God’s word for March 15

Good morn­ing from Liv­er­pool First! Our read­ing for this Wednes­day, March 15, 2017 is 2 Tim­o­thy 2:8–13.



8 Remem­ber Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descend­ed from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suf­fer­ing even to the point of being chained like a crim­i­nal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 There­fore I endure every­thing for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the sal­va­tion that is in Christ Jesus, with eter­nal glo­ry.



11 Here is a trust­wor­thy say­ing: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we dis­own him, he will also dis­own us;  13 if we are faith­less, he will remain faith­ful, for he can­not dis­own him­self.

NIV



While we will not find the say­ing the apos­tle Paul quotes in vers­es 11–13 record­ed any­where else in scrip­ture if were to dis­sect it into sep­a­rate com­po­nents we will cer­tain­ly find pas­sages stat­ing what is col­lect­ed in this state­ment. The com­pi­la­tion was most like­ly used by church­es to remind and encour­age their mem­bers to remain faith­ful despite vary­ing lev­els of per­se­cu­tion they were endur­ing.  This is exact­ly the pur­pose for which Paul is quot­ing the say­ing his read­ers should be famil­iar with as he address­es par­tic­u­lar con­cerns of the con­gre­ga­tions he is leading.I can imag­ine it use as a bene­dic­tion at the con­clu­sion of a ser­vice of wor­ship.



Paul mod­els the appro­pri­ate faith­ful­ness he is demand­ing of his parish­ioners as he reminds them of his own suf­fer­ing and the chains of his own pre­set incar­cer­a­tion.  He endures his suf­fer­ing  and every oth­er incon­ve­nience of min­istry and ser­vice for the sake of the sal­va­tion of those who are and will yet become fol­low­ers of Christ. Implic­it in his mean­ing is the inclu­sion of those who already had pro­fessed faith. While sal­va­tion come through our con­fes­sion of sin and pro­fes­sion of faith it must also be evi­dent in the change wrought in us by faith and be con­firmed by con­tin­u­ance of pur­sued faith­ful­ness to the val­ues of the gospel.



Suf­fer­ing we should expect will include our moral strug­gle with temp­ta­tion and sin and the fruit of char­ac­ter devel­op­ment as we invest in the spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­plines in order to grow in our close­ness to Christ. Chris­t­ian suf­fer­ing will also include per­se­ver­ance of min­istry and ser­vice when such ser­vice becomes dif­fi­cult and not well received by oth­ers. Our sal­va­tion is more than a one-time or moment soli­tary expe­ri­ence; it is a life alter­ing direc­tion­al shift. We are “saved” only as we pur­sue the holi­ness of char­ac­ter and faith­ful­ness through our life after our pro­fes­sion. We will fal­ter and we will have times when we slack off our com­mit­ment, but as long as we have breath we have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get back on track.



It is said “the best defense is a strong offense” and I would say this is what the apos­tle is advo­cat­ing for.

There is more at stake than the present; we are giv­en to adopt a long range view of life, an eter­nal view. While we may suf­fer in the present he is faith­ful to bring life to our life and ser­vice because we live with him. Christ is always present to guide us and assist us to remain faith­ful against the odds we face. We are promised if we endure we should antic­i­pate the time when he shall return to heal and rule this now bro­ken and dis­obe­di­ent world that we shall reign in life with him. If we endure the present strug­gle we shall find moments of vic­to­ry and a final or com­plete vic­to­ry at his return. If we are not faith­ful we should not expect to join in the vic­to­ry with those who have with­stood the test.



The dan­ger the apos­tle warns of is the poten­tial of dis­own­ing Christ. While many imag­ine this to be like the young teenag­er from Columbine High School more than a decade ago, who when chal­lenged by a class­mate gun­man to deny her faith was will­ing to accept death then dis­own her faith. Many Chris­t­ian pre­vi­ous and around the world today place their lives on the line every­day and are pressed to renounce their faith in Christ. We may not ever con­front such temp­ta­tion, but we do when our cul­ture threat­ens us with mar­gin­al­iza­tion and unac­cep­tance if we do not fol­low the fash­ion­able or pop­u­lar trends of the cul­ture we live in when they are opposed to the val­ues of Christ.



Every day we are chal­lenge to dis­own Christ by the choic­es we are con­front­ed with. The say­ing Paul quotes con­cludes with a won­der­ful state­ment of hope. Even if we prove faith­less at any giv­en point, he will remain faith­ful to receive and restore us upon our con­fes­sion and return to the pur­suit of his holi­ness. Why would Christ do such a thing? It is because he can­not be faith­less to him­self. If Christ resides in us, to reject us when we error is to reject him­self because we are his and he is ours. Let us press for­ward then to faith­ful­ness.



Bless­ings!  Dr. Bri­an Homan, lead pas­tor
Liv­er­pool First UM Church