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Doug Buckley, resurrection of the dead

Risen From the Dust: Understanding Hell, Heaven, and the Resurrection of the Dead

It's time to seek the truth about hell, heaven, and the Resurrection of the Dead.

Hell, what does the bible really say on this subject?

Hell: There is more than one hell in the bible. A current temporary hell, and a future eternal hell.

No one goes to hell forever when they die! They only go to a temporary hell. On Judgment Day they will be judged by their works, and then go on to either eternal hell or eternal heaven.

Do people go to Heaven when they die?

Heaven: Heaven is a real place, and the souls of the faithful have been going there from the beginning, even before the New Testament.

What does it mean to say that Christians have eternal life?

Spiritual Death and Life: There is physical life and death, but there is also spiritual life and death. Everyone dies in the flesh, but true Christians never die spiritually.

Does the bible say that heaven is literally in outer-space, and hell is literally underground?

Gateways: The bible teaches that hell and heaven are not of this world. However, it also indicates that the earth and sky act as "spiritual gateways" to heaven and hell.

Does the bible support the traditional view that we have a spiritual soul dwelling within a flesh body?

Spiritual Souls: Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach that we have spiritual souls dwelling within our flesh bodies.

Do people go to heaven and hell, or do they fall asleep when they die?

Souls in Heaven and Hell: People's souls leave their bodies and go to either hell or heaven when they die. The dead continue to exist in either hell or heaven.

What is the Resurrection of the Dead, and who takes part in it?

Resurrection of the Dead: All souls, good and evil, will partake in the Resurrection of the Dead. In the Resurrection of the Dead, they will receive an eternal place in the world as new spiritual beings.

In the resurrection of the dead, do people literally rise out of their graves?

Spiritual Bodies: The dead will not literally resurrect from their graves, but rather their souls will be changed into spiritual bodies.

The Resurrection of the Dead is divided into two parts; first there will be a resurrection of the saints, and then a resurrection of non-believers.

When does the bible say that the Resurrection of the Dead will take place?

Resurrection Timing: The Resurrection of the Dead is a future event. The saints will resurrect when Jesus returns, on the Day of the Lord. The rest of the dead will resurrect after a time known as the millennium.

What is the millennium, and what will the world be like during the millennium?

Millennium: The millennium is a future thousand year period, when Christ and his Kingdom will reign over the world. During the millennium, many souls will accept the truth.

What is the Lake of Fire, and will the wicked suffer there forever and ever?

Lake of Fire: The Lake of Fire is a future hell-like place of damnation. The wicked will be destroyed in the Lake of Fire, not eternally tormented.


We need to think on this, because alot of what people believe about hell, heaven, and the Resurrection of the Dead is not in the bible.



Christians generally believe in life after death. Yet on almost every detail of this subject there is confusion and disagreement among believers. There are so many different explanations of what the bible says about heaven and hell, that we can't keep track of them all. If we're all reading and trusting in the same inspired Word, then there should be much more harmony among Christians.

We can simplify the problem by understanding the two main views about hell, heaven, and the resurrection.

The most popular view is that when a person dies they are judged, and go to heaven or hell forever. This view is often presented as being the correct and biblical Christian view. Yet few realize the amount of contradiction and difficulty this view has within scripture. There are many key details of God's plan that it overlooks. Scripture speaks plainly of a future resurrection of the dead, a judgment day, a return of the saints, and a new heavens and earth. This "orthodox" view is not only too simplistic, but can be very harmful.

The other main Christian view focuses heavily on the resurrection of the dead. According to this view, when a person dies they cease to exist as a person. The dead enter a state of sleep until they are resurrected and judged. In other words, there is no immediate afterlife, only a final resurrection that leads everyone into eternal life or damnation. As with the other view, this view has many scriptures that it struggles to explain.

Like many biblical controversies, each side has a set of verses that they use in support of their belief, and also verses that are used against them. Also like many biblical controversies, there are certain key revelations that are being missed on both sides. These missing pieces keep both sides from arriving at a view that is coherent with all the scriptures.

The key point is that the bible describes two different afterlives. There is an immediate afterlife for those who have passed on, and there will also be eternal afterlife at the end of the world. There is a current temporary heaven and hell, but also an eternal heaven and hell. One afterlife is pre-resurrection, and relates to faith, but the other is post-resurrection, and relates to works. People's inability to rightly divide between them creates much confusion and division.

The resurrection of the dead should be understood as the transition between these two different afterlives. Rather than literally crawling from graves, people will be resurrected into their places in the eternal afterlife. In the resurrection, every soul will pass through Christ and into the eternity. Every soul will receive either eternal life in the Kingdom, or eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.


  • It is commonly believed and taught that when someone dies they are judged and either go to heaven or hell forever and ever. That's not accurate. It's true that when a person dies their soul goes directly to either heaven or hell, but there will also be a future day of judgment. On this Judgment Day, the souls who didn't make it into heaven will be raised up out of hell, and judged according to their works (see ch.18 Second Resurrection).
  • There are not one, but two hells in the bible, a current and a future one (see ch.2 Hades and Gehenna). The current hell is more of a holding tank for the great multitudes of unbelievers. The second hell is called the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is a place of final and permanent damnation, but not eternal torment. On Judgment Day, all of the souls from the first hell will be judged, and enter into either eternal heaven or the Lake of Fire.
  • Heaven and hell are both real places, but not physical places. Heaven is not floating around in outer space, and you can't dig a hole down into hell (see ch.7 Underground Hell, Space Heaven). They exist in the spiritual dimension, so to speak.
  • Heaven and hell are real locations, but they are also states of being. Hell is one of death and despair, and heaven is one of life and peace (see ch.6 Spiritual Life and Death).
  • People who have died are not literally asleep. The bible sometimes refers to the dead as being asleep, or sleeping in the dust, to convey to us their ongoing spiritual reality. It's similar to how in modern times people say that the dead have "passed on", because they believe that they still exist, except in a different place.
  • In the future, all humanity will partake in something called the Resurrection of the Dead. What actually happens in the Resurrection of the Dead is a bit mysterious. The best way to describe it, is that people's disembodied souls will be transformed into angelic spiritual bodies. People will not literally rise up out of their graves, as some have imagined it.
  • The Resurrection of the Dead is divided into two parts (see ch.14 Resurrections of the Dead). First there will be a resurrection of the saints at the start of the millennium, and then there will be a resurrection of unbelievers after the millennium. The resurrection of unbelievers is part of Judgment Day.
  • The millennium is a thousand year period of time that separates the two resurrections from each other (see ch.20 Resurrection at Christ's Return). It will be a spiritual golden age of teaching, peace, and enlightenment (see ch.26 Millennium Nations).


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Copyright Doug D. Buckley, 2008-2014.
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