Has God required more of some to gain a better resurrection? Is immortality the only reward of the saved? Why are those to be saved in the Millennium not required to war against Satan?
JESUS CHRIST said, "Children, how HARD it is to enter the Kingdom of God! (Mark 10:24, RSV.) Today it IS hard to enter the Kingdom of God! Will it be easier for those in the world tomorrow?
Today's War Against Satan
In this age Christians must fight in a spiritual warfare against the wicked spirits. Notice Ephesians 6:12, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness [the margin reads WICKED SPIRITS] in high places." But in the world tomorrow EVERYTHING will be different! Jesus Christ, and those of us born into the family of God, will be ruling this earth! Peace will come. Satan and his demons will no longer deceive the nations! There will be no more religious confusion. "And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." Heb. 8:11. Yes, in that happy day there will be no more persecution from relatives or neighbors. Everyone will know the ways of God! But why has God allowed Satan and his demons to fight against Christians today? Why this ADDED warfare? God has required us to go through more trials today to receive eternal life than will be required of those to be born in the Millennium! WHY? Notice the examples of Abraham, of David, and of the prophets. Abraham looked far beyond what many of us do today. He had more prophetic vision than most of us today. These worthy men of old went through many TERRIBLE THINGS in their lives of obedience to God. Notice verse 34: They "quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a BETTER RESURRECTION." Did you notice that? Here is one answer to this enigma. Here is why God has required more of some than others! Those called and chosen in this age — and all past ages — are called to a BETTER resurrection! God has not required more of some and less of others to gain immortality, but HE has called some to HIGHER OFFICES in a better resurrection. These have required more training, more experience and more overcoming to qualify for higher offices. Remember the gifts and the calling are of God! God does at times call some to higher office than others. Have you ever thought that one resurrection might be better than another? The first resurrection of which this refers, is to immortality and RULERSHIP in the Kingdom of God. The second resurrection is one to MORTAL life. To a life of trial and testing. And yet, there is in it a possibility to attain immortality. The third resurrection is one to utter destruction. It is for those who have sinned WILLFULLY, who have committed the unpardonable sin, to those who have had their opportunity and have rejected it.
A Higher Calling
God has in general called those of this age to higher positions in His kingdom, than those who come after. Notice in your Bible, how God millenniums ago selected the man to rule over Israel. Later He added the twelve apostles to rule various tribes. Now He is calling or inviting others to fill lower positions under these men. God usually calls those with the highest office first. He is calling us to positions of authority above those who will come in the ages to follow. They too will have opportunity to rule in the Kingdom of God, but, in a lesser way. Think of the billions of people who have either lived and died before us, or who will live after us in the millennium. And yet, how FEW in comparison He has called in this age. He is now calling out just a few to serve in these higher places. On the other hand, some who are called now, may not overcome as they should and not attain to the high office that God has called them to. Possibly some who follow after, who do overcome more will be over them in authority. God has provided a better, a higher calling for us, "God having provided some BETTER thing for us, that they WITHOUT US SHOULD NOT BE MADE PERFECT" (Heb. 11:40). In other words those for the resurrection consist of a definite number. Those of past ages are not complete without us. The bride of Christ is being selected in this age and is a complete body. When it is complete, when it becomes the bride of Christ, others will not be added to it. Rev. 19:7 tells us of the marriage of the Lamb to His wife. The others that come after will have their reward, they will also be a part of the family of God; however they are nowhere called a part of the bride of Christ. This may have much greater significance than you realize.
Church of the Firstborn
Read on through Hebrews 12, and notice particularly verse 23. Here is mentioned the "Church of the firstborn." Remember that in ancient times it was the custom for the firstborn to receive the greater share of the father's estate. God is to make us heir of all things. And yet who will receive the greater share? The Firstborn! They will have greater opportunity for service. They will be in higher positions of authority in God's Kingdom. The one who has the highest office, CAN MORE EFFECTIVELY HELP MORE PEOPLE. In this place the word "firstborn" is somewhat misleading. The wore in the Greek is plural. In other words if we were to translate it correctly in English, we would say the "firstborn ones." There are more than one who will be first-born. At the resurrection MANY SONS will be born at once. These all will be the FIRST BORN ONES. They will have an earlier opportunity for service in the Kingdom of God. They will have a greater opportunity of serving than those that come afterward. In ancient time God called the firstborn of each family to serve Him. The firstborn failed and God had to call others to do this service. In the millennium, God will again use this same principle of using the firstborn for His SPECIAL service in governing the world.
Ruling Is Serving
When we first come into the Church, we often think that we do not want to rule in God's Kingdom. All we want is to be given eternal life. How SELFISH we are! We want to receive the benefits of eternal life, and yet we do not want to serve others. The higher the position in God's Kingdom that we might attain, the more we will be able to SERVE and HELP others. It is even so today. Mr. Armstrong has the greater facilities, the greater opportunity to help more people more effectively than any other person on this earth. That is because God has given him the highest office. Those that are under Mr. Armstrong in authority are less able to as effectively help as many people as much. And so it is in God's Kingdom. You should want to qualify for the highest office possible in God's Kingdom. If you are faithful over a few things in this life, God will make you ruler over many things in the one to come. In a business or corporation of this world, the man at top must have the best training and background. The man who is a janitor, or a door-keeper does not need the training or the experience of the president of the company. In like manner so is the Kingdom of God. Those who have overcome most, who have had the greatest experience, who have proved themselves more effectively than the others will have the highest position. The one with the most experience is Jesus Christ. And He will be the King over that kingdom. The others who have high positions will be those who have the best experience, who have overcome more, and who have grown more spiritually. Now maybe you can begin to realize why some must go through more in this life than others. They have been invited or called to a higher office in God's kingdom. God has not put a different price on immortality, but He does require more of some than of others to qualify for the high position that He has called them to. Think how much more experience those in the first resurrection will have than those who will come after. They will have 1,000 years more experience in ruling in God's Kingdom than those to come later.
Marvelous Prophecy About Our Church
It is impossible for us who are now mortal to fully realize the great high calling to which God has called us. We call only see a few of the more obvious things about this high calling. Notice Rev. 3:12. Here is a prophecy concerning our Church. Those that overcome of this Church will be "pillars in the temple of God at Jerusalem." We refer to a strong person in the Church as a PILLAR in the Church. And so it is in this case too. Those of this Church have been called to be at the temple in Jerusalem, the headquarters on this earth of the Kingdom of God. Our calling and office will be at Jerusalem. That will be our abode, our dwelling place. Just as God in heaven has His dwelling place so will we be at Jerusalem where we can be with Jesus Christ personally. Reading on in this verse notice that we who overcome are to have the NAME of God upon us. God names things what they are. If we have the NAME of God, then we will BE GOD. Here is another of the many, many places indicating that those who attain to the resurrection will be a part of the very family of God. We also will have the name of this CITY of God — that is — the New Jerusalem. Does this make any sense to you? The city of the New Jerusalem you may think, is that city which God is preparing in heaven. Yes, that is true, and yet a city is more than the buildings and the streets which it contains. A city is composed ALSO of those PEOPLE who live there. At the beginning of this verse God says that we will no more go out of the temple of God. We then will be residents of that city. For more proof turn to Rev. 20:9. Here is a time pictured which follows the 1,000 year period, and the 100 year period. This is after the old heavens and the old earth are destroyed and a new heaven and new earth are made. The New Jerusalem comes to this earth, and God the father comes to dwell on the earth. In this verse the angel tells John, "Come, I will show you the bride." Now remember that we of this age are called to be a part of that BRIDE — those in the FIRST RESURRECTION. But what does the angel show John? A woman? No — he shows him the CITY the New Jerusalem. Why does he do this? He does this because the bride of Christ not only lives with Him in the New Jerusalem, but also RULES from that city! Here is where the saints of this age, those who overcome, and are a part of the bride of Christ, will be centered. In the previous age, we of the Philadelphia era are to be at the temple in Jerusalem, Palestine. The headquarters of the world. During the time of the new heavens and the new earth, we will be at the very headquarters of the UNIVERSE. What a GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY and JOY to look forward to! To be at the very headquarters of the universe, at the same place where God the Father, where Jesus Christ and many of the Holy Angels will dwell.
Yet Other Offices
But there are many more who will make up God's Kingdom at that time. We find them mentioned in the 24th verse. "And the nations of them which are SAVED (they will be IMMORTAL), shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it." Yes, there are still rulers and kings in God's Kingdom. And they are not all at the New Jerusalem. They will come to the New Jerusalem, to visit it, and bring their GLORY (their divinity, or immortality) into it. You may be troubled by the fact that there are still nations on this earth. Actually, this is simply referring to those various "families" of this earth then immortal. After all, would you expect the various families of the earth to no longer be recognizable? We certainly will not all look exactly alike. We certainly would expect to look in shape and form similar to what we look like today. The great change will be that we then will be DIVINE, RADIANT, like Jesus Christ Himself, as we find described in Rev. 1:13-15. For example, a grandfather may have several families that have come from him. He possibly has several children who have their own families, and they in turn have families. They may look quite different and yet be of the same family. God has called many of us who were the foolish, the weak, the lowborn, and the despised — to an exceeding "HIGH CALLING" (I Cor. 1:26-31, Lamsa translation). He has called us to confound the wise. He will confound them through us in the ages to come. Think how great a responsibility God has offered to us, the firstborn! By serving in a greater position of authority, we will be able to help and to serve MORE PEOPLE MORE EFFECTIVELY. Because of the JOY that was set before Him, Jesus Christ endured the cross. Maybe you too can now see better the JOY that is set before you. God will not require of you more than you are able to bear. You CAN endure to the end! The way may seem difficult and hard at times. And yet you need not fall! "Wherefore the rather brethren give diligence to make your CALLING and ELECTION SURE. FOR IF YE DO THESE THINGS, YE SHALL NEVER FALL" (II Peter 1:10). If you do the things Peter mentions in this chapter, you will never fall. You will endure to the end. You will be in that BETTER resurrection. You too will be a pillar in the temple at Jerusalem, Palestine. You too will be an eternal resident of that Holy City the New Jerusalem.