Endurance Now, Glory to Come
Topic: Perseverance of the Saints Passage: 2 Timothy 2:8–13
Our passage this morning calls us to endure. Endurance is never fun... and it may not sound exciting to talk about it. But unless we learn to overcome, we will live a life of defeat. The even greater reason to endure is that God promises great privilege and glory to those who DO endure. And there is a grave warning for those who defect from Christ. “IF we endure, we will also reign with him. But if we deny him, he also will deny us.”
Endurance means to bear up under a difficult process or situation without giving way. It IS a willingness TO CARRY ON, IN suffering and through suffering. We all do well in encouraging circumstances. But when things fall apart we need endurance.
Sometimes we have the feeling that we just can’t go on. Many times, I have said, “I just don’t have the stomach for this.” Or “I’m done.” And I truly felt that way at the time. But endurance is having those feelings, then pressing on! It is putting one foot in front of the other and taking a step and then another step.
Hebrews 12:12 “strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble”. When your hands are hanging down in weariness, and your knees are shaking from how hard things are, and you strengthen yourself, and go on, that is endurance.
When the Hebrew Christians were thrown in prison and their property was confiscated the author said, “Do NOT throw away your confidence!! What you (desperately) need is endurance!” 10:36 Endurance is necessary to live the life Jesus called us too. And it is necessary for ANY work to get done in the church! In 2 Timothy 4:2 Paul said“...ENDURE hardship, do the work of an evangelist, FULFILL your ministry.” We are all called to some kind of ministry! We MUST endure hardship to fulfill whatever God has called us to do!
Nothing can substitute for endurance. No spiritual gift, no supernatural experiences, no Bible knowledge, nothing can substitute for a deep seated willingness to keep your hand to the plow, to fight the good fight, to run your race all the way to the finish line.
However, Christian endurance should NOT be seen merely as a matter of toughing things out, on our own! Paul said, “Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”. 2 Tim. 1:8 We carry on through weariness, dry times, hard times, by trusting God’s power to renew our strength, to give us grace to handle whatever we are facing. We don’t let our feelings of weakness or discouragement stop us, because we have a POWER in us that is not limited by our feelings. It is a huge mistake to think that our feelings are our power! David said, “My strength and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
This passage is to help us endure!
The scripture says we MUST think a certain way about ourselves in order to endure suffering. In verse 3 Paul told Timothy to think of himself as a soldier. The KJV says, “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The NASB says, “suffer hardship”.
Life in Jesus is a fight. We must see ourselves as soldiers. That is our identify! It is a frame of mind! Think of yourself as a good soldier of Jesus Christ and it will change EVERYTHING about how you live! It will help you soldier on through hard things. But there is more here to help us.
Next Paul said, “Remember Jesus Christ….”. We endure by keeping Jesus Christ at the forefront of our thoughts. The author of Hebrews said, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, LOOKING TO JESUS, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” CONSIDER HIM who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. He ENDURED the cross... Hebrews 12:2,3 So we endure remembering that Jesus endured. He endured hostility and pain and the cross!!
Focus on Jesus gives endurance for OUR suffering. Looking to ourselves results in an unhealthy absorption with our own problems, it magnifies our problems, and weakens our endurance.
It is SO easy for the problems and suffering of our own lives and the world and the church, to shut down our thoughts of Jesus Christ. We can face life as though he were NOT even there, as though he had done nothing for us.
OR.. we can live, with great awareness of Jesus! We can remember that he is Lord, that he loved us, that he gave up heaven for us, that he suffered and died for us. But we not only remember how he endured suffering...
Specifically here Paul said, we are to remember him, “risen from the dead”. Jesus said, “I am the living One! I was dead, and behold, now, I am alive forevermore!” Revelation 1:18 In our suffering...We do not have a dead Savior. A friend of mine Phil Price traveled to South America and was shocked at all the images, pictures, and crucifixes, showing a dead and bleeding Christ on the cross. And what was so sad to him, was that was how the people thought of him, as a dead Jesus.
But Paul wanted us to remember Jesus risen from the dead. We serve a risen Savior, he is in the world today. We endure setbacks, discouragements, severe trials by remembering Jesus Christ risen from the dead. He is alive and with us, and intercedes for us.
We also remember Jesus Christ, the “Offspring of David”. This title emphasizes that Jesus is the promised Messiah and King. He will reign on David’s throne forever.
Isaiah 9:7 “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from that time and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this.…
We are to remember Jesus Christ as King and Ruler. We endure hardship and suffering, knowing that we are on the side of the King. We are on the right side of history. Christ and those with HIM are the victors! When history is consummated, Christ will reign, and we will reign with him.
(And Paul brings this out clearly in the next verses)
Second: We must remember that many other believers have suffered and they are ENDURING! Paul pointed to his OWN endurance as an example for Timothy. “I am suffering”, (for preaching my gospel). For THAT, I am “bound with chains like a criminal”. Timothy was not the only one. You are not the only one. Go read Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Or just look around you. Many others are suffering too.
Often we want to quit because we feel sorry for ourselves. And believe me, enough stuff happens that we CAN justify feeling sorry for ourselves. But when we remember that many others have suffered a lot, and many of them are still rejoicing, still walking with God, still praising God, still faithfully serving God’s people, that strengthens our heart to go on.
And we need the attitude Paul had when he said, “I endure all things for the sake of the elect.” Put that verse on your refrigerator. Or more importantly put that in your heart! Paul CARED for God’s people! He loved God’s people. His great desire is for the well-being and benefit of God’s people. He had already decided that he would endure WHATEVER happened to him, FOR God’s people! You can make that decision too. Believers like that are the pillars of the church.
They endure hard things for the sake of the church and keep going on!
Third: We endure because we know the word of God is not stopped by anything we are going through. Paul said, I am in chains but the word of God is not chained. This is a great encouragement to endure. You might be out of commission through suffering but the gospel message will not be stopped. God still speaks and no one can silence God.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stand forever! So we are not discouraged by our suffering. We rejoice that God’s word and his work are going forward and cannot be stopped
Fourth: We endure because of the unspeakable glory set before those who endure!
11The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 If we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
These are the words of an early Christian creed or hymn. It has both deep comfort and severe warning.
First: If we have died with him we will also live with him.
I think Paul is talking about the potential of actually dying with Christ. The most we can lose in this world is our own life. But even if we are killed for his sake, we WILL LIVE with him! Nothing is really lost. Death is gain! To live with him, is FAR better than anything we could ever experience in this life.
Luther said, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still.” We can boast, like Luther, in the face of loss and death. We endure because we will live with him!
But he also uses “dying with Christ” as a metaphor for suffering. Our suffering, is a kind of dying with Christ. Paul said, “I die daily”. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. …”we carry about in our body the dying of Jesus” and “we are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake...”. (2 Cor 4:8,9,11)
Paul is saying that if we share in suffering with Christ we will share in the LIFE of Christ.
Do you want to experience more of the power of His resurrection life? It comes through sharing in his suffering.
The next line is: “If we endure, we will also reign with him.” Romans 8.17 says, “We suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” Glory is the outcome of these agonizing experiences you are enduring. The pathway to the throne is endurance! It is pressing on through suffering.
We endure and we win. We inherit the world. We will judge the angels. Jesus said, “The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.” Rev. 3:21 I know it sounds audacious, but we are destined for the throne! We are destined to overcome, we are destined to reign with Christ!
We are not selling promises of earthly promotion, although believers are often promoted and do well. The gospel offers offers eternal promotion and glory with Christ! It offers a seat next to Christ, on His throne.
It is our hope of future glory gives us endurance in suffering now. “For I do not consider the suffering of this present time worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us” Rom. 8:18 and “This light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison”. 2 Cor. 4:17
Then this hymn ends with this warning: “If we deny him, he also will deny us”. The heights of glory are ours if we endure, but a terrifying disaster awaits those who deny Christ. There is no way to soften this verse. It is right there in black and white. It is scripture, just as much as the promise of glory for those who suffer with Christ.
Many have prayed a prayer, associated with Christians and called themselves Christians, then later, they say, “I’m done with Christianity. I no longer believe in Christ as the only way to God. Or maybe I don’t believe in God at all. Saying such things is denying Christ. And Christ will deny them on the day of judgment. Recently a Christian singer, named Brady Goodwin said in a video on Facebook, “I sent a letter to my church withdrawing my membership and saying that I am denouncing the Christian faith that I have believed, professed, proclaimed, and defended for the last 30 years of my life.”
That is a problem! And puts him in a very bad situation.
The most terrifying words in the Bible: “Depart from me… I never knew you.
John said (of these kind of people) “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:19
*If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself. Often this is the only part of this verse that people know. Sometimes it is taken to mean that if our faith fails for a time, he will still be faithful to us. That is true! If we fall, he remains faithful to us! He will pick us back up. “When (the righteous) fall, he will not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Ps. 37:24
But in the context Paul is talking about how we must be faithful, how we must endure. He told Timothy to entrust these things to FAITHFUL men. I don’t think all of a sudden he is saying, it doesn’t really matter if you are faithful or not.
Paul is talking about hardened unbelief, literally “without faith”. He is saying that doesn’t change God’s faithfulness to himself. OR “who God is”. Because God cannot change or deny himself. Paul said this same thing in Romans 3 “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”
BSB “So that You may be proved right when You speak and victorious when You judge.”
Can their unfaithfulness cancel God's faithfulness?” Well, no, it can’t!!
God is utterly faithful to give Life to those who die with Christ and to give glory and a throne to those who endure with Christ. But he cannot give those things to those who deny him, or to the unbelieving. To do that would be to deny himself. And God won’t do that.
***So what do we take away from all this? Three things: We are commanded to endure. Endurance in serious business. And the outcome of endurance is glory.
So… plan to suffer, prepare to go through hard things. Not everything is painful, but we better be ready when it comes. And the hard things you go through, are training you to reign and rule with Christ! Just think of it! What you are going through is preparing you for glory! Cling to that through your pain and suffering.