John's gospel, chapter 5...so the Lord has really blessed in the use of this particular book. And we believe that's because it exalts Jesus Christ. This gospel perhaps more than any other single book is the constant never ending, never ceasing portrait of the glory of Christ and as such, is a tremendously significant and rich and rewarding study. So, this morning we come to chapter 5 and verse 25 in our study. We study it verse by verse. And as we come to this, we come to the subject of resurrection.
Now every person who has ever lived, who is living today, who ever will live, will be resurrected from the dead. That may be startling, but it is true. The Word of God says that all men will be raised from the dead...all men will be literally resurrected from the grave. There's only one exception to that, that is as a group, and that is those saints who are raptured when Christ comes. Apart from that, every other human being that ever lived will experience a physical or literal resurrection.
However, not everybody will experience a spiritual resurrection. And these really are the two types of resurrection that I see in view in John's words or John's records of Jesus' words in this particular section. Resurrection then is the subject of these verses. A spiritual resurrection and a literally resurrection are both incorporated into what Christ has to say here. And so basically His defense before these Jewish leaders is the defense of deity. He says you can't impugn me from your viewpoint as a man because you're condemning God on man's principles, which is ridiculous.
So, in all of these then He claims to be equal with God. And incidentally, we saw last Sunday how He claimed to be equal in five ways in verses 17 to 23. He claimed to be equal in person, remember, the essence the same. He claimed to be equal in works. He claimed to be equal in power and sovereignty. He claimed to be equal in judgment and He claimed to be equal in honor. In all those five ways, He's equal with God. And, of course, they got the message. And it really upset them. They said, "Because He claims to be equal with God, we have to get rid of Him." And they sought to kill Him.
Now right in the midst of these five claims, I want you to notice verses 21 and 22. We're still reviewing. Now in those two verses, He makes the two key claims that deity must make. He claims, first of all, the power to give life. Secondly, the power to judge, or the right to judge. Those must be the pinnacles of the expression of deity. Deity must be the source of life. God has to be the source of life. God has to be the originating cause. And so the pinnacle of His claim to deity comes when He says, "I give life to whom I will." That, in essence, belongs to deity, doesn't it? The power of originating life.
Then the second characteristic, or pinnacle characteristic of deity is the right to judge. That means that God is the standard of righteousness. So Christ makes these two what you might call pinnacle claims of deity....the power to give life as the source of life and the right to judge as the source of what is right and the knowledge or the standard by which everything else is judged. So the pinnacle claims then of deity that Christ makes are the power to give life and the right and the privilege and the authority to judge. Those two things must belong to God. If God doesn't have those, then whoever has them is God because they are the essence of the operation of the attributes of God.
All right, so having made that claim, that is the claim to give life and to judge, He expresses those claims in a more practical way in verse 24. He makes them in 21 and 22, then He expresses them in verse 24 by saying, "He that heareth My Word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life." In other words, I not only have the power to give life, if you believe My words and believe My Father, you will know that power because I'll give you that life. Then secondly He says "And shall not come into judgment." But on the other hand, if you do not accept My word and do not receive the knowledge of My Father, then you will suffer the judgment that I have.
So, verses 21 and 22, He claims to have the right to judge and the power to give life. Verse 24, He shows how that operates. If you receive Christ, you know that His power to make alive works, because it happens to you. If you refuse Him, you are judged. So He has stated it and He has made it practical.
Now, He takes these same two pinnacle truths, the power to give life and the right to judge, and illustrates them in verses 25 to 29. So verses 25 to 29 is an illustration of the powers that God has. It is an illustration of the pinnacles of deity because in these verses we shall see His resurrection power and His right to judge those who refuse the spiritual resurrection.
And so, as we come to verses 25 to 29, it is an illustration of what He has claimed to be His rights and His powers in the previous section. So this section naturally deals with resurrection. It follows perfectly Christ's claim to be God as He claims the two pinnacle characteristics of divine power. Then He shows how they are illustrated right here in these verses.
Now I want to talk to you about the two aspects of resurrection...two major points this morning: spiritual resurrection and physical resurrection. And under those two points, three sub-points, all...both those two points have the same three sub-points. Under the spiritual resurrection we'll see the persons, the power and the purpose. Under the literal resurrection, or physical, we'll see the same thing, the persons, the power and the purpose.
Notice then verses 25 and 26 indicate to us that Christ has the power of spiritual resurrection. And we shall see the persons involved. "Verily, verily I say unto you," now that's the same formula, the same words that He used in verse 24, the same tremendous emphatic authoritative absolute use of the Greek that is in effect saying "Verily, verily, truly, truly, amen, amen, I most solemnly assure you," see. This is emphatic absolute, "The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear shall live."
Now we are introduced to the persons who are involved in the spiritual resurrection. And I feel clearly this verse is talking about spiritual life, not physical life...the contrast comes in verse 28 and 29, we'll see that in a moment. All right, He says then, first of all, that the dead who hear the voice of the Son of God will experience a spiritual resurrection. Now stay with me on this because this is very, very important truth. The dead who hear the voice of the Son of God will experience a spiritual resurrection.
Now when does this happen? When does this spiritual resurrection take place? All right, notice the phrase, "The hour is coming and...and what are the next two words?...now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God," etc. All right. So we are introduced to a time factor. The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall be raised. Now therefore we know this cannot refer to a literal physical resurrection because that doesn't happen until the end, that doesn't happen until the Rapture, the end of the Tribulation, and ultimately the end of the kingdom for the unjust. So we believe He's not talking about literal physical resurrection but spiritual resurrection. And we'll tell you what we mean.
But notice the phrase "the hour is coming and now is." What is this saying? This is saying that since the arrival of Christ there is a new resource for life. And already as Christ stands there face to face with those Jewish leaders, He has within Him the power to make them alive. And yet, in a sense, it is still coming. And that is this, the full expression of the new era didn't really begin till after the death and resurrection of Christ, right? The full expression of the new era didn't come about until the Spirit of God came at Pentecost and the church began and 3,000 people that first day were made alive spiritually, weren't they?
And so in a sense, the power...the resurrection power of Christ is yet coming in all of its completeness. But even now as Christ stands face to face with those Jewish leaders, He is the life. And in the present tense in John 14:6, He didn't say, "I will be the life," He said what? "I am the life." And look at verse 24, He doesn't say, "He that will hear My word and will believe," He says, "He that hears--present tense--and believes-- present tense--shall be made alive." So it's a present tense active. It's happening now. Christ is in the process right there of making people alive who hear His word. And we've just seen one, haven't we, the man at the pool of Bethesda who came alive. We also saw disciples whom Christ made spiritually alive. We also saw a Samaritan woman whom Christ made spiritually alive. We saw a group of people from a city called Sychar whom Christ made alive spiritually. We've seen that already. So we know that the power is there, though not in a full sense complete until after the church age.
But it's also...another interesting note..."That the hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall hear...and they that hear shall live." It's interesting to note that people today are still being made alive, aren't they? Still right now today. Two days ago I led somebody to Jesus Christ and I sat there as he came to life. You know what? That hour that now is right there 1900 years ago is still going on right now. This is still the age of life, isn't it? This is still the age when Jesus Christ makes men alive. And so that hour is an era. So you can't push that hour into a little time slot. That's an era. That's the beginning hour of an era. And we're still living in the era of life, aren't we? Is Christ still the life today? Is it still true today that he that believeth on the Son hath life? Sure, it's as true today as it was then, that hour is still going on.
And so, this is a spiritual resurrection. And it can happen at any time from the time Christ came until the end of the age, as long as God's power operates. And I believe Christ will still be making people alive right through the Kingdom, until eternal life takes over in the sense of the new heaven and the new earth. And so, even before the cross, Christ gives life. He is the life as soon as He got here, in that sense. And yet there's a fulfillment coming.
Now let me make a very interesting point that I think is important for you to understand. Remember in your study of Scripture, file this somewhere in the memory part of your mind, and remember that one very important thing to keep in consideration in studying the Scripture is that it is a progressive revelation. You don't have it till you've read it all. At any point where you stop it is incomplete until you've gone...if you stop and all you got through was the book of Matthew, you wouldn't have all the revelation of God. You'd be missing part of it. Well, imagine, too, that that historical progression is true in terms of history. For example, people living this day right here in John 5 standing on the street listening to Jesus talk weren't responsible for what hadn't happened yet. Christ didn't say, "You have to believe such and such and such and such that's never happened." He says, "Believe on Me what I've said, My word and Him that sent Me." He doesn't say, "Accept the blood of Christ, believe in My death," He didn't die yet.
Maybe I can put it this way. At any point, at any point in progressive historical revelation, believing to that point is all that God required. In the Old Testament, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. He had no concept of Christ. He may have known about Messiah and the pictures and the symbols and all of that, but not any personal identification. But he believed God because that's the point at which the revelation of God had met him.
You say, "Oh, well that relieves all the heathen." No it doesn't because the whole revelation has been complete for 1900 years and men are responsible for all of it. But historically as it unfolded, man was responsible for that revelation that God had already historically revealed...at any point to believe God was really the point of life. And so, Christ is saying to them, "You believe who I am, who sent Me and what I've said so far, and that's essentially the basis of new life, spiritual life." And this is a tremendous truth. So, the "hour of life" then is already here but it's already...it's also still to be complete as Christ speaks right here.
Now I want you to notice one other thing. Notice that it says that these people are dead, the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. Now here's a very interesting term that is used many times in the Bible to describe an unbelieving person, to describe a person who does not know Jesus Christ. He's called a dead person. In fact, it's Jesus who says I think Matthew 8:22, "Let the dead bury their dead." You know, a physically dead man, don't worry about them, the disciple who said I've got to go bury my father. He says let the dead bury their own dead. And He calls men dead. And also in Romans, I think...pardon me, in Ephesians 2:1 he says, "You hath He quickened who were dead." Colossians 2:13 is the same idea. And in Luke there's also a passage that says that the man was dead in sin. And it's indicated, you know, that sin...and really it's the picture of the prodigal son, he was living in sin, he was engulfed in sin. So that the Bible pictures sin, the sinful man as a state of being dead. And so it is the dead people that Christ is trying to make alive which is rather reasonable.
Now what does it mean to be spiritually dead? Well, just this, it means to be insensible to the things of God. You take a physically dead person and, God forbid, stick them with a pin, and you're not going to get any response...hopefully...because dead people don't react to a physical stimulus. A few weeks ago a little baby died just down the street, a little...I think two months old, precious little life. And I went down the street, someone called the church, I went down the street, a broken hearted mother and a precious little baby lying on a bed, no breath, still warm but dead, suffocated somehow in the blanket. And all the mother's love in the world couldn't change that. That baby wouldn't respond to its mother. And there's no closer bond in the world in human relationships than the love of a mother for a baby and a baby for a mother. The need is so great. But there was no response there...none at all. I could touch that little body, there was nothing there. It didn't matter what the stimulus was, death doesn't react.
And spiritual death is the same thing. It's a complete incapacity to respond to God. Man naturally does not respond to God. And every man born into this world is born in a state of spiritual death and incapacity. He can't react toward God. And so Christ comes into the world and what's the one thing He wants to do with these dead people? What is it? He wants to make them alive so they can sense God, so they can move in another world, so that they're...as Paul points it...our conversation or manner of life is not here, it's in heaven. We become other worldly, in a sense.
And this becomes a reechoing theme of John's gospel. And John, in fact in 1 John, John just gets all blessed with the fact that Christ gives life. He starts out 1 John 1, that whole little section, the first three verses, talking about Christ, the source of life. And John goes on and on about it here in chapter 5. For example, over in verse 40 He says, "You will not come to Me that you might have life." Chapter 6 verse 27, He says, "Labor not for the food, it perishes, but for the food which endures unto everlasting life which the Son of Man shall give you." And then down in verse 33, "Christ is the bread of God who gives life." Verse 35, "I am the bread of life." Verse 68, I think it is, of the same chapter, yes, Simon says, "Whom shall we go, Thou hast the words of eternal life." And then the climax in John 10 where He says, "I am come that you might have life and have it more abundantly." And then, of course, that great gigantic statement of Jesus to Martha in John 11:25 where He says, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in Me, though he were dead...what?...yet shall he live." Christ says I have come to give life to the dead...spiritual life.
Every man in this world is born dead and Christ is the one who can make them alive. And you'll notice that's what John says in verse 25, he says it is the voice of the Son of God that men must hear. And it's a beautiful picture of...right here of Christ because John's got the entire world dead, see, and there's only...and really, these are the words of Christ, Christ says the entire world is dead. The entire world is dead. There's only one living creature in this world and that is Jesus Christ. Everybody else is dead. The world is completely inundated with spiritual death and desolation. And only those who hear the voice of the only one who is alive can come alive. I mean, it would be like if nuclear war hit our world and everybody died, you know, On The Beach type thing, everybody in our whole world died. Nobody was alive except one individual, Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ began to move through the dead bodies, three billion corpses all over this world and Christ was the only one who was alive and the only power of life. And He began to move and He began to call out and say, "Come alive...come alive." As Paul said it, "Awake thou that sleepest and rise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light." And isn't it a good thing that that verse doesn't say, Ephesians 5, that that verse doesn't say, "And Christ shall give thee life?" Isn't it good that it doesn't say "Awake from the dead and Christ will give you life?" Or you'd have to wake yourself up before you could get it. He says, "Awake, rise from the dead and Christ shall give you light, the life gets you up, the light shows you where you are." The Bible doesn't mess around with words and make mistakes.
So, we find then that Christ is moving through this world and He's calling, "Come alive," and here and there corpses begin to stir and people begin to stand up. And you know what they begin to do? They begin to call out too. Look at me, I'm pointing to Christ, He can make you alive, come alive through Christ. And then more corpses are coming alive. That's essentially what Christ is doing right now in this world. He's moving through a world of spiritually dead people and He's calling some alive. And they're coming alive. And then you know what their task is? Their task is to join in the same call and move through the same dead world and say, "Come alive in Christ, come alive in Christ." That's what we are as Christians. We're living from the dead, calling the dead to be alive. And so, we see Jesus Christ calling out.
Notice at the end of verse 25 it says, "They that hear shall live." Does that mean that everybody who hears the gospel is going to live? No, that's not the hearing of the ear, that's the hearing of the heart. We know that everybody who hears the gospel doesn't believe. We know that. We know that. This is the effectual hearing of the heart. This is the hearing that implies faith, like Mark 18...Mark 8:18 says, "Having eyes, you see not, and having ears, you hear not." You know, there are all kinds of uses of the term "hearing."
For example, some of you are thinking..."Oh my gosh, why doesn't he shut up so I can get home, see." Now some of you are here and you're hearing but you're not hearing. Then, bless your hearts, some of you are just hearing and hearing the Word of God. And there's all kinds of hearing. And so he's saying here's an effectual hearing, they that hear with the heart. Listen, the only voice that can penetrate death is the voice of the Son of God. It's the only one. And if a man doesn't hear the voice of the Son of God, there's no sound that he's ever going to hear. It's not by ritual. It's not by psychiatry. "Well, I've got myself so psychoanalyzed, I know where everything fits in my personality...I'm a total person, I must be alive." Somebody says, "Well, I've gone through self-improvement. I've been to my therapy group and I've done my sensitivity training and I've...I'm so self-improved I...compared to what...I've got to be alive." Listen, Christ is the only one who gives life. And I don't care what you've got in this world, if you don't have Jesus Christ, you're dead. That's just as simple as it is. Insensitive to God. And the tragedy is that the only voice that can make dead men alive is Jesus Christ. And that's the tragedy of verse 40 of chapter 5 where Jesus cries out and says, "And you will not come to Me that you might...what?...have life." It's there, it's available and you won't come.
And so, we see the persons then who come alive in the spiritual resurrection are the dead who hear the voice of the Son of God, the only voice that can make alive. Now who is this power? Who is the power? Well, we said it's Christ, look at verse 26, the Son of God is the power. This is a fascinating verse. "For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." That's a tremendous verse because if you compare that with verse 21, you get the total picture. Verse 21 says, "The Father gives them life, the Son gives life to whom He will."
All right, in verse 21 the Son gives life. In verse 26 the Son is life. And let me tell you something, you can't give what you don't have. And there's nobody in this world that has life to give except Jesus Christ. No preacher, no teacher, no guru, no mystic, no cult, no Case--Edward, no Dixon--Jean, no nobody, no mystic of no kind and no religion and no systematic approach to a science or scientology or whatever you want to call it or astrology, or anything else, whatever it is, no system of any kind can give life because the sole possession of life is in the hands of God. And God through Christ is alone capable of giving life because He alone is the source of it. And if you don't have it, you can't give it in spiritual terms. And anything that's living in our world today is living because God made it alive. I don't care if it's a little tiny, whatever they call them, plankton floating around in the ocean that you can't even see with a microscope or whether it's a man spiritually alive, every living thing in the world is alive because God made it alive. And without Jesus Christ, everything is death...everything is death. He's responsible, John 1 says, for all that is alive, isn't He? "All things are made by Him, without Him was not anything made that was made in Him was...what?...life." So, God is life and Christ is life and this one single fountain of life flows in one stream from the Father and the Son.
Now I want to show you an interesting thought in verse 26. You'll notice the word "given." It says, "So hath He given to the Son." Now some people have brought up the question: this proves that the inferiority of Jesus, see, because the Father had to give Him life. The Father had it, He gave it to Christ.
Wait a minute, I want to back up a little bit on that one because in John 1:4 it says, "In Him was life." Nobody gave it to Him then. You say, "Well, why here?" Just this distinction, and mark this in your mind, in Christ's humiliation when He came to earth, you realize, of course, that He set aside all of His attributes and He became a man. And He only used those attributes which God's will desired that He use as a man. Thus He said there are some things, for example, like the coming of Christ, the end of the age, that I don't even know, only the Father knows. Now in His glory, in His glorification in heaven, He knew that. In His humiliation, He set those aside and operated only on the basis of those things that God desired Him to use. And what He's saying here is this, I have come in humiliation as a man and even as a man, God has granted Me the right to use My life-giving power. That's what He's saying. He's not saying I have something now I didn't have, He's saying I have the right from God, God has given Me to use this life-giving power even now. And true, He did use it.
So, we see then that the power is Christ. The persons the dead who hear His voice and the purpose...what's the purpose of this resurrection? Well, it's obvious. The purpose is spiritual and eternal life...abundant and eternal life. They that hear shall live, the end of verse 25. He gives life. The purpose of the spiritual resurrection is life. That's just that simple. Life eternal and life abundant. So then we see a spiritual resurrection.
Now, spending a lot less time and considering it briefly, verses 27 to 29 introduce us to the physical resurrection. We've seen the spiritual resurrection, now let us notice the physical resurrection. And again, verse 27 is kind of a little bridge here and I want to comment on that at this point before we go any further into physical resurrection. He introduces the subject of physical resurrection by these words, "And hath given unto Him," again, Christ already had this authority, He already had the authority to execute judgment, but God granted Him the expression of it in His humiliation, given Him authority to execute judgment also "because He is the Son of Man." Now that's kind of an interesting statement. Why judgment because He's the Son of Man? Why does He call Him in His judgment character the Son of Man and in His life-giving character the Son of God as in verse 25? Why the distinction in titles?
Well, I think there's an interesting point here and there are probably infinite number of possibilities. But one that seems perhaps likely to me, He is called the Son of God in His life-giving power in verse 25 because this is a divine act, right? A man is going along in spiritual death, it is a divine intervening miracle to reach down and make him alive. That's a divine miracle. That demands deity. That demands divine heavenly intervention to shatter the bonds of death and make him alive. So He's called the Son of God.
But, on the other hand, judgment does not demand divine intervention in total, at least in one aspect. And I'll show you what I mean. He is called in verse 27 the Son of Man connected with His judgment work. Why? Because really judgment is the natural course of sin. God doesn't have to break in, does He? God doesn't have to become divinely involved in judgment. For example, God has a certain moral law that He's built this universe upon. You break that moral law, and you will automatically suffer the consequences. As I have said many times, God doesn't have to go around squashing everybody that sins. Sin takes care of itself. Whatsoever a man sows...what? He reaps all by himself. God's not even there. If you jump off a ten-story building, God doesn't have to kill you. The law of gravity will do you in fine. The divine miracle would come if you didn't die, right? Because the laws are such that judgment is inevitable. You've broken a gravity law. Judgment in this world...this world is built on a moral basis, you break God's law, God doesn't have to come down and kill you, you'll take care of yourself. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. It doesn't say it's killed by God. It shall die. It doesn't say if you commit sin God kills you. It says the wages of sin is death. And so, I think in a sense, the Son of God is used in terms of a divine power to resurrect and it's shown how important that is by contrasting it with the Son of Man.
But there's got to be another point here, too. Because it says He executes judgment because He's the Son of Man. And I think here's this point, I think that God in all of His justice and fairness has judged man on the basis of man. In other words, Christ knows us, doesn't He? No man can ever say, "Well, God, it's a pretty dirty trick for You sitting up there in Your holy heaven to be telling us how to live down here. Why don't You come and find out what it's like?" Want to know something? He's been here. He knows what it's like. And so the judgment of God is based on the judgment of God who became a man. And that's why I see the character of Christ as the Son of Man in connection with His judgment. He judges us fairly, doesn't He, because He knows us. As the Son of Man, He judged man with a perfect knowledge of the justice that was due man.
All right, then as we come to verses 28 and 29 we are introduced to the persons and the power and the purpose of the physical resurrection. "Marvel not at this," which is the Old English way of saying, "Hold on to your hat, men, you're going to hear something you won't believe." "Marvel not at this for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice." Notice please He does not say that the hour is now is. This is a future hour. And they'll come forth...the ones that hear His voice are going to come forth. "They that have done good unto the resurrection of life, they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation." That's everybody. All that are in the graves...that's the persons involved in the physical resurrection...everybody. Everybody who ever died will be raised. Everyone who ever die whether they were buried here, there and everywhere or anywhere else...somebody came to me this morning and said, "How's God going to gather the people that were scattered to the four winds?" That's no problem for God. That's no problem for God. He...who needs those pieces, He's got other pieces. I don't know how He's going to make it...I don't know what they're going to be like. People say, "Well," some people said, "That's why I don't want to be cremated because I want to make it easy for God at the Rapture." Ha-ha-ha...well, really, I don't want to mess up your theology but there's no such thing as easy or hard for God...okay. So that's really not a problem. But all that are in the graves are going to come alive, see, a physical literal resurrection. And they're going to hear His voice and come alive.
Now I want you to make a note in your mind...when you see "hear His voice" in verse 28, that is not the same as hearing His voice in verse 25. This is not the effectual hearing of the heart, this is the sovereign call of Christ..."Everybody out of the graves." And they come. Can you imagine such power? I mean, can you fathom that kind of power, to call back to life every long-forgotten body that ever existed on this earth? Fantastic power, unbelievable. Jesus Christ will stand and He will say, "Alive," and they'll come out of the graves that they've occupied for thousands of years. And then people don't think Jesus Christ could really raise Lazarus. That's nothing...Lazarus? A minimal expression of the potency of God's power when you compare that with billions who shall rise in the end of the age. Oh, that's some kind of power.
Did you ever stop to think that that same kind of power is now aligned in your behalf as a believer? Did you know that? Did you know that Paul says that we live in the power of His...what?...resurrection? That's some kind of power. And you say, "God, my problems are so great I don't know if You can handle them." Ha-ha-ha.
Now these are bodies that are resurrected. The saints who have died, their souls are with the Lord, right? Paul says, "Absent from the body...what?...present with the Lord." The unbelievers that have died, their souls are in Hades or hell. This is their bodies to be rejoined again.
Now, some have tried to say this, and we want to make a very important point here, some have said this proves that there's no Rapture, no Tribulation, no Kingdom, no zero, no nothing. At the end of the age, everybody comes out together, God separates everybody and that's the way it is. And they say the reason they believe that is because right here in verse 29 it says, "They all come forth to the resurrection of life, the resurrection of damnation," and there's no distinction and there's no time in between and there's no nothing.
Well, now let me say this to you. This does not have to mean a single resurrection of everybody. In the first place, the word "hour," the hour is coming, that doesn't have to mean a particular moment, does it? We've just seen one hour that lasted 1900 years. Another thing is the Scripture clearly teaches that the resurrection of believers and the resurrection of unbelievers physically is separated by at least 1000 years called the Kingdom.
Let me show you what I mean. We know that the resurrection doesn't all happen at once, part of it has already happened. You know that already part of the resurrection happened? Matthew 27:52 and 53 says that when Christ died, the graves were opened and dead were raised. And finally after the resurrection they came out of the graves. So that in itself shows that it all doesn't have to happen at the same moment. That's Matthew 27, in case you're noting it.
But then there's another very important verse and I want to show you a couple of these and then we'll wrap it up. Luke 13 and Luke 13 tells us that there's a distinction between the resurrection of the just and the unjust. Luke 14 verse 13, all right, Christ is teaching in parables and He says in verse 13, "But when thou givest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind and thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of...what?...the just." You see, there is a distinct term that implies that the resurrection of believers is a particular resurrection all of its own...the resurrection of the just.
I want to show you one other verse. First Corinthians 15:22 and 23, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." All right, in Christ we're going to be made alive. Here it comes, "Every man in his own order." There is a sequence of resurrection. Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. It hasn't even talked about the unbelievers. There is a unique resurrection for the believer at the coming of Christ called the resurrection of the just.
Now the clincher...and, of course, this is described, you know, in terms of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4, right? "We which are alive and remain shall be caught up with the dead who are raised at the Rapture." That's only for the just. The unsaved are still in the graves. Their souls are already in Hades or Sheol or hell.
Now, you go over to Revelation chapter 20 and here's really the climax of what we want to say this morning and certainly the final proof that the resurrection of the believers and the unbelievers are distinct. Revelation chapter 20 verse 4, John's vision, he says, "I saw thrones and they sat upon them." This is the Kingdom, this is the thousand-year Kingdom right now, the millennial Kingdom. The Rapture's taken place, the seven-year Tribulation has taken place, Christ has come back and the Kingdom begins. "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 who had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
Now, there you have believers already resurrected living and reigning with Christ, right? Now you go to verse 5, "But the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished." And then the statement, "This is the first resurrection," applying back to the resurrection of believers. The second resurrection is that one at the end of the thousand years. So believers are resurrected before the Kingdom in three parts. The first part of the believers' resurrection was the resurrection of Christ. The second part, the Rapture of the church. The third part, the resurrection of Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. Then for a thousand years, the Kingdom. At the end of the thousand years, the resurrection of all the unsaved of all the ages. And they're brought, you know, before the Great White Throne judgment and judged.
Now if you want to see that, look at verses 12 and 13 of Revelation 20. The end of the thousand years, verse 11 says, there was the Great White Throne and verse 12, "And I saw the dead small and great stand before God and the books were opened." And he goes down through the statements of verse 13 and 14 to verse 15, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
So, the condemnation, the judgment of damnation, the resurrection of damnation takes place at the end of the thousand years. So we can see then that there's a distinction between the resurrection of believers and unbelievers.
You say, "Well, then, why doesn't Christ make the distinction here in John 5? Why does He put it together?" Because He's not purposefully trying to show us chronology, He's only revealing His power. Do you see that? He's only trying to express His resurrection power, not the chronology of it. You can't do everything in one place. He knows that He's going to reveal the book of Revelation to help us with that. He only wants us to see His resurrection power here. And these Jews were confused enough as it was, had He given all of that, they really would have done flips.
All right, the persons then are all the dead of all the ages. The power behind it is Christ. He is the power that can make the physical resurrection happen. And as I said, one of these days He's going to say, "Arise" to the church, you know, when He comes back and we're going to go. At the end of the Tribulation, He's going to say, "Arise" to the Old Testament saints and the Tribulation saints and they're going to come alive. At the end of the thousand years He's going to say "Arise" to the dead unsaved of all the ages and they're going to come before Him at the Great White Throne.
Now we've seen the persons and the power, the purpose is obvious. It's the same thing. The purpose of physical resurrection for believers is to usher them into the glories of eternal life...to take us into the presence of God. That's the purpose. The purpose of the resurrection for unbelievers is to judge their works and then to condemn them to hell for eternity.
Now notice verse 29 that it characterizes believers as they that have done ta agathos, the good or the excellent things. Believers are characterized by doing good things. Please note, this does not mean that if you do good works, you do good works you get into heaven. Not at all. You can't do good works. No way. All your righteousness is as...what?...filthy rags. The only way that it is possible for a man or a woman to do the ta agathosthe excellent things is not in their own power but in the power of faith in Jesus Christ. That's what James meant when he said faith without works is dead. Christ is simply saying here those who buy excellent things give evidence that they belong to Christ shall inherit the resurrection of life. And those who have done evil and that's ta phaulos, the worthless things, the meaningless things shall inherit the resurrection of damnation. Christ is not saying you're saved by works, please. But in order to make a contrast between the believer and the unbeliever, He has to make it on the basis of works. You can't contrast believers' faith with unbeliever's faith, can you? Unbelievers don't have any faith. You can't contrast believers' life with unbelievers' life, cause unbelievers are dead. The only place where you can make a comparison is on the basis of their acts or their deeds or their works. And so He's saying those who by faith in Christ have been able to do the excellent things shall inherit the resurrection of life. Those who by virtue of sin and death continue to do the worthless things shall inherit a resurrection of damnation.
And so, we see then that there shall be indeed two physical resurrections. And I ask you, as we close, this morning a very simple question. And that question is this: as you look at your life right now this morning, which resurrection are you a part of? And if you want to know how you can be a part of the resurrection to life, reread verse 24 and find out what it says. "He that heareth My word, believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life, shall not come into judgment, passed from death to life." You believe in Christ, receive Him as your Savior, you'll be a part of the resurrection of life.