Sunday, February 9, 2014

A general order of present and future events - John 5:25-28

John 5:25-28 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment."

In today's post we want to uncover the basic ordering of present and future events as they are communicated by Jesus in His conversation in John 5:25-29.  I view the post below as a thumbnail sketch to get our thoughts in order about what Jesus and the remainder of the New Testament lays out with regards to major events.  Let the reader understand that as the progress of God's revelation in scripture unfolds, further and further detail is added.  Much like a sunrise on a given morning, the fingers of sunlight that reach their way across every valley, tree and home slowly but surely unfolds one detail after another.  Undoubtedly Jesus Christ the Son is presenting what will be the standard general order of present and future events that are explained in further detail in later portions of the New Testament.

1. Spiritual resurrection from spiritual death now and physical resurrection later. John 5:25
Jesus states "an hour is now coming and now is". Jesus first of all speaks about what will be the believer's future resurrection at His return (and quite possibly those saints raised when Christ raised from the dead) in the statement "the hour is now coming". In seamless transition Jesus then chooses to use the language of death and resurrection ("now is") to describe the born-again experience of regeneration unto saving faith in the life of believers right now.

John Phillips on page 108 of his commentary on John notes: "The Lord's words, however, are not to be restricted to the coming literal resurrection of dead people from their graves at the sound of his voice-in itself a comprehensive claim to Deity-but they include the giving of the life of God to people, spiritually dead, who likewise hear his voice."

We can think of Jesus' opening statement as referring to the beginning point and culminating point for the Christian. The beginning point refers to the new birth or spiritual resurrection, whereby the sinner is saved in their human spirit by the Spirit's work of regeneration in saving faith. The culminating point is of course the believer's physical resurrection that will occur at Christ's coming for them in the rapture to raise those who died in Jesus out of the ground. Those saints who are living at that point will have their bodies transformed into a resurrection body. Posts in the future will speak more thoroughly on this point.

2. Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead as proof of His Deity. John 5:26
Jesus is alluding to what will be His own resurrection from the dead. His Pre-existent Divine life is viewed here too.  The fact is that He is capable of overcoming death speaks of Him as God, with His ability to experience death referring to His full humanity. Thus as God He has life in and of Himself and as man He will be crucified but raise bodily from the dead.

3. Jesus' 2nd coming as the Judge. John 5:27
Now we see Jesus referring to the events surrounding His second coming.  Clearly the believer's regeneration or spiritual resurrection in saving faith is connected to Christ's resurrection, since that same power that raises Him from the dead is identical to what brings sinners to saving faith - namely the Holy Spirit. (1 Peter 1:3-4).

4. The resurrection of the righteous and the wicked. John 4:28-29
As the passage closes, we see perfect symmetry between the beginning and end.  The believer is viewed as experiencing a spiritual resurrection, which is tied to Christ's resurrection and thus includes a future physical resurrection for them by Christ at His second coming. (John 5:24, 28)  Again let the reader be reminded by what was noted at the beginning of this post, namely that Jesus is laying  out a general order of events and is not going into exquisite detail like what is stated later on in the New Testament.

From what we can tell in John 5:29, the wicked unbeliever who dies in his sins will also be resurrected as well, but not in the resurrection of the righteous.  Rather there will be a second, later resurrection.  Daniel 12:2 describes the difference: "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt."  According to John 5:29, this second resurrection will be one unto judgment.   

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