Immediately upon reading the above title, many will have thought that we were to show how the gospel can be presented in just five of the sixty seconds that make up one minute. The seconds we are considering are those that come after the first in order, place, rank, time or quality. Please give consideration to the following seconds.
The gospel is contained in the second law God gave. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Heb. 8:7-8). The old Law of Moses was the first covenant whereas the gospel of Christ is the second. This was not some new thing to those in the beginning days of Christianity, for God had prophesied such through the prophet Jeremiah. Following the above verses from the book of Hebrews, the writer quoted from the prophet Jeremiah saying, “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…” (Heb. 8:8-13; Jer. 31:31-34). All those sacrifices under that first covenant lacked the ability to actually provide salvation. The great sin offering offered once a year by the high priest in the most holy place failed to remove sin (Heb. 9:7-9). The Hebrew writer said, “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:3-4). Those living under that first covenant looked to the future coming of the Messiah, who would bring the message that must be obeyed and ultimately, salvation (Acts 3:22-23; Deut. 18:18-19; John 1:41; 4:25). Jesus was that Messiah that made possible eternal redemption, not only for the present and the future, but for those under the first covenant as well (Heb. 9:11-12, 15). Thus, it is to the second law given by God that we must go to find eternal life. It contains all that God requires of man to reach heaven (Rom. 1:16-17).
The gospel commands a second birth. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Every man or woman to live since Adam and Eve have been born of a woman. That birth is a physical birth and can only be accomplished once. Nicodemus questioned, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4). Jesus clearly showed Nicodemus and all who would read these words that the second birth He was speaking of is a spiritual birth, not a physical one. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). This new birth takes place at the point of obedience to the gospel commands concerning being made free from sin. Paul wrote of being baptized into Christ as it is compared to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Himself (Rom. 6:3-5). He then wrote, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:6-7). Paul also wrote, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…” (II Cor. 5:17).
The gospel promises a second coming. As Jesus ascended into heaven, the two angels told the disciples that he “will come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The Hebrew writer said that he shall “appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28). When He comes again, we shall “all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10). Jesus came the first time as the Saviour, He will come the second time as the judge (Acts 17:31; II Thess. 1:7-9; II Tim. 4:1).
The gospel warns of a second death. John wrote, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Rev. 20:12, 14). He refers to it later as “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8). Hell awaits those who do not go to the second law and obey the commands found therein, being born a second time, then to continue following that gospel until they stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Consider briefly one last “second”. None can live perfectly, never to sin again (John 1:8, 10). Thus, what is sometimes called God’s second law of pardon. The child of God has only to repent of their sins, confess their sins and ask God to forgive them and God will do so (Acts 8:22; I John 1:9). God does give second chances!
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to [email protected]