

When will all this take place?  Christian-dumb is rampant with various rapture theories.  However, the Scriptures are very clear if we are careful in our reading of the texts and what they teach about the resurrection.  There are three basic positions on the rapture of the Church; Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribulation (included here is the Pre-wrath rapture position), and Post-tribulation.  In order to arrive at a biblical understanding, we must be careful to maintain two distinct perspectives from the Word of God.  First, we must understand dispensations and their transitions.  Secondly, we must be equally careful to maintain a clear distinction between the Church and Israel in our Eschatology.  Failure in either of these areas will corrupt our understanding.
As said already, it is critically important to see that the resurrection of Church Age believers takes place in three phases.  Paul refers to these three phases of the “first resurrection” in I Corinthians 15:23 as “every man in his own order.” 
First, we should understand is that the seven-year tribulation period is the seventieth week of Daniel.  It refers to a dispensational transitory period between the Church Age and the Millennial Kingdom Age.  It deals specifically with the judgment of this world and the restoration of the nation of Israel.  The Church is not mentioned after Revelation 4:1 where the Apostle John represents all believers at the rapture.  Therefore, the Church will not be on earth during the Tribulation.  Notice the similarities between Revelation 4:1 and I Thessalonians 4:14-17.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither {a call up, not Jesus coming to the earth}, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1).

“14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:14-17).

The seven-year tribulation period is the “day of God’s wrath.”  It will be preceded by the rapture of the Church.  The first thing that will happen after the rapture of the Church is the revealing of the Antichrist (Revelation 6:2; the counterfeit rider on “a white horse”) in the opening of the first “seal” judgment.  In releasing the “antichrist” on the Earth, God will be releasing part of His wrath upon the earth and His restraint upon evil.  It is obvious from Scripture that God’s intent is to completely deliver all believers from this “wrath” before it begins.

“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself {the unbelieving Christ-rejecter} wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we {the redeemed} shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us {the redeemed} from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:10).

“For God hath not appointed us {the redeemed} to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:9).

The central proofs against the Post-tribulation (or after the Tribulation) rapture are twofold.  First, Christ cannot return with His “saints” at the end of the tribulation period to establish His Kingdom if they have not already been resurrected and glorified.  Yet the Scriptures repeatedly state He will return with His “saints.”

“13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

“And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (Zechariah 14:5).

“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (I Thessalonians 3:13).

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 1:14).

Jude is probably quoting from Daniel 7:10, where Daniel gives us the broader meaning to what Jude refers to as “ten thousands” in verse fourteen.

“9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands {millions} ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand {one-hundred million} stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. 11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:9-14).

Daniel 7:9-14 can be a confusing text if it is taken out the context of other teachings in Daniel.  The judgment by God here is during the Tribulation on Earth.  It is important to see that this is not the Great White Throne judgment, because that will take place after the Kingdom Age.  It is not the Judgment Seat of Christ, because that will take place in Heaven during the seven-year Tribulation on Earth.  This judgment is known as “Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:4-7; Daniel 12:1), which is the judgment of unbelieving Jews.  It is also the “judgment of the nations” (Matthew 25:31-46), which is the Seal Judgments released from Heaven upon the Christ rejecting Gentile nations of the world.  This is not for the Church!
Those returning with Christ at the battle of Armageddon are all Old Covenant and all Church Age “saints.”  A basic study of the Old Testament will reveal that “fine linen” was the clothing of the priests.  The saints of the New Covenant Church Age (from Pentecost to the Rapture) will be the “royal” and “holy” priesthood of Christ during the Kingdom Age (I Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 1:6; 2:26-28; 5:10; and 20:6).

“11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:11-14).

Secondly, we must also understand that the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7-10) will take place prior to the second advent of Christ.  This will obviously require the presence of the Bride (the Church).  The common Jewish wedding celebration (“marriage supper”) lasted seven days.
Since the Tribulation period is the “seventieth week” of Daniel, we can conclude that the “marriage supper of the Lamb” will last for the whole seven-years of the Tribulation period.  The Church will be glorified in Heaven with Christ for that whole period of time, not just the last few days (or years).
Much confusion is caused by those misunderstanding of the completion of the “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:4-6.  This is actually the third and last phase of the “first resurrection.”  During the Tribulation, millions of people will accept Christ as their Savior.  The majority of these people will be martyred for Jesus Christ.  They will either be “beheaded” or they will starve to death because they will not be allowed to work, buy, or sell goods without the “mark of the beast.”

“15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:15-17).

These martyred Tribulation saints will not be resurrected and glorified until after (or at) the second coming of Christ to the Earth.  This means they will be resurrected from the dead (redemption of the body, Romans 8:23) and glorified by the beginning of the Kingdom Age.  They will share in the Kingdom Age reign of Christ.  The meaning of phrase “this is the first resurrection” is that their resurrection completes the “first resurrection” that began with Christ and continued with the rapture prior to the beginning of the Tribulation period.

“4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead {the lost} lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

The Tribulation saints must be distinguished from Israel as well.  The probability is they will share in Christ’s rule as part of the Church since they die prior to the second advent of Christ.

“9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. . .14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9 and 14).

We can gather from all of this an overall understanding of the end-times up to this point.  It would be a serious mistake to presume that because the Tribulation saints are not resurrected until after the Tribulation that the rapture of the Church will not take place until that time.  It should be clearly understood from Revelation 20:5 that this is intended to complete the first resurrection that had happened earlier.  Christ was the “firstfruits” (I Corinthians 15:20-23), then all Church Age believers from the Day of Pentecost to the beginning of the Tribulation, and then the martyred Tribulation saints at the second coming of Christ.

Another text that causes much confusion about when the rapture occurs is Matthew chapter twenty-four.  This is mistaken for a rapture text because it is taken out of its dispensational context.  We must remember that the context of the Gospel of Matthew is Jesus coming as the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.  The confusion that this is a rapture text is forced upon Matthew chapter twenty-four because of a misunderstanding of Christ’s epistle to the local church at Sardis in Revelation chapter three.  Because people confuse Christ’s statement about coming as a thief, they presume a monothetic use of this phrase and that the text is teaching that Jesus is coming for believers.  Revelation 3:1 tells us that there were lost people in the church of Sardis.  Therefore, Jesus speaks to the lost in first part of Revelation 3:3 calling them to remember the Gospel, repent, and be saved.  These people manifest their lost condition by not watching for the coming of Jesus.

“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Revelation 3:3).

Therefore, this text is not referring to the rapture of Church Age believers.  Instead, the text refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ after the Tribulation period and at Armageddon.  The ramifications of this warning are very broad.  Since the redeemed will not go through the Tribulation period, and will be raptured (I Thessalonians 4:16-17) prior to this, this means that the people to which this text warns are lost.  This confirms the meaning behind the statement “thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (3:1).  Christ’s coming “as a thief” is a reference to Matthew 24:43. In this context it refers to Christ coming in judgment, not to rescue the Church from wrath, which is the intent of the rapture.

“37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken {killed in judgment}, and the other left {alive to go into the Kingdom Age}. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken {killed in judgment}, and the other left {alive to go into the Kingdom Age}. 42 Watch {this is for those saved during the Tribulation} therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:37-44).

In the “days of Noah,” those taken by the flood were taken in judgment and condemned.  Therefore, the “one” taken in Matthew 24:40 is taken in judgment and condemned.  Those “left” will enter Christ’s Kingdom alive.  Therefore, the warning in Revelation 3:3 appears to be that those professing Christ, but living hypocritically, should carefully consider if there is any reality to their faith.  The warning of Revelation 3:3 to “watch” is to be prepared for the coming of the Judge.  The only way to be prepared for His coming is to be prepared by salvation.

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
 Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment