Did Christ Die the Second Death?

          The question is asked, "Did Christ die the second death?" No, He did not. Nowhere in Scripture or the writings of Ellen G. White is there found any explicit statement that "Christ died the second death."
          What we do have is a vast body of evidence that He did indeed die the equivalent of the second death.
          Is there a difference? Absolutely! To say that Christ died the second death, a death from which there is no resurrection, would be to say that Christ remains dead, our faith is vain and we remain yet in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).* That is certainly Bad News.
          But the Gospel is filled with Good News. Christ is risen! In order to answer the question of the nature of Christ’s death, we must first be satisfied that what the Bible teaches about His life is true.
          Hebrews 2:6-18 describes the nature in which Christ came to this earth as being "like unto his brethren." In coming like His brethren, He took upon His sinless nature our sinful fallen nature. He experienced everything to the full that the unrepentant sinner must experience. Otherwise we have no Savior. When we read that Christ was "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin," (Hebrews 4:15) we must also understand that He was made to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
          In taking upon Himself our humanity, Christ became the representative for the human race. In reality, the Bible speaks of only two men, the first and second Adams. The first Adam was tempted and fell to temptation. The second Adam was tempted on the very same points and was victorious. Thereby, a robe of righteousness was woven on the loom of heaven, the flesh of Christ.
          It is true that Christ and the prophets spoke of His resurrection on the third day but somehow, in the end, in taking sin upon Him, He began to understand the depth of sin and depth to which He must go to save a lost race. Somehow, everything He had learned about His resurrection changed. His admonition to the disciples that the flesh is weak was something that He felt deep within Himself.
          In Gethsemane, He questioned His mission, wondering if there were any possibility of finding a different way, a different answer to the sin problem. But no answer came. What He received instead was encouragement that His course was correct and that it was the only way to satisfy the just demands of a broken Law.
          In Gethsemane, the "place of the press," His sweat came in great drops as blood. Sin was pressing the life from the Savior. It was not His own personal sin, but the sin of the world that broke the heart of the Son of God. We read in Isaiah 53 that He was "stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."
          By rights, Christ should never have been crucified, but stoned. He had been accused of blasphemy—of claiming to be God (Matthew 26:65; John 8:58). The punishment for blasphemy was stoning (Leviticus 24:16) but that would not have satisfied the Jewish leaders. They demanded confirmation that Christ was a liar, and in fact not God. They demanded crucifixion, a symbol of rejection by God, suspended between God and man, rejected by all (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23).
          When Christ cried out in the garden, "O my Father, let this cup pass from me," (Matthew 26:39) this was no idle prayer. He understood the path which He must take and His soul was "exceeding sorrowful" (v. 38).
          On the cross, when He cried out, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"– these were not empty words. He felt eternally separated from God. He experienced the torment that the unrepentant sinner will experience. (Mark 15:34; Psalm 22:1). The wages of sin is eternal death. Christ died the equivalent of that death. He drank the cup to it’s bitter dregs (Isaiah 51:22) so that we will not have to drink it.
          Christ died the equivalent of the second death for every man. That’s Good News! We do not need to die that terrible death of separation from the Father, though we can choose that end. The second death is for unbelievers (Revelation 21:8). It was never designed that way, for the Lord would not have any perish. Christ died for every man— even the unrepentant sinner. Unfortunately there will be many who choose death rather than life. It’s a choice we each must make. (Deuteronomy 30:19). Therefore, choose life.
          If anyone dies the second death it will be because they have chosen it. They will have spurned the death of Christ. What they experience will be no different than what Christ experienced on the Cross. The fire that snuffs out their lives will come as sweet relief from the knowledge of what they have done in their rejection of the Son of God. In all the history of the universe there has only been one real death— the death of Christ.
          I have appreciated this passage from The Desire of Ages, p. 753,

          Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation. All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father's mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father's reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.
          Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father's acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father's wrath upon Him as man's substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.

* In a technical sense, it would have been impossible for Christ to die the second death for that death will not literally occur until after the close of the millennium. (Revelation 20:14).

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