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The God of the Living

At Matthew 22:31, 32, it's recorded that Jesus said, ‘Haven't you read what God told you about the resurrection of the dead [when he said], I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He isn't the God of the dead, but of the living.'


And this is just one of several instances throughout the Bible where the faithful and righteous are referred to as ‘the living.'


In the same vein, there are many instances where those who are unrighteous are referred to as ‘the dead.' For, as Jesus said (at Matthew 8:22), ‘Let the dead bury their dead.' Also notice what Paul wrote of Jesus at Romans 14:9: ‘And the reason why the Anointed One died and came to life again, was so that he could be the Lord of the living and the dead.'

So, with this understanding in mind, consider what Revelation 20:12 says will happen to these dead ones: ‘Then I saw the dead - the great and the small - standing before the throne, and several scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, which was the Scroll of Life. And the dead were then judged by the things that were written in the scrolls, by the things that they did.'

So, they were ‘standing' (they had already been resurrected), and then they were described as ‘the dead.' As you can see, God resurrects them but still considers them dead, and they must thereafter stand before God's throne to be judged. For scrolls are opened that reveal ‘the things that they did.' But, just when did they do these things that are written in the scrolls?

If we were to assume that the things written in the scrolls are records of things they did in their past lives, we would have to ask, ‘Then why would God resurrect them just to condemn them once again?' That makes no sense at all!

Rather, it appears as though they are resurrected earlier in the Millennium, and at the end of the thousand years they are judged by the things that they will do during that time, not for the sins of a past life. So, they are still referred to as the dead, because the unrighteous are not counted among the living until God judges them and finds them worthy.

If you go back to the Bible account in Revelation 20:12, you'll see that this judging of the dead comes immediately after the nations under Gog of Magog attack God's Holy City. Then the Slanderer is destroyed, and thereafter is where we read of the judging of the dead. So, since the resurrection is spoken of as happening earlier in the Revelation, we would assume that they will have been resurrected much earlier, but will remain in the dead condition until they are judged as either one of the living or to condemnation.

But notice that another scroll was also then opened. It is the scroll of life, and apparently it is opened to record the names of those who are found faithful by God at that time.

However, realize that the judgment of the dead at the end of the Millennium isn't the beginning of the writing of names in the book of life, for at Philippians 4:3 Paul wrote of ‘fellow workers whose names [were already written] in the Book of Life.'

And at Daniel 12:2 we read, ‘[God] will raise all those whose [names] were written in the book, and many who died and were buried will be resurrected, some to life in the age, some to disgrace, and some will be scattered and shamed in that age.'

So, we must assume that God has already counted many as righteous, and their names have already been written in the book (or scroll) of life. And this means that they (like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) are considered among the living, not the dead, so they don't stand before God in judgment, as do those who God considers the dead.


Who are Resurrected?


And notice that the Bible's teaching of a resurrection isn't just promised to the faithful. For, Paul wrote at Acts 24:15, ‘And I have this hope in God, which they (the Pharisees) also share, that there's going to be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.'

So, we may conclude from these words of Paul that in God's great justice, everyone will be given the opportunity to serve God faithfully and live, regardless of their education, mental condition, age, nationality, or circumstances.

The reason why there is so little mention of the resurrection or the hereafter in the Ancient Scriptures of Israel (and the reason why Solomon spoke so gloomily of mankind's hope in Ecclesiastes) is because there was no hope until after Jesus came and gave his life as a ransom for mankind. The sacrifice of his perfect life is what opened the way for men to stand again. As Jesus himself said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.'

However, just where would resurrected men stand again?


The Hope of Going to Heaven

Throughout Jesus' earthly ministry, he constantly spoke of ‘the Kingdom of Heaven.' This teaching differed greatly from what the pagan Greeks (and others) believed, in that having a part in the kingdom of heaven was only open to a select few. For, notice what Jesus called them at Luke 12:32 ‘Don't be afraid, little flock, because your Father has agreed to give you the Kingdom.'

This small group appears to be limited in number, for notice what Revelation 7:2-4 tells us, ‘Then I saw another messenger who was coming up from the sunrise. He had the seal of the living God, and he shouted aloud to the four messengers who were allowed to harm the earth and sea, saying, Don't harm the earth, the sea, or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads. And I heard how many of them had been sealed - a hundred and forty-four thousand from every tribe of the sons of Israel.'

From the above (and contrary to common teaching), it appears as though only a limited number were promised this heavenly position. Is this heavenly number of 144,000 ‘elected' ones literal, or is it figurative? There are several reasons to believe that it is literal. They include:

* The description at Revelation 7:5-8 shows that this ‘Heavenly Jerusalem' is comprised of people who are chosen from twelve (earthly) tribes, each consisting of 12,000 members from each tribe. And we would expect such a heavenly calling to be made up of a symbolic and complete number (such as twelve times twelve thousand).
* The number 144,000 is then contrasted to an unknown number at Revelation 7:9, which says, ‘After all this, I saw {look!} a crowd so large that nobody could count them.' So, the 144,000 are a special and different group from all the rest, which are much larger groups.
* The fact that the position these selected individuals hold is that of ‘kings and priests' over the earth would logically limit their number, and 144,000 is an adequate size for such a government.

Those who argue for a larger number usually do so because they claim to be among those who have been selected by God to serve Him in heaven, which seems silly, because they really aren't considering the great privileges involved in being counted among the ‘living' on the earth.


The Requirements for Heavenly Life


The fact is; if all those who claim to qualify to serve as kings and priests in the heavens will really go there, the number would have to be greatly expanded beyond what is said in the Bible. In fact, tens of millions claim that they have already been chosen to that destiny... but they haven't proven faithful until death yet. For, notice what we were told at Revelation 2:10, ‘Be faithful to the death and I'll give you the crown of life.'

In fact, it appears as though a martyr's death (like that of Jesus) is required by God to qualify as part of this small group of heavenly Priests. For notice what is said at Revelation 6:11, ‘Then they were each given a white robe and they were told to take it easy just a little while longer, until the full number of their fellow slaves and brothers was filled (who were going to be killed, as they were).'

Then notice what Jesus said to his Apostles about this at Matthew 20:22, 23, ‘Can you drink from the cup that I'm about to drink?' And they answered: ‘We can.' So, he said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, but sitting at my right and left hand isn't mine to give. It belongs to those for whom my Father prepared it.'

And that's the same question that all who say they've been chosen for life in heaven must ask themselves... Can you drink that same cup? For, if being publicly executed as a criminal (which is what likely happened to all of Jesus' Apostles except perhaps John) was what would be required of these friends who Jesus dearly loved, why would anyone who expects the same reward think that a lower price would be required of them? So, no one can rightly claim to have a heavenly hope until they've proven their integrity by offering their lives in sacrifice, or at least after having endured great persecution for their faith.


The Promise of a Kingdom


The actual agreement that opened the way for a small number to go to heaven to serve as rulers over the earth, was the one that Jesus made with his faithful Apostles during his last supper. Notice what he said, as recorded at Luke 22:28-30, ‘However, you are the ones who stuck with me during my trials, so I'm making a promise to you, just as my Father made a promise to me, for a Kingdom... that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.'

This sacred promise by Jesus was the first vehicle mentioned in the Bible that allowed men entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. And it wasn't opened or offered to all mankind, just to certain chosen individuals, starting with Jesus' faithful Apostles.



For a more complete and thorough explanation of the above topic see the link: Is there life after death? 



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