Jack Jackson - Hector, Minnesota - 1959

There is something that has helped me for over thirty years now, but I have never spoken of it until recent weeks.  Two questions that have been asked very often by saints that has caused me to speak of this matter:  Where do people go at death?  If people go to heaven or hell at death, then why a judgment later?


Seven periods:  (1) Lifetime, (2) Time of death, (3) In the hereafter - day of waiting, the time after death, between death and the resurrection, (4) The resurrection, (5) Reigning with Christ on earth, (6) Judgment, and (7) Eternity. In life, there are two classes of people:  those in Christ and those out of Christ. This is from God's standpoint.  This is true in life, in death, in the awaiting, resurrection, judgment, and eternity.  It is here and not at the Judgment where it is determined where we will spend Eternity.  We know that it was the making of our choice that decided where we would spend eternity, becoming children of God, children of the Day.

After life then comes death.  Life may be short, but death is shorter. I would like now, if you would turn to Ecclesiastes 12.  Notice the first six verses - much of these verses is speaking about death. Then look at the 7th verse, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."  The preceding verses are speaking about old age and death, and then he speaks “then" - he tells of what happens at death, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” The Lord made man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul - one part from earth and the other part from God.  Solomon shows us that this separation at death is only separating that which was united at birth.  Death is the separation when the body goes back to the dust whence it came.  Both going or returning to the place from whence they came, and that is all that happens at death.  Some tell us that when we die we go into the grave to sleep both soul (or spirit) and the body.  There is no place in the Bible where it tells that the spirit of man goes to the grave. Ecclesiastes 3:21, “Who knoweth that the spirit of man goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"  There is a distinction between the spirit of man and the spirit of the beast.  Have you ever noticed in the Psalms, “In the grave who shall give thee thanks?”  Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, or wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” 


Revelations 14:13, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, 'Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth.' 'Yea,' saith the Spirit, 'That they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.'"  Now we are reading about the class that are in Christ in life and in Christ in death. They are blessed, resting, and their works do follow them.  Revelations 6:9-11, "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?'  And white robes were give unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”  "Rest yet a little season" - connect this verse with 14:13.  Look at the 6:9 verse again.  "I saw under the altar the souls."  Now, it's not the body, but the souls.  Some one asked me, "Was it only the ones who were killed by the sword as was Abel, Stephen, and others, whose souls are under the altar?"  But it would also include Moses, David, Abraham, arid others who weren’t slain by the sword, but "self" was put to death.  It would include all of these.  Those who are “overcomers.”  He that overcometh the same shall be clothed in white raiment - 3:5.  6:11, "and white robes were given unto every one of them."  The overcomers shall inherit these things.  David said, “We are counted as sheep for the slaughter - we are killed all the day long.” 


Someone says, "Jack, I don't just know what you mean when you say, 'Overcomer.'”  It means - gaining the victory. Now I don’t mean this, that it is a matter of gaining the victory every day, on every occasion, until the end of the way.  Who could stand up and say they had won every victory and never been defeated since the time they professed?  Remember - Genesis 49:19, “Gad, a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at last.”  There never was a war where one side won every battle, but they don't sit down and say, "I am defeated."  They bring up reinforcements for the next battle, and who is it that wins in the end?  He that  'overcomes at last!"  Our purpose should be to fight to win in every battle, but if perchance I am defeated in the engagement today, don't put up the white flag, but seek to bring up something that will reinforce, win next battle. 


Revelations 6:9,  "I saw under the altar...” Leviticus 4:7, read that verse and you will get other references from it.  You will find that the animals or the victim that was sacrificed was killed there near the altar and the blood was poured there at the bottom of the altar.  The part of the animal that was sacrificed was consumed and the ashes would fall through under the altar.  The blood was the life of the animal.  We use the expression...spend and be spent for Christ's sake and the gospel's, or lose our lives for Christ's sake and the gospel, or pouring out our lives for Christ's sake. 


Revelations 6:9-11 are the souls or spirits of those who died in Christ.. they are resting there under the altar.  Now, I don't know where the altar is but I do know it is not far from the Lord.  Paul said, about being absent from the body and present with the Lord, and again, “Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better."


Revelations 14:13, "Their works do follow them." These are some words that came to my mind when someone asked, When does our influence cease? (At the Judgment bar.) It tells of Abel, "He being dead yet speaketh."  Abel's influence still lives on today, so does Moses’ influence still live on and the influence of many others, and because of that their reward still goes on and there is need for a "judgment" later on, to decide the reward that is to one and all.  The "judgment" is for the purpose of rewarding those in Christ, and meeting the punishment to those that die out of Christ.  The judgment is not to decide whether a person goes to Heaven or Hell, whether we go to Heaven or Hell is decided here on earth.  Let us look at the side of those that die out of Christ.  Turn to the epistle of Jude.  We will look at a few verses now which will help us understand where the spirits are of those that die out of Christ...in the period before the resurrection. 


Jude 6, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."  Those in Christ are under the altar, and these reserved in chains under darkness.  A great difference between being reserved in chains and resting from their labours.  Look at what Peter says about the same ones, II Peter 2:4, "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”  Not judged, but to be reserved unto the judgment.  You say, "But Jack, isn’t this the angels, that we read about here?  What has that to do with man that sins?"  Verse 9, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished."  To be punished, not yet punished, but awaiting it. Like a man who is a prisoner awaiting trial and judgment.


Now the resurrection.  John 5:28-29, "Marvel not at this:  for the hour is corning, in the which all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."  This speaks of the two classes, those in Christ, and those out of Christ.  These two resurrections are a thousand years apart.  The reigning of Christ with His own came between these two resurrections.  When Christ will reign on this earth.  I Corinthians 15:23 is the order of the resurrection, "Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming."  When?  At His coming.  Verse 24, "And then cometh the end, etc."  All five chapters in Thessalonians, end with referring to the coming of Christ. 


I Corinthians 3:13, 4:13-18, those in Christ.  The dead in Christ shall rise first. (Same teaching in I Corinthians 15:51-55.) 


I Thessalonians 3:17, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord."


Revelations 20:1-3, speaks of the binding of Satan.  Verse 4 speaks of those souls under the altar, rising to live and reign with Christ a thousand years, "but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished."  This is the first resurrection - resurrection of the just.  Verse 5 refers to those out of Christ.  Verse 13, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works.”  This refers to those out of Christ.  Then, after the resurrection of the unjust comes the “Judgment.”


Read Matthew 25:31-46, "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the Holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory; etc."  In speaking about the judgment, it speaks of coming with His saints.  The sheep on the right hand, and the goats on the left, "Then shall the King say unto them on the right hand, 'Come, ye blessed of My Father,' etc.”  That speaks of a fellowship - come in where I am.  Peter speaks of an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled, and it fadeth not away and is reserved in Heaven for us.  Is it worthwhile serving God in the light of all this?  No wonder Paul said, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."


There is a great difference between hearing, “Come ye blessed” or “Depart from me."  Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Some people will ask, "Would a father take a child, and put him in such a place and punish him like that?"  And they say, "Would God prepare such a place for man?"  Now, if you don't take and won't take the place God has prepared for you, then you must go some place else, to the place that was prepared for the angels that sinned. 


Have you ever noticed in the Bible that in speaking of fire, it very often speaks of fire in connection with the righteous?  Luke 3:16, in connection with Jesus, the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire.  Those that were together in Acts 2 - got the fire of persecution soon afterward.  Fire is typical of suffering.  "For every one shall be salted with fire."  The difference is, those in Christ, they just have the fire here in this life for doing the Will of God. The suffering we have here, a little fire for doing His Will, is only momentary, but the fire for the unjust, comes in the next life for not doing God's Will, will be everlasting - endless regret and suffering.


In the light of all of this, let us read I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."  May this be a comfort to you, when the day looks dark, to remember that, if I am true to the Lord today, I can have much tomorrow.