If we are to accept as literal all the prophecies contained in the Bible, we must be convinced of the possibility that, at the Second Advent of the Lord, the physical bodies of all the saints that were buried and decomposed will come back to their original state of life one more in flesh (I Thess. 4:16, Matt. 27:52). Since this prophecy is from God, men of faith must accept it. However, this prophecy cannot satisfy the intellect of modern men; our faith has, after all, fallen into great chaos. Therefore, it is a matter of paramount importance to elucidate the true nature of this problem.
Resurrection means to come back to life. It is because we once died that we need to come back to life. To know the true meaning of resurrection we must understand the Biblical concept of life and death.
In Luke 9:60, we read that Jesus told a disciple who wanted first to go and bury his father to “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.”. In these words of Jesus, we find two different concepts of life and death.
The first is the concept of life and death concerning death of the physical body, which is the expiration of physical life; this was the case of the disciple’s father, who was to be buried. The life which is opposite to this kind of death is the state in which the physical body maintains its physiological functions.
The second is the concept of life and death concerning the persons–whom Jesus called “the dead”–who were gathered together for the burial of the father. Why then did Jesus indicate that the men who were actually alive were “dead”? It was because they were in a state cut off from the love of God; that is, they were under the dominion of Satan. Therefore, death does not mean the expiration of physical life, but rather the state of Satanic dominion, apart from the bosom of God’s love. Accordingly, the meaning of life opposite to this kind of death is the state of actively living in the dominion of God’s infinite love. Therefore, however active one’s body may be, while man remains in the dominion of Satan, separated from that of God, he is dead in the true sense according to the standard of the original value endowed at the creation.
Our understanding may be further enhanced by reading Revelation 3:1, words to the people of the church in Sardis, saying, “…You have the name of being alive, and you are dead.”. On the other hand, even though one may have died physically, if his spirit abides in God’s dominion in the Heavenly Kingdom of God, he is alive in the truest sense. When Jesus said, “…he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25), he meant that he who believes in Jesus and lives under God’s dominion is still alive, though he has physically died and turned to dust, because his spirit man remains in the dominion of God.
Jesus went on to say, “whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”. This does not mean that those who believe in Jesus will never die physically, thus enjoying eternal life on the earth. Those who believe in Jesus in life remain alive not only while on earth, but even after physical death will transmigrate to the world of spirit, living there forever in the bosom of God’s love, without tasting death. Jesus’ statement here is an indication that man’s physical death does not affect his eternal life in the spirit world.
Again, he said, “whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33). He meant that those who betray God’s will in order to preserve their physical life, though they may be physically active, are dead. On the other hand, the spirit men of those who sacrifice their lives for the sake of God’s will, though they may be physically dead and decomposed, will live forever in the bosom of God’s love, thus remaining alive through eternity.
We have learned that there are two concepts of death, each with a different meaning. Which of the two, then, would be the death brought about by the fall of the first human ancestors?
God created man to grow old and turn to dust; this would occur even if man had not fallen. Therefore, when Adam died at the Biblical age of 930 and turned to dust, this was not the death which was caused by the fall. According to the principle of creation, our flesh is like clothes to our spirit; and it is natural for us to discard our flesh when it is old and exhausted, just as we would discard worn-out clothing. Then our spirit man goes to the invisible world to live there forever. There is no single material being that can perpetuate its physical life. Man is no exception to this principle of creation; the human body cannot live forever.
If men were to live eternally on the earth, there would have been no need to create, in the beginning, the invisible world where spirit men are supposed to go after physical death. The invisible world was not created after the human fall, so that the spirits of fallen men might go there to live; rather it had been created before the creation of men, so that their spirits, after having accomplished the purpose of creation, might go and live there forever, once they had discarded their flesh, after their physical life on earth.
Fallen men are strongly attached to their physical life on earth because, due to the fall, they became ignorant of the fact that they had been created to go to live eternally in the beautiful invisible world after discarding their flesh. Our physical life on earth and our spiritual life in the invisible world may be compared to the phases of a caterpillar and butterfly. If a caterpillar living in the soil had consciousness, he would also be reluctant to die, from attachment to his life under the earth, just as man is attached to his physical life on earth. This is because the caterpillar does not know that there is another new world after his death where he can enjoy fragrant flowers and sweet honey.
The relationship between an earthly man and a spirit man is similar to that between a caterpillar and a butterfly. If man had not fallen, he would have known that discarding his flesh does not mean eternal separation from his loved ones, because the earthly men were created to communicate freely with spirit men, just as they do among themselves. Besides, if men knew what a beautiful and happy place the spirit world is, they would look forward to the day of departure from this world into the next.
If, among the two kinds of death, the physical one is not a result of the fall, we must conclude that spiritual death, signifying the degradation to Satanic dominion, is the real death caused by the fall.
Let us inquire into the question in more detail, centering on the Bible. The death caused by the fall means the death brought about by the first human ancestors’ eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What kind of death must it have been? Genesis 2:17 says that God, after creating Adam and Eve, told them not to eat the fruit, because on the day they ate of it, they would surely die. Therefore, we must conclude that they did die on the day they ate the fruit, if we are to believe what God said. However, the “dead” Adam and Eve continued their physical life on earth, just as we do today, multiplying their children and finally producing a corrupted human society.
From this fact, we can clearly understand that the death caused by the fall does not mean the expiration of physical life, but the state of having fallen from the good dominion of God, to the evil dominion of Satan.
Let us then draw examples from the Bible. I John 3:14 says, “…He who does not love remains in death.”. Love here, of course, means God’s love. It means that those who do not love their neighbor with God’s love are dead, no matter how actively they may be living on the earth. Again, in Roman 6:23 we read, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.”, and in Romans 8:6 it says, “To set the mind of the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace.”.
Man has hitherto entertained the wrong idea that the expiration of man’s physical life is the death brought about by the fall. Consequently, we have believed that the resurrection of the passed away saints would be realized through the restoration of their once corrupted and decomposed physical bodies to their original state.
According to the principle of creation, this kind of death was not brought about by the fall of the human ancestors. From the beginning, man’s body was created to turn to dust after it ages and dies. Therefore, the human body, once it is dissolved into dust, cannot be resurrected to its original state. It is not necessary for the spirit man to resume his flesh, when there is a vast spirit world where he is supposed to go and live forever.
Therefore, “resurrection” means the phenomena occurring in the process of man’s restoration, from the state of having fallen under Satanic dominion back to the direct dominion of God. Accordingly, when we repent of our sins, making ourselves better and better day by day, we are coming closer to resurrection.
To draw examples of resurrection from the Bible, we read in John 5:24, “…He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”. This signifies that resurrection means to leave the bosom of Satan by believing Jesus and to return to the bosom of God’s love. Again, I Corinthians 15:22 says, “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”, signifying that resurrection means to return to the Heavenly lineage through Christ, leaving the death of the Satanic lineage caused by the fall of Adam.
As God predicted in Genesis 2:17, Adam and Eve, who had eaten the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, died as a result (spiritual death). Nevertheless, there appeared to be no external change. If any, there must have been only a momentary change in their countenance, caused by fear and uneasiness from their guilty conscience. Therefore, even after fallen man has been resurrected to the original state, which existed before he ate the fruit, there will be no external change whatsoever in him. Those who are reborn through the Holy Spirit are men of resurrection to a certain degree, compared to what they were before. Let us compare a man of resurrection to a burglar. The former, being in the state of resurrection in proportion to the degree of his rebirth, belongs to the side of heaven; while the latter, being in the state of death, belongs to Hell. There is, however, no external difference between the two.
As previously proven by examples, those who believe in God, in obedience to the words of Jesus, have surely passed from death into life. Nevertheless, there would be no detectable physical death before his belief in Jesus from the same person after resurrection, through which he was transformed into life by believing in Jesus.
It is true that Jesus came as a man who had himself accomplished the purpose of creation (cf. “Christology” 205). However, Jesus, from his outward appearance, was no different from ordinary, fallen men. If he had any such difference, all his associates at that time would have surely followed him. Man leaves the Satanic dominion through resurrection, and by becoming one with God’s heart he can enjoy deity. When fallen men thus come into the dominion of God through resurrection, spiritual changes necessarily occur. The spiritual changes, in fact, would sanctify the human body, transforming it from the abode of Satan to the temple in which God may dwell. In that sense, it may be said that the physical body also is resurrected. It is similar to a building which has been used for evil purposes; when used as the temple of God, it would be turned into a sacred building, although there may be no change whatsoever in its external appearance.
Resurrection means the phenomena occurring in the course of fallen men’s restoration to their original nature, endowed at the creation.
Therefore, the “providence of resurrection” means the providence of restoration. In other words, since the providence of restoration is the providence of re-creation, the providence of resurrection is also the providence of re-creation. Consequently, the providence of resurrection is worked out in the following way, according to the principle of creation.
First, in the history of the providence of resurrection, the figures who took charge of certain responsibilities in their respective missions, though they could not fully carry out their portions of responsibility, loyally offered their best for the sake of God’s will. In proportion to their accomplishments, they were able to broaden the base on which fallen men could open their relationship to God. As time goes by, people of succeeding generations can enjoy more benefit from their ages, according to the providence of restoration. The providence of resurrection, therefore, is carried out according to the benefits of the age.
Second, according to the principle of creation, man, who was created as part of God’s portion of responsibility, was made to be perfected by believing in God’s words and practicing them, as his own portion of responsibility. Therefore, in carrying out the providence of resurrection, there must be “words” from God for the sake of the providence, which is God’s portion of responsibility. Only by believing in and practicing these words as man’s own portion of responsibility, is God’s will accomplished.
Third, in light of the principle of creation, the spirit man was made to grow and become perfect only through the physical body. Thus, the resurrection of the spirit man, according to the providence of resurrection, is also to be accomplished only through physical life on earth.
Fourth, man was created to be perfected by going through three orderly stages of growth, according to the principle of creation. Therefore, the providence of resurrection for fallen men is also to be accomplished through the three orderly stages of the providential period.
God began His providence of resurrection with Adam’s family. However, the providence was prolonged due to the failure of central persons, who were in charge of God’s will, to accomplish their portion of responsibility. 2,000 years later, God set up Abraham as the father of faith, and through him, the will began to be accomplished. Consequently, the 2,000-year period from Adam to Abraham resulted in the establishment of the foundation for the providence of resurrection which was to be completed in the ages which followed. We call this period the “providential age for the foundation of resurrection”.
During the 2,000 year period from the time of Abraham when the providence of resurrection commenced, to Jesus, God carried out the “providential age for the formation stage resurrection”. Earthly men of this period could enjoy the benefit of the age in accordance with God’s providence of resurrection in the formation stage. God carried out the providence of resurrection in the formation stage in such a way that people were justified by believing in and practicing the Law of the Old Testament, which God had given them for the sake of the providence of that age, and by accomplishing their respective portions of responsibility. Therefore, we call this age the “age of justification by deeds”. People of this age could attain the form-spirit stage by having their spirit men go through resurrection in the formation stage by their practice of the Law. When a man who has attained the form-spirit stage on earth leaves his physical body, his spirit goes on to live in the spirit world at the form-spirit stage.
Due to the crucifixion of Jesus, the providence of resurrection has been left unaccomplished and has been prolonged until the time of the Second Advent. The 2,000-year period of prolongation is called the “providential age for the growth stage resurrection”, because it is the age in which the providence of resurrection in the growth stage is carried out through spiritual salvation. Earthly men belonging to this age can receive the benefit of the age in accordance with the providence of resurrection in the growth stage. God carried out the providence of resurrection in the growth stage in such a way that the people of that age were justified by believing in the New Testament Words, which God had given them for the sake of the providence of that age, and by accomplishing their portions of responsibility. Therefore, that age may be called the “age of justification by faith”. People of that age can attain the life-spirit stage by having their spirit men go through resurrection in the growth stage, through their faith in the Gospel. When a man who has attained the life-spirit stage leaves his physical body, he goes to Paradise, which is the spirit world for those who have attained the life-spirit stage. (4) The Providence of Resurrection in the Perfection Stage
The age in which we complete the providence of resurrection through the resurrection of both spirit and body, through the Lord of the Second Advent, is called the “providential age for the perfection stage resurrection”. Earthly people of this age can enjoy the benefit of the age through the providence of resurrection in the perfection stage. The Lord of the Second Advent is the one coming with the new Word for the fulfillment of the Old and New Testament Words (cf. Part I, Ch. 3, Sec. V, 1 –129). Therefore, God carries out the providence of resurrection in the perfection stage in such a way that people will be justified by believing in the new Word (the Completed Testament) which is given to them for the fulfillment of the Old and New Testaments, and by serving the Lord in person, thus accomplishing their portions of responsibility. Thus, this age may also be called the “age of justification by attendance”. The spirit men belonging to this age can attain the divine-spirit stage of perfect resurrection in both spirit and body by believing in and serving the Lord of the Second Advent. The earthly region where the people of the divine-spirit stage live is called the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. When a perfected man, living in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, leaves his physical body, he goes to live in the Heavenly Kingdom of God, which is the region of the spirit world belonging to divine spirits.
Christians, up to the present, have been confused in their concepts of Heaven and Paradise because they have not known the Principle. If Jesus had accomplished the purpose of his coming on earth as the Messiah, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth would have been established at that time. If perfected man, living in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, had gone to the spirit world as a spirit man having attained the divine-spirit stage, the Heavenly Kingdom of God would have been realized at that time.
However, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth has not been realized due to the crucifixion of Jesus, and not a single person on earth has attained the divine-spirit stage. Consequently, no spirit man has entered the Heavenly Kingdom of God, which was created for spirit men of the divine-spirit stage to live in. Therefore, the Heavenly Kingdom of God still remains vacant. Seen from the standpoint of men, who are to be its inhabitants, it may well be said that the Heavenly Kingdom has not yet been realized. Why then did Jesus say that whoever believed in him would enter the Kingdom of Heaven? This is because the original purpose of his coming to earth was to realize the Kingdom of Heaven. Nevertheless, Jesus died on the cross without having realized the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, due to the disbelief of the people.
Jesus permitted the thief who was crucified beside him to enter Paradise with him, because the thief was the only one who believed in him at the end, while the people of that time had not believed in him (Luke 23:43). Jesus emphasized the possibility of entering the Kingdom of Heaven when he still hoped to accomplish his mission as the Messiah. But upon his crucifixion, which prevented the fulfillment of the will, he expressed the fact that he was to enter Paradise. Paradise is the region of the spirit world where those spirit men who have attained the life-spirit stage by believing in Jesus while on earth go after death, and stay until the gate to the Kingdom of Heaven is opened.
Man, who fell in the perfection level of the growth stage, enters the age in which he can restore his position before the fall of the first human ancestors by restoring the perfection level of the New Testament Age (representing the growth stage), after having passed through the Old Testament Age (representing the formation stage). This age is called the Last Days.
Since this is the age in which man can communicate directly with God, just as he could right before the fall of Adam and Eve, there are many people on earth today who can communicate with the spirit world. The reason for God’s promise that in the Last Days He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17) can be understood only through such a principle.
In the Last Days, a person may receive the revelation that he (or she) is a lord. In many cases, such people fail to find the right way, believing themselves to be the Lord of the Second Advent. What is the reason for this?
Originally, God created man and blessed him to be the lord and dominator of the whole creation (Gen. 1:28). Nevertheless, man failed to realize this blessing, due to the fall. When a fallen man attains the spiritual level corresponding to the position of Adam and Eve right before the fall, by having been spiritually restored to the perfection level of the growth stage through the providence of restoration, then God gives him the revelation that he is a lord, signifying that he has been restored to the position of having been blessed to be the lord of all creation.
The saints in the Last Days who have manifested such devout faith as to be entitled to the revelation that they are lords are in a position similar to that of John the Baptist, who came in the days of Jesus with the mission of making the way straight for him (John 1:23). Accordingly, in proportion to their ability, they also are given the mission of making straight the way of the Lord of the Second Advent. Thus, they receive the revelation that they are entitled to be lords because they were chosen for this mission.
Those with power of spiritual communication are liable to become antichrists; upon receiving the revelation that they are lords they may act wrongly, as if they were the Lord of the Second Advent, since, not knowing the Principle, they are unaware of the situation. This is actually why it was prophesied that in the Last Days there would appear many antichrists.
It is common that those with powers of spiritual communication fall into conflict and confusion among themselves, because the content of their revelations and the class and level of the spirit world to which they belong differ from one another (I Cor. 15:41). These men of spiritual communication are in fact all headed for the same destination; but because of the difference in their spiritual standard, the part of the spirit world seen by each can vary, and these differences lead them into conflict.
Those who are in charge of a certain mission in the providence of restoration are often ignorant of their horizontal relationship with others who have spiritual communication, because they have only a vertical relationship with God which relates to their partial mission within the whole providence. Accordingly, they come into conflict because the will of God of which they take charge appears different to each. This kind of horizontal conflict is inevitable, because God gives each the revelation that he is a lord in order to encourage him to do his very best in carrying out the purpose of the providence of restoration. In his respective mission, which is partial and limited, the person in charge is, in fact, the only one and the best one; thus he receives such a revelation.
Meanwhile, when devout men of faith develop spiritual communication, after having attained the same spiritual level as Adam and Eve before the fall, they are apt to fall themselves through a test or temptation of the same kind which Adam and Eve failed to overcome. It is, in fact, very difficult to overcome such a temptation, as long as one remains ignorant of the Principle. It is truly regrettable that many religious men, having failed to overcome this test, have nullified in an instant the merit they gained through their long and bitter trials in the ascetic life.
How then can we prevent such confusion among men of spiritual communication? God has given a partial mission to numerous individuals in order to accomplish rapidly the purpose of the providence of restoration, with each relating vertically to Him during the process of the providence; therefore, horizontal conflict among men of spiritual communication is inevitable. Finally, at the consummation of human history, all will come to realize that their respective missions were allotted to them by God with an identical purpose: the accomplishment of the providence of restoration. By establishing horizontal relationships with each other, they will be unified in their efforts to accomplish the whole purpose of the providence of restoration through the new Words of truth God will give at the proper time. Then, all men of spiritual communication will cease their stubborn insistence that their way alone is God’s will, and will gain the right understanding of their providential missions. Thus, they will not only be able to overcome all confusion, but each will also be able to perfect his own mission in the course of his life in faith.
The first resurrection is the resurrection enabling the accomplishment of the purpose of creation for the first time since the commencement of the history of God’s providence of restoration. The original self will be restored by removing man’s original sin through the Second Advent of the Lord.
Therefore, the hope of all Christians is to share in the first resurrection. What kind of people may share in this? Those who are the first to believe in the Lord at the Second Advent, following and serving him, will be those who participate. By doing this, they cooperate with him in setting up the condition of indemnity, on a general and worldwide basis, for the course of the providence of restoration. Thus, they fulfill the purpose of creation, having become spirit men of the divine-spirit stage, by removing the original sin before all other men. These are the people who can share in the first resurrection.
Next, let us study what “one hundred and forty-four thousand” as indicated in the Bible, means. In order for the Lord to accomplish the providence of restoration at his Second Advent, he must lay the foundation for victory over the Satanic world. He must set up horizontally, in his lifetime, the people who can restore through indemnity the positions of the saints and sages of history who have been invaded by Satan or have failed to accomplish their portions of responsibility. The total number of saints whom the Lord of the Second Advent must find and set up for this purpose is one hundred and forty-four thousand, as written in Revelation 7:4 and 14:1-4.
In the course of God’s providence of restoration, Jacob, who had the mission of restoring the family, started his mission cen- tering on his twelve sons; and Moses started his mission of restoring a nation with twelve tribes under him. When each tribe multiplies after the pattern of the twelve sons, the total will be one hundred and forty-four. Jesus, who had the mission of restoring the world, had twelve disciples in order to restore through indemnity the number one hundred and forty-four, both spiritually and physically. But, due to his crucifixion, he has been able to work only spiritually for restoration through indemnity. Therefore, just as Jacob had twelve sons in order to restore horizontally, through indemnity, the twelve vertical generations from Noah to Abraham which had been claimed by Satan, the Lord of the Second Advent must set up a certain necessary number of saints corresponding to the number one hundred and forty-four, in order to restore this number horizontally, through indemnity, both spiritually and physically.
According to the principle of creation, man’s spirit was created to grow only through give and take action between the life element from God and the vitality element from man’s physical body. Therefore, the spirit man can neither grow nor be resurrected apart from our physical body. So in order that spirit men, who passed away to the other world without having perfected themselves in their physical life on earth, might be resurrected, they must come again to earth and fulfill the responsibility they left unaccomplished in their physical life on earth, through the physical bodies of earthly men, by cooperating with the earthly saints and helping them fulfill the same mission. This is why Jude 1:14 says that in Last Days the Lord will come “with his holy myriads”.
In what manner do spirit men cooperate with earthly men to accomplish the will? When earthly saints form a reciprocal base with spirit men, through prayer and other spiritual activities, the spirit men descend and form reciprocal bases with the spirits of the earthly men, on which bases they cooperate. Thus, the spirit men pour out spiritual fire on earthly men, give them the power to heal diseases, and help them do many mighty works. More than that, they enable earthly men to see many facts in the spirit world in a state of trance, give them the gift of prophecy, and inspire them spiritually. Through such activities, substituting for the Holy Spirit, they cooperate with earthly men to fulfill the will of God.
Those form spirits of the Old Testament Age who in their lifetime had earnestly served God by observing the Law on earth all descended after the advent of the Messiah and cooperated with the earthly saints to fulfill the will, and thus enter the life-spirit stage. Spirit men who have thus come again and cooperate with earthly men can obtain the same benefit as those men; having become life spirits, they enter Paradise. We call this “resurrection through second coming in the growth stage”.
Let us take some examples from the Bible. From the record that Elijah appeared, as a spirit, before Jesus and his disciples (Matt. 17:3), it is clear that Elijah is still in the spirit world. Meanwhile, Jesus called John the Baptist “Elijah”. Jesus said this because Elijah descended to John the Baptist and cooperated with him to achieve the mission he left unaccomplished on earth, thus attaining the purpose of resurrection through second coming. So the physical body of John the Baptist sub-stituted for that of Elijah, when seen from the standpoint of their mission.
On the other hand, Matthew 27:52 states that, upon the crucifixion of Jesus, the tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. This does not mean that their physical bodies, which had already decomposed in the earth, were raised. This is merely a record of the fact that the spirit men of the Old Testament Age, who had stayed in the spirit world as form spirits, descended in order to enter the life-spirit stage by cooperating with the saints on earth, who were in a position to benefit by the ransom of the cross. If the saints of the Old Testament Age had literally been raised from the tombs, they would surely have given witness to Jesus as the Messiah. Then, would not the people have believed that Jesus, who was testified to by the saints raised from the tombs, was the Messiah? Their activities would have been recorded in the Bible. But we have no such record in the Bible, other than the fact that they were raised from the tombs. From this, we may understand that these were spirit men who could be seen for a brief interval, only by those whose spiritual eyes were opened.
Compared to Paradise, which people could enter through the ransom by the cross of Jesus, the region where the spirit men of the Old Testament Age were staying was darker and full of misery; thus, it was called a “tomb”.
Those life spirits of the New Testament Age who believed in Jesus on earth and thus went to Paradise are to come again to earth after the Second Advent of the Messiah. These spirits, by cooperating with the earthly saints in believing in and serving the Lord of the Second Advent, thereby elevating them to the divine-spirit stage, would themselves become divine spirits. Thus, they can enter the Kingdom of heaven in the spirit world with the earthly saints, who would enter this Kingdom after leaving their physical bodies. This providence of resurrection is called the “providence of resurrection through second coming in the perfection stage”. Seen from the standpoint of this providence, earthly men consequently come to cooperate with spirit men, not to speak of the spirit men’s cooperating with earthly men.
Hebrews 11:39-40 says, “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 men], that apart from us [earthly men] they [spirit men] should not be made perfect [citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven]”. This Biblical passage demonstrates the principle that, apart from the cooperation of earthly men, the spirit men of the spirit world cannot perfect themselves. Also, in Matthew 18:18, it is said, “Whatever you [earthly saints] bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”, clarifying that whatever is bound by spirit men shall not be loosed unless the earthly saints loose it. Thus spirit men can be resurrected only by descending to the earthly saints and cooperating with them. Therefore, as we read in Matthew 16:l9, Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter, who represented the earthly saints, so that he might open the gate of Heaven here on earth.
First, let us examine the manner in which spirit men who believed in religions other than Christianity in their lives can be resurrected through their second coming. In the same manner that all men, in order to accomplish a common purpose must first establish a reciprocal base, earthly men and spirit men must also establish a reciprocal base between them in order to fulfill the common purpose of the providence of restoration. Therefore, the spirit men who come again for resurrection first choose earthly men of the same religion they believed in during their earthly life as their suitable objects to work through, and then descend to the specific men of their choice. Thus, they come to enjoy the same benefits as the earthly men, by assisting them to accomplish the purpose of restoration.
Second, let us investigate in what manner the good spirit men, who in their earthly life lived conscientiously though they did not have any religion, can be resurrected through second coming. There can be no absolutely good man among fallen men, since he would have the original sin inherent in him. Therefore, by “good spirit men”, we mean those in possession of more goodness than evil within themselves. This type of good spirit man descends to good earthly men, and by cooperating with them to fulfill the purpose of God’s restoration, finally enjoys the same benefits with them.
Third, let us study in what manner evil spirit men can be resurrected through their second coming. In Matthew 25:41, we read about the cursed, who are liable to the eternal fire prepared for the “devil and his angels”. The “angels” of the devil means the evil spirit men working under the control of the devil. The spiritual creatures commonly called “ghosts”, whose real nature has not been known, are none other than such evil spirit men. These evil spirits also gain the benefit of the age by descending on earthly men.
However, not all the works of evil spirit men result in their receiving the benefit of resurrection through second coming. Their works must first all result in establishing a condition of indemnity for God’s intention to eradicate the sins of earthly men by punishment, before the evil spirit men can obtain the benefit of resurrection through second coming. Then, how do the works of evil spirits result in exercising judgment on behalf of God?
Let us consider another example. Suppose there is an earthly man who is entitled to go from the sphere of benefit of the family level to that of the tribal level, through the benefit of the age in the providence of restoration. However, if this man has a certain debt of sin, either his own or his ancestors’, he cannot go to the sphere of benefit of the tribal level without having liquidated the sin by setting up a corresponding condition of indemnity. In this case, God can allow the evil spirit to torment the earthly man as punishment for his sin. Then, if this man gladly endures the torment given by the evil spirit man, he can graduate from the sphere of benefit of the family level to that of the tribal level, with his endurance as the condition of indemnity. In this case, the evil spirit man receives a share of the benefit. In this way, the providence of restoration broadens its scope in accordance with the benefit of the age, from the sphere of benefit of the family level, to that of the tribal level, national level, and finally to that of the worldwide level. Whenever he is to graduate to the next level of the sphere of benefit of the age, the person in charge of the providence must necessarily set up a condition of indemnity corresponding to the debt of sin incurred either by himself or his forefathers. There are two methods by which evil spirit men may set up a condition of indemnity for sinful earthly men.
First, there is the method in which the earthly man sets up the condition of indemnity to liquidate his sin, in which evil spirit men work directly on the earthly man, whom they obsess. The second method of setting up a condition of indemnity for the sin of an earthly man is to have an evil spirit descend to an evil earthly man; the evil spirit then influences the evil earthly man to perform substantially the evil works of his intention against the man setting up the indemnity condition.
In both cases if they man gladly endures the work of the evil spirit man (as due), he can set up a condition of indemnity for his own sin and that of his ancestors. Thus he is allowed to enter the sphere of benefit of the new age. Thus, the works of the evil spirit man result in having exercised judgment on the earthly man for his sins, on behalf of God. Through their works, evil spirit men also are allowed to enter the sphere of benefit of the new age, with the same benefits as earthly men.
For the providence of restoration, God has called many individuals and given each an appropriate share of the total mission, in order to accomplish the whole purpose. Meanwhile, each man has transferred his mission to many similar individuals in succession, until the mission is finally accomplished, having passed through many individuals throughout human history.
The providence of restoration, beginning on the individual level, is headed for the final goal of the restoration of the entire cosmos, after passing through the family level, national level and worldwide level. Therefore, the mission of a certain person, though it may be a part of the whole, would begin first as an individual mission, and then broaden in scope to a family mission, national mission, and finally to a worldwide mission. Examples of this in the Bible include: Abraham, with both an individual and family mission; Moses, with a national mission; and Jesus, with a worldwide mission.
Also, the spirit men who left the missions unaccomplished on earth descend to earthly men whose missions are similar to those with which the spirit men were charged while on earth, and cooperate with them for the accomplishment of the will. Seen from the standpoint of mission, the physical body of the earthly man serves as the body of the spirit man. The earthly man, receiving the cooperation of the spirit man, would accomplish the mission of the spirit man as well as his own. In this case, the earthly man is the “second coming” of the spirit man who cooperates with him, so he often takes on the name of the spirit man. Therefore, the earthly man frequently appears to be the reincarnation of the spirit man. To take an example from the Bible: John the Baptist, in the course of fulfilling his mission through the cooperation of Elijah, had to accomplish the mission which Elijah had left unaccomplished while on earth. Jesus called John the Baptist “Elijah” (cf. Sec. II, 3.2–182) because John’s body was the substitute for Elijah’s body.
In the Last Days, the earthly men in charge of specific worldwide missions are in a position to succeed the spirit men who formerly had these missions on earth, and to accomplish these missions. Accordingly, these spirit men descend to earthly men of their choice and, by cooperating with them, accomplish the missions which they left unfulfilled in their earthly lives. Therefore, the earthly man, receiving the cooperation of the spirit man, is the second coming of that spirit man; he also appears to be the reincarnation of the spirit man. This is why many people in the Last Days claim to be either Christ, Buddha, Confucius, or the “Olive Tree” or the Tree of Life. The doctrine of reincarnation, upheld by Buddhism, comes from an interpretation of external appearances, without knowing the theory of “resurrection through second coming”.
As stated in Section II, 3.2 of this chapter, the spirit men of the life-spirit stage, Paradise, descend to the earthly saints who are capable of attaining the divine-spirit stage by believing in the Lord of the Second Advent and ministering to him. They can finally enter the Kingdom of Heaven with the same merit as earthly saints by cooperating with them in accomplishing the will of the providence of restoration. Accordingly, in the days of the Second Advent, all the spirit men in Paradise will descend to the earthly saints and cooperate with them.
The time of this visitation may differ according to the individual’s faith, his natural disposition, and his ancestors’ accomplishments for the will of God. In this manner, earthly saints are sooner or later destined to attend the Lord of the Second Advent and devote themselves to the will of God, through the cooperation of the spirit men descending to them from Paradise. Therefore, Christianity is destined to realized its unification.
As discussed in the “Consummation of Human History”, we cannot deny the historical fact that all religions, which in fact have an identical purpose, are being absorbed gradually into the cultural sphere of Christianity. Therefore, Christianity is not a religion for Christians alone but has the mission of accomplishing the ultimate purpose of all the religions that have appeared in the past. Naturally, the Lord of the Second Advent, who comes as the central figure in Christianity, will also play the role of Buddha, whom Buddhists believe will come again, as well as the role of the “True Man” whose appearance Confucianists anticipate, and “Chung Do Ryung” (“Herald of the Righteous Way”) whom many Koreans expect to come. In addition, he will also play the role of the central figure whom all other religions await.
For this reason, the spirit men who believed in religions other than Christianity while on earth will have to come again, like the spirit men of Paradise, in order to receive the same benefit of resurrection through the Second Advent, though the time of their visitation may differ according to their spiritual positions. In this manner, they are destined to descend to the earthly men who belong to their religions and lead them to the Lord of the Second Advent, cooperating with them to believe in and serve him for the accomplishment of the will of God. Therefore, all religions will finally be unified, centering on Christianity.
The spirit men who in their lifetime did not believe in any religion but lived conscientiously, also come again at permitted times in order to obtain the benefit of resurrection through second coming. In this way, they cooperate with earthly men of conscience to find and serve the Lord of the Second Advent and participate in accomplishing the will of God. The story of the three wise men coming from the East and worshipping the infant Jesus (Matt. 2:1-16) is one such example.
The ultimate purpose of God’s providence of restoration is to save all mankind. Therefore, it is God’s intention to abolish Hell completely, after the lapse of the period necessary for the full payment of all indemnity. If Hell remains eternally in the world of creation even after the fulfillment of God’s purpose of goodness, it would result in the contradiction of an imperfect God, not to speak of the resultant imperfection in His idea of creation and His providence of restoration.
If the hearts of parents in fallen families are saddened by the unhappiness of even one of their children, how much more would it be so with God, as the Heavenly Parent! In II Peter 3:9 we find, “The Lord…is forebearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”. Accordingly, Hell cannot remain forever in the ideal world, which is to be realized in accordance with the will of God. Even the forces of Satan testified to Jesus’ being the son of God (Matt. 8:29). When the Last Days come, even evil spirits will descend to earthly men of the same level, and by cooperating with them will take part in the fulfillment of God’s will. Finally, after a due period of time, the unified purpose of creation will be attained.