Our annual meeting is now behind us. We celebrated 20 years of God’s faithfulness to us as a convention of churches. Now, what? We pray that until Jesus returns, we will continue to endure faithfully—as Christians, as church leaders, as churches, as a convention. But there will be lots of challenges, many pressures and various temptations. How will we endure faithfully?
Remember Jesus Christ | 2 Timothy 2:8
In the face of pressure from false teachers (3:1-9), while tempted by the preferences of the congregation in Ephesus (4:3-4), Paul encourages Timothy to “remember Jesus Christ”! By stating first his humanly given name (Jesus) before his title (Christ)—unusual for Paul—and by emphasizing his human lineage from David, Paul emphasizes Jesus’ humanity.
When life and ministry are hard and we’re tempted to despair, to quit, even to abandon the faith, remember that Jesus, who identified with us by taking on our flesh, also suffered, was murdered, and was buried. But he did not remain dead. He is “risen from the dead.” And because he is “the offspring of David,” he is also the promised anointed king who is now seated at the right hand of God. When Jesus suffered, he left us an example so that we may literally trace his steps
(1 Peter 2:21). But we not only “trace” Jesus’ steps into suffering and death, we also “trace” his steps into resurrection and glory. When tempted to quit, remember Jesus Christ, and endure faithfully!
Remember Paul’s Ministry | 2 Timothy 2:9-10
In the face of doubt about whether the gospel is sufficient for ministry and worth it enough to suffer for it, Paul encourages Timothy to remember his (Paul’s) ministry. Paul may be “bound in chains” in prison as a criminal for preaching the gospel, but “the word of God is not bound.” In fact, Paul wrote the Colossians while in prison, asking them to pray that the Lord would “open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). Scholars believe that Paul wrote the Philippians a few months after writing Colossians. To the Philippians, Paul reports that the Lord has answered that prayer, for “it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Philippians 1:13).
When life and ministry are hard and we’re tempted to question the sufficiency of God’s Word, remember Paul’s ministry; God’s Word is not bound. It may not appear that much is happening in your church right now, but endure faithfully, preaching, teaching and hearing the Word of God! We may draw a crowd through other strategies, but the gospel is the only foundation on which Jesus is building his church.
Remember Your Union with Christ | 2 Timothy 2:11-12a
Likely feeling alone and isolated in ministry, Paul reminds Timothy that he and all Christians, are united with Christ. When we believed, our old self was crucified with Christ, and we were raised with Christ (a new self) to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-11). Already, we share in all the spiritual blessings that God has given to us “in Christ”—adoption as sons and daughters, forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ and sealing with the Holy Spirit as a downpayment of the promise of God’s eternal presence (Ephesians 1:1-14). No matter what we may face, no one can separate us from the love God has for us in Jesus Christ. And while the world may try to strip our earthly privileges and status, no one can take away our identity in Christ. In fact, all who endure faithfully will reign with Christ (2:12a).
Remember God’s Coming Judgment | 2 Timothy 2:12b-13
But, if Timothy’s faith is too weak to believe all these promises, Paul also offers a warning—“if we deny him, he will also deny us” (2:12b). The Lord Jesus uses both promises and warnings to preserve our faith. Sometimes our faith is too weak to believe all God has for us, and we’re still tempted to despair, to quit, to even abandon the faith. In those times, remember that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, and all who have denied him, he will deny before his Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).
However, even if we are faithless, God is faithful (2:13). He cannot deny himself. He will accomplish all his holy will and he will bring about all he has planned. Brothers and sisters, endure faithfully! God is faithful. He will sustain us. He has given us Christ; he has given us his Spirit; he has given us his Word; he has given us one another—his church. So endure faithfully and finish the race.