Death was the penalty of sin for disobedience in the Garden of Eden. The nature of this “first death” was twofold and encompasses both a spiritual and physical death. The pronouncement of death was temporary, as Jesus Christ provided a way for the soul to be resurrected unto life and restored to a relationship with God. The power of physical death was also broken by Christ and there will be a physical resurrection of the body at the end of this time-world.
The First Resurrection (Spiritual)
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power” (Revelation 20:6). The first resurrection is the spiritual resurrection that takes place when a sinner repents of his sin and is made alive through Jesus Christ. Jesus illustrated this in the story of the prodigal son who left home and broke the relationship with his father. When the prodigal son returned, the father rejoiced, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24). The son was not physically dead but he was spiritually dead. When he left the life of sin, he was alive again. The spiritually dead are made alive though a spiritual resurrection.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:24-25). Jesus spoke not of the physically dead nor of the physical resurrection; rather, He referred to the spiritual state of the sinner who believed in the Lord and experienced life through the Son of God. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6).
Spiritual Death Annulled
Romans 5:8-21 so poignantly teaches that sin and death came upon all men by the offence of Adam; but, justification of life came by Jesus Christ our Lord. Man can now be reconciled back to God through the death and resurrection of His son. As Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). The sentence of spiritual death was commuted through the forgiveness and pardon of Jesus Christ. Herein the spiritual aspect of the first death is annulled through a spiritual resurrection. This is beautifully illustrated in water baptism when we are buried with Christ in baptism and raised up from the dead to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4-5). While it is not the water that saves, baptism is a symbol of the resurrection that occurs when an individual is saved by the blood of Jesus. This spiritual resurrection, deliverance of the soul from the death of sin to a new life in Christ, is referred to as the first resurrection.
The Second Resurrection (Physical)
There remains a second phase of the first death which was physical. Jesus came to bring life in the fullest sense and provided a complete annulment of the first death. The soul was resurrected to life by the first resurrection and the body of death will be resurrected in the second resurrection. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29). A physical resurrection will take place at a future date. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). Christ triumphed over death and conquered it through His resurrection. When Jesus returns there will be a physical resurrection, and all shall stand before the judgment seat of God. This body which was corruptible and mortal will be raised incorruptible with immortality. Death will be swallowed up in victory! (1 Corinthians 15:42-57).
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). This physical resurrection is referred to as the second resurrection. The pronouncement of death has been an umbrella over man ever since Adam; but through Christ, there are two resurrections that abolish and annul the twofold power of the first death. The first resurrection is salvation and the second resurrection is the physical resurrection from the dead.
The Second Death is Eternal
The first death is temporary through the power of Christ Jesus to all who avail themselves of the gift of God. There is a second pronouncement of death from God which is final and eternal; there will be no remedy ever given to escape the penalty of this second death.
“I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12-15). The second death is eternal separation from God in a state of misery, darkness, and pain. The second death will occur at the judgement to all who refuse to be delivered from the power of the first death through Jesus Christ.
No Antidote for Second Death
Hell is a place of torment (Luke 16:23-24) and outer darkness; there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13). Hell is an eternal abode “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-44). There will be no end to the spiritual and physical suffering and pain in this second death. There will be no hope of another saviour or redeemer, for there will be no antidote for this death.
All the ungodly and unredeemed will be under the unending power of the second death. “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).
Be Saved to Escape the Second Death
Thank God, there is deliverance from the second death through Jesus Christ. While all mankind was under the power of the first death spiritually and physically because of Adam’s sin, all can be delivered from the power of the first death through Jesus Christ. The second death, eternity in hell, will have no power over those who have partaken of the spiritual resurrection. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power” (Revelation 20:6a ).
The gift of Jesus Christ rectified the consequences of the first death and gives assurance of complete freedom from the second death. Accept the atonement of Jesus for sin and receive this great salvation. Walk daily in the footsteps of our Lord and live holy as it is pleasing to the Father. Heaven awaits those who have experienced the wonderful, spiritual resurrection and passed from death to life. The promise is fixed and the promise is sure: “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:11b).