OK, well, we are in round eight of 20 days in 2 Timothy, and we’re wrapping up a major section in Chapter two, beginning in verse 11. So if you haven’t yet, let’s take a couple of deep breaths in through your nose out through your mouth. Lowers your heart rate, helps your mind focus, lets pray a bit internally, ask God to help us, and then let’s jump in to 2 Timothy chapter two, beginning in verse 11. Says this. The saying is trustworthy. For if we have died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. If we are faithless, he remains faithful. For he cannot deny himself.
Now, if you recall, we’re in the section in Chapter two, where Paul is encouraging Timothy. It’s the pump up speech to stay involved in a difficult day. Don’t lose your grip on the eternal truths of God because Jesus Christ blazed a trail. He wins. And those of us who are with him, we win too. Our labors are not in vain. They will accomplish God’s purposes. He will save those he calls to himself, and he will use us to call others to himself. We are a part of a game that can’t lose. And then to end this kind of comforting section, Paul tells Timothy this little poem that’s meant to be an encouragement. But let’s walk through it because I imagine some of it was probably encouraging and some of it maybe scared you to death. So let’s take it frame by frame.
He says the saying is trustworthy. If we’ve died with him, we will live with him. And the hymn there’s Jesus. And he’s talking about your conversion. He’s using the same language from Romans Chapter six, where Paul says in verse eight, If we’ve died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. He’s talking about our association with Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection by faith. When I trust him, my sin in the old man, the Bible says all that I was apart from God’s grace, is buried in the dirt and I rise to walk in a newness of life. And he’s comforting him with that. If you’ve put your faith in Christ, you died with him. You’ll live with him. That’s what baptism pictures. Be comforted by that. If you put your faith in Jesus, you’re alive. And he says, and if we endure, we will also reign with him. That’s talking about perseverance. That the saints will suffer in this life. That’s what Jesus said. In this world, you will have much trouble. But take heart because I’ve overcome the world. Now, does that endure to add to our salvation? No, but it is an evidence of our salvation. It’s how do you know you really have committed your life to Christ and that he has taken hold of you? Is that you stay even when it’s hard? That’s what John talked about in 1 John. He says there was a part of their community that left us. And he said they left us because they were never really of us. If they were of us, they would have remained with us.
But by leaving us, it was shown they weren’t of us. What he means is one of the ways you know that you really belong to Jesus is you stay even when it’s hard. He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it. So it’s the work of God’s grace. But those who have been saved, justified by grace, will endured, be sanctified by that same grace, all the way until he takes us home. So it’s all of the grace of God. But one of the evidences you know you’re his is you endure. That’s what he’s saying here. If you’ve died with Christ, you live with him, you’re alive and you’ll endure hardship and you will reign with him. Meaning when he reigns in heaven, you will too. It’s a fascinating statement what he says there. That’s not just that we get to be in heaven. We will reign with him. We will be co heirs along with Christ. That’s a fascinating thought.
But then he flips the corner and says, but if we deny him, he will deny us. If I deny the identity of Jesus Christ and the nature of his work, then he will honor that and deny me in the eternal state. But then, he says, but if we’re faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself. Now that last part is what stresses out a lot of people because if we deny him, he denies us. But if we’re faithless, he stays faithful. And so the million dollar question is what’s the difference between denial and effortlessness because they sound like synonyms? But one of them ends with God continuing to be faithful because he cannot deny himself and the other ends with depart from me because I don’t know you. So we really need to figure out which is it.
Well, how do you really know? I think about the night Jesus was betrayed. Then in that moment, in the garden of Gethsemane, when he was betrayed and ultimately crucified, two men went running off into the dark. Judas, who had betrayed him, and Peter, who denied him three times. Right? And so in that moment, if we saw those men both deny Jesus run away and I was to ask you which one’s, the real believer you would say, I don’t know neither of them? They’re both leaving him. And yet, the text tells us that Judas, Satan had entered him. That he was in the community of Jesus, but never really believed in him. But Peter, what’s the difference? Was it that Peter got his act together? No, Jesus told him, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat. But I prayed for you. And when you return, you’ll strengthen your brothers. And Peter denied Jesus. But what happened? He ran away and he cried. It broke his heart. And then did he get his life back together? No. Jesus went to get him and stood on that beach and said, you’re not having much luck catching fish, are you? John 21, had them bring in a miraculous catch and then called Peter to that fire, cooked him breakfast and restored him to ministry.
How do you know you’re really his? Because when you put your faith in him, he who began that good work will complete it.
He won’t let a Peter run off. He will run out to get you right. So we don’t earn any part of our salvation. So what’s the difference here? What we’re talking about is when you put your faith in Christ, there may be moments of faithlessness. Moments where you violate your own integrity. Moments where you make a mess of things. But how do you know you’re his? Is that you find your way back by his grace. He comes to the beach to get you right.
Denying him means I don’t believe Jesus is the son of God. I don’t believe his death on the cross was efficacious for my salvation. I don’t believe in him. And if you don’t believe in him, you’re not his. But if you’re his and you struggle, you have moments where you violate all your integrity, even when you’re faithless, he remains faithful. The only way to tell in a moment for any of us is over time. What do I see happen. All of us in a moment, will have moments of deep failure. And yet if you look at your life over time, you will see the Christian stumbles forward. We make a mess.
But how do we know where his? Because we continue to endure. We just keep showing up, and he never gives up on us. He keeps coming to the beach to dust us off and keep us moving. It’s the grace of God from beginning to end because it’s part of his nature. He cannot deny himself.
And so Paul is comforting Timothy with these words. Timothy, do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe in what he accomplished on the cross did something for you? OK, then he who began that good work will be faithful to complete it. And as you endure, Timothy, you have the confidence of knowing that you’ll be his. There’ll be people who deny him, Timothy. Don’t lose a lot of sleep over those people that do that. Pray for them. We’ll find out later how to deal with them. But hey, Timothy, you just stay on this path. And even when you struggle, don’t despair. Because in your moments of faithlessness, he remains faithful. So be encouraged by it. Keep moving, Timothy, because our work is not in vain. Jesus will build his church, and he’s inviting us to be a part of it. So be encouraged church. Pray over this. Do you know him? Have you put your faith in Jesus? And if you have, do you see his work in his life to endure, to pick you up and dust you off? Thank him for how he helps his saints move through the difficulties of life and the promise he gives us that will make it safely home. I’m praying for you. I’ll see you next time.
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