Shortly after Watchman Nee was saved, he began to love the Lord and was intensely burdened to preach the gospel to his schoolmates and countrymen in season and out of season. Through his preaching nearly all his schoolmates were led to the Lord...
Witness Lee was born in 1905 in northern China and raised in a Christian family. At age 19 he was fully captured for Christ and immediately consecrated himself to preach the gospel for the rest of his life. Early in his service, he met Watchman Nee, a renowned preacher, teacher, and writer.
The First Resurrection, Life-Study of Revelation, Message Fifty-Six, pp. 653-658
Verse 6 says, "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection." This must be the highest blessing—to inherit the kingdom manifested on earth and even to be the kings within it.
Concerning those who participate in the first resurrection, verse 6 says, "Over these the second death has no authority." This is difficult to understand. The lake of fire is called the second death (20:14). Some may say, "The believers will be resurrected before the millennium and will never be put into the lake of fire, the second death." The Bible is not that simple. We have seen that Satan is useful in the hand of God. Likewise, death is also somewhat useful to Him. All negative situations are related to death. Take the example of weakness. All weakness—physical, mental, and spiritual—belongs to death. Weakness is a visiting card of death. When death is about to visit a person, it does not come directly. Instead, it firstly comes in the form of weakness. Weakness is followed by sickness, and sickness is followed by death. Thus, both weakness and sickness belong to death. Moreover, all the troubles and hardships we face in life also belong to death. When the overcomers enter into the upper section of the millennium to be the co-kings of Christ, they will have no weakness, no sickness, no trouble, and no hardship. In other words, they will no longer be bothered by death.
The death before resurrection is the first death, and the death after resurrection is the second death. The second death, the lake of fire, refers to death after resurrection. In the first death the spirit and soul leave the body, the body is buried, and the spirit and soul go to Hades—the spirit and soul of the believer to the section of comfort in Hades, and the spirit and soul of the unbeliever to the section of torment. The Lord Jesus will determine who among the dead will be resurrected before the millennium and who will be left in the tomb for another thousand years to be resurrected after the millennium. After the unbelievers are resurrected, they will be judged at the great white throne (20:11-15). The dead unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire, the second death. This means that even after their resurrection, they will still suffer the second death.
Do not think, as many Christians do, that after your resurrection everything will necessarily be all right. After our resurrection, we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). If there is no possibility that we might still have a problem, why then will we be judged after the resurrection? When we are standing before the judgment seat of Christ, we shall be fearful and trembling, wondering what the Lord Jesus will say concerning us. Yes, you are saved, and you are saved for eternity. With this there is no problem. We do not believe that a saved person can be lost again. John 10:28 and 29 indicate that once we have received eternal life, we can never perish. However, in 1 Corinthians 3:15 Paul says, "If anyone's work shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss, but he shall be saved, yet so as through fire." Although we are saved, we may still suffer a loss; that is, we may still have a problem. Do not think that after you have been resurrected and raptured, you will immediately go to heaven. No, you must first be examined. Do not expect to go directly into the millennial kingdom to be a co-king of Christ. You must firstly stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
As we stand before this judgment seat, "each one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). Perhaps you will have to say, "Lord, after I was saved, I still drank and went to the movies. I was told that I should love You, but I simply didn't have the heart to love You. I heard the messages about the kingdom, but I was just sloppy. Lord, please excuse me." Although you may criticize others today, as you stand before the judgment seat, you will have to criticize yourself. The judgment at the judgment seat of Christ will determine whether we shall receive the reward to enter into His kingdom or receive some punishment. That punishment will be something related to the second death, just as weakness, sickness, trouble, and hardship are related to the first death.
Today God uses weakness, sickness, trouble, and hardship to discipline us and to chastise us that we may grow in life. If you die in your immaturity, do not think that you will suddenly become mature after your resurrection. No, you will be resurrected and raptured in an immature condition. You died in immaturity, and you will also be resurrected in immaturity. Take graduation from school as an example. If you leave school before you graduate and return some time later, you will still have to complete your schoolwork. You will have to continue your studies until you have finished your course for graduation.
We need to grow and mature quickly. Do not delay the process of growth and maturity. You must fear the prospect of dying in immaturity. If you die in your immaturity, after your resurrection you will stand in immaturity before the Lord's judgment seat. There will be no need for the Lord to say anything. Rather, you will say, "Lord, I'm sorry. I died in immaturity, and I am still immature. Lord, have mercy on me and grant me more time to mature." But the Lord may say, "The dispensation has changed. You must be put into a situation that will help you grow." Be assured that this situation will not be very pleasant. Everyone in this situation will be dealt with by something related to the second death. This means that even after a believer's resurrection, he may still be touched by something of the second death; that is, the second death may still have some authority over him. Only the overcomers, those who participate in the best resurrection, will not be subject to anything of the second death. They will have graduated from all weakness, sickness, trouble, hardship, and suffering. This is the proper understanding of verse 6.
Do not believe the inaccurate teachings which say that if you have been washed in the blood and regenerated by the Spirit, everything will be all right. Although you are saved for eternity, you still need to grow, to mature, and to be perfected so that you may be among the co-kings of Christ. If you do not mature, you will suffer loss. If you suffer loss before the resurrection, your loss will belong to the first death. But if you suffer loss after the resurrection, your loss will be related to the second death. Although you may be a resurrected believer, you will still be under the authority of the second death, and something of the second death will trouble you. This is the pure, enlightening, and sobering truth. Oh, we all need to be enlightened, sobered, and made serious!
What is your condition today? Are you still fleshly? Do you still love the world? Do you still fight with your wife or rebel against your husband? If this is your condition, what will you say to the Lord when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ after your resurrection? And what will He say to you? He will tell you that you need to suffer something in order to mature, that you need something of the second death to work on you. But praise the Lord for the overcomers who participate in the best resurrection and over whom the second death has no authority!
Verse 6 also says that the overcomers "shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years." The overcomers will be priests to contact God and co-kings with Christ to reign over the nations in the millennium (2:26-27; 12:5). As priests they will bring man in his need to God and minister God to man, and as kings they will bring God in His authority to man and represent God to shepherd man. This is a reward to them. The believers who are defeated in this age will forfeit this reward. However, after being dealt with by the Lord in the millennium, they will participate in the service of God and in the kingship in the new heaven and the new earth for eternity (22:3-5).
Today the proper Christians bring man and man's need to God and Christ, and they also minister God and Christ to man. Also, they bring God's authority to man and represent God to man. As we share in the upper section of the millennium, we shall be both priests and kings. We shall meet the need of both God and man, bringing man to God and God to man. Through our priesthood and kingship both God and man will be fully satisfied. We shall be a priestly and kingly people, a people far beyond anything of the second death. In this realm, there will be no weakness, no sickness, no trouble, and no hardship. How wonderful this will be!