In the previous article, we began an exploration of several chapters of scripture that give us some insight into the first and second resurrection—and subsequently—insight into the judgment of God. We focused on Daniel 12 and mentioned relevant scripture in John 5, Matthew 25, Revelation 12, and Revelation 20.
In this article, I want to focus on passages from John 5 and Matthew 25 with a focus on defining what differentiates the first resurrection from the second in terms of the judgment of God.
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
Here we see Jesus stating that the Father has given all judgment to the Son. It is commonly understood among Christians that God gave judgment to the Son because of the suffering Jesus endured. Since Jesus walked in the flesh, he endured temptation as we do, yet without sin. Being without sin, Jesus was a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. His experience in the flesh and the sacrifice of His life makes Jesus uniquely worthy of judging the world. You can read more about that in Hebrews 2.
You might also notice that Jesus mentioned a greater works that he would perform, and in verse 21 we can see that Jesus was referring to the resurrection. The word “quicken” means to make alive.
22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
24 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.
Here we have the stipulation. If we hear the word of Jesus and honor the Son as we do the Father by believing on Jesus, then we will have everlasting life. We will pass from death to life. We will be raised from the dead. When does this happen?
25 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.
26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 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.
Here Jesus is citing the same scripture we read in Daniel 12:2. The reasons the hour is coming, and yet is, is because there is a resurrection we experience as we “take up the cross.” Without that sacrifice, we are at risk of being rejected of the promise of resurrection that leads to everlasting life. Those who are faithful to the teachings of Jesus will “bring forth fruit.” That means we will grow in the things of righteousness and we will die to sin.
Does this mean we will live perfectly? No, but if we aim for a life that mimics Jesus and settle for nothing less, we will grow until the moment we die. There is always room to grow, because none is good like Jesus. Yet, without that focus that “seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” we can become complacent and even become unfruitful in the faith. If we are unfruitful, we might not be receiving grace from God at all, and we might not partake of the first resurrection of life. Instead, if we do evil wantonly, we might find ourselves entering the resurrection of damnation.
30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
If we seek to have the mind of Jesus Christ, we will seek the will of the Father. Though we might struggle with the pleasures of sin for a season, if we truly appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus and seek to learn His ways and keep them, then we are receiving grace. By grace, we are given faith that Jesus forgives our sins.
By grace, we are also given faith that the Spirit, which is Jesus in us, is stronger that the spirits of this world. Through patient continuing, we can die to sin and be raised in newness of life presently. We will be fruitful according to the measure of faith and determination to seek the things of God we are given,“some thirty-fold, some fifty, some one hundred.”
If we take the sacrifice of Jesus and the grace of God for granted, using these as a loophole for living sinfully and escaping judgment, then we are in danger. Jesus does not like loopholes, as we can see in how he talks to the Scribes and Pharisees.
God is not mocked, and those who merely honor Jesus in word but not in deed are going to be judged—not according to grace, but according to their works. You catch glimpses of that in some of the warnings to the churches in Revelation 2-3. That is the judgment we need to take away here. The Lord is merciful, but His mercy has a limit. Many will face judgement who called Jesus Lord with their lips but not their heart (Matthew 7:22-23).
If we love Jesus in sincerity, we cannot help but want to know more about Him. As we seek, we will find. Jesus promised this. He also promised that all things pertaining to our salvation are given by grace through faith—faith that is also given. All things are given to those who God is raising up. So, if we love Jesus, we take comfort in the faithfulness of the Lord and know that we will be fruitful according to what we are given. Even so, the judgment of God stands, and knowing this judgement can help motivate us towards growth.
Matthew 25 includes some very important parables of Jesus that teach us about the judgement of God, and within these we can see the first and second resurrection. Jesus does not specifically call these the “first” and “second” resurrection. However, if we consider what we know so far about the judgment of Jesus, and the fact that He states that there will be resurrection of life and damnation (Daniel 12, John 5), then we can carry that thought through when we read parables that indicate a separation of the just and wicked – or as we see in Matthew 25, “the wise and foolish virgins,” “the faithful and slothful servant,” and “the sheep and the goats.”
The Wise and Foolish Virgins
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
The Faithful and Slothful Servant
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Dividing of the Sheep and the Goats
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Can we see a continuing theme? Those who are faithful to the testimony of Jesus are as the wise virgins. If we are wise virgins, then we will wisely invest our “talent” into something that is profitable for the Kingdom of Heaven. Our talent could be many things according to the measure of faith we are given and according to the gifts of the Spirit we are given. As much as we are given, we should invest in others as servants to the brethren and to the Lord. Those who are wise and faithful will do good works. We will care for those in need as it is given to us, and in so doing, we care for Jesus. “Faith without works is dead.”
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 2:14-16).
This hearkens back to what we mentioned in the last article when we talked about the “daily sacrifice taken away” in Daniel 12. It is my belief that Daniel’s prophesy is speaking of a time in which Christians do not sacrifice self by taking up the cross, but instead embrace the world, thereby being ripe for deception of antichrist.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12).
The idea that we can make a one time declaration or recite a prayer then be “saved” after living an unfruitful Christian life full of wanton sin is a deadly lie. The idea that we can sin because the grace of God forgives all is a deadly lie. This is a lie that leads us to becoming as the “foolish virgins” and so forth.
Our works do not save us. Only the grace of God can save us because we can never do enough good to be worthy of eternal life. We can never be good enough to erase the sins we have done. Yet, if we are sincere about Jesus, we will care about the teachings of Jesus. We will be wise, faithful, and zealous after righteousness. Jesus rewards those who earnestly seek righteousness by giving power through the Holy Spirit to overcome sin in the flesh. As we walk more after the Spirit, we are dying to self presently and we are also being raised from the dead presently—and we will partake of the first resurrection.
Otherwise, we are counted as foolish virgins, slothful servants, and our talent that we think we have is taken away from us. This is a stark reality that a vast majority of modern Christianity does not teach. However, those who lose their talent are only losing what they “seemed to have” as shown in the account of that parable in Luke.
Those who God is in truth raising up through the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot lose their salvation, because all things pertaining to salvation is wrought in God: the Author and Finisher of our faith. Therefore, be zealous after the things of God, but do not lose hope. Rather, have faith and lay hold of the promises of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven that can make you “free indeed” – promises that raise you from the dead – presently and then eternally!
In the next article, which will be the last Section of Part 2, we will look at Revelation 20 and summarize the scriptures that indicate a first and second resurrection. In Part 3, we will get into the timing of the first and second resurrection, which deals with ideas pertaining to where Christians go when they die and the rapture doctrine.
To read more articles within this series, visit Considering the Resurrection for links and brief descriptions. If you have a comment or question, you can leave a reply below this article or you can send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If this article was helpful for you, please consider sharing with others.