"It wasn't a potential atonement actuated by the sinner, it was an actual atonement initiated by the savior."

John MacArthur

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What is death?

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What is Death?

There are three deaths in the Bible

The Bible recognizes three deaths: we are all born spiritually dead, most will die physically, and unfortunately many will face eternal death.

What follows explains these three deaths and how to avoid the most tragic – eternal death.

All are born spiritually dead

Genesis 2:17 states “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

In the Garden of Eden, the first human’s only command was that of Genesis 2:17. Yet, Adam and Eve failed, sinned, and were thus subject to the wage of sin – death.

Up until that time, there was no death, but what is this death, for we know that Adam continued to live as Genesis 5:5 states all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

The longevity of those living in the antediluvian period, or before the flood, will contrast greatly with those living now after the flood. Psalms 90:10 reflects this distinction Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Thus, even though physical death was delayed for Adam and Eve, spiritual death was immediate, however, and all of their descendants are now born into this spiritual death. Romans 5:12 records this condition just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind, because all sinned…”

Most will die physically

“Most” would seem like a rather odd claim for physical death.

In fact, Hebrews 9:27 speaks of our physical death as a destiny – And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment…”.

The Bible, however, does record some exceptions such as Enoch and Elijah who were alive when taken into Heaven in the Old Testament, the saints at the end of the Millenium period, and the upcoming Rapture of the living believers in the New Testament before the Tribulation in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Outside of these exceptions, however, all men will die physically.

Many will face eternal death

As fervently as mankind may desire a God whose definition of love is unconditional acceptance of all men regardless of their rejection and sins, the Bible doesn’t share this.  In fact, it records something quite different in Revelation 20:11-15 where it states  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them; and they were judged, each one of them according to their deeds.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Judgment and hell may not be popular but that doesn’t distract from the truth. This is known as the second death and it is an eternal death of punishment.

Avoiding eternal death

It is vital to understand that spiritual death renders mankind unresponsive to the truth of the Gospel without the miraculous intervention of God. This is addressed in a number of verses such as:

Romans 8:7-8 “…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” also

1 Cor 2:14 But a natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” and finally

John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.


Therefore, although all men are born spiritually dead, and almost all will die physically, eternal death can be replaced with eternal life if one repents and relies upon the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.

This is offered as a free gift in Ephesians  2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast



Reflect deeply on the 3 deaths in the Bible, and God’s offer of salvation which replaces eternal death with eternal life, for everyone will be held accountable.



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