By Jim Biscardi, Jr.
Before Jesus resurrected from the grave, He had a curious conversation with His friend Martha, whose brother, Lazarus, had just died. In that discourse, He called Himself the “Resurrection and the Life” – in essence, the One who brings to life that which is dead and the One who sustains and enhances life.
Many of us have already experienced Christ’s life-giving power because we were once spiritually dead and separated from God because of sin. But God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, The Son, came and paid the death penalty for us. He gave His life for ours. When we acknowledged our sinfulness, and accepted His sacrifice for our sin, we were born-again and experienced Christ’s resurrection power to give us new birth (John 3: 5-8).
But that wasn’t all that Jesus meant in His conversation with Martha. In John 11:25-26, Jesus said, “…I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…” What did He mean that we would live when we die, and that, if we live, we would never die?
I believe Jesus was speaking about the two ways we get to heaven…
In the first case, when we physically die, we will have eternal life with Him and therefore will live in heaven even though we die. He came to give us this eternal life. God has prepared a temporary tabernacle [a new body – “a house not made with hands”] for us when we die to enjoy all He has prepared for us in heaven at that time (2 Corinthians 5: 1-9). As I mentioned, we were under the sentence of death, but by Christ’s sacrifice that penalty was paid. He became the propitiation for our sins – the sacrifice pleasing to the Father (Romans 3:25).
In the second case, whoever is physically alive when He returns for us, and having received the new birth in Christ, will never die. Those of us believers who are alive when Jesus returns, will be taken to heaven like Elijah was taken from the earth – we will never die (2 Kings 9-11). We call that experience “The Rapture of the Church.”
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 says, “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever…”
That’s the event Jesus spoke about in John 14:1-3, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. There are many rooms in My Father’s house; otherwise, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”
Just like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), this return of Christ will not be announced. It will be very sudden. I believe the archangel Michael (Daniel 12:1), who is the great prince and commander in God’s army, will give a shout. He will declare that the enemy forces – the prince of the power of the air with all his demons – are sufficiently engaged and prevented from interfering.
The trumpet call of God will signal that the angelic harvesters should reap the earth of His people. And in about 1/20th of a second – in the twinkling of an eye – all believers in Christ will vanish from the earth. At that instant, we will receive our permanent incorruptible bodies to rule and reign with Christ throughout eternity (Revelation 22:5).
1 Corinthians 15:51-58 says, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality…Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
As we celebrate the awesome resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s remember that we too have been spiritually resurrected from the dead. And remember the two ways that Jesus, “The Resurrection and the Life,” will bring us to the home He is preparing for us!
As a teacher, author, columnist, and president emeritus of New Jersey Christian Ministries, Jim Biscardi has been “privileged for many years to help Christians grow in their knowledge of Christ.” You can find his books at barnesandnoble.com or amazon.