SPIRITUAL ASSASSINATION (AND A TIMELY RESURRECTION)

Just as in the case of the Lord Jesus who was marked for assassination by His enemies (who succeeded but failed), so is every dedicated real Christian likely marked.

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Some of these spiritual assassination attempts will succeed (we have Scriptural examples). The vast majority will not. But no matter. Physical death is not the end of the story. Every real Christian so marked is also marked for resurrection just as our Founder was marked. He was destined to die for a great purpose but was also destined to rise again not long after. In His case it happened on the third day after His death. (This also happened to be the third day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.) For the vast majority of real Christians, however, their resurrections will come much later. There will be a day in the future when all will rise again together. Old-timers referred to it as “that great gettin’ up mornin.’

I say “the vast majority” because there were some who actually received their resurrections from death in the first century AD. In this, I am not referring to Lazarus or others whom the Lord or the apostles raised up because those people had to die physically a second time. I am instead referring to those mysterious resurrections which took place soon after the Lord’s resurrection referred to in Matthew’s Gospel:

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. [Matthew 27:50-53]

One wonders if there were others elsewhere in various locations who were also raised at that time. The city of Jerusalem was not the only place saints of old were buried though it is possible more might have been buried in its environs than elsewhere. One wonders further just who these saints might have been. What qualified them to be resurrected at that time? Were they Old Testament saints from centuries past? Or were they first-century believers who died at some point during the Lord’s ministry? What if some of the well-known national figures were included in this group, such as David, who was buried in Jerusalem?

THE PRIVILEGE OF RESURRECTION

Because there is so much misunderstanding or lack of information about the future resurrection of those who have passed, the subject must be put into context. We know the Scriptures are clear that all will be resurrected, both the saved and unsaved:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” [John 5:25-29]

In addition to this, the Lord makes it clear that the future resurrection unto Life is a privilege not given to everyone or just anyone but only to those who are worthy:

Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” [Luke 20:34-36]

It is likely the case at most funerals that the person who died is assumed to have gone to heaven. Imagine all the funerals (term used very loosely) worldwide for all time. The dearly departed was likely loved by someone or maybe a great many. To question his or her eternal destination at such a time is probably the height of protocol-breaking or certainly awkward. According to the teachings of the Lord and the entry requirements He mandates, most of these people went to the opposite place they were assumed to have gone.

The point, of course, is that “going to heaven” and participating in a future resurrection unto Life is not automatic or a right but a great privilege and blessing reserved only for a relative few. It is something, in the words of the Lord Jesus, to attain. The Greek word means “to hit upon, meet, happen, obtain.” It is something to strive for, to work toward, and to make oneself worthy to receive. This does not mean we can earn our salvation, which is impossible, but that we must work within the context set forth by the Lord Jesus to be “considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection of the dead.”

WHY THE LORD JESUS WAS A MARKED MAN

We are in a war. It is a spiritual war. The devil is a mighty foe. He is very powerful. He attacks his enemies. His aim is to eliminate anyone attacking him or his kingdom. Those who do the most damage are at the top of his list. But the Lord Jesus, on the other hand, is so much more powerful He could squash the devil like a bug any time He felt like it. And He will protect His children in this world who work for Him the same way He protected Himself from the many assassination attempts upon His life before He surrendered to His destiny as the Sacrifice Lamb.

A close friend told me the other day something a pastor had recently preached. The pastor said to the effect, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the Lord was killed or murdered. He laid down His life willingly…” I said “Well, the pastor is wrong. It is in fact, both. The Lord certainly laid down His life and made Himself vulnerable, but He was also murdered. The apostle Peter said this very thing in the first anointed message of the Church on the Day of Pentecost.” Here is the passage:

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” [Acts 2:22-24]

It is often said that Stephen was the first martyr of the Church but this is not true. It was the Lord Jesus who was the first martyr. He had to be first. He was indeed greatly persecuted by evil unbelievers and eventually suffered physical death at their hands. He was the first to die and also the first to rise. It had to be this way. Nothing else could have possibly worked otherwise. The Lord Jesus is both the Door and the one who opened the door to Life. He is the only spiritual Warrior who could defeat death, hell, and the grave. He had to go first to do this because He was the only one worthy. It would have been impossible with anyone else because everyone else has sin but He never did. He was thus worthy to attain His resurrection and eternal life.

And because He did attain it He makes it possible for His followers to attain it as well. They must be cleansed of all sin, however, or forget it. But He has the power to do that. He has the power, with His own Blood, to cleanse a person of all of his or her personal sin. He also has the power to raise one up to new life in this world, fill one with His Holy Spirit which enables one to be properly equipped for service and the spiritual battlefield, live an overcoming life over sin, and also to work for Him within His kingdom doing works that He did. THESE are the people, in general, who are the worthy ones.

Thus, heaven is not nor has it ever been automatic, the only condition met being death. It is reserved only for those who submit to the salvation method of the Lord Jesus. Now, granted, there will be those who are also judged by Him to be worthy who do not fit the apparent conditions within the context of His teachings. Paul alluded to this possibility in the following:

For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. [Romans 2:11-16][1]

It is thus possible that one may never hear the Gospel and still go to heaven. (Consider all those who died prior to the Lord’s ministry or who lived at great distances away on other continents long before the Gospel ever reached their lands.) But this can only be possible if the preceding qualifications are met. How many millions, and indeed, billions of people who have ever lived on this planet lived in such a way that they did their best to honor their conscience, strove to do good and shun evil, and reached out to a Creator they knew must exist. These are things beyond the realm of human judgement or knowledge. No one can see such things but the Lord. Only the Lord Jesus knows all hearts. He is the best possible Judge of one’s soul. He will make the right decisions. He will always render perfect judgments.

THERE IS LIKELY A CONTRACT ON YOUR LIFE

If you are a big enough threat, expect to be attacked. But know also that the Lord has means to grant you victory. I knew someone several years ago who was attacked severely and his entire life was essentially destroyed. The devil’s aim was to do even more. His original goal was to destroy everything including the person’s life. But it didn’t work out quite that way. Because this man had walked with God the Lord allowed his former life to be destroyed but preserved the man’s spiritual life. He preserved the man’s ministry and life purpose. He worked with the man over several years to sort out all the ramifications which resulted from both a diabolical Jezebel attack and also a Judas betrayal. The enemy meant total destruction and it should have been such in that he threw everything he had at him. It was a pure assassination attempt in the first degree.

But it failed. Rather than be overcome by the severe repercussions of the spiritual attack, this man worked with the Lord over several years to work everything out. He patiently crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s. Everything was settled above board and properly. And it was done with no evil intent toward his human attackers who assisted in the plot. This man had what might be termed an ongoing resurrection. Though the enemy tried with all his might and though he succeeded at destroying much, he failed at destroying all. This is always a dangerous outcome. It made the man who was marked for death an even greater threat than he was before.

It also meant he survived the worst. This man will never have to go through such again. You may know people like this. Their experience is noted for something many have gone through over the last quarter century or so. There are people who represented a threat to the enemy who for all practical purposes should not have survived the attempt against them who then later became a greater threat than before.

Those who are forced to go toe to toe with some gnarly Goliath, who face otherwise certain death and destruction, and live to tell the story of a great victory are the kind of people you want on your team. They have already experienced a type of resurrection, reminiscent of their future one, and rejoined the Lord on the battlefield. The assassination they were marked for is what they mark the enemy with and have greater power and ability given by God to achieve that objective.

All praise and glory to the Lord Jesus.

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on April 19, 2022, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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