I want to look at only a few of the aspects of this verse. I want to keep it simple, as I did when I presented it on campus. I tried to keep this lesson at around thirty minutes.
God saved us: The question that I had when I read this is, "Saved us from what?" Now the obvious answer is that God saved us from our sin. So, what does that look like. There seems to be a practical aspect and a more abstract "end times" aspect.
- God has saved us from our sins, from our sinful existence. Light is shed on this verse when we consider Titus 3.3 and how once we we foolish, disobedient, deceived, we were enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures (addiction), living in malice and envy, being hated and hating others. God has saved us from that.
- God has saved us from his wrath: Romans 5.9 reveals that as we are justified by Jesus' blood (that is, declared "not guilty" before God), we are saved from his wrath. as we continue on in this chapter (Romans 5) we see that the first sin brings condemnation (thus God's wrath).
God's grace was given in Christ - nothing new hear, many of us have memorized Eph. 2.8-9. What is grace? It is the gift of salvation that God gives to us when we turn to Christ in faith. It includes His presence and power (through the presence of the Holy Spirit).
Before the beginning of time? Interesting thought that God's grace was given before the beginning of time. Does that imply that God knew in advance that he would need to display his grace in the death of his Son? Or is just the matter of creation a manifestation of his grace? I lean toward the latter. Two weeks ago I discussed creation being created "in Christ." That implies that at one time, creation was in sync with God. And of course, we acknowledge that the first sin seriously impacted everything, including the need to send his Son to reconcile all things to himself. His grace is revealed in the incarnation. We see some thoughts of Paul on the foreknowledge and plan of God in Rom. 8.28-30 as well as Titus 1.2.
Jesus has destroyed death - This is referring to the second death which is eternal separation from God. This is shown in 1 Cor. 15.54-55, where the resurrection of Christ provide us with the template for our new, imperishable bodies at Christ's return. We also see this in Rev. 20.6 (the second death has no power over those who have experienced the first resurrection (as well as the second resurrection).
Brought life - Our relationship has brought new life (as see above). This is also displayed in Paul's thoughts on our being a "new creation" in Christ.
And immortality - of course we can appeal to John 3.16.
Therefore, the gospel here in this passage is that God saved us, called us to new life. The means of this salvation and calling is his grace which was in the beginning and was revealed in the incarnation. It results in our immortality.