Redemption is accepted as the most significant doctrine in the Bible. Redemption determines the only two distinct categories of all mankind, i.e. those who will spend eternity with God and those who will spend eternity apart from God.
All who have died will be raised from the grave.
“I have hope in God…that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” Acts 24:15
The word ‘just’ is a Biblical legal term meaning that one’s sins have been paid for by the vicarious death of Christ. The Apostle John also spoke of the two divisions of all mankind.
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves 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 condemnation.” John 5:28-29
The phrase ‘those who have done good’ means having accepted God’s plan of redemption and ‘those who have done evil’ means those who have rejected God’s redemptive plan. Those who accept the redemptive plan abide in the truth, while those who reject the plan have been deceived and have accepted a lie.
John later in his epistles provided more details.
“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” 1 John 2:22-23
‘He who acknowledges the Son’ encompasses accepting everything that Jesus did and taught. It begins with believing that Jesus is in fact deity and that as a Man He completely fulfilled the law which no other man could do. Inasmuch as Jesus never sinned, He in reality paid our sin debt thereby ‘justifying’ those who believed in Him. His resurrection was proof that God accepted Jesus’ death for our sins.
There is a popular saying that a Christian is born twice and dies once while those who rejected God’s plan of redemption will have been born once and will die twice. How is that possible?
Jesus taught the Pharisee Nicodemus about the second birth.
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” John 3:3
Jesus explained that the new birth was a spiritual renewal experienced by all who God elected at the foundation of the world; whose names He wrote in His Book of Life. Subsequently those who are ‘born again’ and then die a natural death will be resurrected with an immortal body to live in God’s presence forever.
Those who have rejected God’s plan of redemption will die a natural death also, but they will be resurrected to stand judgment before God. If they had not experienced the ‘born again’ experience during their natural lifetime they are doomed to ‘die again’.
“…Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works…And everyone not found written the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire…This is the second death.” Revelation 20:13-15
It is interesting to note who heaven and hell were prepared for.
“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them… as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’” Matthew 25:32-34
Therefore, the redeemed will spend eternity with God in the place prepared specifically for them from the foundation of the world.
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…’” Matthew 25:41
It was not God’s will that anyone should perish. By rejecting the free gift of redemption, man was sent to the lake of fire that had been prepared for the devil and his angels.