From the moment of birth, death is just over the horizon. It is much like the sun as it rises in the east- beautiful and bright. With it, comes anticipation and hope. Anticipation, for what is to come. Hope, for seemingly an endless array of possibilities. At midday comes satisfaction for all that has been accomplished and eagerness to complete what is yet undone. As dusk fades into evening, our anticipation and hope for what could have been and what was ours is realized as a vapor that belonged to the wind all along.
Death is absolute and it is final. It is necessary and inevitable. Death has always invoked an unspeakable fear in the living. From the beginning of time, for as long as man has known of it, man has pursued immortality. Yet, in the end, he has unavoidably felt the sting of death. From the perspective of those who do not know God, death is void of hope. It is a sad reality that is difficult to swallow; but swallow it, they must.
Through one man, sin entered the world and through sin- death. Yet, in Christ, death has no victory. Death has lost its sting. Christ defeated death by fulfilling the Law, which is the power of sin, which is the sting of death.
“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN, AND THE POWER OF SIN IS THE LAW.” —1 CORINTHIANS 15:55–56
But what of the second death? Some see it as eternal separation from God, either through ECT or annihilation. Is there another option? A better one? One that is more merciful, loving, and just? If there is, we need, firstly, a wider perspective. For that, let’s examine what the Bible says about life and death.
We know that everyone is born, physically; so too must all die, likewise. We also know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In other words, everyone is born spiritually dead; disregarding the supposed age of accountability. Once we die, there will be a resurrection of the (physically) dead unto judgement. Those who have not received spiritual life, through Christ, will experience “the second death”. What is this second death?
Unfortunately, this concept is only mentioned, in those terms, in the book of Revelation. It parallels the Lake of Fire. Many have drawn their understanding of the Second Death from their interpretation of the Lake of Fire as it is describe in the apocalyptic literature of Revelation. Fire is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, but the Lake of Fire is never explicitly mentioned outside of Revelation.
So far, there is the first death- physical. There is the second death- the Lake of Fire. However, there is another death that is mentioned more frequently than the second, which is mentioned just four times in Revelation. Although this “other kind of death” is not mention by number, we can know or infer much more about it than the latter.
Before death, there must be birth.
FIRST BIRTH = PHYSICAL
SECOND BIRTH = SPIRITUAL
FIRST DEATH = PHYSICAL
SECOND DEATH = SPIRITUAL
We who are in Christ will not have to endure the second death because we have died to self and were, subsequently, raised to new life, in Christ, before the Day of Judgement. When Adam sinned for the first time, on that day, he died- spiritually. Thereafter, God banished him from the Garden of Eden in the midst of which the Tree of Life was rooted. By eating its fruit, physical immortality was, theoretically, sustained.
Many assume that God cursed humanity with death because of the sins of Adam. Did he? While many see the loss of physical immortality as a curse, I see it as an act of grace. A spiritual tendency to sin was genetically passed on to Adam’s descendants. From that point on, we have all become prone to sin. Not willing for man to live forever in a spiritually corrupt state, God withdrew a means through which man could, physically, live forever; not as a curse, but as a step toward restoration.
What good is physical immortality if we are bound with the chains of spiritual corruption? The wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. In the current state of the world, physical life guarantees physical death. Moreover, spiritual death necessitates spiritual rebirth, which comes through a death to self . . . a death of the old man, which makes way for the resurrection of the new man in Christ.
The second death is necessary, either now or later, either through water or through fire. Scripture decrees that all will be salted with fire. God is a consuming fire, in which those of the faith currently reside. We have died to self, in this life. Therefore, the second death has no jurisdiction over us.
Spiritual death is a requisite for spiritual rebirth. Death and Hades will be casted into the lake of fire. They will be no more. There will be no more death, no more dying. Saul was put to death. Paul was raised from such death into life eternal. So too will each person’s “old man” be casted into the flames. The dross will be burned away until each person is brought down so that they can be risen and given their new name, which was written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.
“A GOOD NAME IS BETTER THAN PRECIOUS OINTMENT, AND THE DAY OF DEATH THAN THE DAY OF BIRTH.” ECCLESIASTES 7:1
Charles Watson, Sr. is The Works of George MacDonald's Senior Hellologist. Check out his blog at charleswatsonsr.com!