“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thes. 4:16).
In our last message we reflected on the significance of the shout, the voice and the trumpet sound. Throughout the New Testament, the sounding of the trumpet is mentioned on a number of occasions to signal a resurrection change in all realms of man’s being. Thus, we read that the sounding causes the dead in Christ to “rise first”.
The word ‘rise’ is the Greek – ‘anistemi’ which means to ‘stand up’ or to simply ‘rise up’. It is also the Greek root word for resurrection (anastasis). Thus, the chief focus of this section of scripture is resurrection as opposed to physical rapture. However, there is a general assumption among most believers that the resurrection only deals with the body. But, there is more to our resurrection change than this.
Man is constituted of spirt, soul and body. And in each of these realms man needs to experience a resurrection. Although we have already experienced the awakening and standing up of our spirit, we have yet to fully apprehend the resurrection of our souls and bodies. This implies stages of resurrection where our spirit is the first to be raised up followed by the resurrection of our souls (mind, will, emotions, desires), and lastly the resurrection of our bodies to put on immortality. This was exemplified in the life of Jesus. In all three realms Jesus stood victorious as an overcoming Son of God – possessing a perfected Spirit, a perfected spiritual soul, and ultimately a perfected spiritual body.
In every realm, we have to be “conformed unto His death that we may attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:10). We are transformed only when the Spirit of Christ stands up in each realm as our very own nature and being. Thus, we are assured that the Lord Jesus Christ “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Phil 3:21). For “if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11).
However, before the resurrection of our bodies can take place there needs to be a resurrection of our souls. This resurrection occurs by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2) – by the putting on of the mind of Christ (Eph. 4:23). This is the present priority of God’s inworking in His sons. It is in our souls that we are putting on a new mind, dying daily, surrendering our will to the will of the Father, overcoming every imagination and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. The death of our souls and the raising up of our regenerated souls in the image of Christ is the result of the resurrection in this realm.
In light of this truth, we can better understand who the ‘dead in Christ’ are. They are an overcoming firstfruit company of sons who have not only experienced the raising up of their spirit, but have also partaken in the resurrection of their soul. Although they have yet to put on a spiritual body, these have been conformed to Christ’s death. They are hid with Christ in God. They have surrendered their soul (self-life) unto death. It was this company that John saw raised up to the throne: “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” (Rev. 20:4-5).
John was seeing the resurrected “souls” (Greek: psuche) of the apprehended sons who were raised up to a higher life. Their former un-quickened soul; the Adamic mind, the natural man, was beheaded (crucified to no longer exercise its headship over them). They worshiped not the perversion of self and carnality. They no longer possessed the mark or inscription of corruption on their foreheads (mind) nor on their hands (conduct). They had the Father’s name written on their foreheads and they followed the Lamb wherever He goes. We read that: “these were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Rev. 14:4).
Dears saint, this is the mark of the “dead in Christ”. This is a resurrection change that God is calling His sons to apprehend in this hour. Paul goes on to affirm that it is this firstfruit company that shall rise first or experience the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5-6).
However, for such a resurrection change to take place, the last trumpet, that today has been rejected by many saints, must be sounded, heard and appropriated. “So also is the resurrection of the dead… For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality… then shall be brought to pass the saying: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:42,52, 53, 54). Paul is here describing the finale of the resurrection where the power of death in every realm is overcome. This involves the putting on of incorruption (soul realm) and immortality (body realm). All this is the effectual working of Christ appearing in the last trumpet – the declaration of the full gospel of the kingdom. Paul again declares: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
Theses scriptures confirm that the main purpose of the trumpet is our change or transformation. In Revelation 11, John sees this transformation taking place after the last (seventh) trumpet is sounded. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Rev. 11:15). Subsequently, John saw that: “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple” (Rev. 11:19). John was not observing a literal temple, rather he was seeing prophetically the kingdom’s dominion being established in a people and the temple of God (His saints) displaying or manifesting the indwelling Christ (the ark) that He may be seen by all men. In other words, John was seeing the culmination of Christ’s resurrection life exhibited in an elect people. This is the mystery.
“But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished” (Rev. 10:7). What is this mystery that shall be finished? It is the manifestation of God in flesh. Paul writes: “without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). God in Christ is now in us moving and living and having His being, albeit in an in-part expression. But, in the finale of the sounding of the last trumpet, the members of the body of Christ shall come forth having been finished. The climax of the last trumpet indicates that the elect sons of God that make up the body of Christ have been transformed having come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ – spirit, soul and body.
Therefore, the seventh or last trumpet is the final redemptive message whose declaration will bring forth sons in the image of God on the earth. It will usher in the manifestation of the corporate Christ in an apprehended company. These are the overcoming sons of God, the 144,000 who are caught up to the throne of God – to the realm of authority and rule. This is not a physical relocation but a spiritual position which equips them to carry forward the all-encompassing redemptive agenda of God on the earth.
But, as you read the book of Revelation you will recognize that this is not the finale of all things as there is yet more of God’s dealings in judgment, the lake of fire, the sea giving up their dead, the destruction of death and hell, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, and so on. In other words, this resurrection concerns the elect who are dead in Christ and not all peoples, for “there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15).
Dear beloved, an inward resurrection is now taking place in His sons. In this present age, our souls are in the process of being raised up as the mind of Christ is being fully quickened in us. The age we are now is the age in which God is preparing the “sons of the resurrection” (Luk. 20:36). The fact that the seventh trumpet is being sounded and heard by His little flock confirms this. The days are drawing near in which the sons of God shall come forth in resurrection power to minister reconciliation to the remainder of creation – that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him. Oh, how we rejoice in this truth with joy unspeakable.
To the elect of God, holy and beloved, may God be your strength and portion as you press on to the resurrection of your soul!