Those are very good questions. Let’s read Hebrews 9:27-28, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” I want to look at these verses before we respond directly to your question about being raised from the dead. In verse 27 we have the two-fold penalty God has ordained for sinners: 1) DEATH, and 2) JUDGMENT. Some people want to believe that “death is the end,” but here we learn that “death is not the end,” for there is God’s Divine judgment for the sinner after death. Sinners will only “die once” (there is no reincarnation to another life!) and then God will “judge them.” But thank God for verse 28, for there we learn that “Christ died once” in order to pay the penalty for our sins (by bearing God’s judgment against them) and the sinners who believe “eagerly wait for Him to appear the second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” In other words, the believer will NOT experience God’s Divine judgment, but salvation. This salvation involves Christ coming to “raise believers who have died from the grave to eternal life in heaven.” It also means that believers who are alive when He comes will “not even die once” but will be “caught up to heaven along with believers who have been raised from the dead.” See 1st Corinthians 15:51-54 and 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17.

What does the Bible say about the miracle of raising the dead to life? In the New Testament there were 5 people raised from the dead. Jesus raised 3 of them: 1) the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15); 2) the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:40-42, 49-56); and 3) Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha (John 11:1-44). The apostle Peter raised a woman named Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). Finally, the apostle Paul raised a young man named Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:7-12). We believe they eventually “died again” but will be among the believers who will be raised again from the dead (as we saw earlier) to participate in the resurrection to eternal life. They were “exceptions to the rule” of only dying once, just as living believers at the time of the Rapture will be an “exception to the rule” for they won’t even die once (1st Corinthians 15:51 with 1st Thessalonians 4:17).

Now let’s look at John 5:28-29, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming in which ALL WHO ARE IN THE TOMBS WILL HEAR HIS VOICE AND COME FORTH—those who did the good deeds to a RESURRECTION OF LIFE, and those who committed the evil deeds to the RESURRECTION OF JUDGMENT” (NASB). This passage answers your second question, for the people raised are raised from their TOMB (which is the GRAVE), so they are truly dead. Some people may have drowned at SEA and if so, their bodies will rise from the sea (see Revelation 20:13). Two things need to be pointed out regarding this passage:

1) This passage, on the surface, sounds like one is raised to eternal life BASED ON GOOD WORKS, but scripture is crystal-clear that one is saved and acquires eternal life BASED ON FAITH IN CHRIST, NOT ON GOOD WORKS. Ephesians 2:8-9 declares, “For by grace you have been SAVED THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast.” Yet the one who believes WILL DO GOOD WORKS as proof that they have been saved, for verse 10 goes on to say, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Likewise, the unbeliever will not be raised to judgment BASED ON EVIL DEEDS, but because they DID NOT BELIEVE IN CHRIST. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but HE WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

2) This passage, on the surface, seems to teach there is a “general resurrection”; that is, that all are “raised at the very same time.” But we learn in Revelation chapter 20 that there are “two resurrections separated by 1,000 years.” In verse 4 it speaks of all believers who will “reign with Christ a thousand years” and that includes many who had died and were “raised to life.” Then we read in verses 5-6, “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. 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.” This is most definitely the resurrection of all who died believing in Christ; it is the “resurrection of life” spoken of in John 5:29. The SECOND RESURRECTION, the “resurrection of judgment,” takes place 1,000 years later and it includes all who died in unbelief. Verses 11-15 describe this resurrection and the judgment which follows. The last verse is especially solemn, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” I pray that none of my readers will be there! I pray you will, before you breathe your last breath, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).  (DO)  (517.5)