The Second Death

David Bast

Read: Revelation 2:11; 20:11-15

The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. (2:11)

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life,” Jesus told the church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:10). Here the death is physical and the life is eternal. Jesus knew how these Christians would have their faith tested by the suffering they would have to endure for his sake. He knew it wouldn’t last forever. So he told them to hang in there. What’s a few days of suffering compared to an eternity of joy?

But there is another kind of death, the second death, and this happens after physical death—eternal death. This is not something anyone likes to think or talk about, believe me. The images the New Testament uses to describe it—lake of fire, outer darkness, undying worm—are horrifying. Yet they scarcely begin to convey the terrible reality. “When all is done, the hell of hells, the torment of torments, is the everlasting absence of God . . . what gnawing . . . is not a tickling” to this (John Donne)?

Would God really do that to people? How could anyone who believes in a loving God believe that? We tremble in the face of mysteries we don’t fully understand, and trust in the ultimate goodness of God. Meanwhile, know this: faith in Christ delivers from the second death. “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). —David Bast

As you pray, thank God that you have passed from death to life.