You get one opportunity, one shot, as they say, at this life, when you die, it’s over. That’s how the Almighty has designed it, one life, one opportunity to accept the fact that He is Sovereign over all life, over all of His creation, no second chances. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27)
The Word of God calls for a second death to those who will not honor Him as such, those who have denied the offering of His grace, His unmerited favor through His Son Jesus Christ. This is the Lake of Fire, and so must infer by these two statements that there is in hell, in some sort, a form of life, not recognizable to those who are alive today here on earth. Life, in general, means the opportunity of hope, of change, growth and advancement, even in the most miniscule way, of knowledge, it recognizes that it is sentient and aware of its existence. These, in a different form, and in part, will continue in hell.
The rich man in the account of the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) shows us the truth of these statements, he knew where he was, he knew why he was there, and he knew that if some information of that place was passed onto his relatives, that there would be a chance that they would repent. “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31) All that was said to him across that great gulf, inferred that all the information necessary for his brothers to escape the place he found himself in was already available to them.
It is also quite easy to understand that the rich man while he was yet alive on earth was a man consumed with the temporal, the things of this world, for he “fared sumptuously,” he had pretty much all that he wanted, and was not overly concerned with the eternal. When Abraham replied they have Moses and the prophets, we can also understand that this man was a son of Abraham, as was perhaps all his family, or at the very least had intimate knowledge of the Word of God that had been given to mankind at that time, he was without excuse.
Here than was the beginning of the second death for the rich man, the knowledge that all hope was gone, he was not going back to his former life, it was over, unretrievable. But it was not in completion yet, he is still there, he is still thirsty, and there may still be a glimmer, no matter how small, of hope within him yet that God may be merciful.
Hell is a place of incredible repentance, there may be no other place in the creation of the Lord where finer prayers are offered, where man prays with great and fervent desire, where the heart is truly offered to the Lord, begging for mercy, pleading for grace. But they are all forced attrition, forced upon them by the circumstances that they now find themselves in.
The poor man Lazarus, Moses, Abraham, David, Peter, and hopefully you, have not been forced to accept the Sovereignty of the Most High, we have accepted it as reality, it is not head knowledge alone, it is a matter of the heart, and the Holy Spirit after we have been accepted in the beloved, (Eph. 1:6) is sent as the proof, the security of that which is known to be true to us. We will never experience hell. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)
The second death is just that, the complete and total knowledge, without any form of reservation, that all hope is gone, it is beyond anything that any on this earth today can even begin to understand, and it makes everything on this earth seem beyond trivial in comparison. To serve the Lord Jesus Christ with vigor, with “all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength,” (Mark 12:30) is to understand just what we have been saved from.
“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.” (Rev. 20:6) Until you recognize this fact you will never serve with great intent, the world will still call to you, you will answer at times, and you will never truly understand just what was done for you on that cross.