The question you ask relates to people who have died and who have been resurrected to physical life—an example of the unparalleled power of God.
The Bible records specific examples of individuals who were miraculously healed by God—and note that in every case, a servant of God was instrumental in the act:
Elijah raised the Zarephath widow’s son (1 Kings 17:20); Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:32-37); a dead man was raised after accidently being brought into contact with Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:21); Jesus raised Jarius’ daughter (Mark 5:41-43), the son of a widow (Luke 7:11-17)—and Lazarus (John 11:43-44); Peter raised Dorcas (Acts 9:40-41); and Paul raised a young man named Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12).
Another example of people being returned to physical life occurred at the time of Jesus’ death:
“Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:51-53). However, understand that these examples of being raised from the dead resulted only in a return to a physical existence! They all eventually died—again!
We read in Matthew 10:5-15 that Christ’s commission to His twelve disciples prior to His death was to, among other things, “raise the dead,” but we do not read the same general commission to His disciples after His resurrection (compare Mark 16:15-18).
Jesus Christ was given great power to perform miraculous signs. When John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Christ to ask about who Jesus was, note the response:
“When the men had come to Him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”’ And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them’” (Luke 7:20-22).
John the Baptist performed no miraculous signs (John 10:41), but Jesus said, “‘Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist…’” (Matthew 11:11).
For John the Baptist, it was not necessary that he perform signs. He did not raise anyone from the dead. Yet, his role in the Work of God was fully accomplished.
On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given in a wondrous way, and for a while, more signs followed:
“Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43). We even read that people were healed when the shadow of Peter fell on them (Acts 5:14-15).
The Apostle Paul also had his ministry magnified:
“Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).
This example has application for us today. Generally, God instructs us, when we are sick, to call for the elders of the Church of God to pray for us and to anoint us with oil – a symbol of the Holy Spirit – and to lay hands on us, so that we can be healed (James 5:14-15; Mark 16:18). If such a visit is not possible, then elders are permitted to use and pray over a cloth, anointing it with a drop of oil as the symbol of the Holy Spirit, and asking God to heal the sick person who will receive this cloth. This is based on numerous passages in the Bible, showing us that people were healed when touching the garments of Christ (Mark 6:56) or the aprons or handkerchiefs from Paul’s body (Acts 19:12).
We see, then, that there is precedence for people having miraculous intervention from God—even that of being resurrected. We also understand that these few examples were done through the power of God and for His purposes—that they were the exception and not the rule. However, all point to the ultimate goal of being resurrected to eternal life—never to die again:
In the occurrence of Lazarus’ resurrection, Jesus made this profound statement:
“‘…I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live’” (John 11:25).
This is what the Church of God has been given to preach, and it is a message of resurrection into the spiritual Family of God:
“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’” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
Now, back to the question at hand, “Why don’t we hear about God raising anyone from the dead, today?”
The answer is, first and foremost, that God has not chosen to do so!
First, we must understand that those whom God has called for salvation and has given His Holy Spirit will not die “accidentally,” because of “time and chance,” but the timing of their death occurs according to the Will of God. There would therefore be no need or logical reason to raise them again from the dead. We explain the following in chapter 4 of our free booklet, “Human Suffering, Why… and How Much Longer?” : “The very idea that a true Christian could die or become terribly sick because of time and chance, limits God and weakens our faith. It is a patently unbiblical concept. When a Christian dies, it is because GOD has DECIDED that it was time for His son or daughter to die… God’s involvement, when it comes to the death of a true Christian, [is] clearly revealed in Scripture.” Please read the entire booklet for a thorough explanation.
In general, God is not trying to fix or save this world ruled by Satan. Rather, He is poised to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to establish a godly Kingdom on earth. At the same time, the first resurrection will occur, and faithful men and women will be raised from the dead (or instantly changed) to rule with Christ for one-thousand years and on into eternity. Others—the rest of the dead—will be resurrected to physical lives afterward. They will either become obedient to God and receive eternal life or perish!
Jesus warned us, stating, “‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign…’” (Matthew 12:39).
And even though Jesus did resurrect people from the dead and masses of people knew of His miracles, something more important was required—that was to believe Him (compare John 12:37).
For those who can only believe if they see manifestations that defy explanation, that titillate and excite with wonder, the Bible also reveals a time of worldwide deception coming through false miracles and stupefying signs (compare Revelation 13).
During this time, God will have His own witnesses, two men empowered by God to withstand Satan. Note some of what is prophesied about them:
“These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:6).
When the time of God’s choosing comes, He will work in startling and miraculous ways to bring about His purpose. Let’s not be among those who can only be satisfied by signs; rather, now is the time to focus on believing God and on following the example of Jesus Christ—which will lead us to the resurrection of life!
Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link