And [God’s purpose and grace] 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. (ESV)
Manifested Glory and Grace
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14 KJV)If God’s purpose is to bring glory to Himself, how was that done through Jesus? We can start before the foundation of the world but that has already been covered. So, how about His birth? We could point to the prophecies of the Old Testament that predicted the exact time of His arrival. That brings glory to God, as He is the only one able to orchestrate all of history to bring Jesus at the exact right time. Or we could read the Christmas story in Luke 1 and 2. It is summed up when the angels appeared to the shepherds.
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:32 KJV)
At Jesus’ presentation at the temple, Simeon stated that Jesus was God’s glory for Israel. Israel had fallen to the notion that they were the only people that God loved. They didn’t realize that their true purpose on earth was to bring glory to God by being the vessel by which Jesus would come and save all people including the Gentiles.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4 KJV)
The work that Jesus did before His crucifixion brought glory to God. Every time Jesus healed someone, God received the glory. Each time He taught with authority He brought Glory to God. Each time He confronted the distortions that the religious leaders introduced, He brought glory to God. When the crowds were amazed by Him or when He escaped their clutches before His time, He brought glory to God. When He had testified about the kingdom of God, revealed Himself to the disciples, and was ready to go to the cross, He had completed the first part of His mission to glorify God. All that was left was to pay for our sins on the cross.
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Eph 1:12 KJV)
When we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, it brings glory to God through Jesus. We’ve talked a lot about election so how does the moment we trust in Jesus for salvation bring glory to God? It confirms that God’s choice is correct. Anytime we do His will or acknowledge that He is in control, it glorifies God. Since there would be no salvation without Jesus, the glory belongs to God through Jesus.
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (KJV Phil 1:11)
When we live godly lives by the power of Jesus Christ living in us, we bring glory to God. Again, God is glorified though Jesus because Jesus is living in us. Without Jesus living in us, our fruit is spoiled. It can’t result in righteousness. But Jesus is the vine and we the branches; therefore the glory belongs to God, through Jesus.
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:11 KJV)
There will be a day in the future when everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. They may not know Him as their Savior, but they will know the truth. In the same way that we glorify God when we accept Jesus as Lord, those who oppose Him are demonstrating that His election was correct. Still, in eternity, before the great white judgment throne, they will kneel and admit that Jesus is Lord. It will be too late for their salvation. On the other hand, there will be unknown multitudes who have already bowed their knees to Jesus in this life.
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Heb 1:3 KJV)
Before His incarnation, Jesus represented the Glory of God. He gave that up for a little while to take upon Himself our sins. By providing purification for our sins, He regained that same glory with the Father (John 17:5, Phil 2:7).
Some have a hard time understanding how Jesus has abolished death. They look around at this sinful, decaying world and wonder how death has been eliminated. Even Christians die. The only way to understand is to go back and see when death was first mentioned.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. (Gen 2:17 NKJV)
In a perfect world, Adam and Eve may not have understood what death meant. After they disobeyed, their bodies didn’t die immediately. Since God doesn’t lie, the understanding of death and its abolishment must be taken in a different light. The first thing that happened is that they were ashamed of their own bodies. They recognized their nakedness. Then they tried to hide from God. Finally, God pronounced judgment upon them and all the earth because of their sin. They were sentenced to pain in childbirth, toiling for food, and relationship problems (Gen 3:1-19), finally they experienced physical death many years later.
Death of Innocence
If I understand death from this, it is first of all, death of innocence. Adam and Eve knew only goodness and holiness. Their death of innocence was and knowledge of sin or guilt was demonstrated by being aware of their nakedness. They tried to cover up based on their own works.
This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. (Heb 9:9 NIV)
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Heb 9:14 NIV)
The problem with any religious system, even the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Law, is that it can never ease our guilty conscience. In fact the Law served to convict of sin. Jesus abolished this aspect of death when he sacrificed Himself. As hard as it is for many to believe, the vilest criminal or saint with an occasional slip can have a clear conscience when they trust the blood of Jesus to save them and give them a clear conscience. Once we confess our sins and believe that Jesus has cleansed us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), we can move on. Otherwise, it is like death in our lives to live with guilt.
I’ve talked with many who have sinned and it keeps dragging them down. Most people have no problem accepting God’s cleansing when they come to Christ. However it seems harder to get over committing sin during their Christian life. They feel unworthy to serve the Lord. This is especially true of those who have had or participated in abortions or committed adultery. They can’t seem to shake the guilt.
… I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:34 KJV)
They know 1 John 1:9 and Jer 31:34 but still feel guilty. There are several reasons they still have guilt after confessing their sin and abandoning their sinful ways. Unbelief is the first. They have read God’s word but simply have not believed that God could forgive them. In the deepest recesses of their hearts they are still seeking to please God by their own works. They believe they need to do something or suffer to earn forgiveness. But, as the Word points out, that is impossible. In a sense, they have elevated themselves above God when they don’t believe. They think they know better. This too is sin and must be addressed.
Another reason for guilt is a really poor teaching that has crept into the church through popular psychology. That is the notion that we must forgive ourselves. There isn’t one shred of biblical evidence that says we must forgive ourselves. We are commanded to forgive others when they wrong us and we are to forgive them as well (Matt 6:14-15, Eph 4:32), but nothing says we need to forgive ourselves. To get rid of a guilty conscience requires God’s forgiveness, which we already have. You can believe that you need to forgive yourself all you want, but it is the wrong direction and contrary to God’s word, so it is no wonder that people say they just can’t forgive themselves!
But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Cor 2:10-11 NASU)
If we know and believe God has forgiven us and we have done what we can to obtain forgiveness from those who have wronged us why do we still feel guilty? The only other answer is that Satan is messing with our minds. Who else would want us to think that we still need to forgive ourselves? Who else would want us to wallow in self-pity and defeat so that we are ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus Christ? Keeping us feeling guilty is just one more of his schemes.
As a side note, I’ve written a small booklet about battling Satan (Battling Satan with the Armor of God). You can find it on Amazon.com (follow this link). It is available in print and as an eBook. One aspect of the book deals with Satan’s ability to implant suggestions in our minds. Most Christians deny he has the ability to do this, but before you dismiss the possibility, you should read my analysis of Scripture and also consider this recent news article which reports that scientist at the University of Washington have been able to transmit signals from one person’s brain to another so that the second person’s fingers pressed keys on a keyboard (http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021706478_mindmeldxml.html). If mankind is able to achieve this, what do you think Satan has been doing for millennia?
If you know you are child of the One True King, then the next time you are being harassed over a past sin for which you’ve repented and confessed, tell Satan where to go. Praise Jesus and thank Him for the righteousness you have because He has cleansed you. Satan will flee and you will find release in Jesus.
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. (Eph 2:1, 3 NLT)
Adam and Eve experienced spiritual death. It was marked by their desire to hide from God. They are different from us in that they once had close fellowship with God, and then it was removed. We never had close fellowship with God until we were saved. They were created in a state of spiritual life but we were born in a state of spiritual death and darkness.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24 RSV)
Instead of eternal death, anyone who believes in Jesus is transferred from that state of spiritual death to eternal life. This happens in an instant when we believe. Just as Adam and Eve died spiritually in an instant, we come alive in an instant. I can remember when that happened. One moment I was a skeptic and the next I believed. Just as Adam and Eve recognized that they were naked, I recognized that something had changed in me. Instead of dragging a dead spirit around for many years, my spirit was made alive and by the power of the Holy Spirit, He carries me.
Please note that along with spiritual life come the promise that there is no judgment. That judgment is also called the second death. We’ll discuss that shortly.
Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable… But when … 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 … but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:50, 54-57 NASB)
Adam and Eve finally experienced physical death. Were they afraid when it came? It’s hard to tell since they had known God before their fall. However, people today usually fear death. Most will do almost anything to avoid it. Some Christians when confronted with an incurable cancer will go to extreme lengths of medication or naturopathic treatment to extend their lives a few months. It should not be so! I underline extreme to make sure that you don’t think we should give up and not make any effort to continue our lives for that would not be scriptural either (Phil 1:21-22).
Until Jesus returns, death is our entrance into heaven. Our physical bodies can’t live in heaven. Paul is clear about this. We have to pass through death to put on an immortal, imperishable body that can live in the presence of a holy and pure God. Sure, Paul says some will be changed in the twinkling of an eye when Jesus returns (1 Cor 15:51), but that is for a very small minority who will be alive when He comes back.
The problem with fearing death is sin. Sinners who have not repented should have a horrible fear of death. It means the end of a wonderful life on earth where they were able to do what they wanted and the beginning of an eternity of punishment in hell. Christians who fear death are sinning in unbelief. They are still putting something in this world at a higher value than the path chosen for them by the Lord.
Since Jesus conquered the grave when He was raised from the dead, He has proven that He has also conquered sin. If He had any sin, He would still be dead as the punishment for sin. However His resurrection proves that everything He said about Himself – being God, having authority to forgive sin, and believing in Him will give us eternal life – is true. He has abolished death because He will raise us up with Him at the last trumpet (1 Cor 15:52, 1 Thess 4:16). We should have no fear of death because we have the same victory over death through Jesus.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:14-15 KJV)
Hell in this verse is literally hades, the place of departed souls as opposed to geena, which is used to describe the place of eternal punishment. Both are translated as hell in the King James. Because Jesus has abolished death the place of departed souls is no longer hades for anyone who belongs to Him. Instead, when we die we will be with Christ (Phil 1:23).
Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (Rev 20:6 ESV)
Since we share in the resurrection of Jesus and our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, we are not among those who are in hades waiting for the judgment. All these have died a physical death and will suffer a second death when they are judged and thrown into the lake of fire which will be their final habitation for eternity. That is hell.
Life and Immortality
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NIV)
We are immortal beings. Some will live forever in hell and others will live forever in heaven with Jesus. Jesus brought this to light in The Gospel when He explained it to Martha. He confirmed that most of us will die physically, but that isn’t the end of life. We will continue on and never die. Death has the double meaning of eternal punishment as well as physical death. So anyone who believes in Jesus will not suffer eternal punishment. How could it be any clearer?
The only caution I might add is to understand what believing in Jesus really means. It means that we have to believe everything said about Jesus in the Bible is true. We can’t believe He is a good teacher but not believe He is God in the flesh. We can’t believe there are many ways to heaven, but must believe He is the only way. We can’t believe that we will be saved by His blood and not repent of our sins and obey Him. We can’t say Jesus is our Lord and do whatever we want.
Do you know for sure you have eternal life with Jesus? If you don’t, you can believe in Jesus and repent today.