The Bible declares that all humans must die "in the flesh" at least once (Hebrews 9:27, 1Corinthians 15:21 - 22, etc.). Few understand, however, that Scripture also teaches that some people will die a second time! What sin must be committed before a person deserves such a penalty? Is there a particular time when this death will be administered?
God's plan is to offer all humans, a few now and the rest in his second resurrection, a full opportunity to receive salvation. No one will be left out! He is a Being of life, not death (Ezekiel 18:32)! Once a person has had his or her mind open to the truth, however, they have a choice. Will they choose to repent and follow God's ways or will they rebel and become his enemy? For those who choose the latter, their fate is a second death.
Those who knowingly and willingly decide to reject righteousness and our God of perfect love have committed the unpardonable sin (which is blasphemy against his 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 (Matthew 12:32, Hebrews 6:4, 6, 10:26 - 27, etc.).
Where will the second death take place? In spite of what countless Christians believe, the Bible teaches that our Creator will NOT throw wicked people into a never-ending fiery Hell so that they can suffer forever and ever.
Our heavenly Father is FAR more merciful than letting someone be tortured, and torture themselves, for all eternity. Instead, he will end their miserable lives by mercifully ending it, forever, in a lake of fire.
Those who can receive the second death can be divided into three main groups.
The first set who experience death a second time 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 who perish a second time is composed of humans, brought back to life in a 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 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). God will administer his judgment against evil humans using this fiery area (Revelation 20:14 - 15, 21:8 - 9).
It is open to some speculation as to exactly when the lake of fire will be used to administer the second death 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 (Isaiah 65:17).