God’s Military Campaign Against Death

Death is one of the greatest enemies of mankind. Throughout Scripture it is personified as an unstoppable power and force before which all mankind must eventually bow. I was struck this morning by this text in 1 Timothy that puts a fresh spin on why the gospel is good news. According to Paul, the appearing of our Savior “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10). The gospel is the message about how God the Warrior campaigns against death our great enemy. It is through the gospel—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the God-man—that death is put to death. Death is abolished, rendered powerless, and brought to nothing through the work of Jesus. How was such a great conqueror brought to his knees by the Nazarene? Jesus took death head on and was swallowed whole by it in order to destroy it from the inside out. Death thought it could hold Jesus and therefore swallowed him greedily like any other man. But death could not hold this man. Death imploded when the God-man sat up in the tomb. Death was rendered powerless and conquered when Jesus unwrapped his burial garments and stood victorious over the empty tomb. Like the whale that swallowed Jonah could not keep him in his belly so the grave forced by the omnipotent hand of God had to spew forth the Son of God. The consequence of the death and resurrection of Christ was the gift of life and immortality. Not only was death destroyed but the gift of immunity from death was granted. Immortality is something that belongs to God alone. The gospel brings with it the gift of an indestructible, incorruptible, and enduring life. The quality of the Triune life marked by freedom from death is graciously extended to mortal human beings through the gospel. The good news here is that God has waged war on death and he has defeated it in order to give us a life free from its dominion.

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