The Resurrection of the Dead

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thess. 4:16 ESV

When Christ returns, he will raise from the dead the bodies of all believers who have died in Christ since the beginning of time (1 Thes. 4:15-18).  Jesus will reunite these bodies with their spirits which have been residing in heaven (Phil. 1:21, Dan. 12:2-3). Also, he will change the bodies of all those believers who are alive, giving them glorified bodies. Therefore, all believers from all time will have perfect resurrection bodies just like their Savior. The resurrection of the dead is the final work of God in applying Christ’s work on the Cross to our lives and to creation (1 Cor. 15:50-57).

The point of the resurrection . . . is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. . . What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it . . . What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it . . . ). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.

N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York, HarperOne, 2008).