Thursday, May 11, 2023

2023.05.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Timothy 2:8–10

Read 2 Timothy 2:8–10

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the command at the beginning of 2 Timothy 2:8? About Whom is Timothy to remember something? What lineage is important to remember? What event is important to remember? In what are this lineage and event preached? What happens to Paul for preaching this gospel (2 Timothy 2:9)? What do people think of him? Even what has happened to him? But what hasn’t been chained? Therefore, what does he endure (2 Timothy 2:10)? For whose sake? So that they may obtain what? In Whom is this salvation obtained? What is obtained with this salvation?

How are ministers (and all believers) strengthened? 2 Timothy 2:8–10 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the minister of the Word is strengthened by union with Christ through meditation upon Him to Whom believers are united.

Paul has urged Timothy to be strong, so that he might labor faithfully and fruitfully (2 Timothy 2:1-7). Now, he highlights the source of that strength: Jesus Christ, as He is offered to us in the gospel. It is not enough for believers to know that they should be strong. They must know Who is their strength and the ordinary means by which He strengthens. Resolve to be healthy never did for one’s body that for which Providence has appointed healthful nutrition, exercise, sunshine, fresh air, and sleep. And mere resolve, and even mere effort, does even less for the soul. Christ Himself is the life of the soul. So, to what means does the apostle point his dear son in the faith and ministry?

Meditation upon Christ’s grace for us. The initial command is “remember.” What we do with our mind matters. First, we must remember that there was a plan for Jesus Christ to accomplish our redemption, and He has completed that plan. Jesus: the Lord saves. Christ: our anointed prophet like/greater than Moses, our anointed Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, and our anointed King the Son of David. The reference to “of the seed of David” reminds us of the plan from eternity that brought Him into the world, fully God and fully man. The resurrection affirms the success and completion of that plan. We can and shall and must be strong because the plan has succeeded. The redemption is accomplished. Christ is risen.

Meditating upon Christ’s grace in us. 2 Timothy 2:1 had commanded strength “in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:10 will refer to the salvation “which is in Christ Jesus.” Christ’s grace not only refers to His actions two thousand years ago in our behalf, but also the wonderful work that He does in us by uniting us to Himself through faith. As we have been remembering in the midweek sermons in Romans 6, the resurrection is not only a finished and ongoing reality in Christ, who died once for all and now lives unto God. The resurrection is also an ongoing reality within the believer, by virtue of his union with Christ, so that the believer has experienced a resurrection and now lives unto God forever—and increasingly so in this life. We can and shall and must be strong because we are united to the resurrected one.

Meditating upon Christ’s example. When 2 Timothy 2:8 reminds Timothy that Christ was raised from the dead, it reminds Timothy of the ridicule and suffering and death that were the path through which Christ carried out His own mission and service in this world. We serve a King Who suffered, and we follow Him through suffering. We deny ourselves and take up whatever suffering the Lord has assigned to us, and live every day. For the believer there is sweetness in our suffering, for we have fellowship with the suffering Savior (cf. Philippians 3:10b). For the believer, there is sweetness and even honor in death, for we are united to a Savior Who died for us (cf. Philippians 3:10c). Not only are we resurrected spiritually, already, in Christ to live unto God, but we will follow His example later in physical resurrection as well. We can and shall and must be strong through the sufferings that come with our Christian life and service, because when all is said and done, we will be resurrected, even as Christ has.

Considering God’s work in great servants who have gone before. Paul reminds Timothy of his own suffering (2 Timothy 2:9a–b). Paul has been faithful in his Christian life and membership and ministry. And what has resulted for him? He’s generally thought of, spoken of, and treated as evil (even by much of the church, cf. 2 Timothy 1:15, 2 Timothy 4:14–16). He’s even bound in chains as an evil-doer. The believer is strengthened to endure by remembering that God has done this before with other servants. The believer is strengthened to endure by being forewarned of the difficulty that lies ahead of him so that he will expect it. The believer is strengthened to endure by the fact that if God has knowingly planned that our course would pass through such difficulties, then it is because the strength that is by His Spirit, in His Son, is more than equal to those difficulties. Timothy was to consider how much good has come to the elect, and honor has come to Christ, through Paul’s suffering. Now, Timothy was to endure strongly through his own suffering, by which the same God would continue bringing good to the elect and honor to Christ. And here we are, two thousand years later, with millennia of history and biography to add to that which is in the Scripture, knowing that our lives are assigned to us by the same Lord Who carries us in the same strength. Let us expect the hardship and endure it by His strength.

Considering God’s unstoppable power and plan. Paul is in chains, but the Word of God isn’t (2 Timothy 2:9c). Though we can be bound, imprisoned, and even killed, this cannot ultimately be done to the Word of God. He has willed His truth to triumph through us. Paul has been given his own part in this word’s unchained success: “my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8b).

Motivation of love for eternal souls. Paul adds a “therefore” here to show how he translates into action all of these truths that Timothy is to remember and consider from 2 Timothy 2:8-9. There are two great motivations that these truths inflame: love to souls’ salvation and love to God’s glory. God has so loved Paul, and so loved Timothy, that He has planned this from eternity, electing them to a salvation that would come in this glorious fashion: by Christ’s finished work, by union with Christ, and by the Word through which Christ effects that union! O, how we who have been so loved should also love! 

And when we love Him, we love what He loves. What does He love? All of those elect whom He is still saving. So Paul loves them and endures whatever comes to him in his appointed service as God is bringing them to salvation (2 Timothy 2:10a). And so now must Timothy. And so also must you. You have an appointed place in your home. You have a participation in the assembly of the saints, and truth to speak in love, and burdens of others to bear, and all those precious one-another promises. And you have trials that are assigned to you—your very own trials, belonging to your very own course in this world. But there are eternal souls of the elect that God is saving through this overall plan, included your own part in it. Will you not love them, for His love’s sake, and endure in the strength of Christ? You must!

Motivation of love for Christ’s glory. These elect receive a salvation that comes with eternal glory. Our salvation has also come with eternal glory. And all of that glory is in Christ. It is unto the praise of God’s glorious grace in Christ that the salvation of the elect is planned and completed (cf. Ephesians 1:6, Ephesians 1:12, Ephesians 1:14). It is so that He will be displayed as the firstborn among many brethren (cf. Romans 8:29) that we are made glorious with His own glory in our glorification (cf. Romans 8:30). The truth that we remember about our salvation motivates our hearts with love for His glory. 

This is the secret strength of the believer’s endurance: proper employment of the proper mind-fuel to inflame the proper heart-fuel. May the Lord give us to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” by heeding the exhortation: “Remember Jesus Christ”!

What hardship have you been given to endure so far? What hardship might you be given in the future? What doctrines need to become woven through your thoughts and emotions, so that you are prepared even for hardships that you cannot anticipate? What are the ordinary ways that God has given, by which these doctrines become the core of our inner life? What use are you making of them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, as Paul commanded Timothy, we are to remember Jesus Christ. But even this sweet command, we so often disobey. We forget His resurrection. We rob ourselves of the confidence of His finished work. We forget that it is His resurrection that is even at work in us, and we foolishly and rebelliously go through life as if it is to be lived in our own strength. When trouble comes, we are unbelieving and despair, rather than rejoicing that Your Word is not chained. O forgive us, Lord, for we have so little love to elect souls, and so little love to the glory of Christ, that we are often at a loss about where our strength will come from. Grant that Your Holy Spirit would so work in us that, being full of love to You and Your elect, we would find that Your grace carries us. Thus, make Your strength to be perfect in our weakness, we ask through our almighty Christ, AMEN!

ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

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