In future life, people live like angels, not marrying or being given in marriage (Matt. 22:29–32). The context denotes the status, as achieved by the Saints, in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:6). The second resurrection—for judgmental purposes—is not intended for immediate attainment of eternal life (Rev. 20:13).
During the Great White Throne Judgment, the dead get resurrected in their physical condition, though not expected to live according to their previous conditions. Converted Christians today are also expected to conduct their lives differently from habits before conversion. See [Christianity is defined in one word: Altruism].
At conversion, one becomes a new creation; expected to overcome, when gripped with a new reality in the meaning of life, yet still being physical. The life of a Christian is, therefore, a transition from physical nature into the spiritual reality.
Those resurrected at Great White Throne judgment, will also be in transition towards the promised eternal life. They are faced with the possibility of perishing at the end—after examining the truth using books that will be opened (Rev. 20:12). They face conditions that require renouncing folly in previous ungodly lives. This is similar to what current Christians experience at conversion:
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey God?”(1 Pet. 4:17 NIV). The only difference between current Christians and those resurrected then, is that, not many Christians appreciate their calling as constituting God’s judgment.
The Great White Throne Judgment focuses on all people—other than the saints who would have already been awarded the privilege of first resurrection. Those who could not be part of the first resurrection—according to Revelation 20:5—constitute the following three categories:
First category: Those who died without ever hearing about the gospel or having heard but taking no interest in it. This covers all ordinary people, having lived since Adam, but dying before Christ’s second-coming, including the Israelites (Isaiah 65 and Ezekiel 37). The resurrected Israelites will, somehow, be familiar with salvation promises—as recorded in Hebrew prophecies. But to the rest, this would be a completely new and surprising development.
Second category: Comprises Pseudo-Christians, resurrected to find themselves not privileged for first resurrection; just before Christ’s millennial reign. These would have remained dead—notwithstanding having been committed to Christian activities (Revelation. 20:6). See [Works bring the opposite of what is intended].
Their condition is classified with that of their counterparts—found still alive at Christ’s second-coming, but disqualified (Matthew 7:21-23). Bear in mind that these would have been sincere Christians, intent to please God in every way. Their only problem is failure to apply Godly principles, as taught by Christ. These people would have lived under the deception of false Christianity, but not intentionally.
Third category: These comprise Christians, dying after having consciously spurned God’s Spirit—taking comfort in self-centredness. These would have lived during the Christian dispensation, since the first century—up to the end of Christ’s millennial reign. Possibly, this includes prior prophets, since Adam? This is when considering incidents, like the one involving prophets, as disclosed in 1 Kings 13:11-33.
Those in the outlined three categories, get resurrected in their physical condition, as existing before their respective physical deaths. At that resurrection, all are expected to appreciate humility before Christ (Rev. 20:11-15). However, their judgments are different—considering their previous circumstantial conditions. What follows is applicable to each, from their respective category:
The first category is given allowance to understand what is written in books being opened (Rev. 20:12). There would be no trick—catching people unaware of God’s truth—in order to condemn them at final judgment.
Those people carry similar conditions as applicable to Christians in current dispensation, guided by Biblical principles. To them, this period rhymes with prophet Isaiah’s details of judgment and salvation, in Isaiah 65:1-25. This episode includes both houses of Israel.
Though the other house was responsible for killing Jesus (Rom. 11:25-32). We can link this with what is recorded in Isaiah. 11: 1-16 and Ezek. 37. The grace of our Lord covers all previous sins of humanity. But this depends on how willing those people accept the offer of salvation. This is similarly to how, currently, Christians respond to salvation offer.
God’s Word will be availed, for those people to make informed decisions, just as this is applicable to Christians throughout the world today. Old Testament prophesies give clue, as to the condition and possible duration of the judgment:
“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation that was not called by my name…..”(Isaiah 65:1) (ESV)
“……No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit”(Isaiah 65:20-21) (ESV).
Ezekiel 37 is also a prophecy portraying a resurrection into physical existence—yet to be fulfilled—bringing together a divided kingdom (vs. 25). The restoration of David’s kingdom, divided after Jeroboam led a rebellion against heir-apparent, Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:1-19), is fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Isa. 9:7). The Ezekiel 37 bones, portray physical existence—not applicable in God’s Kingdom (1 Cor. 15:50).
While marriage is considered as extremely important in this life, in God’s Kingdom, marriage is not given any value, at all. The focal point is submission to God’s will. This is one of the things that, even Christians of today, cannot fathom. But, if Christ is truly the way, the truth and the life, He certainly would have set an example, by marrying and raising up children of standard quality.
Marriage and sex is not included in the Kingdom package (Matthew 22:29-32). As we noticed—during the millennium, there was possibility of the previously unconverted people, eventually accepting God’s grace. Unfortunately, others took comfort in Satan’s ways, thereby, attracting destruction (Rev 20:7-10). Marriage could be one of the attractive reasons, for causing rebellion?
Nonetheless, after the destruction of the rebellion—after the millennium Kingdom—Satan will no longer be available, to deceive humanity. But those people will be acquainted with Satan’s influence, having admired it during their previous lives. They make informed choices—as some of them elect to succumb to condemnation into the sulphuric fire (Rev. 20:15).
The second category; Just like pseudo-Christians—caught still alive at Christ’s second coming—these Christians get resurrected, but—discovering being unqualified to reign with Christ (Rev. 20:5). They would have been identified with Christianity, before dying. Yet they could not attain the privilege of being in the first resurrection. They may have loved Christ, yet not identified with Him.
Like their counterparts—caught still alive at Christ’s second coming—they become gripped with disappointment. They experience similar shame for not being among the Saints. Their experience is harsher, compared with those having not been associated with Jesus’ works, as hinted: “…But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you.”(Matt. 11:21–24 NIV).
The Sodomites—falling in first category—committed the most abominable sins, as can be imagined. But, Christ bears with them, ahead of those having failed to take Christ’s teachings seriously, as to succumb to deception. The resurrected pseudo-Christians get exposed to harsher treatment—having failed to take Jesus’ teachings seriously—but not the burning sulphur, yet.
This is another “gnashing of teeth” episode––similar to what would have been experienced by those at Christ’s Second-Coming. Though still facing hope, their unpalatable experience confirms how difficult accepting new data is, when assuming being knowledgeable (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). This is why humility needs to be taken seriously (Matt. 18:3-5).
Having gone through the process of humility, some of them receive redemption. The rest fail, due to pride. They assume being knowledgeable, thereby, supposing that they deserve consideration ahead of those they despise, yet identified with Christ. Their predicament lies in assuming that salvation comes by own effort, just as Paul warned against (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
The testimony of the saints enables some to appreciate the workability of God’s grace. They identify with some of the Saints, having lived with them before their physical death. The Saints comprise several—some with conducts previously considered unsuitable for positions of authority.
This is where most, finally realize that salvation does not consider works, denomination, or scriptural knowledge acquired. We are only saved when becoming humble before God. Which is what enables being led by the Holy Spirit (James 4:10-12). Unfortunately, those gripped in the problem of pride, slide into the third category.
The third category: These are not different from the participants in rebellion, after Satan had been released from his millennial suspension. Such rebels would have already been thrown into the lake of sulphuric fire (Rev. 20:9). In the same way, those having died before Christ’s second-coming—known for deliberately spurning God’s Spirit—are the ones depicted in this category:
“And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against The Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:31–32 NIV).
What Jesus stated is as true as the certainty of the rising sun tomorrow. See also (Heb. 10:26–29). There is difference between mere carelessness and conscious spurning of The Holy Spirit. While God is in control of human existence, the principle of self-determination is left to individuals and cannot be violated.
Christ has gone all the way, including crucifixion—but without taking away the infallible right of individual self-determination. Jesus is interested in those accepting His invitation by choice, not under coercion or manipulation. Nobody will ever be cajoled to be in God’s Kingdom.
Jesus provides assistance, only when one chooses to rely on Him. It should not surprise anyone, that even after Christ’s perfect millennial reign; others remain disagreeable with God’s truth. Those people are exposed in being badly influenced by Satan’s momentary release from prison (Rev. 20:7–9).
Unable to see folly in their actions, death becomes the final destiny for those in third category. Fortunately, their physical condition prevents them from acquiring Satan’s status, together with the beast and the false prophet. Satan and his demonic forces, experience eternal punishment—as their spiritual condition cannot perish like humans with natural bodies.
The beast and the false prophet refer to principalities conjured by Satan, whose final destiny, is day and night torment in lake of fire (Revelations 20:10). The demons are actually aware of their horrible destiny (Matt. 8:29). As spirit beings, they do not perish like physical humans.
Self-centred people get consumed in the burning sulphur. They are not tormented day and night, due to their physiochemical composition. They get easily consumed by sulphuric fire. This suggests a reason why God deals with humanity in physical condition until final fate is determined.
The parable of Lazarus and rich man illustrates one of the occurrences at final judgment (Luke 16:19–31). The rich man had enjoyed life in prosperity; contrary to Lazarus’ abject poverty condition before their death. Riches were associated with Godliness, whilst poverty portrayed sinfulness; as understood by those legalistic worshipers. Yet all humans are associated with sinfulness (Rom. 3:23).
The redeemed are the humble ones—without consideration of good or evil works in their lives, necessarily. Proud people lead, among those destined for destruction. The condition of poverty under which Lazarus lived may have facilitated his humility. But nothing shows Lazarus as having necessarily been a good fellow, according to accepted norm at that time.
The fact that Lazarus is captured with Abraham, suggests him being one of the saints, privileged to be in first resurrection. Thanks to God’s grace. Riches naturally appeal to worldliness. The exposure to life in abject poverty helps in annulling cherishing worldliness—making repentance un-problematic.
Nevertheless, both men experienced death (Luke 16:22). And both may have been aware of God’s existence, so as to be regarded as, somehow, religious. This is when also considering that Jesus gave this parable, as follow up to the mutterings of the religious Pharisees. The Pharisees had ridiculed Jesus’ teachings, due to their love of money, yet identifying themselves as religious people (Luke 16:14-15).
The story captures the rich man, then without possession of things he cherished in his life before death. He recognises Lazarus, blissfully seated with Abraham in paradise. The rich man is not even aware of developments since before dying. In Lazarus, Jesus hints on blessings of first resurrection. The redeemed are not necessarily associated with their own good works, but with Abraham’s faith (Romans. 4:3).
The most fascinating revelation is that—for the sake of God’s Kingdom—a person is at an advantage when despised or ridiculed (Matt. 5:11–12). What is highly esteemed by men is abominable to God (Luke 16:15). Having been used to life in prosperity, the former rich man burns with desire to be associated with Lazarus’ comfort.
At resurrection people are not connected with former wealth, appreciated before death. Abraham gives this former rich man an unpleasant response (Luke 16:25–26). Surprisingly, the rich man’s pleading does not express desire to come out of his miserable condition? He requests that Lazarus—with whom he identified—be sent with some water to quench his thirst—affecting those in physical flesh.
Once again, the “fire” being cited is a figurative term, describing discomfort in physical nature. Real fire gives no liberty to talk in that manner. The former rich man is not conscious of the time lapse since dying. “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten” (Eccles. 9:5 NIV).
The general context of the parable is intended to help the religious ones like the Pharisees who despised Jesus’ teachings (Luke 16:14). Such people’s resurrection takes place in future, not immediately after death, according to Revelation 20:5. In as much as people fear dying; the dead are not conscious of developments during period when in their graves.
They get resurrected without being aware of how long they would have been dead. To them, resurrection translates into instant awareness as if experienced immediately after losing consciousness at death. They get resurrected in their former state of being physical, a condition they were consciously in, before dying.
The rich man obviously views his then current status as taking place immediately after his death. He imagines this being punishment for his previous ungodly life. However, the truth is that he wakes up unable to recover his previous wealth to restore cherished pride, and good life, enjoyed before death. He is gripped with the torment of abject poverty—a condition he would have not been accustomed with.
The chasm separates two principles of living that cannot be reconciled––Self-centredness, as compared with altruism. Some people may assume that the rich man’s sorrowful condition appealed for transfer to Abraham’s side? However, his mind-set had still not changed, even though possibly having recognized the cause of his then repugnant condition.
This is confirmed by requesting Abraham to send Lazarus to preach to his household (Luke 16:27-28). Thinking only about his household, reflects a mind-set still preoccupied in self-centredness, instead of altruism. That mind-set is different from that of Jesus who died for the entire humanity, without consideration of relational background.
Before dying, the former rich man had consciously recognized his relatives whom he seriously considers on regaining consciousness. He fails to appreciate that those relatives would possibly be also facing similar conditions. What happens to others not of his household is obviously none of his concern.
This highlights two philosophical concepts that Abraham insisted could never be reconciled––self-centredness on one hand and altruism on the other. Consider also one of the thieves desperately desiring reprieve from prosecution as both faced the damning cross along with Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).
His counterpart—with whom Jesus said would be in paradise—had owned up to the responsibility of the cause of their punishment. But this other thief—still preoccupied in self-centeredness—sought for reprieve yet still un-remorseful. The two thieves represent two divergent viewpoints, discoursed in my entire book: Dimensions of a New Civilization
The thief with whom Jesus said would be in paradise had done nothing to deserve salvation, except repenting from self-centredness. His friend, still rooted in self-centredness, could not be in paradise. Nevertheless, the condition of the former rich man could have changed, had he said to Abraham: “Is there any way I could help fellow humans to avoid being in this condition?”
This said, when aware of the error of worldliness and consummation in self-centeredness. Abraham would have then told him about Jesus, holding key to salvation. This reveals how impossible it can be, when gripped in self-centredness, to think of altruism, which—to such people—is foolishness.
This agrees with Jesus’ camel and needle’s eye declaration concerning another rich young man, in need of eternal life (Matt. 19:16-23). Achieving eternal life started with transformation of the mind, so that the person adopts altruism, when conducting real life experiences.
What brings comfort to physical flesh does not attract comfort to the spirit, which is not stimulated by sensual cravings. By chasing after things attractive to physical nature, the spiritual value becomes forfeited. Yet physical benefits could conveniently help towards attaining spiritual goals.
After the resurrection discourse, the Apostle John then describes a scenario where the old order—characterized in materialistic world—is gone (Rev. 21:1-4). Even that beautiful millennial world order, under Christ’s leadership, disappears. Nothing of material nature remains after the redeemed have adopted eternal lives and the evil ones destroyed, in the lake of fire.
Paul reiterates: “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another”(1 Cor. 15:40). The scenario of the new heaven and earth is totally different from the current materialistic conditions. The reader is encouraged to also review [Unpacking the myth about Law and Grace].
As humans, we naturally take comfort in this life. But our present life is as temporary as the mist, appearing now—only to then disappear, as if it never existed before. Jesus represents real life, as was designed by God when He created humanity in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27).
Jesus declares Himself as being the way, the truth and the life. But it is just unbelievable that Christianity—as observed in general conduct of humanity—each Christian grouping follows their own respective ways. They seem oblivious of the deception that Jesus talked about? However, the real problem appears as emerging from pride. See also [Everything starts at the beginning, Part 2].
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.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99