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The Death of Death

Theologian Helmut Thielicke said that death, although common, is unnatural. “This is what the Bible teaches us with uncompromising firmness: the death of man points to an ultimate disorder; it should not be, the dark boundary posts should not stand between us and the eternal life of God.”

In today’s passage we read about the impending death of death itself. Once Satan is consigned to the lake of burning sulfur, a second resurrection takes place, and with it a judgment. These are the remaining dead who were not included in the first resurrection, which only included believers.

The text uses curious language to describe the basis upon which judgment will be made when it speaks of different books. First, “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (v. 12). Scripture warns that this is a condemning record. It proves how far we have fallen short of the righteousness of God (see Rom. 3:23). The other book is called “the book of life” or “the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). This is God’s record of acquittal. All those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life belong to the Lamb. Their sins have been covered by His blood.

In other words, we will either be judged according to the standard of what we have done and be declared guilty, or our judgment will be based on what Christ has done for us and we will be acquitted. Only those who are willing to let Christ stand in their place will escape the condemnation of the final judgment.

After this final judgment, death’s reign will be ended. Death was introduced into the human race when Satan tempted Eve, and Adam disobeyed. With Satan’s consignment to the Lake of Fire, death’s reign of terror is ended.

Apply the Word

Can your name be found in the book of life? It is if you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior. You are covered by His blood and will be free from the power of Satan and death. If you have trusted Jesus, call out to Him for His grace today. Only those who are relying on Him for eternal life can hope to avoid the lake of burning sulfur.

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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