A Brand New Body, Perfectly Whole
14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
I’m overwhelmed at the Bible promise for the victorious saints of God. Our present body is a shadow of our future bodies. Look at Jesus at His resurrection and what John saw in Revelation. His face was like the sun and His voice as a dozen Niagara Falls. Of course He is divine and we will be limited only in contrast of the divine and flesh. The Bible promise, “We shall be like him.” (I John 3: 2-3) We will never be divine. We will be like him in glorious beauty.
The Holy Ghost said, “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (I Corinthians 15: 48-49) I like these words: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (I Corinthians 13: 12) Our glory is certainly coming and it is way beyond our understanding.
The highest honor possible to a redeemed man is to share in the bridal glories of Jesus Christ and to reign with Him in His millennial kingdom. This honor does not end with the wedding celebration and the one thousand years of righteous government. It carries this same honored company into the New Jerusalem built foursquare where they will share the golden city and live with the Creator God, forever. They will behold the Son and Bridegroom, as He presents His glorified jewels to the Father and the Father receives the redeemed creation.
A question then to be asked of all believers: Can this highest of all honors be forfeited or lost? First, two things are very important. Not to remember either of them is serious to a proper understanding of Scripture. One: We are saved by the free gift of God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) Salvation is the gift of God. To suggest the need of anything on our part prior to receiving this gift is to reduce and cheapen “grace.” Grace needs no support except that given it by the redeeming life and blood of Jesus Christ. Two: When we are saved or redeemed into the family of God we are a new creature (creation) with a new nature. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) To then suggest that this “born again from above” believer will continue in willful transgression is to blaspheme that same grace that saves without merits. This same apostle who speaks of this new creation also forbids any consideration of a sinning (practicing sin) Christian. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:1-7)
It’s important to know that He does make provision for the believer who falls into unplanned sin. None of us have grown from a baby in Christ to a mature saint without human errors or failures. The Holy Spirit gave us a powerful provision for this trail to sainthood. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2) The fallen Christian repents, confesses, makes restitution to man and God and then proceeds to His lofty destination; Holy Spirit filled living.
The Highest Honor: Reigning with Christ
Now, can this highest of all honors be forfeited or lost? If this honor of actually reigning with Jesus Christ as Kings and Priests and spending eternity in the New Jerusalem cannot be lost, then any discussion of “rewards” or “honors” is empty talk. Holy Scripture is emphatic, we are saved by grace, but once saved we will be rewarded by our obedience to God’s will. “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
A great prophetic writer, G.H. Lang, said, “We heard it boldly stated from a platform that the sharing in the bridal glories of the wife of the Lamb is guaranteed absolutely no matter what our practical life may or may not have been. But obviously if the very highest of all honors cannot possibly be forfeited plainly nothing is forfeitable, and the whole notion of reward for effort, so heavily emphasized in Holy Scripture is swept away.” (G.H. Lang, Firstfruits and Harvest, page 17) Hudson Taylor, the great missionary, said, “We wish to place on record our solemn conviction that now all who are Christians, or think themselves to be such, will attain to that resurrection of which St. Paul speaks in Philippians 3:11, or will thus meet the Lord in the air. Unto those who by lives of consecration manifest that they are not of the world, but are looking for Him, ‘He will appear without sin unto salvation.’” (Hudson Taylor, Union Communion, page 83, copied from Firstfruits and Harvest, Lang)
Apostle Peter seemed to scream out in his written prophecy. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10-11) To proclaim obtaining such a part in Christ’s future millennium by tying it to diligence to our calling, is powerful theology. Anything else as a preparation to be Kings and Governors in a Kingdom of justice, mercy and holiness is unthinkable and cheap. Even angels were cast out of heaven for disobedience, and forfeited their reward.
These following words by the Lord Jesus need no interpretation. “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” “ And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (St. Luke 12:35-37, 42-48)
1 Peter 4
1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
An Orderly Resurrection
The resurrection is an orderly series of events. The Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) is the book of unveiling. Its purpose is to unveil future events for spiritual edification. While the whole Bible supports the doctrine of a resurrection and clearly distinguishes between the resurrection of the just and unjust, Revelation gives details of seven (7) different resurrection events. The sixth of these seven is the conclusion of the first resurrection. “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. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:4-5) The last is identified as the final resurrection. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)
Apostle Paul laid the foundation for this orderly series in I Corinthians 15:35-42a, “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 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: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 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. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 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. So also is the resurrection of the dead.”
This church father made several things clear. Each of us are sowing seed for our future rewards and God Himself will place our resurrection in the order of deserved justice. “That which thou sowest…but bare grain it may chance of wheat or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him…” Then this apostle added, “There are also celestial bodies…terrestrial…but the glory of the celestial is one…terrestrial is another…one glory of the sun…another glory of the moon…stars…one star differeth from another star in glory…So also is the resurrection of the dead.” The word distinguishing different degrees of honor is the word “glory.” It suggests individual “reputation” or “appearance.” (Glory: doxa, refers to the recognition belonging to a person, honor, renown. Strong’s Dictionary.)
The millennium, the New Heaven and Earth, and the New Jerusalem, is not a place of copy-cat saints in glorified splendor. It is a place of individual glory, rewards and honor for our eternal enjoyment. The church at Pergamos was promised, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Revelation 2:17b) Here is a picture of an individual relationship with the bridegroom including a personal name known only to the person and their Lord. We will share an intimate personal fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ and the Heavenly Father forever.
1 Corinthians 15
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Firstfruit of Harvest
The event we have called the Rapture, which indeed it is, must be understood as a gathering of the “Firstfruits of the Resurrection Harvest.” It is not the completed “First Resurrection” or a general removal of all the believers from either the grave or the church. To suggest the same is to deny a great portion of scripture including the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself. He said, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
The Rapture of the Bride of Christ is no casual affair. Our soft 20th century church has reduced theology to the wild imagination of wimps, but isn’t to be so easy. Apostle Paul expressed the tension of his longing when he said, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11) An excellent rendering of this last passage is this, “If by any means I may arrive at the resurrection which is out from among the dead. If by any means I may- ‘if’ with the subjunctive of the verb-cannot but declare a condition; and so on this particle in this place, Alford says, ‘It is used when an end is proposed, but failure is presumed to be possible’ and so lightfoot: ‘The Apostle states not a positive assurance but a modest hope.’” (G.H. Lang, Firstfruits and Harvest, page 13)
Jesus made it plain in His description of the ten virgins (St. Matthew 25:1-13) which of the ten would go in the Firstfruits Harvest. Foolish virgins, who had left their first love, and consequently the fire of the Holy Ghost, were not prepared to escape. Apostle Paul speaks of the Rapture of the Firstfruits in writing to the Thessalonians. “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: 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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
Since the above passage of scripture does not draw any distinctions between the firstfruits, the tribulation saints in the middle of the seven years or the resurrection of additional dead in Revelation 20:4-5 at the end of the seven years of tribulation; many have concluded that everyone is resurrected or raptured at one time. The resurrected saints around the throne in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 were distinctly different than the group in Revelation 7 or Revelation 20. The firstfruits (I Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 4&5) were seated around the throne, clothed in white raiment and had crowns of gold. They also sang of their redemption saying He “has made us Kings and Priests and we shall reign on earth.” The tribulation saints have white robes and palms in their hands. “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 7:14b) These are standing not seated, have no crowns on their heads and do not speak of reigning with Christ, but rather serving Him.
Seven Orders of Resurrection in Revelation
The seven distinct resurrections and raptures in Revelation are as follows:
1) Firstfruits: (Rev. 4:1-11, 5:1-14) This privileged company are around the throne before the Tribulation period of seven years begins.
2) The Tribulation Saints: (Rev. 7:9-17) This group either missed the rapture because of a lukewarm condition or were saved during the first 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation. Many of these will be martyrs and will have to be resurrected at this time. I believe there will be others resurrected from the dead who were not worthy to be a part of the Bride. This company will be guests at the Wedding Feast.
3) The Two Witnesses: (Rev. 11:11-13) These two witnesses are slain after ministering for 1260 days of the Great Tribulation. They will be resurrected and raptured right before the eyes of their enemies.
4) Firstfruits of the Jewish Nation: (Rev. 14:1-5) These Jewish witnesses are sealed and protected while they evangelize the Jewish nation worldwide. Near the middle of the Tribulation, they are raptured to the Throne of God. They are a distinct and honored company and will certainly share in the Jewish Government under the Reigning Christ.
5) Jewish Remnant: (Rev. 15:1-4) This group is the Jewish Remnant that rejects the Anti-Christ and are probably slain by him. They refuse his mark and number and are now resurrected and/or raptured to the Throne of God. This event will transpire near the end of the seven years.
6) Conclusion of the First Resurrection: (Rev. 20:4-5) These are resurrected individuals from the Gentile nations. There are persons in this company who were killed in the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation as well as additional individuals resurrected from their graves. Those in this company missed the honour of the Wedding Feast and the coronation of the King of Kings. They do, however, share the Kingdom of Christ for one thousand years.
7) White Throne Judgment: (Rev. 20:11-15) This is the final judgment of man and is the judgment of the wicked dead. There will also be saved persons at this judgment. Righteous persons who died during millennium will be judged at this time. I believe there will be individuals who were saved so as by fire (I Corinthians 3:12-15), but received no reward who will not be resurrected until after the millennium. This is the only judgment mentioned in Scripture which occurs after the same. If there were not saved persons, the Scripture would not have said, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
Jesus Christ was the “Firstfruits” of our Resurrection. The Bride is His “Firstfruits” of His Resurrection. Please note that there are six stated resurrection events as relating to the First Resurrection in the order given in the Book of Revelation. Jesus Christ and His Resurrection coupled with these six create the completed number of “Seven” (Order The First Resurrection: Seven Orders, in print or on cassette on page 12). The White Throne is separate and following the one thousand years of Christ’s Earthly Kingdom.
No one need be excluded from the “Firstfruits Harvest.” Jesus Christ has made ample provision for your Perfection and Unquestioned Obedience. We do not follow Him by our own wisdom or power. Our security is in understanding the bankruptcy of the flesh and the crucifying of our nature every day. Carnal flesh cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The Blood of Jesus and the authority of Holy Scripture made manifest by the Holy Ghost in our lives will purify us unto Holiness of heart and soul. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.”
He’s coming for His Bride any minute! Are you ready or have you been intoxicated by modern theology? It could be too late to get “oil” any minute.