‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.’ Revelation 20:6
Suggested Further Reading: John 5:19–29
Damnation, the second death, shall have no power on those who rise at the first resurrection. How can damnation fall on any but those who are sinners and are guilty of sin? But the saints are not guilty of sin. They have sinned like others, and they were by nature the children of wrath even as others. Their sin has been lifted from them: it was laid upon the scapegoat’s head of old. He, the eternal substitute, even our Lord Jesus, carried all their guilt and their iniquity into the wilderness of forgetfulness, where it shall never be found against them for ever. They wear the Saviour’s righteousness, even as they have been washed in his blood; and what wrath can lie on the man who is not only guiltless through the blood, but is meritorious through imputed righteousness? O arm of justice, you are nerveless to smite the blood-washed! O flames of hell, how could even so much as the breath of your heat pass upon the man who is safe covered in the Saviour’s wounds? How is it possible for you, O deaths, destructions, horrors, glooms, plagues, and terrors, so much as to flit like a cloud over the serene sky of the spirit which has found peace with God through the blood of Christ? No, brethren, ‘Bold shall I stand in that great day …’ There shall be a second death; but over us it shall have no power. Do you understand the beauty of the picture? As if we might walk through the flames of hell and they should have no power to devour us any more than when the holy children paced with ease over the hot coals of Nebuchadnezzar’s seven times heated furnace.
For meditation: Only God’s saving power can free us from the power of the second death (Jude 25). How terrifying must be the fate of the unbeliever, cut off from God’s saving power (2 Thessalonians 1:9), but still under his condemning power (Luke 12:5).
Sermon no. 391
5 May (1861)