How does God’s love manifest itself in the concept of the “Second Resurrection”?
Revelation 20:5, 11-12 describes the SECOND Resurrection: “But the REST OF THE DEAD [who were not in the FIRST Resurrection which granted eternal life] did not live again UNTIL the thousand years [the Millennium] were finished… Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it… And I saw the dead, small and great, STANDING before God… And the dead were JUDGED…”
The “Second” Resurrection or the Great White Throne Judgment describes a resurrection to physical life of those who had not been called before. Ezekiel 37 pictures the resurrection of the entire house of Israel to PHYSICAL life . We see in Ezekiel 37:14 that the Holy Spirit is offered to the resurrected Israelites–obviously after they have repented of their sins. The people of the house of Israel will know God and begin to live a life pleasing to God. If they overcome and endure, they will receive immortality (compare Romans 11:32; Romans 11:26).
Other passages describe the physical resurrection of Gentiles (compare Matthew 12:38-42; Matthew 11:20-24).
Isaiah 65:20-25 indicates that there will be an allotted time span of 100 years during which those who are brought back to physical life can qualify for eternal life. If they do, they will be changed to immortality at the end of that judgment period (Hebrews 9:27; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36).
It is true that today, only very few—those who are called in this day and age–are written in the “Book of Life.” We read in Revelation 3:5: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I [Jesus Christ] will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” True Christians are written down in a particular book—the Book of Life—and they will not be erased from it as long as they continue to overcome.
Those written in the Book of Life are those very few who have been called since the time of Adam. For the rest of mankind, their names are NOT yet written in the Book of Life, but for those living in the Millennium and for those in the Second Resurrection, their names CAN be written in the Book of Life, as it will be OPEN to them at that time. Up until then, it has only been OPENED to those who have been predestined to be saved prior to Christ’s Second Coming. As long as their names ARE written (and not blotted out) in the Book of Life, their inheritance of ETERNAL life is guaranteed.
But again, that does not diminish God’s Love for all the others, because their names can also be written in the Book of Life, when their time has arrived.
Revelation 20:4-5, 11-12 states that the Second Resurrection will occur 1,000 years AFTER the First Resurrection. We read that those in the Second Resurrection will STAND before God and His Great White Throne. We also read: “… And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and BOOKS WERE OPENED. And ANOTHER BOOK was opened, which is the BOOK OF LIFE. And the dead were JUDGED according to their works, by the things WHICH WERE WRITTEN IN THE BOOKS.”
The Holy Spirit will be offered and the Book of Life will be opened to ALL who will rise in the Great White Throne Judgment. For these people, the Holy Spirit had never been available before (they were cut off from the Tree of Life, symbolizing the Holy Spirit), and the Book of Life had not been opened to them. But when the fulfillment of the events arrives, then their time of salvation has come.
It is true that some will end up in the lake of fire. But even this does not prove God’s hatred for them. Sadly, there are those who have had their opportunity to choose righteousness and accept God’s love, but instead they have committed the “unpardonable sin.” They knew and understood perfectly well that they had to submit to Christ, but they refused to do so. They became bitter, hateful, resentful and malicious. They made the unchangeable decision NEVER to repent. If a person has reached that stage that he cannot repent, because he has made the final decision NOT to WANT to repent, then God will not force repentance on such a person. God grants repentance, but a person must want to receive it. A person, though, who maliciously rejects Christ, would only continue to live in misery and pain–and that is why God will save such a person from eternal misery, by DESTROYING him or her in a lake of fire.
God is “…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9); and, God “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Yet, God will not force people to choose life– even though He will give all an opportunity for eternal life in His Kingdom.
Some will have committed the unpardonable sin. They will be destroyed by fire: “‘But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’” (Revelation 21:8).
To destroy someone and end his or her life in the lake of fire does not prove that God does not love them. It is because of His love for them that He frees them from their misery, rather than letting them live for all eternity in a state of hatred, rebellion and refusal to live God’s Way of Life, which is a Way of Love [which can be defined as outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others.]. People who fall into that category who are HATING God (compare Romans 1:30), UNWILLING to repent, while gnashing their teeth in anger and wrath (compare Matthew 13: 41-42; 24:48-51) and telling God, in so many words, “to go to hell.”
What we have discussed so far can be summarized by the fact that God IS Love (1 John 4:8, 16); and that love is of or from God (1 John 4:7). Can it therefore be said that God has “unconditional” love for the sinner—that He loves the sinner before he repents of his sins, and that He will always love him, even if he refuses, with hate, to repent and submit to God?
We should note that the term “unconditional love” can nowhere be found in the Bible.
gotquestions.org describes the concept of “unconditional love” as follows:
“Despite the hostility and enmity we have toward God… God revealed His love toward us in the giving of His Son, Jesus Christ, as the propitiation (the appeasement of God’s righteous wrath) for our sins. God did not wait for us to better ourselves as a condition of atoning for our sin.”
To interject here, that statement is clearly false. God does not atone for or forgive our sins when we do not repent. Continuing:
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his… only [begotten] Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
“It is important to note that God’s love is a love that initiates; it is never a response. That is precisely what makes it unconditional. If God’s love were conditional, then we would have to do something to earn or merit it. We would have to somehow appease His wrath or cleanse ourselves of sin before God would be able to love us. But that is not the biblical message. The biblical message—the gospel—is that God, motivated by love, moved unconditionally to save His people from their sin.
“Also important is the fact that God’s unconditional love does not mean… that God will never discipline His children. To ignore God’s merciful love, to reject the Savior who bought us (2 Peter 2:1), is to subject ourselves to God’s wrath for eternity (Romans 1:18), not His love. For a child of God to willfully disobey God is to invite the Father’s correction (Hebrews 12:5-11).”
The comments above contain Truth and error. The Truth is that God loved us and that Christ died for us BEFORE we loved Him or obeyed Him. God so loved the world that Christ died for the world (John 3:16)—a world being cut off from God—so that the world could come to God, believe, repent and ultimately obtain everlasting life (same verse).
We read in Romans 5:8: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In other words, God loved the world and us who were part of the world, and Christ died for the world in anticipation of a response from the world. Christ did not die for the world and us so that the world and we could continue in sin and rebellion against God. This is shown by the fact that Christ said in Matthew 26:27-28:
“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’”
Notice, He did not say that His blood would be shed for all for the remission of sins. He knew that some would NOT accept His Sacrifice but steadfastly and permanently refuse to accept it. Christ did not shed His blood for them. Compare also Matthew 20:28.
We must DO something to “keep ourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). We read Christ’s words in John 14:21: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
We don’t know and love God when we refuse to keep His commandments (also compare 1 John 2:4). Of course, when we slip and are overtaken by a trespass, and repent, God will forgive us. We are still on the right path towards the Kingdom of God, and 1 John 3:1-2 still applies to us, which says:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
But also notice what we read in the following verses:
“(3) And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (4) Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness [better: “transgresseth also the law”; Authorized Version], and sin is lawlessness [“the transgression of the law,” Authorized Version]. (5) And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin… (8) He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil… (10) In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (11) For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, (12) not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. (13) Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. (14) We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. (15) Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (16) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (17) But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (18) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
We should be able to see that God expects of us to respond to His “unconditional” love towards us (“unconditional” at the time when Christ died for us while we were yet sinners) by rejecting sin and by showing love towards God and our neighbor. God’s love is defined as keeping His commandments (1 John 5:3), and as we just read above in 1 John 3:17, we can lose God’s love in us due to our conduct. God’s love, once “unconditional” at and before the beginning of our journey towards eternal life, has very clearly become “conditional.” When we lose our “first love” and don’t repent, Christ “will come quickly to remove [our] lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:4-5). When we live in an habitual way of sinning AFTER having known the Truth, no forgiveness is possible, as the sinner refuses to repent (Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-31).
As we have seen, even the destruction of the sinner in the lake of fire reflects God’s love in that He does not want him to be tormented forever in an ever-burning hell, but it is obviously not a reflection of God’s “unconditional” love which would allow us to live in sin and to do whatever we want to do, with the attitude: “God loves me, no matter what I do.”
If we want to attach labels to God’s love in response to our wrong conduct, we might speak of “tough love.” Compelling Truth wrote:
“‘Tough love’ is willingness to do the ‘tough’ things out of a heart of love… Biblical examples of tough love include Nathan confronting King David about his sin… and various proverbs about disciplining children…
“When King David committed adultery and had his lover’s husband killed, the prophet Nathan was the only one who confronted him about his sin… Nathan spoke the truth to David in such a way that David became immediately repentant. This is tough love.”
And so, God shows “tough love” for us if there is a need for correction. He is not showing “unconditional” love at that moment by saying: “I will let them do what they want to do, because of my unconditional love for them.” That idea is false and related to the wrong concept that no matter what we do, we are already saved. We CAN lose our salvation (compare Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 2:1-4), and in that sense, we can lose God’s love in us when we rebel and turn against Him, while hating and despising Him, without a desire to return to Him.
On the other hand, as long as we are on the right path, we have this assurance of God’s love for us, in Romans 8:28-39:
“(28) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose… (31) If God is for us, who can be against us?… (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… (38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, (39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link