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New City Catechism 50.3

Question 50: What does Christ's resurrection mean for us?

Answer: Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the paradigm for the resurrection of believers to the glory of the age to come. But it is not only believers in Christ who will be raised from the dead. Unbelievers also will be raised, but not for the same purpose. Revelation 20:11-15 reads,

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Scripture clearly teaches that the final separation of the wicked from the presence of God will occur at the final judgment and will result in everlasting, unending, inescapable torment. And this torment will be one experienced in the body. Consider Jesus' repeated warnings about hell that include warnings about torment to the body:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28)
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30)

All people will be raised from the dead, but for two different purposes. Those who are in Christ will share in his resurrection unto life. Those who remain in Adam will be raised to condemnation and will experience the horror of separation from God forever. We must take care to flee from the wrath to come by holding fast to Jesus Christ as our hope today.

Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Revelation 20:11-21:8. What does this passage teach about the future resurrection and judgment? What will happen to believers in that day? What will happen to unbelievers? What does that mean for you now?

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