Why, however, has God declared that some people must experience a death a SECOND time? What exactly does it mean to die TWICE? What must a person do to earn such a penalty? Is there a particular time when this punishment will be administered? Why, from the Eternal's point of view, does meting out such a judgment not only make sense but also is a LOVING thing to do?
Hope and Judgment
God's plan is to offer ALL humans, at a time he determines, a full opportunity to receive salvation. No one will be left out! He is a Being of life, not death (Ezekiel 18:32)! His will is to reveal his precious truth to each person, including aborted babies and children he will resurrect and allow to live a complete life. Everyone will have a chance to repent of their sins, accept Jesus as their Savior, live a life of character building through overcoming, then receive His gift of eternity (John 3:16, 1Timothy 2:3 - 4).
Some few, however, after their minds are opened to the truth, will make the ultimate decision to reject his way of life. They will choose not to repent of disobeying their Creator and instead make him their enemy. They will commit what the Bible defines as the unpardonable sin or blasphemy against God the Father's Holy Spirit. The judgment against them will be death, not the first one that all humans must experience, but a second one that lasts forever.
32. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the coming age (Matthew 12:32, HBFV throughout)
4. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and who personally obtained the heavenly gift, and became partakers of the Holy Spirit . . . 6. If they have fallen away, to renew them again unto repentance . . . (Hebrews 6:4, 6)
26. For if we willfully go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins, 27. But a terrifying expectation of inevitable judgment and of fierce fire (death), which will devour the adversaries of God (Hebrews 10:26 - 27, see also Matthew 10:28, 1Timothy 4:1 - 2, 1John 5:16 - 17)
Why does he do it?
God is a Being who knows the wonderful existence He and Christ have eternally experienced by promoting a way of life that is selfless and humble. All other ways of thinking, which are not based on perfect outgoing love, produces varying degrees of spiritual chaos and suffering. We need look no further than the devil and his demons to see the consequences of rejecting God's way. Such beings are hateful, always restless (Job 1:7, Matthew 12:43) and completely self-centered. Their minds, instead of being in a state of peace (John 14:27, Romans 8:6), are reprobate and filled with confusion. These rebellious spirits have chosen to make themselves into the instruments of their own torture.
In spite of what countless Christians believe, the Bible teaches that our Creator will NOT throw wicked people into a never-ending Hell so that they can suffer forever and ever. The second death is God's merciful way of ending, forever, a life that if allowed to exist would only be filled with constant misery.
Who can receive it?
Those who can receive the second death can be divided into three main groups. The first set are those who live before Jesus' return, whom God determines understood his truth, yet chose to permanently rebel against it. The next set are those who live during Christ's millennial reign on earth who, like those just mentioned, refuse to repent and change their ways. The last group is composed of humans, brought back to life in the second resurrection (known also as the Great White Throne Judgment), who knowingly and willfully reject salvation.
The purpose of the second resurrection is to bring back to a physical existence (see Ezekiel 37:1 - 14) the countless humans who died before Jesus' return who never received a FULL chance to understand the gospel. These people will have their minds opened to comprehend, for the first time, God's truth and their need for a Savior. They will then have to build righteous character, through overcoming, by living a life that possibly lasts for a hundred years (Isaiah 65:20). Those whom God considers worthy will receive eternal life (their names will be written in the book of life - Revelation 20:13, 21:27), while those who hardened their hearts against him will be destined for death one more time.
The Lake of Fire
The Bible states the lake of fire will exist at the time of Jesus' return to earth. It will be the place where the Beast and False Prophet, who deceived the whole world, will receive the death penalty for their many sins (Revelation 19:20). It is also the place where the devil, at the end of the millennium, will meet his demise (Revelation 20:10, see our article on the subject). God will administer his judgment against evil humans using this fiery area.
14. And death and the grave were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15. And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
8. But the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers . . . shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death (Revelation 20:14 - 15, 21:8 - 9)
It is open to some speculation as to exactly when the lake will be used for humans (see our article on Biblical resurrections for more info).
In the end, only those who accept God's gracious gift of salvation will live for all eternity. All others will not only be put to death (permanently destroyed, Matthew 10:28) in a lake of fire, but also have all memories of them forgotten as if they never existed.
17. For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth. And the former things will not be remembered, nor come to mind (Isaiah 65:17)