Created Monday, Apr. 8, 2002 - Updated Apr. 22, 2004

The Resurrections
(There's more than one!)

and Who Goes to Heaven and Who Stays on Earth


Part 1
The Law and Prophets Foretold the Resurrection
Asleep in Christ
On the Last Day
Paul Reveals a Mystery
Two Different Resurrections
Revelation Becomes a Revelation
Revelation's Implications
The Complete Picture

Part 2
Who Goes to Heaven and Who Goes to Earth?
The Law and the Prophets Until John
A Dilemma to Solve
A Martyr's Reward
The Fears of the Young

Related Articles

Part 1

 There are a lot of misunderstandings about death and resurrection. Many today are of the belief that you go straight to heaven when you die so that you don't really die but are merely transformed from life in a body to life outside a body. I won't even bother here to ponder how Christianity has come to believe that, but just to show, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that we do not go immediately to heaven when we die. The Bible teaches no such thing.

What it does teach and has always taught is that there will come a time when we will be resurrected, brought back to life. This would be on or at the last day, the day when Jesus returns as we will explore here in this article. The Bible describes the death of the faithful as sleep. Sleep because while they may be out of existence and lacking any consciousness at all, in God's mind and power, they still live and can be brought back from a state of death and loss. So their death really only amounts to a period of unconsciousness from which they will return in God's good time, as if they had only been asleep. For indeed, in much of our time sleeping, we are not aware that we are alive or exist. Dreams only occupy a small part of our sleep time if we dream at all.

So I first want to show evidence of the resurrection doctrine in the law and the prophets, what we have come to call the Old Testament. Then have a look at this idea of sleep before we move on to the idea of rising on the last day as opposed to rising as soon as you die.

Part 2 deals with who goes to heaven and who stays on an earthly paradise.

The Law and Prophets (Old Testament) Foretold Resurrection
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Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory! And the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from all faces. And He shall reprove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for Jehovah has spoken.

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead ones shall live, my dead body, they shall rise up. Awake and sing, dust dwellers; for the dew of lights is your dew; and the earth shall cast out departed spirits.

(BBE) Job 14:13 If only you would keep me safe in the underworld, putting me in a secret place till your wrath is past, giving me a fixed time when I might come to your memory again! 14 If death takes a man, will he come to life again? All the days of my trouble I would be waiting, till the time came for me to be free. 15 At the sound of your voice I would give an answer, and you would have a desire for the work of your hands.

Daniel 12:8 And I heard, but I did not understand. And I said, O my lord, what shall be the end of these things? 9 And He said, Go, Daniel! For the words are closed up and sealed until the end time. 10 Many shall be purified and made white and tested. But the wicked shall do wickedly. And not one of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.

Daniel 12:13 But you go on to the end, for you shall rest and stand for your lot at the end of the days.

Elijah, in 1 Kings 17:22, and Elisha in 2 Kings 4:32, 13:20, all performed resurrections as a sign of things to come. Jesus and the Apostles would later do much more of the same, also as a sign of things to come.

Asleep in Christ
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1 Corinthians 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

What he means is that some have died. They put it as fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

2 Peter 3:4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation."

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

Though spoken of by the Jesus and the Apostles as sleep, Solomon makes it clear that death is a definite state of perishing and non-existence. Jesus uses sleep so as to reassure us that it will not be a permanent loss of life but that we will be back, fully and completely as we were, minus the old age and imperfection, of course. What is clear from all this is that there is not some conscious spirit or soul that continues to exist apart from the body.

There are those who, when being taken up to heaven, do loose their bodies and are transformed into spirits to live with Christ just as the resurrected in Christ are also raised in spiritual bodies rather than their old fleshly ones. We will deal more with this shortly.

On the Last Day
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John 6:38 For I have come down out of Heaven, not that I should do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 And this is the will of the Father sending Me, that of all that He has given Me, I shall not lose any of it, but shall raise it up in the last day. 40 And this is the will of the One sending Me, that everyone seeing the Son and believing into Him should have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44 No one is able to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day.

John 6:54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

The gospel of John has Jesus making it clear and saying it 4 times for emphasis that he will indeed raise up everyone given to him by the Father. But he also makes it clear it will be on or at the last day. Not now, not as soon as you die, but on the last day. Even Martha understood this as we read later in John when Jesus was discussing the raising of Lazarus.

John 11:24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

Of course, what Jesus was telling her was that he was not going to wait till the last day to bring back Lazarus. He was going to do it right then and there. But this resurrection would not be the permanent one to heaven but would be one where Lazarus would eventually die again, just not quite so prematurely as he had before. But he would die again and have to wait till the last day as would all the rest of those in Christ who had fallen asleep in death.

Paul Reveals a Mystery
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1 Corinthians 15:51 Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.

Actually, Paul talked more about this just about 30 verses earlier and speaks of it in another letter as well that I will get to.

1 Corinthians 15:21 For since death is through man, also through a Man is a resurrection of the dead; 22 for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruit, afterward those of Christ at His coming. 24 Then is the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God, even the Father, when He makes to cease all rule and all authority and power. 25 for it is right for Him to reign until He puts all the enemies under His feet; [Psa. 110:1] 26 the last enemy made to cease is death.

Paul also speaks of the other things that happen on that last day such as all other rule and authority cease except his which he turns back over to the Father. Paul explains more on waiting till the last day in the next 3 verses.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

First off, Paul says that we should not grieve over the dead as much as others for we know we shall live again as shall those in Christ that we love. We have a hope that others do not. Second, those who are alive at the coming of the Lord, that is to say, the last day, Armageddon if you will, shall not precede those who have already died, fallen asleep as Paul puts it. Paul alludes to the sound of a trumpet. This is what John speaks of in Revelation as we shall later see. But in the end, they all end up with Christ, in the air so to speak, as spirits, just as Jesus and his Father, God, are. Now lets look at John's Revelation to see his comments on that same vision that was given to Paul as well.

Revelation 10:7 But that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God, as he announced to his servants the prophets, should be fulfilled.

Or as the King James version puts it:

Revelation 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

That is to say, the mystery is finished as in solved, revealed, completed, explained, accomplished, and they lived happily ever after.

Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel trumpeted. And there were great voices in Heaven, saying, The kingdoms of the world became our Lord's, even of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever. 16 And the twenty four elders sitting before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, We thank You, Lord God Almighty, the One who is, and who was, and who is coming, because You took Your great power and reigned. 18 And the nations were full of wrath; and Your wrath came, and the time of the judging of the dead, and to give the reward to Your slaves, to the prophets, and to the saints, and to the ones fearing Your name, to the small and to the great, and to destroy those destroying the earth.

This part of Revelation shows the final end before it goes on to tell about other aspects of this critical time just before and during the judgement of Christ, the so called last day, what we sometimes refer to as Armageddon. And during this time the servants of God who are dead are rewarded, that is to say, resurrected, along side of Christ, in heaven. Even Daniel in the Old Testament prophets, was given a similar vision of this.

Daniel 12:1 "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Daniel, too, speaks of those in the dust who awake, that is to say, resurrected. Again, in the last day, preceded by the time of great trouble, known as the "great tribulation" in Revelation. But Daniel's people, those who worship God in spirit and truth, shall be delivered at this time. The final end of the mystery of God. Armageddon! But another interesting thing is mentioned. Some awake to shame and everlasting contempt. What is this all about? Before I answer with the scriptures, lets review what we have learned.

People will be resurrected but it will be at the last day, the very end, when God's people are delivered. But there is still some mystery to clear up.

Two Different Resurrections
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Daniel doesn't quite sound like most of the New Testament scriptures we considered. But we are going to consider some others that do sound a lot like Daniel. Let's review Daniel again.

Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

This is a promise that comes from the law and the prophets, Daniel being a prophet, of course. But what exactly does it mean? Many think that everyone will be brought back to life and judged. Maybe it is. But we want to make sure, right? Well, Daniel is not the only one to deal with this subject.

John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

Sounds a lot like Daniel, doesn't it? I got more.

Acts 24:14 But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets, 15 having a hope in God which these themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward God and toward men.

Here again, a similar theme. A resurrection, it would appear, of both just and unjust. What the heck! What's going on, right? Well, lucky for us, John was given a revelation in a book we have come to call Revelation that clears or at least further elaborates and explains this "mystery" the Daniel, Jesus, and Paul speak of.

Revelation Becomes a Revelation
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Revelation 20 solves this whole puzzle for us . . . maybe. Lets take a look.

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while.

Here we are given a lot more detail about what is to take place when Jesus judges the earth and destroys the false prophet and the beast, and resurrects the dead in Christ.

Revelation 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

These are clearly Jesus' brothers, all those who were martyred for his sake, and have been resurrected to rule with him in heaven and judge the world and being it back to perfection. You can find much more information about this in "God's Institution," "The Earthly Hope," "The Heavenly Flock." I will link to them at the end of this article under "Related Articles." Lets continue.

Revelation 20:5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years.

As a die point, it mentions the "rest of the dead" and says they do not come to life until the 1000 years have ended. What is that all about? We will have to use our heads, for sure. But as for the first resurrection, that is, those who are brought to life in heaven to be with Christ and rule with him as kings and priests. They shall be declared living and will not be subject to death. They are considered a sure bet. God apparently has full confidence in their loyalty and obedience, that it will last forever. The second death will have no power over them.

Notice what was said earlier in Revelation 2:11 "The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one overcoming will not at all be hurt by the second death."

But what is this 2nd death, right?

Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Well, if we read the other 3 articles I mentioned, we know that many survive Armageddon who do not go to heaven. They live on the earth and were saved by the blood of the lamb, figuratively speaking of Jesus. But what is clear is that there are again nations on earth. It becomes filled again with people. We also know that Satan was bound during this time so that people, referred to as nations, would not be misled or deceived during this time. They will be instructed by Jesus and his brothers from heaven. They will be given every opportunity to live in harmony with God and His rules.

But it is equally apparent that many do not take advantage of this opportunity and mercy, and they go along with Satan and are gathered together by him and surround the camp of the saints or holy ones of God and the beloved city, a spiritual term for the heavenly flock who are the object of attack when the faithful people on earth are surrounded to be killed, no doubt. But God does not allow His faithful loyal ones in the earth to be harmed this time as they were before Armageddon. Fire comes down from heaven and destroys all the traitors who have joined Satan. And it would appear that since there number is very large, like the sand of the sea, and able to completely surround the camp of the loyal ones, that they are the majority of the earth's inhabitants.

This might strike one as shocking. If these people were people who made it through Armageddon, or were resurrected ones, or were born to either of the other two groups, then it might seem hard to believe that after all that, they would now turn on God and His beloved flock of loyal ones on earth. But the scriptures do not lie. They are numerous and rebellious. And of course, Satan gets tossed into the lake of fire, never to be back again. Now look what happens next.

Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; 15 and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Now this is a very tricky spot. We see a great judgement take place here. Let me ask you, is this judgment before or after Satan is let loose at the end of the 1000 years? I say that this judgment, called the 2nd death, if after Satan has been let loose to deceive and corrupt. But there are problems with that understanding. Revelation is a hard book to understand because John keeps retelling about certain things. This was likely the order to which it was revealed to him. It challenges us to use our heads ever so carefully. But if we put all the pieces of the puzzle together carefully, we should come up with a good overall picture and understanding. This is where logic and sensibleness come into play as well.

Satan's final judgement comes after the thousand years have ended. He is thrown into the lake of fire. In addition, so are death and Hades. And anyone not found written in the book of life was also thrown into this lake of fire. Who are these? Well, aren't they the ones who surround the camp of the faithful, loyal, saints/ holy ones? I believe they are. Who else could it be? And death and Hades are no longer ever to be a part of human experience. Any who make it past this will be around forever and never have to deal with death again as chapter 21 of Revelation makes clear.

Could these be the "dead" who did not come to life until after the 1000 years have ended? They did not come to life in the same sense that those in heaven did, proving their fitness and trustworthiness to such a degree that they would never have to dear death again, and in that sense, they are now living and no longer dead, or at least no longer in jeopardy of ever having to die. They have been pronounced by God as always faithful and reliable, certain never to sin or die again.

If that is the case, then lets look at this account again:

Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; 15 and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The dead were judged by what was written in the books, including the book of life. And of course, those not written in that book were thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the thousand years. So I believe that the dead are not literally dead, but figuratively so, having not yet proved or demonstrated what their ultimate fate would be. But as they live through the thousand years, they establish who they are or are not, and in time, show their true colors and eventually, either join in Satan's rebellion or resist that rebellion, showing clearly where they stand. God lets them go as far as surrounding the camp of the faithful, clearly showing their intentions, before He destroys them with fire. This is how there are thrown into the symbolic lake of fire.

When verse 12 says the dead are judged by what is written in the books, by what they had done that was written in the books, it is, as best as I can tell, referring to what they had done and what was recorded about them, after they had been resurrected after Armageddon, the last day. They are given a thousand years to mold themselves after God and become faithful loyal servants of His. But many will not seize the opportunity and will let it slip away by joining Satan. They will have been given an opportunity similar to what Adam and Eve had, but will have wasted it as Adam and Eve did. At least they had a reasonable opportunity that they did not have when born of Adam. But it will be for nothing.

For more information on hell, which kind of comes up here, check out this article which is also linked at the end under Related Articles if you would like to wait until then. The Soul and Hell.

Revelation's Implications
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But we sure can't fault God for His incredible mercy for allowing as many as was fair and reasonable to at least have that opportunity. But perhaps now we can better understand what is meant by the first resurrection as compared to an obvious second. And now we can understand the 2nd death as well. Now Jesus words make more sense, perhaps.

John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

If they are resurrected and do good, it will prove to be a resurrection of life as they become and are pronounced as living after that thousand years have ended. But if they are resurrected, only to do evil, then it proves to be a resurrection of judgement, and we are not talking about the good kind, either. Which one it proves to be is up to those resurrected and what they choose to do with their opportunity and free will.

Perhaps it will help to understand how Jesus sometimes speaks of the dead.

Matthew 8:22 But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.

Luke 9:60 But Jesus said to him, Leave the dead to bury their dead, but going out, you announce the kingdom of God.

Romans 7:4 So that, my brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, for you to become Another's, to One raised from the dead, so that we may bear fruit to God.

Ephesians 2:1 and He worked in you who were once dead in trespasses and sins,

Colossians 2:12 being buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from among the dead.

Paul had mentioned in Romans how we were once dead but were made alive in Christ, alive and living, in the spirit, at least. Out flesh still existed in sin and would die but in our spirit, we no longer served the flesh. So our being alive or dead is symbolic or spiritually so.

Also notice how Jesus instructs that the "dead" should be left to bury the "dead." That is to say, the spiritually dead should bury the physical/ literal dead. This concept is one we have covered in several areas. Because many have not discerned the spiritual metaphor, they have not correctly understood what the Bible is often talking about when it refers to the "dead." One has to pay careful attention to the wording and context to know which type of "dead" is being referred to by Jesus or whoever.

So when Revelation speaks of the dead and their works, it is not talking about the literal dead but those who are viewed as dead until they should prove themselves in the hour of temptation that Satan will being upon all the earth at the end of the thousand years in Rev. 20.

And now for Paul.

Acts 24:14 believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets, 15 having a hope in God which these themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

The just, those that follow and believe in God, will be resurrected along with many of previous times that did not know God or have God revealed to them. These will get a 2nd chance. But let not those who live in these lasts days imagine that they will be resurrected if they choose not to obey and then die. Notice what else Paul said, this to the Greeks in Athens but also to us and to all, really.

Acts 17:29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead."

I like the forceful way it is put in Greens Literal Translation:

Acts 17:30 Truly, then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now strictly commands all men everywhere to repent.

God had and will overlook certain times and places of ignorance, times and places that He judges appropriate and we are not to question. It is His judgement and choice. But Paul warns that men everywhere are now being "commanded." Ignorance is no longer allowed. The warning is being sounded since the Apostles began their ministry to the nations. People must repent and obey God. Disobedience will no longer be tolerated.

Jesus put it this way:

Matthew 24:13 But the one who endures to the end, that one will be kept safe. 14 And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end.

Jesus assures us that the gospel or good news of the Kingdom shall most certainly be preached in all the earth before the end and the judgement that comes with it is allowed to come. Any who do not take advantage of that and become Christians will suffer judgement and destruction at the last day, Armageddon. And quite possibly, even likely as I see it, anyone at any time who had a chance to come to know God and refused it will not be allowed another chance in the resurrection.

The unrighteous or unjust who are to be resurrected are those who legitimately did not have a change to come to know God. Who they are and where is up to God to decide. But I do not believe that those who did will be resurrected if they have died in prior times. An example of this would be Pharaoh, the King of Egypt to who refused Moses and Jehovah and even fought against God, even after the miraculous signs that pharaoh witnesses at Moses hand from God. So it was said by Moses:

Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, Do not be afraid. Take your stand and see the salvation of Jehovah, which He will prepare for you today. For as you see the Egyptians today, you shall not continue to see them again forever.

If I take this in an absolute sense which I do, then it may be an indication that Pharaoh and his men will never be seen again, forever. For them, this was judgement day, the last day, Armageddon. They were given a chance and threw it away. No need for another one. As to who had a chance and who did not, God can best decide that. But it is not likely that any living today in the last days have not had a chance. Neither have many in the past 2000 years been without a chance, at least in the far reaches of the Roman empire and succeeding nations that came out of the Roman empire.

The Complete Picture
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So I hope I have been able to show from several previous related articles up through this one who there is a resurrection of people who go to heaven and a resurrection of people who live on earth. The resurrection on earth is to finally realize the purpose that God had for the earth and mankind from the beginning of the book of Genesis. But this earthly resurrection will actually contain two groups. Those who served God right through the great tribulation and so were saved and spared shall be on the earth first. Then soon after, those faithful and just of God in the past who came before Jesus initiated the offer of the heavenly kingdom. And then those who did not know God and had no opportunity to know or serve Him shall also be allowed to live again and repent and live right.

One last test will come upon the earth when Satan is allowed to again influence it after a thousand years of being restrained. Many will fail the test and die. Those who remain will be judged as faithful forever and will never have to deal with death again. Finally, God's purpose for the earth and mankind will be fulfilled and He will be again able to see "every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the" seventh day! Then completely, thoroughly, and perfectly finished will be the mystery of God.

Part 2

Who Goes to Heaven and Who Goes to Earth?
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Assuming that you have read the previous articles in this series, the only question to be answered is who goes where. That is not going to be easy to answer and there are no easy concrete answers, I suspect. This issue is also complicated for other reasons as well. Many Christians, the young ones in particular, those who have arrived at puberty and whose hormones are in full power, naturally want to exercise those powers and get down to business. Their hormones are telling them what they should do. We have been used to ignoring those hormones and their creator, our God, Jehovah.

Because of young people's concern for wanting to experience the excitement and appeal of sexual relations, and knowing nothing else, which goes for all of us at any age, they naturally find the world they were born into as the most desirable one and the one they would prefer to come back into in the event that they died. But heaven, on the other hand, without the prospect of sex, does not seem all that appealing to the young. So there is a real concern about what their destiny might be. So let's look it over and see what we can determine.

The Law and the Prophets Until John
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(KJV) Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

I take this to mean that the law and prophets were in force and preached until John, the Baptist. After that, the door was opened to become a part of God's kingdom in heaven that would rule over the earth and those that would be on it. So I am of the impression that all the great forefathers of our faith such as Noah, Job, Abraham, Daniel, and numerous others would all be resurrected to a life on earth. The law and prophets were held out to them as we have already covered what the law and prophets preached and taught. This was the only hope they had been given.

Since John and Jesus, the opportunity to rule with them was offered. It was not a matter of how good you were, it was simply a matter of timing. You could sort of compare it to a K-mart blue light special. If you were there when the blue light special was in effect, you got the bargain price. If you weren't there then you missed out. It was not a reflection of whether you were a good K-Mart customer or not. Timing is everything, they say. This seems to be the determining factor on whether you went to heaven or earth in the resurrection.

Now there are a number of scriptures that could lead one to believe that Abraham and others would also be in the kingdom of God such as the one in Luke.

Luke 13:28 There will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrust outside. 29 And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline in the kingdom of God.

One could jump to the conclusion that this indicates these will all be in heaven. But it doesn't say that. It says they will be in God's kingdom, which could mean heaven or earth. Note what Jesus said to the criminal that was crucified along side of him.

Luke 23:42 And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingdom. 43 And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.

This man was a criminal and made no effort to repent until near death. But Jesus was going to allow him to be in paradise, that is to say, earth. But Jesus was going to be in heaven. So when Jesus said you will be with me, he was speaking in a spiritual sense. Though in his kingdom, he would be with the former criminal and the criminal would be in his kingdom, in the earthly realm of that kingdom, of course.

We also know that there is to be a resurrection on earth of both the just and unjust such as the criminal beside Jesus was. Well, if there are to be just people resurrected on earth, who are they going to be if not those before John? So I think it likely that Abraham and all the other marvelous servants of God from before John will live on earth forever. But they are not the only ones to live on earth. We know that many described as unjust, those not knowing God from past times will also receive a resurrection and a 2nd chance to make good on an opportunity they did not previously have. And there is also a third group to be there on earth in paradise.

A Dilemma to Solve
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Paul and John's (the Apostle) Revelation creates a sort of dilemma for us.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

There are going to be those alive who will be caught up into the air, as Paul describes it, that is to say, turned into spirits such as the angels and Jesus are; transformed as some translations put it. So there will be the living who will not die but be taken to heaven, being alive at the last day when Jesus returns. But Revelation also reveals that many will not be among that heavenly number in chapter 7.

Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!"

Revelation 7:13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?" 14 I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

I might also add that these are not the first fruits of the harvest but the 2nd fruits or harvest. They are not the ones going to heaven and numbered as being 144,000 who rule as kings and priests over the earth and those on it. They area separate group who are also saved out of the great tribulation without dying. So it would seem logical to me that since the heavenly number was filled and not needing a number any larger than 144, 000, the rest left over would remain on earth, which was the purpose of the kingdom in heaven being established in the first place.

So those who come out of the great tribulation would be those who kind of fulfill this Old Testament prophecy as follows.

Psalm 91:
5 You shall not fear the terror of night, of the arrow that flies by day;
6 of the plague that walks in darkness, of the destruction laying waste at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall by your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes you shall look, and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because You, O Jehovah, are My refuge; if you make the Most High your habitation,
10 no evil shall happen to You, nor shall any plague come near Your tent.

This is the sort of deliverance these of the great crowd will experience as they are delivered from the wrath of God that comes upon the earth and those in it who were not written in the book of life. And they will reside on the earth as I have pointed out in the previous articles but will repeat here.

Revelation 7:15 Because of this they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His sanctuary. And He sitting on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 And they will not hunger still, nor will they thirst still, nor at all shall fall on them the sun, nor any kind of heat. 17 Because the Lamb in the midst of the throne will shepherd them, and will lead them on the living fountains of waters; and God will wipe off every tear from their eyes.

This is almost the same description in Revelation 21 where God resides on earth (figuratively speaking, of course) with men and they are shepherded by the bridegroom who is Jesus. So we know that at the coming of Jesus to judge the nations, the last day, that there will be both those who stay on earth and those who serve in heaven. How do we know who is going and who is staying.

Well, I would assume that those who complete the number of those destined for heaven would be of the older ones among the flock of God. They have been around longer and were available when the number required more to be sealed and chosen. Once filled, the rest would reside on earth forever.

There is a group, however, who gains admission into the kingdom of God, in heaven, no matter how old or young. You will see this idea mentioned frequently in Revelations and some other places, too, perhaps, but especially in Revelation.

A Martyr's Reward
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All the following are from Revelation.

2:10 Do not at all fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the Devil is about to throw you into prison, so that you may be tried; and you will have affliction ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

2:26 And the one overcoming, and the one keeping My works until the end, "I will give to him authority over the nations," 27 and "he will shepherd them with an iron staff" (they are "broken to pieces like clay vessels"), as I also have received from My Father. Psa. 2:8, 9

3:5 The one overcoming, this one shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not at all blot his name out of the Book of Life; and I will acknowledge his name before My Father, and before His angels.

3:12 The one overcoming, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall not go out any more. And I will write the name of My God on him, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem which comes down out of Heaven from My God, and My new name.

3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will enter to him, and I will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 The one overcoming, I will give to him to sit with Me in My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father in His throne.

6:9 And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those having been slain for the word of God, and for the witness which they had. 10 And they cried with a great voice, saying, Until when, holy and true Master, do You not judge and take vengeance for our blood, from those dwelling on the earth? 11 And there was given to each one a white robe. And it was said to them that they should rest yet a little time, until might be fulfilled also the number of their fellow-slaves and their brothers, those being about to be killed, even as they.

14:13 And I heard a voice out of Heaven saying to me, Write: Blessed are the dead, the ones dying in the Lord from now. Yes, says the Spirit, they shall rest from their labors, and their works follow with them.

As you might be able to tell from these verses, conquering and remaining faithful, even to death, gains you an immediate seat with Jesus in heaven. Anyone who is killed in Jesus' name automatically receives a throne up there with him. And the 2nd death has no authority over these ones. They are immortal and share in the heavenly kingdom. So anyone martyred for the sake of the kingdom inherits a place in that kingdom.

The Fears of the Young
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Now I can read the minds of some of the young people now. They fear that if they should die for Jesus without having married and experienced the fun, the joy, the excitement and thrill of a sexual relationship, that they will never get to experience it and feel as if they would be deprived of something they wanted and desired very much and really, who can blame them. Too many adults have long since experienced it all and have forgotten how strong the urges can be for they have long since lost a good deal of those urges as their bodies decline. They say it is no big deal. Easy for them to say. They don't remember how they felt at that age.

I have several thoughts on this. For one, I think young people should be able to marry at fairly young ages as compared to what we think proper now and I cover that in another article listed in Related Articles at the end of this one. But also, I am of the opinion that God, in His infinite wisdom, mercy, love, and insight, who sees and knows all, may very well understand who He is dealing with and if they are young or deeply wishing for that physical earthly existence, may decide to raise them up on earth, sensing their more fleshly state of mind and thinking earth a better place for them.

On the other hand, the experience of heaven may be much preferred. We don't know since we have never been spirits so as to visit heaven. It may be preferable even though we are not able to comprehend that. So we may be resurrected up there anyway, even though we think we would prefer earth. We would not regret it once we are there. It is really to difficult to judge that. What I can say beyond any shadow of a doubt is that God is love and would always do what is in accord with our own desires, not forcing any sort of fate upon us other than what we willingly consent to. He knows what is in our best interests and desires.

So I for one, can not say whether all who die for Christ and in Christ will go to heaven. The scriptures certainly seem to indicate that. But if we love God we will trust that He will satisfy our hearts and expectations beyond all our wildest dreams. Yes, I absolutely believe that 100%, no doubts at all.

But just for kicks, I want to address whether someone who is young but of great faith could be in that number of those destined for heaven who do not die but are taken up to heaven while still alive as humans and transformed into spirits in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet sounding.

As discussed earlier, the great men of old were among the best to ever be born. Yet it looks like they may not be in heaven with Christ but will enjoy the chance for everlasting life on earth. What a loss, huh? I kid of course. It hardly seems like a loss or a letdown. For some, it may even seem preferable. So given that greatness or righteousness seems to play no part, it would seem logical to me that it would have to do with timing as it always has. If that is the case, It will likely be those who have been Christians for the longest time and having filled the number required before others came along. But they would certainly have to be completely faithful to a degree required by God.

I suspect that some, while faithful enough to qualify for a resurrection through the centuries, may not have thoroughly qualified to the degree required of God to inherit a heavenly throne with His son. I could very well be wrong. Maybe it is either an all or nothing kind of thing. But given that the criminal who died along side of Jesus must have been around while Jesus was preaching and yet did not repent at those times, but was now accepted by Jesus near his death, could only be allowed a resurrection in Paradise on earth rather than a seat in heaven beside Jesus. I would have thought a last minute death bed conversion unacceptable. But evidently not, at least in this particular case.

That having been the case, it is at least possible the others, too, may be worthy of some sort of resurrection, though not of the heavenly calling, which is a higher calling with some certain qualifications or degrees of faithfulness a little more stringent than what the criminal beside Jesus qualified for.

To know for sure what the mind of the Father or the Son is, is difficult to discern. So I leave it up to them as to what is righteous and fair or not. I have complete faith and confidence in their judgement.

But I think we have a reasonable and plausible, if not even likely idea, of who might end up on earth and who might end up in heaven. But never should anyone think that they can just get by with a minimal obedience to God. That could cost you any sort of salvation. To know a command and not obey it is a very serious sin. As I said, God will certainly not rob us of any joy or pleasure without giving us a better one in its place. If there is not a better or equal one, we will get the one we had.

But I think it safe to say that regardless of which reward we receive, it will be great indeed, and better than we ever could have imagined. Life will be what it was originally intended to be. God's grand purpose will finally be realized. Then if more surprises and exciting things are revealed in the distant future, all the better. But let us be sure to endure to the end at all cost so that we do get some sort of reward from our heavenly Father and not miss out altogether. Amen.

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The Bible mentions 2 resurrections. In particular, it speaks of the first resurrection and we are left to assume the other "dead" constitute the 2nd one and come to life, so to speak, after the 1000 years have ended. In a sense, you could say there are 3 resurrections, the heavenly one, the earthly resurrection of the just, and then the resurrection of the unjust as well. In addition to all these are the ones who do not die at Armageddon but remain on earth. So we have 3 groups on earth. None of the resurrections take place till Jesus' return on the last day, Armageddon. There is no life or living of the dead until that time. That is very much a contrast from what is taught by many today. The dead are non-existent. Of course, some will wonder about the appearance of Samuel to Saul, and Elijah and Moses to Jesus. They were not actually those people but were visions given by God. Those in heaven are there to bring the earth and those on it to perfection, which was God's intention from the beginning. That should be apparent by the Related Articles and from the Theme of the Ages page. Any questions or doubts? Drop me a note.

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