DEATH: THE LAST ENEMY TO BE DESTROYED

by Wendell Tenison

INTRODUCTION:

The most sobering phrase in all the scripture is, "and he died." This expression is found only twenty-two times in the bible, but has a profound effect upon all of us.

There are several unanswerable questions about death, many of which relate to what was in the mind of God before the creation of the earth. The division of times, law, and events ultimately brought Jesus Christ his Son into the world as the saviour of mankind. For instance, would Adam and Eve have lived forever had they not sinned? However, before their fall, God told them to multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28). This means Adam and Eve would have reproduced, sin or no sin.

The following verses shed some light on the subject:

(Ephesians 1:4) "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:"

(2 Timothy 1:9) "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,"

(Titus 1:2) "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"

(1 Peter 1:19-20) "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: {20} Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,"

All of the above verses clearly prove that God had conceived the idea of a savior and eternal life before the creation.

Death is divided into two parts, the physical and spiritual. We will learn that sin is the underlying current which motivates death and results in the subsequent departure of man from both physical and spiritual life. The fear of dying has always been man's greatest tormentor. Until the knowledge and revelation of the hidden mysteries given through Christ in his holy word, God hid some of the mysteries of death from man as well as many other things. By the understanding God has given unto us, man's fears have quieted to a great degree. However, man for the most part has chosen to remain illiterate in the knowledge and revelation of Jesus the Christ and thereby death remains an unconquerable vexation of his spirit.

Now comes the question about the death of the beast and all other living creatures. There is absolutely nothing said as to why the animals should die. In the beginning, Adam's food was wholly vegetables and herbs and it wasn't until after the flood that man began to eat meat.

(Genesis 9:1-4) "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. {2} And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. {3} Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. {4} But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat."

Since man did not die immediately after his transgression, when did the animals begin to die? The first record of dead animals are found in Genesis 3:21, where God made clothes for Mr. and Mrs. Adam from skins, which were leather garments. From the commandments God gave to Moses regarding dead animals, it would appear that God killed the animals rather that using the skin of a dead one. This must have been the first death of an animal. Until the flood, man and animal coexisted in peace.

(Genesis 3:21) "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them."

God in his wisdom gives us unmistakable understanding regarding the death of man and beast.

(Ecclesiastes 3:19-21) "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. {20} All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. {21} Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"

Another question concerning the birth rate of man and beast after the flood is partially answered in the following verse:

(Deuteronomy 7:22) "And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee."

Of course this has reference to God's chosen entering into the promised land. It appears the population of animals at that time were a nuisance to man and would have been a serious threat, had God not structured their entry into the land the way he did.

Death is an institution personified, created by God for his will and purpose. It may be compared to the institution of marriage regarding God's creation and termination of them.

(Mark 12:23-25) "In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. {24} And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? {25} For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven."

(Revelation 21:4) "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Because of sin being introduced into the world by the first of God's creation in his image, the powerful jaws of death separate man from his mate whom God gave him and the enjoyment of his life. Not only physical death, but spiritual death also separates man from his creator, as the spiritually dead walk in the darkness of sin and despair. But, now in Christ, man can be reconciled to awake from the dead to walk in the glorious light of the gospel of Christ. The most feared of all by the separation of death is that eternal exile from God forever, which is the second death, everlasting fire.

The common denominator of spiritual separation (death) from God is sin. Is there a common denominator of the physical separation of man? If there is, it would be the earth, upon which God placed a curse.

Genesis 3:17-19) "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; {18} Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; {19} In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

It is possible that the reason man had a life-span of hundreds of years before the flood, is that he was a vegetarian. As already noted, he did not eat meat until after the flood. Strong scientific evidence has shown that meat is not good for our diet. However, there are some who are not very strict in their diets and they live longer than some who are very conservative. The old adage is true, we are what we eat.

God has determined the average life-span of man to be about 70-80 years.

(Psalms 90:10) "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."

The following verses will be the focal point of our discussions:

(1 Corinthians 15:24-26) "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. {25} For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. {26} The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

(1 Corinthians 15:52-56) "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. {53} For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. {54} So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. {55} O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? {56} The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law."

Our discussion will commence at the beginning of the bible and stop at the end.


PART ONE

THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH:

(Genesis 2:16-17) "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: {17} But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

There are at least sixteen other laws given to the patriarchs in the books of Genesis and Exodus, but this is the first commandment with recourse. At the time of this commandment given to Adam, he was alone in the garden. It is not known whether Adam relayed this command to Eve, or God gave it to her. Adam could have eaten of the tree of life, but obviously he did not, because God drove him from the garden and placed a flaming sword to prevent him from eating of it.

(Genesis 3:24) "So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

There was something contained in the tree of life that would perpetuate life:

(Revelation 22:2) "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."

The bottom line was, you sin (eat the forbidden fruit), you die. One valuable lesson we learn from these texts is that God does not always render his justice immediately. Adam lived to be nine hundred and thirty years.

(Genesis 5:5) "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."

Neither are all the promises of God fulfilled immediately.

(2 Peter 3:3-4) "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, {4} And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

THE LAW OF SIN:

(Romans 7:23-25) "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. {24} O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? {25} I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."

The law of sin exists because of the introduction of the commandments of God. Sin is simply the law of God transgressed; therefore, it is called the law of sin. Since we all transgress the commandments of God, the law of sin is working in our bodies trying to overthrow the righteousness of those who are obedient to God. However, the law of God is superior to the law of sin and therefore we may prevail over sin by the blood of Christ.

(Romans 5:12) "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

(1 Corinthians 15:21-22) "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. {22} For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Sin by one man (Adam) entered into the world and as a result, death passed upon all. Without law, sin would be dead.

(Romans 7:8) "But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead."

The wages of sin is death:

(Romans 6:23) "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

(Romans 3:23) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"

The three things in the world which Satan uses as a barrier around our hearts to discourage obedience to God are:

(1 John 2:16) "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

Lust in our hearts is the primer for sin.

(James 1:15) "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

Therefore, sin as an enemy is personified in the third person plural.

LAW OF DEATH (PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL):

There is no scripture which refers to "the law of death." However, the scripture does refer to "the law of sin and death":

(Romans 8:2) "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

It should be noted that Rom. 8:2 sqq, has to do with the commandments (law of Moses), whereby sin was working through the commandments which were weak in the flesh (Rom. 8:3), thereby working death (spiritual) by that which was good (the law).

(Romans 7:7-13) "What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. {8} But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. {9} For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. {10} And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. {11} For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. {12} Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. {13} Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful."

The apostle here has reference to the time when he reached the age of accountability to know right from wrong. As stated before, the law of sin and death had its origin in the garden of Eden.

Death is also personified, but in the third person singular:

(Revelation 6:8) "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."

THE LAW OF SEPARATION ( PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL):

The law of separation by physical death is binding upon all and cannot be annulled.

(Hebrews 9:27) "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

Physical death can only occur when the spirit leaves the body:

(James 2:26) "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

(Ecclesiastes 3:19-20) "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. {20} All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again."

(Ecclesiastes 12:7) "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

The law of separation by spiritual death is:

(Isaiah 59:2) "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."

Every soul born into this world becomes separated from God when they become aware of sin in their life and therefore become dead in their sins.

(Ephesians 2:5) "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"

After obedience to Christ they are no longer dead in their sins, but dead to sin.

(Romans 6:2) "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"

The progression of sin is as follows:

FIRST: Man born into the world is alive spiritually unto God. If the small child dies before reaching the age of accountability, he is safe in the arms of Jesus.

SECOND: After the child reaches the knowledge of right and wrong, he then is separated from God and dies spiritually because of his transgressions. If this one physically dies in that condition there is no hope of reconciliation and he is judged as unrighteous and unfit for the eternal bliss which is to come.

THIRD: When the one who is dead in his sins is reconciled to God by obedience to him, then he is transformed out of darkness into glorious light. He then is no longer dead in his sins, but dead to sin.

FOURTH: He may die physically in the Lord and be saved (Rev. 14:13), or he may depart from God again and become in a state of deep slumber, spiritually dead again. If he dies in that condition he will be eternally lost, cast into the lake of fire which is the second death. On the other hand, after he becomes separated from God spiritually the second time, he can by repentance be restored back again into the grace of God.

To sum it up briefly, whatever condition one physically dies in, whether spiritually alive in Christ or spiritually dead in sin, his destiny is determined by his own choice. After one dies his fate is set, determined by his works whether they be good or bad.

FIFTH: The final separation from God in the judgment is only due to man's rejection of God's holy commandments.

(Revelation 20:14) "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

(Revelation 21:8) "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, 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."

Once reconciled unto God, who can separate us?

(Romans 8:38-39) "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, {39} Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

THE FORMER POWER OF DEATH:

(Job 2:6) "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life."

Satan did have the power to take the life of Job, but was forbidden by God. It is unclear if or when Satan actually exercised this power. Until the resurrection of Christ, man lived without the hope of release from the bondage of the grave and Satan was the master in control. But now in Christ, we are able to undergo death fearlessly.

(Hebrews 2:14-15) "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; {15} And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."

The above reading is a confirmation of what our Lord had to say regarding the decline of the powers of Satan.

(John 12:31) "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out."

From Thayer, p. 192: "Namely to wit out of the world i.e. be deprived of the power and influence he exercises in the world." Otherwise Satan could destroy the church that Jesus built by eliminating her members.

(John 14:30) "Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me."


PART TWO

DEATH AS THE TYRANT:

(Hosea 13:14) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes."

(Isaiah 26:19) "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."

(Isaiah 28:15-18) "Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: {16} Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. {17} Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. {18} And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it."

(Ezekiel 31:14) "To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit."

(Psalms 49:14) "Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling."

(2 Timothy 1:10) "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:"

It is quite obvious that physical death has not been abolished, but Christ through the glorious light of the gospel has freed us from the bondage of spiritual death unto spiritual life and covenant relationship with God.

AFTER THE SPIRIT LEAVES THE BODY:

(Luke 16:19-24) "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: {20} And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, {21} And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. {22} And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; {23} And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. {24} And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."

There is no question about it, the righteous one went to a place of comfort and the unrighteous to a place of torment. This place is called Hades and is divided into four parts, of which paradise and torment are two of them.

(Luke 23:43) "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

Immediately after the death of Christ, he went to Hades into the place called paradise.

(2 Corinthians 12:1-4) "It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. {2} I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. {3} And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) {4} How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."

Here the apostle Paul was caught up into paradise, the third heaven. All who are in Hades are awaiting the judgment, except Christ who was raised from the dead being the firstfruits of them that slept. It should be noted here that the paradise that Paul was caught up to is not the same paradise in Hades.

(1 Corinthians 15:20) "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

Those in paradise will be saved.

THE RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT:

Hades is the receptacle for the dead, both man and the angels. However, the angels which kept not their first estate, God has reserved in another place in Hades called Tartarus. In the resurrection all receptacles will be emptied.

(2 Peter 2:4) "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;"

(Jude 1:6) "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."

(John 5:28-29) "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, {29} And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

(Romans 14:10-12) "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. {11} For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. {12} So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

(2 Corinthians 5:10) "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

(Daniel 12:2) "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

(Acts 2:27) "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."

(Acts 2:31) "He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption."

All of the above verses describe the resurrection, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting destruction.

(1 Corinthians 15:55-56) "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? {56} The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law."

In verse 55, the Greek rendering for "grave" is "Hades." Thayer, at p. 11, states: "Hades as a power is personified."

Thayer, at p. 344, defines "sting" in verse 56 as: "a sting, as that of bees, scorpions, locusts, Rev. 9:10. Since animals wound by their sting and even cause death, Paul in 1 Cor. 15:55 attributes to death as personified, i.e. a deadly weapon that it is said to be, because sin is death's cause and punishment."

(Revelation 1:18) "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."

(Revelation 20:1) "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand."

(Revelation 6:8) "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."

The Greek New Testament renders the word "hell" as "Hades." As Hades follows Death in his path of destruction, as a giant vacuum sweeper gobbling up those who are slain by Death.

(Revelation 20:13) "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."

Thayer, at p. 282, says this of "the sea gave up the dead": "It forms a periphrasis for the whole world; Acts 4:24, 14:15; Rev. 5:13, 10:6, 14:7."

(Acts 4:24) "And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:"

(Acts 14:15) "And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:"

(Revelation 5:13) "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

(Revelation 10:6) "And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:"

(Revelation 14:7) "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

The sea represents the entire world because it does not say the earth gave up the dead which were in it. Hades consists of four parts: paradise where the righteous are gathered; the great gulf which separates paradise from torment; torment where the unrighteous are gathered; and Tartarus, or the abyss, or the pit, where the angels are reserved who had fallen.

Here Hades represents only that portion of embodied evil spirits in it.

Thayer states, at p. 283: " The inevitable necessity of dying, shared by all men alike, takes on the popular imagination the form of a person, a tyrant, subjugating men to his power and confining them in his dark dominion. Hades is associated with him as his partner. In the widest sense, death comprises all the miseries arising from sin, as well as physical death as the loss of a life consecrated to God and blessed in him on the earth."

(Revelation 20:14) "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

(Matthew 25:41) "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"

FIRE BOTH SAVES AND DESTROYS:

(1 Corinthians 3:11-15) "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. {12} Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; {13} Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. {14} If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. {15} If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

(1 Peter 1:7) "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"

Example:

If one converts ten souls to Christ and they fall away never to return, they will be tormented in the flames of Hades. The one being judged will suffer the loss of his good deeds, but he himself will be saved and enter into paradise, because his righteousness will stand the test. Therefore, he will be saved, so as by fire.

Case in point:

(Daniel 3:21-27) "Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. {22} Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. {23} And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. {24} Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. {25} He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. {26} Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. {27} And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them."

The righteousness of these three withstood the test of fire. Therefore, they were saved by fire. On the other hand, those who took the three to the furnace were slain by the enormous heat. There was no evidence that these three had ever been in a fire. The point is, fire both saves and destroys.

The second death (everlasting lake of fire) may or not be prepared at this time. At any rate, it will be the final abode of the wicked. Between physical (first) death and the second death (lake of fire) is spiritual death. As stated before, it is man's choice to be separated from his maker and therefore he will have his reward in the fire that is never quenched.

CONCLUSION:

Sin is the instrument of death and Death stands between man and immortality. When the law of God ceases to man, then will death be terminated, because the strength of sin is the law and death passes upon all men because of sin. Then why the law? There is only one obvious reason; because of the love, grace and mercy of God to forgive those who sin against him.

A simple parable might enhance our understanding:

"The sting of credit is lust and the strength of lust is unlawful desire."

The last enemy to be destroyed will be Death, by the casting of him into the lake of fire.

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© 1999 by Wendell Tenison