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Faithful Words

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By Dr. Kenneth Faught

 

The Blessedness of the First Resurrection

 

“Blessed  and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection…” (See Revelation 20:6).

There are two very significant words in the beginning of this verse. The word “blessed” refers to what makes one happy. The word “holy” refers to what makes one a “saint” – a consecration of life and the willingness to be different. The text addresses the matter of our resurrection. The reference to a first resurrection implies that there are at least two! How many resurrections will there be? When will they take place? Who will be included? Many explanations and theories have been offered. Some see only a general resurrection of nations and peoples. Some argue for a resurrection at the rapture of the church, a special resurrection of martyrs, and a final resurrection of the lost. Some see two basic resurrections – the first of believers and the second of unbelievers. The greatest biblical scholars do not agree. The idea of a resurrection has not always been widely accepted. Other religions (and even the Sadducees among the Jews) did not believe in resurrection). The word means “to stand again” or to “arise”. Jesus was the “first-fruits” of the resurrection, according to Paul. The great Christian text on the subject is to be found in 1 Corinthians 15.

The text in Revelation also includes a message of reassurance. Those who take part in the first resurrection will not experience the “second death”. That death is the spiritual death – separation from God – referred to by Paul in Romans 6:23. There is a special mention of the role of believers in the latter part of this verse. What are we going to be when we grow-up? Two answers are given: (1) We are “priests”. The word is from the Latin “pontifex”, or bridge-builder. Paul relates this in 2 Corinthians 5 to one who “reconciles” others. In Jewish life and thought the priest had direct access to God, or free entry into the presence of God. William Barclay says this promise gives us “the privilege of introducing others to Jesus Christ”. Introducing others to Christ is the God-given right and privilege of believers! (2) There is, finally, a reminder of the Christian’s reign with Christ. Again, Barclay, asserts, “In Christ even the most ordinary man becomes a king.”

So, there is yet another “blessedness” (beatitude) for Christians, and it includes the resurrection, no second death, being a priest, and becoming a king. Have you claimed the blessing?

Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.