By He Ying
It is recorded in chapter 37, verses 5-6 in the Book of Ezekiel, “Thus said the Lordto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live: And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am Jehovah.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, “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.” We all believe that when the returns, the dead will be resurrected. However, lots of brothers and sisters in the Lord believe that the resurrected dead refers to saints in ages and generations past becoming resurrected when the Lord Jesus returns, and that the bodies they took with them into death will be given new life. This is what many brothers and sisters think, but will the prophecies that are in Scripture really come about as we imagine? What do we actually mean when we speak of “the resurrected dead?” In the text below we will focus on this issue.
Who Really Are “the Dead”
If we want to understand what is meant when we speak of “the resurrected dead,” we must first understand who “the dead” are. When we speak of the dead, everyone knows that those whose hearts have stopped beating and who are no longer breathing are dead people, and that these are people whose physical bodies have died. But is this what God means when He speaks of “the dead?” In the beginning Adam and Eve listened to the word of God, they were able to submit to God. God called them as living human beings with spirits. But when they both ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in God’s eyes, they had already died. As God said to Adam: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Andrecords, “And another of his disciples said to him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said to him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:21-22). It’s clear that the dead that the Lord Jesus speaks of are not people who have physically died.
So who really are “the dead?” I found a passage in one book that touched upon this subject: “‘The dead’ are those who oppose and rebel against God, they are those who are numb in spirit and do not understand God’s words, they are those who do not put the truth into practice and have not the slightest loyalty to God, and they are those who live under the domain of Satan and are exploited by Satan. … Originally the man made by God was alive, but because of Satan’s corruption man lives amid death, and lives under the influence of Satan, and so these people have become the dead who are without a spirit, they have become enemies who oppose God, they have become the tools of Satan, and they have become the captives of Satan. … The dead are those who have no spirit, those who are numb in the extreme, and who oppose God. Moreover, they are those who do not know God. These people have not the slightest intention of obeying God, they only rebel against Him and oppose Him, and have not the slightest loyalty” (“Have You Come Alive?”).
This passage says it very clearly, in the beginning the men created by God were living beings possessed of spirits, they listened to the word of God, they were able to submit to God, they were the manifestation of God’s glory, but after they were tempted and corrupted by Satan, they then lived under the domain of Satan and became the spiritless dead. Up to today, the human race has become more and more corrupted by Satan, everyone is following the trends of the world, we are weary of the truth and adore what is evil. We do not worship the true God; we all live in sin; we covet sinful pleasures without considering repentance. Even those who have believed in the Lord for many years also follow the trends of the world without keeping to the word of the Lord. They often commit sins and oppose God. For example, often we are still able to tell lies and offend the Lord; we say nice words when we pray to God but we don’t practice the truth behind His back; when we have dealings with other people we are still able to rely on our arrogant disposition to act in accordance with our own ideas, unable to accept other people’s suggestions; sometimes, when we come across indispositions or trials and tribulations, in our hearts we are even able to blame the Lord, to the point that we betray the Lord, or worse. From these facts we can see that the so-called “dead” are not physically dead, but rather they are dead in the spirit, and this kind of person is filled with corrupt disposition of Satan within them, they are full of disobedience and resistance to God. That is to say, even though they, they are unable to put the truth into practice, they often live within their corrupt disposition, they live under the domain of Satan, they have no faithfulness or obedience to God. These are “the dead” in the eyes of God. On the other hand, “the living” refers to those who have thrown off Satan’s corrupt disposition, those who are able to do everything in accordance with the word of God, who follow the path of God, who have achieved true love for and obedience to God. Only these people are living beings possessed of spirits, and they are the ones who are truly resurrected from the dead.
How Are “the Dead” Resurrected
We understand who “the dead” truly are, so then how can the dead turn into living people? The Lord Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:12-13). Peter, when receiving the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, said: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). A book says more clearly about it, “The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within the corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation. … Therefore, after that stage of work was finished, there still remained the work of judgment and chastisement. This stage is to make man pure by means of the word and thereby give him a path to follow” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)”).
“If people wish to become living beings, and to bear testimony to God, and to be approved of by God, they must accept, they must gladly submit to His judgment and chastisement, and must gladly accept the pruning and dealing of God. Only then will they be able to put all of the truths required by God into practice, and only then will they gain God’s salvation, and truly become living beings” (“Have You Come Alive?”).
From these words we are able to understand that the Lord Jesus used His own life to rescue mankind from sin. We are no longer sinners, we are qualified to come before God, and pray to Him and worship Him, and enjoy the grace of God. But even though our sins have been absolved, the source of our sins still lies deeply rooted within us, and we often commit sins. This is a fact. God is holy and great, He will not allow “the dead” to enter God’s kingdom. As a result, inGod will “resurrect” every single person who truly believes in Him, that is, through expressing the truth He carries out the work of judgment starting from the house of God, He expresses every truth necessary for us to attain salvation, which allows us to come to a true understanding of our satanic nature that disobeys and resists God and at the same time we have an understanding of God’s righteous disposition. Then we will come alive in God’s words of judgment and become living beings who possess truth and humanity. Just as it was with Job and Peter, we will be able to love God deeply and obey Him unto death, we will live out the reality of God’s words, and we will have God’s words as our life. In the end we will become the manifestation of God’s glory. Only such people will be the newly made man and the truly living man. So long as we receive God’s words of judgment and chastisement, then our corrupt disposition will be able to be cleansed and changed, and we will become people who are truly obedient to God and who worship God. This is what it truly means to be the resurrected dead. This proves what the Lord Jesus said, “And this is the Father’s will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39-40).
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