“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19) (ESV)
The most destructive falsehood that Satan peddles to deceive Christians and non-Christians alike concerns life after death. Varying theories have been advanced, but most of them lack sound biblical authenticity. This includes believing that the righteous go to heaven, while the wicked––those refusing to accept Christ as personal Saviour––get tormented in hell for eternity. This theory, while highly effective in whipping many into repentance, causes people to think more about themselves––sustaining self-centred philosophy, instead of altruism.
Revelation 20 outlines the sequence of events at Christ’s second coming, leading to the destination of the wicked people. The most effective way of interpreting scripture is to always consider Christ’s saving nature. As a conquering Messiah (Rev. 19), Christ comes to execute divine justice, absolutely different from the way justice is currently executed.
God’s enemies get defeated, but not in the manner envisioned by most people. What happened at Gethsemane, reveals Jesus’ character (Matt. 26:51–52 and Luke 22:50-51). This was after Peter’s attempt to execute justice using a sword for vengeance, in accordance with the current civilization.
Jesus’ statement helps in exposing Satanism: “From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Out of my sight, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matt. 16:21–23 NIV).
Peter had simply displayed disapproval, protesting on what he considered as unfair treatment of his Master. Jesus’ response clearly shows God’s judgment being diametrically opposite. Anyone in the current civilization could be persuaded to agree with Peter. But Christ sternly describes such behaviour as being satanic, castigating Peter for differing with God on such matters.
Satan stands for what opposes God, which, apparently, influenced Peter to say what Christ reviled. This civilization suggests that enemies deserve vanquishing for the sake of attaining freedoms. But Christ advocates that enemies ought to be loved and treated kindly (Matt. 5:43–48). God’s enemies will be defeated, but not in the manner that most people anticipate.
Evil is defeated by goodness and not by another evil. Hatred is removed by love and not by the release of another bout of hatred. This agrees with general logic in that darkness can only be removed by the brilliance of light, not by another form of pitch darkness. The establishment of God’s Kingdom, being opposite to current kingdoms under Satan’s authority (2 Cor. 4:4), is in agreement with Daniel 2:44; and 7:13–14.
Satan is going to be bound first, giving way to a New Civilization (Rev. 20:1–3). That passage confirms Satan––currently responsible for deceiving humanity, being bound to no longer deceive nations. Removing the principal cause of all wickedness reveals God’s love that endures forever. How Satan’s binding is going to be achieved is not clearly revealed. But. Just as darkness cannot exist where there is light, deception and truth cannot co-exist. Satan’s kingdom and God’s Kingdom cannot co-exist. However, after one thousand years the same devil will be released to deceive nations once more (vs. 7).
Peace and tranquility, specifically for one thousand years would have prevailed in the absence of the outlandish deceiver. But many, having been born during the millennium would have had no opportunity to experience the alternative civilization, other than Christ’s Kingdom. Nevertheless, choice demands alternative data.
Those people would have heard stories coming from their forefathers, or having read about people’s challenges before Satan’s incarceration. But nothing surpasses knowledge through experience. This is why true Christians have to overcome trials and temptations, generally imposed by the devil.
Abraham was also tested before God’s binding relationship with him (Gen. 22:1-12). Virtually, this is the same alternative given to Adam, through the unchangeable outlandish deceiver (Gen. 3). Salvation is a matter of choice––freely offered without strings attached. The battle is won when avoiding passions of sinful nature––self-centredness.
The devil tantalizes ideas appearing as right yet leading to death (Prov. 14:12). After the millennium, Satan gets unleashed to the then peaceful humanity as he was unleashed to Adam. Those to experience Satan’s influences comprise the generation at the end of Christ’s millennial reign. They would have had no opportunity to know anything else other than Christ’s glorious government, during that period (Rev.20:4).
At Satan’s arrival, the alluring ideas of self-centredness will once again be disseminated for fallible humans to make informed decisions. Such schemes will persuade many, but excluding the Saints. The exposure to Satan’s schemes gives alternative data, as compared with God’s ways. Those people are given freedom to avoid being in God’s Kingdom against their will, as all data needs evaluation before acceptance (vs. 7–9).
The so-called revolutionaries will spring up, desiring to re-establish the attractive self-centred civilization. Having not appreciated the value of Christ’s civilization, they would have preferred the opposite (Matt. 12:31-32). The New Civilization will be appreciated only by those accepting it of their own volition. Those choosing Satan’s ways get thrown into the lake of fire.
Taking seriously Jesus’ words is building on solid rock. Doing the opposite is building on sand (Matt. 7:24-27). Those rebelling would have rejected the offer of life as revealed in the entire figurative period of one thousand years.
Let us go back to the beginning of events at Christ’s glorious second coming, before picking up the thread leading to the execution of God’s justice. Such will be developments transpiring immediately after Satan’s removal. The first resurrection depicts the Saints (Rev. 20:4-6). The rest of the dead remain until the end of the millennium (vs. 5). The first resurrection comprises those crowned to take up positions of authority under Christ.
Such saints would have become spiritual beings but appearing in physical nature, like Christ (Acts 1:11). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared in physical form, but being able to miraculously enter through closed doors (John 20:26). Those saints portray physical nature, only for the sake of relating to ordinary humans, but being celestial instead of terrestrial (1 Cor.15:44-45). That dramatic episode confirms events at Jesus’ second coming.
At death, true Christians simply pass onto what Paul says is gain (Phil. 1:21). The first resurrection is for those since purchased by Jesus’ blood (John 8:51 NIV). The basic human being resembles God, in whose image he/she was created. Death, affecting the physical body was defeated on the cross.
That resurrection takes place after Satan’s suspension, unable to deceive people as before (Rev. 20:3). The saints begin to reign with Christ over physical people, found still alive, but not identifying with Christ, like the resurrected Saints. The first resurrection does not necessarily involve everyone associated with Christianity. See [Created to solve, instead of creating problems].
Those seated on the throne with Christ comprise a different crop of Christians. Some of them would have gone through most serious trials, demanding tough decision-making, including submission to physical torture and execution. They overcame by not succumbing to the dictates of sinful nature.
They detested Satan’s established civilization, even sacrificing their own physical bodies, like Jesus. Their physical bodies will not have been held as if more important than Christ. Such saints include those not necessarily associated with Christianity, yet living lives expected of Christians. God cannot be limited by anything as currently imagined.
Obviously, some will have actually been despised for not being associated with Christianity. Patriarch Job possibly lived earlier than the Exodus, according to the historical information available by scholars. As also confirmed in Rick Meyers’ e-sword commentaries (www.e-Sword.net). Job was God-fearing, yet not necessarily bound by Israelites’ covenant. Most Old Testament heroic prophets, including many unrecorded ones will be among the saints.
That resurrection precedes transfiguration: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18 NIV).
The Saints begin to reign under Christ, fulfilling scriptures like Psalms 37:29, Matthew 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:2, Revelation 2:26, and Revelation 5:10. Yet, Christ intimated possible devastating disappointment among Christians (Matt. 7:21-23). The disappointed will not necessarily comprise those of particular denominations, as assumed by many, in judgmental attitudes. Indeed, pseudo-Christians caught still alive will expect to be among the Saints. But they will be unqualified, due to deception and mere laxity.
Those failing assume that there is value in being critical of other Christians. They receive respect from many, yet denying Christ’s testimony. True Christians, still alive, will become transfigured to be united with the dramatically resurrected Saints (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
The shameful experience by pseudo-Christians translates into “gnashing of teeth.” Nevertheless, the disappointed ones become part of the populace under Christ’s rule. This era gives them another perfect opportunity to realize their error before appreciating God’s deliverance. They become humbled in finding themselves having to be ruled over by those all along despised. With the Atheists and those controlled by other religions, the disappointed ones also receive teachings on principles leading to eternal life.
Herein is referred the deceived mainstream Christians, having failed to achieve the intended goal as expected. They are the metaphorical goats separated from the sheep (Matt. 25:31-46), excluding known avowed atheists and those from other religions. Christians are metaphorically invited to participate in a wedding banquet. They are expected to be in specified attire, according to the dictates of the banquet owner (Matt. 22:1-14). Those without the approved outfit get thrown out, yet having initially been invited with pomp and fanfare.
The approved outfit is given freely to the invitees (Rev. 19:8). But in the end, virtually all humans go through the similar sheep-and-goat sifting process, determining induction into God’s Kingdom or perishing.
Christians are on spiritual race, constantly aspiring to win (1 Cor. 9:24-27). The possibility of losing abounds, as in athletics one risks the disappointment of losing. Failure implies inability to take advantage of Jesus’ faith. See [Believing in Jesus is different from having faith in Jesus].
The parable of the Ten Virgins is intended to remind Christians to be vigilant, as Christ’s second coming is unknown (Matt. 25:1-13). Five are found to be foolish, but the other five are found to be wise. Foolishness is in allowing the oil to burn out. Oil symbolizes The Holy Spirit, without which a person is not Christian (Rom. 8:9). Laxity in handling Spiritual matters does not always imply deliberate intent to spurn God’s ways.
As God’s mercy endures forever, such failed Christians are not yet condemned. Christ’s millennial rule gives them another chance, if they conveniently take advantage of God’s grace, instead of consciously blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31-32).
The parable of the net illustrates further (Matt. 13:47-50). Logically, the fishermen do not throw bad fish into the fire, especially being at the seashore. The bad fish (pseudo-Christians) are metaphorically thrown back into the sea (sinful world).
Having assumed being no longer part of the sinful world, the failed Christians realize their inability to uphold the required faith. The term “fiery furnace” is not implying sulphuric fire, which gives no chance for gnashing of teeth (Rev. 20:10). This denotes the unprecedented frustration, due to great disappointment undergone by pseudo-Christians at that stage.
Having all along been anticipating the clear promises of crowning, makes those affected experience disappointment, symbolized in the fiery furnace. It must be noted that the worst thing to be is to survive in physical body––itself a metaphorical fiery furnace.
This is a period of unprecedented disappointment for most traditional Christians, then writhing with anger and frustration, having to be ruled over by those all along despised. But, let us be clear in that this does not yet involve Christians who died in deception. The first resurrection does not yet involve those not privileged to be in the first resurrection. The disappointed ones are those found still alive at Christ’s second coming.
They will have assumed being more spiritual than those then ruling with Christ. “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honour, the wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away, the longings of the wicked will come to nothing” (Psalms. 112:9–10 NIV).
The wicked one is revealed here as being one longing, and expecting to be rewarded—not necessarily a patent evil-doer, having no reason to be disappointed at Christ’s second coming.
That Kingdom is preserved for the poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3). There is no reason for the un-Churched to be disappointed at Christ’s second coming. Interestingly, at the first century, Christ found an evil and adulterous generation (Matt. 12:39). These were the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, later contributing to His crucifixion––not the traditional evil-doers.
Having worked extremely hard, to expect rewards, pseudo-Christians receive the opposite: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor. 3:11–15 NIV).
Salvation cannot be earned, even when having surrendered everything on activities considered good in Jesus’ name. The reality of God’s Kingdom was established in the first century. Failure to attain it lies in not appreciating the Lordship of Jesus.
Whatever good works were done in this life; Christ takes the glory. In the Wedding Banquet Parable, invitees comprise both good and bad people (Matt. 22:10-14). The one later to be bundled out is found not wearing the garment that identifies the invitees (vs. 13 and Rev. 19:8). This suggests a fellow ignoring the custom as expected of him. Or having sneaked in, attracted only by the bliss of the party, yet not being committed to the expected general norm.
The uninvited people are not affected, at all. Some may not even be aware of the predicament of the one being bundled out of the banquet! When invited, one is expected to simply enjoy the party, according to the terms laid down by the host. It cannot be for the invited person to necessarily pose to dictate terms of celebration in that festivity. See [Works bring the opposite of what is intended].
This disappointment, experienced by many Christians on that day, leads some to commit the unpardonable sin (Matt. 12:31). Pride, the cause of all evil, blinds those supposing being “good.” A person feeling quite deserving, as desiring commendation for good works done is, obviously, susceptible of being hurt. The person gets offended when receiving the opposite of the expected accolades.
Yet the penitent ones eventually receive solace from the one whose mercy endures forever. The parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector portrays this episode (Luke 18:9-14). The justification of the sinful Tax Collector ahead of the pious Pharisee causes great disappointment.
Consider the sinful Tax Collector, then expected to superintend over a faithful law-keeper, like the referred Pharisee? The injured ego, ensconced in pride, causes the inferred gnashing of teeth. Those taking comfort in despising others according to own standards, actually despise Jesus.
The testimony of the saints, then ruling with Christ, will enable many to realize that indeed, there is life beyond physical existence. Things of value cease to comprise materialistic things, as is currently the norm. God’s Word becomes the most precious acquisition.
Ordinary people, other than the saints, will still be surviving in the flesh. “Flesh and Blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). Ordinary people will be under God’s Kingdom, but not being part of it. Only the saints will have at that time, inherited it, as clearly shown (1 Cor. 15:44).
Non-believers, having died, get resurrected in their physical condition at the Great white throne Judgment, after the millennium, but being subject to second death (Rev. 20:6, 14). Some eventually inherit God’s Kingdom, with attributes of eternal life (Rev. 20:15).
Christ is not sustained by flesh and blood. His resurrection was the most demonstrable reality of existence beyond physical. At Christ’s second-coming, the resurrected saints, including the transfigured ones, will no longer be physically sustained.
“It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’ the last Adam, a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45 NIV). If Jesus was resurrected, the Saints are assured of the life beyond physical.
Please stay tuned for the next episode—being part 2, on this topic, in just a few days’ time, showing the second and final resurrection, for all humanity. The first resurrection was a special one, for the saints only: “Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6) (ESV).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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