From the Ambassador College study paper of 1973/74
THE SECOND RESURRECTION
FORMER Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said before the
American Congress: "He must indeed have a blind soul who cannot
see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here
What is that purpose which the Creator is working out on
this earth among mere mortals?
We have seen in previous articles in this series that man's
only hope is the resurrection. Also, we saw biblical proof that
man is mortal - not immortal - and that he can only receive
immortality as a gift from God by a resurrection from the dead.
Furthermore, we saw that the Bible clearly reveals there is
to be MORE than ONE resurrection. There is an orderly plan
whereby different ones are to be resurrected at different times
"But every man [will be resurrected] in his own order..." 1 Cor.
15:23). There will be a proper "order' of succession of
The true faithful Christians will be the first raised to
life, and the will be resurrected to immortality at the second
coming of Christ (see 1 Cor.15:49-53: 1 Thes.4:14-17).
Resurrection of the Unjust.
But what about all those who are not resurrected at the
second coming of Jesus? Will they remain forever dead or will God
also resurrect them all at later date? And will they be raised
back to life merely to be flung into the lake of fire? What about
all the unsaved multitudes reared under Communistic atheism, who
have no Bibles, and have never heard the name of Christ or
understood the gospel?
Some say these multitudes will have a second chance. But
have they really ever had a FIRST chance to know Jesus Christ as
Revelation 20:5 begins to give the answer. "But the rest of
the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.
This is the first resurrection."
The expression "this is the first resurrection" refers back
to those in verse four who are raised to immortality at Christ's
coming to become rulers with Him as kings and priests on the
earth during the millennium.
Many have made the mistake of thinking there will be only
one resurrection - when both wicked and righteous will rise in
judgment to be either rewarded or punished. But Revelation 20:5
plainly brands this an error. As a matter of fact, nowhere does
the Bible say that God will resurrect all the dead in the same
True, the Apostle Paul affirmed "that there shall be a
resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust" (Acts
And Jesus Christ said: "... For the hour is coming, in the
which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall
come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of
LIFE [eternal]; and they that have done evil, unto the
resurrection of damnation [or, better translated, judgment]"
But let us not fall into the common error of assuming that
Paul and Christ meant the "just" and the "unjust" would be
resurrected at the same time.
We have seen that the Apostle John wrote of a "first
resurrection" and a "second resurrection." So where does that
Since all the "just" or righteous dead are resurrected at
the second coming of Christ, leaving the "unjust" dead in their
graves, are all these unjust dead eternally, lost without any
hope of ever having an opportunity to live again and obtain
A Resurrection of Mortals.
Are the unjust ones merely to be resurrected so God can
fling them into the lake of fire to be burned up'! What did
Christ mean when He said that "they that have done evil will be
resurrected], unto the resurrection of judgment"? (John 5:29).
Who are the "unjust" ones mentioned by Paul in Acts 24:15?
Are those who died in sin really fully accountable for their
actions in their "first life"? Have they ever had a chance for
Astounding as it may seem to people who do not really know
the scriptural teaching regarding the resurrections, countless
billions are yet to be brought back to a mortal life to have
their "first chance" to receive salvation.
Think for a moment. Could the untold billions who have lived
and died possibly have received salvation? Have the vast majority
ever had a chance to understand the Bible? Have they, then,
really rejected salvation? No! Many individuals have lived their
entire lifetimes without ever seeing a Bible or even hearing the
name of Jesus Christ.
Are they forever doomed simply because they did not have the
Word of God, and did not know that Christ is the Saviour of all
mankind? What nonsense!
What Constitutes a "Chance"?
Could countless billions of Hindus, Buddhists,
Confucianists, Taoists, animists and others who have not known
about Christ and salvation be held guilty or accountable to God
for not having received that vital knowledge?
Or is it possible that they could receive salvation through
some other person, or by a different way? The Apostle Peter
emphatically answers: "Neither is there salvation in any other..,
for there is none other name under heaven given among men,
whereby we must be saved" (Acts 6:12).
Human beings can only be saved if and when they learn of
Jesus Christ as their Saviour who died for them, and then accept
that supreme sacrifice in payment for their personal sins.
Christ said: "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he
shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John
10:9). He made it abundantly clear that anyone who "entereth not
by the door [Christ] into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some
other way, the same is a thief and a robber" (verse 1).
There is no other "door" by which we can enter the Kingdom
Can You Have a Second Chance?
Someone will ask: "Do you mean to say that God will
resurrect men back to a mortal life, and give them a second
chance?" No, this is not what the Bible teaches at all.
But the scriptures plainly reveal that the time is coming
when God will raise the "unjust" dead - those who through no
fault of their own were deceived and never understood the way of
salvation - and will at that time reveal His plan of salvation
Don't forget this basic truth: It is "impossible for God to
lie" (Heb.6:18). And "the scripture cannot be broken" (John
10:35): therefore, whatever God promises in His Word, He will do.
God's Word plainly says: "The Lord is not slack concerning his
promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to
usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should
come to repentance" (2 Pet.3:9).
It is not God's will that heathen animists, pagan idolators
or other sincere people who may practice a false religion, should
perish. A loving Creator wills that "all should come to
repentance" - in His own time and way.
The Apostle Paul was also inspired to write that God our
Saviour "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the
knowledge of the truth" (I Tim.2:4). He then went on to show that
"there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified
in due time" (verses 5,6).
It is God's responsibility to grant people the knowledge of
the truth. The vast majority who have ever lived and died were,
through no fault of their own, deprived of this knowledge which
would have made salvation possible in their first life-time. It
therefore becomes imperative that God give them their first real
chance to hear, understand and follow God's way of salvation. But
how? By raising them from the dead to renewed physical life in a
But millions of Christians erroneously believe that when one
dies in sin he is lost forever. Many feel under a burden to see
that Christ is preached to the heathen in Africa, Asia and other
parts of the earth because they think that if these pagans die in
sin, they will miss out on salvation forever.
One scripture oft quoted to prove that a person who dies in
sin is forever doomed is Ecclesiastes 11:3 "...If the tree fall
toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the
tree falleth, there it shall be." This scripture, referring in
context to certain instructions Solomon was giving with regard to
the importance of making the most out of an uncertain and
relatively short human lifetime, has nothing to do with any
resurrection. Solomon does not say that if one, through no fault
of his own, dies in sin, be will never have a chance to repent
and receive salvation.
What Is Judgment?
In John 5:29, Jesus Christ spoke of "the resurrection of
damnation." Nearly all modern translations correctly render this
last word as "judgment" rather than "damnation."
But what does it mean to be resurrected to judgment? Most
Christians woefully misunderstand. They think of "judgment as
only a time when a sentence is passed - rewarding the righteous
or condemning the guilty. But that is a false concept.
Notice what the Apostle Peter wrote: "For the time
[beginning nearly 2,000 years ago] is come that judgment must
begin at the house of God ..." (I Pet.4:17). What did he mean? He
did not just mean condemnation had begun at God's house, the
Rather he referred to the fact that God is now judging
Christians. We are now having our chance, and we will never have
another. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great
salvation..." (Heb.2:3.) See also Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29. God
holds every Christian strictly accountable for his actions. He is
now judging every believer according to His Word. But the vast
majority of mankind, to this very day, do not understand or
believe the truth of God. They have been deceived by the devil
(Rev.12:9). And it is God's responsibility to someday see that
these deceived billions become undeceived and are given their
chance for salvation - for He is not willing that any perish!
When Christ said some would come forth in a resurrection to
"judgment," he meant they would be raised up from their graves to
a time when they would learn the truth and have their opportunity
to walk in it. Then God will render a decision - a verdict - for
each, on the basis of how they do.
Judgment of Unjust Sodom.
Some are amazed to learn that Jesus made a number of
statements in which he said that the peoples of Sodom, Go-
morrah, Tyre, Sidon, Nineveh am those living in Christ's day will
all rise up in the judgment together. Mercy will be shown to all,
but the Gentile cities will find their judgment period more
bearable than those who personally heard the teachings of Jesus
Christ and yet rejected Him and His gospel.
Christ solemnly affirmed: "Verily I say unto you, it shall
be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day
of judgment, than for that city [which rejected His teachings]"
To those cities who saw His miracles. Christ said, "But I
say unto you [people of Bethsaida and Chorazin], It shall be more
tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for
Then Jesus warned Capernaum that if the mighty works done by
Him in that city had been done in Sodom, Sodom would have existed
to that very day. "But I say unto you, That it shall be more
tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for
thee" (verse 24).
Furthermore, Christ made a similar pronouncement regarding
Nineveh: "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this
generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the
preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here"
Jesus then explained that "The queen of the south [Queen of
Sheba] shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and
shall condemn it; for she came from the uttermost parts of the
earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than
Solomon is here" (verse 42).
What did Jesus mean? Just this: The Queen of Sheba, the
peoples of Nineveh, Tyre, Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah will find
repentance easier in their "day of judgment" than will those who
rejected Christ and His gospel message.
Resurrected Israel's Judgment.
Jesus Christ was not preaching a "new doctrine" when He
spoke of the resurrection of the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah.
It was clearly indicated, if the people only had eyes to see, in
the 16th chapter of the book of Ezekiel.
Much of the chapter relates to the people of Jerusalem
(verse 2). It details their abominations, calling Samaria the
"elder sister" of Jerusalem, and Sodom her "younger sister"
(verse 46). Then God points out that the sins the people of
Jerusalem had committed were more abominable than those of her
sisters - Sodom and Samaria.
Finally, Ezekiel prophesies of the time when the Sodomites,
Samaritans and the people of Jerusalem will all be brought up out
oŁ their captivity in death and will finally receive salvation.
"When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom
and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her
daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives
in the midst of them" (verse 53). The peoples of Sodom and
Gomorrah have been held captive in the grave for nearly four
thousand years. But through Christ's death and resurrection all
of those held captive in the grave will be released.
"... When he [Christ ascended up on high [at His
resurrection], he led captivity [death] captive..." (Eph.4:8).
Christ was held captive in the grave for three days and nights,
but at His resurrection He "led captivity captive." He will do
the same for all mankind in due time by resurrecting "all that
are in the graves."
When God resurrects the peoples of ancient Sodom, Samaria
and Jerusalem, they will "return to their former estate"--meaning
that God will place them in the land where they once lived (Ezek.
Ezekiel also prophesied elsewhere of a coming resurrection
of all the dead Israelites of past centuries.
The prophet first sees them as long dead in a "valley of dry
bones" (Ezek.37:1-10). "Then he [God] said unto me, Son of man,
these bones are the whole house of Israel.... Behold, O my
people, I will I open your graves, and cause you to come up out
of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye
shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O
my people, and brought you out of your graves" (verses 11-13).
Then God promises He will put His Spirit in them (giving
them the prerequisite for salvation) and will place them in their
"own land" (verse 14).
Mercy Upon All.
Even the Apostle Paul prophesied of a coming resurrection
for carnal Israel.
Paul wrote: "God hath not cast away his people [Israel]
which he foreknew" (Rom.11:2).
Paul explains that the majority of Israel are spiritually
blinded (verse 7). And who is responsible? "... God hath given
them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and
ears that they should not hear..." (verse 8). Why? "For if the
casting away of them be the reconciling of the world" - it makes
possible the salvation of the Gentiles! - "What shall the
receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (Verse 15.) Yes,
they are to be raised from the dead and given life by the
God who loves them and all humanity.
Paul calls this a mystery "...blindness in part is happened
to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so
all Israel shall be saved ..." (verses 25,26).
What Paul is saying is simply this: God has determined to
call and choose only a limited number from Israel in this age. He
is not trying to save all Israel now! He therefore calls those
Israelites whom He wills, but allows the rest to remain blinded
so that He can call a number of Gentiles to fulfill His purpose.
"For as ye [Gentiles] in times past have not believed God, yet
have now obtained mercy through their [Israel's] unbelief: Even
so have these [unbelieving Israelites] also now not believed,
that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath
concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon
all" (verses 30-32).
When the Apostle Paul understood the mystery of God's great
masterplan, he was filled with praise: "O the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable
are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Verse 33).
God is not trying to save the whole world now! Rather, He
has allowed Satan to deceive the world with his false teaching
(Rev.12:9). He must prove to Satan and to man that Satan's way
produces bad results?
Great White Throne Judgment.
Just what is the Great White Throne Judgment? "The
resurrection of the righteous will take place at the coming of
Christ (I Thes.4:13-19; 1 Cor.15:53), [the resurrection) of the
unsaved at the Great White Throne Judgment after the Kingdom Age
(Rev.20:11-15)." (Unger's Bible Dictionary, 1966 ed., article,
God is great, merciful, loving, not willing that any should
perish. He wills that all come to the knowledge of the truth and
to true repentance. But He knows it is better that most people
come to this knowledge of the truth in a better world than ours.
That is why these people will be raised up in the second
resurrection - a resurrection to a mortal, fleshly, earthly
Here is how it is depicted in the 20th chapter of
Revelation. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on
it.... And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God ..."
"The books [Greek, biblos - books or Bible) were opened"
(verse 12). This means that those raised up at that time will
have the books of the Bible opened to their knowledge and
understanding. And also the "book of life" will be open so their
names can be written in it when each repents of his sins, accepts
Christ as personal Saviour, and receives God's Holy Spirit. Then
they will be judged "according to their works" (verse 12).
Thus we see the "rest of the dead" raised to life, standing
before God to be judged - but not to be condemned, as so many
falsely assume. God will then judge those "unjust" dead, who are
at that time raised to life, just as He now judges His own house
- His Church (1 Pet.4:17). The book of life will be opened so
they can all receive eternal life, if they will!
How thrilling to understand God's master plan which He is
working out here below among mortal men.
To be continued with "The Third Resurrection"
Entered on this Website February 2008
When one understands the truth about the second resurrection, one
wants to shout with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, for
truly how PATIENT and LOVING and MERCIFUL He is! Yes, He really
does DESIRE that all will have an open and equal and fair chance
to be CALLED to salvation. He really does want all the millions,
nay, BILLIONS, those having lived and died, from babies to the
elderly, who never understood the Bible, or never heard the name
I tell you friends the Roman Catholic world and the Protestant
world, HAS NEVER TAUGHT OR UNDERSTOOD this WONDERFUL TRUTH of the
SECOND resurrection. Even many of the 7th Day Sabbath observing
churches DO NOT KNOW OR TEACH THIS TRUTH!
There were many truths of the Bible preached and taught by the
OLD Radio Church of God (later to be called the Worldwide Church
of God) under Herbert W. Armstrong. That man and his organization
may have gone off the tracks, and became a one man cult, before
he died, but the fact is, SOME great and splendid truths did come
from that organization. The truth of the SECOND resurrection is
ONE of those truths. Few ministers or church organizations have
ever understood it.
Let us praise the Almighty that He has in the last century made
sure that this truth has been a part of the restitution of all
things. God's truths are marching on, the restitution of all
things is is taking place. You can be a part of it all, you have
the blessing of being able to find the truths of God on this
Act upon what you are being led to find, LIVE it! Then YOU can be
a part of the FIRST resurrection and be in the Family of God to
teach millions of others about the Bible, about Jesus as Savior,
about the way to salvation. Truly that is the blessing of