According to the scriptures, the time of our physical death is not the final death or the final judgment. There are four incidents in the book of Revelation that address what is called the death of the soul, or the second death. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Revelation 2:11)
In chapter twenty we find this fact illustrated in conjunction with the first resurrection, indicating that those involved in it will be ruling, with Christ, for 1000 years and that they will not be subject to the death of the soul. Their eternal fate is decided at that time. Their soul will not die, although they still will be judged at the final judgment. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)
Some die a physical death, partake in the first resurrection, and are given eternal life. Some die a physical death, but do not partake in the first resurrection; their soul is still liable to die. Their fate is not decided until the final judgment. We could say that those on the opposite side of the gulf from Abraham that is discribed in Luke 16 and found in the “Where Are the Dead” post, are those who still face the possible death of the soul.
We find in verse 14 of Revelation twenty that the second death is also described as “the lake of fire.” “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14) This is the point where we can say death and hell are gone forever. They will no longer be part of our vocabulary. And, near the end of the book of Revelation, we read once more that the second death and the lake of fire are one and the same. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murders, 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) This brings to mind the warning that Jesus gave us in the book of Matthew: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:2)
How is it determined who will partake of the second death? The Bible speaks of books and records that are being kept. Jesus declared: “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid that shall not be known.” (Matthew 10:26) He also said in that same chapter: “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30) The very concept, of all our hairs being numbered, would have been impossible to comprehend a few years back, but now with the advancements we continue to have in technology, it becomes easier every day for us to comprehend the capability of keeping such records.
The apostle Paul writes of all being made clear after Jesus returns to this earth. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” (I Corinthians 4:5)
Another illustration of the second death in the scriptures is discovered to be in the phrase,“blotted out.” We find great significance is placed on a name being written in the book of life. It is pointed out that a name can be blotted out of that book. “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” (Psalms 69:28) And in Revelation: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
The Apostle Paul describes those who were working with him for God as being listed in the book of life. “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Philippians 4:3)
We find information in the Old Testament that Moses was aware of a blotting out of the book, because while pleading to God on behalf of the people he speaks of a book that God has written. “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” (Exodus 32:32-33) Being blotted out or erased is an agonizing concept. Think of a spot of liquid on a table and taking a sponge and sucking it up. It’s gone, disappeared. We can assume that, blotted out, would mean being blotted out of all memory. It would be as if we never existed.
The Psalmist who says our times of sadness and sorrow are also recorded in a book speaks of records, or books, which are being kept. “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle; are they not in thy book?” (Psalms 56:8) Our tears are even documented. Again we find the Psalmist making mention of the book while describing the fact that we were known, in detail, before we were born in the flesh. (For your information, the word “unperfect” in the following verse is number 01564 in the Strong’s Concordance and it means “embryo” or “fetus”) “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalms 139:16)
The Minor Prophet, Malachi, states that God, in fact, hears our discussions and thoughts about him and keeps record of it. What we think concerning God is being recorded. “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another; and the LORD hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” (Malachi 3:16)
The prophet, Daniel, substantiates the value of the book in his writings. He describes the deliverance through the end times, by those whose names are written in the book. “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” (Daniel 12:1)
The book of Revelation reveals an interesting fact similar to what we read from the book of Daniel concerning the end times and the book of life. It asserts that there will be a point in history when the anti-Christ will appear here on the earth and that all those whose names are not written in the book will worship him. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) And again the same scenario is revealed in chapter seventeen: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” (Revelation 17:8)
Both the books of Daniel and Revelation speak of a conclusion to all things as we now know them, of a final verdict, when the contents of the books will be revealed. “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Daniel 7:10)
We understand that eternal life is through Jesus Christ, but, in the end, when the books are opened, we are going to answer for our unrepented actions. Our works will judge us. We will be given credit for the good that we have done in this life. Judgment is not all about the bad. It will be fair and just. “And 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.” (Revelation 20:12) These “dead” are the physically dead but not yet spiritually dead.
Concerning the books, there is this final warning: “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:19)
We’ve covered a lot of ground here. We discovered that there are two deaths. One is our physical death and the other is our soul’s death, which is the one to be most concerned about according to Jesus. We also learned that there are two resurrections. One is at the beginning of the millennium and the other at the final judgment. We also discovered that the verdict that will determine the occurrence of our two deaths and/or two resurrections is calculated by records that are kept in books. We also learned that the worst fate is to have our name blotted out of those books. We found that the books are opened at what is termed “the final judgment.” The question we need to ask is: Is our name there written there?