The First Resurrection (10 of 12)

Mike Connell

The word resurrection is ‘anastasis’, so in the Bible, whenever they use the word resurrection, they use anastasis. The resurrection of Jesus, anastasis. But this word here is different. It's the word ‘exanastasis’, meaning the out-from resurrection. It's a resurrection that takes me ‘out from’ everyone else, and then he adds to it, and doubles down on it, saying “exanastasis ek nekron” - from the dead ones.

The language of it is really saying something like this: There is a special, unique resurrection. This resurrection is an out-from resurrection, which brings you out-from all the dead, ahead of all the dead - and this is the prize that he's looking for, to attain into that First Resurrection. It's the out-from resurrection, from among the dead - it's not a General Resurrection. It's a very limited resurrection, and he's talking about the First Resurrection.

We read about the first one, and he's saying that as an apostle, he's not even sure he qualifies. What he's saying then, is that it's a prize that you could disqualify yourself from at any point. When you look at some ministries, and they've done very well, for so many years… and then totally disqualify themselves! A stronghold in their heart breaks out, and a problem comes, and then it's all over.

The resurrection, which is from among the dead, is a privilege you arrive at. It follows the way you live your life, and he implies that the key part of that is that I might know Him (ongoing intimacy with Jesus); that I might experience the power of His resurrection, and that I might also participate in the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to death.

What does that mean? He's talking about the pursuit of Christ. The pursuit of this resurrection means: I will embrace a life of knowing Him and surrendering to His will in my life. To become ‘conformable to His death’ means that I surrender my life, and what I want to do, to fulfil what God wants to do. That's what it looks like. Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient under death.

We have this opportunity to die to ourselves every day, all through the day - it's all to do with the self-life. Jesus said: if you want to follow Me, (deny self) take up your cross. He's talking about being conformed to His sufferings. That means, to be shaped in our life, through the tough experiences we have, so we become like Him. Whatever tough experiences we have: disappointments, setbacks, offences, betrayals, delays, difficulties, traumas… life is full of those things; He said: but all of those things, God will use them, and make them work to shift and change us, so we are prepared for what He has. It's all in how you respond to them.

When we see and experience problems, we can enter into ‘reaction mode’ to the problems; or by looking at the natural, or we can set our eyes on Jesus Himself, as the example of enduring suffering (how did He handle these things), and allowing Him to change us. He says: “we are changed from glory to glory”. He says: “beholding as we look not at the things natural, but the things invisible, then God uses them to change us”.

Notice here: “…if by any means I might attain to the resurrection”. What does that mean - ‘if by any means’? Well, any time you see ‘if’, that means a condition - I may not do it. “If by any means” implies a possibility I don't make it. In Acts 27:12 they use the same term…

Acts 27:12 – “And because the harbour was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised we set sail from there also, if by any means we could reach Phoenix, a harbour in Crete, opening towards the southwest and northwest, and winter there”.

If you've read that story in the Book of Acts… they never made it - they were shipwrecked. They did not reach their destination. When it says: “if by any means”, it's saying very clearly, there's a possibility you don't make it. So again, is a resurrection going to happen? Yes, for everyone; but the First Resurrection, is a select resurrection - it's not ‘all inclusive’; it's for those who have run their race according to what God wants, and it's very helpful to see that.