Concerning when Jesus comes again, who will be raised? Just a few chosen or everyone? What about all the aborted babies? Have the saints already risen? I have so many questions on the subject that I don't know how to ask them all.
If all the poor aborted babies are raised, will they be taken care of by others as babies or will they be self-sufficient as adults? What about all the bodies that were cremated? I know that since God can do anything He can certainly create new bodies for those who need them. But will we need them?
The Sadducees once approached Jesus trying to trap him with an obscure question from the law.
"The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: "Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her." Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."" (Matthew 22:23-31).
The Sadducees thought they had the question to end all questions, but Jesus pointed out that the reason they had the question was not that they understood God's teaching but because they did not understand what the Bible taught.
In much the same way, many of your questions are rooted in a misunderstanding about what the Bible teaches concerning the end. Let us start with who will be raised. Jesus stated, "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" (John 5:28-29). Thus we learn that both the good and the bad will be raised at the sound of Jesus' voice. By stating that all who are in the grave will arise, none will be left behind. Paul tells us why, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10).
In regards to our bodies, Paul speaks at length on this subject.
"But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain--perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:35-54).
If you think for a moment, you would realize that a mortal body would be unsuitable for immortal existence. The body I have is of the world. Like the world, it is falling apart. It cannot last through eternity. The idea of birth, growth, and death, the idea of childhood and adulthood, the idea of male and female, all originate from our physical existence. When we are raised we will have spiritual bodies. The physical concepts do not apply.
The following response was written by Dean Blackwell. He was kind enough to send it and I believe it would be beneficial to read.
Concerning when Jesus comes again:
At least a couple of thoughts come to my mind as I think about these questions received from this person. Perhaps they are questions that are just curiosity things that people wonder about or is it possible that some false doctrine has influenced her thinking? It appears that this person is trying to answer these things with a physical understanding of the body and what happens after death not realizing that there will be nothing physical in heaven and that relationships will not be the same. First, we must remember that a physical body after death will no longer exist. Also, that in heaven relationships will not be the same.
1. What about all the aborted babies?
Keep in mind that all humans are spirit beings. Concerning his recently deceased son, David said, "But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (II Samuel 12:23). While on earth, we are housed in a body. But in the resurrection, we will be “raised a spiritual body” (I Corinthians 15:44) Each soul (spirit) will receive a new, immortal, spiritual body. This includes those who died before birth – aborted, miscarried, death of the mother, or for any other reason. There will be no aborted bodies in heaven. The spirit of the aborted baby will be with God, and how He will handle such things will be His choosing. We have no reason to think the aborted baby will suffer punishment since it never had a chance to sin.
2. If all the poor aborted babies are raised, will they be taken care of by others as babies or will they be self-sufficient as adults?
This question assumes that the spiritual body will be the same age and maturity as the physical body at the time of death. The Bible also says that the body buried is “sown (buried) in weakness, it is raised in power” (I Corinthians 15:43). It would seem to me that the very young would be given the ability of a self-sufficient adult. The same is true at the other end of life. What if someone lived for years as an invalid, unable to walk? They will be given a body with the power (ability and strength) that their physical body was lacking.
The Bible does not really discuss aborted babies, and what will happen to them. What kind of bodies, and will they need care? These questions cannot be answered from the Bible. Again, whatever body they have will be spiritual, since nothing physical will be in heaven. We have no idea about babies and adults in heaven since the Bible does not discuss such things.
We do know that all the babies who died at childbirth, or who were "stillborn," aborted babies will be raised. In I Corinthians 15:34-58, Paul discusses the resurrected body. It seems that the body will be a recognizable entity, completely sufficient for its eternal home. It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when we see Him, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). Our bodies will be like unto His own glorious body (Philippians 3:21).
3. Have the saints already risen?
No, the saints are not already risen. There will come a day when ALL that are in the graves will come forth. See John 5:28-29; I Corinthians 15:50-54; and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. There will be one resurrection at which time ALL will be raised. The good and the evil. All will be raised at one time.
The Bible says that all faithful Christians are saints (Philippians 1:2). The faithful are in the "paradise" realm of the Hadean world, awaiting the judgment. (Luke 16:19-31) All will be judged at one time, on the final judgment day, and their sentence pronounced (Romans 14:10; II Corinthians 5:10). It would seem reasonable that if one made it to paradise that in the final judgment he would be given eternal life, but we must leave those things up to God. Our place is to serve Him here so we can receive the promises.
4. What about all the bodies that were cremated?
Cremation is an emotional issue. We do not like to think about the complete burning of a body. Many object to cremation because of the emotional ties we have to the body of the person who has died. But there is no Biblical reason to object to cremation. Our body was made from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). The fact is many have died – at sea when a boat, ship or submarine sank, in explosions, in other violent attacks (like at the World Trade Center on 9/11) and in times of war. Many bodies are cremated, destroyed, blown apart, never found or recovered. This is not a problem for God. All bodies return to the dust from which they came (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Our bodies will return to the dust of the earth after death. The process of cremation just speeds the process that will occur sooner or later.
Consider also, what about the bodies that are dissolved in sea water? They will all be raised. Remember, the corn seed dies and disappears, but corn still arises. See Paul's argument to this effect in I Corinthians 15:34-45. Cremation does in a matter of moments what occurs within a few months in the sea and a few hundred years in the grave.
No matter what happens to the physical body, it will not be in heaven. The spirit will be raised and judged at the final judgment. Yes, it will have a new body (a spiritual one), but none of that has to do with how we return to dust. I believe that God can raise the bodies of those who died on 9/11. I believe He can raise the bodies of those who died in fires, explosions, and other violent means. I believe that God will not have any trouble raising those who were cremated. He made them from dust. He can raise them again from dust.
5. I know that since God can do anything He can certainly create new bodies for those who need them. But will we need them?
Yes, we will need them, else God would not give them to us. We will need them to worship and praise God and to enjoy the bliss of that eternal realm. See II Corinthians 4:16-5:5. Read the text carefully. Paul said that our earthly body, which he likens unto a tent which is put down and then taken up, will be replaced with a building of God. Note that he flinches from the idea that we should remain without a body (II Corinthians 5:2-4). The clearest passage on this is I Corinthians 15:42-44and verses 52-54. This body is described as – corrupt, dishonorable, weak, natural. The raised body will be – without corruption, glorious, powerful, spiritual. Here, on earth, our bodies wear out, age, become diseased, weak, and fail to function. Our new body in the resurrection will not wear out. It will be eternal, immortal. I Corinthians 15:52 says that “we shall all be changed.” We will be changed from corruptible to incorruptible, from mortal to immortal, from weak to powerful and from natural to spiritual.