ATTAINING TO THE FIRST RESURRECTION (EXCERPT OF KINGDOM CONCEPTS)
From: Kingdom Concepts
Copyright © 1990 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The first resurrection from the dead is Christ. He is being formed in us now. If He is not, then we are not attaining to the first resurrection. Either we are gaining the first resurrection today or else we are losing the first resurrection today. The Day of the Lord will not cause a change in our personality; rather, it will be an unveiling of that which has been prepared patiently throughout our pilgrimage on the earth.
If we are seeking the things that are above, if our attention, our love, our interests, our hopes continually are focused on the Throne of God, on Christ who is at the right hand of God, then we are attaining to the spiritual dimension of the first resurrection from the dead.
Table of Contents
Learning to walk in heavenly places in Christ now
Patiently Awaiting the Appearing of Christ
The Forming of Christ in Us
Leaving the World and Entering Into Union With the Lamb of God
The Divine Harvest: Separating the Wheat From the Tares
Thrones and Judgment
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [Greek: out-resurrection] from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)
The atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saints from the dead are the foundation of the Christian Gospel. They form the great hope that “whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
To a much greater extent than often is preached, the resurrection of our physical body and the accompanying rewards of power and glory are the “life” promised in the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
When we come to Christ for the first time in repentance of heart and mind, our confession of faith in Him is our entrance into the race for eternal life. Our initial experience of salvation is by no means the fullness of eternal life, it is only the beginning—a firstfruits.
While it is true that we pass from death to life at the moment of sincerely receiving Christ, nevertheless it is also true and scriptural that we are pressing toward the attainment to eternal life—particularly eternal life in our body (see Philippians 3:10,11 above).
First Corinthians, Chapter 15, which may be the most important passage of Scripture concerning the first resurrection from the dead (the resurrection of the victorious saints), states that while the life Christ came to bring us comes first to our inward nature it also has much to do with the life that will enter our dead body at the return of Christ to the earth.
It appears that in our day the salvation of our spirit and soul has been emphasized almost to the point of totally ignoring what the Scriptures teach concerning the resurrection of the body.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (I Corinthians 15:22,23)
“Those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
Think of the statements in the above passage. Physical death, the death of our body, as well as of our spirit and soul, came into being on the earth through the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
But the obedience of Christ reversed this calamity. Eternal life will be given to those who believe in Him. The Divine Life will come first to their spirit and soul. Then, at the coming of the Lord their body will be redeemed with eternal life.
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
“The redemption of our (physical) body.”
First Corinthians 15:23 declares that the coming of our eternal life is in the future, being an inseparable part of the coming of Christ in the clouds of glory.
“Afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” It is at His coming that we will be “made alive.”
What kind of eternal life will Christ bring to the saints at His coming? It is the fullness of eternal life in our body. We understand this from the statements in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians.
There are many passages in the New Testament writings explaining that if we would attain to life, that is, if we would arrive at the resurrection from the dead, we must walk continually in the Spirit of God and not in the appetites of the flesh. Resurrection life, while it will be brought into worldwide view at the coming of our Lord from Heaven, is a state at which we must be arriving now (Philippians 3:11).
This is not to imply we are being resurrected in our body in bits and pieces for that is contrary to Scripture (I Corinthians 15:52). But it is to say we must be attaining to the spiritual aspects of the resurrection on which our physical resurrection is based. If we do not take the necessary preliminary steps there is no possible chance we will participate in the first resurrection.
It is not that God will show His disapproval of us by not permitting us to rise to meet the Lord in the air. Rather, without the preparatory processes we will be unable to experience the change from mortality into immortality. Such physical transformation is impossible until the supporting spiritual transformation has taken place in us.
The following steps are not necessarily sequential.
One of these all-important preliminary steps is that of learning to walk in heavenly places in Christ now.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1,2)
How are we living now? If we are seeking the things that are above, if our attention, our love, our interests, our hopes, continually are focused on the Throne of God, on Christ who is at the right hand of God, then we are attaining to the spiritual dimension of the first resurrection from the dead.
But if our attention, our love, our interests, our hopes continually are focused on eating, working, playing, reproducing, buying, selling, scheming how to get rich and find pleasure in the things of the world, then we are not attaining to the first resurrection from the dead.
We may refer to the name of Christ from now until He comes. But if we do not do what He has commanded, then the first resurrection, the resurrection unto life and glory, will not be a part of our future. All the theological discussions in the world cannot change the smallest aspect of the spiritual realities of the Kingdom of God.
A second step to the resurrection from the dead has to do with our suffering and our willingness to await with patience the rest and joy that will come to us at the appearing of Christ in the power of His Kingdom.
We must be made worthy of the first resurrection and of the Kingdom of God, and suffering persecution and tribulation is a necessary part of the program.
which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; (II Thessalonians 1:5)
“You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
The believer who is unwilling to accept the tribulations that come to him or her, who continually is looking for a way to escape unpleasantness, who refuses to carry his cross patiently, who is attempting to enjoy the world while serving Christ, cannot attain to the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection that will take place when the Lord returns.
The true Christian life is one of patient perseverance throughout the numerous tribulations by which we enter the Kingdom of God. Many are the afflictions of the righteous. It is by prolonged testings and refining fires that we are prepared to be coheirs with Christ; that we are made ready for our position of power and authority over the nations of the earth.
If we suffer we will reign. The cross and the crown go together.
The Christian is a stranger and a pilgrim in the world. He is seeking a city that has foundations. He is not of the world, of its systems of solving problems apart from God’s wisdom, of its fierce desire to acquire wealth in order to become independent of the Lord’s help.
The true Christian will be persecuted and will suffer in the world. But his hope is in the coming of Christ who will punish all those who have harmed the Lord’s witnesses. This is the true Christian hope, the proper attitude to hold if one desires to attain to the first resurrection from the dead.
and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (II Thessalonians 1:7,8)
A third step toward arriving at the first resurrection from the dead is the forming of Christ in us.
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
The forming of Christ in the saint is the most important aspect of the new covenant; in fact, it is the new covenant.
Everything else in Christianity is secondary to the forming of Christ in the believer. Everything else is scaffolding, a means to the forming of Christ in us.
When Christ has been formed in us, then the new covenant has been established in our personality.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Only Christ, and that which has been prepared in Christ and is an inseparable, integral part of Christ, inherits the Kingdom of God.
Christ is the Resurrection. Christ is the Life. Christ is the Kingdom of God. As Christ is formed in us the Resurrection is formed in us. As Christ is formed in us the eternal Life from God is formed in us. As Christ is formed in us the Kingdom of God is formed in us.
The Christian who is so occupied with other matters that he is not attending to the development of the Life of Christ in him is dying. He or she is not attaining to the first resurrection. He is ignoring the very resurrection that he is hoping will be presented to him at the last trumpet.
The first resurrection from the dead is Christ. He is being formed in us now. If He is not, then we are not attaining to the first resurrection.
Either we are gaining the resurrection today or else we are losing the resurrection today. The Day of the Lord will not cause a change in our personality; rather, it will be an unveiling of that which has been prepared patiently throughout our pilgrimage on the earth.
Christ is formed in us as His body and blood become our spiritual life. It is that body and blood, that eternal life, that will raise us up to meet Him in the clouds.
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)
Are you attaining to the first resurrection? Or are you dying because you are living according to the appetites of your fleshly body?
A fourth step toward the first resurrection involves coming out from the multitude of halfhearted believers and entering total union, complete marriage, with the Lamb of God.
Keep in mind that many are called into the Kingdom of God but only a few are chosen for the first resurrection, chosen to rule with Christ as an eternal, inseparable, integral part of His Person.
Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
Each of us has been called to come up to Mount Zion, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect in Christ. How many of us obey that heavenly call and pass into the ranks of the chosen?
Whoever chooses to do so may become one of God’s stars, His sons who are wells of living water. Each of them marches every day in the joyous processions to Zion. They bring refreshing and blessing wherever they go.
They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3)
That song is the love song, the song without end that can be sung only by Christ and His firstfruits, His Bride. She is the perfect one, the “only one of her mother” (Song of Solomon 6:8-10).
One of the main characteristics of Christ’s firstfruits from the earth, those who arrive at the first resurrection from the dead, is the purity of their personalities. They are not defiled with that which is religious but not of Christ. There is nothing in their spirits, no person, no attainment, no thing, and no ambition competing for first place in their affections.
They are married to Christ. Nothing else and no other person has a hold or claim on their spirit. They are Christ’s and Christ’s alone. They are not of the churches but of Christ. Their relationships with everyone else and with all other things and circumstances are governed strictly by what Christ does or does not desire concerning them.
This group of people came originally from mankind. But having attained to the first resurrection from the dead they will be with Christ as an inseparable part of Him throughout the eons of eternity.
A fifth step toward the first resurrection from the dead has to do with the Divine harvest, with the separating of the wheat from the tares.
It is a mistake to suppose the Lord will gather into His barn, in the first resurrection, both the wheat and the tares. He is not going to do that. He first will remove the tares from the wheat and burn them. Then he will store the wheat in his barn.
The churches of today are filled with tares as well as with wheat. The individual saints have both the wheat of Christ and the tares of the devil in their lives. God will not gather the believer into His barn when there is adultery, lying, hatred, strife, envy, pride, greed, self-seeking, and every other abominable work in his personality.
Whoever would seek to attain to the first resurrection must purify himself of all unrighteousness (I John 3:3).
The tares must be gathered out of the Kingdom of God. Then the righteous will shine in the Kingdom of their Father, in the power and glory of the first resurrection.
‘Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:30)
The Kingdom of Heaven, as it stands today, cannot be lifted from the earth in the first resurrection and ascension of the saints. The preaching of the Kingdom has gathered “of every kind.” Some of what has been gathered is fit for the Kingdom; some is not.
Before the Lord returns and the saints are gathered to Him there must take place a separation between the vile and the precious, the unclean and the clean. Then the hoped-for eternal life will be given to us.
“So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, (Matthew 13:49)
From the above words of Christ we know that the wicked and the righteous will be mingled together until the end of the present age. By the term righteous is meant those persons who, having received Christ as Lord and Savior, are through His grace practicing the righteous ways of the Lord. They are not living in sin. They are being transformed into righteous, holy, and obedient behavior because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and because Christ is being formed in them.
A sixth step toward the first resurrection involves thrones and judgment. This step is the most important of all with reference to who will participate in the first resurrection.
The issue is that of who is in control of our personality. Seated on the throne of our personality is one of two kings. Either King Self is seated on the throne of our personality or else King Jesus is seated on the throne of our personality. This is the final determinant of participation in the first resurrection, and is the reason why suffering is necessary if we aspire to rule as a coheir with Christ.
It is impossible that any self-willed person can participate in the first resurrection. A self-seeking individual, whether or not he or she professes Christ, is a menace to the kingdom of Christ and God and cannot in any manner be entrusted with the power and authority of the first resurrection from the dead.
How, then, can we make the transition from King Self to King Christ?
God has a thoroughly effective solution to the problem of King Self. It is the cross.
“I” must be crucified. The prisons, embarrassments, sufferings, perplexities, delayed answers, frustrating circumstances that harass us continually are God’s method of dethroning Self and enthroning Christ.
The Christian who would avoid suffering, who “escapes” every time the Lord puts him in “prison,” is preventing his own resurrection. There is no other way. Either we take up our cross and follow our Lord and Master or else we lose the first resurrection from the dead.
There will be no exceptions. We must “lose” our life so Christ can live in us. Christ, and only Christ, inherits the Kingdom of God. When we insist on “serving” God according to our own desires, then King Self remains on the throne of our personality.
The continued reign of King Self rules out all possibility of our arriving at the first resurrection from the dead.
Many are called but few are chosen. You have been called to the Kingdom of God. Whether you attain to the ranks of the chosen depends on you. If you serve Christ only as long as you are comfortable, as long as your discipleship costs you nothing, you will not be chosen. Unless you make seeking Christ the focus of your life, forsaking all else that you might please Him in all matters, you will not be a part of the first resurrection.
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This [living again] is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:4,5)
What type of person will participate in the first resurrection?
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power [authority], but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
Are you laying aside all else in order that you may attain to the first resurrection?
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [Greek: out-resurrection] from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
(“Attaining to the First Resurrection”, 3278-1)