Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Say What?

Meditation for the week of September 9, 2012

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth– those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28-29)

There are three resurrections in this chapter.  The first one is in John 5:24 and it is a spiritual resurrection.  Those who trust God by trusting in the Lord Jesus have already passed from death to life according to this verse.  That is a resurrection.  Then we have today’s verses which speak of a resurrection of life and a resurrection of condemnation.  The book of the Revelation tells us that these resurrections are 1,000 years apart.  Revelation 20:5-6 says, “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” 

Before the Kingdom of God is established on the earth, there is a resurrection of those who have trusted in Christ.  They get to reign with Christ for a 1000 years.  After that there is another resurrection for those who have died rejecting Christ.  That is the resurrection of condemnation and this chapter says that those who are part of that resurrection will experience the second death.  They will have died once physically and after their resurrection they will stand before God to be judged by their works.  Since our works are never good enough to get us to heaven, those who are judged according to their works instead of by the work of Christ for them on the cross will experience the second death by being forever separated from God in the Lake of Fire.

Now surely we all want to be part of the first resurrection, but how can we be part of that resurrection?  John 529, says we must do good to be part of that resurrection.  But wait a minute!  Doesn’t “doing good” make salvation something we do for God rather than something He does for us?  Doesn’t Ephesians 2:9 say that salvation is not of works of righteousness?  The Bible does not contradict itself although at times it may seem that it does until we understand the conflicting passages.  So what does it mean to do good?

Some would say that doing good in this passage is what Christians do because they are saved and not what they do in order to get saved.  So those who do good are those who are proving that they are saved by their good works.  While that is a possible explanation, even Christians sin so how much good must they do to be good doers that take part in the first resurrection? I think there is a better explanation.

All the way through the Gospel of John, trusting in Christ (or believing in Him) is the important issue.  The purpose of the Gospel is given in John 20:31, “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31).  I have come to the conclusion that the greatest honor we can give to a person is to trust them.  Policemen talk about fellow officers who “have their back.”  Soldiers know the need to trust their fellow soldiers.  And we must come to the conclusion that we can trust Christ.  When we are trusting Christ or believing in Him, we are “doing good.” Our trust in the Lord honors Him.  It says that we believe He is God.  It says that we believe He has the ability and the authority on this earth to forgive our sins. 

We make a great mistake when we trust in men or ourselves.  But we cannot make a mistake when we are “doing good” by trusting in the Lord. 

Bruce Collins

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