July 11, 1999, posted, July 18, 1999

Death Abolished

2 Timothy 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

We dealt with that verse a few weeks ago when we looked at 2 Timothy 1:9. Christ is called the elect of God.

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Isaiah 45:4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
1 Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

Elect means picked out or chosen by God.

When elect is used of Christ, it means that Christ was appointed by God to his office from before the very foundation of the world, which is the most exalted office imaginable.

When elect is used of man, it means chosen by God the Father to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ, and chosen by God to live a holy life according to his word.

In v. 9, Paul spoke of God's election, or choosing, of particular individuals to obtain salvation in Christ. God's choosing was without advice from anyone; it was according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

Election is a basic doctrine of the Baptist, who were called Particular Baptist. I will not go into this doctrine at this time, but will urge you to study it out in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. (Chs. 3, 5. See all of Romans 9.)

Though God's saving grace was given before the world began, it was not made manifest until the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. When he came, he abolished death and brought life and immortality. (You have a never dying soul, and it will either be eternal death or eternal life.)

The work of Christ is hidden from fallen man until the light of the glorious gospel shines in their dark and hardened hearts. ALL MEN ARE LOST, and natural born captives of the power of darkness, and the Lord alone decides who to translate into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Col. 1:13.) He alone decides in whom to shine the light, and he does that through the preaching of the gospel.

Bro. Need, explain this to me! I placed the answer to this in the bulletin a few weeks ago. Salvian, the presbyter, asks "Why," and then answers (c. 450AD):

Why does the whole world come under the sway of authorities, for the greater part unjust? I could answer with reason and with sufficient constancy: 'I do not know,' because I do not know the secret councils of God. The oracle of the heavenly Word is sufficient proof for me in this case. God says, as I have proved in the previous books, that He regards all things, rules all things and judges all things. If you wish to know what you must believe, you have Holy Scripture. The perfect explanation is to hold with what you read.

I do not want you to ask me why God does as He does in the instances of which I have been speaking. I am a man. I do not understand the secrets of God. I do not dare to investigate them. I am also afraid to pry into them, because, if you desire to know more than you are allowed to know, that in itself is a kind of sacrilegious rashness. Let it suffice for you that God testifies that He Himself performs and ordains all things. Do you ask me why one man is greater and another less, one man is wretched and another happy, one man strong and another weak? Why God does these things I do not know, but my demonstration that this is done by Him should suffice for a full explanation. Just as God is greater than all human reason, in like manner it should mean more to me than reason that I recognize that all things are done by God. There is no need to listen to anything new on this point. Let God alone, the Creator, be sufficient over the reasoning of all men. It is not proper to say of the actions of the divine judgment this is right and this is wrong, because whatever you see and are convinced is the work of God, that you must confess is more than right. (The Writings of Salvin, the Presbyter, (c. 450 AD) [The Governance of God] Translated by Jeremiah F. O'Sullivan, Ph.D. New York, CIMA Publishing Co., Inc. © 1947. Fathers of the Church, III.68.

The Old Testament taught that God controls all things for own purpose. The Old Testament taught his mercy and grace. But these things were not clearly revealed until our Saviour Jesus Christ appeared. V. 9 tells us that his own sovereign purpose, holy calling (election), grace, mercy, peace, &c., were in the divine mind of God before the worlds were created. But, according to his eternal and divine purpose, they were concealed "in the types, shadows, sacrifices, prophecies and promises of the Old Testament." (Gill) They are clearly revealed in the preaching of the gospel.

The Elect's calling could not be placed into effect until Christ came bodily, and returned to heaven, from where he sent back his good Spirit of Grace, John 14:16, &c.

V. 10

Christ's death, planed in the mind of God before the worlds were formed, abolished death. His death abolished the second death for his people.

Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Christ's death defeated the one who had the power of death, the Devil.

Christ's resurrection broke the power of the Devil. Because of the work of Christ, there is now no reason for anyone to be under the power of the Devil.

The power of death and hell is broken, and his life is given through the preaching of the gospel.

God's work in destroying the power of the Devil in our daily lives is carried out by through the many trials we must face in this life. Remember, Paul's purpose in writing to Timothy was to urge him to keep his eyes upon the Lord and the pattern of life established by him.

V. 10, through the gospel.

Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Both Abraham and Job saw the truth of the gospel of the work of Christ and the resurrection and eternal life. But those things were not clearly revealed until the fulness of time was come, and God sent forth his Son, Jesus Christ. (Gal. 4:4.)

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (Jn. 1:17.)

The Spirit of God reveals the grace and truth of Jesus Christ from his word. St. John tells us that the Spirit of truth did not come until Christ went to heaven and sent him back. (John, chs. 15, 16, [15:26].)

2 Timothy 1:10, Christ made the truth plain:
Colossians 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

The hidden mystery in the Old Testament was two fold:

First, Christ in you, the hope of glory was a mystery to the Old Testament Saints.

Second, that the Old Testament distinction between Jews and Gentiles would be forever removed by the work of Christ, and that both would become the commonwealth of Israel--that is, the Israel of God (Eph. 2:11-14, Gal.).

Though these things were taught in the Old Testament, they Saints of old were unable to see them. (See Luke 24:44ff.)

Paul tells us in Colossians 1:25-27 (above), that the truth of Christ in you, the hope of glory is hidden from the lost. It is through the preaching of the gospel of Christ that the Spirit of God shines the light of the gospel to the lost.

THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL can only be revealed by the Holy Spirit, and that light is given individually according to God's good purpose, v. 9.

Note the order:

First, light to the darkened soul.

Second, life of the Spirit acting on the soul of fallen man, bringing life from the dead. (Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:13.)

Third, immortality, or life everlasting. (Rom. 8:11.)

Fourth, through the gospel, or by the means of the preaching of the gospel.

Christ abolished death. He took away the power from death, and Christ will finally destroy death.

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Abolished death. Are you fearful of death this morning? Are you caught in the trap of sin?

Brought life and immortality. Do you have eternal life?

Through the gospel. That is, the gospel of Christ's finished work upon the cross, his death, burial and resurrection. Have you placed your complete faith and trust in his finished work to pay the price for your sins?

Has the Devil's hold in your life been broken?

Has the power of death been destroyed in your life?

[further, if have time]

Made manifest by... our Saviour...

2 Corinthians 3:12-18

1) v. 14, the natural man cannot see Christ in the Old Testament. John 10:11, the good shepherd came to give his life for the sheep. Therefore, the Spirit of God had to blind the minds of those who sought to kill Christ, so they would kill him.

1 Corinthians 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

2) v. 15, Paul is writing after the crucifixion of Christ. He tells us that even after Christ, the natural man cannot see Christ in the Old Testament. This is no doubt a reason why many people do not like to study the Old Testament -- they can study it, yet never see Christ. Certainly, Christ is not as clearly presented in the Old Testament as he is in the new, but the entire word of God is about Christ from the beginning to the ending. I pity those who cannot find Christ in the Old Testament, and thus avoid it. THEY ARE MISSING 2/3rds of God's message to man.

3) v. 16 & 4:6, when God's Spirit of truth shines his light into the heart and the person is converted, that person is able to see Christ wherever he opens the Scripture.

4) v. 16, one of the results of genuine conversion is being able to see the glory of the Lord Jesus no matter where we open his word, whether it is in the book of Numbers or in the book of Matthew or John.

I have had people complain personally to me that I spend too much time in the Old Testament, and they want to hear about Christ. First, as I mentioned, two thirds of God's word is found in the Old Testament, so two thirds of our time should be spent there. Second, one of the evidences of genuine conversion is being able to see the Lord Jesus Christ no matter where one reads Scripture, from Gen to Rev.

Just this past spring, I had a pastor tell me that he spends all his time in the book of Matthew because he wants to teach his people about Jesus.

Christ is the WORD OF GOD, so everywhere one looks, he should be able to learn about the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone said, "No matter where you cut this book, it bleeds." In other words, the theme of this entire book is Christ and his finished work for sinners.

INVITATION

Abolished death. Are you fearful of death this morning? Are you caught in the trap of sin?

Brought life and immortality. Do you have eternal life?

Through the gospel. That is, the gospel of Christ's finished work upon the cross, his death, burial and resurrection. Have you placed your complete faith and trust in his finished work to pay the price for your sins?

Note:

Origen [A.D. 185-230-254] makes this interesting statement about the "lost sheep of the house of Israel":

Now, if the statements made to us regarding Israel, and its tribes and its families, are calculated to impress us, when the Saviour says, "I was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," [Mt 10:6, 15:24] we do not understand the expression as the Ebionites do, who are poor in understanding (deriving their name from the poverty of their intellect- -"Ebion" signifying "poor" in Hebrew), so as to suppose that the Saviour came specially to the "carnal" Israelites; for "they who are the children of the flesh are not the children of God." [Rom 9:8.] Again, the apostle teaches regarding Jerusalem as follows: "The Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." [Gal 4:26.] ... [Fathers, IV.371, CDROM.]

Origen thus points out that Christ was sent not to the lost sheep of "carnal" Israel, but to Israel after the Spirit, i.e. the church, which at the first came out of the Israelite nation: He called and led these lost sheep to the new--free from above--Jerusalem; He did not attempt to call them back to the old--bondage from beneath--Jerusalem. Origen continues by clearly warning against mixing spiritual and carnal truths together.