Virtual Reality Day 10
Christian leaders know they belong to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (2nd Timothy 1:5; 3:14)
Yesterday we concluded with the idea that a key responsibility of leaders is to know the truth that they belong to God. The application of this is that the Christian leader knows that they are secure in Christ.
How secure are you? When we ask that question, we could be addressing relational, emotional or spiritual insecurity. Whichever it is, such insecurity is triggered by uncertainty. Paul counters such uncertainty with these words:
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2nd Timothy 2:11-13)
In this section Paul introduces an ancient Christian hymn that counters the uncertainties of both life and human nature with the certainty of the life that is to come—if we endure we will reign with him. The Christian leader’s focus on the future influences their lives in the present.
The hymn centers on an “if-then” clause (although the thens are missing in the NIV) and has an “unexpected” twist that causes the faithfulness of God to take center stage. In this section the apostle is encouraging Timothy, tempted by timidity as he was, to be bold in the knowledge that God could be trusted to bring him safely through the challenges that await him (v 14-19).
“…if…” appears four times in two verses (11b-13a). The first two “ifs” present “us” in a positive light:
1. IF we died with him, THEN we will live with Him.
2. IF we endure, THEN we will reign with Him.
In the opening seven verses of chapter 2, Paul encouraged Timothy to remember that the young man had a role to play in the strengthening, character-building work of God in his life. It is therefore no surprise that if we are willing to do what is right then God will raise us to reign with Him. This is part of what is called conditional eschatology, reflected in the second half of verse 12 where the mood changes from a positive response to a negative:
1. IF we deny Him, THEN He will also deny us.
Despite the change of mood, there is no change of principle: the covenant relationship established through Christ does not negate our responsibilities to choose wisely. The way we are encouraged to choose wisely is to live life now through the lenses of the world to come. All actions are viewed by God through eternal not temporal lenses.
In verse 13 God’s unchangeable nature comes into focus: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful.” Why? “He cannot disown Himself.”
This verse can easily be misunderstood. Paul is not saying that God stays faithful to those who faithlessly deny Him. He echoes an ancient precept: God will always stay faithful to Himself. He cannot deny Himself—even if that means denying us.
The repetition of “disown” draws attention to the fact that “being faithless” has a relational connotation. It speaks of broken contact not a lack effort. But get this: being faithless refers not to momentary failure or situational disobedience but to relational detachment of an unbridgeable kind.
Is denial unfaithfulness? Yes. However, not all unfaithfulness is denial that results in His denial of us. The unfaithful believer will not lose salvation (1 John 5:13) or all his reward (1 Peter 1:4) but will lose some of his reward (1 Corinthians 3:12‐15; Luke 19: 24‐26). The idea of “denying Christ” does not mean a one-or-two-time denial (cf. Luke 22:54‐62) but to deny Him permanently, since the other three human conditions in the couplets are permanent.
To be reminded of this old hymn would have undoubtedly brought unspeakable joy to Timothy. He may fail momentarily, but God never will. He may suffer moments when he is overcome by fear. In such moments God will draw near. Timothy is not perfect, and he would undoubtedly fail in certain situations, but He is secure because He belongs to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and enjoys intimate fellowship through the help of the Holy Spirit! Timothy was safe in the Lord’s hands because “he had died with him” (v11). The Christian leader knows that they belong to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
We began this section by pointing out that in the “if-then” structure of this passage, this last verse would be expected to read, “IF we are faithless, THEN God would also be faithless.” However, the surprise is that our human logic is countermanded by God’s gracious loving-kindness. Christian leaders know this incredible truth and hold on to it.
‘Til tomorrow, where we’ll address the basis for such security…
Food for Thought:
Those who are not secure in themselves sabotage their ministry. There are many facets to security:
Spiritual: we are not secure in our relationship with the Lord.
Emotional: we are not secure in ourselves.
Relational: we are not secure with others.
Which of these three is the biggest issue for you and why? How can the hymn of 2nd Timothy 2:11-13 help you overcome your insecurity?
As always, feel free to leave a comment, thought or question in the comments section below.