The Second Death :: By Grant Phillips

If there is a second death, then there must be a first death. The first death is our physical death.

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19 emphasis mine)

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27 emphasis mine)

In Genesis 2:17 God tells Adam, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Obviously, Adam did not die physically until over 900 years later, but on the day he sinned, he began dying physically. Also, on that same day, he died spiritually.

Death means “separation.” In physical death, we are separated from our body, or as Paul calls it, our tent or tabernacle. In spiritual death, we are separated from God.

Someone said, “Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once.” We who have been born again in Jesus Christ will experience the first resurrection, but never the second death. We are overcomers in Christ Jesus. We are “born twice, but die once.” Those without Christ are “born once, but die twice.”

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Revelation 2:11)

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

What is an overcomer?

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5)

What is the second death?

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

All of us are partakers of sin. The difference between the lost sinner and the saved sinner is that those who have been saved by faith in Jesus are born again spiritually. His blood has covered our sins and cleansed us (garment of salvation). Not only that, He has cloaked us with His own righteousness (robe of righteousness), and it is Jesus’ righteousness God sees when He looks upon us.

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:9)

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1)

The self-righteousness of the lost sinner is all he has and will not stand up under the scrutiny of a holy God.

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:41, 46 emphasis mine)

All of mankind is born once (physically). All of mankind physically dies once (with a few Biblical exceptions, such as the rapture for example).

No believer will die twice, but every unbeliever will die twice, the second time being cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. See again Revelation 20:14; 21:8.

The lake of fire (second death) is eternal separation from God. It was prepared by God for Satan and his angels, but those who have never trusted in Christ will also be there for eternity. See again Matthew 25:41, 46.

Some may think I’m being very negative in talking about these issues, but isn’t it better to get it out in the open now? Some may say, “You’re scaring me!” Isn’t it better to be scared now and do something about it, than to be horrified when it is too late?

Some teach that ‘when a lost person dies their soul dies along with their body. Therefore, there is no life for them after the grave.’ I’m sure they have the following passage in mind.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

Let me point out two important observations in this passage.

  1. The Greek word for “destroy,” apollymi is meant to be used as follows: The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words)
  2. Revelation 20:14 (see above) says clearly that “death and hell” are “cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Through death, every lost soul goes to hell. Hell, and every soul therein, are cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.

Notice carefully the next two verses.

“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Revelation 19:20)

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10)

In Revelation 19:20 the beast and false prophet “were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” One thousand (1,000) years later, at the end of the Millennium, Satan (the devil) “was also cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are.” The beast and false prophet are still alive in the lake of fire, 1,000 years later, when Satan (the devil) is also cast in. All those at the great White Throne judgement will also be cast alive into the lake of fire. (See verses above.)

Some also teach that the lost will suffer for a period of time and then will be released from the lake of fire, but along with the beast and false prophet, all “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10 above)

Every person cast into the lake of fire will be there because of their rejection of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, their works must either measure up to the works of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, or they must have called upon Jesus to be saved while they were alive physically. No one is perfect but God, so that’s out. Did they put their faith in Jesus and Him only to be saved while they were physically alive? Since they are at the White Throne judgment, the answer is obvious. There is no hope.

A man can spend an eternity trying to “work off” their debt to God, but it is humanly impossible to ever accomplish that feat. To even think that is possible is the ultimate in satanic pride.

Also, think about this. Most everyone, if they knew there was nothing after death but ‘nothingness,’ or if they could at least ‘work it off’ after a period of time, would spend their entire lives brow deep in their favorite sins with no intentions of ever repenting.

Then there are those shouting, “That’s not fair! I want what’s coming to me!” Every person in the lake of fire, the second death, will certainly receive that. Those who are wise will certainly not want what is coming to them. These instead will call upon Jesus and gladly receive God’s grace, which does not give us what we deserve, but what we do not deserve, the glorious riches of all that is of God.

The bottom line is that all who avoid the second death have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, and all who partake of the second death have refused the only path to God.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Grant Phillips


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