Another Chance for Mankind the Day of Jesus' Death
"Because God is ready to judge the living & the dead Jesus told the good news to those who are now dead. They will be judged like men who are alive. This was done so that they could live like God in the spirit." (1 Peter 4:6)
To save people from the second death on judgement day Jesus told the good news to people who had already died before His death. It says this proclaiming of the good news to the dead was not a pointless proclamation. It was done so those who have already died in the flesh could "live like God in the spirit" meaning "be reborn." Some say this only refers to the dead Christians who have died up to this point because of persecution. But pair this with what Peter says in v3:18, "After His body died the Spirit of Christ went & proclaimed the gospel to the spirits in prison, some of which were people from the days of Noah who had previously disobeyed God."
Romans 3:25 says, "In God's forbearance Jesus passed over sins previously committed." Forbearance is defined as "good-natured & patient tolerance." This certainly does not mean Christ only died for the sins of people who had lived up to the point of His death. Hebrews 7:27 & 10:12 tells us, "Jesus died for the sins of all people for all time." It was not pointless for Him to have died for people's past sins, the sins of those who had died before He died. He told them the good news of what He had done so they could "live like Him in the spirit."
1 Peter 3:18 suggests that these spirits were only disobedient in the past, meaning they obeyed the gospel (trusted in Christ) & were saved. I think it singles out the people of the days of Noah because they are on record as the worst people in the history of the world. God gave them a second chance in the after-life because He is good, patient, & tolerant. How much more then will He give mankind a another chance to be saved on judgment day?
Another Chance for Mankind on Judgment Day
Romans 14:10-12 quotes Isaiah 45 letting us know that Isaiah 45 tells us what happens on judgment day, the same day people are later thrown in the lake of fire. On judgment day God tells the yet unsaved people to "draw near." He says "idols cannot save." He says, "I am God, and there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me." He says, "Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength." He says to all the people who are not His people "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other."
After God offers salvation to all mankind who have not yet received it Isaiah then tells us that "Men will come to Him." But Isaiah also says, "All who were angry at Him will be put to shame." In SEVEN places God promises, “Whoever who trusts in me will NEVER be put to shame” (Isaiah 28:16, 45:17, 54:4, Romans 9:33, 10:11, 1 Peter 2:6, Joel 2:26-27). If you are put to shame you are not saved. Shame is literally the opposite of grace. It is disgrace. If you are put to shame you have chosen not to receive God's grace. So we see that there are some who choose to retain anger towards God. Those are the only people thrown into the lake of fire, suffering the second death on judgment day. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 & Revelation 20:10,14-15 tell us that the second death is annihilation, an eternal destruction, not an eternal suffering. You cannot hate God & live forever. God is life. If you hate God you hate life & thus you have chosen death for yourself.
God's Motives Regarding Death in the Flesh Unraveled
The questions come to many. Why did God command the Israeli armies of old to wipe out entire groups of people? There are countless reasons given as to why it wasn't as bad as it sounds. That things were mistranslated, inclusive expressions were used, etc. I was asking myself this question remembering the stock answers of "it was to protect society as a whole" & "it was because the Israelites would have been led astray" & even "they deserved it because of their sin." So I asked God & He told me that the flood was the key to understanding all of this.
Regardless of your views on God's commanding or seeming commanding of Israel's army to kill & other stories in the Old Testament all Christians will admit that God flooded the earth & in that flood nearly all men, women, & children were killed (all but 8). All other stories pale in comparison when it comes to God bringing destruction upon people. So why did God wipe out mankind in the flood? Let us look back at the story.
"God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-8)
God was grieved in His heart about making mankind. The word grieved pictures that His heart was in pain, pouring out sorrow, hurting, & tortured. Does this picture a God of wrath who hates sin? No, it says He was sorry & regretful that He had made mankind. Why? Was it because He angrily hated sin? No, remember God is a Father. Look at this event through the eyes of a father or a mother.
Imagine a situation like Adam & Eve's with Cain & Abel. They had two sons but one killed the other. Regardless of how much they loved their son Cain thoughts of regret would have surely went through their minds. God likewise had this regret when He saw the people He had made only focusing on & doing terrible, destructive things. As some fear in modern times He may have foresaw humanity wiping themselves out because Genesis 6:11&13 say "The earth was filled with violence."
Most will not consider that God has two lives to work with when it comes to saving mankind from sin & death because most believe that we are not given another chance to trust Christ in the next life. However, as I have shown above, God does have two lives to work with when it comes to salvation. If mankind had wiped themselves out it would have been a much longer, much more painful ordeal.
People died in the flood. When are they brought up again in the New Testament? In the scripture mentioned above. 1 Peter 3:18 says of them, "Christ went & proclaimed the gospel to the spirits in prison, some of which were people from the days of Noah." Prison.. Imagine a mother who has an unruly son who is out committing crimes & destroying his life. Imagine how the mother, though grieved in her heart & even regretful for having him, could still, in love, turn him into the authorities to be locked up in the hopes to save him from his destructive ways & even save his life in the long run. That is a picture of God & the flood & every other place in scripture where God commands or threatens death for people. God killed these people in the flesh so they would be willing to be saved in the spirit. Instead of the flood being something where God deemed mankind unworthy of life because of their actions, it was actually God deeming mankind worthy of life despite their actions. He had to take their life on this earth away & lock them up so that they would one day take the chance to "live like God in the spirit" after Christ came off the cross.
God will go to any & all resorts to save people from ultimate death even if it means taking their first life. God's final enemy is death (1 Corinthians 15:26). If death is His enemy why would He let it win the first time? Death
cannot win but death can be chosen. The second death is God's true
enemy. God desired the first death for mankind after the fall so that they will be free
from the flesh. That is why He prevented Adam & Eve from eating of
the tree of life. He didn't want them to live forever in the flesh. God
wants us to live forever but not in the weakness of the flesh but in the
power & love & joy of the spirit.
True life is in the spirit because all flesh will die. God wants to save & preserve us as eternal beings in the spirit & the only way to protect us from death is to make us one Spirit with Him because His Spirit has already conquered death. God is the Savior, not the slaughterer. Some say God did these things to "preserve the lineage for Jesus" or "for the greater good of mankind" while those are true, these people who have died are not casualties of grace, they are still favored by the Father. God didn't make them die for you. His mercy removed them from this life for another shot at life. But of course, it is always much better to know Him in this life first.
I give you the true God. Always a Savior & always a Lover. Who would stay angry at Him?
"As I live!" declares the Lord God, "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way to My Way, Jesus the Savior of mankind, and live. Why then will you die?" (Ezekiel 33:11, New Covenant paraphrase)
"I have set before you life and death. Therefore choose life, that you may live!" (Deuteronomy 30:19)
For an in-depth look at eternal destiny & God's offering of life over death see these two posts:
Saved? Saved from What? & Eternal Torment, Annihilation, Ultimate Reconciliation? How about a little of each?