Resurrection at the Time of Christ’s Second Coming-Soon after the bodily departure of Christ from earth, the apostles, upon whom then devolved the direct responsibilities of the Church, were found preaching the doctrine of a future and universal resurrection. This teaching appears to have formed a very prominent feature of their instructions; for it was made a cause of complaint by the Sadducees, who assailed the apostles, even within the sacred confines of the Temple, the accusers “being grieved that they [the apostles] taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Paul gave offense by the zeal with which he preached the resurrection, as witness his contention with certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics; in the course of which some said: “What will this babbler say? Other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.” The discussion was continued on Mars’ Hill, where Paul preached the Gospel of the true and living God, including the tenets of the resurrection: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” He declared the same truth to Felix, governor of Judea; and when brought in bonds before Agrippa, the king, he asked, as if dealing with one of the principal accusations against him: “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?”
The resurrection was a favorite theme with Paul; in his epistles to the saints, he gave it frequent and prominent attention. From him also we learn that an order of precedence is to be observed in the resurrection: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
It is expressly asserted that many graves shall yield up their dead at the time of Christ’s advent in glory, and the just who have slept, together with many who have not died, will be caught up to meet the Lord. Paul thus wrote to the saints in Thessalonica: “Even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
To the three Nephite disciples, who had asked the blessing of John the beloved apostle, Christ promised: “And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory, ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality.”
Through the medium of latter-day revelation the Lord has said: “Behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory, with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off. But before the arm of the Lord shall fall, an angel shall sound his trump, and the saints that have slept shall come forth to meet me in the cloud.” Of the many signs and wonders which shall attend the Lord’s glorious coming we have this partial description: “And the face of the Lord shall be unveiled; And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven-They are Christ’s, the firstfruits; they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him.”
Such are some of the glories to attend the resurrection of the just. And the company of the righteous will include all who have lived faithfully according to the laws of God as made known to them; children who have died in their innocence; and even the just among the heathen nations who have lived in comparative darkness while groping for light, and who have died in ignorance. This doctrine is made plain by modern revelation: “And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection.” The Millennium then is to be inaugurated by a glorious deliverance of the just from the power of death; and of this company of the redeemed it is written: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
The Final Resurrection-”But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” So testified the Revelator after having described the glorious blessings of the righteous, who are given part in the first resurrection. The unworthy will be called to the judgment of condemnation, when the regenerated world is ready to be presented to the Father.
The contrast between those whose part in the first resurrection is assured, and those whose doom it is to wait until the time of final judgment, is a strong one, and in no case do the scriptures lighten it. We are told that it is right for us to weep over bereavement by death, “and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.” In the present day, the voice of Jesus Christ is heard in solemn warning: “Hearken ye, for, behold, the great day of the Lord is nigh at hand. For the day cometh that the Lord shall utter his voice out of heaven; the heavens shall shake and the earth shall tremble, and the trump of God shall sound both long and loud, and shall say to the sleeping nations: Ye saints arise and live; ye sinners stay and sleep until I shall call again.”
The vision of the final scene is thus described by John: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” As the scriptures conclusively prove, the resurrection is to be universal. While it is true that the dead shall be brought forth in order, each as he is prepared for the first or a later stage, yet everyone who has tabernacled in the flesh shall again assume his body; and, with spirit and body reunited, he shall be judged.
The Book of Mormon is definite in the description of the literal and universal resurrection: “Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death; The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt. Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil. Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life.”
Consider also the following: “The death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep, from which sleep all men shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound; and they shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death, which death is a temporal death. And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.”
So far has the word of revealed truth extended our knowledge regarding the destiny of the human race. Beyond the regeneration of the earth and the final judgment of the just and the wicked we know little, except that a plan of eternal progression has been provided.