The First Resurrection is not physical, it is spiritual. When a live person
passes from death unto life, he has experienced the first resurrection, and
that is done by accepting Christ. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that
heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life,
and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life"
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now
is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God:
and they that hear shall live"
Jesus said that the hour is coming, and now is.
Dispensationalists, "experts" in literal interpretation,
read the verse this way:
"...we're in that period of the hour that is coming. Verse
28 makes it clear that the hour has not yet arrived, but the
'hour is coming'"
(McGee, Thru The Bible, vol 3,). That's just a little bit of nonsense. If the period of the hour is still coming, then we couldn't be in it. That is NOT the "literal interpretation" constantly trumpeted by Dispensationalism.
Verse 28 speaks of one thing, verse 25 of another. In verse
25 the Lord says that the "hour is coming and now is...",
It's not only coming, it is already here! But in verse 28 He
says that the "hour is coming..." and does not say that it
"now is." It's coming, but it hasn't arrived yet. Christ
does not say that "he WILL BE passed from death unto life,
but that he IS passed from death to life."
That the dead would hear Him and live (v 25) had already begun at the time
of Christ's first advent. And by the "hour is coming," He undoubtedly meant
that this would continue. "The dead would hear Him and live." Obviously
that is not referring to the physically dead; they could not hear Him and live
again. The Bible doesn't teach that. Christ was speaking of a spiritual
resurrection. "Is coming and now is" is a simple term meaning that whatever
is coming has already started. John 4:23 is a good example: "But the hour
cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in
spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him"
Even Dispensationalists recognize that the hour to worship the Father in
spirit and truth was coming, and has already arrived. It is no different with
Passing from death to life is a resurrection. There is
physical death, and physical resurrection, and there is
spiritual death and spiritual resurrection. When Christ came
to Israel 2000 years ago, the nation was dead - spiritually
dead. Jesus came that they might have life.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might
have it more abundantly"
(Prosperity preachers make too much of the word
"abundantly." I don't think that Christ in this verse is
promising economic wealth exclusively. There is more to "abundant life"
"For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them
that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in
the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit"
(1 Pet. 4:6). Clearly this is not speaking of the physically dead.
When men are physically dead, if they died physically while
spiritually dead, all the preaching in the world cannot make
them live according to God in the spirit. So say the
Scriptures. These, then, were only spiritually dead, not
Jews, who in previous times were born into a special
relationship with God, had in Christ's day, been made the
same as Gentiles; they were concluded in unbelief (Romans
11:32). So, in a spiritual sense, they passed from life to
death. But afterward, those who accepted Jesus Christ were
"born again." They passed from death back to life again.
Those who have experienced the first resurrection love the
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because
we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth
(1 John 3:14).
We Gentiles have never been God's people. We were born spiritually
dead, so when we accept Christ, we have spiritual life for the first
time. We are not "born again," we are born for the first time. It may
seem almost ironic that, if one does not experience the first
resurrection while he is alive, the only resurrection awaiting him is
the resurrection unto damnation (John 5:29).