Article 54

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What we Believe






"The Resurrection and Judgment"

Revelation 20:12-13.

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 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."

While there is no direct mention of a resurrection in the verses I have as a text, a resurrection is indeed implied and demanded…

(1) The dead stand before God.

(2) The sea gave up the dead in it.

(3) Death and hell delivered up the dead in them.

(4) These dead persons are cast into the lake of fire after being judged for their works.

(5) There is a resurrection first (so stated in the Greek) which demands there be a resurrection last with its related second death (20:5-6).

Attempts to deny this always come from persons wishing to promote their own opinion and their own brand of doctrine. Rather than taking a straightforward look at these verses and the passage related to them some seek special "spiritual" [their word] interpretations. The correct interpretation of this passage is the only spiritual one for no lie is spiritual in the scriptural sense whether it be a literal or symbolic one. Those who use the word spiritual as the opposite of literal are at best improperly tutored, and at worst they are dishonest tricksters. The opposite of literal is symbolical; the opposite of spiritual is fleshly. There is a spiritual resurrection of the elect in regeneration and there will be a physical, bodily resurrection of all mankind. However, these are not two opposite resurrections [spiritual verses literal] but rather they are both two kinds of literal resurrections! The spiritual resurrection is just as literal as the physical resurrection. Let us as God’s people be honest in our speech to all our hearers! Improper phrases may aid a particular opinion but they do not provide honest instruction in God’s word.

I must also say that the passage of my text does not speak of the spiritual resurrection of regeneration as being the first resurrection (20:5-6) and then the implied last resurrection (20:12-13) is then the physical, bodily resurrection of all mankind – saved or lost. The reasons why from the whole passage…

(1) The first resurrection includes the souls of them who have been "beheaded" (thus they physically died for the cause of Christ) and these are actually resurrected (physical death demands physical resurrection) who then live and reign with Christ for 1000 years (20:4-6).

(2) The life (lived is the word used in the passage) of the "rest of the dead" is equal to that of the first group who lived by the first resurrection (20:5a), but the second group will be found under the power of the second death (20:6 cf. 20:14-15). If the first resurrection, before the 1000 years, is the spiritual one then so must the second one be and thus all will ultimately be regenerated. One cannot pick and chose the meaning they want or especially have the two resurrections be different kinds simply because it’s the only way its fits their system of doctrine.

(3) Moreover, one will be cast into the lake of fire to experience the second death because their works justify such (20:12-13) and neither was their name found written in the book of life (20:12, 15). The context does not deal with whether or not they were regenerated. The book of life spoken of here is that which is said to be "the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (13:8). Thus it is the book of blood redemption life by Christ the slain substitute and not regenerative life by the Spirit because of Christ that is the key here.

(4) If the first resurrection is the spiritual one of regeneration then one can only be regenerated before the 1000 years starts! This is a bad foundation for those who say the 1000 years is the present age! Notice how this is true. Those who take part in the blessing of the first resurrection live and reign with Christ a 1000 years, not during the 1000 years. The actual length of this life and reign is defined for them all as 1000 years. It cannot be symbolical of this present age!

(5) If Satan’s binding (20:2-3) is symbolical of the power of Christ’s person and work, which is declared in the gospel, to presently save the nations [Gentiles] as some say it is, then before the 1000 years started, and especially after it ends (20:7-8), then the power of His person and work must be to some extent thwarted. This is the only sound manner of consistent interpretation of that doctrine. Yet those who teach Satan’s binding as being such would clearly depart for such sound hermeneutics. Granted, one should recoil from even the thought of supposing such of Christ and His work. But when consistent interpretation confounds the system taught because it seems to suggest a lack in Christ’s power to save, then the system must be reconsidered and not sound hermeneutic principles. We do not interpret the scripture trying to "get the best" out of Christ and His gospel. We interpret scripture as each scriptural text demands -- according to context -- and we can be assured that the integrity of Christ and His gospel will be intact in God’s word, but our opinions and doctrines may need correcting!

There is no doubt to the sound mind of the believer that to be one of those who will stand before God as He sits on that great white throne is to be eternally damned. When there is found no place for a person, whether in heaven or earth, then that person can kiss himself or herself goodbye. Let us take clear note here that although all who will be here before God at that time will indeed stand before Him, this same thrice holy, unapproachable God will judge every one of these people according to their works no matter what their stature in their life (small or great). Moreover, the book of life will not be opened to show each one of them that they never chose to believe on Jesus, as some are prone to teach. Never choosing to, or refusing to, believe on Jesus may well be one of the works for which some are here judged and condemned. But the book of life will be opened to prove to them that their sin and sins were never dealt with by God in Christ. He, God, can rightly and justly judge them according to their works. The only alternative is indeed the free and sovereign grace of God in Christ. THE book has recorded in it all the names of those for whom Christ is the life giving slain Lamb and they are recorded even from the foundation of the world (13:8-9). To be judged out of the books according to one’s works, and to do so unscathed by God’s holiness and justice, would require one’s works to be impeccable. No person can claim that before God (Rom. 3:9-19).

So then, those who are waiting for the day of this resurrection and judgment spoken of in Revelation 20:12-13 to finally hear of their eternal destiny, and yet holding to some hope of being pardoned, will have what men call a "rude awakening" coming. There will be no such thing as a singular, general resurrection of all mankind without exception. But there will definitely be a general, last resurrection of the unjust who will in justice find they are without the free grace of God in Christ and have only their works to their credit and the lake of fire as their eternal destiny.

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