Time and Eternity

September 19, 2000

We can understand the first resurrection of believers as being posited in this life. Jesus is our resurrection. When we are baptized, it is the symbol of our being raised into newness of life. It is not the baptism in itself that saves you but without that obedience to gospel mandate, we can argue that we may not truly be saved.

We are not laying any new foundations here, only trying to come unto the understanding that the early apostles had on the resurrection issue. Doctrines concerning the resurrections are foundational principles and as long as there is confusion, we need to work it out before we can go on to perfection (Hebrews 6). There is also the possibility that we may never work it out but if it is foundational, it should also be understandable as the milk of the word.

Even so, Paul calls the resurrection a "mystery" in 1 Corinthians 15:51 "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." With God's help, we can certainly understand these mysteries but Paul also speaks of this mystery in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 saying, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

Many Christians think that this is the rapture described here as well as the resurrection of those that sleep. Just understand that this is as the last trumpet is sounded, not the first. To clear up part of my confusion, I looked at the verse in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 very carefully - "even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." If they are asleep, awaiting resurrection, how can God bring them with Him when Jesus comes to raise them up. They must somehow already be raised up and wherever God is.

The immediate translation of the saints can be explained through an understanding of time and eternity. In our spirits, we all believe that our friends and loved ones that died in the Lord are in heaven now, not asleep. This also confirms our understanding (or lack of it) to the communion of saints. To be "in" Jesus is to have passed from death to life already. When our temporal existence in relation to time is over, life in eternity begins. This is the way that the thief on the cross could today be in Paradise. In eternity, time is no longer relevant to us, we undergo the change that transcends this temporal existence that makes us like God because we are in His realm and able to know Him as He is. So it is not really life that is over at death but rather the temporal condition of time. It is the dead in Christ only in our relation to time; as far as eternity is concerned, it is from temporal life to eternal life. Paul speaks of those that sleep but would just be sleeping as regards to our position in time. The eternal realm has no beginning and no end. As far as it relates to heaven, the departed saints are there now and according to our understanding of eternity always have been, even before the foundation of the world. Mysterious, yes. Impossible to understand, maybe for some, but for me it is easy to accept this explanation.

Then for myself, I need to re-evaluate my thinking concerning those in the Lord that sleep and those that have already been translated for me to understand the kingdom. Many of them at least seem to be all of the same and it is only in our relationship to time that there is a difference. Now we come to the problem of just who populates the kingdom, assuming there is still a kingdom to come and the pre-millennialists are correct in their understanding. Why would the saints come back down to earth after being in heaven, which is the ultimate reward? Someone below wonders what need we even have of a millennial reign. Now would be the time for those with an a-millennial position to exert themselves. There may truly be only one judgment, just at different times for the different judgment verdicts. This is still not clear to me.

Also, no one has taken me up on the communion of saints. How many times have we recited the Apostle's Creed? I believe in it 100%. In it we affirm that we believe in the communion of saints. How many of us say it without understanding what it means just because we are unified in a group that recites it together? What do you think it means? Extreme fundamentalists close their mind to the subject because we are unable to commune with the dead but God is the God of the living. What do you think?


Dear Jay,
I enjoy the questions that you raise. This is just a small point, but recently the Lord has been showing me that many are coming into the body and are saved in that they know and have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives, but they are not walking in the Spirit. This is why many cannot stand firm when the pressure comes on as it does and surely will to greater and greater degrees.

1 John 2:27 says "As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain in Him. I felt the Lord showing me that walking in the Spirit will be essential to our being able to stand in the times ahead. But many have been 'under' the anointing which the Lord has so generously poured out, but they have not received the anointing 'in' them, and there is a very great difference. There was a time when great care was taken to ensure that new Christians were baptized 'in' the Holy Spirit, but now much is assumed to have taken place, when it has not. It is possible for a person to minister 'under' an anointing which has been released over a meeting, but it doesn't mean that the anointing is 'in' them. Simple observations I guess, but that is what HE has been drawing my attention to.

Judith Grobelny

Salutations and greetings Jay,
God bless you and this site. I see that you have again truly opened up another "can" of worms. Congratulations. Keep up the blessed work. As I was reading some of the letters, it occurred to me that some believe in two resurrections, two judgements, millennial reign. However, having read the Word and several of the available books on these subjects, I still do not see (I may need help on this), why there would be a need in God's plan for a 1,000 year reign on Earth?! He certainly reigns now in the hearts of men for a time until Jesus returns!!

Paul says that it is appointed unto men once to die then the judgement. So, what's the problem? I look at it simply without years of Theological discussion like this: When we are saved, we die. Then we are born again (1st resurrection). When Jesus returns, the earth is destroyed as in II PET 3:10. On that same day is the resurrection (2nd) of the dead. The living have no need of a resurrection since they are already alive!!! The 2nd death that REV 20 speaks of is being thrown in the lake of fire for eternity. The saved have no fear of this death.

As I see it, I have already died the 1st death when I died with Christ. I had the first resurrection when I was raised up with Him in baptism, then He empowered me with His Holy Ghost that I may not fear the second death, HOWEVER, we must all face the judgement. Both good and evil must face this. MATT 25:32-33 says: 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. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

I believe in only one judgement. It doesn't make sense to God to have two. Why? Can't He do it all at ONCE? Isn't there enough room at the Judgement Hall? Please excuse me for being sarcastic. I mean to offend no one. Comments are very welcome and appreciated! Jay, eschatology is a wonderful thing. I cannot get into the setting of times, places and scenarios. Just knowing that there is a judgement, my concern is to be as ready as possible and to help prepare others so that when that DAY does come, we will all stand there and let the BLOOD speak for us.

Thank you for listening. Bless the Lord. Glory. Love in Jesus, Joseph (Ap77joseph@cs.com)

As the waters of understanding build upon the banks of revelation, the judgement comes. A mighty harbinger of all thought is the understanding that whenever we need, whenever we ask, whenever we seek or knock, or even challenge, God already knows. The bible is the inspired word of God. It straightforwardly reveals all that we need to know. In light of this understanding, God springs forth from the life-giving waters of truth with the valid statement: "God is not the author of confusion."

What need is there for a second meal after you have already been fed and are full? What need is there for a second judgement when you have already been judged? We worship a living, powerful, magnificent God. A God of love, mercy, truth and incredibly - justice. I say incredibly because I find it highly remarkable that we have been taught all of our lives to "be fair" only to find that being "just" is far above and beyond "being fair." Justice has everything to do with judgement. And justice is only necessary - one time. The interpretations of judgements and the seat of judgement are compelling, however, there is one element of thought that is missing from them: The final judgement is just that - THE FINAL JUDGEMENT.

There is only one, and it will happen to all of us. Jesus gave us the true teaching concerning the coming of the Son of Man: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:36 - 37) and "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:42) "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over His household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that He shall make him ruler over all His goods." (Matthew 24:45 - 47) After this, there will be no need to judge again.

Bill Caraway

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