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Just a few thoughts on........
The Resurrection of the Dead
by David A. DePra
Probably most of the confusion and disagreement which arises over the subject of the resurrection from the dead, and the last judgment, stems from trying to apply the rules of our time and space continuum to the realm of the eternal. We try to figure a way in which all of the words of the Bible can have meaning and explanation, and in doing so, forget that we are talking about an eternal God, who exists in an eternal realm – where there is no time and space. For such a realm we have no frame of reference, only to say that it is OUTSIDE of all that we know as existence.
The following is offered as a elementary guideline:
Draw a horizontal line on a blank piece of paper, similar to the one below. This line will represent the “time line” of the human race, beginning with Adam, and ending with what we will call the END of this present age. Two-thirds of the way on this time line we show Jesus Christ, i.e., Jesus Christ, denoting the time He came, lived, died, and rose again. The other “notches” along the time line represent the death of various people throughout human history. They can be anyone you want them to be. And the “X” marks the present, assuming we really are near the END.
Now, this line is on a blank piece of paper. As mentioned, the line represents the time and space continuum in which we live as human beings on this planet. What does the paper itself represent? Eternity. But for that we must imagine that the edges of the paper really don’t end, but instead are extended infinitely in all four directions.
Ok. Here’s the point: Imagine each one of these “notches” to represent the death of a person who once lived. The moment they die, they step OUT of the time / space continuum, represented by the line, and onto the piece of paper, which represents eternity. From the viewpoint of the LINE, they do this “stepping off” at different points IN TIME. Right? Sure. Everyone dies at a certain TIME. But the moment they step OFF of the “time line” they are in what kind of a realm? A timeless realm. Consequently, despite stepping OFF the line at different points of TIME – as measured on the line – they have stepped INTO a realm which has no time. Thus, it can be said that from the standpoint of the realm of eternity – represented by the paper – everyone ends up there “at the same point in time.”
Of course, it really isn’t ANY TIME, is it? The moment I used the phrase “at the same point in time,” I was wrong. I was usually a vocabulary word which doesn’t apply to a timeless realm. So I should have said, “When they step out of the realm of time, they do it at different times. But when they step into TIMELESSNESS, there is no distinction as to WHEN or the TIME, since there is no such thing as that there.”
You can see that what we are dealing with here is something which is “other than” what we know as existence. But this illustration does show the folly of trying to apply our “time / space” rules to an eternal realm of spirit. Sufficient to say, understanding that what we are dealing with here is an eternal realm should clear up a few of the questions about the resurrection and the last judgment.
For instance, it would mean there aren’t people “up in heaven” waiting for us. No. Because despite the fact that people have been continually dying for thousands of years – according to OUR time – that from the perspective of heaven it is all one thing -- everything happens all at once. There is NO TIME in heaven, so there is NO “WAITING.” Again, we are talking about another mode of existence for which we have no frame of reference. You and I do not know what timelessness is. We have no consciousness of it -- nor can we in this age.
What we see is this: From the perspective of the eternal – from OFF the timeline, but ON the paper – the timeline is a single unit. Eternity sees it ALL together, as a whole, all at once. Eternity views the timeline from OUTSIDE of time!
The resurrection is a case in point. It could be that the moment someone dies that the next moment of consciousness FOR THEM is the resurrection. The Bible does compare death to SLEEP – a “sleep” out of which we will be awakened in the resurrection. And even though we can dream while sleeping, everyone can attest to the fact that if you sleep and don’t remember dreaming, there is a sense in which you have consciousness of the passing of time. For you, the moment you awake is the next second after the last moment you were awake.
Of course, no one can know these things for sure. But there are a few scriptures which seem to contrast the timelessness of the eternal realm to the time realm in which we live:
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:12-13)
Jesus seems to be saying that He not only came down from heaven, but is still there! How can this be? It can’t, from the point of view of those living on that “time-line.” THAT is an “earthly” thing. But it CAN be true from the eternal perspective – which is an “heavenly” or eternal thing. From that heavenly perspective, ALL of time is seen at once – as a whole; all together. Jesus is telling us that if we cannot even understand what is going on here, in the timeline, how can we possibly understand things from the perspective OUTSIDE of that?
Note the contrast given in scripture between the temporal and the eternal:
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (II Cor. 4:18)
The terms “everlasting life” in the Bible backs up everything we are saying. It is not really a term which denotes life which has no end. It is life which has NO TIME. It is life which is not controlled, or subject to, TIME. It is so permanent and incorruptible that any attachment of it to time and space skews it’s meaning. Thus, the term “everlasting” life does not describe a LENGTH of life. It describes a KIND of life – obviously, resurrection life in Jesus Christ.
The resurrection is the means by which our bodies will come under the Redemption, and the means through which the full release of all that Christ has done for us, and given to us, might be realized. Presently, the Holy Spirit is the DOWNPAYMENT of the fullness which God has for us.
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