Resurrection – Part 2
2.2.7 The First Resurrection
The “first resurrection” spoken of in the Bible describes the fulfillment of restoration for the first time in providential history. This will be accomplished through Christ at the Second Advent. He will cleanse people of the original sin and restore them to their true, original selves, enabling each to fulfill the purpose of creation.
The hope of all Christians is to participate in the first resurrection. But who in fact shall participate? It will be those who are the first to believe in, serve and follow Christ at the Second Advent. They will assist him in fulfilling all the indemnity conditions worldwide and in accomplishing the providence of restoration. In the process, they will be the first to have their original sin removed, become divine spirits, and fulfill the purpose of creation.
Next, let us investigate the meaning of the 144,000 mentioned in the Bible.21(Rev. 14:1-4)CEV|KJ|NI, (Rev. 7:4)CEV|KJ|NI In order for Christ at the Second Advent to complete the providence of restoration, he must find a certain number of people who can restore through indemnity the missions of all the past saints who, despite their best efforts to do God’s Will, fell prey to Satan when they failed in their responsibilities. He must find these people during his lifetime and lay the foundation of victory over Satan’s world. The total number of saints whom Christ at the Second Advent must find to accomplish this task is 144,000.
In the course of God’s providence of restoration, Jacob had twelve children with whom he set out on his mission to restore a family. Moses led twelve tribes in fulfilling the mission to restore a nation. If these twelve tribes were to multiply once more after the pattern of twelve tribes, they would total 144. Jesus, who came with the mission to restore the world, found twelve disciples in order to restore through indemnity, both spiritually and physically, the number 144. Yet due to his crucifixion, Jesus was able to restore it only spiritually. Jacob had twelve sons in order to restore through indemnity in his lifetime the vertical course of twelve generations from Noah, which had been claimed by Satan.22(cf. Periods 2.2) In the same way, Christ at the Second Advent must restore through indemnity in his lifetime, both spiritually and physically, the long providential course since the First Coming of Christ, who has set up the spiritual pattern of 144 tribes. To accomplish this, he must find a required number of believers, corresponding to the number 144.
According to the Principle of Creation, the growth of the human spirit requires two kinds of nourishment: life elements received from God and vitality elements received through give and take action with the physical self. Spirits can neither grow nor be resurrected apart from a physical self. Consequently, the spirits of people who died before they could reach perfection during their earthly life can be resurrected only by returning to earth and completing their unaccomplished responsibility through cooperation with earthly people. By assisting people of faith living on the earth to fulfill their missions, the spirits may complete their missions at the same time. Herein lies the meaning behind the verse which foretold that in the Last Days the Lord will come “with his holy myriads.” 23(Jude 14)CEV|KJ|NI We call this processreturning resurrection.
How do spirits help people on earth fulfill the Will of God? When people become receptive to spirits through prayer or other spiritual activities, the spirits descend to them to form a common base with their spirit selves and work with them. Spirits perform various works. For example, they pour spiritual fire on earthly people and give them the power to heal diseases. They help people enter states of trance and perceive the realities of the spirit world. They give people revelations and the gift of prophecy. They can also give deep inspiration to the soul. In these various works, spirits act on behalf of the Holy Spirit, guiding people on the earth to accomplish the Will of God.
Spirits of those who kept the Mosaic Law and worshipped God sincerely while living on earth during the Old Testament Age came to abide at the form-spirit level of the spirit world. After the advent of Jesus, these spirits all returned to earth and assisted faithful people on earth to accomplish the Will of God. By thus helping the people to attain the level of life spirit, they too received the same benefit: namely, they became life spirits and entered Paradise. We call this dispensation growth-stage returning resurrection.
Let us draw some examples from the Bible. Since Elijah appeared as a spirit before Jesus and his disciples,24(Matt. 17:3)CEV|KJ|NIit is clear enough that Elijah still lived in the spirit world. Yet Jesus referred to John the Baptist, who lived on the earth, as Elijah.25(Matt. 17:12-13)CEV|KJ|NI Jesus called him Elijah because in terms of their common mission, John’s body concurrently served as Elijah’s body. The spirit of Elijah descended to John the Baptist to help John fulfill the mission Elijah had left unfinished during his earthly life. This was Elijah’s returning resurrection.
It is recorded in the Bible that when Jesus died on the cross, many bodies of the saints rose from their tombs.26(Matt. 27:52)CEV|KJ|NIThis verse does not mean that these saints’ decayed bodies were regenerated, enabling them to rise up in the flesh. Rather, it describes the spiritual phenomenon of returning resurrection. The spirits of the faithful Jews descended to the earth from the form-spirit level of the spirit world where they had been living. They returned to help the believers on earth, who had the opportunity to benefit from the redemption by the cross, to believe in Jesus and become life spirits. In doing so, the returning spirits also became life spirits. If the saints had risen bodily from their tombs, as is literally written in the Bible, they certainly would have testified to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. Would anyone then have dared to persist in disbelieving in Jesus? Moreover, their deeds and works would have been recorded in the Bible, yet we have nothing other than the vague report that the saints rose from their tombs. This was a fleeting spiritual phenomenon perceptible only to those believers whose spiritual senses were open.
Compared to Paradise, which people could enter by virtue of the redemption by Jesus’ crucifixion, the region of the spirit world where the spirits of the Old Testament saints were staying was relatively dark and miserable; thus it was called a “tomb.”
The spirits of people who believed in Jesus while they lived on earth during the New Testament Age became life spirits and entered Paradise after death. After the Second Advent, these spirits will all return to the earth to help faithful people believe in and attend the returning Christ. By thus helping people on earth to attain the level of divine spirit, they too will receive the same benefit and become divine spirits. When the earthly saints pass over to the next world and enter the Kingdom of Heaven in heaven, the returning spirits will also enter the Kingdom. This dispensation is called completion-stage returning resurrection. In this dispensation, the spirits not only help earthly people; earthly people also assist in the resurrection of the spirits.
Let us elucidate the following verse:
All these [saints of the Old Testament Age], though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised [permission to enter the Kingdom of Heaven], since God had foreseen something better [the Kingdom of Heaven] for us [earthly people], that apart from us they [spirits] should not be made perfect [citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven]. –Heb. 11:39-40CEV|KJ|NI
With this explanation, we can understand that this verse accurately depicts returning resurrection. It illustrates that spirits living in the spirit world cannot attain perfection apart from the cooperation of earthly people. Furthermore, it is written, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”27(Matt. 18:18)CEV|KJ|NI This verse teaches that unless the believers on earth first loose what is bound, the spirits also cannot loose what is bound in them. Since spirits can be resurrected only by cooperating with believers on earth to whom they descend, Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter, representing earthly believers, in order that he might unlock the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.28(Matt. 16:19)CEV|KJ|NI
There are several classes of spirits who abide outside Paradise; each has a way to achieve returning resurrection. First, let us examine the returning resurrection of spirits who believed in religions other than Christianity during their lifetime. Just as any two people must first form a common base with each other before they can work toward a common goal, earthly people and spirits can work to achieve a common providential goal only when they first form a common base. Therefore, a spirit who returns to the earth for his resurrection seeks a counterpart among the earthly people of the religion in which he believed during his earthly life. A spirit descends to the person of his choice and guides him. When he helps that person fulfill the purpose of the providence of restoration, they both receive the same benefit.
Second, let us examine the returning resurrection of spirits who lived a conscientious life even though they did not believe in a religion. No one among fallen humanity embodies perfect goodness because no one has resolved the original sin within himself. Hence, a good spirit is one who has relatively more goodness in him than an evil spirit. These good spirits descend to good people on earth and cooperate with them in order to help them fulfill the purpose of God’s providence of restoration. In the process, the spirits receive the same benefits as the people they have helped.
Third, let us examine the returning resurrection of evil spirits. In the Bible we read about the “cursed,” who are liable to “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”29(Matt. 25:41)CEV|KJ|NI“His angels” here refers to evil spirits who live and work under the control of the Devil. The spiritual creatures commonly known as ghosts, whose features and identity are often unclear, are none other than evil spirits. Even evil spirits are able to receive the merit of the age by returning to the earth. However, the works of evil spirits do not always bear fruit and result in their receiving the benefit of returning resurrection. To receive such benefit, their works must have the effect of punishing earthly people to help them make conditions to indemnify their failures, which have frustrated God’s past efforts to cleanse them of their sins. How, then, can the works of evil spirits result in casting judgment on behalf of Heaven?
Let us take an example. Suppose there is a person living on earth who, based on the merit of the age, is about to graduate from his current sphere of benefit to a higher sphere of benefit. He cannot graduate to the new sphere of benefit unless he first makes some condition of indemnity to remove the sins of the past. In the case of graduating from the family sphere to the clan sphere, a person must pay the debt of sin both for himself and for the ancestors of his clan. Heaven allows evil spirits to torment him as punishment for this sin. If he willingly endures the suffering given by the evil spirits and overcomes it, he will have successfully paid the indemnity through this condition and thus be entitled to enter the higher sphere of benefit at the clan level. The evil spirits who have tormented him receive a corresponding benefit. This is the way that, based on the merit of the age, the providence of restoration expands its sphere of benefit from the family level to the clan level, the national level, and the world level. Whenever humanity is to graduate to a higher level, the person leading the providence must make a condition of indemnity to resolve the sins which he or his forefathers have committed.
The works of evil spirits may help an earthly person fulfill indemnity conditions to purge his sin in two different ways. First, the spirit may trouble the earthly person directly. Second, the evil spirit may descend to the spirit self of another person living on earth who is about to commit a sin comparable to the sin of the person to be punished, and work through the second person to attack him. In either case, if the earthly person gratefully and willingly suffers the work of the evil spirit, he will make the indemnity condition to purge his and his ancestors’ sin. This sin will then be resolved, and he will enter the higher sphere of benefit which has become available in the new era. Thus, the works of the evil spirit will have cast judgment on the person for his sin on behalf of Heaven. Consequently, the spirit will receive the same benefit as the earthly person; he, too, will enter the higher sphere of benefit.
In seeking to fulfill the whole purpose of the providence of restoration, God has called upon many individuals and has apportioned to each a suitable mission. These individuals have passed down their particular missions to other individuals of similar character and circumstances, gradually fulfilling each area of mission over the long flow of history.
The providence of restoration begins with an individual, expands to the family, nation and world, and ultimately will bring restoration to all of heaven and earth. Although the mission given to each individual may be only a part of the greater whole, it also unfolds according to this pattern. Each mission begins at the individual level and expands its scope to the family, nation and world level. To take an example from the Bible, the mission begun with Abraham at the individual and family levels was passed down to Moses at the national level and to Jesus at the worldwide level.
Spirits who could not complete their missions during their earthly life must return to people on earth who share the same type of mission as they had during their lifetime. When a spirit assists an earthly person to fulfill God’s Will, the person will fulfill not only his own mission, but also the mission of the spirit who has helped him. Hence, from the standpoint of mission, the physical self of the person concurrently serves as the physical self of the spirit. In a sense, he is the second coming of the spirit; hence he may sometimes be called by the spirit’s name and appear to be the reincarnation of that spirit. In the Bible, John the Baptist was to have fulfilled the mission which Elijah left unfinished during his earthly life, since he received Elijah’s assistance in carrying out his activities. Jesus called John “Elijah” because John’s physical self concurrently served as the body of Elijah.30(cf. Resurrection 184.108.40.206)
In the Last Days, certain people on earth are entrusted with missions on the worldwide level. They must inherit and complete the responsibilities of all the spirits of the past who were devoted to the same field. These spirits will descend to these people and assist them in order to complete the spirits’ own unfinished work. Since the earthly people are, in a sense, the second coming of these guiding spirits, they may think that they are their reincarnation. Hence, in the Last Days there are people claiming to be the second coming of Jesus, the Maitreya Buddha, Confucius, the Olive Tree, or the Tree of Life. The Hindu and Buddhist doctrines of reincarnation interpret these outward phenomena but without the benefit of knowing the principle of returning resurrection.
The Unification of Religions through
At the time of the Second Advent, all life spirits who dwell in Paradise descend to the people on earth who, by believing in and attending the Lord, can attain the level of divine spirit. By cooperating with these people to fulfill God’s Will for the providence of restoration, the spirits can share the same benefit and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.31(cf. Resurrection 220.127.116.11) Accordingly, all the spirits will descend from Paradise in that day and assist the believers on the earth.
Although the time of visitation may vary according to an individual’s faith, inborn nature, and the accomplishments of his ancestors for the providence, sooner or later each believer will be guided by the spirits from Paradise to go before Christ at the Second Advent and devote their lives for the sake of God’s Will. For this reason, Christianity is destined to be united.
As explained above, all religions, which have sought the same ultimate purpose, are gradually coalescing into one cultural sphere based on Christian ideals.32(cf. Eschatology 4.2) Christianity does not exist for its own sake, but has as its final mission the fulfillment of the purposes of all the religions in human history. Christ at the Second Advent, who is to come as the center of Christianity, is the person of the Maitreya Buddha who is to return according to the teachings of Buddhism, the True Man who is awaited in the Chinese religious tradition, and the Chongdoryong for whom many Koreans yearn. He is the central figure whose advent is expected in other religions as well.
Consequently, at the Second Coming of Christ, all spirits who believed in religions other than Christianity during their lifetime will, like the spirits in Paradise, also return to earth to be resurrected, even though the timing of their return will vary depending upon their spiritual position. These spirits must guide the earthly believers of their respective religions to Christ at the Second Advent and assist them to believe in him and attend him in his work to fulfill God’s Will. We can find a parallel example of this at the First Advent: the three wise men from the East, who were Zoroastrians, came in search of Jesus and worshipped him at his birth.33(Matt. 2:1-12)CEV|KJ|NI Accordingly, all religions will eventually be united around a revived Christianity.
Spirits who, in their lifetime, led a conscientious life but did not believe in any religion will also return to earth at the granted time to receive the benefit of returning resurrection. They will guide conscientious earthly people to seek out Christ at the Second Advent, attend him, and assist him in fulfilling God’s Will.
The ultimate purpose of God’s providence of restoration is to save all of humanity. Therefore, God intends to abolish hell completely after the passage of time necessary for each individual to make restitution for his sin. If hell were to remain eternally in the world where God’s purpose of goodness is fulfilled, it would contradict the perfection of God, His ideal, and His providence of restoration.
Even fallen parents cannot feel joyful when one of their children is unhappy. Is this not even more true for God, our Heavenly Parent? It is written, “The Lord . . . is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”34(II Pet. 3:9)CEV|KJ|NI Accordingly, hell cannot remain forever. No trace of hell will remain in the ideal world, which is the fulfillment of God’s deepest desire. In the Last Days, when the time is ripe, evil spirits will descend to evil people on earth of the same spiritual level and assist them to accomplish God’s Will. Indeed, even the demons testified that Jesus was the Son of God.35(Matt. 8:29)CEV|KJ|NI
By participating in these various dispensations over a long course of time, all people will gradually converge toward the goal of God’s ideal world.