We talked about this topic last week in Sunday school and it grabbed my attention so much and was so shocking that I thought I would share it. The topic isn’t exactly eternal guilt though. That part comes later. It’s the second death mentioned in Revelation 21. That’s what startled me. I’m going to write out the whole passage for those who don’t have a Bible handy. It’ll make more sense if you can read the whole chapter.
1″Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4’He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7Those who are victorious will inherit all his, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
It’s a really long passage, but there’s a lot of good stuff in there. A lot of this will be my interpretation. You don’t have to agree with me, but these are just my views. Where to start though. I guess I’ll begin at the beginning.
Verse one talks about how God will take the earth that we currently live on and the heaven where the godly souls currently live and basically destroy them. But He’s going to create a new earth where all of the godly, dead or alive, can live together in the presence of God. That goes into verse two and three. The Holy City in my Bible is described in the footnotes as a combination of the elements of Jerusalem, the temple, and the Garden of Eden. These three elements were where God was with mankind. The presence of God was in these elements. now God dwells in Heaven. He is still immensely accessible to us, but He does not presently dwell on earth. But as verse three states, God will be with us on the new earth. I wonder if the new heaven and the new earth will be one since the presence of God is in both. It doesn’t really talk about that. But it does talk about how it will be a very joyful place; no tears, no death, no mourning or crying, and no pain. This is because the old order of things has passed away. The old order. It sounds like God is going to create some major changes. I mean, how much bigger than creating no death and a life that is guaranteed to be joyful? That’s big stuff.
But who gets to enjoy these unbelievable blessings? Those who are victorious. Victorious over what? The Bible says that those who are victorious in the battle against evil will inherit this great reward. But this is what brings it down to a personnel level. You may have people that help you prepare for the battle, but when you face the devil, the choice is completely up to you. Because of God’s free will we will face the ultimate choice. A choice that will keep appearing over and over in our lifetime. This isn’t a one-time done deal. This is a way of life; to thwart evil and glorify God. But the people that choose the wrong way. That aren’t victorious. What happens to them? What happens to the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars. What happens to them? Well, on judgment day, they will stand in front of God, having already died, and will be sent to their second death of being consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. That is the second death.
It sounds pretty horrible. In fact, what is more depressing than being eternally separated from God? Want to know the real shocker though? You’re going to see friends, relatives, or just people that you know go through that. I can guarantee that almost every Christian will witness at least one person they know get thrown into the fiery lake of Hell. You can’t save everyone. Here is where the eternal guilt comes in. As I watch some people I know get thrown into the fiery lake, what happens when I see someone that I never talked to about my faith. That one person that I could have possibly saved. By not sharing my faith I condemned them to Hell. Who could hate someone that much? I don’t think that I could ever live free after knowing that I took the safe route and condemned someone to Hell. It’s unimaginable guilt. For eternity. It’s absolutely shocking.
So what to do about it? As I stated earlier, we can’t save everyone. Some people just won’t accept what we Christians say. But at least I can give everyone a chance. A chance for life. A chance for love. At a very diverse school, it can be hard to share my faith. But with God having my back I know that I can impact many a person’s life. And then I might be able to stand beside them on judgment day and know where they’re going. Know that they’re going with me to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the new heaven and the new earth.