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So many people have believed that there is one general resurrection and that everyone will stand before the Lord to be judged, and the results of that judgment would decide the eternal destiny of that person. But this is not the case. The Bible tells us that there will be one resurrection for the believers, and only the believers, and there will be one resurrection for the unbelievers and the fallen angels, and only them at that time.
The Bible tells us why there is this difference. It tells us that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Since we are part of the "all," we all are facing the condemnation of God because of our sin. But this isn't the end of the story. God sent His Son to earth to take our condemnation on Himself. The Scripture tells us that all who believe Christ died in their place are free. They are saved, they are born again, they are God's children.
In John 5:28,29 we read the following. "Marvel not at this: for an hour is coming, in which all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation. You will notice that it speaks of a resurrection of life and a resurrection of condemnation. To understand who are the ones who have done good, we need to realize that only the ones who are trusting Christ as their Savior can do good in God's sight. There is an hour for each group when they will be raised. You will notice that they are separate resurrections.
Artwork courtesy Danny Hahlbohm
The resurrection of the believers is told in I Thess. 4:13-18. "But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not precede them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
The above shows clearly that there are only believers mentioned in this resurrection. The dead in Christ, who are in heaven, will descend with the Lord, their dead bodies will be raised, and they will go back to heaven with their resurrection bodies along with the believers on earth who had not died, but their bodies will be changed and they will go to Heaven with the others.
Also in I Cor. 15:51-53, we read, "Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we all shall be changed. For this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
On arriving in Heaven, there will be the Judgment Seat of Christ where the believers will be judged not for salvation, that was settled on earth, but for rewards." The life and the service of the believers become an issue to be judged. I Cor. 3:11-15. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try everyman's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss;.but he himself shall be saved, yet as by fire.
The above mentioned judgment seat will be in the time just before Christ takes us and His angels back to earth to set up His kingdom. When He does this, the Lord Jesus will come first as the King of the Jews, and then becomes the King of all the earth, sitting on David's throne. Before He completes setting up His kingdom over the earth He must judge those still living from the Tribulation period. This judgmemt will decide who are fit to enter the Kingdom which has come. This is different from the Judgment Seat of Christ, just completed in Heaven and the Great White Throne Judgment yet to come.
Let us read what the Scripture says about it. Matt. 24:27-31. "For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man......Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Then shall apear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Then again in Mt. 25:31-33. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. Before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left."
In Rev. 19 it tells of the Lamb and His wife, the Church, coming from Heaven with great glory. He is called the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. There is no resurrection involved here. But there is a judgment. A judgment of those who survived the Tribulation period. They will be judged as to how they treated the Lord's earthly brethren, the Jews, during this awful time, when the Jews were the worst treated. But Christians will also be persecuted, especially by the authorities who persecuted those who did not have the mark of the beast. Christ's judgment will fall on those who so acted. Those who will be judged worthy will go into the Kingdom period. All others go into eternal punishment.
THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT: During the time Christ rules over the earth with his saints, Satan and his angels (the demons) will have been bound in the abyss, or bottomless pit. The following is how the Scripture tells it. "And I saw an angel descending from heaven having the key of the abyss, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should not any more deceive the nations until the thousand years were completed. After these things he must be loosed for a little time......The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection.
Over these, the second death has no authority, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
"And when the thousand years shall be completed, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go forth to lead astray the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, and the beloved city, and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil that led them astray was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and they shall be tormented day and night forever.
"And I saw a great White Throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne; and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if any one was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the lake of fire."
Some may ask, why was the Book of Life opened, if no one was at the judgment of the Great White Throne but unbelievers. The Book of Life was there and opened to prove to all there that their names were not written there.
The Lord knows every imagination of our hearts. His will is not that any perish. But sin will keep any or all of us from His presence., where joy is forevermore. He wants us to be with Him forever. He sent His Son from Heaven to live and die on the Cross bearing our sins, that whoever believeth on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
Our Father may each one reading these words find his or her hope in Jesus Christ.
Our subject for July 14 will be: Until the Day Break and the Shadows Flee Away.