Theme: Jesus Ever Faithful
In this week’s lessons Paul continues to encourage Timothy in his Christian life and ministry.
Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:1-3
In the midst of whatever hardship you are facing, don’t have the attitude that says, “Oh, I have years and years to go, how will I ever endure to the end?” Instead, consider your situation and conclude, “Things might be hard now, but it will not last forever. Indeed, these difficulties are going to last a short time compared with eternity. How can I endure and therefore make these hard days count?” Look ahead to the end of all these things and to the return of Jesus Christ.
I want to suggest one last thing to you as a conclusion. It comes from the second half of verse 12 and verse 13: “If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” How should we understand this? Well the first part about our disowning Christ and he, in turn, disowning us, reminds us of something Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Those who disown Jesus do not belong to him, and therefore, they should not expect to be received by Jesus. We can easily understand how these two parts fit together.
But what about verse 13, where we read that even if we are faithless Jesus will nevertheless remain faithful? Some people look at that and think that even if we are faithless we will still be saved because of Jesus’ faithfulness toward us. Now certainly Christians are not always faithful, and yet in his grace Christ is faithful in his promises to us. However, I don’t think that is what Paul is saying. The reason is because of the parallelism. The idea of disowning Christ and being faithless are parallel to each other, and it cannot be that Christ is both disowning and faithful at the same time. That would be a contradiction.
But I think the difficulty is cleared up if we say that God is faithful in different ways. We are faithful to him when we own him by going in his way. When we do that, he is faithful in giving us his blessing, which we have seen in the three examples of the soldier, athlete, and farmer. But if we do not go his way, if we are faithless, if we shrink from the toil, then he is still faithful but he is faithful in quite a different way. In this case he will be faithful to his judgments. We most certainly won’t enter into blessings of laboring in God’s work and sharing in the labor of others who have gone before; nor will we be owned by Jesus Christ if we deny him.
The point I am simply making is that this is God’s world and not our world. Since God has established the laws by which we are to operate, there are two directions we can take. We can live in accordance with the laws of God and experience his blessing. Or we can live in opposition to the laws of God and suffer the consequences. The way to receiving praise from our commanding officer is through service. The way of achievement in the Christian life is through discipline. The way to fruit from our labors is through toil. This is what God has ordained. He has ordained the fruit but he has also ordained the means by which that fruit will come. So let us be strong and faithful to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Read Timothy 2:12b-13 again. How has verse 13 been misunderstood?
How does Dr. Boice explain the meaning of this passage?
Prayer: Ask the Lord to make you more obedient to his Word. How can you encourage others in their Christian lives?
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “Strong in Grace.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)