Book: Beliefs and Doctrines of the New Testament Church

The Bible reveals two distinct types of resurrection from the dead: 1) restoration to physical life as a fleshly human being, and 2) transformation to eternal life as an immortal spirit being.

The Scriptures record the resurrection of individual persons to physical life at various times by the will of God. In Old Testament times, a widow’s son was restored to life through the prayer of Elijah the prophet. Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead is a well-known example from New Testament times. These were special acts of mercy by God, which extended the physical life of the individuals. Those whom God resurrected in this manner were not given immortality, and all died again.

Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected to immortality by the power of God the Father. To become a human being, Jesus divested Himself of His glory and power as the Lord God of the Old Testament. When He was resurrected, He was restored to His full glory, power and honor as God. Jesus Christ is called the Firstborn from among the dead because He is the first of multiple millions who will be resurrected to immortality. When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, all true Christians who have died will be raised to eternal life as immortal spirit beings. Those Christians who are alive at the return of Jesus Christ will be changed instantaneously from flesh to spirit. This transformation to spirit is the new birth, when the saints of God—both dead and living—are truly “born again” into the Family of God. All the saints will be composed of spirit, as God is composed of spirit, and will be full members of God’s divine Family. They will rule with Jesus Christ as kings and priests on the earth. This resurrection is described in the Bible as the first resurrection.

After the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ and His saints, there will be a resurrection to physical life of all who have died without having received the opportunity for salvation. During this second physical life, each person will have his or her first and only opportunity for salvation through Jesus Christ. Those who fully accept the salvation of God will enter into the Family of God as spirit beings. Those who reject salvation through Jesus Christ will be condemned to eternal death. They will be joined by all the incorrigible wicked who have died throughout history, who will also be resurrected to physical life. All who have refused to accept salvation and have knowingly and willfully committed the unpardonable sin—blasphemy against the Holy Spirit of God the Father—will be resurrected to receive the final judgment of God. Their sentence will be to die in the lake of fire. This death is the second and final death, from which there is no resurrection.

Scriptural References

I Ki. 17:17-24 John 11:20-44 Mark 5:35-42
I Cor. 15:3-4, 20-23 Rom. 1:4 Heb. 2:9-10
John 5:28-29 I Cor. 15:23, 35-55 Rev. 20:4-6
Mat. 27:52-53 Rev. 20:11-12 Ezek. 37:1-14
Rev. 20:11-15 II Pet. 3:10-12 Mat. 25:41-46