Remember, endure: Devotional Commentary for September 22-28
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
8Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel,
9for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.
10Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Looking back at last week's meditation, we recall how Paul exhorted Timothy to be strong in Christ and take on the excellent attributes of a dedicated soldier, a winning athlete, and a hardworking farmer. He reminded Timothy that his strength can only come from Jesus Christ and that Jesus Himself by His Spirit would generate dedication, discipline, and perseverance, enabling him to respond with enthusiasm, commitment, and courage. Once again, Paul continued to remind Timothy to lean on Jesus Christ and remember Who He is and what He had done.
No human being can extract or draw strength from Christ at will. So we can be certain that Paul did not direct Timothy to go to Christ and squeeze some virtue out of the Son of God. Paul counseled Timothy to focus on Jesus Christ so he might be transformed by the work the Savior does in him. He urged Timothy to always be mindful of Jesus Christ and meditate upon Him, His Grace, Mercy, and Power. In other words, Paul instructed Timothy to remember Jesus Christ as portrayed by the Gospel: The son of David born of virgin Mary in the flesh, and the Son of God Who rose from the dead. That is: Jesus the man, sinless and righteous; and Christ the Messiah the Son of God.
Jesus Christ, the living Word, became flesh and dwelt among men having been born of virgin Mary as the Son of the most high God. In Him, the promise of the coming Messiah was fulfilled. In Him, sin, death, hell, and the devil are defeated once and for all. That is the Gospel Timothy heard and believed. That is Jesus Christ. In this way, Timothy's strength to preach the Gospel would come from knowing Jesus Christ as the suffering Lamb of God, the Savior, the King, and the Victor. Every time Timothy felt intimidated or discouraged, Paul would say to him, remember Jesus Christ Who became flesh, suffered judgment, and conquered death. He would say to him, think on Jesus Christ, dwell on His experience in your mind, call upon His Grace, and appropriate His Power under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth and the wisdom of the Word of God.
As the apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul's admonitions to Timothy were inspired in him by the Author of the Gospel, God the Almighty. Paul referred to Jesus' suffering and spoke out of his own experience as well as other Christians who suffered for the Gospel. To be imprisoned like a common criminal without a culpable behavior is a humiliating experience. To be persecuted for answering God's call is worse yet. But Paul would insist on being strong in the Grace of Jesus Christ. Paul encouraged timothy to endure all things like him so that the elect of God might hear the Gospel and believe unto salvation, as noted above in verse ten.
Paul was counted among evildoers and was imprisoned. He was confined and distressed. His movement and activities were restricted. But the Word of God cannot be chained. So he endured pain and continued to spread the Gospel even from behind the walls of his prison cell.
Paul knew that preaching the Gospel is the means by which the redeemed would hear the words of their call to salvation. He also understood that any detraction by reason of fear or shame would mean disobedience and regarding God's call to service with mistrust. So Paul urged Timothy to remember Jesus Christ Who endured the cross and Himself became the Way of salvation.
11This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.
12If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
13If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Paul now carefully introduces Timothy to very important aspects of our Christian experience which somehow characterize our relationship with Christ, both in life and in service. Genuine Christians are true. They endure. Those who merely claim to be Christians can be false and faithless. That is, genuine Christians remain true to faith in Christ. They persevere.
Therefore, if we die with Him, then we shall live with Him because He was dead but is now living forever. In other words, if we die to self and abandon everything for His sake, then we shall live with Him because He becomes alive in us. We shall endure with Him. And if we endure with Him, then we shall reign with Him because He is the eternal King. To have died in Christ is also to live in Christ because He rose from the dead to never die again.
Simply put, Paul told Timothy to stand true and faithful in Christ's Grace regardless of what he might be facing in the form of suffering, persecution, or resistance to his message. Denial or retreating from God's calling is not an option for a true Christian. Christ remains faithful even when those who deny Him turn out to be faithless. Christ cannot be untrue to Himself. He is Truth. So Timothy was exhorted by his mentor to be prepared even to suffer for the sake of Christ. Paul taught Timothy that to suffer or die for Christ is to live in Christ. To love God is to live for God.
It is not difficult to capture the tone of Paul’s message to Timothy. There is a definite call to service, a challenge to believers to put our shoulders to the wheel, a reminder that everything comes from and returns to the eternal God through and because of the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important than serving Him well, because He has paid the price of our redemption with His blood.
Paul was fervently calling Timothy's attention to the truth which took Jesus Christ through a lowly birth and a shameful death to his glorious resurrection and heavenly reign. It would be ridiculous, therefore, to expect our Christian life and service would cost us nothing. Perhaps this hymn expresses the mood, the tenor, the passion of Paul’s letter to Timothy, and through Timothy to believers of all ages.
Lead on, O King eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest,
Thy tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation,
Thy grace has made us strong;
And now, O King eternal,
We lift our battle song.
Lead on, O King eternal,
Till sin's fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper,
The sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords loud clashing,
Nor roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy,
The heavenly kingdom comes.
Lead on, O King eternal,
We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning,
Where'er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted over us,
We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.