In previous Q&As, we discussed the concept of godly punishment in this day and age, in the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, including for the purpose of betterment as well as leading a person to repentance and conversion, while helping the person so that he or she does not fall away.
But there is another aspect of godly punishment, which has also been alluded to in previous installments. This aspect is very important and finds its full application in the Third Resurrection.
Sadly, there are those who have had their opportunity. 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.
The Third Resurrection describes those sinners who have made the final and irrevocable decision to rebel against God. They have refused to ever obey God, and they have developed a hostile attitude towards Him, filled with hatred and contempt, which prevents them from ever repenting of their terrible sinful conduct and nature. They will be raised to physical life to be burned up and destroyed in the lake of fire.
The Bible does not teach the concept of an ever-burning hell-fire in which the “immortal souls” of the wicked will be tortured for ever and ever. The Bible does not teach the concept of a purgatory either, in which “immortal souls” will be tortured for a while to obtain purification so that they can ultimately leave purgatory and ascend to heaven.
On the other hand, the Bible does not negate the fact that the incorrigible sinner has to pay for his evil conduct. He or she will be punished in the Third Resurrection, before being destroyed and annihilated in the Gehenna fire. Otherwise, sins would go unpunished, which is not in accordance with God’s righteous judgments.
Some have wondered why there should be a Third Resurrection, if their fate was already sealed at the time of their death. Why wouldn’t God just throw those incorrigible sinners into the lake of fire who are still alive at the end of the Great White Throne Judgment period, and why wouldn’t He leave the others of times past in their graves—rather than resurrecting them again to physical life to destroy them forever?
We address the concept of a Third Resurrection in chapter 12 of our free booklet, “Biblical Prophecy–From Now Until Forever.”
We explain in detail that every human being has a spirit in man which goes to God in heaven when man dies. This spirit is not the person, nor is it immortal or eternal, nor does it have a conscious existence when the person dies. Man’s spirit does not continue to live consciously, apart from the body. Rather, God “stores” it, so to speak, in heaven, until He unites it at the time of the resurrection of man with a new spiritual or physical body.
The spirit in man records all the human characteristics of the person, as well as his or her outward appearance. At the time of the resurrection, the spirit of the dead person is combined with a newly created body of the dead person. This means, all the experiences, memories and ideas of the former life are back in the resurrected individual, and the resurrected person will also look the same way he or she did in their former life. There must be a final Third Resurrection to everlasting condemnation when the spirit in man is placed back in the (newly created) physical body of the person here on earth; otherwise, the spirit in man would remain in heaven and with it, the recording of the personalities, thoughts and memories. But somehow, everything which was recorded by the spirit in man must be erased, so that it is as if the incorrigible sinners had never existed (Obadiah 16).
In order to destroy the entire human being, the spirit in man must be destroyed as well. This will be accomplished in the Third Resurrection when the human spirit, combined with the (newly created) physical body, will be thrown into the lake of fire. Realize that the human spirit of the incorrigible sinners will still be in heaven at the time just prior to the Third Resurrection. Therefore, THERE MUST BE a Third Resurrection; otherwise, their spirit would remain in heaven, while those incorrigible sinners would stay buried in their graves.
However, Christ said in John 5:28-29 that ALL who are in their graves will come forward when they hear the voice of the Son of Man, and we read in Daniel 12:2 that some who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake to shame and everlasting contempt. We also read in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that all who died in Adam will be made alive in (or by) Jesus Christ.
But there is another all-important reason why there MUST BE a Third Resurrection.
We explain in our afore-mentioned booklet that “God is a God of JUSTICE. In raising those who have committed the unpardonable sin to physical life, their attitude will become manifest to all alive at that time. When they witness their conduct, they will never be able to question God’s compassionate and uncompromising justice; as well as His merciful wisdom to free those hateful human beings from their emotional misery and pain.”
And God’s justice requires punishment for sin.
The Bible confirms that those who are raised to physical life will be punished before being destroyed in the lake of fire. This punishment is psychological as well as physical. Even though many do not seem to grasp this, it should be obvious that the very act of being burned up in a lake of fire involves physical pain. But it also involves psychological pain when the sinner is faced with his or her immediate fate, after their judgment and condemnation have been pronounced.
The psychological punishment of the unrepentant incorrigible sinner is vividly portrayed by Jesus Christ in His parable about Lazarus and the rich man, in Luke 16:19-31. While Lazarus is resurrected in the First Resurrection, the rich man faces his fate in the Third Resurrection. We discuss this parable at great length on pages 29-32 of our free booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”
To briefly summarize the relevant points in the context of this Q&A, “Luke 16:22… tells us that the rich man died and was buried… Luke 16:23 explains that the rich man lifted up his eyes in ‘hell,’ ‘being in torments,’ and seeing Abraham ‘afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.’ Verse 24 goes on to tell us that the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus ‘that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool’ the tongue of the rich man, as he is ‘tormented in this flame.’… The word ‘hell’ is a translation of the Greek word ‘hades.’ ‘Hades’ … describes the grave or death.
“What Christ is saying here is that the rich man lifted up his eyes, while in the grave—in other words, he is being resurrected from the dead. And when he opens his eyes from his ‘sleep’ of death, he sees Abraham and Lazarus ‘afar off,’ and he notices that flames are awaiting him. He is actually seeing the flames of the ‘lake of fire,’ referred to in Revelation 20:14. He is close enough to experience some physical pain from the flames—but his real anguish and torment is one of a psychological nature. That is, he knows that he had committed the unpardonable sin and that he will now have to face the eternal consequences—a death from which there will be no resurrection.
“What is being described here is the [T]hird [R]esurrection. We read in Revelation 20:13–14 that ‘death and hell [‘hades’ in the Greek] delivered up the dead’ (which would include the rich man), and that ‘death and hell [‘hades’ in the Greek] were cast into the lake of fire.’ The rich man was resurrected to physical life to be cast into the lake of fire. And those who are to be cast into the lake of fire will suffer psychological torment when they face that moment. They will face ‘everlasting punishment’ [compare Matthew 25:46]—that is, a punishment with everlasting consequences for all eternity—their existence will end forever… Their psychological torment is described in Matthew 13:42: They will be ‘cast…into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.’
“Luke 13:28 adds, ‘There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye… shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets… in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.’…
“In Luke 16:27–28, the rich man asks that Lazarus be sent to his brothers to warn them about what would await them if they ended up like he [Verse 28: “… lest they also come to this place of torment”]. Abraham denies that request (v. 29) because by that time it is too late. The [T]hird [R]esurrection occurs after everyone, including the rich man’s brothers, have had their chance.”
The repeated reference in Luke 16 to “torment” in the context of godly punishment can also be found in additional passages.
In Revelation 14:9-11, we read:
“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast [an end-time political leader, as well as the political system that he represents] and his image [made by an end-time religious system, as well as by a religious leader representing that system] and receives his mark on his forehead or on his head [permitting or preventing him to buy and sell, Revelation 13:16–17], he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb [Jesus Christ]. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
We discuss this passage in great detail in chapter 18 of our free booklet, “Is That In the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”
We explain therein that the term “forever” can mean “age-lasting,” and that the passage in Revelation 14:11 refers to the Return of Jesus Christ at a time when people worship the beast and receive its mark.
We stated in particular:
“All of this will occur BEFORE the Millennium. The smoke of their torment will ascend for a while—as long as the necessary conditions exist to allow smoke from burned bodies to ascend. The unrepentant wicked will ultimately be burned up. That will happen AFTER the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment. However, the passage in Revelation 14:11 does not address that time period. It merely serves as a forerunner and a warning.
“Most people who will worship the false political and religious system of Babylon, as well as its human representatives, won’t fully comprehend what they will be doing—they will not commit the unpardonable sin leading to the second death, from which there will be no resurrection (Revelation 20:14–15; 21:8). Rather, God will bring them back to life in a Second Resurrection, when the gravity of their wrong conduct will be revealed to them, and when they will be given an opportunity to repent and accept God’s Way of Life.”
Nevertheless, we need to emphasize that even for those who will be punished by Christ when He returns, reference to “torment” is made. The same terminology is used in Revelation 9:5, where a war is described between the beast power and the kings of the east. We read that “they (soldiers of the beast power with military weaponry) were not given authority to kill them (those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads, verse 4), but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man.”
So we see that torment includes physical pain. But it most certainly includes psychological pain as well. We read in 1 John 4:18 that there is “no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment.”
Torment is caused by the anticipation of punishment for sin (while the sinner is unwilling to repent of his or her sins). James 2:19 explains that demons believe in God, but they tremble. Satan and his demons are spirit beings. They cannot die. They cannot experience physical pain either. But they tremble when they think of the psychological torment which they will have to endure when God proceeds to punish them. Knowing his ultimate fate, Satan has great wrath, because he knows that his time is short (Revelation 12:12).
We read in Matthew 8:29 that demons asked Christ whether He had come “to torment [them] before the time.” In Mark 5:7 a demon pleaded with Christ not to torment him.
But punishment and torment for Satan and his demons will come. Revelation 20:10 reads that the “devil, who deceived [the people], was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone… And they [Satan and his demons] will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” This passage is fully explained in chapter 23 of our before-mentioned booklet on the Book of Revelation. In the context of this Q&A, we would just like to emphasize the fact that Satan and his demons will be “tormented” in the future. We state:
“We read in Matthew 25:41 that the lake of fire was ‘prepared for the devil and his angels.’ Therefore, it will be the devil and his demons who will be tormented in the lake of fire, for as long as that lake exists. Since spirit beings cannot die (compare Luke 20:36), they will be tormented—in a spiritual way—while being confined to the lake of fire, when they come to the realization that they are unable to deceive man anymore, and when they see all their ‘works’ and evil ‘accomplishments’ replaced by the good and prosperous ways of God.”
In the second part of this series, we will discuss additional Scriptures which reveal the concept of physical punishment in the Third Resurrection.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link