“‘Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment’” (John 5:28–29).
The unbelieving Jews were astonished and outraged at Jesus’ bold claim to be the giver of spiritual life and the ultimate judge of all men. But then Jesus revealed another truth that astounded them: He would one day raise the dead from their graves. As He did with the spiritual resurrection (v. 25), Jesus said that the hour of physical resurrection is coming. The resurrection of “all who are in the tombs” is still future. At that time, the souls of the righteous dead, now in heaven with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6–8), and of the wicked dead, now in torment in Hades (Luke 16:22–23), will be given resurrected bodies fit for eternity.
The final resurrection will usher believers into the glories of eternal life, and bring unbelievers to the endless suffering of eternal judgment. By characterizing believers as “those who did the good deeds” and unbelievers as “those who committed the evil deeds,” Jesus was not teaching that salvation is by works. Throughout His ministry, Jesus clearly taught that salvation “is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (6:29). Good works are simply the evidence of salvation. Those who believe in the Son will as a result do “good deeds” (3:21; Eph. 2:10; James 2:14–20), while those who reject the Son will be characterized by “evil deeds.”
How does the reality of a physical resurrection help deflect the disappointment you feel when you notice those tell tale signs of aging and bodily decay? How do you balance the biblical stewardship of healthy living with the assurance that these temporary dwellings are destined for replacement?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.