Redemption and Resurrection

Central to the doctrine of salvation is the promise of redemption. God will not abandon what He first created, and both the term and the concept mean the recovery of what was lost. At present, the universe is enslaved by sin and condemned to decay and death. In God’s redemptive plans, the end state of redeemed things and persons is vastly superior to their original state, and this principle is epitomized in the promise of bodily resurrection.

Until the day Jesus arrives, his Church must focus on harvesting men and women from the Earth by proclaiming the Gospel to all nations. This is the task he assigned to his disciples between his ascension and the moment of his return “on the clouds of Heaven” – (Matthew 24:14).

Alps - Photo by Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash
[Alps - Photo by Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash]

The “
end” will not come until his people complete this task, which is the factor that will determine the timing of the final day. Removing the “Body of Christ” from the Earth several years before the completion of this mission is not an option.

When the Apostle Paul discussed the future hope of the church, he based it on the past death and resurrection of Jesus. Salvation was not achieved by his sacrificial death alone, but also through his resurrection from the dead - (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 20-23).

The Apostolic Tradition preserved in the New Testament teaches redemption, not abandonment. Salvation will be actualized in all its fullness when the righteous dead are raised to “meet” Jesus as he descends from Heaven.

On that day, dead believers will be resurrected and living ones transformed, and both groups will receive their immortal bodies (“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality”). Paul consistently locates the resurrection at the “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus - (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

In First Thessalonians, he reassures the Assembly concerning the fate of fellow believers who die before the ‘Parousia.’ This is why he stresses their bodily resurrection on when Jesus appears.

Any believer who remains alive at that time will be reunited with his or her resurrected loved ones, and then, all the gathered saints will “meet the Lord in the air” as he arrives from Heaven. Afterward, the entire Assembly will be with him “forevermore.”

The passage does not state that Jesus will take his saints back to “heaven” after meeting them “in the air.” It only ends with the statement, “and so will we be with the Lord forevermore.”

JUDGMENT AND VINDICATION


When interpreting the final verse of this passage, the larger context must be kept in view. In the next chapter, Paul warns that the unprepared will be overtaken by the events of that day, “like a thief in the night.” His “arrival” from Heaven will also coincide with the “Day of the Lord,” an event associated with God’s judicial punishment of the wicked.

In his second Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul declares that when Jesus is “revealed from heaven,” the righteous will be vindicated but the unrighteous will receive “everlasting destruction.” Both events will occur at that time - (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

In the New Testament, Jesus is always “coming” on the last day, never “going.” When any physical direction is provided, he is coming “from Heaven” and descending to the Earth to gather his saints - (Matthew 16:27, 24:30, 25:31, 26:64, Acts 1:11, 1 Corinthians 15:23, Revelation 1:7).

The most comprehensive list of final events is found in Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians as he corrects false teachings about the bodily resurrection - (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 50-57).

His “arrival from Heaven” will result in the CESSATION OF DEATH (the “last enemy”), the RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, the final SUBJUGATION OF ALL HOSTILE POWERS, the CONSUMMATION OF THE KINGDOM, and the transformation of the saints still alive that day FROM MORTALITY TO IMMORTALITY.

The resurrection of the righteous means nothing less than the termination of death, and believers who are still alive on that day will be transformed, the very same scenario presented in First Thessalonians. The point is not the removal of the church from the Earth, but the resurrection and transformation of its members, whether dead or still alive.

That day will result in the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous. It will be a day of joy for the spiritually prepared, but one of everlasting punishment for the unprepared. The old “heaven and earth” will be dissolved, and the “New Heavens and the New Earth” will appear - (Matthew 13:30. 25:13, 25:31-46, Luke 12:33-39, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2 Peter 3:10-11).

Daybreak - Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash
[Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash]

That day will be characterized by its finality.
 Death will cease, the old creation will disappear, resurrected believers will be with the Lord “forevermore,” and the unrighteous will receive “everlasting” destruction - (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:5-10).

The biblical hope of salvation does not mean escaping from the spacetime continuum or the desertion of God’s original creation. It is found in the bodily resurrection and New Creation. The Gospel proclaimed by Jesus is about redemption. Even now, the universe is “groaning” in anticipation of the resurrection of the “Sons of God” and the “restoration of all things” that will follow - (Romans 8:19-25, 2 Peter 3:10).

In the end, the city of New Jerusalem will descend from Heaven to the New Earth. In that glorious city, everyone who has been redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb” will live forevermore in his presence free from all sorrow, suffering, and death.



RELATED POSTS:
  • The Last Enemy- (The arrival of Jesus at the end of the age will mean the end of the Last Enemy, namely, Death - 1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
  • Spirit and Resurrection - (The Gift of the Spirit is the foretaste and guarantee of the bodily resurrection and of the coming New Creation)
  • Life from the Dead - (Paul’s Gospel from humanity's plight due to sin to the resurrection of the dead through Jesus of Nazareth)

Comments

POPULAR POSTS

Ekklésia - Assembly of God

The Mission