The Resurrection of the Wicked
July 21, 2011
I never gave much thought to the fact that the damned are included in the resurrection of the dead. Hermann Cremer gives it some due consideration in his volume on eschatology, Beyond the Grave. In this passage you’ll get a good sense of Cremer’s flowing, vibrant prose. Theologically, I appreciate his particularism (non-universalism) while comprehending the proper features of a universal atonement.
The dead in Christ shall rise first, when the Lord shall come at the end of the world. This is the first resurrection (1 Thess. iv. 16; Rev. xx. 5ff.). After that is the end, the second resurrection. All will rise, for Christ has redeemed all; and even those who in unbelief have despised this redemption will experience how wide-reaching and world-comprehending this redemption is. Their resurrection will testify to them that they too needed not to have abode in death. But because they did not accept the redemption and made no use of it, they have come to be so indissolubly bound to death that they are able only to give a look at the glory now irrevocably lost to them, a look of apprehension that arouses every sensibility and enhances their pain to the utmost. The resurrection gives nothing to them. It only seals their fate, an eternal continuance of death. This, says the Scripture, so darkly and sadly, is the second death (Rev. xx. 14; cf. ii. 11). For them the resurrection is only the transition from the intermediate place and vestibule of the realm of death to the final penalty of condemnation. After they have received what properly appertains to them of the redemption, they must depart eternally whither the power of sin, of unbelief, and of death irresistibly impels them, voluntarily, and yet against their will, into eternal remoteness from God, into eternal deprivation of light and of life. They are dead, ruined. For them all that God has thought, done, prepared, is lost. Such is the second resurrection. Yet, perhaps, in the second resurrection even those will celebrate a resurrection even those who only after this life could learn to know the Saviour, and then believed on him and were converted to him.
Then at once all struggling and sighing of the creation has an end. All will participate in the glorious freedom of the children of God, and the Lord redeems his word, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then the separation between heaven the place of the blessed, and earth, that has continued till then, will cease to exist. The earth will no longer stand in a position between the realm of death and heaven; but heaven and earth will again constitute a connected whole, and the tabernacle, the sanctuary of God, will be with the children of men. Such is the future that lies beyond the grave.