Doctrine Article
Expanded Internet Edition - January 1, 2003 

The Death of Death

by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D, 1979
Edited by David Sielaff, 2003 

Read the accompanying Newsletter for January 2003

 

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The mission of Jesus Christ has been grossly misunderstood by the majority of people in this world. They believe he came to offer a chance for salvation — a chance to escape an eternal torment or an eternal death. The truth is, he offered no such chances at all! If chances were offered which depended upon our works, then none of us would be saved. But Christ offered no chances. What he did was to secure a total and certain victory over all torment and death. This is what the Gospel of Christ is all about.

The assignment that Christ accepted from God the Father was to secure a victory of salvation on behalf of mankind, and for all creatures in the universe. He embarked on a mission of triumph that had a certain outcome. His commission was designed to have complete success over all the forces of evil in the universe. And the message of the New Testament revelation was to show how Jesus Christ would accomplish that assigned task. He came to have an assured victory — a thorough conquering of all his enemies.

The Greatest Enemy

What was the supreme antagonist that must be conquered? Though it may appear strange to some, the chief enemy of God and man is not Satan the Devil and his demons. All scriptural revelation shows that Satan is under the domination of God and his wishes. There is no competition whatever going on between God and Satan, because God is absolutely in control. But there is an enemy that God is against, and it is a powerful one. From the Bible point of view, this enemy is the greatest enemy of all. But Christ has gotten the victory over it, and in the final analysis Christ will conquer it completely. That enemy is not something animate or spiritual. It is something far more encompassing. It is a state of affairs — a state of things which has had all mankind and all the universe in its clutches. That enemy is something that all of us are aware of and something that we see all around us. That enemy is death!

And what is the mission of Christ? It is to nullify that arch enemy of creation. And Christ has symbolically done it by his death and resurrection, but he will actually destroy it in a time yet future to us. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26).

"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. O death, where is your sting? O grave [hades], where is your victory?"

  • 1 Corinthians 15:54–55

Death is to be "swallowed up" — it will be utterly consumed and destroyed — by the victory of Christ. It will no longer be a hurting "sting." Even Hades [the place of the dead — sometimes translated "hell"] will no longer have any victory. The time is soon coming when the final resurrection of the dead occurs. That resurrection will be so complete that even Death and Hades will no longer exist. Both states are destined to be destroyed by the power of Christ.

"And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

  • Revelation 20:14

The "second death" is a "death" — it is not an eternal life in some kind of burning fire. If the phrase really meant "eternal life" in a hell fire, then death wouldn’t mean death at all. It would be just the opposite! Yet the Bible means what it says. The "second death" signifies "death" or words have no meaning whatever! But the death of what? The Bible says the second death involves "Death and Hades." In reality, it portrays "The Death of Death."

The Death of Death

When death itself is destroyed, what can this mean? It shows that there will be no more death. It does not mean that there will be no more "dying." Absolutely not! It shows far more than that. It signifies that the state of death itself will no longer exist. Death will no longer have anyone in its clutches. The state of death will experience no victory over anyone. All people will be brought back to life — a life in which death will no longer be in existence.

"All that the Father gives me shall come to me. ... And this is the Father’s will which sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."

  • John 6:37, 39

But how many of the people of the world has the Father given to Christ for His possession and happiness? Every last person in the world! Those who have ever lived. Those who live now. And those who will ever live in the future.

"The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

  • John 6:51

The Father has given Christ everyone that lives in the world.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

  • John 3:16–17

In the final analysis, the Father will not condemn the world, but He will save the world when they repent of their sins and accept the sacrifice of Christ on their behalf.

"And he is the propitiation for our sins [the sins of present day believers]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of THE WHOLE WORLD."

  • 1 John 2:2

God’s forgiveness reaches out to embrace the totality of the world. The Father, through Christ, is reconciling the entirety of the human race to Himself. He will do this by not condemning them in the ultimate sense. All trespasses against God and man will be forgiven by God.

"God was in Christ, reconciling the world [the whole world] to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. ... For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

  • 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21

True enough, there will be retribution for the sins that humans commit. All must appear before the judgment seat of Christ to answer for their ways (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God for judgment (Hebrews 10:31), and if people sin willfully, those sins will meet with a certain retribution, but all Christians are reckoned as "sanctified" regarding the ultimate matter of salvation — and this sanctification is for all time to come (Hebrews 10:14). It was distressing to see the great sinner at Corinth committing such lewdness in Paul’s sight that he was reckoned worse than the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 5:1–4). Paul awarded the man a certain and thorough judgment for his ways, but Paul acknowledged his ultimate salvation through the sacrifice of Christ.

"Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

  • 1 Corinthians 5:5

"If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

  • 1 Corinthians 3:15

The fires of judgment can be used of God to deal with sin, yet it is Christ’s death on the tree of crucifixion that guarantees a salvation through grace — and grace is not dependent upon works, either good or bad (Romans 11:5–6). Grace is not license to sin (Jude 4), but it does mean that eternal salvation has nothing to do with works (Ephesians 2:8) — whether those works are bad or good. Christians are created for good works (Ephesians 2:10), but not to gain salvation by them.

The Final Salvation

The last enemy that shall be destroyed in the exercise of God’s grace is death (1 Corinthians 15:26). This occurs when Death and Hades [hell — the place of the dead] are finally destroyed in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). The Bible says that God wills all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). Though in Adam all men have received condemnation and death (Romans 5:15), the free gift of grace afforded by Christ [the Second Adam] will grant a certain salvation to all.

"Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the Second Adam — Jesus Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."

  • Romans 5:18

That promised "life" will come to all men when Christ finally secures His victory over Death and Hades. When Death and Hades are destroyed, nothing will remain except "Life" — a Life in Christ. God speed the day when "The Death of Death" will arrive. That is when the mission of Christ Jesus to this earth will have become complete. He will then be the absolute victor over all enemies of man and those in the universe. Death will soon be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26), and only life will remain for all. This is the promise of God through Christ. Truly, the teachings of Christianity are the hope of the world, and the assurance of a secure salvation in Christ.

The death of death will soon be a reality.

Ernest L. Martin, 1979
Edited by David Sielaff, January 2003

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