Earth, As Well As Heaven
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6:10
The concept of the dual nature of salvation—one celestial, to live in heaven, and one terrestrial, to live on earth—is a common theme in the Bible. It is literally found from Genesis to Revelation.
The Apostle Paul styles the message of the evangelist as “the gospel preached before to Abraham.” (Gal. 3:8) That promise is succinctly stated in Gen. 22:15-18—
“And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
Here God used two symbols to describe the promised seed of Abraham, sand and stars. It appears to be no coincidence that one of these elements is found on earth and the other in the heavens—the sand of the seashore and the stars of the heavens.
One of these seeds, the spiritual, is identified as Jesus Christ and his Church in two verses in the book of Galatians.
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”—Gal. 3:16
“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—Gal. 3:29
There is just a suggestion as to whom the earthly seed will be in Gen. 12:3—
“I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” (RSV)
Other scholars give the thought of the last phrase as being “all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by becoming thy seed.”
In the book of Revelation the same theme is summarized by inference in three different verses.
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”—Rev. 1:5
This text implies that if there are to be “kings of the earth” there must be subjects for them to govern, the next two Revelation texts identify the subjects by specifying them as “the nations of them which are saved” and “the kings of the earth.”
“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.”—Rev. 5:10
“And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.”—Rev. 21:24
The Apostle Paul makes very specific reference to this dual nature of salvation in 1 Cor 15:40—
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.”
Another text emphasizing the fact that God has prepared a number of residences for his creatures is found in John 14:2—”In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Here he refers to a spiritual domain which we are assured he has prepared for those that love him in 1 John 3:2—
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
Another of the mansions which he as prepared is earth as man’s everlasting home.
“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”—Isa. 45:18
All Men to be Saved
The reason for the dual aspect of salvation is found in a simple statement of the will of God by the Apostle Paul.
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”—1 Tim. 2:3-6
Salvation is a simple concept. It comes by substitutionary atonement. One man, Jesus Christ, died for one man, Adam, so that he and all his posterity might live. The very Greek word translated in the above passage, anti-lutron, illustrates this simple truth, for it means a corresponding price.
The Apostle Paul simply outlines this concept of substitutionary atonement in two passages:
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—1 Cor. 15:21, 22
“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”—Rom. 5:15
Since the first man, Adam, was a perfect human being, it follows that Jesus, as a corresponding price, must also be a perfect human being and that the resultant life must be perfect human life.
This salvation, however, must not be mistaken for eternal salvation, for after they are “saved” it is the “will of God” that they “come to a knowledge of the truth.” Man’s salvation, as shown above, is from original Adamic transgression. Living all their lives under sin has had its side effects. Man has come to view might as right, black as white.
It is for this reason that men, raised from the dead, will need to be thoroughly educated in the laws of righteousness. Only then, having tasted first of sin and its consequences—sorrow, suffering and death—and then of righteousness and its consequences—happiness, health and life—will man be fully in a position to choose life that he might live. This, then, is the earthly phase of salvation for those who will be raised with bodies terrestrial.
But the Church, the Bride of Christ, are promised heavenly life. The ransom could never produce such life. It is only by forfeiting all claim to life on earth that some could be offered life in heaven. These must die to the fleshly life in the same manner as did Jesus.
“Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.”—Rom. 6:8
“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.”—2 Tim. 2:11,12
Not only does this text promise Jesus followers that they would live with him, but that they would reign with him.
This relationship between the two parts of Abraham’s seed—the heavenly and the earthly—of kings and subjects, of educators and educated, is beautifully predicted in Mal. 3:17, 18—”And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”
To this agree the words of the Apostle Paul:
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?”—1 Cor. 6:2
What a wonderful God who has a plan of salvation for all, the good and the evil. We read this promise in John 5:28, 29 RSV—
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”
The word translated judgment here [mistranslated damnation in the King James Bible] is krisis and means the same as the English word crisis, a critical juncture that can have either a favorable or unfavorable outcome.
This is the judgment referred to in Malachi when the Lord’s “jewels” will return and “discern between the righteous and the wicked.” This is the “day of judgment” when “the saints shall judge the world.” And thankfully this judgment will be a righteous judgment.
“Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”—Acts 17:31
“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”—Isa. 26:9
Yet some may argue that this would constitute a “second chance” for man and that it would remove all incentive to live a righteous life now. Truthfully seen, however, it is man’s first real chance. “Born in sin, and shapen in iniquity” (Psa. 51:5), man has had little chance to follow righteousness. He has been “blinded by the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and is thus to be pitied as a blind man and not condemned as an evil one.
As for the incentive to obey righteousness now, Paul covers it simply in these words:
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”—Gal. 6:7, 8
How like John’s summation of the grace of Jehovah is our God—”God is love.”
(1 John 4:8, 16)