(Article for publication week of 11- 14--AD 2012)
“Who (God) hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His Own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 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” (II Timothy 1:9-10).
Surely it would take a multitude of articles and sermons to draw out all the wealth of this text. The text tells us that salvation is indeed all by God’s sovereign grace who chose His people in Christ before the foundation of the world and made all the arrangements necessary to bring them to eternal glory. But I wish to focus our attention this week primarily on the expression in verse 10 “Who hath abolished death.”
Christ has abolished death for His people. The curse of Adam brought upon all his posterity the sting of death (Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:12). But God Who is rich in mercy, had purposed from all eternity that His Eternal and Coequal Son should bear the awful curse for His elect people and abolish death for them. Thus our text tells us that in time Christ was manifest, that is He became a Man to redeem us from the curse of the law and all its evil effects. All the sins of all God’s people were transferred to Christ and He suffered as the Just Substitute to satisfy the just requirement of God’s law. Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day for our justification (Romans 4:25; I Corinthians 15:1-4). Thus He arose triumphant over the devil, sin, hell and the grave. So our text says that Christ “abolished death.”
First of all Christ has removed the sting of death for us. Death is indeed a monster. We are naturally afraid of death, for it appears to be an awful and final thing. Unbelievers certainly should fear death, for it will usher them into their awful eternal state. But believers have no need to fear death, for Christ has abolished all its evil effect. For believers death is the door that opens to heaven and immortal glory. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord we read in the fifth chapter of II Corinthians. As soon as believer closes his eyes in death, he is with Christ in paradise (Luke 23:43).
Secondly, Christ has abolished the Second Death for His people. Eternal hell is described in Revelation as the “second death.” The finally impenitent are doomed to eternal death. That is they are fixed in a state of conscious suffering forever. Thus to die outside of Christ is to spend eternity facing God as your eternal Judge and Executioner. Truly it can be said of everyone who is outside of Christ as our Lord said of Judas Iscariot, it would have been better if they had not been born. But Christ has abolished the second death for His people. It has no power over us. Again, Christ died for our sins. He fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law of God, and no one can lay any charge to the elect of God.
Thirdly, Christ has abolished death for the believer because He will raise up our bodies at the final day I Corinthians 15:52; I Thessalonians 4:16-17; John 6:39). Though our bodies must see corruption and return to dust, the Lord will gather up that dust and raise it up in a new body fashioned like unto our Lord. Our omniscient God knows where every atomic particle is, and regardless of how long our bodies have slept in the dust, it will be no hard thing for our omnipotent God to re-gather every particle of our formerly sin cursed bodies and raise them up incorruptible.
As one hymn writer so ably expressed it, “I face the monster death and smile”! Dear believer in Christ, you have no reason to fear death because all its evil has been abolished by Christ and He has taken away its sting. May the Lord bless His dear people to be delivered from all fear of death.