There are some paradoxes ( a seemingly contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true) in the Bible, which might seem contradictory but upon reasoning, both the statements are found to be true. For example, we read in Joel 2:32 that : ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved‘ yet Jesus contradicted that statement when he said: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.” ( Mathew 7:21 ) However, both these statements are found to be true in their respective contexts ! In other words, all it takes to be saved from hell is to call on the name of the Lord BUT it takes more than just calling on the name of the Lord, to enter heaven! Jesus said,“I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again … no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of the water and Spirit” ( John 3:3,5) but on the contrary, there are Scriptures which implies that some who were not born again will still escape from being thrown into the lake of fire because their names were found written in the book of life. ‘Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it … And I saw the dead, great and small standing before the throne and books were opened … The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books … death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them … The lake of fire is the second death … If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.’ – Therefore it also implies that if anyone’s name was found written in the book of life, he was not thrown into the lake of fire – (Revelation 20:11-15) This raises some controversial and uncomfortable questions! 1). Why were the names of those who were given up by death and Hades looked for in the book of life, after the thousand years was over ? 2). If their names were already in the book of life, why were they not resurrected at the start of the thousand years ? Who then are these people? Could they be the Gentiles who who never heard the gospel but lived according to their conscience (Romans 2:12-16) or nominal Christians who confessed the name of the Lord but were never born again? Yet because they called on the name of the Lord, they will be saved from hell but will not be considered ‘blessed and holy’ to part take in the first resurrection. For we read: ‘And I saw the the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the word of God … They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in 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’. ( Revelation 20:4-6) The following words of Jesus further validates this truth: “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and THOSE WHO HEAR will live … Do not be amazed at this for a time is coming when ALL who are in their graves WILL HEAR his voice and come out- those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”( John 5: 25- 29) In saying so, Jesus clearly differentiated between the first and the second resurrection.
Thus far we considered the resurrection of the ‘dead in Christ’ and now considering the Rapture of the ‘living in Christ’, Paul wrote : ‘According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command with the voice of the arch angel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.’ ( 1Thessalonians 4:15-17) The ‘dead in Christ’ and the ‘living in Christ’ are those who have been ‘marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing their inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.’ (Ephesians 1:13-14) How else can a person ‘be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet’ (1 Corinthians 15:51-52), if it not be for the deposit of the Holy Spirit in them? How can a person receive the Holy Spirit unless he or she has been washed in the blood of the new covenant in Christ? So it is imperative that a person be born again and have a covenant relationship with God if he or she has to escape the coming wrath of God. It is to the faithful believer that Christ promised : “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” ( Revelation 3:10) The day is coming when God will summon his people saying: “Gather to me my consecrated ones who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Psalm 50:5) Amen.