THE 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 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" (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 pruninghooks: 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.

SALVATION

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 chose 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.

Confess Sins

"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.

Repent

"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).

Obey God

"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  that 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" (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" 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 that 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, were 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 that requires effort that is 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 that refer to "The Rest of the Dead".

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. The people who Jesus was speaking to in  Matthew 11  have had their first and only opportunity. They did  not  repent; 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 22-23 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:

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:

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  that 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, file b7w4