Table of Contents / Overview
- Man's Natural State
- Divine Enlightenment
- Knowledge Brings Responsibility
- Who Will Be Raised?
- In What State Will The Dead Be Raised?
- The Judgment
- Reward or Punishment
- The Change To Immortality
In every aspect of life knowledge brings responsibility. By this we mean that if we know something, we usually have to apply that knowledge in some way. Knowledge in itself is of little value either to ourselves or to others. This is especially true of that knowledge of God's plan of salvation which you should now have. On one occasion, after teaching his disciples certain principles of their way of life, Jesus said: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them". (John 13 v 17)
Having granted us the privilege of knowing His way of salvation, God expects us to do something about it.
Moreover, we will have to account to him for the use we have made of this knowledge. This is what we mean by "being responsible". The day of account will be at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, when he will judge those who have been given the precious understanding of God's Truth.
If we have used this understanding rightly and lived in obedience to God we can hope to live for ever to the glory of God in His Kingdom upon this earth. To fail to obey God must mean rejection and punishment.
These are the matters to be explained in this lesson.
We have already learnt from previous lessons that man is a sinful creature and therefore estranged from God.
He can only be reconciled to God through the Gospel. As the majority of mankind do not understand the Gospel, they live their lives subject only to the carnal mind.
- Romans 8 v 5-8
It is God's intention to enlighten the minds and develop the character of all those who respond to the call of the Gospel. This enlightenment can come only from a study of the Divine mind revealed in the Scriptures.
- Ephesians 1 v 15-19
- II Timothy 3 v 14-17
It is a principle of God's dealings with man that where he has given them an understanding of his purpose, he holds them responsible for their actions and way of life.
To Israel of old, whom God had called out of Egyptian slavery and enlightened by the giving of His laws, He declared through the prophet Amos: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities".
- Amos 3 v 2
Nearly 700 years before the times of Amos, God had forewarned Israel through his servant Moses that He would take this line: in Deuteronomy chapter 28 the alternatives were clearly set before Israel of blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. The subsequent history of natural Israel has borne ample evidence of God's power to carry out his judgments.
In the same way if we today disregard the call of the Gospel we will be required to give account in the day of judgment.
- James 4 v 17
- John 15 v 22
- John 12 v 44-48
The Apostle Paul summarises the matter for us:
"FOR THERE IS NO RESPECT OF PERSONS WITH GOD. FOR AS MANY AS HAVE SINNED WITHOUT LAW SHALL ALSO PERISH WITHOUT LAW: AND AS MANY AS HAVE SINNED IN THE LAW SHALL BE JUDGED BY THE LAW."
- Romans 2 v 11-12
This necessitates the resurrection of those who are responsible at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.
- Daniel 12 v 1-3
- John 5 v 25-29
CHRIST'S FIRST WORK AT HIS RETURN will be to raise all those who are responsible. These together with the responsible amongst the living will be gathered to his judgment and judged each one according to their works.
- John 6 v 39-40
- Matthew 25 v 31-46
- Acts 24 v 15
- Romans 14 v 10-12
- II Corinthians 5 v 9-10
The Scriptures make it clear that not all who have ever lived will be resurrected. The vast majority of mankind having died in ignorance of the Gospel will remain in the grave.
- Psalm 49 v 20
- Proverbs 21 v 16
- Isaiah 26 v 13-14
- Ephesians 4 v 17-18
At the creation, we read that "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul". There will be no difficulty, therefore, in repeating this process in respect of those who have lived and died and returned to the dust. It is important, however, to be clear as to the state in which these resurrected beings come forth from the grave. It will not be in the "very good" condition in which our first parents were created. Only Adam and Eve ever experienced that state and they forfeited it when they disobeyed God's commandment and were sentenced to corruption and death. Nor will the resurrected saints come forth from the grave immortal, for they will not yet have been judged. It is clear, therefore, that they come forth from the grave in the same nature that they possessed before death: that is, human and mortal.
- Genesis 2 v 7
- Genesis 1 v 31
- Job 19 v 25-27
- II Corinthians 5 v 10
In the wisdom of God, our judgment has been delegated to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, because he bore our sin-cursed nature and was tempted in all points like unto his brethren, yet without sin. Our Lord himself, has given us much information about the judgment. The record in Matthew, already quoted, should be carefully studied.
- John 5 v 20-23
- John 5 v 26-29
- Hebrews 4 v 15
- Matthew 25 v 31-46
It will be clear from what has already been said that both the righteous and the unrighteous will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. It will be a joy to the righteous to be able to render a good account and to be tried before a righteous judge, and many of the worthies of the past expressed their longing for that day which will justify them. These will receive the reward of eternal life.
- Job 19 v 25-27
- Psalm 7 v 6-11
- II Timothy 4 v 6-8
As to the unrighteous, we are told that they are condemned and rejected and will receive the punishment of eternal death.
Jesus said: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have EVERLASTING LIFE". The Apostle Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians explained that Christ has already been raised from the dead and is the first of that new order of immortalised beings; at his coming those whom he approves will likewise be changed to incorruptible beings.
- John 3 v 16
- I Corinthians 15 v 20-23 & 35-58
Only God can say who is fully responsible to Him but if you have learnt the lessons thoroughly you should now have sufficient knowledge to make you responsible to God. If so then you will be amongst those who will be judged by Christ at his return to the earth. This shows how important it is that you know what he requires and try to obey him.
The matter is made the more urgent because of the clear signs that the return of Christ is very near. There may not be much time available for us to prepare for that coming. These signs were dealt with in detail in Lesson 15. The outstanding ones are the present positions of Israel and Russia. At any time the tension in the Middle East could flare up into a major conflict in which not only Israel and the Arabs, but Russia and the Western powers will be involved. Christ will probably return and judge his followers before then. When he was on earth he warned them: "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come".
The only wise course is to make ourselves thoroughly familiar with his teaching, to fully understand God's plan for the salvation of mankind and to obey his command to be baptised and live a life which will be pleasing to God.
Using references where possible to support your reply, answer the following:
- Who will be summoned to the judgment seat?
- What is it that makes a man or woman responsible?
- In what state will the dead be raised?
- Who will be the judge of the living and the dead?
- What will be:
- the reward of the righteous?
- the punishment of the wicked?
- How do you know that the day of resurrection and judgment is near?