The Second Death
Have you ever wondered what awaits those who die without faith in Jesus Christ? We know the Bible says there is a place called hell where the unbelieving dead go to await the final judgment of God, and that after that judgment, the unsaved will be cast into a place called the lake of fire to be tormented forever.
Some have observed we know a lot more about heaven, than we know about that other eternal destination. Perhaps the divine reason is that God wants everyone to live eternally with him in heaven, and for no one to experience hell or the lake of fire.
Actually, the Bible is far from silent on the details of the eternal destiny of the unsaved. A careful study of biblical passages that address the afterlife of the unredeemed will yield quite a bit of frightening details of the things that await each person who dies without receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior.
It is the purpose of this study to examine the scriptural passages, and consider the implications of the details they contain, and draw conclusions as to the existence that awaits those who are cast into the lake of fire.
DE 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
This passage suggests there are varying depths to hell. This is consistent with the belief that God will punish the unsaved based upon specific factors and their works. All sinners will suffer, but they will suffer justly based on their works.
2SA 22:6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
It seems from this passage; there are multiple sorrows awaiting those, who arrive in that awful place of eternal suffering. Where sorrow reigns there can be no joy or happiness. (See also Psa. 18:5)
JOB 26:6 Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.
The scriptures teach that God can see everyone everywhere. (Heb. 4:13) The unsaved will feel perpetually naked, exposed, and vulnerable throughout eternity. Consider those who go to heaven are clothed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation reveals those who die without Christ will be tormented, in the presence of God and his angels night and day forever. (Rev. 14:10)
PS 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Hell is a place where pain reigns. The plural form is found here, indicating there is more than the pain of the fire. There are other causes, other kinds of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain.
ISA 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
There are numerous biblical references indicating the direction of hell is down. This passage assumes the one brought down is falling. Proverbs declares hell is never full. (27:20) Revelation speaks of the bottomless pit. (9:1; 20:3)
One who is cast there falls perpetually, yet never lands. There is a reason humans fear falling, and often experience this horror in our dreams. The unsaved will be falling forever.
ISA 57:9 And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.
Hell is the ultimate destination of shame. Humans desperately avoid shameful experiences in this life, but eternity for the unsaved will be utterly shameful. Nothing is lower, more disgusting, and reprehensible than being in hell.
HAB 2:5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
Hell is a place of dissatisfaction, and unrequited desire. All of the cravings of humanity will rage in full fury, but never appeased or satisfied. Imagine the cumulative torment of desires unfulfilled for eternity.
MT 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Some question the literalness of the fires of hell. Remember, who revealed this bit of information to us. It was none other than the very Son of God, the One who created that awful place for the Devil and his angels.
If the Creator of hell says there is fire there, then we ought to believe there is fire in hell. Later the rich man tells of the torment of “this flame.” (Lk. 16:23, 24)
We know the pain of fire upon our fleshly body. It is one of the most horrific pains known to mankind. The fire burns, and the pain seeps through layer after layer of skin, then it sears, and melts the flesh, permanently scaring the victim. Those with severe burns remain in torment long after the fire has been put out. Those who work in burn centers know all too well, the screams of their patients that rage for days, weeks, even months after the fire is gone.
Yet, in hell, the fire will never go out. There is no hope the torment will ever subside. Those who live in hell are tormented yes, but also disfigured hideously.
LU 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
The rich man possessed a literal body. He was fully conscious, and he had his senses. I Cor. 15:35-44 reveals there is a spiritual body, a body not subject to death, decay, and destruction. Those who live in hell will be in bodies capable of using their senses, and filling physical, mental, and emotional pain forever without dying or losing consciousness.
The rich man was physically tormented by the fire. He was mentally tormented by the expectation; his brothers would come there also. He was emotionally tormented, by the regret he had not listened to Lazarus, and fear his torment would never end.
There is another revelation based upon this passage in Luke 16 we must not miss. Though the rich man had all of his senses, and was fully conscious, he had no awareness of the presence of any other sufferers. He felt totally isolated and alone.
This sense of loneliness was compounded by his ability to see over into Paradise, and observe the state of the poor beggar and Abraham. It was bad enough he was suffering, but worse was his ability to see the peace and comfort afforded those who had chosen faith in God over unbelief and sin.
Those who live in hell will be forever haunted with regret of their decision to reject Christ and go their own way. They will be able to see over into heaven, and know the magnitude of their foolishness. Ignorance will have been totally removed, and any chance they could find comfort in not knowing what they were missing.
MT 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Hell will be a place of personal, physical confinement. Imagine no mobility forever. Those who are bound are defenseless, totally helpless, and at the mercy of their tormentors.
Another point in this verse is the outer darkness. The meaning is absolute darkness. There is no light at all in hell. It is as black as the center of the earth, and just as hot.
Astronomers know of massive black holes at the center of every galaxy. These black holes are so dense that nothing can escape them, not even light. We now know there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the known universe. It is not unreasonable to think each one of these black holes could be used by God to banish the unsaved in absolute darkness.
This verse in Matthew 22 reveals also there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth. This assures me that if there had been others around the rich man, he would have heard the sounds of their torment. His cries and his screams fell on the deafness of the absolute darkness of hell. It was as if he was totally alone, though millions of others were suffering their own torments.
Heaven is a joyful place, where spontaneous worship erupts, and songs, sung in glad praise to the Lord God. Heaven is a place where tears have been banished, but it is not so in hell. Weeping is perpetual, and unrelenting in that awful place.
We have found several different names for the place or state of eternal destiny of the unsaved. The Bible calls this destiny:
- The pit
- The Lake of Fire
- The Second death
As we come to these last two descriptions, we must realize there is no earthly definition that conveys the full impact of their power to torment. Volcanic magma is the closest humans can come to understanding a lake of fire, though no human has ever witnesses magma so liquefied as to form an actual lake.
The sense one gets as the description is contemplated, is that of a human body floating aimlessly in the middle of a fiery lake, unable to touch the bottom, bound hand and foot, bobbing up and down, yet unable to sink and drown, and thus finally end the suffering.
Clearly, this term, “second death,” is the most mysterious term, assigned, to the eternal state of the unsaved. We know death came by sin in the Garden of Eden. We know Adam and Eve immediately died spiritually, that is their spirit died, and became unresponsive to the person of God.
This caused mankind to be hopelessly lost to the divine purpose for which God had created people. All humans are thus born spiritually dead unless their spirit is quickened, (raised to life) by the power of the Holy Spirit through the grace of God by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. (Eph. 2:1-9)
Those people who live their entire lives on earth, and are never quickened by the Holy Spirit move into an eternal body that is spiritually dead and will be dead forever. Every other passage pertaining to the eternal state of the unsaved clearly indicates the human soul and body are alive to be forever tormented.
Death, as defined by the Scriptures is separation from God, and the living. It is not cessation of conscious life. There is a peculiar passage where Jesus added a most interesting description of the afterlife of the unsaved.
MR 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Most Bible scholars believe the “worm” refers to the human spirit or life. The understanding seems to be that in eternity, the unsaved person is ever dying, yet never dead. Imagine dying forever, yet never actually being dead. This of course is a horror all its own, as most human beings dread the process of dying as much or more than death itself.
Clearly, the second death is horrific, for it swallows up death and hell. (Rev. 20:14) “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.” Yet, for reasons known only to God, we find in the glorious account of the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, in Revelation chapters 21, and 22 two more warnings about the awful destiny of the unsaved.
21:8 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.
22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
Taken together, these final two verses seem to convey an ominous warning to the unsaved. In whatever condition you die, you will remain in that condition forever. Some believe the unsaved will experience forever the conditions in which they died.
Clearly, in Rev. 22:11 God is declaring, there is not opportunity for the unsaved to repent, and be forgiven after death. This removes the possibility of purgatory, where some believe, humans suffer for a period, then are purged, and allowed into heaven at some point in eternity.
Why Must the Unsaved be Tormented Forever?
Many people cannot bring themselves to believe hell is a literal place, or that humans suffer eternally in literal fire and darkness. Their reasoning is that a good God would never have created such a place, nor would he fail to intervene to relieve such horrific torment.
Actually, the Bible addresses this issue very directly. It’s time we humans took the time to read, and contemplate the divine response to the human question.
First, the Bible declares God did not create hell for human beings. He created hell for the Devil, and his angels.
MT 25:41 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:
Satan and angels, are divinely created beings as are we, but they are different in being. Hell was created to deal with them in their realm of existence in accordance with their tolerance capacity.
It was not God’s desire or intent for human beings to rebel against Him, and follow Satan. Heaven is the place God prepared for human beings to live eternally with Him.
When God created human beings, he created a being with the capacity to choose, and be self-determining. By empowering this being with the power of choice, God had to also be willing to abide by Mankind’s choice even if that choice was contrary to the Creator’s desires.
The Bible has many passages that reveal God abiding by each person’s choice to either accept or reject God’s gift of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Because human beings choose to reject God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation, they must experience the same fate Satan and his angels will experience. Why? The choice was the same for both angel and human, a choice to reject God as Lord over them.
Since God created the entire universe, the only place separate from God is darkness. I John 1:5 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
Remember also, humanity sinned by choosing to believe Satan in the Garden of Eden, thus eternally joining humanity with Satan’s destiny. This is why the unsaved must suffer the horrors awaiting Satan.
The next issue that arises is the matter of eternal suffering. Why must people suffer forever? Why can there not be an end to it at some point?
The Bible declares that God created mankind “in his own image and likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) Then God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living (eternal) soul. This act of God made humans radically different from all of the other life forms on earth.
Breathing his own breath into man, God made humans eternal beings. There will never be a time or place where man is not in conscious existence. God deliberately removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to prevent them from eating of the tree of life, and living eternally in a fallen state of being. Had they done so, there would be no hope of salvation and restoration to God.
Physical death however, moves the unsaved person beyond the reach of grace and salvation. Physical death does what eating of the tree of life would have done. It eternally separates one eternal created being from the One who created it.
The Bible declares that whatever God does is done forever. EC 3:14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
There is no undoing the acts of God. Eternal judgment must be forever, just as the gift of eternal life in heaven must be forever. Humans will never cease to exist, and they must exist in the place of their own choosing. Once physical death occurs, the matter is eternally settled. (Rev. 22:11)
Now Is the Time to Settle Eternity:
This life on earth is the place and time of opportunity for human beings to settle their eternal destiny. It is not a matter of whether we will live forever, but where we will live forever. The good news is we all get to choose where we will live eternally.
Equally reassuring is the fact, this is not a complex choice. There are only two options available to us. We can argue and whine the point if we like, but we are the creatures not the Creator. He decided to create us, and he gets to decide how many options we have available to choose from. Remember, it was his kindness and goodness, that even provided us with the capacity to choose at all.
No one knows when death will come to us. We know death is no respect of persons, age, gender, or any other distinction. We know all of us are going to die someday. We also know alot of people died today. We know people will die tomorrow. You could be one of them.
God does not force us to choose one or the other of the two options, nor does he force us to choose right now. However, waiting is clearly not in our best interests, nor does it seem very smart given death can happen at any moment of time to any one of us.
Why Must I Choose Jesus Christ?
This is a legitimate question. After all, there are hundreds of religions in the world. Some think all religions, are basically as good as any other, and all lead to the same destination in the end. Unfortunately, for those who think this way, it is not true.
Here is why you must choose Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the virgin born Son of God. No one else has ever made the claims He made, nor backed them up, as he did. No one else has ever risen from the dead, and was seen by hundreds of people for forty days in various places and settings.
God the Creator, your creator, has determined that salvation is to be found in faith in His son Jesus Christ. That is his call, not ours. He sent Jesus into this world to live in a human body, live as we live, and to die for our sins so that all sins for all time, for all people could be forgiven.
No other religion has such a plan of redemption that applies equally to all people in all places and in all generations. There is nothing one has to do, no conditions that must be met, therefore no one is exempt.
One must simply believe Jesus is God’s answer to sin and death, and receive him as Savior. Because Jesus died such a horrific, shameful death, God the Father, is angry with anyone, and everyone who deliberately chooses to reject his son’s death for sin.
Put yourself in God the Father’s place. Suppose you loved someone enough to give up your only son to death, just that person could live. Suppose that person scoffed at your sacrifice, and the death of your only son, and chose not to receive the gift that cost you everything dear and precious to you. My friend, you would be angry with that person.
The Bible says, God is angry with the wicked every day. (Psa. 7:11) The same Bible also tells us of God’s amazing love. (Romans 5:8, 9)
5: 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. V.9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved, from wrath through him.
Let me ask you a simple question: Do you really want to anger the one person in the universe who send death to you in the next sixty seconds, and then cast you into the lake of fire forever?
Sure, you can choose not to believe any of this; it is your God-given right and power to choose; but remember the consequences of being wrong are eternal. The price for choosing to wait a little longer may well prove to be eternally high.
Two births one death: One birth two deaths
Jesus said in John 3:7, “You must be born again.” Those who choose to believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ are born again into the family of God. The second birth prevents one from suffering the second death.
Those who only experience one birth are destined to die the second death, and be eternally separated from God, and tormented forever in outer darkness. Amazing isn’t it that one simple choice can make such a profound difference in one’s eternal destiny.
You have a decision to make don’t you? Please choose wisely, and with eternity in mind. Your eternal destiny weighs in the balance of that choice.
Jesus said in Revelation 3;20:
Rev. 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Will you open the door of your heart and life to Jesus Christ, and receive his free gift of eternal life right now?