Jesus spoke of a day in which “the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matt. 16:27). Of that day, He says, “for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). This is the hope of all of God’s people—the second coming of Jesus Christ and a literal resurrection from the dead.
The first assurance we have of these promises is the resurrection of Jesus Himself. According to the gospel, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). Jesus was literally raised from the dead. Faith in that fact is paramount to one’s salvation. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. … For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15: 13, 16-17)
Since Jesus Christ has risen, He “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). That is, among those who experience physical death, Jesus is the first to be eternally raised. Just as He was raised, those who belong to Him shall also be raised at the time appointed by the Father.
Secondly, we know that Jesus Christ is coming in judgment upon all ungodliness because God has already judged the world once in the flood. “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:5-7).
That judgment was literal. And now, not just the world, but the heavens and the earth are “reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” This coming fire is as literal as the water of the flood.
For those who believe and obey, Jesus is coming with eternal life. For those who will not obey, He is coming with eternal condemnation. Therefore, God “now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).