Every Christian wants to be in the first future resurrection.
The problem is, most of them do not even seem to want to do what John the Baptist said was required for those who want to be saved.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear you out there now, shouting, "What!?!?" Well, remember what John said in Matt 3:1-2
1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
and what Peter said in Acts 2:38
38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matthew 3:1-2)
38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
The first word used in both of these passage quotes was "repent". Indeed, every new Christian does repent. The problem is that they have been told that they never have to repent again because Jesus has evidently forgiven them for every sin they will ever commit. What else can we think when even the pastors say, "Once saved, always saved - no matter what we do."? If no one who believes can commit sin (lawlessness), then every person who belongs to a church that "claims" to believe in Christ will be saved. How does that compare to the "true" church of Christ? By that measure, even churches that believe totally opposing things about God and Christ will make it to eternal life. Will they get to practice those same beliefs in the Millennium?
Remember the purpose of those in the first resurrection
Do you remember why the people in the first one are resurrected? They will come to life and reign with Christ as priests of God and Christ for a thousand years. Now, as odd as it may seem, words mean things. Take the word reign. Dictionary.com defines it like this:
See more synonyms for reign on Thesaurus.com
1. the period during which a sovereign occupies the throne.
2. royal rule or authority; sovereignty.
3. dominating power or influence:
the reign of law.
(Ads remmoved for brevity)
verb (used without object)
4. to possess or exercise sovereign power or authority.
5. to hold the position and name of sovereign without exercising the ruling power.
6. to have control, rule, or influence of any kind.
7. to predominate; be prevalent.
According to His plan
When the saints reign after the resurrection with Christ, they will have a function - that of maintaining the order and harmony taught by Christ and all his apostles. The harmony of Christ's teaching is not reflected in all the different churches out there today. Now for those of you who may not have taken the time to think this through, that means there will be some rules. No, really, there will be some rules.
Now, again, this may seem foreign to all those modern day Christians who feel that we have no rules other than to be nice to each other and go to church on Sunday. In fact, that whole Sunday thing might cause people more trouble than they realize. We'll get back to that later. First, how do we know there will be rules?
The Old Testament said so
One of the big proofs of the presence of rules after the first resurrection is in Zechariah 14:
The subtitle of the chapter in the NIV:The Lord Comes and Reigns
16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16-19)
"Wait, we have to sacrifice...?"
This will come as a shock to some who say that there is nothing we are required to do to keep eternal life. Oh, there is nothing we can do to gain it, but there is much we can do to lose it. Oops, that statement goes afoul of the "can't lose your salvation - ever" pastors.
Well, let's say one of your jobs in the Millennium is to teach the Gentiles how to worship Christ by attending the Festival of Tabernacles. That's going to be hard if you don't think it's necessary to even know what it is. If you are going to be one of those who reign with Christ, and He requires you to guide people in the sacrifices for the Festival of Tabernacles, how will you handle that? If you are like most "Christians" today, you will just do like most people do today and say something like, "Nope. We don't have to do that, even though God said we do. You won't make us do that will you, Jesus? Besides, it's too Jewish." If you plan to be disobedient, what makes you think you will be there in the first place?
"How many sacrifices?"
And, what about those sacrifices that will be required in the Millennium? There are something like 198 of them required in the Festival of Tabernacles alone. You know, the ones described in Zechariah 14:20-21, right after the passages above:
20 On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty. (emphasis added)
"But, that can't be..."
Here's where we get into the, "That's just for the Jews!" discussion. Without even reading what the passages say, people immediately discount any basis for the Gentiles being involved here. But, wait, there's more! Read what verse 16 the passage in Zechariah 14 says:
16Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
The first seven words indicate who will be required to celebrate the Festival. Not just the Jews, but all the survivors from the nations. Where do you fit in this picture after hearing the actual words of the Bible and not some fairy tale from the pastors?
Who will be part of the final attack?
Also, who will be the nations that attack Jerusalem? There is an article at The John Ankerberg Show that describes the modern countries that were described in Ezekiel 38 as being Persia (Iran), Ethiopia (Africa), Libya, Turkey (twice, I guess), and Russia. While we can't outright deny this idea, it does seem to be a little ignorant of the position of many other countries in the world that may have an extreme dislike for Israel - like China, Korea, and for that matter, about half of America, for example.
Another thing to take into consideration is that the Antichrist will be around at the end of that time and "the whole world" will be filled with wonder and "follow the beast" (Revelation 13:3
3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast.
). If he has that much of a following, it seems that there will be many more nations involved. Again, we can't be dogmatic, but the way America today is losing its faith in the real Jesus, what makes us think we won't be in the mix?
Always the naysayers
Now, there are some who say that there will not be any sacrifices in the future because Christ died and did away with them forever. Well, what even Paul says in several places is that the sacrifices are no longer necessary for salvation (Hebrews 9 and 10). He never says that the laws are not there to guide us and still affected people in his day (Hebrews 10:2
2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.
). In fact, you can go to the site at FaithWeb and read an interesting article that demonstrates, with Biblical references, that Paul still sacrificed after his "conversion". The word "conversion" is in quotes because Paul never converted from Judaism, he actually turned to Christ while still remaining a good Jew (Acts 25:8
8Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar."
The point is that the sacrifices for sin are not necessary for salvation (they never were necessary for salvation, just obedience), but other sacrifices are still a command of God regarding burnt offerings, grain offerings (with drink offerings), peace offerings, and trespass offerings - none of these are sin offerings. These offerings are all listed in Leviticus, along with rules against eating unclean meats and incestual relationships with family members. They will be required both before (during the "reign" of the Antichrist until he puts an end to sacrifices) and during the Millennium (after Christ's return to earth). If not, then we must assume that both Paul, Daniel, and John all lied about the actions of the Antichrist during the tribulation period:
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)
And, for those of you who say that this sacrificing can't happen after Christ comes, read Zechariah 14
The Lord Comes and Reigns
1A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.
2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
6 On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7 It will be a unique day - a day known only to the Lord - with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.
8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.
9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.
12 This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected - great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.
16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
20 On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty.
, and notice who it is that is required to celebrate the Feast and perform the sacrifices mentioned in verse 21. Of course, if you don't think that Zechariah was a prophet, then you can just ignore all this truth.
That's before the Millennium even starts
This sacrificing will happen before the Antichrist is destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming ("the end that is decreed is poured out on him"). Since this hasn't happened yet, the sacrifices must start up again in the future. Conjecture is that this will happen when the temple described by Ezekiel is built. But, since most Christians don't recognize the contradictions caused by their beliefs, I guess they can just deny the writings of the Bible and ignore the contradictions. If you don't believe it will happen, then it won't, right? Now, that leads to another problem.
It's in the job description
If those dead and living in Christ are to reign with Christ, but modern "believers" don't want to do what Christ requires, what in the world makes them think that they will be in the first resurrection? Jesus isn't going to want people around Him who tell Him that they aren't going to do what He wants. In fact, He said something like that in Luke 6:46
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"
One more thing that we touched on a little earlier. When Christ returns, do you think He will have any other rules? According to Zechariah, there are definitiely some that must be followed or people will get a little thirsty. How about keeping the Ten Commandments? No, not just nine of them, but all ten of them. Christians who keep Sunday because the Sabbath is too Jewish will no longer have the excuse that Christ rose on Sunday because He will be back and keeping the Sabbath as He always did as a man. He started that at creation. So, for those who say, "I keep Sunday and will not keep the Sabbath 'cuz my pastor says I don't have to.", then what? Unless, of course, you think that the Maker of those laws will not keep one of His own commandments. Remember, Jesus was Jewish, but Christ is Christ and God.
Everyone wants to be there
Yep, everyone wants to be in the first resurrection, but not everyone believes the truth about what is required of those who will be in that resurrection. If you think all you need is faith, then what about all those people who have strong faith, but faith in a lie rather than the truth? The lie is that people will be saved no matter what they believe and no matter what they do. If that's the case, where did those lists of Paul, John, and even Jesus come from telling us who will not be there?
We need to have faith in the real Jesus Christ, not some whimsical idea that we made up to get people to come to church on Sunday. That, by the way, is one of the definitions of idolatry - believing in a false god. Who do you think Christ will choose to reign with Him in His plan - someone who doesn't even know what that plan is, or someone who sought to learn what He wants?
Then, there is the other resurrection.
If the first resurrection is going to be all the dead in Christ, followed by the taking up of the living in Christ, then guess who is in the second one? You don't hear much in the sermons about who will be in the second one, but everyone just figures that it will be all those other people - the really bad people. You know, those people in that weird church down the street, or people who think God doesn't exist, and especially those mean and stupid people who don't believe what we do. Well, it seems to me that there are going to be a lot of surprises for most "believers".
Everyone thinks that only evil, mean, God-hating bad guys will be in the second resurrection. Even those lists that Paul writes about kind of point that way:
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
And a few by John:
27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:27)
15Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:15)
Pay close attention to the last part of verse 15 above. That would be those who believe and practice lies. Kind of makes you want to find out what the lies are, doesn't it? Oh, that's right, your pastor would never sell you a bill of goods. Well, maybe not intentionally. But, what about those other statements you don't hear so often? The statements made that indicate that the requirements for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven are not as generous as many think. Oh, they are quite simple, but not really generous. Things like:
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
If you compare the "poor" in America to those poor in Africa, we become the "rich". Of course, you can say that this is really speaking of all the concerns and cares of the rich man, but again, where does that put the average American? And, more to the point, again by Jesus Himself:
46"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?'' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' " (Matt 7:21-23)
"...the will of my Father who is in Heaven."
At this point, few are willing to examine the words very closely. They seem to just make assumptions that if their pastors say something, it must be OK with God and Jesus. But, look at the last passage in the box right above. Matthew 7:21
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
adds a thought that many dismiss because they have been told that Jesus removed all the requirements for us to follow. This passage suggests strongly that there are other things that many are already doing that must have disqualified them - unless they change - and repent.
That sounds just like the results of the episode with the ten virgins. They were all invited to the wedding, and all thought that they were qualified, but only five of them made it.
So, looking again at the first resurrection, the One who makes the decision as to who will be brought up then is the same One who will have already decided who will be in the second resurrection. This is the same One who says that just because we think we know the new, sissified, tolerant, require-nothing-of-us Jesus described by the pastors, we may find out the hard way that we are only fooling ourselves. By His own words, the ones who He knows, and recognizes, are the ones who do the will of His Father in heaven. Do you still think we can not follow God's rules and do anything we want and still keep our salvation? Or even the other way, don't have to do anything to keep our salvation? Remember, we don't obey to get saved, we obey because we are saved.
Are you ready? Are you sure?
OK, pop quiz. How do we learn the will of the Father? No, not the claims of the modern pastors who tell us that we have nothing to do and will still gain everything, regardless of our actions. What is the will of the Father? We hear what it supposedly used to be, but isn't anymore now that it has somehow changed without notice. Where do we go to find out what the will of the Father is now? Jesus didn't tell us to soften the Ten Commandments, but to recognize the true Spirit of the law and treat others accordingly. He didn't say that they no longer applied. If these Ten are part of the will of the Father, where do we go to find the rest of His will? That would be in His word to us in the love letter we call the Bible. If that was your answer, you get an A for the quiz.
We need to know that word and what it really says. Then, and only then, will we be able to prepare ourselves to be in that first resurrection and avoid any chance of being left behind for the second one.
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