"And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence the earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged, everyone of them according to their deeds... and 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." (Revelation 20:11-15).
Last weekend, Michelle and I watched a movie, "Luther" based on the life of Martin Luther during the 15th century (1517). My, it was a good movie! You can feel the thermostat rise in your very bodies when Luther constant tries to persuade the Catholics to reform their ways and rely on the truths of the Bible. But the Catholics turned against him calling him a heretic asking him to "recant" which means to take back what he has said and stick with their doctrine, or otherwise be condemned to death. Luther has shown tremendous faith confronting the papacy, even unto death! We highly recommend that you rent this DVD movie, "Luther"! I would like to share with you an article (one of hundreds of articles written by Luther) emphasizing the importance of baptism. Here's what Luther wrote:
What is baptism? Answer: Baptism is not merely water, but it is water used according to God's command and connected with God's word. What gifts or benefits does baptism bestow? Answer: It effects forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants eternal salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare. How can water produce such effects? Answer: It is not the water that produces these effects, but the word of God connected with the water, and our faith relies upon the word of God connected with the water. For without the word of God, the water is merely water and not baptism. But when connected with the word of God the water is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit."
-The Smaller Catechism; Martin Luther; 1529 A.D.
"Born Once - Die Twice"
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our lord." (Romans 6:23). There are several states referred to as "death" in the Bible. There is "physical death". This is the one we usually mean by the term. The Bible points out that the physical body is dead when the spirit separates from it (James 2:26).
There is also "spiritual death". This is the state that describes sinners who are separated from God by their sins (Ephesians 2:1;12). It was in this sense that Adam and Eve died in the very day they disobeyed God. They died spiritually, and also became subject to physical death.
Finally, there is the "second death". This is the eternal state of alienation from God described in Revelation 20:11-15; the "lake of fire". There is much we do not know about this last state mentioned, but we do know enough to understand that it would be the worst tragedy to suffer such a plight. There are many passages which describe the "second death" (Revelation 21:8; 20:10; 14:9-11; Mark 9:42-48; Matthew 25:30,41,46; 22:13).
"Born Twice - Die Once"
Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Truly, truly I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God... unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:3,5). The way to avoid the second death is to be a partaker in the second birth! Jesus said that there were two necessary parts in being "born again". He referred to it as "being born of the water and the Spirit".
Later, following His resurrection, He will send out the apostles to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:18-20, cf. Mark 16:15,16). Obeying His commands, the apostles taught the believers on the day of Pentecost to "repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:37,38). When the Ethiopian nobleman heard the gospel and then saw some water, he expressed the desire to be baptized in the water, and subsequently was (Acts 8:35-39). Saul of Tarsus was told, "Arise, and be baptized, washing away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16). This is how "baptism does also now save (us)" (1 Peter 3:20,21).
Therefore, we're born once (natural birth), die twice (spiritual and physical death); born twice (natural and spiritual birth), die once (physical death).