Article 12 | Resurrection
The time is coming, you see, when everyone in the tombs will hear his voice. They will come out – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
Jesus, John 5
What is God’s plan to redeem and transform all of his Creation?
What’s heaven going to be like?
Based upon the biblical text we affirm the following about the Resurrection:
1. Beginning with essential verses in the Old Testament such as Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:1-5; Daniel 11:32-35, 12:2-3; and apocryphal verses 2 Maccabees 7, 12, 14; Wisdom 3:1-8, Jewish eschatological thought developed over time and began to look for a general and complete resurrection of the dead at the end of time. This resurrection would inaugurate a new apocalyptic order (described within Old Testament prophetic literature) that gave images of renewal, justice, peace, restoration, and deliverance as examples of this new order.
2. With the resurrection of Christ, the Christian community needed to alter its Jewish understanding of resurrection. They continued to view the general resurrection and the establishment of a new apocalyptic order as God’s plan for humanity but that God’s plan had begun with Christ and his resurrection from the dead. Meaning, the beginning of the end began with the resurrection of Christ and all of creation has been in the end times since his resurrection. He was and is the “first fruit” of the future general resurrection and he’s the initiator of a new creation known as the church – which is God’s new community.
3. What Christians can definitively say about the general resurrection is that it’s bodily. It’s not a disembodied soul living eternally in some alternative world. Our current bodies will be resurrected and transformed as a part of all Creation undergoing transformation. Earth will resemble earth and our bodies will resemble our current forms, except that they will be joyously imperishable and completely transformed.
This knowledge is affirmed by the eyewitness accounts of Christ’s resurrection. In those accounts his body was not in the tomb and when he’s encountered he certainly human yet his appearance at times has characteristics that are unquestionably supernatural.
For disciples then, there is death followed by a period of time where our soul, or our “whole person” is resting in Christ awaiting a bodily resurrection unto judgment and glory. Yet the larger and cosmic point is that in the Resurrection of Christ we see the unveiling of God’s new creation, which is new life and a new way of living for those who see and claim the Resurrection to be true now.
Recommended Readings: Surprised by Hope, The Meaning of Jesus, by N.T. Wright, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary and The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.