by deanna reynolds M.D. (ret.), Corpus Christi, Texas
Christians are called to deny self and suffer with Christ during the Church age, the time of His throne of mercy and grace. Although all Christians will be eternally saved, only some choose to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and persevere from one trial to the next, such that they are able to stand before Christ on Judgment Day (see Luke 21:36) and be crowned victors (e.g. Phil 3:8-14, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, James 1:12).
After years of pressing into the Lord and searching the Scriptures as for hidden treasure (Prov. 2:4) regarding the resurrection, rapture, Christ’s judgment of His saints, and the Millennial kingdom, I am now at yet another point in my understanding sufficiently firm enough to share it here with you all (the previous two series on these matters were Our Exalted Position and Saving Faith is Present Tense and Active – this builds upon and supercedes what I’ve written therein).
So here is an overview of my present understanding of this critically important matter. Please read it all the way through (don’t let the old Adam react and stop), and make time to study it out yourself: I’ve provided a few lists of pertinent Scriptures to help, following my overview. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (Prov. 25:2)
Overview of the Resurrection, Rapture, Judgment of Christ’s Saints, and the Millennium
Know first that since eternal salvation cannot be lost, Christ’s judgment seat is not for determining whether the Christian will spend eternity with God – he will! The fire emanating from the judgment seat is for burning up the believer’s works of wood, hay and straw, and revealing the Holy Spirit-empowered works of gold, silver, and costly stones the believer has done. Then our Judge will render either kingdom entry and rewards OR discipline to the believer according to those works (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:11-14; 2 Cor. 5:10; Col. 3:25; Rev. 2:23; 22:12); they will be experienced for the duration of the Millennium. THEN, once all the redeemed have attain[ed] to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13), they will be united as the New Jerusalem to be with God for eternity (Rev. 21:1-22:5).
- This Church age ends at Christ’s parousia, which is Christ’s secret coming for His Bride in the air AND the time that God’s throne of mercy becomes His throne of judgment. Judgment begins with the family of God (1 Peter 4:17).
- First, He resurrects all His saints who have died physical deaths (overcomers and non-overcomers alike). Second, perhaps milliseconds later, of those alive at the time of His parousia, He raptures only His overcomers (firstfruits). This is the first phase of the Bema Seat of Christ (see #2 and 3 below).
- Left behind to be tested in the Great Tribulation are both unbelievers AND non-overcoming saints (Luke 21:34-36; Rev. 3:1-3; 3:10). (This includes Israel, however Israel/the Jews will not be addressed further herein.)
- All unbelievers who repent and receive Christ AND the non-overcoming saints who repent and wash their soiled white robes (Rev. 7:14, 3:4) are raptured at later phases of the Bema seat after they have “ripened”/matured in Christ (see #2 below). These are the Tribulation saints the antichrist is given power to overcome (Dan. 7:21,25; Rev. 13:7): many will die as martyrs.
- Everyone who takes the mark of the beast cannot be saved, and will suffer the wrath of God (Rev. 14:9-11). Those remaining alive at the end of the Great Tribulation will be slain by the Word/Sword from Christ’s mouth at His second coming (Rev. 19); they won’t be judged until after the Millennium (see #4 below).
- At the onset of Christ’s parousia, all the overcoming saints – resurrected and raptured alike – inherit rewards at the Bema seat according to their righteous Holy Spirit-empowered works. Collectively, they are the Bride of Christ, and enter into His Millennial kingdom. All Christians who enter the kingdom are crowned and enthroned to rule and reign with Him 1,000 years.
- The overcoming Christians who died throughout the past 2,000 years are the wise virgins of Rev. 25 who fell asleep. They awaited the Bridegroom with plenty of oil on hand for their lamps, and died before He came for His Bride. They enter into the wedding banquet all at one time at the onset of His parousia, followed perhaps milliseconds later (1 Thess. 4:15,17) by the overcoming Christians who are raptured alive at that time.
- The non-overcoming Christians who are alive at the time of Christ’s parousia but who are left behind to “ripen” under the heat of the Tribulation (see #1 above) apparently arrive at the Bema seat as different resurrection/rapture “harvests” according to when they are sufficiently “ripened”, whether they are martyred (in which case they are resurrected) or whether they are caught up alive (in which case they are raptured). Most of them will constitute the harvest of the great multitude (seen in Rev. 7:9-17), which occurs mid-Tribulation at the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15ff, described also in 14:14-16 and 1 Cor. 15:51-52). A minority of them will be resurrected/raptured as the gleanings, harvested near the end of the Great Tribulation (alluded to in Rev. 16:15).* Having washed their soiled white robes with the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14, 3:4), they likewise will all receive rewards in accordance with their Holy Spirit-empowered works (22:12).
- All these overcomers awarded at the Bema seat during His ~7 year parousia constitute the Bride of Christ of Rev. 19:7-8 who has made herself ready with righteous acts; they will descend with Him as the armies of heaven (v. 14) at the end of the Great Tribulation. Then, as blessed and holy participants of the first resurrection, they all will rule and reign with Christ in His kingdom 1,000 years (20:4-6).
- At the Bema Seat, the resurrected non-overcoming Christians (all of whom will have died physical deaths) are denied access to both the wedding supper and the Millennial kingdom. They are the foolish virgins of Rev. 25 who fell asleep (died) throughout the past 2,000 years as they each awaited the Bridegroom with an insufficient supply of oil for their lamp. Their works of wood, hay, and straw (1 Cor. 3:12) are burned up by the Word/fire emanating from God’s throne. Not having died sufficiently to self, they must spend the Millennium outside Christ’s kingdom, enduring what Jesus described first as forfeiture of soul (Matt. 16:26) and then as the second death (Rev. 2:11). The names of these non-overcoming Christians are thus temporarily “blotted out” of the book of life (Rev. 3:5).
- Astonishing as this sounds at first, Scripture shows they will be cast down to Hades with the deceased unbelievers already there, and will be punished accordingly (as the sons of God that they are – see Heb. 10:5-11) for 1,000 years. (Read in good translations Luke 12:46-48; John 15:2,6; Ro. 11:21-22; Heb. 10:26-31,38; & Rev. 20:5a, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach…)
- When the thousand years are completed, all the dead will be resurrected (from Hades etc.) to be judged on the last day at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15, note v.11). The disciplined saints’ names ARE then found in the book of life (v.15 indicates names WILL be found written in the book of life at the end of the Millennium); they therefore are no longer blotted out as implied for the non-overcomers per Rev. 3:5. Since the overcomers (#2 above) constitute the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven (Heb. 12:23), the disciplined saints are the remainder whose names are written therein, thus they join the Lord and His overcomers for eternity as the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21). And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For the Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:39-40) Hallelujah!
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only few find it. (Matt. 7:13-14, emphasis added. See also Luke 13:22-30)
* The resurrection of the two witnesses in Rev. 11:12 and the resurrection of the saints in Matt. 27:50-53 are yet additional and simpler proofs that the common understanding of a single rapture/resurrection of the righteous is proven false as the Scriptures are rightly divided. Paul’s descriptions of the rapture/resurrection in 1 Thess. 4:14-17 and 1 Cor. 15:51-52 do not limit it to a single event in time. Note also that Rev. 3:3 in its context is one Scripture which overthrows the false teaching that all the Church will escape the Tribulation, and that Rev. 3:10 in its context is one which overthrows the false teaching that all the Church must endure the Tribulation. It is apparent that being raptured is selective, because it is a judgment act: like Enoch and Elijah, blessed and holy are those [believers] who have part in a rapture – especially the first! – for they will be part of the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him for a thousand years (Rev. 20:6).
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Be assured that the accountability truths herein and selective nature of multiple raptures/resurrections have been recognized by “multitudes” of early premillennialists – see J. D. Faust’s hefty book The Rod: Will God Spare It? An Exhaustive Study of Temporary Punishment for Unfaithful Christians at the Judgment Seat and During the Millennial Kingdom, Schoettle Publishing Co., Hayesville, N.C., 2002 for an extensive listing of such saints. I’ve personally found Robert Govett’s many writings (1813-1901), D. M. Panton’s writings (1870-1955), and this book by G. M. Lang (1874-1958) to be excellent on these matters, overall rightly dividing the Scriptures.
God willing, I might be writing this in more detail as a series. Whether I do or not, may God grant you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation as you make time to study the Scriptures for yourself (many more provided below), with the blessed Holy Spirit as your teacher.
The time is near! May we all produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt. 3:8), be always on the watch, be able to escape all that is about to happen, and be able to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36)! Amen.
So very much love in Christ, the Resurrection and the Life, your sister deanna
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Some Key Scriptures for Studying this Crucial Matter in Depth Yourself
Called to Suffer with Christ (Self-Denial):
- Matt.5:10-12; 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 6:22-23; 9:22-26; John 12:23-26; Acts 14:22; Ro. 8:17; First Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 1:29; 3:10-14; Second Thess. 1:5; Second Tim. 1:8b-9a; 2:12; 3:12; James 5:10; First Pet. 2:19-20; 3:14; 4:1-2,16,19; Rev. 2:8-11; 3:7-10; 12:11
Judgment Seat of Christ:
- John 5:22,27; Matt. 25:19; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Ro. 2:5-11,16; 14:10-12; First Cor. 3:13-17; 4:2-5; Second Cor. 5:9-11; Col. 3:23-25; Second Tim. 4:1; James 2:12-13; 5:9; Rev. 2:23b
Punishment of God’s Saints:
- Prov. 13:24; Jonah 2:2,6,10; Matt 5:20,22, 29-30; 7:19,21-23; 10:28,33; 13:40-43; 18:9,21-23,34-35; 24:45-51; 25:14,24-30; Mark 9:38,43-48; Luke 12:4-5; 41-42,45-48; 21:36; John 15:2,6; Ro. 8:11-14; 11:21-22; First Cor 3:12,15; 10:1-12; Second Cor. 5:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7; Col. 3:25; 2 Tim. 2:12; 4:14; Heb. 2:3; 6:4-8; 10:19-31,38; 12:6,9b-11,25-27; Second Peter 2:1-22 (esp. v.21); Jude 1:5; Rev. 2:11 & 3:5 (note in both the implication for those who don’t overcome, confirmed by these other Scriptural witnesses); 2:22-23; 3:16,19
Reward of Inheritance:
- Ro. 8:17; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 6:7-8; Col. 3:23-25 (esp. v.25); Second Thess. 1:5; Second Tim. 4:8; Titus 3:7-8; Heb. 11:6; Rev. 2:10-11; 2:26; 3:5; 3:10-12; 3:21: 22:21: Matt. 6:20,33; 7:21; 19:27-30
First Resurrection (Resurrection of the Righteous / THE Resurrection from the Dead / Better Resurrection / Church of the Firstborn):
- Rev. 20:4-6; Luke 14:13-14, 20:35-36; Phil 3:10-14; Heb 11:35; 12:23
Firstfruits, Harvest, and Gleanings:
- Lev. 23:9-22; Ruth Ch. 2
- Regarding firstfruits before the main harvest, note also that Christ separated Peter, James, and John from His other disciples on three occasions: to witness the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, to witness His transfiguration, and to watch and pray nearest Him in Gethsemane.