Death and taxes!
Two things are certain in life: death and taxes! Except for Adam and Eve and those who die in the womb, all human beings experience physical birth. That is a given. And, except for Enoch, Elijah, and those alive at the time of the Rapture, all human being die physically as well. The notion of physical life and physical death are universally accepted. Today (September 23) is my physical birthday but now that I’ve accepted Jesus Christ into my life I have a “new” birthday. My new or as I call it, “reborn birthday” is October 30th. Scripture knows of two births, two deaths. Everyone is physically born once and that each person will experience one or the other, but not both.. Those who do not undergo the second birth, the spiritual birth, also undergo the second death which is the permanent separation from God with eternal torment. When a person is born again he will only undergo the first death, but the second death has no power over him: “though he may die [the first death], he shall live [be resurrected never to face the second death]”.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[ he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[ must be born again.” (John 3:3-7 ESV)
Two Births or Two Deaths?
When Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” Nicodemus thought that Jesus was talking about a second physical birth. But the Lord went out to make it plain that he was speaking of a second birth that was spiritual. This spiritual birth, while clearly a second birth, is never specifically called the second birth in Scripture. It is variously called being born of God (John 1:13), being born again (John 3:3), ( 1 Peter 1:23), and being brought forth by the word of truth (James 1:18). In the passage on the Great White Throne Judgment, where unbelievers will be judged and condemned, John says, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (NKJV). Both the Majority Text and the Critical Text actually end verse 14 with “This is the second death, the lake of fire.” In other words, the experience of the lake of fire is the experience of the second death. Unlike John 3:3-4, here we have no one asking the obvious question, “Will a person’s heart and brain stop a second time?” No, that is not what is in view. The resurrected unbeliever will have a heart and brain and they will continue to function properly forever. The second death is not a second cessation of physical life. It is an eternal lack of spiritual life, or, conversely, the eternal experience of separation from God in the place where those who have died twice will live, the lake of fire.
Sin Entered the World!
God had told Adam that the day he ate of the forbidden fruit he would surely die (Gen 2:17). Adam sinning, his nature became guilty and corrupted, and so came to his children. Thus in him all have sinned. And death is by sin; for death is the wages of sin. Then entered all that misery which is the due desert of sin; temporal, spiritual, eternal death. If Adam had not sinned, he had not died; but a sentence of death was passed, as upon a criminal; it passed through all men, as an infectious disease that none escape. In proof of our union with Adam, and our part in his first transgression, observe, that sin prevailed in the world, for many ages before the giving of the law by Moses. Adam’s sin means that when Adam first sinned, that sin (and its blame) was rightly regarded by God to be our sin as well.
Eternal life in the Bible is for sinners who are the beneficiaries of the death of Jesus Christ on their behalf. Had there been no sin, Jesus would not have died and no one would have received (or needed) everlasting life. But once sin entered the world, two options were possible for all of the descendants of Adam: the second birth or the second death. Everyone who experienced the second birth could not and would not experience the second death “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die”. Everyone who did not experience the second birth would surely experience the second death (Rev 20:14). There is no third alternative!