What will we do after the Third Resurrection?


The Bible teaches us that Christ will return after the Great Tribulation has commenced, and within approximately a year after the beginning of the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord will not end when Christ returns, but it will continue throughout the Millennium and beyond—it describes the time when God will rule in the affairs of men. After the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, also known as the Second Resurrection, lasting perhaps 100 years, there will be a third resurrection for those who have committed the unpardonable sin. They will be cast in the Gehenna or “hell” fire—the “lake of fire”–to be burned up and destroyed.

We read in 2 Peter 3:10-13 that ultimately, and still during the (on-going) Day of the Lord, the heavens will pass away and the elements will melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up, and all these things—the heavens and the earth—will be dissolved, being on fire. This shows that both the entire physical universe as well as the earth will melt away and burn up. We then read that afterwards, God will create new heavens and “a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

We explain in our booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” that the new heavens and the new earth will no longer be physical, consisting of matter, but that they will be spiritual—consisting of spirit—as God’s third heaven, where He dwells, already consists of spirit today—and has always been consisting of spirit. In fact, God, who is Spirit, created first the angels and other things within the spirit world, and after that, the physical world, which was patterned after the things in the spirit world.

Let us quote the following excerpts from our booklet:

“The heavenly Jerusalem will come down from heaven, after the physical earth and the physical heavens are burned up, and after God creates new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:7, 10–13). Isaiah 51:6 adds that ‘the heavens will vanish away like smoke.’ Isaiah 34:4 tells us that ‘All the host of heaven shall be DISSOLVED,’ and that ‘…the heavens shall be ROLLED UP like a scroll.’ God will create new heavens and a new earth, which will remain (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22).

“So, just what remains or endures? Does matter last forever? Will our new solar system, if we can call it that, even have a sun and a moon? Apparently not, as we read in passages such as Isaiah 60:19–20 and Revelation 21:23.

“We find a description of God’s new creation in Psalm 102:25–26: ‘Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed.’

“In what way will God change them? 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us: ‘…For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’

“Note also in Hebrews 12:25–29: ‘See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.’

“Lamsa renders verse 27 in this way: ‘And these words, once more, signify the CHANGE of things which may be shaken, because they are made in order that things which cannot be shaken may remain.’

“Romans 8:18–23 tells us very clearly what those invisible things will be: ‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption INTO the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption [sonship], the redemption of our body.’

“We saw in verse 21 that the creation will be delivered from corruption ‘into’ (‘eis’ in Greek) the glorious liberty of the children of God. Moffat renders verse 21 in this way: ‘The hope being that creation as well as man would one day be freed from its thralldom [bondage] to decay and gain the glorious freedom of God’s children.’ The Revised Standard Version writes: ‘…the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and OBTAIN the glorious liberty of the children of God.’ The Luther Bible states, ‘The creation, too, will be freed from bondage of temporary existence INTO the glorious freedom of the children of God.’

“The Greek word for corruption or decay that is used in verse 21 is ‘phthora.’ It is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 15:42, where we read: ‘The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.’ It is also used in Galatians 6:8: ‘For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.’

“This physical creation, patterned after God’s spiritual creation, waits to be delivered from corruption to obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. The glorious freedom, which the universe will receive, includes freedom from death. In that new universe, DEATH will be unknown, and so will decay and corruption.

“We will be changed into Spirit. Spirit endures. Spirit cannot die or decay. Spirit remains. Spirit is INCORRUPTIBLE. The universe will obtain that same freedom from decay, corruption and death. In order to obtain such freedom from death and corruption, this universe will have to be changed into SPIRIT, as we also will be changed into Spirit beings. In this way, the new heavens and the new earth will remain, for only the things that the human eye cannot see will remain.

“When the heavenly Jerusalem comes down to [the new] earth, as a spiritual city, after God has created new heavens and a new earth, it will remain as a spiritual city. It will not be changed into matter, into something physical. Why should it become physical? By that time, all of mankind who have chosen to live God’s way of life will have become Spirit beings. Physical human beings will no longer exist. God will not become a physical being. Angels will not become physical beings. Every physical thing will have been destroyed in the all-encompassing fire that burns up the earth and dissolves the physical universe, as we read in 2 Peter 3:11. This will include those humans who have willfully refused to live God’s way of life…

“It is true that Ecclesiastes 1:4 says that the earth will remain forever. However, this does not necessarily mean that this earth will remain forever in a physical state. We know that ultimately, everything physical will decay and cease to exist. After all, we will remain forever, but we will not remain in this physical body. Rather, we will be changed into Spirit beings.

“God will restore a condition that existed at the beginning of His creation when He first created spirit beings and spiritual things. Ultimately, all physical things, which have been patterned after things in the Spirit world, will be changed into spiritual things.”

As long-time readers of the literature of the Church of God under the late Herbert W. Armstrong know, we have emphasized that after the Great White Throne Judgment period and the third resurrection, this universe, which is presently in decay, will be replaced by a new creation. This physical universe, as it exists today, was not originally created in a state of decay. Rather, it was created to contain life. The Bible indicates that when God created the heavens and the earth, both were created in a beautiful state. However, even though the earth was created with animal life forms, there is no indication that other planets were created with life on them as well. God created life on earth, but because of cataclysmic events, caused by Satan and his angels, this earth and the entire universe became void and empty. God renewed the surface of the earth by creating modern life, but He did not renew the surface of the other planets in the universe.

As we pointed out in a recent Q&A on our future as born-again members of the Family of God, we will be God beings with the same powers and abilities which God the Father and Jesus Christ have. This would include the ability to create. However, we will always be under the authority of God the Father and Jesus Christ, and we will never do anything, including any creative act, without or even against God’s Will. The Bible has not revealed what exactly we might create, under God’s authority and direction. But the Church of God has never taught, and we can continue to say confidently, that following the third resurrection, HUMAN life will NOT be created on the new earth or the other new planets. This would begin another cycle of physical frailties, pain, sin, forgiveness of sin, death, etc. This can’t be true as we read that there will be no more death, nor pain and suffering.

We do know that before the physical creation of this universe, God created angels—spirit beings. Ezekiel 28, verse 13, reveals that the archangel Lucifer was created. Likewise, angels are listed among the creations of God in Psalm 148, verses 1-5. (But we are not suggesting that additional angels will be created in the future).

Originally, the earth was given to Lucifer and his angels to live here and to rule over the planet, so that they could also be used later to rule over the universe. But Lucifer and his angels rebelled against God, left their proper domain (the earth) and ascended to heaven to “replace” God, occupy His throne and His rule [prematurely, without being qualified] over the entire universe. They were defeated by Michael and his angels and thrown back to this earth, where they still rule today as Satan and his demons. In the process of this gigantic spiritual battle, both the earth and the universe were destroyed. God renewed the surface of the earth for man—but not the universe. Once man qualifies to enter the Kingdom of God, Satan and his demons will be replaced, and the born-again spirit members of the Family of God will rule under Christ on this earth during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, and, after the third resurrection, they will be given the awesome task, under God the Father and Jesus Christ, to rule the universe.

What exactly God has in store for us after the new heavens and the new earth have been created, we don’t know. But we do know that God says that we will rule forever and ever, and that His peace and government over the new earth and the entire new universe will have no end. God the Father will dwell on the newly-created earth, consisting of spirit, and the new Jerusalem, consisting of spirit, will come down from the third heaven, after the physical earth and the physical universe have been dissolved. Undoubtedly, the new earth will be God’s headquarters over the entire universe, and it appears that we will be assisting God, in the way that He directs.

What we do have revealed to us is that God is enlarging His Family—the Family of God. We know that we are being trained to rule with Jesus Christ—initially,  those who are part of the first resurrection, who rule during the millennial time period. After that, the great majority of people who have ever lived will be resurrected and offered their first opportunity for salvation in the ruling Family of God.

God reveals Himself as Creator, and every indication from the Bible is that we, as His Spirit-born children will participate in the limitless possibilities of creating—-for, as Jesus Christ so emphatically stated, “…with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE” (Mark 10:27).

Lead Writers: Norbert Link and Dave Harris

©2024 Church of the Eternal God