2 Timothy 005 – The Other Side of the Good News2 Timothy 1:9c-10 • Dr. Andy Woods • October 4, 2015 • 2 Timothy - The Call to Persevere
The Other Side of the Good News
10-4-15 2 Timothy 1:9c-10 Lesson 5
Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and turn to 2 Timothy, chapter 1, looking this morning at the last part of verse 9 and then into verse 10. The title of this message is The Other Side of the Good News. As you’re turning there let me make you aware of an opportunity this Thursday evening it’s showing, I think only this Thursday around the country, but it’s dealing with the facts and fiction, trying to separate facts from fiction in the recent discoveries of Noah’s ark. It’s actually a movie called Finding Noah. The reason I bring it to your attention is one of the key experts that plays a large role in this movie is Dr. Randall Price, who we had as a speaker at our Bible Conference back in 2012, and you don’t really have an opportunities this day and age to see a Christian based movie and it’s available just this Thursday night around the country, I think it’s showing over at First Colony AMC around 7:00 a.m. Did I say a.m.? It’d better be a good movie to get us there at a.m. 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. somewhere in there. Gabe Morris is going to be going, I’m unfortunately teaching that night so I can’t go. But if you’re interested in meeting Gabe as kind of a church group over there you can see him. If you don’t want to be seen with us and you want to sit in the corner you can do that also, but Gabe has all the information on it. I wanted to just make you aware of it.
And of course as we’re turning to 2 Timothy 1:9 one other quick to say is we’re in the wake of yet another mass shooting here in America, this time taking place in Oregon; 20 plus people killed according to news reports it looks like Christians were targeted this time around but the fact of the matter is murder is the natural state of the human heart. And you’ll see that very clearly in Christ’s teachings if you read Mark 7:20-23. [Mark 7:20-23, “And He was saying, ‘That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,  deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”]
And the Founding Fathers of our nation understood that; they understood that murder naturally emanates from the human heart and that’s why they were so big in promoting Christian truth. They knew that as long as man’s evil heart was checked or stayed or deterred through a Christian value system society could continue to be free. And you see this thinking all over the writings of our Founding Fathers, if you read, for example, George Washington’s farewell address he makes a statement there that of all of the things that lead to political and lasting liberty and prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.
So man does not have to be controlled by the state if he can control himself and the best way to help man control himself is to have Christianity in his life. That’s why our Founding Fathers wanted Christianity taught everywhere, and even in the school system. And now what you see is Christianity is pulled out of the public square; there’s very little left to restrain man’s natural sinful impulses and so murders like this result. And because we’re living in a generation of people that think well, the way to control people is to make the government bigger, what we’re seeing is our freedoms are gradually deteriorating in this country because we’ve lost sight of what George Washington said and we’ve lost sight of the idea that freedom only comes if people can control themselves. If they can’t control themselves the only option you have left is big government which ends up encroaching upon rights and taking rights away.
So be in prayer for our country; we’re at a really delicate time in our history and it’s so tragic to, not just see a shooting but to hear all of the misunderstandings of how to solve these things. And we really need to get back to our founding principles.
Well, here we are in the book of 2 Timothy which is all about finishing well. It’s essentially a call to Christian perseverance. Paul, of course, is the author of this book; he is an apostle. He is writing to a very young man named Timothy who is shrinking back in his calling as the pastor over the church at Ephesus. This is the very last letter Paul wrote; he wrote it, as I’ll show you today, just prior to his death, prior to his own martyrdom. He’s writing it from his second imprisonment in Rome. He’s dealing with a very timid Timothy and he’s teaching him how to endure in his calling. And this book is very special to us because it represents Paul’s last word and testament and the book as a whole is a great motivator for us, a great encouragement regarding how we are to endure in what God has called us to do.
We have moved into the beginning of the book, where in chapter 1 you have a general call to faithfulness in the ministry. And Paul has given Timothy a greeting, he has offered a thanksgiving for Timothy’s life. He has drawn attention to Timothy’s gifting, how this young man named Timothy had a very special ministry gift and he is to use that gift for the glory of God and the edification of God’s people, and how he is called to be courageous in these times in which he found himself where he was so intimidated by what was happening around him and he was shrinking back and being less aggressive and assertive in the ministry.
Then we moved into verses 8-14 where you have this very long section where Timothy is called by Paul not to be ashamed. It’s a call to unashamedness, and in the process he says Timothy one of the things you are to be unashamed of is the gospel. And he begins to give a beautiful articulation of the gospel, what the gospel does for people and why it is to be shared with vigor and aggressiveness and also boldness.
And in the process of describing the gospel Paul essentially highlights three things: number 1, the benefits of the gospel, verses 9-10. Number 2, Paul’s connection to the gospel, why did Paul give himself so aggressively and self-sacrificially for the cause of the gospel, that’s in verses 11-12. And then finally verses 13-14 wraps up that section on the gospel as Timothy is told to preserve the gospel, to defend the gospel, to stand firm on the principles of the gospel.
And we just began last time verses 9-10, which hopefully, God willing, we will finish today, the benefits of the gospel. Why aggressively and boldly share the gospel? Why make the gospel the centerpiece of your ministry and our activities as Christians. The answer to that is the gospel brings with it certain benefits that you cannot get in any other source of information. Those benefits are, as we saw last week, the gospel’s saving power; the gospel is the dunamis power of God unto salvation.
We also saw last week in verse 9 that the gospel is a manifestation of divine grace. You don’t see the grace of God articulated in any other single thing other than the gospel; certainly we can point to God’s grace in different things but nowhere is it as vividly portrayed and as vividly pictured as in the gospel. You remove the gospel you remove the teaching device that God has given the world about His grace and unmerited favor.
And we pick it up there at the end of verse 9 where we learn about the gospel’s eternality. Notice, if you will, the second part of verse 9, I’ll just go ahead and read all of verse 9. Paul writes to Timothy, beginning in verse 9, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus” notice this last little expression here, “from all eternity.”
We covered the earlier part of verse 9 last time but notice that last little expression, “from all eternity.” The gospel is not something that Paul dreamed up on his own. The gospel is not something new with Paul. If that were true then nobody up to Paul could be saved. The gospel is the eternal outworking of God’s purposes; it was something that was planned in the mind of God before the world was, in eternity past.
Paul is very clear that the gospel is not new to him. For example, in Romans 1:2 Paul says this: “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,  which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures.” When Paul talks about “beforehand” in the Scriptures he is talking about the Hebrew Bible and how the gospel itself is something that is progressively unveiled as you move through what we sometimes call the Old Testament, which is better named Hebrew Bible. The gospel doesn’t start with Paul; Paul is simply the latest carrier of the truth and now Timothy is to pick up the baton and run his lap in this race. So Timothy, if you drop the ball, if you shrink back you are shrinking back on something that in the mind of God is His eternal message.
In fact, the very first reference to the gospel, I believe in the entire Bible, goes back to the book of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 15. This was right after the fall of man and God begins to reveal His redemptive purpose for man as He speaks to both the serpent, who is the devil, and the woman, Eve. He says this: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” There is coming one from the seed of the woman, in this case it would be Eve, her descendants, who is going to deal a decisive and fatal blow to Satan, and from that point on the whole world and the devil himself is put on notice that the gospel is on the horizon.
I believe the very second reference to the gospel is in Genesis 3:21, it’s hard to understand Genesis 3:21 until you understand Genesis 3:7. Genesis 3:7 says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” Genesis 3:7 represents the first act of religion in the Bible. Religion is man trying to climb his way up to God through his own merit. Man tries to do something to fix his fallen condition before God, and the world today is very wrapped up in religion, which is always defined by what we do.
But in that mindset and in that climate and mentality the Lord reveals the gospel, and that’s in Genesis 3:21, which says this: “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” You will not gain favor with Me through your own acts of righteousness, God says to our forbearers, Adam and Eve. Rather, what will happen is I will clothe you, I will do the work. Now where did these garments of skin come from? Obviously what happened is an innocent animal, or scapegoat, was killed right then and there. And God took the skins of that sacrificed animal and He used them to clothe Adam and Eve.
And you say well, what did the poor scapegoat do that was wrong? The answer is nothing. It was an innocent sacrifice, and God through the transaction of putting to death an innocent sacrifice, or substitute, corrected man’s problem and his fallen condition in Genesis 3. That, in a nutshell, is the gospel. The gospel is not what we do for God; the gospel is what God has done for us and our accepting what He has done as a free gift. Had Adam and Eve rejected those coverings in Genesis 3:21 and sought to stand before God through their own sewed fig leaves they would have been rejected by God.
And yet how many people today are standing before God through their own fig leaves that they have put together, their own works of self-righteousness, their own lists of do’s and don’ts, their own misguided view that if the good deeds they do outweigh the bad deeds then somehow God is obligated to let them into heaven.
That is NOT how it works, it has never worked that way. God has made that clear going back to the beginning, that we are what we are in God not because of what we do but because of what He has done for us. We do not do the work, He has done the work; the work is complete, as we celebrated at the Lord’s Table this morning. We are simply to receive it as a free gift. There is only one way in the mind of God to receive a free gift and that is by faith. But you’ll notice that this gospel that Paul had pledged his life to promote and to protect is not something new with Paul, it is something that goes all the way back to the beginning.
The word “eternity” here is also interesting because Revelation 13:8 says this: “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” There is a parallel passage in Revelation 17:8 and it says this: “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.”
Notice in both of those verses in the book of Revelation it says people’s names written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. You almost get this idea that when you believe the gospel God records your name in a special book, called “the book of life,” and what is so interesting to observe is those names are recorded in that book “from the foundation of the world.” This speaks of the sovereignty of God; this speaks of the omniscience of God. Somehow when we exercise our free will as we come under the inspiration, and better said, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we discover that we are fulfilling a divine blueprint from the foundation of the world.
And so does the Bible teach the sovereignty of God or does it teach the free will of man and the answer to that is yes. You say well, pastor, if I’m really a free moral agent and if I really made a decision to trust in Christ as my Savior, how can it be that my name has already been written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world? My answer is I have no idea, ask God. I just know the Bible teaches these two great truths and I stopped a long time ago trying to explain it because it’s obviously above my pay grade and it’s obviously something that is communicated to us from outside of time. An infinite God communicated this idea to us.
At Sugar Land Bible Church we believe in the sovereignty of God; at Sugar Land Bible Church we believe in the free will of man. We allow both sets of texts to live in tension with each other. We do not follow the error that is so common in Calvinism that they use the sovereignty verses to re-write the free will verses. We do not follow the error that is so common in Arminianism where we use the free will verses to rewrite the sovereignty verses. We simply plead mystery and allow both to make their contribution that they want to make.
This, perhaps, is what is on Paul’s mind when he says about this gospel granted to us “in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” When we believe it we are fulfilling the eternal plan of God and the gospel is not something that man created; the gospel is something that God created. It does not begin with Paul, it did not even begin with the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. It didn’t even begin in the Garden of Eden. It was something that was planned in the councils from all eternity in eternity past.
So Timothy, you need to be aggressive about this gospel because this is not your own thinking; this is not your own plan. This is part of the eternal purpose and the eternal plan of God. Multiple eons of time and centuries have elapsed and now the gospel is in my hands, Paul says, and it’s being transferred into your hands. And don’t reinvent everything, don’t reinvent ministry, just take this precious truth and this commodity as you understand it and pass it on to someone else. This is not a time, Paul says to Timothy, to become timid; this is a time to be more assertive given the power of the message that has been handed to you.
The gospel does something else in terms of benefit; it does something else in verse 10 and we’ll spend most of our time this morning here in verse 10, it conquers death. Notice, if you will, verse 10, Paul writes, “but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Notice this reference, verse 10, to the fact that the gospel is something that abolishes death. Paul, in verse 10, uses the word “revealed.” The gospel has been personified in this man, Jesus Christ, to the fullest extent. Jesus Christ has appeared. And then you’ll also notice in verse 10 that the gospel has appeared in Jesus Christ, now notice the title that is given to Jesus Christ in verse 10, He is referred to as “our Savior.” Jesus is my Savior, the Apostle Paul says and Timothy, He is your Savior as well.
One of the great designations of Christ is this very interesting term “Savior.” Why is He called “Savior?” Because He’s rescuing. Luke 19:10 puts it this way, as Jesus is speaking, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus has come into the world to rescue man; He seeks and He saves; in that sense He would be the ultimate life preserver.
Now we have to ask a question: why is it that we need to be saved? If we do not understand why it is that we need to be saved then the gospel message is something that is nonsensical to us; the gospel makes no sense. I think it was Dwight Moody who said you’ve got to get a man lost before you get him saved. People have to see their need to reach out for a life preserver because they are drowning; if they don’t understand they are drowning there’s no incentive to reach out for the life preserver. And this is what I like the call the concept of the other side of the good news. There obviously must be something that we are being saved from, and because we hear so little preaching and teaching today in 21st century American Christianity about what we are being saved from, which I like to call the other side of the good news, the gospel remains a mystery to people. They see no need for the gospel.
Your average person today hears the gospel and they say well, I’m glad that works for you, I’m glad you’ve found enlightenment with you guru, but I’m happy with my life. After all, I’m successful, I’ve got 2.5 kids, my house is almost paid off, I’m admired in the community, I’m glad Jesus works for you, I’m glad you need Jesus but as for me and my house we have no need for this gospel. And the reason they think that way is they do not understand the other side of the good news.
Paul, here in verse 10, tells us the other side of the good news when he begins to talk about this reality of death. Notice again verse 10, “but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The ultimate benefit of the gospel, which is why Timothy should not shrink back from it, is it saves or it delivers from death.
Now we throw this word “death” around so frequently; we use it so frequently and there’s so little teaching on what death is most of us really don’t know exactly what it is we’re talking about. The penalty for sin is death! That was announced before the fall, in Genesis 2:16-17, it says, “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’”
Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The soul that sins shall surely die.” James 1:14-15 puts it this way, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is accomplished brings forth death.” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages,” now wage is a cost, “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Sin brought a wage; sin brought a consequence. Sin brought a price tag, if you will. The Bible is clear, Old Testament and New Testament, pre-fall and post-fall, that that consequence is a reality called “death.” That’s the wage, but what exactly is death? Simply put death is separation. If you were to look up the Greek word for death and the Hebrew word for death you would discover that the inherit idea of death is this idea of separation. And what came into the human race as a consequence of sin is death in three dimensions. There are three kinds of death that every single human being is beset by and the only escape from these three types of death is the gospel itself. Let’s go through these three kinds of death one by one, if we could.
Number 1, there is something called physical death. Now death is separation; when a person physically dies there is a separation between the material, that would be the body, and the immaterial, which I understand as either the soul or the spirit, I take those synonymously. There is a part of us that is designed to live forever called the soul or the psuchē, and then there is the physical body. When a person dies the two separate. That is when someone, theologically anyway, biblically anyway, is pronounced dead. This is something that happened to our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 27:50, it says this: “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up His Spirit.” After the transaction on the cross was completed there was a separation between the material and the immaterial. The body and the immaterial within Christ separated from one another.
The exact same thing happened to Stephen, the first martyr of the age of the church. Acts 7:59 says, “They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’” Within Stephen there was a separation between his body and the spirit or the soul.
And so this is what the Lord is saying after the fall; He is articulating the reality of physical death that would now come into the human race, Genesis 3:;19 says this: “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, until you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Because you have sinned against Me you are going back into the very dirt from which you came. And this is a reality that we call physical death. And as the curse was articulated men began to die.
Genesis 5:5 says “So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.” Genesis 5:8 says, “So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.” Genesis 5:11 says, “So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died.” Genesis 5:14 says, “So all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died.”
Verse 17 says, “So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years, and he died.” Genesis 5:20 says, “So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died.”
Genesis 5:27 says, “So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty nine years, and he died.”
Genesis 5:31 says, “So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years and he died.”
Now I’ve never been accused of being a genius or anything like that, but it seems to me there’s a pattern here. “He died,” and “he died,” and “he died,” what is being described here is the outworking of God’s pronouncement in Genesis 3:19: death came into the human race, human family, whatever name we might want to give it, it is the reality of physical death. The last time I checked the mortality rate is still 100%. If we are not the rapture generation we will go right back into the dirt from which we came as the material and the immaterial separate.
Now that’s only part of the equation; that would be bad enough, wouldn’t it. But there’s a second kind of death that we call spiritual death. Death is a separation and this type of death is speaking of a separation between a human being and the presence of God; a separation, if you will, between a human being and the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 59:1-2 puts it this way: “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have made a separation” see that word “separation,” “a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” It’s not that God can’t hear, it’s not that God can’t reach, but there is a gulf now between you and God because he is not present with you and this is a reality that we call spiritual death. We are born into the world subject to the law of physical death, which is inevitable; we are born into the world also spiritually dead, separated from God. That is our condition. You are born into the world and your eyesight works great, your hearing works great, your respiratory system works great, muscular system may be working great, cardiovascular system may be working great, you’re alive at the soul level. But you have no life of God in you at the spiritual level; you have no presence of the Holy Spirit within you. It’s not that you can’t be interested in the things of God or the things of the Spirit but you don’t have that capacity without the Spirit of God in a person. That is our condition.
Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” And if that weren’t bad enough, there’s a third form of death, and this is something called eternal death. Death is separation; so what, then, is eternal death? Eternal death is a separation of a person from the divine presence of God throughout eternity in a place of conscious torment. This is not something that I could have or a human being could have even made up it’s so horrific.
And yet the Bible tells us about this reality called eternal death over and over again. Revelation 2:11 says this: “‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’” The “second death,” what does that mean? One thing I love about the Scripture is the Scripture is its own best interpreter.
Later on in the same book, the book of Revelation, chapter 20, verses 14-15, it says this: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” The “lake of fire” therefore, is defined as “the second death.” This is our destiny without Christ. We enter into, ultimately, the lake of fire which is the second death.
Now how long does the lake of fire last for? I’m glad you asked. Revelation 14:11 puts it this way: “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark” of the beast. How long does this eternal death last? Well, as the name implies, it lasts forever. In fact, the Bible is so clear about this it doesn’t just say forever in Revelation 14:11, it says, “forever and ever.” The Greek word here, as I’ll explain in just a minute, is the Greek word aiōnios and it’s used not once but it’s used twice to make sure that we get the point.
Revelation 19:20 says this: “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.”
Revelation 20:10 says this: “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are….” Now when you study the chronology of the book of Revelation and you look at Revelation 19:20 and compare it to Revelation 20:10 you’ll see that there are a thousand years between those verses. What is happening here is the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire; a thousand years later Satan is thrown into the lake of fire and the Bible is very clear that the beast and the false prophet are still there. Once again it says, “where the beast and the false prophet are.” Now not if the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your house but when they come to your house they will try to convince you of this doctrine, if you get into a conversation with them, called annihilationism, which is this idea that the soul just sort of explodes or ceases to exist. And that’s about as bad as it can get for the unbeliever; sadly even angelic academics, like Clark Pinnock, are promoting within evangelical circles this doctrine of annihilation. And such a teaching, although it’s more comfortable to think about from the human point of view, is an idea that is foreign to the Scripture because the Bible is very clear that the beast and the false prophet are still there a thousand years later. They didn’t explode, they didn’t terminate, they did not cease to exist. They went into what the Scripture calls the second death. And then it says in Revelation 20:10, “…they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
You say well, you’re just trying to scare people. Listen, there’s something to be scared of! If it wasn’t in the Scripture and we weren’t warned about it… I think fear can be a very powerful motivator, to be honest with you. If you start throwing a wet blanket on this doctrine, the way Clark Pinnock and others are doing, and you destroy the whole impetus to get the gospel to the unsaved. If eternal death is really not that bad and eternal, then if someone dies without the gospel no big consequence.
But how different it is when the Scripture tells us about the reality of this eternal death. Notice “forever and ever,” that’s the word aiōnios, not used once but twice. It’s not just a subject found in the book of Revelation. You’ll find it in Matthew 25:46, it says, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Notice that “eternal,” the Greek word, aiōnios, is used to describe punishment, and then the word is used a second time to describe life. You ask your average Christian is eternal life forever, they would say yes. Well, then linguistically, because the exact same word is used to describe punishment, then hell itself is eternal. You cannot play this semantical game where part of it is eternal and the other part is not eternal; the laws of logic and language won’t allow that.
Beyond that, aiōnios is used to describe, not just life, not just punishment, but it’s also used to describe God. Romans 16:26 calls God the eternal God. [Romans 16:26, “but now is manifested and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God….”]
Do you believe God is forever? Yes, we believe that because the word aiōnios is used to describe God. Great, then so is life, that’s eternal as well because the same word is used to describe life in Matthew 25:46. Great; then so is punishment because the exact same word, aiōnios is used to describe not just God, not just life, but also eternal punishment.
The Old Testament gets into the act too. Daniel 12:2 puts it this way: “many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.” Don’t shut the verse off midway through; let the whole verse speak. Let God say what He wants to say through His inspired Word.
Is life eternal? Yes! Then so is contempt. Now here we’re dealing with the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible which was written primarily in Hebrew; the Greek word in the New Testament is aiōnios the Hebrew word in the Old Testament language is olam. Notice that olam is used to describe both life and then the word is re-used translated “everlasting” to describe contempt. Notice also in Psalm 90:2 that the identical word, olam, is used to describe God Himself. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” You say well, what is the Hebrew word translated “everlasting?” It’s olam, the exact same word that’s used to describe life, Daniel 12:2, the exact same word that’s used to describe contempt, Daniel 12:2.
If you believe God is forever and life is forever, and the word olam is used to describe all of these concepts, then punishment itself must be eternal as well. If aiōnios is used in the Greek New Testament to describe God and the same word is used to describe life, then basic laws of language demand that punishment itself must be eternal.
You see, what we are not understanding today in the 21st century is we are in a lot of trouble. Death has entered the picture at three levels, physical, as we have defined it, spiritual as we have defined it, and eternal as we have defined it. And only if these concepts and these doctrines are understood does the gospel even seem remotely desirable to us; otherwise we see no need for the gospel.
What does the gospel do for us? Verse 10 once again, “but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The gospel is your only ticket out is what Paul is saying. There is nothing else which can reverse this painful and difficult predicament that we are in, other than the gospel. The gospel is not an option, it’s the ONLY option.
What does the gospel do? And before we talk about what the gospel does, just a few verses on the nagging plague of death. Hebrews 9:27 says, “…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,  and He might free those who through fear” of death “were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Without the Bible the human race has no explanation for death; it is just something that is happening to us. We fear it because we really do not know, without the light of the Scripture, what happens on the other side. We just know that death is a reality and without the Bible we don’t know why it’s a reality, and what the solution is. And how important it is to have our minds enlightened and illuminated by the Word of God where we not only understand how it came into existence but how to get out of this problem.
This is why Timothy cannot shrink back in his deliverance of the gospel; this is why he cannot succumb to fear, because if the spokesman of God, who have the answers, succumb to fear what hope does the world have? The message, which is the only thing that can help people, simply cannot spread. The gospel, what it does in terms of abolishing death and bringing to life and all of these things spoken of in verse 10 is it reverses death itself.
It reverses death at all three levels. Number 1, it reverses physical death because although we are in bodies that will be subject to death, in the gospel you have the promise of a resurrection. The day will come where you will be placed in a body, which will still be you, I’ll be able to recognize you and you’ll be able to recognize me, but I’m going to look a lot better than I do now and you’re going to look a lot better, because you’ll be in a body where the very curse, “from dust you are, to dust you return,” which subjects us to the law of death is pulled out of that body. You cannot have this promise of the new body in any other source other than the gospel.
Beyond that the gospel itself reverses spiritual death, you remember how we defined spiritual death, it’s the separation of the human being from the Holy Spirit, we are born into this world spiritually dead but the conviction of God comes upon us, John 16:7-11, we believe the gospel, and then God does a miracle. [John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;  concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;  and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”]
The miracle, contrary to what you hear in Reformed circles, does not precede faith; there are no verses of Scripture that tell us that this miracle precedes faith, it comes as a result of faith. People confuse, constantly, the means with the benefit. The means is faith alone, in Christ alone. The benefit is the Spirit of God, which we do not have in us prior to faith, enters us. And that’s why Jesus, when He was speaking to Nicodemus, I like to call him “Nick at Night,” John 3, talks about the necessity of the new birth. “Do not marvel when I say to you,” Jesus says to Nicodemus, “that you must be born again.” [John 3:7] Notice the word “must.” It’s not a casual option. If you do not have faith in Christ you do not have the Spirit of Christ inside of you.
It doesn’t matter how faithful you are in church. It doesn’t matter what good deeds you have done. It doesn’t matter if the good is somehow going to outweigh the bad at the end. All of that is irrelevant. If you do not have Christ you do not have the Spirit of Christ; there is only one type of Christian and that is the born again Christian. I used to think well, there’s the Presbyterian Christians over there, there’s the Methodist Christians over there, there’s the Baptist Christians over there. Oh, and then there’s the born again Christians.
The fact of the matter is, if you’re not a born again Christian you’re not a Christian. Romans 8:9 says if you do not have the Spirit of Christ you do not have Christ. [Romans 8:9, “… But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”] The gospel, then, is the solution to this horrible reality called spiritual death.
And what about eternal death? If you find yourself “in Christ” all of the passages that relate to the second death or the eternal death are not applicable to you. You have no part whatsoever in the lake of fire. A little slogan that has helped me with this concept goes as follows, and it fits with this description as the lake of fire is the second death: If you’re born once you’ll die twice; if you’re born twice you’ll die once.”
If a person is born physically but they never trust in Christ, they never experience the new birth, then what is going to happen to them is they will physically die and they will go eventually into their ultimate destination, which is the Lake of Fire. Conversely if someone is born twice, they are born physically into the world, and there reaches a point in their life where they hear the gospel under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and they believe the gospel, and the Holy Spirit enters them, and they’re born twice, consequently then the worst possible thing that can happen to them is physical death.
In fact, we might not even have to face physical death if we are the rapture generation. If you are a Christian then the worst possibility is physical death. Paul had no fear of physical death. If you are afraid of dying as a Christian you are living beneath your privileges because Paul articulated so forcefully, “to be absent from the body is to be” what? “present with the Lord.” [2 Corinthians 5:8, “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”]
Paul, in fact, says I would rather die and go be with Christ, which is far better, but for your sake I will continue on in the body. [Philippians 1:23-24, “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;  yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”]
Do you see what the gospel does? Do you see how it reverses this predicament that we are in? 1 Corinthians 15:26 of the gospel says this: “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” God, who understands the predicament that we are in, better than anybody given His omniscience, has provided the solution. Then end game of everything God is doing is to abolish, to get rid of death, which entered the picture in Genesis 3. 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 says this: “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.  “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;  but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”]
And in fact, when God redoes the universe as he puts an end to the physical world that we are in by fire and brings forth a new heavens and new earth, there are many things that we experience today that will be absent in the new heavens and the new earth. One of those things is death.
Revelation 21:4 says, “’and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, orc crying, or pain; the first order of things has passed away.” That’s what Hebrews 2:14-15 is getting at when it says, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him to had the power of death, that is, the devil,  and might free” in other words, liberate, “might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
I want you to understand that when Paul is talking about these things he is not pontificating from the ivory tower. This is not a theological lesson for Paul. How do I know that? Because 2 Timothy 4:6 says this: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” Paul talked about how the gospel conquers death because he was looking death right in the face. There wasn’t any hope this time around of a release from prison. His martyrdom was imminent. He’s not goofing around or playing games, he never does that anyway, but certainly not at this stage in life. And he could articulate so clearly what the gospel does, and why Timothy should not shrink back from the gospel. It is the only ticket out, is what he’s saying. I’m about to ready to leave, Paul says, through martyrdom; my only hope is the gospel and God forbid, Timothy, if you are to shrink back from this message you are depriving people of the only message they can possibly hear that will help them with their condition. Only the gospel can reverse physical, spiritual and eternal death, which makes the sharing of the gospel today very easy, doesn’t it.
Since we know the problem, as the Bible has described it, what is the solution? The solution is what it’s always been for the last 6,000 of human history, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden. The only solution is the gospel, where an innocent scapegoat is punished in the place of the guilty. We call it the gospel because Jesus did it all. We simply receive it by way of faith. God is not going to force it on you. He will put you under conviction, He will make you uncomfortable, He will help you see your need for it, but you have to do something and the human mind, if left to its own devices wants to do works. God says you can’t get it that way. You can only get it by way of faith, which is the single condition for salvation.
Another way of saying faith is trust, reliance, or dependence. It’s not something you walk an aisle to do, raise a hand to do, join a church to do, it’s a personal moment between you and the Lord where the Spirit convicts you of your need for this gospel and you respond the best way you know how in the privacy of your own mind, thoughts and heart you receive this gift, you do it by way of faith. You place your confidence in the promises of Christ and Christ alone for your eternity. You place your confidence not in yourself, not in your denomination, not in your religiosity, not in your ritual, but in Christ and Christ alone for your eternity.
If that is something you have done in your life or it’s something you’re doing now as I speak you have just altered everything; your whole eternal destiny has been altered. The three deaths are reversed in your life. It really is the most critical decision a human being has to make. And it’s almost as if God gives us just enough time where He allows men and women to make this decision to believe. You don’t walk an aisle to receive it, you don’t raise a hand to receive it, you don’t try to do better through good intentions to receive it, you don’t give money to receive it, but you simply receive it by way of faith, which is trust, reliance, or confidence.
What a tragedy it would be for someone to sit here as I am speaking and hear about these three forms of death and leave this room without this situation resolved. The three levels of death are a reality but they are not an inevitability if we respond to the gospel. I hope and pray that you’ll do that. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, we remain grateful for verse 9 and verse 10 and what the gospel does for us, what the gospel says to us. Help us to be a people that believe the gospel; help us to see it for what it is, and give us the boldness and courage this week, Father, we pray to share this good news, the only news that can help somebody, someone we don’t know this week. We ask that you will bless our fellowship time that follows, we thank You for the meal and the provision and we’re grateful for the hands that prepared it. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said….