Before we begin our lesson we need to clear up just what precisely the “Lake of Fire” typifies as many are under the erroneous impression that the Lake of Fire is an actual place, i.e. Hell, however casting aside the foolish teachings of the blind guides and turning to the one true source of all revelation, God’s Word we get the true picture. Note closely Rev 20:14,
“Then (that is, at the end of Millennial age, following the final judgment of the “Sheep and the Goats”, then) Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire, this is the second death.”
Once again it is important to recall that the book of Revelation is a symbolic prophecy, the greatest source of error in understanding the symbols of Revelation comes from a too literal interpretation, it is read as although it were a statement of facts, instead of a statement of symbols.
Thus we need first to understand what the various symbols used in this particular text represent, viz. “death”, “hades”, and, “the lake of fire”. Death of course needs very little explanation, it is the opposite of life, the extinction or cessation of life, of being, the specific death here mentioned is that which befalls all men due to Adam’s sin (Rom 5:12), and as such is referred to as Adamic death, the first death. The word “Hell” is from the Greek word “Hades” meaning the tomb or grave. As for what the Lake of Fire represents, the scriptures answer this for us, “This IS the second death” (Rev 20:14; 21:8).
The lake of fire is the symbolic expression of destruction, of annihilation or extinction of being, oblivion. Death and Hell being cast into this lake of fire would therefore signify their destruction, their end or termination. And so it is written of our Lord, “He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed (brought to an end, terminated) is death” (1 Cor 15:25, 26), “there shall be no more death” (Rev 21:4) naturally then if death be destroyed what need would there be for the abode of the dead, the grave?
In the Bible, the abode of the dead is depicted by the Hebrew word sheol, and the Greek word hades, both of which signify, in those original languages, the hidden, covered, unconscious condition of death – the underworld, the grave, pit or tomb. Thus death and everything associated with it, including the dying process itself with its accompanying pain, sorrow, and crying shall be no more.
But what of the second death is it not likewise to be destroyed? No! It is eternal, everlasting; the opposite of eternal life is eternal death or extinction for all things imperfect, impure, sinful, and bad. The second death is not Christ’s enemy, but rather a servant of righteousness, a tool in the permanent (or eternal) removal of everything opposed to righteousness.
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand (the “Goat” class mentioned in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats), ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into (aionious, eternal or) everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matt 25:41
“And these will go away into (aionious, eternal or) everlasting punishment (eternal death, the second death, oblivion, “…the memory of them is forgotten also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.” Eccl 9:5-6), but the righteous into (aionious) eternal life.” Matt 25:46
The question now is, ‘Who is susceptible to the second death? Is this something which non-believers are in danger of or is this something only believer’s are in danger of?’
In Heb 6:4-6 the Apostle gives a hint as to whom this applies.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
This lesson coincides with our last two, (which please see) the first entitled, “Two Sorts of Sin”, which explained the difference between Venial Sins, sins which are forgivable, and Mortal Sin, that sin which “hath never forgiveness”, while the second lesson entitled , “The Unpardonable Sin”, dealt with the same thing, but from a slightly different perspective. Here however we would like to concentrate specifically on the penalty or sentence of mortal sin, the sin unto death, that sin which leads to second death and who precisely, is susceptible to it at this time. There seems to be a lot of confusion over this issue amongst many of the the Lord’s people not yet “established in the faith (the truth)“.
First of all let us state unequivocally that the possibility of falling away, after having come into full fellowship with the Lord and having been reckoned members of his “body,” is very clearly taught by our Lord as well as by the apostles. However, the only ones presently in danger of falling away from divine favor are those who have been first lifted up to that favor, i.e. those who have been joined to the body of Christ, (the spirit begotten) this excludes not only the world still groveling in sin, “without God and without hope“, but likewise the vast majority of professed believers who merely possess a watered down deluded version of the truth. One cannot be begotten by delusions (misinterpretations) and errors (false teachings), only by and through the truth (John 17:17).
The distinction between the spirit begotten and the rest of mankind (likewise between the true Christian and the mere nominal or professed Christian) is outlined by Apostle in Heb 6:4-5 such he states have been 1) enlightened, 2) have tasted the heavenly gift, 3) have partaken of the Holy Spirit, 4) have tasted the good word of God and, 5) have tasted of the powers of the age to come.
“There remains no question as to the fact that “by one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and so (as a result) death (the first death, destruction of being) has passed upon all men (all Adam’s posterity). Rom 5:12
Now logic dictates that one could not die the second death, pictured by Gehenna, until either they had first died the first death or had come out from under the original sentence of the first death, Adamic death. To make one accountable to the second death that had yet to had come out from under the sentence of the first would be un-just, double jeopardy.
“The first death must be abrogated or set aside in some manner, before the second death could be possible, and this the Lord purposes to do by means of the ransom and the New Covenant arrangement in the next age when the prisoners are released (Isa 61:1). At present the only ones to have received the benefit of the ransom sacrifice, who have passed over the first death, are the spirit begotten, members of the body of Christ, the true Church.
Beginning with our next post we will take a closer look at each of the five qualifications required of those susceptible to second death to determine just to whom this applies.