There is morsel of scripture that I have been savoring lately. Like a thick steak (medium rare please) or an exceptionally ripe apple. I must continue chewing in order to savor and ultimately ingest the nourishment that comes from this bit of truth.
“For if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him…” Paul is suffering for the Gospel’s sake. He is being punished for his part in the spreading of the good news. Sitting in a Roman prison, awaiting trial and eventual beheading…it’s almost as if this letter were his final words written to his student, Timothy… when all others (save Luke) have abandoned him.
He reminds himself, and Timothy, and us, that in order to truly live with Him…we must die with Him.
“If we endure, we will also reign with Him…” He has spent the earlier part of this letter reminding Timothy to be a good soldier. Tough times are coming. There will be hardship, persecution, death. But we must endure. We must ever remain the “hardworking farmer,” planting seeds that bring forth fruit. We must remain the “athlete” competing faithfully according to the rules. The “Soldier” focused on his marching orders and nothing else.
“If we deny Him, He will also deny us…” The only way to deny Him is to deny the work of His hands. The truth of the gospel revealed in our lives. I am beginning to think that there are two main ways to do this. The first is to deny that we NEED the Gospel…that we NEED a savior to free us from ourselves. Brother John would say that “…those who say they are without sin have no truth in them.” The second is to understand the need, and knowingly reject the medicine. To curse God and die, as it were. Many think that this might mean if I “deny Him” in a moment of sin, or weakness, that I am going to be denied by Him on Judgment Day. That somehow I can lose what has been given to me…namely the Grace imposed upon me. But this would render his next words mute.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself…” And this is where “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.” There is grace ever abundant. There is grace for the screw-up. Grace for the addicted. Grace for the faithful. Grace for the faithless.
You see, I messed up today. I lost my temper and kicked a laundry basket. I thought things I shouldn’t have thought. I went there. I was less than faithful. I sinned.
And if you were honest, you went there too.
You may have been more controlled, or Spirit led than me; but at the end of the day you went there in some respect. But here-in lies the secret. Here-in would make a man “endure” and go happily to the gallows. This is a trust-worthy saying. We get to live with Him forever if we are real about our need, and understand one thing. His grace in contingent upon Him, not upon us.
So for when I fail…He does not. Thank God.