A Third Chance?
By David Berg
This is the age of grace in which God is demonstrating that people really have to make their own decision to love Him and serve Him voluntarily. They have to choose to be righteous, choose the Lord and His way, His Word. The next age, the Millennium, is a thousand years of the enforced rule of God and His saints over the unsaved.
God will show in every way how the world ought to be run and what people ought to be like during the Millennium, by His personal rule. They will see the Lord, in a way, and see His angelic officers and know His righteousness and the beauty of a restored creation without curse and even with very little death for a thousand years!
It appears that the Millennium could be an additional period of grace for those who didn't have a chance to really hear the Gospel or know the Lord, perhaps through the failure of Christians to reach the whole world with the Gospel, or at least to reach everybody we should have.--Particularly lots of children and young people who never had a chance to know any better, people in rural areas who never heard, or non-Christian cultures, to give them a chance to hear and see and know the Lord, and to sort of give them another chance. "For no man shall say, 'know the Lord': for all shall know Him" (Jeremiah 31:34).
Obviously God has had mercy on those who survived the Tribulation, the wrath of God, and Armageddon, and has helped them to survive it and live into the Millennium. It says, "Blessed are those that endure until that day" (Daniel 12:12). Why has He helped them survive all those horrors? Why has He allowed them to survive the Tribulation and the wrath of God and the extermination of the Antichrist kingdom in the Battle of Armageddon? Why has He allowed any of the unsaved to survive? It appears to me that it's God's mercy on some who didn't know any better or didn't hear the Gospel.
It says, "Those who have done things worthy of stripes who knew not their master's will shall be beaten with few stripes" (Luke 12:48). Compared to hell, even the Tribulation, the wrath of God, and the Battle of Armageddon are very few stripes.
There are probably millions of people in the world who've never heard or understood the Gospel--even some people in churches. They go to church and still have not heard or understood how to get saved, how to receive Jesus in their heart. What's going to happen to these people? Apparently God's going to have another sifting time during the Millennium to give a chance to those who, if they had heard, would have received Him.
It looks to me like the Millennium is another testing time or trying time, a proving ground. We, the saints, who heard the Gospel and voluntarily received the Lord, are saved and are running the world under the Lord. But all of the people who survived the age of man, the Tribulation, wrath of God, and Battle of Armageddon, are blessed. How are they blessed? It looks like they're given another chance to obey through the personal rule and reign of Christ and His children and the universal knowledge of the Lord and His love.
If there is a choice given at that time, to me that indicates that some people will choose what's right when they are presented with a full knowledge of the Lord, the personal appearance of the Lord, and His angelic, mighty, supernatural power, the proof of His existence and authority. The Lord Himself said to Thomas, "Because you have seen Me, you have believed."--Or in the case of the Millennium, shall believe. But He said, "More blessed are they who have not seen, yet have believed" (John 20:29).
So we're the most blessed, because we have not yet seen the Lord and His mighty, powerful kingdom. Although we have experienced Him in our hearts and we experience Him by the miracles He does, it is still all by faith, not by sight. So having believed, we have received and seen, and therefore, more blessed are we, the Lord Himself said: "Who, though having not seen, have believed." Nevertheless, the people who must have the proof, who must see the proof like Thomas, are still blessed. The Lord chided him a little for his doubts, and to some of the other apostles He said, "O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (Luke 24:25).
In one case, He said of the Pharisees, "They have Moses and the prophets"--in other words, they have the Word--"if they will not believe them, neither will they believe though one should come back from the dead" (Luke 16:31). There are some people who won't believe even if they see it! But there are those who, like the Jews, seek a sign (1 Corinthians 1:22), who will believe if they can just see some sign or some proof.
When the Lord was here on earth, He did everything He could to help people believe, and multitudes of them did believe. But in spite of His doing all kinds of miracles and even raising the dead, He said that there were some who, even though He raised the dead, still wouldn't believe. God keeps presenting the opportunity, the Word, the truth, the signs, the wonders, the miracles, raising the dead--even though some still won't believe.
There are some who believe God's Word without the signs and wonders and miracles. There are others who were encouraged to believe when they saw the signs and wonders and miracles. Seeing was believing. There were still others who were so hard in heart, like the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, who wouldn't believe even though He raised the dead.
I think the Millennium is probably not only for the purpose of showing the world how it should've been run and how God would've run it and how it would have been if people had voluntarily accepted His laws and His righteousness and His love and loved one another. I believe that God will also give, in a sense, not a second chance but a first chance to a lot of people who have never before heard.
Look at the hundreds of millions in China who've never heard about Jesus and don't know who He is, especially children. They have never been taught about God or Jesus or His love. Look at the hundreds of millions in India and other places where they've been steeped in heathen darkness for ages, so that probably the vast majority of them have never heard. What about all those children and innocent victims of their system and their culture and religion, don't they deserve some kind of chance? I'm sure God's got a place for them too, to give them a chance. If He went to the heart of the earth and preached to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:19), that program is probably still being carried on, to give people who die without hearing the Gospel their chance to receive and believe.
How much more so in the Millennium, which is again a time of testing, a time of trial, a time of giving people an opportunity to believe and receive. And if so, then of course there are going to be those who never heard. There's a big argument over it among theologians, but I believe--because I know the Lord and know His love--that He's probably going to give those people a chance then to receive Him. Having seen Him, they're going to believe.
Even some of the saints of the Old Testament didn't have the advantage of having heard about the coming and death of Christ, except by prophecy, and yet they believed. No wonder God honored Abraham and Moses and others, because they had to look forward to something that hadn't even happened yet, and believe it (Hebrews 11:13).
They're even more blessed, in a way, because they didn't have the life of Christ and the Holy Spirit and His Word and Calvary as a known fact in past history. How much more blessed were they who believed, though having not seen! I believe in the Millennium there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be given their first chance. Maybe they're the only ones that are going to survive.
The Lord even says in one passage of some of the Jews, "They shall look on Him whom they have pierced and shall mourn for Him" (Zechariah 12:10). In other words, some are going to believe then. I don't know if that mourning is going to do them any good or not, or whether it's going to bring repentance, and as a result, having seen the Lord coming, they're then going to be saved because they receive Him. We hope that's godly sorrow, godly repentance, and that when they finally see Him when He comes--which is the beginning of the Millennium--they'll be saved. There are certain scriptures which seem to indicate that.
I think the Millennium is the time when God gives what I would call not a second chance, but a first chance to a lot of people who didn't have a chance before, because we Christians failed to give them the Gospel.
Apparently, some will be saved when they finally see and therefore they can believe--when they finally hear for the first time and therefore they believe and receive, and others who finally see and believe. But there are going to be some who will still be so hard and so rebellious against the rule of God, just as there are today!
I believe during the Millennium there is again going to be a sifting and a separation of the sheep from the goats. Those who never had a chance will be given a chance then to receive the Gospel, with the very strong persuasion of "seeing is believing"; those who perhaps would've believed if they could've seen some evidence of some kind or some sign.
They might have believed if they had seen a manifestation of the love of God in people who were supposed to love Him and be His people. We've had lots of people testify that they went for years in the church and never believed because they never saw God in anybody or a manifestation of His love.
In the face of the visible rule and reign of Christ on the earth, His personal appearance to man, His second coming in mighty power and glory, and His wiping out of the Antichrist and his kingdom and the imprisonment of Satan and His obvious visible rule and reign of firm love with a rod of iron, I think some are going to believe and receive who perhaps never heard before. And maybe there are some who might have heard but didn't understand or couldn't believe until they saw. They may be sort of second-class Christians, you might say.
There will still be the hard-hearted wicked who, the minute the Devil's let out of his prison, will run after him as their evil leader to lead them in open rebellion against the kingdom of God and the government of God on earth. It says they even "surround the camp of the saints" (Revelation 20:9). In other words, they literally try to overthrow the kingdom of Christ on earth. They are so deceived by the Devil into thinking that they can actually do it if they try! (Psalm 2).
God will have again sifted the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats. By giving the wicked who want to rebel a chance to rebel, they will come out into the open at the end of the Millennium and follow Satan into the Battle of Gog and Magog. They will openly show the rebellion they've had in their hearts the whole time, their refusal to be citizens of the kingdom of God, or to be in subjection to the rule and reign of Christ and His saints on earth. In spite of all the visible power and presence of God and His saints, they still didn't like it. In this heaven on earth of Christ's kingdom on earth, they're going to be uncomfortable misfits, oddballs, constantly resenting it and grumbling and complaining against it, and finally being deceived by the Devil to openly rebel against the Lord and His government, for which cause God will then wipe them all out!
I think the Millennium in a sense is going to be an extension of this day of grace for the sake of those who never heard or perhaps were too weak in faith to believe without seeing, as well as to manifest the heinous sin of the confirmed rebels, the utter reprobates. God in His wrath and vengeance is going to wipe them out like He does Satan's forces in that final Battle of Gog and Magog at the end of the Millennium.
I don't think the people who have heard and rejected deserve another chance; I don't think He's going to have mercy on them. Why should He? They wouldn't accept the love and forgiveness and sacrifice of Christ. So they deserve to go to hell and to suffer a while for their hardness and rejection.
But even for some of those, I think hell is going to be a purgatory. Even some of those are going to be purged from their rebelliousness and their unbelief and their hardness and rejection. Just like a child being punished or chastised, they're going to be given a chance there to repent and have some kind of restoration and restitution, if not actual salvation, some kind of eventual reconciliation.
They may have no right to the Heavenly City--heaven come down to earth, wherein only the saints and the saved shall walk--but apparently God is going to restore them to the surface of the heavenly earth in His mercy and His forgiveness, because through punishment and suffering in hell and purgatory, they've been purged from their wickedness.
They've repented and they have been humbled and they have begged for forgiveness and have been restored in some sense to life outside the Heavenly City on the surface of the earth. Some will still need healing by the leaves of the Tree of Life, evidently brought by the saved. We're the only ones allowed inside the City, so naturally we're the only ones to harvest the leaves of the Tree of Life to take them outside to heal the nations.
I believe that God's plan is not going to be defeated; God is not going to be defeated. He is going to redeem mankind. As the Bible says, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). In a sense they'll be saved, with no right to the Holy City, but they will still be allowed outside and be healed from whatever sins and sicknesses remain, so that it is a constant process and a constant renewal of the mercy of God. Once again, in the Millennium He has mercy on those who've never heard, and maybe those who needed to see some proof, and yet even greater wrath on those who still reject Him in the face of it.
Then again in the new heaven and new earth, there are people on the surface who were former idolaters, liars, and all kinds of things, yet He allows them outside the City, outside the walls thereof (Revelation 22:15). And He allows us to go out and minister to them with the leaves from the Tree of Life to heal the nations (Revelation 22:2).
I believe that the Lord's going to have us ministering to the final remaining people who still need complete healing from their sins and sicknesses to restore them to some state of reconciliation as we give them the leaves of life, the Good News of His everlasting love! Leaves from the Book of Life, the Word of God. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).