Does God give "second chances" after death?
That is a great question. Many Christians assume they already know the answer because they were never taught any other view. Many times in these blogs I like it that you have some self-discovery as we go, but today I am going to make a statement about the resurrection and the judgment which go together in the scripture, and what I believe it means, THEN we will see if it fleshes out.
In order to answer your question, we need to look at the resurrection and the judgment. In AD 70 was “THE judgement” not a judgment. It was the judgment of the living and the dead. The living, in that the judgment of the Law ended the old covenant system, and was a natural, this life, in-their-physical-bodies-kind-of judgment. For the judgment of the dead, it was a raising out of Hades, the abode of the dead, and into heaven.
Which leads to the answer to the question. How many were raised out of Hades in AD 70 into heaven? All.
All? Yes. It looks like God gives "second chances" after all... even after death. Most Christians actually believe this too because they believe babies and people in the jungles of Africa who have never heard the gospel will somehow get a second chance. Right?
Before you tag me a heretic, and comment on Facebook why not see if the evidence holds up. Let’s see if that plays out in scripture ok?
I. WHEN WAS THE RESURRECTION AND THE JUDGMENT GOING TO TAKE PLACE?
Paul uses this word tense méllō, which means "ABOUT TO, ON THE VERGE OF", in 2 Timothy 4:1, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who (is about to) judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom."
Again in a similar context in Mt. 16:27-28, "For the Son of Man is [about] to come in the glory of His Father with His angels and reward each man according to his deeds. Assuredly I say to you there are some standing here who WILL NOT TASTE death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Notice what Paul teaches: He has fixed a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness. (Acts 17: 31) Romans 14:10-12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat…so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” But in the previous chapter, Romans 13, he tells us when that judgment was going to take place “It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.” (Romans 13: 11-12)
(Acts 24: 15) having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous; (YLT)
Even the Governor Felix knew about It: As he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment about to come. (Acts 24: 25)
1 Peter 4:17, "For the time is come that THE judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at US, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
So this resurrection was something to take place AFTER the resurrection of Christ, but it was to take place sometime in their NEAR future. Not 2000 years later.
II. WHAT WAS THE NATURE OF THAT JUDGMENT?
According to Paul in Corinthians the judgment was going to take place in the body, i.e. based on what they did physically in the here and now. So if they were still alive, it would mean in their physical bodies. Allow the simplicity of that to sweep away the clouds of confusion. This is of course played out in history when THE judgment of Jerusalem and the Old Covenant system took place.
Remember judgment can mean separation, and not necessarily punishment. God separated the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, and the wheat from the chaff by giving them a choice to trust Christ and leave the OC system, or stay in the city and they would die in the fires of Jerusalem by the hand of Rome.
The ones who trusted Christ avoided that wrath while they were alive. But that isn't all. They were promised a reward, not in heaven when they die where God gives out some kind of spiritual trophies for good behavior, but the reward of a 100 fold return on everything they lost.
Mark 10:29-30, "And Jesus answering said, `Verily I say to you, there is no one who left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for my sake, and for the good news',
who may not receive an HUNDREDFOLD NOW in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and fields, WITH PERSECUTION, and in the age that is coming, life age-during [the life of the kingdom age];" (YLT)
Their "reward" was to recieve back all that was lost, and to be able to ENTER the AGE of the KINGDOM after AD 70.
What was the nature of the judgement of the dead? Please read my article The Healing of Hades and the End of the Lake of Fire. We saw that Jesus was in Hades preaching the gospel, and the Father’s nature to everyone there. He was faced with the pains of death…the soul-death experiences of all humanity, but he spoke the truth to their death, the truth of the Father’s heart.
So what was the judgment of the dead? It was in their day, as Peter saw it was at hand and God was ready, on the verge. "They will give an account to Him who is READY to judge the living and the dead. For this reason THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED also to THOSE WHO ARE DEAD, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, BUT LIVE according to God in the spirit. For the end of all things is at hand." (1 Peter 4:5-7). Was Jesus preaching the gospel to people who were dead? Yes. Is that not a "second chance"?
There is more...
III. WHAT WAS THE NATURE OF THE RESURRECTION?
The clearest teaching on the resurrection is found in 1 Cor. 15. I have a more extensive article if you want more info called What's Your View of the Resurrection? This section could get real deep, real fast. So I'll try to be brief.
First of all I need you to see that 1 Corinthians is about raising the dead out of Hades in their day, not ours. Paul finishes by saying,
54 So WHEN this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O HADES, where is your victory?”
Now Paul gives us another TIME statement, “when” this exchange happens at the resurrection in AD 70 from corruptible, mortal bodies, to immortality, then will be the fulfillment of Isaiah 25:8, and Hosea 13:14:
Isaiah 25:8, “He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken.”
The context of Isaiah 25 is the destruction of Jerusalem, when God would turn over the city to strangers (vs 1-3). Chapter 27 reveals that it would be when the altar would be turned into chalk stone (27:9), fulfilled in the fires of AD 70. Is. 25 is also the time in history when the Law would be removed. Paul called the Law a veil that hindered people from perceiving who God really was in Christ. Isaiah prophesied, “And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.”
In addition he quotes Hosea 13:14, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave [Hades-Sheol], I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.” Hades-Sheol, the abode of the dead, would be emptied and destroyed. Never again would there be a separation or an intermediate state of any kind.
Now back to the main text of the resurrection out of Hades...
1 Cor. 15:35 But someone will say, “HOW ARE THE DEAD RAISED UP? AND WITH WHAT BODY DO THEY COME?”...So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15)
So Paul said their bodies were sown into the ground as a terrestrial body, one that is earthly. But just like there is a difference between an earthy glory and the glory of a star, so there is a difference between the physical body and the spiritual one. The physical body is sown in corruption, in other words it dies and is eaten by worms and turns to dust. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. It is sown as a natural body in weakness and dishonor, but it is raised in glory and in a spiritual body.
Please have intellectually honestly here since these words are plain. Our hearts have an image of what that body should be like, but Paul tells us exactly what it would be. Those in Hades were brought out with this body...
SPIRITUAL: Original Word: πνευματικός, ή, όν; Transliteration: pneumatikos; Definition: spiritual. Helps Word-Studies: 4152 pneumatikós (an adjective, derived from 4151 /pneúma, "spirit") – spiritual; relating to the realm of spirit, i.e. the invisible sphere in which the Holy Spirit imparts faith, reveals Christ, etc.
This is the INVISIBLE body, just like the Holy Spirit is invisible. He is real, a person, but he cannot be seen with the naked eye! Just like angels, who are real, but they are invisible, and have a spiritual body. Your resurrection body is spiritual, invisible, and real… but not some hybrid mix of spiritual and resurrected flesh.
45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man Is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
NATURAL FIRST, THEN THE SPIRITUAL: The order of this again is very clear. It is not natural, then spiritual, then a hybrid natural/spiritual body later. He mentions only two… a natural body first, and then a spiritual body last. No intermediate state of any kind! This is unavoidably clear.
This is nothing new as it is seen in many other passages revealing shadow and reality. There is the natural Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem which is above (Gal. 4:26 ). Christ came in the flesh, but his second coming was to be spiritual-in the clouds (Mt. 16:27-28). There was Elijah and then the “spirit of Elijah” (Luke 1:16-18). The natural first, and then the spiritual. Our lives? The natural body first, then the spiritual.
As we have borne the image of Adam and his physical nature, so we shall bear the image of the HEAVENLY man. Remember we are speaking of resurrection here. The resurrection we are to bear resembles the one who is from heaven.
The heavenly image we are to experience? The word heaven is epouranios: which means of heaven or fit for heaven. Original Word: ἐπουράνιος, ον; Transliteration: epouranios; Phonetic Spelling: (ep-oo-ran'-ee-os) Definition: heavenly, celestial, in the heavenly sphere, the sphere of spiritual activities; met: divine, spiritual.
HELPS Word-studies: 2032 epouránios (an adjective, derived from 1909 /epí, "on, fitting," which intensifies 3772 /ouranós, "heaven") [The prefix (epi) shows this always "fits" – from the standpoint of heaven.]
I hear people suggest that "evil" people (based on their standard) would not be "fit" for heaven. But do you see it? The ones raised out of Hades were raised with an invisible spiritual body fit for heaven like was glimpsed in Jesus at the Transfiguration when the light within Jesus shone gloriously bright! (Mt. 17:1-2) Perfect people don't go to heaven. Imperfect people are made "fit" for the heavenly realm. According to Paul, God "justifies the ungodly" (Rom 4:5).
IV. HOW MANY WERE RAISED FROM THE DEAD INTO HEAVEN?
The portion you have all been waiting for! This is the same chapter, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, (NLT), So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man.
It had already begun because Christ was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father, and when he was raised we were ALL raised together with him, spiritually or in a representative sense (See Eph. 2).
Notice he is still talking about resurrection in the next verse…
22, For as indeed in Adam ALL die, so also in Christ ALL will be made alive. (Berean Literal Bible)
“For just as by Adam ALL people die, IN THIS WAY ALSO by The Messiah they ALL LIVE. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
As EVERYONE dies because of Adam, so also EVERYONE will be made alive because of Christ. (God’s Word Translation)
Everyone was in ADAM. Everyone experienced his soul-death-separation. But ALL were also in Christ, because in the incarnation he represents ALL humanity. Certainly you don't think the failure of Adam is greater than the victory of Christ? Everyone would be transformed, transfigured into the same glorious spiritual invisible body that Christ has on his throne! They were all made "fit" for heaven. The same form that we saw on the mount of transfiguration.
How many? Everybody!!!! That means that even if you dismiss everything else in this blog, you are still stuck with the plain truths of this section.
Just so we aren’t taking that from one single verse: Notice again what Peter says about that…
They will give an account to Him who is READY to judge the living and the dead. For this reason THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED also to THOSE WHO ARE DEAD, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, BUT LIVE according to God in the spirit. For the end of all things is at hand." (1 Peter 4:5-7)
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (NIV)
That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead--SO ALTHOUGH THEY WERE DESTINED TO DIE LIKE ALL PEOPLE, they NOW LIVE FOREVER with God in the Spirit. (NLT)
The whole idea that no one could have a second chance after death is not found in the bible. The opposite is true he healed the darkness of every person in Hades. Paul said ALL would be raised and ALL who were dead in Hades in that day were made alive to/with God. For more please read the article The Healing of Hades and the End of the Lake of Fire.
CONCLUSION: WHAT ABOUT US TODAY?
As the masterful theologian Karl Barth recognized our brotherhood because of reconciliation, we already all belong to him. (See Is God the Father of Us All) The whole idea of a "second chance" isn't really a legitimate question anyway because as Jesus said, "You did not chose me, I chose you." In his death, burial and resurrection he already reconciled the whole world to himself. Even if some don't know it yet. We preach this good news so that others can know God and experience the reconciliation that he already accomplished!
- Humanity was reconciled while still acting like an enemy (Romans 5:10) therefore it was not based on our actions or will.
- All were reconciled by God not counting the sins of the cosmos against them (2 Cor 5:19), a fact that hasn't changed, and a fact to be believed. Believing doesn't make it true. It is already true.
- All this is God's work who reconciled us to Himself through Christ (2 Cor 5:18). You played no part at all.
- He made peace by reconciling all groups of Jew and Gentile into one person, in the incarnation of Christ (Eph 2:16). There are no walls between us except imaginary ones we create.
- He reconciled everything (all things) in heaven and earth (Colossians 1:20). That leaves out no one and includes everyone.
- Even those who thought they were enemies in their own minds were reconciled (Col 1:21). Your thinking cannot create or destroy it.
- We are ambassadors to announce this truth that has already been accomplished (2 Cor 5:19).
- Our only role is to receive in our hearts the message that is already true, to live as if it is true, to "be" reconciled (2 Cor 5:20). Being is not doing.
So what happens to us when WE die?
The dead in Christ rose first (out of Hades in their day). Who was in Christ? ALL! How many lived with God who were dead in Hades? All according to what we just read of Peter. And then Paul goes on in 1 Thess. 5:17 Then we who are alive and remain...
That small word, "then" has huge implications. In fact, it destroys the rapture idea altogether!
There are two Greek words for "then": Strongs 1534, εἶτα, eita. Strongs #1899, ἔπειτα, epeita
Eita, "then" means immediately following a sequence of events. It means right after.
Epeita is eita with a prefix giving it the idea of "then afterwords". It means some period of time later. For example: Galatians 1:18, "THEN (epeita) after 3 years..." Galatians 2:1, "THEN (epeita)14 years later..."
Paul says that after the dead in Christ rise (spiritually from Hades) first, THEN (epeita) IN SOME INDEFINITE PERIOD IN THE FUTURE... we who are alive and remain will be caught up together.
This, without question, places a definite unknown time gap between the two. This is decidedly not an end of the world passage. Keep reading and it will all come together.
Then We...Will be CAUGHT UP together with them...
The Greek word that some call rapture, is Strongs #726 harpázō – properly, seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively – like someone seizing bounty (spoil, a prize). When you die, God will lay hold of you as his precious prize!
Remember the language: first is clouds and second is meet in the the air. The cloud language is imagery for the glory cloud of God in the temple. It is the cloud that was in the natural temple through the burning of incense by the priests. It was the cloud that came at the dedication of the temple under Solomon. It is the same temple cloud into which Jesus ascended in Acts 1. "Air" is the same word used to describe the "prince of the power of the air", undoubtedly not the natural but spiritual atmosphere. This definitively defines it as a spiritual event.
AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD…
You are not coming back in a different form… but caught up in the cloud JUST like Jesus was as he entered the heavenly realm! To FOREVER be in heaven where in his presence there is fullness of joy and at his right hand pleasures evermore. (For more on the Rapture click here)
Conccerned about the justice of this view?
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