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The Resurrections

 

Occasionally I receive a letter which inquires about the resurrection and the first fruits.

 

There seems to be a great deal of confusion about resurrections, particularly the so-called third resurrection, so today letís talk about the resurrection of the dead.

 

The word ďfirst fruitsĒ in the New Testament has the same general meaning as in Leviticus 23:10, where the first fruits were the first stalks of grain gathered from the new crop. In the New Testament ďfirst fruitsĒ generally brings to mind 1 Cor 15:20-26. 1 Cor 15 is, of course, the resurrection chapter, so letís start out by looking at 1Corinthians 15.

1 Cor 15:20-26 (NKJV) But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. {21} For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. {22} For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. {23} But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. {24} Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. {25} For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. {26} The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

So, as verse 22 points out, we are all going to die, regardless of what Satan told Eve in Genesis 3:14. The question of course is, "then what?" Some say there are two resurrections. Some have taught there are three. In essence, here are the three:

1. The Saints at Christís return.

2. Those who have never had a chance to learn Godís way to live.

3. Those who have been taught Godís way to live but have not lived as taught.

John 5:28-29 (NKJV) "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice {29} "and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

The word "condemnation" is from the Greek word "krises ", meaning decision or judgment , Strongs number G2920. Nearly every translation of that word is "judgment", not "condemnation". So the last part of that scripture should indicate that those who have done evil are headed for the resurrection of judgment. As we shall see, many probably wonít be condemned.

Isaiah 26:12-21 also describes the resurrections. Weíll look at the various parts of these scriptures in the order presented, which is the same order as their occurrence.

(Isa 26:12-14 NKJV) LORD, You will establish peace for us, For You have also done all our works in us. {13} O LORD our God, masters besides You have had dominion over us; But by You only we make mention of Your name. {14} They are dead, they will not live; They are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And made all their memory to perish.

What could Isaiah be talking about, "They will not rise?" You mean there is no resurrection for some? Thatís right. There is no resurrection for some. Who? Perhaps you thought there was a resurrection for everyone.

How many of you remember my sermons in which I discussed the Nephilim? I think one was entitled "Giants in the Land"; the other "The Sons of God". I also alluded to the Nephilim as "other humanoids" in my sermon "The Science of Creation."

I wonít go into all the details of these sermons, but letís review some of the highlights:

1 Pet 3:18-20 (NIV) .....He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, {19} through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison {20} who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built....

(2 Pet 2:4 NKJV) For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [prison] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

(Jude 1:6 NKJV) And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

Who are these spirits in prison? It has always been my understanding that Satan and his angels would be put in chains at Christ's return. Were there some in prison at the time of His death on the cross? We will refer back to the days of Noah and read of it, but first let's be sure we agree with the translators of 1 Peter 3.

The word "spirits" in verse 19 of 1 Pet 3 comes from the Greek word "pneuma". That is certainly in agreement with other uses of the word, which include "ghost", "angel", "demon", "Spirit of God", "Spirit of Christ", "the Holy Spirit."

The word "prison" in verse 19 comes from the Greek word "phulake" (fu-lak-ay'). It means to imprison, guard, cage or hold. Sounds OK.

Verse 20 specifies that these were spirits who disobeyed in the days of Noah. Does Genesis have anything to say about them? Let's go to Genesis 6 and see.

Gen 6:1-4 (NIV) When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, {2} the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. {3} Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." {4} The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward [not just in the days of Noah but afterward]--when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown [renown = famous or conspicuous, H8034, Shem].

This seems to say that the "sons of God" were marrying the daughters of men. Who were the sons of God? Who were the Nephilim mentioned in verse 4? As I said, I read from the New International version. Let's read the same verses from the KJV:

Gen 6:1-4 (KJV) And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, {2} That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they <were> fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. {3} And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also <is> flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. {4} There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare <children> to them, the same <became> mighty men which <were> of old, men of renown.

The two versions seem to be very similar. Both refer to "sons of God" but the KJV doesn't have the words Nephilim in verse 4. Let's first check out "sons of God". Who are the "sons of God"?

The KJV shows 11 verses with the words "sons of God". Let's look at them. We have already read Gen 6:2 and 4 but this time let's look at the translation of "sons of God":

"Sons of God" comes from the Hebrew "ben 'elohiym". "Ben" means son and 'elohiym means God. No apparent contradiction here.

Gen 6:2 (KJV) That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they <were> fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

verse 4 (KJV) There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare <children> to them, the same <became> mighty men which <were> of old, men of renown.

Notice the distinction "sons of God" and "daughters of men". Let's check the translation of the word "men". The word men comes from the Hebrew word 'adam (pronounced aw-dawm') meaning ruddy or mankind or the species of man. I think we would have to conclude that "sons of God" and "daughters of men" mean just what they say.

But who are the sons of God? They are obviously not the same as "sons of man" or the Bible would call them that. The only other Old Testament occurrence of the words "sons of God" is in Job:

Job 1:6 (KJV) Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Here we have the sons of God being able to present themselves before the Lord, along with Satan. Could they be anything but spirit? Letís look at John 3:13 to answer that..

(John 3:13 NKJV) "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

Letís turn to Job 2.

Job 2:1 (KJV) Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

Here again both the sons of God and Satan are presenting themselves before the Lord. Again I ask, could they be anything but spirit?

Job 38:7 (KJV) When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

In Job 38 God is asking Job if he was present when the earth was created. In verse 7 he refers to the morning stars singing and the sons of God shouting for joy. Many scriptures in Revelation refer to stars as angels. Some feel that "morning stars" are arch-angels. Which ever they were, the creation was a time of joy and happiness in heaven. The most likely translation is that the angels (sons of God) were jubilant. Who else could have been there? Certainly not mankind.

What have we learned so far? Sons of God in the Old Testament seems to refer to angels or spirit beings. We didnít prove it but, Sons of God in the New Testament refers to God's Spirit-led people. You may want to prove that on your own. See Romans 8:14 & 29.

In Genesis 6:4, the NIV referred to Nephilim in the land. The KJV called them giants. What or who were they? The Hebrew word for giant is Nephil (Nef-eel') (H5303). What is a Nephil? The only other reference to Nephil (H5303) is in Numbers 13.

Num 13:32-33 (NIV) And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. {33} We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

The KJV uses the word "giants" for Nephilim. The definition of Nephilim is a bully or tyrant; a giant. Numbers 13 is describing the journey of the spies God had Moses send to the land of Canaan. Was Numbers 13:33 an exaggeration or was it real? Could the giants have been that big? If they were, was it any wonder the faithless Israelites were so filled with terror they wanted to return to Egypt? Only Joshua's and Caleb's assurances that with God's backing the land could be their's, prevented a full-scale rebellion. Joshua and Caleb saw the giants too, but they had faith that God could and would protect the Israelites.

So here we have two irruptions (meaning bursting forth suddenly and violently) of these giants. One during the days of Noah; the other during the days of Moses. Who were these creatures? Let's go back to Genesis 6:4.

Gen 6:4 (KJV) There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare <children> to them, the same <became> mighty men which <were> of old, men of renown.

Do we see any other examples of Nephilim during these periods? Letís look at another one:

(Gen 4:12-15 NKJV) [The Eternal is talking to Cain:] "When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." {13} And Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear! {14} "Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me." {15} And the LORD said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

Now the question is: Who would kill Cain? Most Christians believe that only Adam and Eve and Cain and his sisters were alive at this time. Seth had not been born yet and Abel was dead. Yes, there had to be other humanoids alive at that time who Cain was deathly afraid of.

But how did the Nephilim survive the flood and survive until the days of Moses? Some Jewish sages have suggested that one hid on top of the ark. Iím not sold on that theory. Another guess is that the giants of Mosesí day came through the flood via one of Noahís daughters-in-law whose ancestors carried their genes. Another: Gen 6:4 indicates that the sons of God came to the daughters of men after the days of Noah too. Anyway, however they arrived, as we read in Isa  26:14, these huge, violent, humanoid creatures will not be resurrected from the dead. Only the sons of Adam will be resurrected. Letís continue reading Isa 26 concerning those who are or are not resurrected.

(Isa 26:15-18 NKJV) You have increased the nation, O LORD, You have increased the nation; You are glorified; You have expanded all the borders of the land. {16} LORD, in trouble they have visited You, They poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them. {17} As a woman with child is in pain and cries out in her pangs, When she draws near the time of her delivery, So have we been in Your sight, O LORD. {18} We have been with child, we have been in pain; We have, as it were, brought forth wind; We have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth, Nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen.

These scriptures seem to describe the future troubles of a distraught, pleading people or nation of Israel. But these people may not be limited to what we see today as the country of Israel. They may include all of the elect. Our pleadings seem at times to have brought forth nothing but wind. The elect have been unsuccessful in bringing the vast majority of peoples of the earth to repentance or to destroying their evil political systems.

Letís look at some related scriptures which seem to describe the dilemma of the Jews.

(Matt 21:43 KJV) Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Here we see the giving of the responsibility to teach Godís principles to a multitude including gentile nations (G1484) instead of Jewish rabbis. The result is that Jewish priests and scribes (rabbis, not necessarily all Jews) will probably not be a part of the Kingdom of God after Christís return. We know, of course, that there will be 12,000 of the 144,00 first-fruits of God who will be Jews, as well as 12,000 Levites, probably 12,000 from Simeon, and some from Benjamin who migrated to the tribe of Judah when the ten tribes departed. You can read of that in Rev 7:5.

(Rev 12:17 KJV) And the dragon was wroth with the woman [the church], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Here we see that all, Jew and Christian alike, who keep Godís commandments and believe the words of the Messiah, will be persecuted by Satanically motivated forces.

Now letís complete our reading of Isaiah 26, this time beginning in verse 19.

(NKJV) Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead. {20} Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. {21} For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.

This is the promise of the resurrection. Letís compare verses 19-21 with Revelation 20:4.

(Rev 20:4 KJV) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

All these people were either killed, many by decapitation, or persecuted, some apparently in resisting the beast political system. It appears that if you are to be in the first resurrection, you will have been persecuted and judged.

Isa 26:20 can also be compared with Matthew 25:10 in the sense that the affairs of the outside world will be shut out of their lives for a period of time. The analogy, of course, is that both Isa  26:20 and Mat 25:10 can describe the hiding away of the saints during the tribulation.

Mat 25:10 "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom [Christ] came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

Now letís describe the first resurrection from the dead. We are all familiar with the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - Yeshua ha Meshiach in Hebrew. Three days and three nights in the grave, followed by His resurrection from death. Weíll look at Matt 28:6 and Matt 12:40.

(Mat 28:6 NKJV) "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matt 12:40 (NKJV) "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

But there have been other resurrections, Lazarus for example. The Saints at the time of Christís crucifixion, for another. But the resurrection of the Saints, described in 1 Cor 15:51-54 and 1  Thes 4:13-18 is what most people associate with the first resurrection. Letís read them.

(1 Cor 15:51-54 NKJV) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; {52} 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. {53} For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. {54} 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 Th 4:13-17 NKJV) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. {14} For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. {15} For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. {16} For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. {17} Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

It should be pointed out here that in order to be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, one must apparently be changed to spirit. That means that even those who live to see the Lordís return will have to momentarily die.

The resurrection of the Saints begins the millennial rule of the Saints. Why do we describe it as ruling? There are three scriptures in Revelation which answer that. Letís read them.

(Rev 2:26-27 NKJV) "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations; {27} 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels; as I also have received from My Father;

(Rev 12:4-6 NKJV) His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman [probably Godís Church] who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. {5} She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. {6} Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. [3-1/2 years]

(Rev 19:15-16 NKJV) Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself [Christ] will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. {16} And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Yes, our Lord and His Saints will RULE with a rod of iron. There will be no more speaking out of both sides of their mouths by the worldís politicians. There will be no more deception to and by the public. There will be no more terror by night. There will be no more worship of false gods and their images. There will be no more adultery. There will be no more retaliation. There will be no more deceitfulness by business owners trying to make illicit gain. There will be no more theft of unguarded goods. There will be no more disrespect of parents and elders. There will be no more breaking of Godís Sabbaths. There will be no more hate or violence. The world will be taught by the Saints just how they should live. Every person will be guided by the words, "Go this way." And every person shall reap the rewards of living a God-fearing life. Zechariah 14 describes the pains of disobedience.

But the first resurrection involves only a very, very small part of all the descendants of Adam. Only those chosen by God will be in the first resurrection. Those in the first resurrection will be kings and priests in the Kingdom of God, teaching others the right way to live.

(Rev 5:10 NKJV) And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth."

But is it all a bed of roses? Is there no sacrifice we have to be willing to make?

(Mat 5:10-12 NKJV) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. {12} "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

What about the myriads of other people who have lived since Adam? The second resurrection is for them. The second resurrection occurs at the end of the seventh millennium, just like the eighth day follows the seven day Feast of Tabernacles. So why not just wait for the second resurrection? Because the first resurrection is the better resurrection.

(Heb 11:35 NKJV) Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.

As we said before, the first resurrection is for those chosen by God to be in his kingdom. They will not have to be judged during the millennium and risk the second death - a permanent death. They are being judged now, in this life. We will discuss their fate if they do not qualify for the first resurrection in a moment, but first letís consider the second resurrection.

(Rev 20:5-10 CJB) (The rest of the dead did not come to life [again] until the thousand years were over.) This is the [their] first resurrection [referring back to the end of verse 4]. {6} Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim [priests] of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. {7} When the thousand years are over, the Adversary [Satan] will be set free from his prison {8} and will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is countless as the sand on the seashore; {9} and they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of Godís people and the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. {10} The Adversary who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

A moment ago I mentioned that those in the first resurrection would not have to face the second death. What is the second death? Letís read Rev 20:6 again.

(Rev 20:6 CJB) Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim [priests] of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years.

(Verse 14 NKJV) Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

So the second death is Death and Hades being caste into the lake of fire. Death and Hades are not people. Death is a state of being; hades (the grave) a place. For people, the lake of fire is permanent. It simply burns one up forever. Even the memory of them is gone. It is as if they never existed.

(Rev 2:11 NKJV) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."'

So we know that to avoid the second death we must overcome our sins; our weaknesses. And so we can see the value of the first resurrection: kings and priests in the Kingdom of God, avoiding the second death, and an opportunity to teach Godís way to mankind.

The second resurrection occurs at the end of the millennium. In the meantime they will lie in their graves, be it on the earth or in the sea or wherever, until after the millennium. Then they will be called up to begin training under the supervision of the Saints. In as much as the life-span in the days of Noah was 120 years, it is expected that the training period will be for 120 years. Isaiah seems to write of a period of time of 100 years in Isaiah 65. Perhaps that constitutes their adult years.

(Isa 65:20 NKJV) "No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

Whether or not this verse describes those of the second resurrection and however long it is, each participant in the second resurrection, billions of them, will be trained and finally judged as to whether they will join the saints in Godís Kingdom or go to the lake of fire and be destroyed.

A little earlier I asked the question: What happens to those who God calls but when they are judged, they fail? There are two answers to this question and they do not agree. Actually, man has come up with three answers, but the third, which weíll get into in a moment, is illogical.

One answer is that if they are called and fall short when they are judged, they will die and have to wait for the second resurrection. Mat 25 may tell us that. Letís look at it:

(Mat 25:32-46 NKJV) "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. [All the nations sounds more like the second resurrection than the first resurrection, doesnít it.] {33} "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. {34} "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: {35} 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; {36} 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' {37} "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? {38} 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? {39} 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' {40} "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' {41} "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: {42} 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; {43} 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' {44} "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' {45} "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' {46} "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Now we need to discuss verse 46. Please follow me carefully. On the surface it certainly appears to indicate that those who are not judged to be righteous will have to suffer never-ending punishment. The noun "punishment" comes from the Greek word "kolasis", G2851 in Strongís Concordance. To determine what this kolasis or punishment is, we need to refer back to verse 41.

"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels

So letís now investigate this "everlasting fire". Weíll see what John the Baptist had to say about this action. Please turn to Matthew 3:12.

(Mat 3:12 NKJV) "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Here is the answer in a nutshell: Christ will separate the sheep from the goats Ė the blessed from the cursed Ė the wheat from the chaff. One group he will keep as His own. The other will be burned up with unquenchable, everlasting fire. The people will not burn forever. They will simply be burned up. Only the lake of fire will continue to burn, apparently forever

Another scripture which seems to indicate that those who are called and fall short are resurrected at the second resurrection is found in Daniel 12.

(Dan 12:1-3 NKJV) "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. {2} And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. {3} Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

My impression is that this describes the judgment following the second resurrection when everyone will have had a chance to learn the right way to live. The question of whether the "some to shame and everlasting contempt" includes called-out ones who have failed is left unanswered.

Another answer to the question of what happens to those who are called and fall short is that since they were selected before the very creation of the world, that God would not let them fail. I tend to support that explanation and will describe my rationale after we discuss the so-called third resurrection.

The third answer involves what is called by some as the third resurrection. The theory of the third resurrection is based upon several things. One is a distortion of Rev 20:11-13. Another is manís greed for money and power. Letís read Rev 20:11-13 again.

(Rev 20:11-13 NKJV) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. {12} And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. {13} The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

These verses obviously describe the second resurrection, the general resurrection. Those who believe in a third resurrection believe that verse 13 is a separate resurrection.. The logical meaning is that all these people are resurrected from wherever they are buried, whether in the ground, the sea, or burned up in the air as some have been in wartime and in the Challenger Shuttle disaster.

I described the theory of the third resurrection as being the result of manís greed for money and power. Let me explain. The third resurrection is believed to be for those who have been called by God and who later leave the Church. They will then supposedly be resurrected and assigned directly to the lake of fire.

Now back to what I tend to believe regarding the question of what happens to those who are called and fall short during their judgment. Remember that the Saints are judged while they are alive. Letís look at a scripture which tells us when the Saints are being judged.

(1 Pet 4:17-19 JNT) For the time has come for judgment to begin. It begins at the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will the outcome be for those who are disobeying Godís Good News? {18} "If the righteous one is barely delivered, Where will the ungodly and sinful end up?" {19} So let those who are suffering according to Godís will commit themselves to a faithful Creator by continuing to do what is good.

The saints are being judged as they live. They are already being led by Godís Spirit, know Godís will, and do what is right. In Romans 8 we read of Godís selection of the Saints for the first resurrection. Think very seriously about the following verses as I read them.

(Rom 8:29-30 NKJV) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. {30} Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

How then, can God predestine someone who will fail? To believe that is to question Godís omniscience (all knowing), for in Rom 8:28 we read:

(Rom 8:28 NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

No, if God has called you and you have not committed the unpardonable sin described in Heb 6:4, Mat 12:31-32, and Heb 10:26 (and I wonder if one who was called could do that), I doubt He is going to allow you to fail, then assign you to the lake of fire.

You say you have sinned after receiving the Holy Spirit and you think you are thereby disqualified. We have all sinned after receiving the Holy Spirit. Sinning through weakness or impulse is not the question. A sense of guilt and repentance is the question. No one blasphemes the Holy Spirit by sinning through weakness. The measure is, do we have repentance over the sins we commit? Do we resolve not to fall into that sin again? If we have the motivation and desire not to sin, we still have the Holy Spirit. From what other source would that desire come? It is those who donít care, who arenít interested in whether they please God who are not motivated by the Holy Spirit.

If God knew that He was going to call us, individually, before the creation of the world, He will stick by us, arrange things so that we can work out our problems, continue to motivate us through the power of His Holy Spirit. He desires that we will all make it; that no one will fail. Only if we intentionally reject God, turn our backs on Him, will He let us go. And maybe not even then.

God is love. He cannot act without love and concern for His people. He cannot call someone, then consign them to death through a system which He Himself designed simply because they erred in judgment in following Christ. That could give the impression He is not omniscient. Nor, in the same rationale, could He be omnipotent if His called and chosen failed. This rationale brings to mind Mosesí argument with God in Exodus 32.

(Exo 32:9-14 NKJV) And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! {10} "Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation." {11} Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: "LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? {12} "Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. {13} "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'" {14} So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.

God is careful not to leave Himself open to criticism about His judgments and promises.

Yes, God is omniscient.[am-nishí-ant (meaning: all knowing)] God is omnipotent. God is perfectly good. God is forgiving. God is love.

 

In conclusion we see that a glorious future is offered by God to all the sons of Adam. The predestined Saints of the first resurrection are to be kings and priests. But all the rest of mankind have the opportunity to join them after their resurrection following the millennium. As we consider all this, we just have to thank God for his love and mercy and for calling us at this time.

The perception of much of Christianity is that someone who has never heard the name of Jesus Christ or of the commandments of God will be condemned to the lake of fire or an ever-burning hell fire. Is it conceivable that a loving God could design such a fate? Of course not. That is why He designed a second resurrection. All mankind will have the opportunity to learn to live Godís way.

We have to thank God that He has provided a way for all the sons of Adam to join Him in His Kingdom, no matter what their background.

 

 

 

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell

14 April 2012

 

 

Copyright 2012, Wayne Bedwell


 

 

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