The Ultimate Gift: Jesus

Today we celebrate the truth of the glory of our Savior who came into the world. It was prophesied that He would come even back in the Garden of Eden after sin entered our world. He would come and bring salvation to the lost, life to the dead, joy to a people. There was a point in time when He came, and we know He came not as a mighty ruler, or a king in all His glory, but He came as a baby, born of a virgin. We celebrate Him today.

As most of you know, we preach through books of the Bible, but normally on a special day like today, like Christmas, we will take a break from our normal journey through a book and preach from a passage that more reflects the day. However, by God’s providence, right where we are on our way through 2 Timothy, the passage is about Christmas, it is about the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ on this earth. So today, we will stay in 2 Timothy 1 and look at verse 10 together. We left off at verse 9 last week. Let me read beginning back in verse 8 and go through verse 14, but take special note of verse 10 which speaks of Christmas, or Christ’s coming.

8 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, 9 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, 10 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, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:8-14)

All of God’s plans as we know them in the Bible succeed or fail according to what happens with Jesus Christ. Everything hinges on the coming, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Bible is full of many, many details. It tells of details about the creation of the world, about people both sinners and saints, it tells of events, great miraculous events – a man swallowed by a fish and surviving, the Red Sea parted, a donkey who spoke, fire from heaven, and so much more. The details of the Bible include events that happen in heaven, it tells us of a terrible place called hell. We learn about angels and demons. In the Bible we read about how we should live in this life for God, how to respond to other people who sin against us and how to respond to our own sin, actions against a holy God. We are told how to be saved and what it means to enter into eternal life, how to have joy and peace and be in the favor of God forever. We are even told how it all ends. People are obsessed today with how this will all end, apocalyptic movies seem to dominate the theaters; we know how it ends, God even gives us some details about the end. There are many themes that run through the pages of God’s Word to us.

But none of it matters, none of it means anything apart from the primary message of the Bible, which is this: Jesus came, lived, was crucified, and rose again. It all falls apart except for that.

How many of you have made plans to do something and they fall apart? Have you made plans and the plans didn’t work out? Of course we have. Or you make plans, and all along the way you just have this feeling that something will happen to thwart your plans. For all of you adults, is your life today exactly what you thought it would be 5, 10, 15 years ago? Probably not. We can plan, but Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

This is how it is for us. We may plan but there is one who either establishes our plans and they come to pass or inserts His plan and establishes it, makes it happen. We are subject in all things to God who has plans and whose plans always come to pass.

Christmas, the birth of Jesus, is God’s plan coming to fruition. Jesus entered our world as a baby to rescue sinners, giving Himself as a sacrifice for sin to make it possible that people can have a new life, an incredible future, that we can have peace and live in God’s loving favor forever.

In our passage for today, Paul has been talking about how Christians should not be afraid or ashamed of the gospel of Jesus and how God saved us to a holy calling, saved us to be His children. He saved us not because we earned it or because we are good enough or because we are better than anyone else, but saved us according to His wisdom, for His purpose. He saved us by His grace, meaning because of His goodness directed toward us.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

But none of this would happen except for verse 10 in 2 Timothy 1: “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,”

The plan of God was made known, manifested, actually came to really happen through the appearing of Jesus. When Jesus came on the scene the reality of the plan of God became visible and known. The key detail of God’s plan was in place. Jesus entered our world.

Sometimes we get frustrated, or I should say I do, because my plans don’t work out. That is a part of living, not the frustration part, we don’t have to be frustrated, I mean our plans not working out is a part of living. But aren’t you glad that no one can thwart God’s plans? Job said it this way in Job 42:2 – “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Aren’t you glad that we don’t have to wonder if God’s plans, His will will actually work out or not? As sure as Christ entered the world, He will accomplish all of His future plans as well.

There are three things we’re going to see from this verse in 2 Timothy:
1. Christ appeared
2. Christ abolished death
3. Christ brought life and immortality

An angel appeared to shepherds to announce to them that Jesus had appeared, appeared as a baby born to Mary.

9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:9-14)

God’s plan was being fulfilled in the appearing of Jesus. No could stop this event, though some tried. Herod went to great lengths to stop the Christ from living as he ordered all boy children to be killed, thinking that Jesus would be included in the terrible barbaric deaths. But of course God would not allow it. Satan tried to stop Jesus as an adult by leading Him astray in the wilderness, but God would not have it. The religious leaders of the day tried to stop Jesus by killing Him, but God used their evil for good as Jesus became the sacrificial lamb on the cross at Calvary. Jesus appeared just as it was planned.

The appearing of Jesus meant that death would be abolished. What does this mean? What does it meant that death be abolished through Jesus? Well, abolished here literally means to render inoperative. Death still exists. People still die, we know that. What this means is that death for the follower of Jesus is no longer a threat. Death is no longer an enemy, it is not the end. This is the way it has been abolished.

Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” One thing that is interesting about this well-known verse is that death is described as eternal life. Death is described as life. Have you ever thought of that? Death is not to be dreaded for the Christian, it is not an end, it is not a terrible end, but it is a grand beginning.

Paul said it this way, speaking of death for the Christian:

54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

What for most people is a tragic event, for the Christian is a wonderful exchange. Mortal life on this earth for immortality with Jesus in perfection forever. Victory has swallowed up death, and death no longer carries with it the sting of never ending pain and suffering. Death opens a door, opens a door of unimaginable joy, death leads us into the presence of Christ. This is the sense in which death has been abolished through Jesus.

Apart from Jesus we could not say these things, apart from Jesus we would be left to ourselves, apart from Jesus we would be dead in our sins, hopeless in this world, and living in dread of the end of this life which would lead to eternal suffering.

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (Hebrews 2:14)

Satan no longer has the power of death over us. Christ has abolished such power and has left us with the joy of our future eternal life.

There is more. There is more to the work of Christ in us. He appeared to us, born as a baby, He has abolished death, and Christ brought life and immortality. Our Savior Christ Jesus has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

The abolishing of death makes life sweeter not just in the future, but even now. Living no longer has to be simply a waiting for something terrible ahead. No, we are free to live life now in joy knowing that it only gets better. Life has in essence now been revealed, it can be rich and full and filled with hope. It can be lived in anticipation of great things to come. That is the gospel message, Christ has come and so life can be rich, not in money but in essence.

This is God’s revelation to us. All of this is because Christ appeared. But none of it has come apart from great sacrifice.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)

Jesus did not just appear as a baby, but died cruelly for our sins. Our salvation came at great cost to Jesus and to the Father who offered Him to be crucified. What does this all mean? It means that they both loved us dearly and their expressions of love cost them dearly. But in it all we are assured that their love will not fade, will not falter, will never end.

This Christmas we can remember that Jesus appeared, yes as a baby, but we can also remember that He is coming back for us. God doesn’t leave things undone, He finishes all His work and He will finally redeem us, His children, too.

What does the gift of Christ include?

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:1-8)

For the believer, hope of eternal life with Christ, for the unbeliever, a second death in a real place called hell, the lake that burns with fire.

Where will you be? What will you choose? Have you embraced Christ Jesus, the one who came, or will you reject Him as your Lord and Savior? Today, I urge you, turn to Him and receive Him as your savior, receive Him who has appeared, who has abolished death, who gives life eternal.

If you need help understanding better what Christ has done for sinners, I want to encourage you to ask someone around you this morning. Make this season the best ever by receiving not simple gifts from people around you, but the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ.

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 (2 Timothy 1:10)