Introduction: I am not a baseball fan. The games seem slow
and endless. No doubt many readers will disagree. Imagine a
baseball game (or football, or hockey, or boxing) that never
ended. Would you be satisfied with that? Apply that thinking
to the contest between good and evil. If the righteous dead
immediately go to heaven, why would we need a resurrection?
If the answer is that you need a body in heaven to go with
your spirit, why can’t that body be supplied to you in
heaven? It is not as if you are getting your decayed body
back. There is a “victory” logic supporting the idea of soul
sleep that we will explore this week. That victory starts
with the resurrection of Jesus. Let’s plunge into our study
of the Bible!

I. Doubtful Thomas

A. Read John 20:19. What is the attitude of Jesus’
disciples after His crucifixion? (It is an
attitude of defeat. They are afraid that they,
too, will be killed by the authorities.)

B. Read Acts 1:6. Just as Jesus is about to return to
heaven, after His resurrection, the disciples ask
this. Tell me what this adds to your view of the
mental attitude of the disciples in John 20:19?
(They must have been absolutely devastated. They
had visions of being rulers in Jesus’ kingdom on
earth. Now they are huddled together terrified
that the current kingdom will kill them.)

C. Read John 20:20-21. What are the disciples sent to
do? (They are sent to report victory! Jesus’
victory over death. The peace of the gospel.)

D. Read John 20:22. Why did Jesus give the disciples
the Holy Spirit immediately after He gave them
their mission? (The Holy Spirit was essential to
their work.)

E. Read John 20:24-25. Why does Thomas disbelieve?
Does he think his fellow disciples are all liars?

F. Read John 20:26-27. Why did Jesus make this extra
effort to convince Thomas?

G. Read John 20:28-29. Let’s consider the importance
of Jesus’ appearance. Do you think other disciples
would have taken the same view as Thomas if they,
too, were not present when Jesus first appeared?

1. Let’s change the entire story line. Assume
that after Jesus died His Spirit returned
triumphant to heaven and Satan was thus
defeated. Would all of the disciples be like
Thomas? (It seems impossible to claim
otherwise. It was Jesus’ appearance that
turned them from cowering behind locked

2. If Jesus’ resurrection is essential to belief,
how essential is our future resurrection to
belief? (If Christianity was only a series of
spirits secretly slipping away to heaven, it
would be harder to take the claim seriously.)

II. Others Arose

A. Read Matthew 27:50-53. Notice that this happened
immediately upon Jesus’ death. Why? (These are all
tangible proof that Jesus is the Messiah and He
has defeated death. The temple curtain separating
the Holy from the Most Holy is torn. The
sacrificial system is at an end. People are raised
to life. Satan’s claim over our lives is at an

B. Read Matthew 27:54. What is the impact of these
events on the secular soldiers? (They believed
that Jesus was God.)

C. Look again at Matthew 27:51-52. If these saints
were raised to life immediately upon the death of
Jesus, why didn’t Jesus fly straight off the cross
and go to heaven surrounded by angels in glory?
(Jesus’ rest in the grave makes absolutely no
sense except for the point about the Sabbath rest
of victory. Just as Jesus rested to celebrate His
creation of the world (Genesis 2:1-3), so Jesus
celebrates the victory of His rescue of the

III. Victory Celebration

A. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. What is the reason
for these verses? (Verse 18 says that they are to
encourage us.)

1. Encourage us about what? (Read 1 Thessalonians
4:13-14. We are given hope that the dead will
rise again. Because Jesus arose, so we can
have confidence that we will arise from the

a. Why would Christians need this
encouragement if the spirits of the
departed were already in heaven? (Either
the idea of conscious spirits being in
heaven is not true, or it is so hard to
maintain such a belief that we need this
encouraging word.)

B. Read Hebrews 9:28 and Revelation 1:7. Does this
sound like a conclusion – where we have clear
winners and losers?

1. Think back to the Introduction. Is the final
resurrection like the end of the game where we
have a clear winner and clear loser?

2. When the saints that we discussed in the prior
section came to life at Jesus’ death, was that
a preview of the final victory?

C. Read John 14:3.If our spirit in heaven is fully
conscious and can converse with Jesus, would this
statement about Jesus coming again to “take you to
myself” make any sense?

D. Read Revelation 22:12 and Matthew 16:27. What do
these texts say is at least part of the reason for
Jesus’ Second Coming? (To settle affairs regarding
what humans have done.)

1. Does this sound like an end-game tally of the

2. What does this tell us about a belief that
humans go to heaven or hell before the final
score is tallied? (It undercuts that idea.)

E. Read John 6:39-40. What is the “all” that has been
given to Jesus? (Jesus is talking about His

1. What then is being raised up “on the last
day?” (Jesus’ followers.)

a. If the spirits of Jesus’ followers
immediately go to heaven, how does it
make any sense to speak of them being
raised up in the last days?)

F. Read Revelation 20:11. What does it mean that
“earth and sky fled away?” (Read Revelation 21:1.
It tells us that at some point heaven and earth
“pass away.”)

G. Read Revelation 20:12. Do these dead include the
righteous? (The mention of the Book of Life argues
for that.)

H. Read Revelation 20:13-15. Is this “game over” for
the controversy between good and evil?

1. Does the description “standing before the
throne” sound like a description of spirits,
or bodies? (Clearly bodies.)

2. If the declaration of the final judgment takes
place at(or just after)the Second Coming of
Jesus, is that consistent with the spirits of
saints already living in heaven, and having
lived in heaven for thousands of years? (It is
inconsistent with the spirits in heaven

I. Read Revelation 20:4-6. How does this time line
fit in? (This must be before the event we just
read about in Revelation 20:13-15.)

1. How many resurrections do we have? (Two. A
first for the righteous and a second for the

2. How does that relate to the Second Coming of
Jesus? (“Pre-millennium” believers, of which I
am one, understand that at Jesus’ Second
Coming the righteous who have died will be
resurrected, and the righteous living will be
taken to heaven(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)and
live a thousand years. After that the New
Jerusalem will come down to earth, the wicked
will be raised and their judgment declared.
God will destroy the old earth and create a
new one on which the New Jerusalem will rest.)

J. Friend, the great controversy between good and
evil is coming to an end. It has a very dramatic
conclusion. Because Jesus rose we know that at His
Second Coming we will rise and go with Him to
heaven. Will you choose Jesus now? Why wait?

IV. Next week: The New Testament Hope.

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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Holy Spirit as you study.