A Resurrection Day Meditation
John Donne’s Poem “For Whom the Bell Tolls” ends with this:
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
It is a stark reminder that every death points to our own mortality. A reminder for each person to say to yourself – one of the times the funeral bell tolls, it will be for me.
Death is the resulting horror, penalty and curse of sin. But the good news of the gospel is that death need not be the end of the story. Every resurrection day is a reminder of that fact. A reminder of the resurrection life that can only be found in Jesus:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
This offer is made to everyone who believes God is faithful, that Jesus actually rose from the dead, and by believing in him you too can be raised to new life:
But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
So every time we look at the cross, we should be reminded of Jesus’ death, and his resurrection on the third day. And since Jesus was the “firstfruits” (1 Cor 15:20) he is just the first of many to follow after him. The offer is open to all who are willing to believe. Thus the resurrection of Jesus should also be a reminder of our own coming resurrection.
What will your Resurrection Look Like?
So the question for you this Easter, this resurrection day, is what will your resurrection look like? Make no mistake: everyone will be raised from the dead, but not everyone will be raised to life. Many will be raised to the death of eternal condemnation as God revealed to many of his holy ones, including the prophet Daniel:
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
(Dan 12:2 NIV)
So all will be raised after death, but not all will be raised to life. Some will be raised to eternal condemnation, which is the second death. (Rev 21.8)
So what happens after you die? Those who believe go immediately to be with Jesus (2 Cor 5:8) for they have even now passed from death to life. (John 5.24) Those who have not believed stand condemned now (John 3.18) and will remain condemned into all eternity if they do not repent and accept God’s gracious offer of life before their death.
At death those who have rejected God’s offer of life are sent to a holding place to await final judgment. (Luke 16.23) When the final judgment comes, people are released from Death and Hades (a holding place) and made to stand before the God of all mankind (Jer 32.27) who judges the hearts and secrets of all (Rom 2:16, 2 Tim 4.1), and from whom nothing is hidden:
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
Those who have not believed will be brought before a great white throne (Rev 20.11) there to be judged by the King of Creation. A glimpse of that judgment has been revealed as follows:
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
So again I ask. What will your resurrection look like? The choice is yours. Yes, the choice of heaven or hell is yours. God does not want any to face eternal condemnation, but since he has created you as a free agent, the choice is yours. He implores you to choose life (Deut 30.19) for he takes no pleasure in those who choose death:
Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?
32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!
So again I ask. What will your resurrection look like? Will you follow the example of Abraham, the man of faith, who believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Rom 4.3); or will you continue in your own way, rejecting God and his gracious offer of life, and so rejecting the resurrection unto life?
The choice is yours. And we must all choose. Electing not to choose is a choice (not to follow). You must affirmatively decide to follow and obey God. As Abraham did.
Learn more about Abraham and his decisions to continually follow God in the new movie out about him in time for Resurrection day: “His Only Son.”
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