The Abolition of Death
I’ve had a new experience this past month. A first for me. Three men I know, all close to my age, passed away unexpectedly – all within three weeks. They were all believers in Christ. They each left behind heartbroken yet hopeful families and loved ones. Their life in this world is done. And, in some ways, it feels unfinished.
There are so many things these brothers will never do. A.J. will never walk a daughter down the wedding aisle. Rick will not be able to baptize his grandchildren – something he looked forward to very much. Ron will not get to see his grandkids grow up or enjoy retirement years with his dear wife. So much living left undone.
Maybe that’s why Paul’s words in 2 Timothy jolted me. I’ve been reading through the pastoral epistles and words that I’ve read many times before had a fresh clarity and punch to them. Here’s what it says:
2 Timothy 1:8–10 “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
“Abolish” is a VERY strong word. Synonyms are: “ eliminated”, “eradicated” and, my personal favorite, “obliterated”. Jesus obliterated death! He demolished it. Destroyed it. Annihilated it. Put death to death. My Greek word dictionary translates it as “to render inoperative, to put out of use”.
That’s a really stunning thought. And it’s something I don’t think about enough. We tend to fear death. But, if what Paul says is true, there is nothing there to fear for the children of God. We still face dying – but not death. We face, at best, the shadow of death. The real thing, death as Divine judgment, death as alienation and separation from God, death as eternal loss - everything that makes death awful and terrifying – is abolished, eradicated, and obliterated by Christ, and for all those who belong to Him.
And there’s more. As Paul explains, we are by faith and fact – immortal. Jesus “brought life and immortality to light”. When Jesus abolished death, he bestowed immortal status on all those who belong to Him. We are forever defined by life. Even when our bodies rest in the grave, our experience will be boundless life.
Isn’t that incredible? In a world full of mortal men, we aren’t. We are immortal. Just listen to the sound of that. Let it settle on you. It doesn’t seem possible – and yet it is an established gospel fact. Every person that belongs to Jesus cannot die. Ever. As Jesus said, “Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26).
This is God’s “purpose and grace which he gave us in Jesus Christ before the ages began” (2 Tim 1:9). In other words, there are two immutable realities that assure us that these words are true: this is the sovereign, fixed, purpose and will of the Living God; and it is the never-to-be-revoked accomplishment of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the startling, astounding good news of the gospel. This is what we sing and celebrate at Christmas.
Hail, the heav'n-born Prince of peace
Hail! the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all he brings
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the some of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King (Charles Wesley)
This is something to contemplate. Something upon which to meditate. How would your life change if you were convinced that you will never die?
Think about it.
In His Service,
What Pastor Dale is listening to . . .
I’m ready for Christmas. Here are some resources to cheer your heart as we celebrate the miracle of Christ’s Incarnation.
1. A Free Christmas concert this Sunday evening at 8pm. This looks really good!
2. New Advent Resources: 100-Song Playlist, Books, and Morey
by Brett McCracken
Brett McCracken’s Advent Resources: The 100 song TGC Christmas playlist, albums and Christmas devotionals.
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