Is There Hope for the Dead?>

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is There Hope for the Dead?

By Larry R. Lasiter

1998

SCENARIO ONE

The news came as a complete shock! It was so unexpected, no one was prepared for it. Family and friends alike were stunned at hearing that John was in the hospital emergency room fighting for his life. Although he was in perfect health, good health could not prevent the accident he was involved in. As he was driving home from his job as Principal of Washington Elementary, another vehicle suddenly crossed the center-line into his path. The collision was colossal and his injuries were life-threatening. Moreover, the other driver, only 17 years old was already dead.  

At the hospital, family members and friends found John unconscious. The prognosis was not good, and his Doctor not optimistic about his chances for survival. After hours of struggling to keep John alive, Doctor Levitt finally conceded the inevitable and called the family aside to deliver the sad news that John's injuries were indeed fatal, and that his life was slipping away. He said that if the family wanted to see him one more time before he died, they could enter the room now.  

Of all the family there, strangely it seemed to affect adversely the one most religious, Martha. Martha was John's older sister. She had always been very devoted to her church, New life Christian Assembly. So many times she had talked with John about getting involved in Bible study or church, but he just didn't seem interested at all. Although he wasn't a religious man, he was one of the city's finest citizens. John was well known for his honesty, kindness and charitable acts. He was always there when help was needed. As a Principal of an elementary school, all the children knew and loved him, calling him "Mr. J".  

Martha sat at his bedside opposite Lucille, John's wife, holding tightly one of his hands. She silently prayed, asking God to bring his consciousness back so that she could lead him in a last rites prayer. Without it, she was sure John was lost forever, doomed to burn in the fires of hell. But it was not to be, John never regained his awareness and quietly passed away. At the funeral, the Pastor had to awkwardly sidestep John's lack of a spiritual life, during his eulogy. And Martha lives daily with the agony of believing her dear brother is suffering in the flames of hell!  

Just what did happen to John? Where is he at this very moment? Is there hope for him, or is he lost forever?  

SCENARIO TWO  

A young family sitting in church services hears the announcement that there is going to be a special guest speaker after the song service. Tom, Sally their six year old Mandy applaud the announcement, while baby Joshua, in wide-eyed wonder awakes from his sleep. Today's guest is a visiting missionary, there to share his work of Christian evangelizing Guatemala in hopes of raising money for his efforts.  

He begins by revealing the staggering number that have already been "saved" from eternal damnation there, through his ministry. But he says there is so much more he could do with increased financial support. And that although thousands have "received Christ into their hearts", many die lost every day. He says, "we must snatch as many as possible out of Hell, before they die." He says there are many thousands that have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, and are hopelessly lost in sin.  

He then told a story about a man requesting a visit from him to learn about the Lord. On the way there the Jeep broke down, and had to be towed back to be repaired. He said, "I really didn't think much of it at the time." "I thought, I'll still visit the man but only a week or two later, after the Jeep is repaired." But only four days later he received word that the man had suddenly suffered a heart attack and died! The missionary said he was heart-broken. If only the Jeep had not broken down. Then he said to the congregation, "If I had received more financial support I could have had a new Jeep, that would have been more trustworthy, and this man would not have died without Christ!" "That is how desperately Guatemala needs your support and prayers." "Because of the lack of proper support there is one more burning in the fires of Hell, than living blissfully in Heaven with the Lord!"  

Little Mandy turns to her mother and asks, "I thought you said Jesus loves everyone?" "Why did Jesus let that Jeep break?" "Why did he make that man go to live with the mean `O Devil?" "Why is Jesus letting the Devil hurt that man?" Sally wipes the tears from her own eyes as she answers, "Honey, the man went to Hell because he didn't know Jesus." Mandy asks, "Was he a real bad man, mommy?" Sally says, "Baby, I don't know, but if you die without knowing Jesus you can't go to Heaven, you have to go to Hell." Mandy in tears answers, "But mommy it's not his fault, the Jeep broke down." "Maybe if we tell Jesus the Jeep broke, He will let him out of Hell."  

There have been literally BILLIONS that have lived and died without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ. Are they all hopelessly lost and disposed to the fires of Hell? Or are they sleeping the sleep of death awaiting the resurrection? Is there another day of salvation for this great multitude? Just what does the Bible, the holy Word of God have to say about this important subject?  

In the Christian community there are three prevalent schools of thought concerning God's plan of salvation, (1)The belief that this is the only day of salvation, and that judgment is on every living person. If one dies without confessing Jesus they are doomed to perish in the fires of Hell, regardless of whether they have ever even heard the name of Jesus or the God of the Bible. These people always embrace the concept of man possessing an immortal soul that leaves the mortal body at death and travels to one of two or three destinations, Heaven, Hell or Purgatory.(Purgatory is a Catholic belief) (2) The belief that God loves everyone to the extent that He is not going to let anyone perish. That it doesn't really matter much whether one strives to live by every word of God, because God understands our nature, and as long as one does what he feels is right, it's ok. (3) The belief in predestination, in its strictest sense. That only the "Elect" which are chosen before the foundation of the world can be saved. This is commonly called "Calvinism", because John Calvin popularized the theological thought. The rest of humanity cannot accept nor claim the blood of Jesus, because it was "not shed for them", but only for the Elect. And that one who is an Elect of God cannot lose his salvation regardless of how he lives his life, nor can one obtain salvation regardless of how he lives his life. Only the Elect are predestined for eternal salvation.  

Although a case can be made for any of these beliefs by the Bible, the various Scriptures cannot bring the whole canon into harmony. One has to ignore some passages or use some to cancel out others in order to hold any of these doctrines in their strictest sense.  

I believe careful examination of the Word of God will show that there is truth and error in each of these doctrinal concepts. As Christians, desiring the sure truth of God, it is our duty to remove the alloy of truth and error, because our God is one that demands purity. Notice how God says he teaches those seeking His truth, Isaiah 28:9-10, -"To whom would He teach knowledge? And to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast? For He says, Order on order, order on order, Line on line, line on line, A little here, a little there." God teaches through His written Word, "A LITTLE HERE, A LITTLE THERE." It is the responsibility of the Christian to search the Scriptures "HERE and "THERE", putting them together properly for godly instruction.  

It is also the responsibility of the Christian to judge those that come in the name of Christ claiming to be His ministers. Jesus said many would come in His name falsely, notice His instruction in Matthew 24:4-5, -"See to it that no one MISLEADS you. For MANY will come in My name, saying, "I am the Christ, and WILL MISLEAD MANY." Jesus was not meaning that MANY would claim to actually be Him, but that MANY would come in His name, preaching that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), but teaching a different message. Notice the Apostle Paul's warning in 2 Corinthians 10. In verses 3 and 4, Paul said he was "afraid" for the church because Satan was deceiving some into accepting a different spirit, a different gospel message and another Jesus. Now noticeverses 13-15, -"For such men are FALSE APOSTLES, deceitful workers, disguising themselves AS APOSTLES OF CHRIST. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is NOT SURPRISING if his servants also disguise themselves as SERVANTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; whose end shall be according to their deeds."  

That is extremely difficult to do isn't it? It's just not comfortable is it? No one is inclined to judge a teacher or Pastor if he seems sincere. And maybe he is sincere! But that does not mean he is accurately handling the Scriptures, or is a true servant sent from Christ. But judging them is exactly what Jesus and the Apostles instruct us to do. Paul even taught the Corinthian church to examine him to see if he was a trustworthy minister concerning the mysteries of God. The Bereans were called more "noble-minded" BECAUSE they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas were teaching was Biblically correct.(Acts 17:11) A true servant, being it a Pastor, Evangelist, Teacher, Prophet or Prophetess, Healer, ETC, will not be offended by having their acts, words or teachings judged against the sure Word of God.  

Notice 2 Timothy 2:15, -"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth."(KJV)  

WHAT HAPPENS AT DEATH?  

The ancient Egyptians believed the SOUL of the deceased would be carried by the river Styx to the place of the spirit world. Reincarnation is a common belief in many countries of the East. One may return to the land of the living as almost any creature, depending upon how he or she had lived their previous life. The goal in this concept is to eventually reach the blissful state of nirvana.  

In the religion of ancient Israel, the dead were believed to remain in the grave; but there was hope that the Eternal would ultimately rescue them through a resurrection. Notice Daniel 12:2, "And many of those who SLEEP in the DUST OF THE GROUND will AWAKE." There is little indication in the Scriptures that the Israelites believed man possessed an immortal soul. Notice what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:19-21,-"For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so does the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. ALL GO TO THE SAME PLACE. All came from dust and all return to the dust." Indeed, the Prophet Ezekiel says "the soul that sins shall die".(Ezekiel 18:4,20) It is clear that the Israelites did not believe that they continued living in another realm of existence after their physical death. But rather hoped in a resurrection from the dead.  

The Bible reveals that human beings possess something called the "spirit of man", and this spirit returns to God at death. But this spirit is not an "immortal soul". This is a spirit that bonds with the human brain giving man a MIND. This is what makes man far superior to the animals around him. Notice Job 32:8, -"But it is a SPIRIT IN MAN, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding." This was not referring to the holy spirit from God, because it was not poured out freely to men until Pentecost c.31AD.  

"Many passages of Scripture show that there is a spirit IN man. Spirit is not matter, and man is matter. To distinguish it from God's holy spirit, I designate it as the HUMAN SPIRIT. Nevertheless, it is spirit and not matter. This HUMAN SPIRIT imparts the power of intellect to the human physical brain. The spirit cannot see, hear, taste, smell or feel. The brain sees through the eye, hears through the ear, etc. The HUMAN SPIRIT cannot of itself think. The physical brain thinks. What then is the function of this HUMAN SPIRIT? It is not a SOUL. But, (1) it imparts the power of intellect, of thinking, and of mind power to the human brain; and (2) it is the very means God has instilled, making possible a personal relationship between human MAN and divine GOD." (Mystery of the Ages, H.W. Armstrong, pg 105)  

The word "SOUL" is translated from the Hebrew "nephesh", which simply means "breathing animal". Three times in the first chapter of Genesis animals are called "nephesh". The English translators used the English word "creature" when it referred to animals, but in chapter 2, verse 7 they rendered it "SOUL". Notice, -"Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man BECAME a living SOUL." It was the breath of life that caused man to become a LIVING SOUL. This is quite distinct from the spirit IN MAN. Man IS a living SOUL that HAS a SPIRIT that returns to God when he dies. Therefore the soul is physical, composed of matter, and can die, as Ezekiel 18 says.  

Now although the spirit of man leaves the body when the breath of life does, it possesses no consciousness. Notice Ecclesiastes 9:5, -"For the living know they will die; but the DEAD DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten." And notice also what Solomon said about death and the spirit of man, Ecclesiastes 12:4-7, -"Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit (of man) will return to God who gave it."  

This certainly does not picture the event of a newly deceased, departing his body as an immortal soul and going to meet his Maker as a conscious being. But shows that man is MORTAL and must hope in the resurrection from the dead. Have you ever wondered why there would be a resurrection from the dead if they were already living in Heaven or Hell? If man is an immortal being in a fleshly body, who is in the grave awaiting resurrection to life? The resurrection pictures conscious life from thoughtless death; if man is already immortal, how could he pass from death to life, wouldn't it be impossible for him to die at all?  

The Holy Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the SOUL possesses no thought or memory after death. NoticePsalms 6:4-5, -"Return, O Lord, rescue my SOUL; Save me because of Thy lovingkindness. For there is NO MENTION OF THEE IN DEATH. In Sheol (grave) who will give Thee thanks?" Even David, a man after God's own heart, says he could not give thanks to God anymore if God allowed him to die. If he ascended to Heaven as an immortal soul at death, wouldn't he be able to "mention" or "give thanks" to God? You see, David knew that death was as SLEEP in God's eyes, and he would have to trust that God would not forsake him in the grave forever. David hoped in the resurrection from the Dead.  

Jesus spoke of death as Sleep also, notice John 11:11-14, -"Our friend Lazarus has fallen ASLEEP; but I go, that I may AWAKEN HIM out of SLEEP. The disciples therefore said to Him, "Lord, if he has FALLEN ASLEEP he will recover". Now Jesus had spoken of his death; but they thought that He was speaking of LITERAL SLEEP. Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, "Lazarus is DEAD." In verse 21 Martha told Jesus that if He had gotten there sooner her brother, Lazarus would still be alive. She had faith that Jesus would have healed him had He arrived there in time. In verse 23 Jesus told her that Lazarus would RISE AGAIN. Martha responded by acknowledging her belief that he would rise at the resurrection. This however did not keep her from missing her brother now.Then notice Jesus' answer in verse 25, "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in Me shall live even if he dies." Martha had faith that Jesus had the power to HEAL Lazarus BEFORE he died, but not the faith and understanding that the very power of the resurrection was standing in front of her. Jesus then commanded the entrance stone removed, and cried "LAZARUS, COME FORTH! I COMMAND YOU!" Yes, Jesus IS the RESURRECTION and the LIFE, and He, Himself is the FIRSTBORN of those awaiting the divine call to life again. Notice Revelation 1:5, -"...Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the FIRST-BORN of THE DEAD."  

One may read through the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation but will find very little to substantiate the concept of the immortal soul. What will be found is ample reasons to conclude that the dead are ASLEEP in the GRAVE waiting to hear the gracious words that brought Lazarus forth.  

HOLY DAYS PICTURE GOD'S PLAN  

Ezekiel 37 reveals a resurrection of the dead, but of itself does not establish a time frame or clear chronology. But the Apostle John did it for us in the book of Revelation. Revelation 19 shows the coming of Christ as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Then in Chapter 20 we see the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37 in order, notice Revelation 20:1-6,- "And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him so that he should not DECEIVE THE NATIONS any longer, until the THOUSAND YEARS WERE COMPLETED; after these things he must be released for a short time. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them , and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the WORD OF GOD, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they CAME TO LIFE and REIGNED with Christ for a THOUSAND YEARS. The REST OF THE DEAD DID NOT COME TO LIFE UNTIL THE THOUSAND YEARS were completed. This is the FIRST RESURRECTION. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the FIRST RESURRECTION; over THESE the SECOND DEATH has no power, but they will be PRIESTS of God and of Christ and will REIGN with Him for a THOUSAND YEARS."  

We find here that here is a THOUSAND YEARS when the SAINTS or the ELECT of God will rule with Christ over the nations of the earth. As Christ is the FIRSTBORN of many, His SAINTS or ELECT are the FIRSTFRUITS of God's harvest. Notice Romans 8:29, -"For whom He foreknew, He also PREDESTINED to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the FIRST-BORN among MANY BRETHREN."  

In the land of Palestine there is a Spring harvest and a Fall harvest. The commanded annual Festivals and Holy Days of God are centered around that agricultural cycle. In Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16 God gives specific instructions in when and how these observances should be kept. It is in the observance of these Festivals that one can truly come to understand the fulness of God's plan of Salvation.  

There are SEVEN observances commanded by God, they are in order:  

  • (1) The PASSOVER.  
    To the Christian this observance illustrates the great love of God for the works of His hands, and his desire and willingness to make a way for sinful man to be reconciled to His Creator. As John 3:16 states, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son". In ancient Egypt, Moses told the Israelites to kill the Passover Lamb and put its blood on the door posts of their houses, so that when the death angel came to strike the FIRSTBORN of the land he would PASSOVER the houses protected by the BLOOD OF THE LAMB. Well over a thousand years later, Jesus was crucified on this very day, the PASSOVER. The PASSOVER falls on the 14th day of the First Month in the Hebrew Calendar, thus it may fall on any day of the week. The year Jesus was crucified the PASSOVER was on WEDNESDAY, not Friday as is commonly believed. Whoever receives Christ and lives according to His Way of life, is washed in the BLOOD OF THE LAMB, and SAVED from eternal death (pictured by the death angel) as long as he remains faithful and does not fall away. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian Church that Christ was their PASSOVER LAMB. (1 Corinthians 5:7) 
  • (2) Seven Days of Unleavened Bread.  
    Leavening and even Egypt is used as a type of SIN. When God brought the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt, it pictured them being delivered from the bondage of SIN. They came out of the land of Sin with UNLEAVENED dough. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that they were in fact UNLEAVENED,because Jesus had been sacrificed for them as their PASSOVER LAMB. (1 Corinthians 5) Later the Israelites were instructed to remove all leavening or anything that was leavened out of their homes prior to the commencement of the Days of Unleavened Bread. (Leviticus 23) Since the first day of Unleavened Bread follows the Passover, they carefully removed all their leavened food and leavening agents out of their homes on the Passover. At sundown the Passover would be over and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread would begin, when no leavened food may be eaten or even found on your property. This FIRST DAY of Unleavened Bread is an annual SABBATH. That is why the Passover is also called a PREPARATION DAY. As Friday is the weekly PREPARATION DAY for the SABBATH, the Passover is an annual PREPARATION DAY for the First Day of Unleavened Bread, which may fall on any day of the week , but is an ANNUAL SABBATH. The year of the crucifixion of our Lord c.31 AD, it was on a Thursday. For the Christian it is a time of self-examination for hidden faults, and a celebration of thanksgiving for the deliverance from the penalty of sin, which is death. Removing the leavening reminds us that our acceptance of Christ's sacrifice cleanses us from sin, and motivates us to walk in newness of life in humble obedience to God's divine will.  

    (3) Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost.  
    This is called Feast of Weeks because God instructed seven weeks be counted from the weekly Sabbath day which fell during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Israelites were told to count seven weeks, then add one day, which would be a HOLY DAY with an assembly and offering. It is called Pentecost in the New Testament, because "pentecost" means "50th" in Greek, the language of the New Testament. Seven weeks (49 days) plus one day is 50. Since the counting always begins on the weekly Sabbath, Pentecost is always on a Sunday. It was on this day that the New Testament Church began when God poured out His holy spirit on 120 disciples of Christ. (Acts 2) Later that day, through their witness, over 3000 Jews received Jesus as the Messiah, thus the church of God was born. At the end of the weekly Sabbath that began the 50-day countdown to Pentecost, God instructed that a sheaf of Barley be gathered and brought to the Priests so that they may WAVE IT BEFORE THE LORD to be ACCEPTED by HIM. Barley was the FIRST produce to become ripe for the spring harvest so it was a sheaf of Barley that was gathered and given to the Priests. They would wave it before the Lord the next morning, which was Sunday. It represented the FIRST gathering of the FIRSTFRUITS. No Barley could be gathered forpersonal use until the FIRST sheaf was WAVED and ACCEPTED by the Lord. Barley was always ripe for harvest at this time, but other produce of the Spring harvest would not be ready for harvest until the seven weeks plus one day, were complete. The wave sheaf represents Jesus Christ as the FIRSTFRUITS of the dead. Notice 1 Corinthians 15:20, -"But now CHRIST has been raised from the dead, the FIRST FRUITS of those who are asleep."  

    Jesus was crucified on the Passover, which was Wednesday that year. He was put in the grave at the end of Passover, just prior to sundown, for that is when the first Day of Unleavened Bread would begin and it would be a ANNUAL SABBATH.(Thursday that year) So He was in the grave from just prior to sundown as Wednesday became Thursday (Remember days began at sundown), to just prior to sundown Saturday,(the Sabbath) three full days later. Jesus rose from the dead at the end of the Sabbath but was not seen until Sunday morning when they found the tomb empty. At the same approximate time Jesus was emerging from the tomb, the WAVE SHEAF was being gathered and taken to the Priests. It was also at this time that the 50 day countdown to Pentecost began, at the conclusion of which, the remainder of the Spring harvest would be ripe for harvest. The next morning (Sunday) He appeared to Mary Magdalene,(John 20:15-18) but when she embraced Him, He stopped her saying that He had not yet ASCENDED TO THE FATHER. Sometime between this time, early Sunday morning and later that same day, Jesus did ascend to the Father to be accepted. It was this very morning that the Jewish Priests were WAVING THE SHEAF before the Lord to be accepted. Notice that later He did allow Himself to be touched (verses 19-20, 27), because He had already been accepted by the Father. The wave sheaf also represents Christ as our High Priest making intercession to the Father for us. (Hebrews 4, 5, 7)  

    After the seven weeks, we come to the 50th day which is Pentecost, a HOLY DAY, and a commanded assembly. On this day an offering of two loaves of bread made from the Wheat harvest was commanded.(Leviticus 23:16-17) This represents the FIRSTFRUITS of the world. Those whom God has called out of the world and sanctified before its foundation, the ELECT of God who have overcome Satan's temptations and devices and remained faithful to the truth. Notice what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, -"For in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But EACH in his OWN ORDER: (1) Christ, the (2) Firstfruits, (righteous who are dead) after that (3) those who are Christ's at His coming." (who also qualify as Firstfruits) Then after one thousand years, the "great and small" will be resurrected to a world filled with the knowledge of God. (Rev.20)  

    Jesus said "No man can come to Me unless the Father draw Him."(John 6:44) The Father does not call everyone at the same time to come to know the Son, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And not everyone has the opportunity to be a FIRSTFRUIT. There has been countless billions who have never had the opportunity to really know God. Think of the natives of Africa, the Aborigines of Australia, the peoples of China and Japan, and also the native Americans, we call Indians. They may have realized there was a supreme power, but so many have never truly known the God of the Bible, because He has not made Himself knowable to all as yet. But God has not forgotten nor forsaken them.  

    After God called Israel out of Egypt to be His sole possession, the other nations sometimes knew of the God of Israel, but they did not actually know Him, as in having a relationship with Him. It was Israel alone that God chose to be the FIRSTFRUIT of the many nations that will someday ultimately come to know their God. Pentecost concludes the Spring Festivals.  

    (4) Feast of Trumpets.  
    This is a one day Festival and is holy to the Lord. It falls on the FIRST DAY of the SEVENTH MONTH on the Hebrew Calendar. An assembly is commanded, and also an offering given. As in all the commanded Holy Days, one is not to appear before the Lord empty-handed. To the Christian this Festival represents the coming of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is often called the "Last Trump" in Scripture. Notice Matthew 24:30-31, -"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a GREAT TRUMPET and they will gather together His ELECT from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other."  

    Notice also what the Apostle Paul wrote, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, -"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who ARE ASLEEP, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have FALLEN ASLEEP in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have FALLEN ASLEEP. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a SHOUT, with the voice of the ARCHANGEL, and THETRUMPET OF GOD; and the dead in Christ shall RISE FIRST. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord."  

    (1) The SIGN of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. There will be a SHOUT from Heaven and the VOICE of the ARCHANGEL. Then the TRUMPET WILL SOUND and the Son of Man will descend from Heaven with His angels. (2) The ANGELS will be DISPATCHED to gather the ELECT from the four corners of the earth who have survived the Great Tribulation. As the Angels are sent, the DEAD IN CHRIST come out of their graves immortal and in glory, and rise up to meet Christ in the sky. (3) The dispatched Angels change the MORTAL ELECT with a "twinkling of an eye" to IMMORTAL SPIRIT BEINGS. (1 Corinthians 15:52) They then rise up to meet Jesus and their resurrected brethren in sky. (4)They all descend with Jesus to the Mount of Olives, which will split in two when their feet touch earth.(Zechariah 14:4)  

    (5) Day of Atonement.  
    Ten days after TRUMPETS is ATONEMENT. (7th Month, 10th Day) It is a Holy Day with a commanded assembly and offering, but it is also a FAST. No food or water is to be consumed. In its simplest understanding, it means AT-ONE-MENT with God. It is the time when Satan is put away into the place of restraint. In Old Testament times, the High Priest would enter through the VEIL into the HOLY OF HOLIES in the Temple, into the very presence of God. He would sprinkle the blood of a sacrifice on the MERCY SEAT of the ARK OF THE COVENANT for the remission of the sins of the people. Jesus is the High Priest of the Christian, who stands at the Mercy Seat of God with His own righteous and precious blood for us.(Hebrews 5) It is the time when God will restore man's broken relationship with Him that occurred so long ago in the garden of Eden.  

    (6) Feast of Tabernacles.  
    This is a seven day Festival which begins 5 days after Atonement on the 15th day of the 7th month. The First day is holy and a commanded assembly with offering. It pictures the THOUSAND YEAR REIGN of Christ and His Saints. It represents the ushering in of the KINGDOM OF GOD. God's Kingdom is not something mystical, it is a literal government that will be established on the earth at the return of Christ. This Festival is called "Tabernacles" because we are commanded to live in "temporary" dwellings during its observance. This reminds us that we are but sojourners while on earth, and like Abraham, be living for a city NOT MADE by HUMAN HANDS. (New Jerusalem-Rev.21) It keeps the fact foremost in our mind, that we are not to build our lives in this present evil world, but store up treasure in the world to come. It is at this time that all of the nations who survived the Tribulation will come to know Christ for the first time and will learn of His way of life. It pictures the time when the lamb will lay with the lion and the kid with the wolf. A time when the knowledge of God will fill the earth.  

    (7) The Last Great Day.  
    This is sometimes called the "eighth day" of the Feast of Tabernacles, but it is really a separate festival. It is a Holy Day with commanded assembly and offering. It pictures the Great White Throne Judgment of God. It is the time when God, the Father will descend to earth on His glorious Throne. It is at this time that all that have ever lived and died, will be resurrected to life. This is the SECOND RESURRECTION, the resurrection to judgment. All that are brought up at this time will be mortal not immortal. They will be given a period of 100 years to learn God's wonderful way of life. During this period of time, they will be judged in the same way that the Elect are judged today. This judgment is not "condemnation" or even "sentencing", it is an evaluation of conduct. All will be judged by how they live by the books of the Bible. Those who submit to the will of God will be granted eternal life, and those who will not, eternal death. It represents the FIRST CHANCE of the billions that have never known the true God, to know Him and His way. The aborted babies, the mentally handicapped and ignorant, etc will all receive their opportunity. 

ANOTHER DAY OF SALVATION  

As we read earlier in Revelation Chapter 20, Christ and His Saints will rule the Nations for a THOUSAND YEARS. Although the DEAD IN CHRIST arise,(First Resurrection) the REST OF THE DEAD do not until the THOUSAND YEARS IS COMPLETED. Verse 7 says that at the end of the thousand years Satan will be loosed for a "little season" in order to deceive the nations. At this time a number of people are stirred up, who are the spiritual equivalent of Gog and Magog and led into rebellion against the ruling Christ and His Elect. But they will be destroyed by fire from Heaven. Now Notice Verses 10-11, -"The Devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a GREAT WHITE THRONE and Him (God, the Father) who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them."  

Here we are AFTER THE MILLENNIUM (1000 years), after the "little season" in which Satan was turned loose on the nations. This is the time when the REST OF THE DEAD will LIVE again. Remember, we read that the "rest of the dead did not come to life until the THOUSAND YEARS were completed."  

This is the GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT. Verse 12, -"And I saw the dead, SMALL AND GREAT, standing before God, and BOOKS WERE OPENED. And another Book was opened, which is the BOOK OF LIFE. And the dead WERE JUDGED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS, by the THINGS which were WRITTEN in the BOOKS." Now we find TWO THINGS that are OPENED up: (1) the BOOKS and (2) the BOOK OF LIFE."BOOKS" here is translated from the Greek "Biblos" meaning the BIBLE. As Jesus OPENED the minds of His disciples to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45), we find here that He will OPEN them to the countless billions that are now dead, AFTER the THOUSAND YEAR period. And as Peter said, JUDGMENT is on the HOUSE OF THE LORD (1 Peter 4:17) and must begin there, but it does not stop there. All these people will be given the opportunity to finally know their God, and His Word will be opened to their understanding. Then they will be given a period of time to live by the Word of God, and will also be in a period of judgment. "Judgment" here is not "condemnation" or even "sentencing", it is translated from the Greek "Krino" which means "to make a distinction, or come to a decision." And the judgment or decision of whether they receive life or death will be determined by how their DEEDS MATCH THAT OF THE BIBLE that had been opened to them.  

This period of TESTING is spoken of in Isaiah 65, and will occur after the thousand years and after the first heaven and earth has passed away. Notice Verse 17, -"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind." Verse 20, -"No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of ONE HUNDRED and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accused."  

As we read in Revelation 20, it is at this time that the BOOKS (Bible) are opened to their understanding and the BOOK OF LIFE is opened again, as it was at the FIRST RESURRECTION. Now, why does God open the BOOK OF LIFE at this time if TODAY is the ONLY DAY of salvation? The people we just read about are clearly not in the FIRST RESURRECTION, they are the "REST OF THE DEAD". All the remainder of human beings, the millions and billions down through the centuries who have lived and died, the "dead, small and great." And when they come up out of their graves, TWO THINGS ARE OPENED UP, the BIBLE and the BOOK OF LIFE. Why is the Book of Life opened BACK UP? Is God going to double-check His list to make sure He didn't leave somebody out that should have come up a THOUSAND YEARS EARLIER? The answer to that is obvious, isn't it? OF COURSE NOT!  

Well then, WHY? God is going to open up the BOOK OF LIFE because that will be the FIRST TIME when these people will have the opportunity to have their names inscribed into it. We are told the BOOKS are opened, and judgment (period of evaluation) is made for a period of 100 years (Isaiah 65) concerning them, by how their deeds match the instruction of the BOOKS.  

Notice Revelation 20:13, -"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hades (grave) gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged (Gr.Krino) every one of them ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS." They are raised up, restored to life, the books of the Bible are opened to their understanding and they are then judged in accordance with that they do with what they know. And whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life at the conclusion of this period, will be cast into the Lake of Fire. (Verse 15)  

JESUS SPOKE OF ANOTHER DAY  

Even Jesus spoke of another day of judgment, notice Matthew 11:20-24, -"Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, BECAUSE THEY DID NOT REPENT. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! (Israelite cities) For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon (Gentile Cities) which occurred in you, they would have REPENTED long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the DAY OF JUDGMENT, than for you. And you Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the DAY OF JUDGMENT, than for you."  

Jesus talked about a time of JUDGMENT, and said that if Tyre, if Sidon or even Sodom had been given the opportunity in their day that some of the Israelite cities of His day, they would have repented! Have you ever read about Tyre and Sidon? Those were the peoples that colonized North Africa, they colonized Carthage. Have you read about the pagan idol "Molak" and the human sacrifices that took place? Have you read about the detestable religious practices of these people? The term "sodomy" comes from the lifestyle of Sodom! These cities of the plains were so evil God utterly destroyed them! Yet Jesus said, IF THOSE CITIES, if THOSE degenerate societies had been GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY and the WITNESS THAT CHRIST GAVE, they would have REPENTED from their evil deeds. And Jesus declared, "It will be MORE TOLERABLE FOR THEM in the DAY OF JUDGMENT, than for you."(Israelite cities) This shows clearly that there is a time of judgment yet future. And that even the inhabitants of these evil cities will arise at judgment, and the indication is (from previous Scriptures read) that they will be given the opportunity to know Christ, and to have the Bible opened to their understanding.  

Jesus said basically the same thing in Matthew Chapter 12 concerning the ancient city of Nineveh, saying they will rise up in the judgment with this generation (Jesus' generation) and condemn it, because "They REPENTED at the preaching of Jonah." Also He said the Queen of the South will rise up in the JUDGMENT and condemn His generation for not repenting at the preaching of Jesus.  

It is clear, that the 9th century B.C. men of Nineveh, the 10th century B.C. Queen of the South, or the people of the cities Jesus preached to in the 1st century AD, will all come up together in the SECOND RESURRECTION, the resurrection to JUDGMENT.  

They are then "JUDGED" not immediately "SENTENCED". This judging covers a period of time during which these people have God and His truth revealed to them. Hebrews 9:27 clearly says, that "it is appointed for men (Mankind in general) to die ONCE, but AFTER THIS (After they have been brought back to life by the resurrection) the JUDGMENT." And Isaiah 65 indicates that everyone from babies to the elderly who are resurrected to this period will be given one hundred years to learn to live by the Word of God. This is the meaning of what Jesus said, -"Many that are LAST will be FIRST."  

Notice also what the Apostle Paul told Timothy, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, -First of all, then, I urge you that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of ALL MEN, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, WHO DESIRES ALL MEN to be SAVED and to come to the KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH. For there is one God, and one Mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom FOR ALL, the testimony borne at the PROPER TIME." Just as there is a PROPER TIME for each Festival, and a PROPER ORDER of resurrection, there is also a PROPER TIME when God calls each individual to the knowledge of His Way of life in truth. The FIRSTFRUITS that are called TODAY, in this present evil age, are a small group. Jesus repeatedly called His Church the "little flock". God's true Church is not comprised of a great number of people. Most professing Christians are not truly in Christ and led by the holy spirit of God. It is the holy spirit that makes you a part of the Body of Christ, and puts you in "ekklesia". "Ekklesia" is the Greek word translated "Church", and means "called out ones". Only the ELECT are called out TODAY, but there is another day coming.  

Notice Isaiah 25:6-9, -And the Lord of Hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the COVERING which is OVER ALL PEOPLES, even the VEIL which is STRETCHED OVER ALL NATIONS. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will REMOVE THE REPROACH of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."  

How wonderful this prophecy of the future is! The Banquet the Lord will prepare for His people is called the"Wedding Banquet" or "Dinner" in the writings of Jesus. (Matthew 22 and Luke 14) It is also referenced to by David in the famous 23rd Psalm, -"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies....my (wine) cup overflows." This is the Banquet for the FIRSTFRUITS, but notice that the "COVERING" or the "VEIL" will also be REMOVED from ALL PEOPLES and NATIONS, so that they may come to know the Lord. And the REPROACH will be REMOVED from God's people Israel so that they may have the blindness removed from their eyes and accept Jesus as the Messiah. The Apostle Paul wrote of this time to the Church in Rome, noticeRomans 11:25-27, -"For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial HARDENING has happened to ISRAEL until the fulness of the GENTILES has come in; and thus ALL ISRAEL will be SAVED; just as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will REMOVE UNGODLINESS from JACOB (Israel), And this is My Covenant with them, When I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."  

The FIRSTFRUITS were chosen from the foundation of the world, they are the ELECT of God. But there is a PLAN OF SALVATION for ALL that have ever lived. That is not to say that ALL will ACCEPT this salvation. Surely there are those asleep in the grave now that will be resurrected to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. But these were called and chosen, the elect of God that have turned aside and fallen away from Christ. Without Jesus there is no WAY to LIFE, because He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.  

But from the inner cities of today to the deepest parts of the African bush yesterday, all that have never known the true God will be resurrected together in the SECOND RESURRECTION, the resurrection to JUDGMENT. (Not condemnation) At this time the "Biblos" will be opened unto them. How else can so many Scriptures be harmonized?  

There is an ELECT today that JUDGMENT is on now, and their names are already written in the Lamb's BOOK OF LIFE, and have been since the foundation of the earth.(Ephesians 1:4) But there is ANOTHER DAY of judgment for the billions that lay sleeping the sleep of death. After the one thousand year reign of Christ and His Saints, they too will hear the words Jesus spoke to Lazarus, -"COME FORTH, I COMMAND YOU, COME FORTH!"  

It is truly wonderful to understand and be comforted in the knowledge that God has not forsaken those who sleep waiting to hear those gracious words. May glory, honor and thanksgiving be to our great and awesome God.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries