from a reader
Richard, (replies are in red.)
I have just finished reading your booklet, Understanding the Resurrections and Eternal Judgment” and want to commend you on ALL the research that went into it. I have never seen this subject so comprehensively covered before. I used the same approach HWA did by trying to DISPROVE your conclusions.
It took me some time to wrap my head around your “second death” treatment as presented primarily on pages 83 / 84.
May I suggest something slightly different on this concept?
I have very recently begun to view Revelation 20, representing two different “stages” revolving around WHEN an individual receives his or her calling and preserving the numerical sequence dilemma you address on page 83.
Example: Stage one corresponds to the “first resurrection” Those in that stage die now, or are changed in an instant at Christ’s return. Thus, the “second death” has no hold on them.
In other words, their fate is already pre-determined. Due to their conversion status, they are exempt from the possibility of the second death. They are assigned to Life even before they die, so long as they remain faithful to the end. Those that are called NOW and commit the unpardonable sin come up in the 3rd resurrection and FACE the second death. This is correct. Only the incorrigibly wicked are to experience the second death in the lake of fire. Incorrigibility requires that they HAD opportunity for salvation, but spurned it. Thus, the NUMERICAL sequence problem is solved for the firstfruits. The firstfruits will all be raised in the first resurrection at Christ’s return before the millennium.
Stage two: this stage covers the 2nd AND 3rd resurrections and PRESERVES the numerical sequence problem which you encounter based on WHEN an individual is called.
Example: the rest of the dead (minus the firstfruits) will live either during the millennium or be resurrected during Great White Throne Judgment, but in ALL cases it will be their FIRST opportunity for salvation, thus their FIRST DEATH. I am of the opinion that the people who live physically during the millennium will die at the end of a normal lifetime just as now. They will experience this ‘first’ physical death as do we. Your example as worded is a bit unclear. Those who live during the millennium are not alive at that time as a result of having died and then having been resurrected. The millennium will be populated by the survivors of the Great Tribulation and their physical descendents. As per your booklet, ALL of the people in this second stage will be resurrected at the 3rd resurrection and will be separated into sheep and goats, thus facing either being begotten into God’s family OR the SECOND death. Again, the NUMERICAL sequence problem which I couldn’t wrap my head around seems to be solved. All are appointed once to die, (the ‘normal’ physical death) (as per Hebrews 9:27) and after this, the Judgment. To face ‘the Judgment’, a person must be raised and must stand before God, the Righteous Judge, in a conscious state. What confounds religion is the obvious lack of opportunity that so many had in this life. God’s Plan provides for that, in the second resurrection era, which restores them to physical life in order to have the opportunity that they never had previously. These who come up in the second resurrection, after the millennium, are raised in perfect health, and (in my opinion) remain alive to the end, when the dead from the millennium and the wicked of all time are raised to join them for sentencing. All of these, righteous and wicked, will then stand for sentencing in physical form. Only the righteous from that sentencing event are entered-into Life, joining the ‘firstfruits’ of the Spirit-Born kind, raised before the millennium. This Final sentencing event is the ‘sheep-from-the-goats’ scene which Christ described so clearly in Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 14:14-20.
Addressing the number of ‘first deaths’ question: Those who die in this pre-advent age die and are raised once, either in the first resurrection, or later in the second. Those who die unconverted and are raised in the second resurrection do not die again, but remain alive and are joined later by those who come up in the third resurrection for sentencing. (It is important to recognize the distinction between ‘unconverted’ and ‘wicked’. The former never had opportunity and are provided opportunity in the second resurrection era, the latter did have opportunity, for whatever reason spurned it,and are reserved until the third resurrection which is the sentencing event.) The third resurrection includes both righteous and wicked from the millennial age, AND all of the wicked from the pre-millennial age who remained ‘asleep’ in their graves until called-up in the third resurrection for their sentencing. This is a slight difference from the old WCG explanation, which never adequately addressed the question of how and when those converted after Christ’s return will be brought into the Family as were the ‘firstfruits’. That ‘reaping’ occurs at Final Sentencing, at the end, as described in the latter half of Revelation 14. The “White Cloud Harvest” is when Christ reaps the earth’s fully ripened harvest for the Kingdom. (the righteous - whose names were added into the Book of Life (Rev. 20:12 &15)) Those not reaped by Him are left to two angels who reap them into the Winepress of God’s Wrath, where they pay the penalty for their sins with their own blood and then are consumed in fire. (Rev. 14:20)
Just speaking for myself, playing the “devil’s advocate”, I tried to find fault with your conclusions, wording, etc. and this is what bothered me. My theory does not seem to change anything materially, but just with tweaking perhaps explain it more logically to anyone trying to prove it. It is also possible for some to live as humans 3 times.! This would be the rarest exception, perhaps involving fewer than five individuals. (see my article: “The Rejected Resurrection”.) The 3rd time just BRIEFLY as assigned to sheep or goats during 3rd resurrection. (all living or who HAVE lived BEFORE Christ’s return will live again, at least VERY BRIEFLY for a third time) I’m not sure where you’re getting the ‘third time’. It may be a carry-over from the old WCG teaching that those who are raised in the second resurrection die again. I posed this premise back to the UCG in my submission to their Doctrinal Committee, and Chairman, Leon Walker balked (and I agree with him, thus my change in the second submission to the DC, as reflected in the 18-chapter version of my booklet.) There is no need for the second resurrected peoples to die again. That ‘die again’ idea comes from the application of Isaiah 65:20 to the post-millennial (second resurrection) era, which I believe is incorrect. (This was the one and only place where the WCG came up with the 100 year duration of the second resurrection era.) A more careful reading shows that it refers to those living in the millennial age. The ‘bringing forth children’ verse should positively indicate the time-frame for this passage. The century mark is likely the optimum lifespan in the millennium.
Another question which I have thought much about is the actual length of the Great White Throne Judgment period in relation to the physical universe. I see the Great White Throne as that period of time defined by the second-resurrection era. The GWT is a generation long period of evaluative judgment, not final sentencing. Like this age is the evaluative phase for the Church (1st Peter 4:17) the GWT will be for those raised for the opportunity they never had. The 100 year period suggested in the Bible for humans does not in my opinion address the issue of the entire length of it. We need to realize the 100 year idea comes from this mis-applied verse in Isaiah 65:20 ONLY. We have no other passage that remotely suggests how long it is. My estimation is that it will be the remainder of one full generation. Exactly how long that is is anyone’s guess. Twenty five years? Fourty? A hundred? That’s God’s call, and may not even be fully determined at this point. At least, we aren’t told definitively. The physical universe according to the experts is increasing in size. We know that in the very END it will be burned completely up, and we will dwell with God in a non physical universe, not subject to time and decay. I’m not sure it will be non-physical. I don’t understand 2nd Peter 3:10 to be referring to the entire universe being burned-up. Just the earth’s polluted surface and its atmosphere. The elements shall melt (2nd Peter 3:10-12) cleansing the planet of humanity’s rottenness and wreckage, but Earth will be a cleansed physical environment (likely not still molten) when the New Jerusalem is brought down to it. (Rev. 21:) So, my theory is that the Great White Throne Judgment will be an extended period of time in which the universe is restored and colonized prior to the 3rd resurrection. I would counter by saying the GWT is that period of opportunity, encompassing the second resurrection period. It ends with the Final Sentencing event (the White Cloud and Grapes of Wrath harvests.) There will be no need for further Judgment after all of humanity has been judged and appropriately sentenced.
I base this theory that God does NOTHING without a purpose, and would not leave an ever expanding universe in decay! Time is nothing to God and there is no limit that I can find on the number of spirit begotten humans God will eventually create. God’s Master Plan may expand out into the Universe after that event described in 2nd Peter, but it seems, with the Throne of the Father and Son being here on Earth, that it will become the ‘jewel in the Universe’, the headquarters for God The Father, thereafter. I have two companion articles that consider this event: “The Elements Shall Melt” and “The Hope of Glory”
Anyway, just some comments about the SECOND DEATH chapter.
I am also doing some thinking on your “Saints Which Slept” chapter which I find fascinating because I have never heard it explained in this manner. Frankly, I have never heard this passage explained by anyone at all! I consider the possibility that this group resurrection (the only recorded multiple resurrection) is an illustration of the reality of future mass resurrections, particularly the first. These all were Saints, as the text indicates, (Matt. 27:52) and were well known to those living at the time. Imagine the havoc that caused among the deniers of there being any resurrection, (Luke 20:27 & Acts 23:8) and those who attempted to deny that Christ was raised from the dead!