Book Entry: Chapter 4
December 14th 2017
Before we study the plan of God and what His Word has to say about the future, it is important for us to know how to communicate to people concerning their personal future. It would be tragic if a person was able to outline what the Bible says about the future of Israel, the future of the world, the Second Coming of Christ, and when it is that the Antichrist will come on the scene, but fail to take into account his or her own future.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Within this chapter, I have chosen to use some of the writings of the apostle John to emphasize some key points. With the verse above, John 5:24, the emphasis is that there are two eternal destinies that are contrasted by our Lord within John’s gospel. Upon your eventual death, keeping in mind that 150,000 people die each day worldwide, you will either come into judgment and experience eternal death, or you will pass out of death into everlasting life. The default setting for this fork-in-the-road that you face is death. That “death” does not imply your annihilation (your ceasing to exist). It actually means eternal separation from God while being tormented within a place that the Bible calls Hell. As harsh as that may sound, it is actually what you deserve as the wages for your sin (Romans 6:23).
What changes your eternal destiny is being one of those who “hears My word, and believes in Him who sent me.” For those of us living within the Church Age, a topic to be discussed in detail in an upcoming chapter, salvation comes to us by hearing, understanding, and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel is recorded in God’s Word and it is something we must genuinely believe in order to inherit eternal life. Romans 1:16 tells us that the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.” Obviously this is a critical subject and it is a subject that we do not want to get wrong. With the stakes being the highest that they can be, our eternal destination, each of us should be asking the question, “well, just what is the gospel?”
The gospel of Jesus Christ is defined for us by the apostle Paul within his first letter to the church at Corinth. Within chapter 15 of that epistle, the apostle Paul states:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1 Corinthian 15:1-4
The elements of the gospel are clearly stated within 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Let’s take note of a number of items from this passage. First, the apostle Paul states in verse 1 that he is declaring THE gospel, not “a” gospel. What is stated within this passage is THE gospel that saves a person during the Church Age. Second, by stating “By which also ye are saved,” Paul is declaring that this is what saves a person – hearing, understanding, and believing the content to the gospel message. Third, the content to Paul’s gospel message is provided to us within verses three and four - Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures … he was buried … and he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Thus, it is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that is the gospel message that brings salvation today.
Paul “received” the gospel and then passed it on as a divine message, not a man-made invention. The gospel is stated to be of first importance and everywhere the apostle Paul went, he preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Do keep in mind, reading beyond verse four, that the message of the gospel is accompanied by certain proofs - Christ died for our sins (this was proved by His burial), He rose again the third day (this was proved by the empty tomb and the eyewitness accounts), and all of this was completed “according to the Scriptures,” making the primary theme of the entire Bible the salvation of mankind through Christ Jesus.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
The gospel of John informs us that all who are dead will one day be resurrected. This includes every single person who has ever lived. Just as Christ Jesus was resurrected – again the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ – so also will every person who has ever lived. This passage also informs us that God has entrusted the future judgment of all to His Son, Jesus Christ.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
This passage tells us that there are two groupings within the resurrection to come. A resurrection of life and a resurrection of damnation (judgment). As discussed previously, there are two eternal destinies and that fact is repeated and further defined within these verses. Unless you are “alive and remain until the coming of the Lord,” the rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), this applies to you. The rapture of the Church will be discussed in detail in an upcoming chapter, but for now, realize that the only two outcomes of this resurrection to come are a resurrection of life or a resurrection of damnation (judgment). The deciding factor as to whether you will be resurrected to life or resurrected to damnation is the gospel of Jesus Christ and whether you believe it or not. The pattern of your life, evident by the deeds you do (fruits – Romans 7:4), will show whether or not you are included among those who hear the words of Jesus and believe His gospel or not.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Those who are “resurrected to life” will take part in the first resurrection, the one that the second death has no power over. Those who are “resurrected to life” will come to life physically and will reign with Christ for a literal 1,000 years.
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. 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. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
If one does not take part in the resurrection of life, they will take part in the resurrection of damnation (judgment). This is labeled by the apostle John in the Book of Revelation as “the second death.” It is further defined within the Book of Revelation as an eternity spent in the lake of fire. Thus, Scripture tells us that there are two groupings within the resurrection to come - a resurrection of life and a resurrection of damnation. The resurrection of damnation leads to an eternity in the lake of fire. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ – truly believing that Jesus Christ came into the world, was crucified, buried, and resurrected three days later – that will keep a person from an eternity spent in the lake of fire.
Before we survey the plan of God for the whole world, I must first ask you what your plans are for after that eventual day of your death? Those plans will be determined for eternity and they will be determined by how you respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ within this life. It is crucial for us to ensure that we do not study Biblical Eschatology without first applying the truth of Scripture and what it has to say about salvation to this life we are living now. Only after coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ can a person be influenced properly by Biblical Eschatology.