Christian Churches of God
The Fallacy of the Third Resurrection
(Edition 3.0 19960609-19990809-20071229-20080823)
The resurrection from the dead is the future hope of Christians who do not believe in the Immortal Soul doctrine adopted by the Church of Rome from pagan philosophy, centuries after the time of Jesus and the Apostles. However, there is disagreement over the number and nature of the resurrections, namely, who participates and how, and with what end result. This paper promotes the doctrine of two resurrections for humans, the first for those called and chosen before that event, immediately followed by the Millennium paradise, and a second resurrection at the end of the thousand years. Special treatment is given to Herbert Armstrong’s doctrine of a third and later resurrection.
The Fallacy of the Third Resurrection
In the paper entitled The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143) the subject of the Nephilim and the pre‑Adamic race was discussed. It was seen there that the resurrection is denied to those beings (Isa. 26:13-14). There is thus a distinction in the application of the doctrine of the Resurrection, which has been manipulated for the purpose of control of socio-economic groups. The control of people in this life has often been accomplished by their expectations regarding the after-life. The most insidious process of control ever exercised within Christianity or pseudo-Christianity was through the implementation of the Soul doctrine introduced through the Mystery cults and Gnosticism to the Catholic Church. This then resulted in the development of the doctrines of the ‘state of the dead’, which encompassed the doctrines of Heaven and Hell and also the intermediary states concerning Limbo and Purgatory.
These doctrines rest on the view of the immortality of the soul – which is both Greek and Babylonian – through the Mystery cults. These premises have been examined in the paper The Soul (No. 92). None of these doctrines is central to Christianity, and we know from the second-century works that they were developed from Gnosticism and became pseudo-Christianity. The doctrine of Purgatory stems from the belief of the Western Church that sins committed after baptism must be expiated by suffering. This view forms the basic penitential discipline of the church. The view was developed by Gregory I, who established the Holy Roman Empire from 590 CE. Gregory I taught:
… that the sacrifice of the Mass avails to atone for the sins of the dead as well as the living, and thus to abridge the time of purgatorial torment or secure release from it, and this is the doctrine of the Western Church. (The Greek and Oriental churches have no such doctrine) (see Moore, History of Religions, T. & T. Clark, Vol. 2, pp. 230-231).
This view of the individual and its state after death was used for the control of the masses, and for the extraction of funds in that process. Such a view was not present in the Churches of God until the twentieth century, when a particularly insidious doctrine was introduced in order to control the members of one of the Churches of God. That doctrine was the doctrine of the ‘Third Resurrection’. It was introduced by Herbert W. Armstrong into the Radio Church of God, which later became the Worldwide Church of God. He taught that those people who had been baptised and entered the Church and then left were consigned to the third resurrection. This resurrection was not of judgment; it was purely of condemnation, and that all those who had been baptised and then left the Church had blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and as such they were to be resurrected in order to be thrown into the lake of fire. They then suffered eternal damnation. This extraordinary piece of blasphemy against the nature of God was taught by the ministry of that Church, in order to control the behaviour of the members which, of course, they managed quite well through the manipulation of the congregation by fear and behavioural conditioning that we would now class as brainwashing.
In spite of the fact that that Church understood the resurrection of the dead, the ability to impose such a doctrine on the Church is a remarkable feat. The view was achieved by the manipulation of Scripture against the plain meaning of the words. Before we examine the process of how this was achieved, it is important that we review the doctrine of the ‘resurrection of the dead’ from paper No. 143.
The Resurrection of the Dead
The resurrections are discussed from Isaiah 26:13-14 and follow on into the time-frame outlined in Isaiah 26:15-18.
Isaiah 26:15-18 Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, Thou hast increased the nation: Thou art glorified: Thou hast removed it far unto all the ends of the earth. 16 Lord, in trouble have they visited Thee, they poured out a prayer when Thy chastening was upon them. 17 Like as a woman with child that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in Thy sight O Lord. 18 We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
The nation of Israel is here being increased. This is the future nation of Matthew 21:43. This nation was the woman that travailed as in childbirth in Revelation 12:17, where the seed of the woman was Jew and Gentile, and all of Israel. They did not, however, bring any deliverance. They did not convince the Gentiles to accept the Law, and did not save the world. The Dragon tried to destroy them with the flood of his mouth, but he also failed.
The significant aspect here is that Isaiah is saying that the elect failed to bring deliverance to the Earth, or to bring the Earth to repentance, or to destroy its systems. This sequence is immediately prior to the end as is the next text (Isa. 26:19ff.) and goes on to discuss the resurrection.
Isaiah 26:19-21 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. 20 Come, My People, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation is overpast. 21 For behold the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood and shall no more cover her slain.
We go from the Rephaim (or Nephilim) not having a resurrection, and at verse 19 we talk about a resurrection. So it is making a distinction between the Rephaim and the descendants who are those of the creation of God. The period of the prophecy is over the term called the Times of the Gentiles and spans an enormous period of history. The end of this period deals with a number of concepts. The resurrection of the dead is grouped. Isaiah refers to the dead at the end of the period of the world systems as being God's dead men, and that he also was with them in that resurrection. Thus the prophets are in the First Resurrection. Secondly, the People of God then enter into chambers prepared for them and the doors are shut about them. This is the shutting of the doors referred to in Matthew 25:1ff., where the parable of the wise and foolish virgins was used to show that the wise virgins – the elect who are full of the Spirit, those virgins referred to in Revelation 14:4 – enter the doors of the Kingdom and the doors are shut behind them and nobody can get in.
That is the hour of trial that comes upon all the Earth, and from which the Philadelphian system is protected. The Laodicean system and the foolish virgins and the Sardis system do not go into that protection. Those two churches do not go into the First Resurrection. Only a very few of them enter. So these people enter the chambers and they become the Temple of God. These texts interrelate to Revelation 7:3 where the Earth and sea were not to be hurt until the servants of the Lord were sealed. These were sealed for the nation of Israel referred to in Isaiah 26:19ff. above. These elect of God were grouped with the Lamb until the nations were overthrown. The time-frame of this prophecy deals with the Day of the Lord which covers the period of one thousand years from the First Resurrection until the Second Resurrection when the Earth discloses its blood and no more covers its slain. Thus Isaiah 26:19-21 covers the one-thousand years of Revelation 20:4ff., called the Millennium. So we don’t need the New Testament to know that the Millennium is a thousand years and the span of the resurrections follow. The concept flows from the Old Testament. Both Testaments say the same thing.
The State of the Dead
Contrary to the Soul doctrine, which seeks to undermine the concept of the resurrection, the state of the dead is silence (Ps. 115:17) and darkness (Ps. 143:3). There is no eternally existing soul. One fate comes to all people (Eccl. 9:3). The dead know nothing (Eccl. 9:5). The dead wait on the Lord.
Some of the ancient dead have no resurrection (Isa. 26:14). This is examined in the paper The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143).
The dead of the saints are termed sleeping or those who have fallen asleep (see Mat. 9:24; Lk. 8:52; Jn. 11:11; 1Cor. 11:30; 15:6,18,51; 1Thes. 4:13,15; 2Pet. 3:4).
God does work wonders for the dead and the dead rise up to praise Him (Ps. 88:10). His steadfast love is declared from the grave (Ps. 88:11) when the dead are resurrected. For Job knew that his Redeemer lives (Job 19:25) and at last he will stand upon the Earth. After Job had been destroyed, he knew that from his flesh he would see God, who would be on his side, and his eyes should see Him and not another['s eyes] (Job 19:25-27) (This reference is to the resurrection and the translation of Job. It is not a reference to him meeting God in the flesh but to the resurrection of Job to his flesh, rather than any reincarnation concept.)
Christ raised the dead that we might know that he is the Messiah (Mat. 11:4-5). Lazarus was an example of this power (Jn. 11:11). The other comment is that when he was crucified there were others raised from the dead at his death. The traditions of Israel at that time were that they were killed. This concept of the resurrection as attributed to the Messiah was well known and expected (Mat. 14:2).
It was understood that we should not all sleep, but that we should all be changed at the last trumpet (1Cor. 15:51). Hence the brethren will pass over generations and fall asleep, but at the Last Days the Messiah will come while others of the saints live. Thus, all will be changed into immortal spiritual bodies (1Cor. 15:44ff.). Those who have fallen asleep will be raised. Those who are alive and are left until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep (1Thes. 4:13-15). The Lord will descend from Heaven with the Archangel's call and the sound of the trumpet of God and the dead will rise first and we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together and thus always be with the Lord (1Thes. 4:16-17).
From the resurrection, the millennial rule of the saints will commence. The saints will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26-27). There are a number of symbols in the rod. The rod has power to smash the nations as vessels of clay, and also does not bend or break as do the reeds. Egypt was likened unto a reed, which snapped and speared the hand of Israel when Israel leaned on it. When they lean on us, our rod will not snap.
There is no person who has been resurrected and gone to Heaven other than Christ Jesus who came down from Heaven (Jn. 3:13). The view that the people resurrected from the tombs at the death of Christ (Mat. 27:52-53) and went with him on his ascension as part of the Wave-Sheaf offering is quite erroneous and dangerous as a doctrine (for example see Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 1, p. 173).
The saints await the resurrection at the return of Christ.
In the resurrection there will be no marriage (Mat. 22:30). The saints are raised as spiritual entities. That is the day when we will all be divorced. All who are married will simply be divorced. That is the only necessary divorce. We are all going to be divorced and married to Christ, each one of us. There is no sex, no male or female, just spiritual bodies who will all become spirit-begotten sons of God, all working with Christ in power. Christ died for us so that when we wake from sleep we might live with him (1Thes. 5:10).
It is important that we understand that only the righteous pertain to the First Resurrection. Righteousness (tsedek) and justice (tsedek) are the same word in Hebrew. Thus, the unrepented perversion of justice precludes the elect from the First Resurrection.
The Punishment of the Wicked
Mankind is subject to a system of righteous training. It is God's desire that no flesh should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2Pet. 3:9). If God took back His Spirit then all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust (Job 34:15). Thus, the soul would be non-existent.
The whole of mankind not raised at the First Resurrection – which is a better resurrection (Heb. 11:35) – will be raised from the dead at the Second Resurrection, after the millennial reign of Messiah. This process is a period of judgment that appears to extend over 100 years (Isa. 65:20). The life of man was 120 years (Gen. 6:3), but under Moses it was shortened to seventy years (cf. Ps. 90:10). For the Second Resurrection it will be 120 years, based on being resurrected as a complete adult, and then 100 years of judgment to correction.
As the people die, if they are converted, they are translated. If they do not repent and convert and they do not enter into the Kingdom of God, they simply die and their bodies are burned. The resurrection of judgment (Jn. 5:29) is one of correction and teaching so that all mankind might be prepared to receive eternal life. The word for judgment (krisis, rendered damnation in the KJV) has the meaning of decision. The sense is that of correction, stemming from opinions or decisions given concerning actions. In other words, this judgment is a critique of action which then corrects human action over the period. So it is judgment of activity, being then corrected to right activity. It is not damnation but correction leading to life. It can carry the concept of punishment or of retribution. However, the general populace that has not had the opportunity of knowing God can hardly be punished for that fact. The wicked shall be subjected to intensive training. If they do not repent after the period of one hundred years allowed from the Second Resurrection, they will be allowed to die and their bodies will be destroyed by Gehenna fire (Mat. 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mk. 9:43,45,47; Lk. 12:5; Jas. 3:6).
There are three words in the New Testament which are translated as hell. These are Hades (SGD 86), which approximates Sheol (SHD 7585), or the pit or the grave – the place where dead bodies are placed. The second text is Gehenna (SGD 1067), which is of Hebrew origin for the Valley of Hinnom. This was a rubbish pit where refuse and dead animals from Jerusalem were burnt. Thus, Christ used it figuratively in referring to the disposal of the dead, both body and soul (Mat. 10:28), after judgment. The third is Tartaros (SGD 5020), which is the abyss where the angels were confined after the rebellion.
The eternal punishment (kolasin: a penal infliction, Strong) referred to in Matthew 25:46 is in opposition to eternal life. It is simply death.
The sense of punishment, such as in timoria in Hebrews 10:29, stems from the sense of vindication. 2Corinthians 2:6 uses the word epitimia from esteem as citizenship. Hence, punishment has the sense of removal of esteem as a citizen.
Thus, there is no place of eternal torment of the dead. The saints will be called to the First Resurrection to do a job of teaching in the Millennium so that the demons might be judged against their performance, and the world might have a comparative standard by which it might measure the results. God sees that justice is done and God chooses the weak and the base to bring us into a standard where the demons are measured against us. Satan was measured against Christ. Christ was brought to a standard in human flesh, and Satan as a spirit being was measured against Christ as a man in the weak form. So out of the weakness that Christ assumed, the Host in all its power and the head of the demonic Host in all its power were measured. In the same way the fallen Host – the demons under Satan – are all measured against us. We are the standard. That is why the Accuser of the brethren is continually accusing us, because the more accusations heaped against us the more they are mitigated in judgment.
To achieve the standard by which the fallen Host are to be judged, Satan must be bound in the bottomless pit for the Millennium. To get a fair comparison we have to put Satan and the demons away.
The Millennium is there so that we can perform our duties unhindered by the demons. Satan will be released again to deal with those at the end of the Millennium who have not seen the previous devastation. By then the planet is going to be rotten with self-righteousness because they won’t have sinned or have seen sin in the same way that we experience the problem.
Revelation 20:1-10 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. 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.
All these people were either killed or persecuted and placed under a system that required them to resist. There is no absence of persecution. If we are in the First Resurrection, we have the judgment. We have been persecuted.
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. 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. (RSV)
These will not die in the sense that they are judged now. The rest of the world is not judged now. So only those in the First Resurrection are judged now. That is the process of measurement and correction. The elect go through the sequence portrayed by the Temple.
The measurements reflect the Jubilee system of each seven years, going through the same cycle until the elect are brought up to a position where God can put them into the First Resurrection. The First Resurrection, yet to occur, is of a small group of people in comparison to the Second or general Resurrection. The first group do not face the prospect of a second death.
The Second Resurrection of the Dead
The rest of the world will be raised and corrected under supervision at the Second Resurrection.
Revelation 20:11-13 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. (RSV)
Every man and woman is to give an account before God of what they do. These people are given repentance then. They will simply go through the process of what they did. That will be their time of judgment. Those of this group who do not repent and follow the Laws of God will simply be allowed to die the second death, and their bodies will then be burnt. This is the ‘gehenna fire’ of which the Gospels speak. This is the rubbish pit outside of Jerusalem where they burnt unwanted refuse. All beings not in the First Resurrection face this Second Resurrection of the dead.
So the devil, evil, death and the grave are concepts; they are not people. The being Lucifer was once perfect and will be so again. The concepts are aspects of existence and they are all thrown into the lake of fire. They are consumed. So we are not throwing individuals into the lake of fire. The Beast is a system of government. Also, there is not a false prophet, but false prophecy. All these concepts, the Beast system of government, democracy as it’s implemented, political parties and structures, are thrown into the lake of fire. Evil under the demonic Host is thrown into the lake of fire. They are consumed as concepts. Nobody goes into eternal torment, not Satan, not the fallen Host in any one of their elements, and not any living thing. There is no individual ever persecuted by God, neither of the heavenly Host nor of the human Host. God is not a sadist. He is a God of mercy and justice. Hence, He simply allows things to die. The demonic Host will be removed and reduced to human beings in the Second Resurrection. They will then be dealt with and they will repent (and most of them will repent) or they will then be allowed to die. It is probable that not one single person or spirit being of the entire creation of God will perish – because it is not God’s will that we perish. Satan, as well as every human being, will be given repentance and we will convince them all.
The wicked alive at the return of Messiah will be killed (i.e. allowed to kill themselves; Mal. 4:3) and consigned to the Second Resurrection.
This was the punishment inflicted on Judah because of their rejection of Christ. They were the sons of the Kingdom who were thrown into outer darkness (Mat. 8:12). They were consigned to the Second Resurrection instead of partaking of the divine nature (2Pet. 1:4) and the First Resurrection. These were not chosen to partake of the First Resurrection. Many are called but few are chosen to undertake this task (Mat. 22:13-14). Many who espouse Christ, but who mistreat his elect or who are not diligent (Mat. 25:30), will in fact be consigned to the Second Resurrection (Mat. 24:51; 25:30), for many are excluded (Lk. 13:26); and even those in the First Resurrection are relocated in order of precedence (Lk. 13:30).
The so-called Third Resurrection
The Third Resurrection was an invention of the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert Armstrong. The WCG only ever used the text in Revelation 20 as justification. However, one person coming from that organisation has started to misuse the texts in John 5:2-29 to claim the resurrection of Krisis or judgment referred to above is a resurrection to Damnation which is quite incorrect as we have seen above. The argument is then used to claim that the account of torment in Luke 16:19-31 is a reference to the Third Resurrection. This argument was never used in WCG as an account and is a complete fabrication.
19 "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz'arus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom. 24 And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' 25 But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz'arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' 27 And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' 29 But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' 30 And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31 He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"
This text is held to be a reference to the death of Lazarus being in the First Resurrection, which is allegedly pictured as being in Abraham’s bosom.
The rich man also dies but it is not simply that the unconverted are sent to the Second Resurrection, as has been the teaching of the COGs for two thousand years. It is argued that: because the man is pictured as being in torment, and therefore he must be in a resurrection, hence it must be the Third Resurrection, where the man is then argued illogically to be cast into the Lake of Fire. However the text is clear that the man is still in the grave, which has been translated as “hell” by the Trinitarians but conveniently used as the Third Resurrection to the Lake of Fire even though the man is clearly still in the grave. It is reasoned that this cannot be the Second Resurrection, as the Second Resurrection does not involve torment.
This argument is against the words of the text and the function of the Second Resurrection. The entire Second Resurrection is left for one thousand years in the grave and then resurrected to correction, believed to be over 100 years. If that is not serious and determined correction, where the Bible clearly states people weep and gnash their teeth being in anguish because they have missed the First Resurrection, one might ask what is. This argument is seriously incoherent and nonsensical being adopted so as not to have to admit being completely in error and illogical over the entire end term of the WCG period of operations. The text clearly refers to the fact that the people are in the Second Resurrection because they did not listen to Moses and the prophets and they will not believe Christ when he is risen from the dead also and that is the stated lesson of the text.
The justification used for the Third Resurrection was Revelation 20 and nothing else.
It is here from Revelation 20:11-13 that the concept of a ‘third resurrection’ is alleged to be given. It appears that the text is split into two aspects. The assertion is made that the sea giving up its dead is another resurrection process – referred to as the third resurrection.
Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (KJV)
We see from Revelation 20:11 that the Great White Throne judgment involves the general resurrection. The Book of Life here acts as a record of the activities of human beings. The assertion that verse 13 mentions a different resurrection to that referred to in verses 11-12 is absurd. The plain meaning of the text is that all the dead, either from the sea or from the grave, i.e. death and Hell or Sheol (which is the grave or pit), delivered up their dead. The reference to the sea and to death and Hades shows that the term Hades refers to the earthly grave in opposition to the watery grave. The concepts and actuality of death and Hell or the grave are the things that were cast into the lake of fire, which acts as the second death. Hence, it can be said that death and Hell here are cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (Rev. 20:14).
Those not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). The people who were not written in the Book of Life thus die the second death. From this text, there is a systematic process seen to be operative which follows the First Resurrection, where it was found that the saints were in the Book of Life of the Lamb. From the omniscience of God we see that this book was written from the foundation of the world. This is not simply that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, but that the Plan of God saw those of the creation and they were written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world. Thus the omniscience of God transcends the creation. The elect were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; see RSV) and the Gentiles were also written there (Rev. 13:8).
The Book of Life thus contains all of those who are to attain to eternal life. The entire process of human activity is contained therein. The only difference is that the sequence in which the human race attains to eternal life is a progressive and systematic process. God’s will is to be done. It is not God’s will that any flesh should perish. If that is His will, then it will be done. The only factor in consideration is when it will be done. All flesh will be saved.
The texts say, however, that those not found written into the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire. This implies that there is a possibility that some will perish. They might perish, but it is God’s will that they do not perish. Thus, the means of their salvation will be provided. Be that as it may, the assertion of a third resurrection, which is purely for the resurrection and destruction of those individuals who fail their test, is indeed an odious imputation against God.
We see from the above texts that all things cast into the lake of fire simply die and the lake of fire acts as a disposal. The question of the people not found written in the Book of Life being cast into the lake of fire is the hinge point on which the doctrine was written.
The viewpoint of the proponents of the third resurrection is that all those not written in the Book of Life are simply resurrected and cast into the lake of fire.
How does this concept impugn the omniscience and omnipotence of God and the goodness and righteousness of God? The first problem is that the activities of the elect are not determined by them nor is their understanding their own. The concept of predestination is specifically aimed at the interaction of God with His chosen.
Romans 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (KJV)
The sequence is clear from this text.
1. God foreknew the elect. This is the activity of His omniscience. The Divine prescience determined who would be called and when they would be called.
2. From this activity of His omniscience, they were predestined to be conformed to the image of His son. In other words, they would be conformed in His image as Christ was. There is thus a determined commonality of form with Jesus Christ.
3. God then called those whom He predestined. The elect have no control over when their minds were opened to the Truth, and when they might be called into His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.
4. Those whom God called, He also justified through the activity of Christ. There is no justification required by them outside of the activities under the Holy Spirit in obedience to God’s will, as expressed in His Law and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
5. Having been justified, they are then glorified.
There is no process by which those that God has foreknown can fail to be brought to glorification. Thus, all things work together for the good for those that God has called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
This doctrine is central to the Faith and is often misunderstood by those who would pervert the Laws of God through antinomianism. However, it is the undeniable activity of God in His people.
For this reason the third-resurrection doctrine is so insidious. It strikes at the very aspects or attributes of God which make Him God.
1. The doctrine assumes that God calls people who fail. This is a misunderstanding of the statement by Christ that many are called but few are chosen (Mat. 22:14). The assumption here is that God calls many and then rejects the greater part, and those rejected are then destroyed. This view is insidious heresy. The Love of God is greater than the understanding of men, and praise to God that it is so. The fact is that many hear the message and are brought into the Faith and fall by the way. This is the thrust of the Parable of the Sower. God gives His Spirit to those who ask and they are allowed to develop it. It is taken away from those who do not follow His Law and the Testimony of His Messiah whom He sent.
2. It assumes, as part of the rationale of the doctrine, that people who come into an organisation are part of the Body of Christ only while in that organisation. This is false.
3. Being called is held to be the same as coming into judgment. The called but not chosen are not brought into judgment because God knows that they are not capable of coming into judgment now. Their time of salvation is for a later period.
4. The doctrine of the third resurrection seeks to assert that God called these people and did not know what they would do. They were given an opportunity for which they failed and then they are consigned to the lake of fire.
God foreknows His people and God calls and gives them to Christ. The logic of the argument is that God, by calling someone not ready to come into judgment, is consigning that person to death within a system that He Himself set up. Thus under this system God is not omniscient. He is not omnipotent in that His called and chosen failed. Such a Being that would prejudice the eternal life of His creation logically cannot be perfectly good. From these imputations He can not, therefore, be God.
However, God is omniscient. He is omnipotent, and He is perfectly good. Therefore, the doctrine is false. It stems from a misreading of Scripture and a desire to instil fear and control in the body of the Church. The control is necessary because the major part of those brought into the body of the organisation, as opposed to the Body of Christ, are unconverted and badly educated in the structure of the Faith through false and inadequate paradigms.
The concept that individuals would be consigned to a place of eternal torment is not an Agape thought-process. The judgment of correction is mistranslated damnation in the KJV (Jn. 5:29). In each case (also Mat. 23:33; Mk. 3:29) the term is krisis (SGD 2920). The concept is that of decision or condemnation. The concept of eternal condemnation is that the action affects the individual in the after-life. This is to a number of points. The place of the individual is determined by his/her resurrection. God knows when and how each of us will react to the call. Because of our attitudes we limit the capacity of God to work with us. He will not give salvation to those who are incapable of acting as elohim in the resurrection. Thus, people are not allowed to come into judgment so that they might be saved in the long term. Those who sin in the Church are put out of the Body of Christ so that their lives might be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus (1Cor. 5:5), i.e. the Day of Judgment.
God is thus merciful and acts to save all flesh.
The view that the “unpardonable sin” of blaspheming the Holy Spirit consigns one to the lake of fire is again a misunderstanding of the concept of the unpardonable sin (Mk. 3:29). The view of the Holy Spirit as the power of God shows blasphemy of the Spirit is blasphemy against God. However, the concept is more than simply giving utterance against the Spirit. The problem lies in not recognising the necessity for the action of the Spirit in the sanctification of mankind. The failure to acknowledge and act on the Spirit is unpardonable in that, until repentance, the individual cannot receive repentance and the consequent action of the Holy Spirit in the development and salvation of the individual. The sin is thus unpardonable in that it must be eliminated before salvation is possible. This matter is a complex issue. However, the punishment is not eternal damnation. The place of the individual in the resurrection is, however, altered and, in this sense, the damage is eternal. Those of the First Resurrection have a better resurrection (Heb. 11:35).
All the arguments regarding a third resurrection are based on the misreading of the texts and a misapprehension of the power and will of God.
The doctrine of the third resurrection is based on and stems from the need to control and manipulate groups and individuals for power and money. This is the basis for the earlier doctrines of Limbo and Purgatory within the false paradigm and religion of the Soul doctrine, as established in the so-called orthodox churches. It is the sort of fear and punishment system necessary for control under hierarchical government.
There is no other resurrection or punishment other than the Second or general Resurrection.
The repentant will be granted eternal life with the saints of the First Resurrection and the unrepentant will simply die and their bodies will be burnt. After this, the state or condition of death and the grave, or Hades, will be done away (Rev. 20:14).