The Multiple Resurrections and Judgments
Premillennialists believe that Jesus Christ will return to resurrect the saints prior to the millennium. This is followed by the earthly reign of Christ from
for one thousand
years. The final judgment will take place at the end of this millennium, when
the wicked dead will be resurrected and condemned to eternal perdition. The
premillennial eschatological schema includes at least two resurrections and two
judgments. A one thousand year gap is posited between the Second Coming and the
final judgment. Consequentially, the resurrection of the saints and the
resurrection of the wicked are separated by a millennium. Jerusalem
If this sequence of events appears complex, the dispensational eschaton is by far the most complicated of all eschatological schemes. Jesus does not only return just before the millennium; He returns secretly before the Great Tribulation to rapture the saints. According to Pretribulationism, Jesus comes secretly for His saints before the Great Tribulation, and He comes gloriously with His saints after the tribulation to usher in the millennium.
Between the pretribulation rapture and the glorious, visible return of Christ, a judgment of the saints takes place in the heavenly realms. In his essay on the Judgment Seat of Christ, Dr Jack Sin writes:
“The Judgement Seat of Christ is not the Judgement of the Great White Throne (Rev 20:1-15). The latter is meant only for the unregenerate who “are condemned already because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3: 18). That is the final judgement which will take place after the millennium (Rev 20:6). Believers, on the other hand, will appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ. The privilege of standing before the Judgement Seat of Christ comes from being born again. . . . When will the Judgement Seat of Christ take place? According to Scriptures, the Judgement Seat of Christ will take place between the Rapture and the return of Christ to earth.”
So according to Bible Presbyterians, a separate judgment of the saints - the Judgment Seat of Christ – occurs prior to Christ’s Second Coming (apokalupsis). The wicked, however, are not judged until the end of the earthly millennium. In dispensational jargon, this judgment of the wicked dead is called the Great White Throne Judgment. John Walvoord explains,
“The final judgment of the human race is recorded in Revelation 20:11-15. This judgment will occur when the present earth and heavens have fled away (20:11; 21:1). Before the Great White Throne, on which Christ will be seated, will be gathered the remaining dead, the unsaved of all ages, who will be resurrected for this judgment, a judgment that will result in all being cast into the lake of fire.”
Bible Presbyterian scholar, Dr Quek Suan Yew, concurs with Dr Walvoord:
“The Great White Throne Judgement is the final place of judgement for all unbelievers. Great not only points to its size but also its majestic authority and significance, it being the final throne scene. White as usual symbolizes purity, holiness and perfect justice. . . . All the unbelievers who had died and sent to Hell will be delivered from Hell and forced to stand before God for judgement.”
But another judgment must take place especially for the millennial saints. The millennial saints are Christians who are living on earth at the end of the Millennium or those who have died in the Millennium. These saints cannot be judged at the Great White Throne because, according to dispensational thinking, the Great White Throne Judgment is only for the wicked. In his book End Times: Understanding Today’s World Events in Biblical Prophecy, Dr Walvoord explains the dispensational understanding of the judgment for millennial saints:
“The Scriptures are silent on how God will deal with saints living on earth at the end of the Millennium or saints who have died in the Millennium. . . . It is probable that the righteous who die in the Millennium will be resurrected, much as the church will be at the Rapture, and that living saints will be given bodies suited for eternity like those living church saints will receive. It is clear that the millennial saints will not be involved in the judgment of the Great White Throne, however, because this judgment relates to the wicked dead.”
Therefore, the Reformed understanding of a general resurrection and a judgment of both the righteous and the wicked is replaced with a sequence of multiple resurrections and judgments. According to the dispensational eschaton, there is one resurrection before the tribulation at Christ’s parousia, one after the tribulation for “tribulation saints” after Christ’s apokalupsis, at least one separate resurrection for those saved during the millennium, and a resurrection of the wicked at the Great White Throne judgment after the millennium. John Walvoord, in fact, finds a series of seven resurrections in New Testament teachings. Walvoord writes, “Seen in their chronological order, the seven resurrections are proof that there will be not just one final resurrection and judgment in the future, but rather a series of judgments and resurrections.”
Likewise, there are at least three separate judgments according to Dispensationalism and Bible Presbyterianism: the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Great White Throne Judgment, and the judgment of the millennial saints. The Bible Presbyterians have apparently adopted the Dispensationalist’s eschatological schema as biblical truth, together with the multiple resurrections and judgments.
The General Resurrection and Final Judgment in Reformed Confessions
Have the Reformed churches ever taught a complex series of resurrections of the dead? According to the Reformed Confessions of Faith - the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXXII sections II and III, and the Belgic Confession Article 37 - the resurrection of the just and the unjust will be a single event. During this general resurrection, both the wicked dead and the righteous dead will be resurrected together.
Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXXII state:
At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed: and all the dead shall be raised up, with the self-same bodies, and none other (although with different qualities), which shall be united again to their souls for ever.
The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour: the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honour; and be made conformable to His own glorious body.
The second paragraph of the Confession, Chapter XXXII, begins with the phrase “at the last day.” It asserts that “all the dead shall be raised up,” and this general resurrection occurs “at the last day.” “All the dead” obviously refers to all of the dead, both elect and reprobates. The Confession explains that “the bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour: the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honour; and be made conformable to His own glorious body.” The Confession incontrovertibly describes a general resurrection of both the just and the unjust. There is no mention of any time gap between the resurrection of the wicked and the saints.
In Paragraph 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXXIII, it is stated that:
God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ. To whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
With regard to the time frame, the phrase “God hath appointed a day” makes it clear that the Confession does not have in mind two different judgments: one for the saints and another for the reprobates, which are separated by at least one thousand years. That it will be a general judgment of both the just and the unjust is ascertained by the statement, “In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ.” “All persons,” that is, the saved and the damned, shall appear before the glorious Christ “at the last day.”
The Belgic Confession, Article 37, similarly describes a general resurrection and a single judgment at the last day.
Finally, we believe, according to the Word of God, that when the time, ordained by the Lord but unknown to all creatures, has come and the number of the elect is complete, our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, bodily and visibly, as He ascended, with great glory and majesty. He will declare Himself Judge of the living and the dead and set this old world afire in order to purge it. Then all people, men, women, and children, who ever lived, from the beginning of the world to the end, will appear in person before this great Judge. They will be summoned with the archangel’s call and with the sound of the trumpet of God.
Those who will have died before that time will arise out of the earth, as their spirits are once again united with their own bodies in which they lived. Those who will then be still alive will not die as the others but will be changed in the twinkling of an eye from perishable to imperishable. Then the books will be opened and the dead will be judged according to what they have done in this world, whether good or evil. Indeed, all people will render account for every careless word they utter, which the world regards as mere jest and amusement.
The Belgic Confession teaches that at Christ’s Second Coming, which shall be “bodily and visibly,” “all people, men, women, and children, who ever lived, from the beginning of the world to the end, will appear in person before this great Judge.” The final judgment is obviously a general judgment. The Belgic Confession does not mention a secret coming of Christ prior to the Great Tribulation, and a subsequent rewarding of the saints at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Both the saints and the wicked will be judged at the same time at Christ’s Parousia.
Furthermore, the phrase “those who will have died” refers to the dead in general, and makes no reference to either the saved or the damned. Both Confessions are consistent with the explicit teachings of Scripture, particularly Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29, and Acts 24:15. The obvious teaching of these passages is a general resurrection of both the just and the unjust. There is no mention of a one thousand years or, according to pretribulationists, a one thousand and seven years gap between the resurrection of the saints and the resurrection of the wicked.
The Scripture and Reformed Confessions agree that there will only be one general resurrection of the dead, and one Second Coming of Christ, not a complex series of resurrections separated by time gaps, or multiple “second” comings of Christ. Also, it is clear that the Reformed Confessions teach a general, final judgment. The notion that Christ will come secretly to rapture and resurrect the saints prior to the Great Tribulation is foreign to the Reformed Confessions of Faith.
Premillennialism demands two separate resurrections: the resurrection of the just at Christ’s Parousia, and the resurrection of the wicked at the end of the millennium. The Reformed Confessions, unfortunately, do not allow the intercalation of a millennium between two separate resurrections. Consequentially, the eschatological schema of dispensational premillennialism contradicts the Reformed Confessions’ doctrine of a general resurrection and judgment.
 Jack Sin, “The Judgement Seat of Christ,” The Burning Bush 6, no. 2 (2000):302, 314.
 John F. Walvoord, End Times: Understanding Today’s World Events in Biblical Prophecy (Nashville, Tennessee: Word Publishing, 1998), 177.
 See Quek Suan Yew, DAY FIVE: Revelation 19-22 (
Calvary Pandan Bible Presbyterian Church, n.d.), 152-153; available from http://calvarypandan.org/revelation-0603.doc;
Internet; accessed 01 April 2006. These are lecture notes for a course on
Revelation conducted by Rev (Dr) Quek Suan Yew. The entire series of course
notes is available from http://calvarypandan.org/r.htm;
Internet; accessed 01 April 2006. The same was written in Quek Suan Yew, The Apocalypse – A Study of the Book of
Revelation (Singapore: Calvary Pandan Bible Presbyterian Church, n.d.);
available from http://www.calvarypandan.sg/images/articles/revelation/v.%20the%20fgreat%20white%20throne%20judgement.pdf Singapore
; Internet; accessed 29 October 2016.
 Walvoord, End Times: Understanding Today’s World Events in Biblical Prophecy, 178
 See ibid., 153-165 for the dispensationalist’s order of resurrections.
 Ibid., 165.
 See ibid., 167-184 for the dispensationalist’s order of judgments.