Christian belief has it that there are two basic resurrections, the “Judgment seat of Christ”, and the “Great white throne”.
These are taken from the book of Revelation. (it is also said there is a resurrection of the just and the unjust)
However, greater importance regarding resurrection, arises because Revelation also says, “Those who take part in the first resurrection will not be harmed by the second death”.
It can be reasonably discovered that the “First Resurrection” is actually when people become Christians, when they are “born again”. These are those who are not harmed by the true (second) death that follows natural (first) death, they are unharmed by the spiritual judgment that is to come, because they have already accepted their judgment in Christ, and so their death (judgment) has already taken place in Christ, just as they have also “risen with him”.
In Revelation, the commonly accepted “Judgement seat of Christ”, can only be where, in common with all creation, they will be subjected to the proof testing of their spiritual position, by “fire”. Christians will emerge from this in varying degrees according to the good they have done on earth.The “Great White Throne” is said to be the general mass of humanity, where it has to be assumed they will not survive, this being the “Second Death”.
So though the “Judgement seat of Christ” may actually precede the “Great White Throne” judgement, the greater meaning is obtained from understanding that Christians, who have taken part in “The First Resurrection”, as “born again” believers on this earth, will not be harmed by the “Second Death”, which is that judgement which will come upon the whole of creation and where the chaff will be burnt up and the wheat survive.
“Our God is a consuming fire”, When Christ returns, he will come, in flaming judgement, upon all. That which is of him, compatible with his nature, will be assumed into him. That which does not contain his nature or substance, will be consumed by him. It says that those who disbelieve stand self condemned. “This is the judgement, that they believe not…”
By refusing to accept God as Supreme creator, and his sacrificed son as true redeemer, they continue their separation (“willingly ignorant”) from God. Separation occurred when Adam disobeyed and went his own way. Now God offers reconciliation and a free “ticket” to return to him, just like “The Prodigal Son”. The cross was his forgiveness offered to all, but only those who believe will actually “take advantage” of that offer, the rest will remain “dead”. The judgement is simply confirmation of that death they are already in.
This “fire” is seen as the “Wrath” of God. In fact, it is simply his nature of love which, being incompatible with anything that is NOT love, will by natural consequence of incompatibility, annul or destroy it. Men in their lives, via their consciences, feel this “wrath” of God, which is really the consciousness of their separation from God, and their subsequent “hiding” from the reality of what this really means. They are hiding from their punishment, judgement, and death. In this state they are confused by the deceitfulness necessary to cover up their “sin”, they hide in the lie, and cannot stand the truth.
Those who take part in the first resurrection, will also reign with Christ while they are on the earth, as “kings and priests” , doing God’s will “on earth, as it is in heaven”. Denial of this is part of the deception that some are caught up in, where they believe that in the kingdom to come, even animal sacrifices will be reinstated. But this is small error compared with what some of them do to the cross, where major error holds them in captivity to the flesh, as they deny the totality of Christ’s victory on our behalf. [just have to add a comment to repudiate the idea that there will be a literal 1000 year reign of Christ, once he returns. This period is figurative, and denotes the time roughly between Christ’s first and second coming].
Captivity to sin through the flesh is via the law, which Christ has satisfied on our behalf. Paul said the law was “temporary” until Christ had come, and, “now that Christ has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law”. He also said, “He has abolished the law”. there are those who assert that we should be keeping all the law, and so want bondage to continue. The freedom of the Spirit is a rare and precious thing, and not to be given up so easily as to fall for this one.
Major error exists in Romans chapter seven, where Paul, speaking as one under bondage to sin through the law, is taught as being a Christian, (even an apostle) while he was in a position of total captivity and wretchedness such as to cry out “Who will deliver me from this body of death”. [similar in a way to Christ’s cry “My God why have you abandoned me”]. Both of them were in a very dark place, and to place Paul as being a Christian is just so wrong on every level. [This dark place is to be seen as the darkness of sin, of broken relationship with God]. [they were both under “wrath”.]
EDIT Someone has said that the first resurrection is actually Christ’s. This makes sense because of verses like “we are raised with him” and so has a more direct connection to things. Rather than isolating believers as the group who make up the first resurrection, (which they do), it ties them to the one who IS the resurrection. (“I am the resurrection”). It also strengthens verses about baptism (buried with him, raised with him). He also may have provided further information that strengthens my prevailing view that there is only one event that encompasses all the common beliefs regarding resurrection and judgement and supposed millenniums etc and reduces them to this one return of Christ in fire. [although I have problems with his “souls” aspect, the rest seems pretty good.]. https://wordwatchman.wordpress.com/the-first-resurrection/ [LATER EDIT those who “take part in”, participate in, are participants in; not so much the first resurrection as the event of their own “spiritual” resurrection, so much as being participants in HIS resurrection]