The Second Death

Life Notes—August 8, 2013 

“Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  Revelation 21:7-8

Death is a fearful subject.  We understand we are not immortal, at least not as we experience our lives today.  We like to joke, “The only sure things in life are death and taxes,” although that caustic reality is not particularly funny.  All living things on earth are born, they live and they die.  The nature of each phase of life is as unique as the different forms it takes.  However, every living being dies.  The thought of dying more than once is not appealing—or is it?

The concept of a second death has several manifestations.  The commonly agreed-upon death is the death of the body.  A body dies and its various elements are recycled back into the earth from which they came.  One version of the second death occurs when the last living person with recollection of the deceased passes.  At that point, the deceased has died the second death.  Some people write books or music that will outlive them.  Most of us leave photographs. Some build memorials, like the Egyptian kings and their pyramids.  However, even the pyramids will crumble back to earth, albeit very slowly.  Like the first death, we all will die this second death, too.

Theologically, the first and second deaths are described differently, and the debate begins with a second birth.  In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “…no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”  A number of passages point to the need for a second birth and this is one of them.  The first birth is physical and the second is spiritual.  Being “born again” is a common and differently interpreted concept referring to a new start to life.  At its religious core, being born again acknowledges our need for a Savior.  In order to begin a new life we must allow an old one to die.  In this view, the first death is not our physical death, but the death of a part of our being.  This ‘death’ must precede a spiritual rebirth. Some believe being born again is a one-time event.  It occurs when we ask Jesus to enter our lives and agree to follow him. Others believe being born again is an on-going process. We confess we have strayed, we repent, and we seek a renewal of and recommitment to our relationship with Christ.  Being born again is an on-going process of death and rebirth.

Finally, we also read of a second death in the book of Revelation, as in the passage above.  This death occurs after physical death, and is a death for the unrepentant.  In spite of our views on birth, life and death, we are a part of a larger life-experience that is both physical and spiritual.  The cycle of physical life and death is necessary for the perpetuation of life on earth.  How that cycle manifests spiritually is a mystery.  But the good news is that death is not the end.  Death is a new beginning.

Tom will be preaching downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Mitch is preaching at the west campus where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.

Come home to church this Sunday.  It may be time to rebirth your relationship with God.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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