DUNCAN/The result of the resurrection
Please turn to 2 Timothy 2:10-13. In verse 10 of this passage, Paul applies the truth of the resurrection to his own experience in such a way as to reorient the way that he looks at every trial that he experiences in life. And he does that because he wants the reality of the resurrection to reorient the way that we look at every trial in our life. And then in this glorious exhortation in verses 11-13, which perhaps came from an ancient hymn of the church based on Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew and Paul’s words rendered for us in chapter five of the Book of Romans, he exhorts you and me to live in light of this glorious reality of the resurrection. Paul is telling us in this passage that the resurrection is a reality that has already transformed us into a new creation. It is a reality which changes the way that we look at the world, and the way that we live and minister in this fallen world. In light of those truths, let us observe three very crucial things that the Apostle Paul is saying to us in this passage.
I. Paul Endures All Things in His Calling for the Sake of God’s Elect.
First, in verse 10 Paul says, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen.” In other words, the Apostle Paul is telling us that he endures all the things he endures in life in his calling for the sake of God’s chosen people. He endures trials for the sake of those who have rested and trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Paul endures suffering for those who have been drawn to saving faith by the sovereign working of God the Holy Spirit. His motive in enduring sufferings and trials and hardship, and in this case, imprisonment and eventually execution, is the well-being of God’s people. In other words, Paul is telling us that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has transformed the way he views his own personal adversity; and now because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he has a church-serving view of personal adversity. Understanding Paul’s view of suffering helps to transform the way we look at our own personal adversity in this life. Whatever your particular suffering, trial, hardship, or adversity is in this life, Paul wants you to understand that, as a believer, you have been given the privilege of the fellowship of the sufferings of the body of Christ for the sake of God’s people. He wants you to know that your endurance of that trial and the way that you endure suffering is meant for the well-being of all of the people of God.
II. Paul is Motivated by a Desire for the Salvation and Eternal Blessedness of God’s Elect.
Secondly in verse 10 Paul says, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” Paul is saying here that he not only has a church-serving view of adversity, he is also saying that he has a salvation-promoting view of his personal adversity. Paul is motivated in his hardship and suffering by a desire for the salvation and the blessedness of God’s people. He is longing that his sufferings would serve the eternal interests of God’s people in such a way that they would experience the fullness of salvation. Have you ever thought about your suffering in that way? Have you ever said, “Lord, use my suffering to promote the eternal well-being of Your people.” The resurrection completely changes the way we look at adversity. And that’s what Paul is saying. Paul is telling us that he endures adversity for the sake of the church. And not simply for the sake of the church, but so that the church would experience all that it means to have salvation in Jesus Christ.
III. Paul Lives and Ministers in Light of the Faithful Saying.
Lastly, in verses 11-13 Paul is showing us how he lives and ministers in light of this faithful saying. And he expects believers in all places, throughout all ages to live and minister this way. He’s emphasizing here why he’s willing to endure suffering and trials. You see, the main theme of this passage is loyalty to Christ, clinging to Christ even in the midst of persecution and suffering and hardship and trial in this life, because Christ will not fail to deliver on His promises and commitments to His people.
In these verses, the Apostle Paul gives us a picture of a Christ-centered, Christ-clinging approach to personal adversity. In verse 11, Paul says, “If we died with Him, we will also live with Him.” He’s saying if we willingly resign ourselves to suffering with and for Christ for the sake of God’s people, so also will we experience true life in Him. The resurrection provides life despite the fact that we live in the valley of the shadow of death. And the Apostle Paul is simply saying to us here, “Christian, if you’ve died with Jesus Christ, you will also live with Him. You will experience the sovereign life of Jesus Christ here and now in this life as well as then and there in eternity.”
In verse 12, Paul says, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” In other words, Paul is saying to the believer, “Stand firm, remain, endure; keep trusting in Jesus Christ. Hold your ground fast. Persevere to the end, because when you do, you’re going to reign with Jesus Christ.” For the believer, there is this great promise of victory even in the midst of hardship and trial. But, my friends, there is a warning here too. Paul also says, “If we deny him, he also will deny us.” If you think there’s another way into fellowship with God apart from Jesus Christ, if you think there’s another way of salvation and you seek that way, the Apostle Paul says, that Christ will deny you. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven by which a person can be saved.
Do you see what Paul is telling us in this passage? Paul is saying, “Hardship, suffering, trial in this life is of the essence of discipleship. It’s not an accidental thing that creeps in from time to time; it is of the essence of Christian discipleship. But the resurrection transforms the way we view that hardship.” My friends, the resurrection says that those personal adversities that you are experiencing as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ are part of the design of God to encourage the saints and to equip you for the experience of everlasting glory. May God, by His Spirit, help us to understand the truth of His Word, and to bring to bear in our experience the reality of the resurrection.
The Rev. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. He can be reached at 601-923-1600 or by email at email@example.com.