Resurrection of the Rest of the Dead
After the first resurrection, Jesus will return to the earth as a conquering king with the elect of all ages who have been changed into immortal beings (1.Cor.15:51-54). During the first thousand years of Christ's rule, the earth will be at peace and become a paradise: a world free of war, famine, disease, and Satan and his demons (Rev.20:1-3). It will be a world of peace and abundance:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to 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 worshiped 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" (Rev.20:4 KJV).
This is the time spoken of by the prophet Isaiah; a time in which the world will be at peace and all nations will come to Jerusalem to learn the way of God:
"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa.2:2-4 KJV). See also Mic.4:1-4.
It is during this time of peace and prosperity that the earth will be prepared for the billions of humans who will participate in the next phase of God's plan for the salvation of humanity.
The Rest of the Dead
"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection" (Rev.20:5 KJV).
These individuals who will be resurrected a thousand years after Christ begins his reign on earth will not be the elect of God. At this point in time, the elect of God will be immortal beings who rule with Christ. These individuals will not be Israelites either, because national Israel will already have been raised in a special resurrection of their own. The rest of the dead are the billions of non-Israelites who have lived and died without having an opportunity for salvation.
Few Have Known God's Truth
From the time of Adam to the time of the return of Christ, relatively few individuals will have had the opportunity to understand God's truth. Most who hear the Gospel preached hear it only as a witness or as a warning, because spiritual truth and knowledge cannot be conveyed by natural means to a mortal human mind. See Jn.16:13; 1.Cor.2:10-15.
Spiritual truth is conveyed through the Father's holy spirit to those called to a spiritual work. This is why the vast majority of people do not even begin to grasp the awesome truth of God.
Regardless of their quality of life, education, or intelligence, most of humanity has been kept in total ignorance of the true gospel and the way to salvation. God has either purposely not allowed them to understand his truth (Mk.4:10-12; 2.Cor.4:3-4) or they have been deceived by satanic religions (2.Cor.11:10-15; Rev.12:9).
God's Desire for Humanity
God the Father and Jesus Christ want everyone to be converted and have eternal life:
"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1.Tim.2:4 KJV).
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but, is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2.Pet.3:9 KJV).
"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost" (Matt. 18:11 KJV).
God the Father and Jesus Christ have not forgotten the billions who have never had an opportunity to know them and their goodness. Moreover, they have not forgotten the awesome purpose for which human beings were created. The Father and the Son are still intent on expanding their family by creating sons out of human beings:
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (Jn.1:12 KJV). See also Jn.3:1-3; 2.Cor.6:18; Heb.2:10; Phil.3:21; 1.Jn.3:2.
The very reason for mankind's existence is so that God can expand his family. The only human beings who will be destroyed in the Lake of Fire are those who refuse to repent of their evil ways. God will not give anyone eternal life until they prove that they will live according to his way of life. This is why God has made provision for a resurrection that will afford each individual the optimum opportunity for success.
The Bible plainly shows that the only way to obtain salvation is through the Messiah and his sacrifice. Under the terms and conditions of the New Covenant, one must be called by God, repent of sin, be baptized, and receive the holy spirit in order to be saved. The simple truth is that the majority of people—past and present—have not had sufficient knowledge and understanding of the Creator God of Israel, his heavenly Father, or the way to salvation. However, how will people who have never even heard of Christ or his sacrifice obtain salvation?
"Let it be known to you all and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised up from the dead—in this name this one stands near before you whole! This One is the Stone counted worthless by you the builders, which has become placed into the head of the corner, and there is salvation in no other One, for neither is there any other name under heaven having been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12 Para.).
Despite the tremendous missionary and evangelistic efforts of people throughout history, billions of humans have never heard of Jesus Christ or God's plan for humanity. Even in this age, there are billions who will never hear the name of Jesus Christ or understand his message before he returns. Therefore, God has included a special resurrection for these people in order to give them the opportunity to know him and to choose to be a part of his family if they want.
Steps To Salvation
"No one is able to come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up in the last day. It has been written in the Prophets, 'They shall all be taught of God'. So then everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me" (Jn.6:44-45 Para.). See also Matt.22:14; 20:16; Jn.6:65; Acts 2:39;47; Rom.8:26-30; Eph.1:5-9; 1.Jn.5:19-21.
Believe in Christ
"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned" (Mk.16:16 KJV). See Jn.3:14-15; Acts 4:12; 8:37; 16:16-33; 22:12-16; 1.Thes.5:9.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from unrighteousness" (1.Jn.1:9 Para.). See also 1.Jn.5:13-15.
"Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV).
"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the holy spirit, whom God has given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:32 KJV). See also Acts 3:19.
Is God Fair?
"How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have never heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14 KJV).
Jesus said that we must keep God's commandments in order to live forever (Matt.19:16-17). But, how can people keep his law if they have never had it taught to them? The obvious answer is, they cannot! Logic tells us that a person must know what to do before it can be done. Therefore, because God is fair and just, each person must be given the opportunity to understand his law and way of life and they must be given enough time to act upon this knowledge. The God of love (1.Jn.4:16) will not condemn billions of people to eternal death (Rom.6:23) without first giving them an opportunity to know what they must do in order to gain eternal life.
The Books of Judgment
"And I saw a great white throne, and the One sitting on it, From whose face the earth and the heaven fled; and a place was not found for them. And I saw the dead, the small and the great, standing before God; And books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of life. And the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works" (Rev.20: 11-12 Para.).
"I beheld till the thrones were cast down (set in place), and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set and the books were opened" (Dan.7:9-10 KJV).
People will be judged out of these books which contain the gospel of Christ and the same laws, precepts, and principles by which all the righteous are judged.
One of the books clearly defined in Revelation 20:12 is the Book of Life. This book contains all the names of those who have obtained eternal life; moreover, if a person's name is not written in this book, they will not have eternal life:
"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works" (Rev.20:13 KJV).
Each individual's final destiny, whether to eternal life or death, depends on whether or not they follow what is written in the books which contain God's code of law and standard of righteous behavior. Those who will be brought back to physical life in the resurrection of the rest of the dead noted in Revelation 20:5 will have the opportunity to live according to what is written in these books and have their names written in the Book of Life.
Judgment and Sentencing
The major difficulty in understanding what the Bible really says about judgment comes from the traditional belief and concept that judgment always means some type of condemnation or sentencing for the commission of a crime. However, in many scriptures, this is not what is referred to at all. Many times judgment refers to a decision process which involves a period of time after which a decision is made as to the final destiny of an individual. And this decision is based on the performance of each individual.
An example of judgment as a life process is given to us by the apostle Peter when he said, "Because the time has come to begin the judgment from the house of God; and if firstly from us, what will be the end of the ones disobeying the gospel of God. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear?" (1.Pet.4:17-18 Para). Peter speaks of those who are called to salvation under the New Covenant as being under a process of judgment. See also 2.Cor.5:9-10.
Jesus says to the churches, "To him that has an ear, let him hear, what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7 KJV). See also Matt.24:13; Heb.5:8-9; Rev.2:26;3:21.
Jesus shows that salvation is a process which includes listening, learning, effort, and making correct decisions. Overcoming is a lifelong process which requires effort based on the knowledge and understanding of what is required by God, taking positive action on this knowledge and understanding, and living a righteous life to the best of one's ability.
A Time of Decision
"And I saw the dead, the small and the great, standing before God; And books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of life. And the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead in it. And death and Hades gave up the dead in them. And they were each judged according to their works" (Rev.20:12-13 Para).
"And as it is reserved to men once to die, and after this Judgment" (Heb.9:27 Para.).
The English word judged in Revelation 20:12-13 is translated from the Greek word krino (to judge). Krino also means to sunder, to select, to decide, to assess, to go to law, to seek justice, to expound, to believe, and to resolve. In Hebrews 9, the English word judgment is translated from the Greek word krisis, which has the sense of estrangement, conflict, selection, decision, judgment, verdict, and accusation.
The assumption that the words krino and krisis always indicate the delivering of a sentence or punishment for a crime falsely narrows their meaning when used in scriptures concerning the salvation of humanity. Both krino and krisis are used to convey the sense of something yet to be decided or resolved and this is the meaning that is meant in the scriptures which refer to the rest of the dead. See Rev.20:5.
All Must Give Account
"But why do you judge your brother? or why do you also despise your brother? For all shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it has been written, 'I live, says the Lord, that every knee will bow to me, and every tongue confess to God.' So then each one of us will give account concerning himself to God" (Rom.14:10-12 Para.).
"For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to what he did, whether good or bad" (2.Cor.5:10 Para.).
At the Proper Time
In order for each individual to have the best possible conditions to enhance their possibility for success, they must be allowed to live in an environment in which they may succeed if they so desire:
"Thus says the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard you, and in 'a day of salvation' have I helped you:. . ." (Isa.49:8 KJV). See also 2.Cor.6:2.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (1.Cor.15:22-23 KJV).
In God's plan for the salvation of humanity, he has set aside a time of peace and prosperity so that the vast majority of humanity can be given his truth and an opportunity to obey him under optimum conditions.
A First Opportunity
There were many who had personally seen Jesus' great acts and still would not repent of their wickedness. Jesus spoke of a time of judgment in which pagans and sexual deviants would be better off than those who saw him and did not believe. Logically, the only way these pagans and sexual deviants could do better in a judgment is if they had repented of their wickedness. We know the people of Sodom were destroyed in their wickedness; therefore, it is obvious that Jesus referred to a time in the future in which these wicked people will be given an opportunity to repent:
"Then he began to reproach the cities in which had occurred most of his powerful acts, for they had not repented. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the powerful acts which have taken place in you had happened in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, It shall be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon in Judgment Day than for you. And you, Capernaum, who have been exalted to the heaven, you will be thrown down to Hades. For if the powerful acts happening in you had taken place in Sodom, it still would be until today. But I say to you, It will be more bearable for the land of Sodom in the day of Judgment than for you" (Matt.11:20-24 Para.).
No Second Chance
Most who believe that this is the only day of salvation feel that to raise a person to physical life again would mean that they are to be given a second chance for salvation. However, this is not the case at all. God only gives one opportunity for salvation. The fact is that the people of Sodom have not yet had theirs. They were never called to salvation nor given the understanding of God's truth. It seems that the people to whom Jesus was speaking in Matthew, chapter 11 have had their first and only opportunity for salvation, if so, they did not repent and their fate is sealed. There is no second chance for salvation—only a first—and the people of Sodom will have their first opportunity in the resurrection of the rest of the dead.
Those Who Hear Will Live John 5:21-29 Paraphrased
"For even as the Father raises the dead, and gives life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wills" (v21).
Verse 21 shows that Christ has the authority to give life to whomever he chooses, and verses 22-24 show that Christ has the responsibility to judge all of humanity:
"For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. The one not honoring the Son does not honor the Father who has sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears my word, and believes the One who has sent me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (vs.22-24).
Those who hear Christ's words (i.e., his truth) and believe what he says will have eternal life. But, what about those who have never heard his words? It is obvious that those who have never heard cannot believe, because it is impossible to believe what one has never heard and understood:
"Truly, truly, I say to you that an hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and the ones hearing will live" (v25).
Those who never heard God's truth will hear it after they have been resurrected to a physical life, and those who heed what they hear will live. The inference is that those who do not heed what they hear will not live:
"For even as the Father has life in himself, so he gave also the Son to have life in himself. And he also gave authority to him to execute judgment for he is the Son of Man" (vs.26-27).
Again, we are told that Christ is immortal and has the authority to judge humanity:
"Do not marvel at this for an hour is coming in which all those in the tombs will hear his voice. And they will come out, the ones having done good into a resurrection of life; and the ones having practiced evil into a resurrection of judgment" (vs.28-29).
The following are important things to learn from verses 28 and 29:
- All those who are dead will be resurrected and hear Christ's word.
- Those who have done good will receive life.
- Those who have practiced evil will be executed.
It is important to carefully analyze what Jesus said here. He said that all the dead will be resurrected and hear his voice. Included in all the dead are those who have never been given the opportunity to come to the knowledge of God's truth. Jesus did not say that all of humanity will come up in one great resurrection to be judged at that time. He merely showed that all will be resurrected and hear his voice. He also said that those who have had their opportunity for salvation will either hear him when he gives them their rewards or they will hear him pronounce the death sentence upon them because of their unbelief and disobedience.
All Will See Christ
"Behold he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen" (Rev.1:7 KJV).
This prophecy covers the entire time period between the return of Christ at the first resurrection and the final judgment of humanity. Christ coming 'within the clouds' refers to one of the ways he will manifest himself to physical humans after his return. The following shows who will see Christ and when they will see him:
- Christ comes within clouds at the first resurrection and the elect of all ages will see him at that time. See Matt.23:63-65; 24:29-31; Isa.43:5-7; Mk.13:24-27.
- Israelites of the past will see him after their resurrection to physical life. See Ezekiel, chapter 37, which pertains to the resurrection of national Israel.
- The Roman soldiers will see him again because they will be in the resurrection of the rest of the dead at the end of the thousand years. See Rom.14:10-12; Rev.20:5.
- Eventually all will see Christ and come before his judgment seat. See Jn.5:22, 2.Cor.5:10, 1.Pet.4:2-5; Rev.20:12-13.
A Resurrection to Physical Life
The vast majority of humanity are neither saved nor lost; they simply have never heard nor understood God's plan for their salvation. Therefore, they have not yet been given an opportunity for salvation. In his infinite wisdom, the Eternal God has designed his plan for mankind very carefully in order to give every person an equal opportunity to have eternal life.
The resurrection of the rest of the dead is the time in which the billions who died never having had an opportunity for salvation will be resurrected to physical life. During their second life, they will be given the knowledge and understanding of God's truth. Those who demonstrate by their attitude, commitment, and performance that their sincere desire is to love and obey God will qualify for eternal life.
The Bible reveals that the Father is very fair, loving, merciful, compassionate, and forgiving; he is not the cruel and merciless monster which so many preachers depict. The very reason for the resurrection of the rest of the dead is to give everyone who has neither known God nor understood his way of life the opportunity to do so under his peaceful government.
By B.L. Cocherell b7w4