A Faithful Saying (Part IV): A Paradox
In Paul’s epistles, he has 5 faithful sayings that he wants Christians to remember. A faithful saying is a saying that is true and trustworthy. Because the saying is true and important, Paul desires that it be accepted everywhere and repeated constantly! In 2 Timothy 2:11-13, Paul presents some paradoxes that describe what it means to be a Christian.
1. Dead and Alive
Paul presents a paradox: in order to live, we must die. Such an idea goes against natural instinct. In the animal kingdom, it is about survival of the fittest: animals must fight to stay alive in the food chain. Even for us, we understand the importance of striving in order to survive in the school system, and even at the workplace. However, in order to live with Christ, we must die with Him. We become dead with Christ through baptism (Romans 6:3-6). When we submit ourselves to that burial, we become dead to the old man of sin (Romans 6:6). Therefore, we no longer serve sin or ourselves! But when we rise out of that watery grave, we become a new man (Romans 6:4, 22). Jesus promises that if we die with Him, we can obtain eternal life! (John 3:16).
It is truly a faithful saying that if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. All Christians must be reminded that our old man is dead and buried. Sometimes we forget, and we live life for ourselves, forgetting that we now serve a Master, our Lord Jesus. Christians can no longer live a life of selfishness because our lives now belong to our Lord Jesus. However, if we are willing to lose our life for Christ, we will find life eternal (Luke 9:24).
2. Suffering and Reign
Paul presents another paradox: in order to rule, we must suffer. A position of suffering seems to be opposite from a position of power and rule. Usually, we climb into positions of power so that we can do whatever we please, and not to suffer! However, Christians have to be prepared to suffer with Christ, because we will face persecution from this world (John 15:19). Unfortunately, there are Christians who cannot endure persecution and fall away (Matthew 13:20-21). God calls us not to be ashamed when we suffer, because we are suffering together with Christ! (1 Peter 4:13). When we suffer for Christ, the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us (1 Peter 4:14). When we suffer for the right cause, we need not be ashamed, but rather, we can glorify God (1 Peter 4:15-16).
It is truly a faithful saying that if we suffer, we shall reign with Him. All Christians need to be reminded that suffering is a part of Christianity. Sometimes we forget, and try to make our lives comfortable, and we do whatever we can to avoid trouble from ruining our happy lives. However, since Christians do not belong to this world, suffering is part of our calling (2 Timothy 3:12). Nevertheless, if we are willing to suffer for Jesus, God promises to us a great reward in Heaven! (Matthew 5:10-12).
3. Doubt and Denial
Instead of being dead with Christ, and suffering for Christ, there will be those who deny Him, just as Peter denied Christ (Luke 22:54-62). We deny Jesus when we are too afraid to confess Him before men. We can also deny Jesus by our works, when we do not do what Jesus commanded us (Titus 1:16). Furthermore, there will be those who doubt Jesus. Many in this world do not believe in Jesus and His words (John 6:60, 66). Some Christians also may grow tired and begin to doubt the promises of God (2 Peter 3:3).
However, even if we doubt Jesus, “yet he abideth faithful.” Jesus is always faithful to His words. Jesus has promised salvation to those who believe in Him. Jesus has promised that those who die with Him will live with Him, and those who suffer for Him will reign with Him. Jesus also promised that those who deny Him will be denied also (Matthew 10:32-33). Even if we doubt Jesus, it does not change the truth of the matter, that the promises of Jesus will certainly happen as He had said.
It is truly a faithful saying, that though men may deny Jesus and doubt Him, Jesus will remain faithful. Therefore, all Christians ought to be reminded to make the right choice. There will the temptation to deny Jesus. There will be times when we doubt. However, we know that Jesus is faithful and trustworthy. If we are willing to suffer for Him, we can be assured that Jesus will keep His promises to us. If we deny and doubt, we also can be assured that Jesus will likewise deny us before the Father. What will be our response?