The Second Death

by Mike Ratliff

Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,

and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:40-42 ESV)

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:42-50 ESV)

It is utterly amazing to me to listen to or read what some who claim to be Christians these days have to say about the Doctrine of Hell. Of course, Rob Bell has his new book out, Love Wins, and is making the tour to promote it. Here are two excellent sources for you on this. Go here for an article by my good friend Ken Silva. I suggest you also watch the video at the end by someone that I believe to be an even worse heretic than Bell, Carlton Pearson. The second link, here, is an actual interview of Rob Bell by Martin Bashir on MSNBC. As I listened to both of the videos, I was simply dumbfounded at the temporal focus of both Carlton Pearson and Rob Bell. Regardless of Martin Bashir’s theology, I thought he did a fine job of not letting Rob Bell off the hook. He would not let him use double talk or trivialize the profoundness of the Gospel. We need some Theologians who are not afraid to confront heretics like Rob Bell and Pearson and not let them get away with their doublespeak and scripture twisting. 

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:5-8 ESV)

In Matthew 13:4-42, which I placed at the top of this post, our Lord Jesus spoke of the final destination of those outside of Christ as being analogous to them being thrown, “into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In Mark 9:42-50, also at the top of this post, the word hell in v45, for instance, translates the Greek noun γέενναν the Accusative, Singular form of γέεννα or geenna, which was from the Hebrew and meant, literally “the valley of Hinnom.” It was the valley near Jerusalem that served as the garbage dump where fires constantly burned. It was used in scripture as a graphic symbol of eternal torment and was used to purposefully convey to all that the punishment of Hell lasts for eternity (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 14:10, 11; Revelation 20:10). Of course, our Lord’s own words tell us that those who end up in this fire will experience it forever along with being eaten by worms. I cannot imagine what a horrible thing that will be.

In Revelation 21:5-8, we arrive at the end. What is this eternal destination into Hell called? It is the second death. Here is contrasted for us that those who are in Christ, those thirsty for the Righteousness of Christ, will receive it without payment. These conquerors will be with Christ for eternity. On the other hand, everyone else will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. These people died in this physical life, but now their existence will be a spiritual death in that they will be eternally separated from the giver of life, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is eternal death. They do not cease to exist. They do not die in the sense of being consumed into nothingness, but go into the existence of being where the flame is never quenched and their worm never dies.

Rob Bell and Carlton Pearson and everyone else who desires to do away with the Doctrine of Hell may hate these truths, but they can only do so by saying stupid things like Pearson does in the video like, “I believe that the Word of God is inspired, but no longer relevant. I believe it is God’s truth, but I don’t take it literally.” Well that is obviously Rob Bell’s problem as well and this is where we must dig in and stand firm my brethren in the power of the Holy Spirit for along with these truths is also given to us the incredible gift of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ which when believed by faith is the only way of escape from the horrors we just looked at above.

Carlton Pearson was all about creating peace and heaven here on earth by not focusing on Hell. What nonsense! I wonder if the man has really read the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sola Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “The Second Death

  1. Good to have you back Mike…it seems these apostates are increasing in number almost daily!
    Good piece of writing, we are not preaching the whole counsel of God if we deny or exclude the doctrine of hell. Only a wolf in sheep’s clothing would deny the actual existence of hell.
    Bless you brother, keep on persevering in Him.



  2. What a day we are living in.
    I know I for one am always dumbfounded when something new like Rob Bell’s stance (or at least his proclamation of his stance) comes to the fore. But, things are surely going to get worse, I know we cannot fathom in some ways how that could happen, but we must be prepared.

    “…if it were possible the very elect would be deceived.”

    Perilous times for sure, but that is not the end, it is also a glorious time for the Bride, the Church of the Living God.

    Glory! Jesus is coming soon!


  3. Upon reading this, I’ve gotta say that people’s logic (if the results of it were not so tragic) is pretty amusing because it is so crazy.
    I mean, saying “I do believe that Gods word is inspired but no longer relevant??”.
    Has he even READ the bible. If he did, then he’d see that what’s written is relevant to all people in all places at all times. Unless he believes it’s not inspired. But he says it IS. So he’s got to be consistent and make up his mind.
    “I believe it’s the truth but don’t take it literally”. Sounds pretty self-contradictory unless he goes into further detail (like if he says he thinks it’s metaphorical but has truth to it etc. but that’s not what he said).
    Finally, IMO, at least the ATHEIST is consistent (doesnt believe the bible is true either about heaven OR hell) but it is impossible to believe in heaven “because the bible says so” WHILE AT THE SAME TIME disbelieving in hell even though the same bible talks about it in the very next verse using the same words for eternal (eg. Matthew 25:31-46)



  4. Matthew, I agree with you. I’d rather talk to someone who is clear on their beliefs. But then you wouldn’t have a wolf in sheep’s clothes, you would simply have a wolf.

    Mike, nice to have you back. These guys sound so loving, but their truth is so distorted. They wind back and forth in a confusing, tractless waste and when you are finished listening you are left with a multiple of contradictions. We love the Word, no we don’t. It’s inspired, no it isn’t. God loves the world, no he doesn’t. Hell is real, no it isn’t. By George! I think I’ve got it!!!


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