They say there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. Well, that’s really only half correct. Not everyone in the world pays taxes but everyone in the world is guaranteed to die, or at least until the book of Revelation is completely revealed. So, it’s best to prepare for the inevitable. We prepare for our kid’s college. We prepare to pay our bills. We prepare for retirement. Why don’t all of us spend as much time planning for our eternal lives? Whether you believe it or not, everyone will experience a Heaven and a hell. None of us are completely immune to either side of the equation; it’s just a matter of the severity of each we’ll experience. Here’s what I mean.
Think about the absolutely best part of your life. Is it a big bank account? Is it the perfect home? Is it the new car? Is it a wonderful family and friends? Is it your dream job? Whatever it is, if you’re a Christian, it is part of your personal hell. Yes, anything we encounter here on earth is incomparable with the joy, harmony, and bliss we will share in the perfect loving environment of our God’s Heavenly home.
Now, think about the worst things in your life. Losing a family member or friend. Losing a job. Being physically handicapped. Being homeless. Being alone. Being sick. Whatever they are, if you are not a Christian, then they are part of your personal Heaven. Yes, anything a non-Christian encounters here on earth is incomparable with the misery, pain and suffering those who deny Jesus Christ as their personal savior will face in the torture chamber of Satan’s domain.
As residents of earth we naturally fear death, at least to a certain degree. Most non-Christians completely fear the death of the physical body for varying reasons. The thought of the unknown to them is rightfully scary. Many of us Christians don’t fear death, and we shouldn’t, but many of us may fear dying too early or the effects our death will have on those who are left behind. In reality, not many of us are really looking forward to the death of our physical bodies and leaving behind our family and friends. It’s not a red-letter date on anyone’s calendar.
The second death, though, should be feared by every single person walking the earth. For many Christians, the fear of going to hell was a motivation to begin their walk with Jesus in the first place. After all, it was motivation for me! That’s okay as long as it doesn’t remain the sole reason for accepting God’s gift of salvation. Many non-believers also fear going to hell yet they refuse to do the one simple thing to avoid the eternal damnation and that is accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior. As servants of God, being a guide on the path to salvation is our ultimate responsibility.
The second death is eternal. It’s a lot longer than the 80 or so years we might get to spend in our personal hell or heaven on earth. Eternity is that timeless place where our souls will reside upon the death of our physical bodies. Dictionary.com defines eternity as, “infinite time; duration without beginning or end.” There will actually be a beginning to our eternal lives so it’s that “without end” part that is really scary. It’s not the worst prison you can imagine. It’s not the worst prisoner of war camp that you can imagine. It’s not the worst year, or decade, you’ve through which you’ve ever suffered. Those end, even if they end in physical death. The spiritual death doesn’t ever end! It’s like God himself, who was, is, and ever will be. It’s like the universe that has no end. One day in eternity is like 1,000 years down here on earth. It’s an incomprehensible amount of time!
How bad is the spiritual death? In his parable about watchfulness, Jesus says this in Luke 12:46, “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.” We don’t know when we will die so it’s best to be prepared for our eternity every single second of every single day. If our eternal life depended solely on what we are doing at the second we die, will many of us avoid hell? Am I serving God to my fullest in anticipation of his return or in anticipation of standing before him in judgment? How will I explain what I was doing when I stand before him in judgment? Or, will I be serving myself and have a really lame explanation?
“That servant” Jesus speaks of in this parable has mistreated others and gotten drunk, among other things. He probably had a lame explanation of his actions when his master (God) returned. I’ve had bouts of fainting when I’ve cut myself so this particular scripture conjures up some really vivid and painful images and Jesus really didn’t sugar-coat his words to make hell at all sound the slightest bit enjoyable. When we think of horrible ways to die, many of them may involve cutting bodies into pieces. Think about it. Edgar Allan Poe wrote about it in one of his most terrifying horror novels. Freddy Krueger did it in many horror films. Ancient civilizations used to do it as capital punishment in order to deter future crimes.
Now, think about this: That’s just the beginning of the second death!