According to Christian beliefs, you can only get to heaven and God through Jesus. How did people get to heaven before Jesus came on the scene?
Answer: They didn’t.
Jesus opened up the “New and Living Way”—that is, he opened up the heavenly calling.
The rest of mankind from Adam until now who have not come in through Christ will get a resurrection on the earth. You are familiar with the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on the earth as it is in heaven…”
The faithful Christian is part of the “first resurrection.” If there is a first then there is at least one more. They are the resurrection of the “just” or justified, and the rest of the world is the “unjust” or unjustified by Christ. Their resurrection is not to condemnation as some translation say, but to judgement—that is the Millennium is a period of trial for all of mankind. Not a sentencing, but trial. They come back and will “know the Lord from the least unto the greatest”—they get an opportunity not afforded them in this life.
Two Salvations and Two Resurrections
Here are some texts that explain that there is one Ransom but two salvations and two resurrections.
- “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
- “…There will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just [the spiritual classes: Bride of Christ & Church, and the earthly class: the Ancient Worthies] and the unjust (the world of mankind)” (Acts 24:15).
- “(28) Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, (29) and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life (Heavenly Salvation), those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (Earthly)” (John 5:28-29, NAS).
The Overcomers in the 1st Resurrection
In John 16:33 Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We read in 1 John 5:4 that “everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
These “overcomers” or “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) have been redeemed from Adamic condemnation (Romans 8:1), and committed their earthly life to be a “living sacrifice” in the present time (Romans 12:1). They have become begotten to a new life, a spiritual life, and thus are on trial for their spiritual life presently. These are the Church members. The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, RVIC: “(51) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall all fall asleep [Acts 7:60- also says “fell asleep”], but we shall not all be changed (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, in the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
[NOTE: RVIC – THE REVISED VERSION (AMERICAN EDITION) IMPROVED & CORRECTED BIBLE – is the most accurate up to date English version of the Holy Scriptures available, compiled from manuscripts discovered and published to AD 1999.]
The ones who died long ago were “raised” to life at the Lord’s return in 1874, at the sound of the last, or seventh, trumpet. Those who die within the present harvest period of the Gospel Age are “changed” at the moment of death.
The ORDER of the Resurrection Process
1st – Christ, “the firstfruits” (1 Corinthians 15:23)—Christ has inherited DIVINE NATURE = IMMORTAL LIFE.
2nd – The Sleeping Saints—these are the OVERCOMERS and they that are Christ’s at his coming i.e. the Bride of Christ—the Elect, 144,000 members of Christ’s “body”.
3rd – The Harvest Saints—these are also the OVERCOMERS—the Bride of Christ, the 144,000 raised “in the twinkling of an eye” in new, spiritual bodies and inherit IMMORTAL LIFE since 1874 until the completion of the Bride of Christ.
“God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40). This talks about the necessity of the Church to be a part of blessing all the families of the world.
What is meant by “a better resurrection” in Hebrews 11:35?
This refers to the resurrection of the Ancient Worthies, the “Heros of Faith.” Some of the Ancient Worthies are described in Hebrews chapter 11. In Hebrews 11:39 and 35 we read, “… these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise… (35) Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.”
It is understood that Apostle Paul meant that the ancient worthies receive a better resurrection (i.e. eternal life) than those received who were revived temporarily in the Old Testament (which is the subject of Hebrews 11:35).
The Ancient Worthies will be the first humans resurrected onto the earth in the Kingdom. They will be raised perfect, as they already were justified by their faith. They will lead mankind on earth. Psalms 45:16 refers to them as “princes in all the earth.”
4th – The Great Multitude & Ancient Worthies—
The Great Multitude:
The Great Multitude will be resurrected after the GREAT TRIBULATION (Armageddon, Battle of Gog and Magog) starts, as indicated in the following passages of Scripture in the Bible:-
- Genesis 19:23 – “The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.”
Zoar was the city, not “the mountain.” The mountain, to which Lot fled subsequently, represents the heavenly realm where Lot later went to dwell (Genesis 19:30). Lot is often seen as a picture of the Great Company, who lingers through the severe troubles that close the present Harvest period.
- Matthew 25:1-13 – the five wise and the five foolish virgins.
- Micah 7:1-7 – here the Great Multitude realize that the Bride of Christ is taken and there is a time of God’s wrath when deplorable and fearsome conditions on earth remain and all faithful men have perished and there is no one upright on earth – yet in verse 7, God delivers them as they “watch in hope”.
- Revelation 7:14 – “And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Members of the Great Company class have received purging experiences whenever they may have lived during the Gospel Age (since AD 33). However, Revelation 7:14 speaks in particular of members of the Great Company who are living during the Harvest and pass through the “four winds” that close the harvest. In the Revelation 7:3-4, the 144,000 class are “sealed” before the four winds blow which may signify that they are taken to glory—but the Great Company class linger and pass through the experience.
The Ancient Worthies:
- The Ancient Worthies—it is possible that these faithful ones of old will be resurrected towards the end of Armageddon to bring peace during the 7th (last) plague described in Revelation chapter 16. That seventh plague includes a battle, an earthquake, and a plague of hail.
- The Ancient Worthies, or at least some of them, evidently will be raised in the midst of the crisis of Israel invaded by the coalition of Gog and his allies. This is suggested by Micah 5:5, and 2 Kings 3:10,11, and context.
“And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men” (Micah 5:5).
Assyria—represents Gog with his invading hosts, thus Russia, together with their allies.
——-[NOTE: The battle at Israel when God fights for them is described also in Ezekiel chapters 38 to 39. Here we again see that the coalition that comes against Israel includes:
- Gog (Russia) which is part of Old Christendom
- Persia (Iran)
- Cush (perhaps Muslim black Africa),
- Libya (Libya, perhaps North central Africa, not including Egypt)
- Gomer (perhaps Western Europe),
- Togarmah (Turkey).
Except perhaps for Gomer, the identification made here are customary, not unusual, they are however interpretive, so let us “watch and pray”.
On the other side, in the author’s understanding (and this is interpretive), is (according to what we read in Ezekiel 38:13):
- Sheba and Dedan (Saudi Arabia, always against Iran),
- the Merchants of Tarshish (England), and
- the young lions thereof (American, Canada, Australia). They are part of newer Christendom, and not part of the alliance of the sixth plague whose representative governments fall at Israel. The victory at Israel is orchestrated by God, using the forces of the Israelis assisted by God’s overruling power.]——-
Seven shepherds—represents the Church completed beyond the vail. The word “shepherd” was a way of referring to kings in the language of the day. (For as a shepherd has control of his flock, so a king has control of his people.)
Eight principal men—Eight “princes” of men, as contrasted to the seven kings (shepherds). Thus those who will be “princes in all the earth” (who are the Ancient Worthies.) The number seven is about the Church because of the seven stages of the Church—the period following the Gospel Age is then period “eight,” and that is when the Ancient Worthies come back. Thus the number “eight” is associated with them.
In Micah 5:6 we read, “And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.”
Here it is explained that Israel, under the hand of the completed heavenly Church above and the advice of the Ancient Worthies among them, will have a dramatic
The land of Nimrod is the land of Assyria, perhaps because Asshur who came from the land of Nimrod (Shinar) built the initial area of Asshur (Genesis 10:10-12).
Our second lot of verses quoted above is from 2 Kings 3:10-11:
“10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab! 11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may enquire of the Lord by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.”
Elisha represents the Ancient Worthies, raised at a point of crisis in Israel. Some of the Great Company class may linger to see the intervention of God on behalf of Israel. This may be what precipitates their expressions as prophesied in Jeremiah 8:20, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
[NOTE: Elisha does represent the Great Company class when they are separated from Elijah (the Church) by the whirlwind. When Elisha then crosses the Jordan from east to west, after the taking of Elijah, Elisha thereafter is a picture of the Ancient Worthies in their experiences during the Millennium. Refer to 2 Kings chapter 2.]
5th – The Remainder of Mankind
All will have an adequate opportunity to be on trial for life in the Kingdom before judgement is received. (Isaiah 65:20)
The “Highway of Holiness” operating during the Millennium will lead people from ungodliness, to holiness as we read in Isaiah 35:8,
“And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”
John 5:28-29 refers to the resurrection of judgment, which will be the point of decision between self will and God’s will:
“28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (judgment).”
All mankind will be raised by Christ and the Church. They will be raised as human beings, and during the Millennium they will be developed and prepared to receive everlasting life in the judgment following the Millennium. The world will be natural being, fleshly beings, as at present. “There is a natural body (human) and there is a spiritual body” (spirit beings) (1 Corinthians 15:44). The world will be natural, fleshly, human beings.
When is the Resurrection Complete?
The resurrection will be complete when all who have died are raised again. The curse will be lifted at the beginning of the age, by the application of the Ransom for the world of mankind, in order to allow the resurrection of the dead.
The resurrection is the only hope for the dead. Let us conclude with John 11:23-26—
“23Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’
24Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’
25Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”
The resurrection is our ONLY HOPE and an integral part of God’s Divine Plan!
How thankful we are to our Heavenly Father for such a Perfect Plan that will result in eternal life for all.
Some source material was used from the power point presentation (a BibleTruth411 Video) titled “The Hope and Resurrection of the Dead.”
Suggested Further Reading
ACTS 23:6 —HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART A: What is Jesus All About?
ACTS 23:6 —HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART B. Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?
ACTS 3:19-21 – The Restitution of All Things
Epoch Periods In God’s Plan
The Resurrection of the Dead. Faithbuilders Fellowship, Nov. – Dec. 2008 (Journal Section). http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2008/06_nd_08.pdf
In the First Resurrection. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, March/April 1987 Magazine
Life After Death. Dawn Bible Students Association.