By Randall E. Ricker
As we study the Bible, we often come across verses that we would like to remember for various reasons. I call them memory verses. Sometimes we call them memory Scriptures. At least we want to remember where they are, if not actually memorizing the verse itself. We do this because of certain doctrines of Christian living that we want to be sure we remember, and we want to be sure we can prove. Today we will continue with part 2 of memory verses.
We are going to start out with the subject of our potential. In other words, why were we born? It is amazing how big the universe is. About 3,000 years ago King David of Israel looked up at the stars and realized the smallness of man compared to the universe and its Creator. He asked God the question: what is man that You are mindful of him? In this study, we will see our potential is to inherit the universe and to become members of God’s family.
Open your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 2. We wouldn’t try to memorize these verses necessarily, but at least remember where they are. Remember it’s toward the beginning of Hebrews. The author of Hebrews who we believe to be Paul talks about our potential. Hebrews chapter 2, verse 5: “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.”
The subject here is the world to come. That is, the kingdom of God.
We will keep reading in verse 6. “But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’”
This is quoting Psalm 8. King David continued in Psalm 8 showing that God had put the earth and all that’s in it in subjection to man, but in the rest of Hebrews 2:8 Paul leaves off with quoting Psalm 8 and changes the emphasis.
Hebrews 2, verse 8: “For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.”
This term “all things” is translated the universe in the Moffatt translation and some others. This is telling us that we are to inherit the whole universe. We will be able to travel among the galaxies visiting planets among the distant stars, but not yet. That will be in the world to come.
Continue reading in Hebrews 2, verse 9: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
Then Christ was raised from the dead as a glorious spirit Being.
Continuing in Hebrews 2, verse 10: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
It shows we are to be sons of God. It talks about bringing sons to glory. We are to be sons of God and to have the same glory that Christ has.
Verse 11: “ For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…”
They will be called brethren, the brethren of Christ. Brethren is an old fashion word for brothers. They are one brother of the same species as another brother. They are the same kind of thing. If Christians are to become brothers of Christ, they are to be the same kind of being as Christ. Christ is a member of the God family, and we are to be members of the God family.
Let’s go to another Scripture. Let’s go to Genesis chapter 1, verse 26. This is one you might choose to memorize. Genesis 1, verse 26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
Continuing in verse 27: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Being made in the image and likeness of God we have the opportunity to develop the character of God, and we look like God. We can remember that verse, at least the first portion of Genesis 26 where it says, “God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’” We can remember that. Being in Genesis it helps us remember that’s where it’s going to be. Man was created in Genesis.
In Philippians 3 we see more on this subject. In Philippians chapter 3 we will read verses 20 and 21 where it talks more about our potential. Philippians 3, verse 20: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
It talks about a transformation where we will be conformed to Christ’s glorious body. Conformed means to have the same form. The King James Version translates verse 21 as this: “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.”
Fashioned is number 4832 in the Strong’s Concordance (1995 edition). It means jointly formed, similar, from a root meaning resemblance. We resemble God physically now. We will even be the same composition as God after our change. That is a verse to remember. I don’t know if you would want to memorize it or not, but at least remember Philippians 3:20 where it is talking about what we are to become.
To be part of God’s family means that we will be spirit beings who can live forever, and we will have righteous character like God has. Revelation chapter 21:7 really sums it all up.
Revelation 21, verse 7: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”
It says inherit all things. That’s a good translation because some versions will say, you will inherit all this, whatever all this means. It is an understatement.
In this one verse we see that our potential is to inherit the universe and to be true sons and daughters of God. It will be wonderful to live for eternity with the Father and Jesus Christ and billions of other people who are changed to immortal spirit, all living God’s way of out-going concern as expressed by His commandments.
To summarize our potential and to look at the verses we talked about, we have Hebrews chapter 2 where it talks about inheriting all things. In Genesis 1:26 it talks about being made in the image and likeness of God. You might want to memorize that one. In Philippians 3:20-21 it talks about changing our body and fashioning our body to be like Christ. Then we have Revelation 21 saying we shall inherit all things and be sons and daughters of God. Those are the verses I would remember on the subject of our potential.
PROOF OF THE SABBATH
Let’s look at another basic subject: the proof of the Sabbath. We are listening to this today on the Sabbath day during a Sabbath service. The Bible describes a weekly day of rest and worship. It is called the Sabbath day, and it’s commanded that we keep it. We can prove from the Bible that we must be keeping the Sabbath.
We could look at Old Testament proofs. They are pretty obvious and pretty clear, but some people would demand proof from the New Testament, so we are going to start right there. Let’s go to Luke chapter 4. There are a number of Scriptures in the New Testament to prove we are to keep the Sabbath. We will read just a few of them.
Luke 4, verse 14: “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.”
Notice it was Christ’s custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. It was obviously the same day that the Jews were keeping which would have been Saturday.
Luke 4:14-16 is a good memory verse. As far as where it is, if you think about it, it is toward the beginning of His ministry. It is toward the beginning of Luke, and it is right after that portion in Luke chapter 4 where Satan tempted Christ. It is in the same place in Matthew 4 that we have studied many times before, so it is a way of thinking about where did He say this? He started keeping the Sabbath very early in His ministry.
Then there was an occasion in Mark chapter 2 where the Pharisees were criticizing Christ’s disciples for picking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. If the Sabbath were no longer to be kept, Christ would have said so. If the Sabbath had been changed to Sunday, this would have been His opportunity to talk about it, but He didn’t say that here.
In Mark 2, verse 27 we read this: “And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’”
The Sabbath is a benefit for humanity. We derive spiritual strength from worshipping God on that day and receiving instruction in God’s word. It is a day we can spend some extra time in prayer and Bible study. We can rest from our work and spend extra time with family and friends. Our conduct on the Sabbath should be based on what we find in the Bible, and we could do a study sometime on that, but it doesn’t mean we don’t keep the Sabbath.
Mark 2, verse 28: “Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
Christ is calling Himself the Lord of the Sabbath. The word “Lord” in the Strong’s Concordance is #2962 (1995 edition) which means to be supreme in authority, a controller. Christ is supreme in authority concerning which day the Sabbath is and how it is to be kept. Christ inspired the Bible, and we are studying the Bible to prove which day the Sabbath is.
Some people will say the apostle Paul changed the Sabbath in some way. Let’s go into Acts chapter 13. This is during what is commonly called Paul’s first missionary journey. People who study Paul divide his ministry into three missionary journeys. This is the first one, so it is early on. He was visiting a place called Antioch in Pisidia which is in Asia Minor. Here he was preaching to some people.
Acts 13, verse 14: “But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, ‘Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.’”
Here is Paul preaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. He told the people about Christ. Then if you go on to verse 42, this is interesting.
Verse 42: “So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.”
Then verse 44 says this in Acts 13: “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.”
If the Sabbath was no longer to be kept, Paul could have just said, this has all been changed to Sunday, so why don’t you just come tomorrow. Instead he preached to them on the Sabbath. This is a clear example of Paul keeping the Sabbath.
Let’s go back to Hebrews chapter 4. Paul, whom we believe to be the author of Hebrews, was writing about the Sabbath day. We have already seen from Acts that he kept the Sabbath.
Hebrews 4, verse 9: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”
That word “rest” is a Greek word that is different from the word for rest that’s used elsewhere in this chapter. It is Strong’s #4520 (1995 edition) which is derived from the word Sabbath. That is, there is a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
Hebrews 4, verse 10: “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”
There is a Sabbath rest, and God rested from His work on a Sabbath. We rest on that day, too.
If we are going to summarize on this subject of the Sabbath, we can consider the New Testament proof which is of course what we are talking about here. We can remember Luke 4:16 which is a good memory verse. Christ went to the synagogue as was His custom on the Sabbath. Then Mark 2:27 says the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. In Mark 2:28 Christ calls Himself the Lord of the Sabbath. You probably don’t want to memorize Acts 13, but at least remember that in Acts 13 the apostle Paul spoke to people on the Sabbath. Then the next Sabbath everyone wanted to hear the message. Then in Hebrews 4:9 there is a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Those are some basic Scriptures on that subject.
THE THREE RESURRECTIONS
Let’s choose another subject. Let’s talk about the three resurrections. First of all for a general Scripture on the subject of the resurrections, turn to John chapter 5. What do we hope for? There is more to life than this physical existence.
Turn to John 5, verse 28: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
There is hope for a resurrection. A better translation for that word “condemnation” is judgment. The hope is the resurrection. It talks about different conditions: a resurrection of those who have done good, and a resurrection of those who have done evil but coming to a resurrection of judgment.
The Bible describes three general resurrections. Let’s study those. Another general Scripture on the three is in I Corinthians 15. We like to call that the Resurrection Chapter because that’s mainly what is talked about. You wouldn’t want to memorize the chapter but at least remember that I Corinthians 15 is the Resurrection Chapter.
We will read I Corinthians 15:12-19 to begin with. “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
Without a resurrection our life is vain. We are a simple chemical existence that’s going to die out after a certain number of years, and then there’s nothingness. That’s all there would be without the resurrection. For those of us who believe in a resurrection, if there was no such thing, it would be pitiful. Yet we know there is a resurrection.
Continue reading in I Corinthians 15:20-24. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and authority and power.”
It is talking about an order to salvation and an order to the resurrection, starting with Christ Himself with His resurrection. Then it talks about those who are Christ’s at His coming. We call this the first resurrection. Then comes the end when He delivers the kingdom to the Father. We are going to study that there is a second and a third resurrection. There is an order to it. It doesn’t all happen at once.
Continuing in verse 25 of I Corinthians 15: “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”
These are some of the general Scriptures on the subject of resurrection. Now we can start into the first resurrection. Let’s study that one first. If we stay in I Corinthians 15 and we go to verse 51, we read this: “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. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Some will be changed at the last trumpet when Christ returns. We have a similar description in I Thessalonians chapter 4. This is another basic Scripture on the first resurrection. I Thessalonians 4, starting in verse 15: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
There are those who have died, and they are rising from the dead. The rest of the people who are still alive then—the firstfruits—will be caught up with Christ in the air on that day which is pictured by the Feast of Trumpets. In Revelation 20 we read where this is specifically called the first resurrection.
Turn to Revelation chapter 20. This is after Satan has been put away. We will start reading in Revelation 20, verse 4: “And 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 for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection [notice that term ‘first resurrection’ twice]. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
It is very specific about saying that there is a first resurrection, and that those people who are in it can reign with Christ for a thousand years.
Now, if there is a first resurrection one would think there is at least a second and there is, so let’s turn to a couple Scriptures on the second resurrection. You may want to keep your place in Revelation 20 because we will be coming back here in a moment. I would like to go to John chapter 7. Let’s go to John chapter 7 first.
Christ had been attending the Feast of Tabernacles as the account goes in John chapter 7. In John 7:37 we have this: “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
We call it the Last Great Day of the Feast. He shows there is a time in the future when anyone can come to Him and will receive the Holy Spirit which is symbolized by this living water. It ties the Last Great Day to the Great White Throne Judgment that I was going to read about next. Let’s go back to Revelation 20.
We are going to pick it up in Revelation chapter 20, verse 11: “Then I saw a great white throne [that’s why we call this the Great White Throne Judgment] and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
It talks about people standing before God and the books being opened. That word “books” could also be used for Bible. There is one place in the New Testament where Paul says to bring the books to him, and we suspect that they are the books of the Bible that he wanted. In other words, the Bible is opened to people who are coming up in this second resurrection. It is explained to them, and the Bible is finally opened to their understanding. They are judged according to their works.
These people are not going to be judged by what they did before they understood or before they knew anything. They are judged on what they do after that during some period of time during this second resurrection and how well their works agree with what’s written in the books of the Bible. It will be a little different for them because, as I mentioned earlier in Revelation 20, it talks about Satan having been put away, so they won’t have to overcome Satan anymore. They will have to change their way of life and learn to live by the Bible. They will have the Holy Spirit which they never had before.
Another Scripture on this subject is in Ezekiel chapter 37. It is sometimes called the dry bones prophecy. This is going to tell us it is a physical resurrection. We already established the first resurrection had to be a spiritual resurrection because of people living and reigning for a thousand years. Ezekiel chapter 37 has to be a physical one, and we will see that as we read it.
Ezekiel 37, verse 1: “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ So I answered, ‘O Lord God, You know.’ Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord, Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’ So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.”
This is further explanation here that this is a physical resurrection.
Verse 9 of Ezekiel 37: “Also He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’”’ So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” Therefore prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people and brought you up from the graves.’”’”
Again, it is talking about a physical resurrection, just giving more details on it.
Verse 14: “‘I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the Lord.”
Not only is this a physical resurrection, but people are given God’s Holy Spirit. Now they are going to have their opportunity for salvation, as we will read in the other verses.
It just talks about the house of Israel. There are other Scriptures that indicate that this actually applies to all nations. We won’t go into all those right now. All nations will have the opportunity for that physical resurrection.
As I mentioned, Satan won’t be around. That’s one of the differences between that time and our time now. People won’t have to deal with him. Everybody is going to have the same opportunity. They won’t have quite the same pressures of society that people have now. They won’t have Satan to work against. The peer pressure will be positive. Everybody in the society will be trying to learn this way of life, so it is generally going to be positive.
People will have to overcome themselves because they lived before and developed some bad habits and bad ideas that will have to be overcome. It can be done with God’s Holy Spirit. It will be a time of peace and joy just like the Millennium that would have come before that time.
There is a third resurrection. Let’s go back to Revelation chapter 20. As we try to remember where in the Bible things are and we talk about the resurrections, that’s toward the end of God’s plan on earth that we know about, so you would expect it to be toward the end of the last book of the Bible. If you think about it that way, it might help you find things.
This is after the discussion of the second resurrection where we see this in Revelation 20, verse 13: “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
It says the sea gave up the dead. The sea often refers to mankind under Satan’s influence or Satan’s system. Satan’s system gave up the dead. They were those who had not accepted God’s way of life. We have covered everybody else up to this point. We covered the firstfruits who were those who did accept God in this life and grew and overcame. They gave their lives and became part of the firstfruits. Then we have talked about those who never had God’s Holy Spirit, so what else can remain but the ones who had God’s Holy Spirit and had simply rejected it. It says they were put into the lake of fire.
In Revelation 21:8 right after that memory verse we talked about, we have this: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
We do see there is a third resurrection. It is a resurrection in which people are mercifully destroyed. Instead of having eternal life like Satan the devil in rebellion and hatred, they are destroyed. They are gone. We expect there will be very few in that condition, because in Revelation 21:8 it is talking about unrepented sins. Not everyone who has ever done any of these things is lost. That is not it at all. People repent of these things, and they will.
To show that God really has the hope that everyone will be saved eventually in their own time, turn to I Timothy chapter 2, verse 3. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
God will offer salvation to everyone but each in his own time. You would expect very few to fail. God is not a failure. He will succeed with the vast majority.
As we think again about these Scriptures on the subject of the resurrections, one of the general Scriptures was John chapter 5. Early in Christ’s ministry He was talking about the hope of the resurrection. You may want to memorize verse 29. Remember I Corinthians 15 is the Resurrection Chapter. You might want to remember verse 23. I Corinthians 15:51 is beginning to talk about the first resurrection. “I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” at the last trumpet. At least remember that I Thessalonians 4:15-17 is talking about those who rise. Remember Revelation 20 toward the end of the Bible is talking about all three resurrections, but you see one where it actually uses the word “first” resurrection. That is Revelation 20:4-6. The second resurrection is in John 7, but also possibly more importantly in Revelation 20 keep reading where verses 11 and 12 talks about other people coming up in a resurrection, that great white throne.
Ezekiel 37 talks about the dry bones prophecy, showing that it’s a physical resurrection. Remember that? We talked about all these a moment ago, and now we are just reviewing. The third resurrection in Revelation 20:13 talks about the sea, the grave, and everything gave up the dead who were in them. It is talking about them going into the lake of fire.
Those are the key Scriptures on the subject of the resurrections.
We may pick this up again sometime and do some more memory verses and more memory Scriptures on various doctrines, and sometime even get into the subject of Christian living.