There should be no disputing that the Bible speaks of two resurrections. In Rev. 20: 6 it says,"Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years". Nowhere does it use the term "second resurrection". However in the verse just before the one quoted it says that the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were over. This would have to be a second resurrection.
To those that disagree with us, the fact that it says that this second resurrection does not occur until after the Millennial Age makes our understanding of what the age is for seem to be wrong. While there seems to be a question as to whether this sentence is found in the oldest manuscripts, there is an explanation. It is that it is not until the end of the Millennial Age that mankind will have been brought fully back to life. That is the life Adam had before he sinned. Actually the purpose of the Millennial Age is to bring mankind back to perfection and in harmony with God. That work will not be done until the end of the age. Thus there is no problem with this statement that "the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years are ended". And the fact that there will be two resurrections is confirmed, the first at the Second Coming of Jesus and the second at the beginning of the Millennial Age. Some might say that they are both the same time but that needs another page to go into.
The purpose of the second resurrection is one of the principle points of difference between our understanding of the Bible and the way Orthodox Christianity understands it. Acts 15: 14-17 explains the reason for the second resurrection quite well. Here the Apostles were trying to clarify a dissension that had arisen. It was difficult for the Jews to accept the fact that Gentiles were now welcome in the church the same as Jews. They wanted to put upon them the requirement that they obey the law. Peter, after making the point that it was not the keeping of the law, which they nor any of mankind in their fallen condition are able to do, but faith in Jesus that made them part of the church. The discussion went on and James said this. NIV. "Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: ‘after this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the lord, who does these things’". James is here quoting from Amos 9: 11. The point is here made that first a special people is taken from both Jew and Gentile and after this is done the kingdom of the Lord, as expressed as David’s fallen tent, will be restored and the "remnant of men" will flow into it. This point is also made again in Isaiah 35 where what is described as a "highway" will be there. The redeemed will walk up it without "ferocious beasts" hindering them. That will be the purpose of the Millennial Age.
Another scripture that we like to quote is Acts 3: 19-21. KJT "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began". "Until the times of restitution if all things," that is a promise folks. God promised to restore what was lost. What was lost? Adam lost life in the Garden of Eden. That is what will be restored. That us what the Millennial Age is for. That is the purpose of Christ’s return and the second resurrection.
I want to make the point that the first resurrection is made up of people that are much more involved than to just "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved". Let’s start with Phil. 3:13,14. NIV "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward, Christ Jesus". Here Paul certainly is reciting the need to do more than "just to believe". Heb.3: 1 "Therefore, holy brothers, who share the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess". Here Paul calls this a "heavenly calling" not just a hope to be saved from something. Rom.1: 7 "To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints". Here Paul makes it plain that there is a definite calling involved. Also in 1Cor.1: 2 he makes the same pont that those in the "Church of God" were "called". Does this mean that all mankind were "called"? Does it mean that in order to gain salvation one must be "called”? In John 6:44 Jesus says that no one comes to him unless the father draws him. I think we have good grounds for believing that it is only a special group that has part in the first resurrection. There are also good grounds for believing that these are not the only ones that will be "saved". Paul is definite that there will be a resurrection of, the NIV puts it, the "those that have done good"” and "those that have done evil." In John 5:28,29 Jesus says "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned". This of course, is speaking of the two resurrections. The "good" being the church and the first resurrection, the other group is everyone else and is the second resurrection. The "rise to be condemned" is not a good translation. The word that is here (NIV) translated "condemned" is translated "damnation" in KJT. The Greek work that this is taken from is better-translated "judgment" and is so translated in other places in the Bible. One might say, "what difference does it make? If they are judged based upon what they have done in this life they will still probably be "condemned". It seems that this word "krisis" which is the Greek word that is translated by these two words and also by the word "judgment" seems to imply a testing period associated with all this. This is the word used in Matt. 10:15 where Jesus said that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of "judgment" then for those who wouldn’t listen to the message of the apostles. The implication at least is that if it will be tolerable for either then it must mean more than just to condemn. If this be so than these people that were neither called or were unable to be part of the church of God will be part of this second resurrection and will have an opportunity to walk up the "highway of holiness" in the Millennial Age. This goes along with Isaiah 26: 9 which says, "when your judgments are in the earth the world will learn righteousness." It is a wonderful promise. Doesn’t it sound like the work of a loving God? It gives reason for the Millennial Age. It gives hope for salvation for the billions of mankind that have never heard of Jesus or have not seen the reason for believing in him. Yes, it is true that every person that ever lived on the face of the earth will have an opportunity to gain eternal life. What a hope that is. What a God we have. Ps: 86: 12.
I wish I could express it better.