Sunday, June 01, 2008

This Is A Faithful Saying

"For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He will also deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."

2 Timothy 2:11-13

I will start with the premise that Paul is referring to believers again in this text. He starts off by stating that "if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him". I think we could all agree that baptism expressly typifies this relationship with the Lord Jesus in that we were crucified, buried, and raised to new life with Him through regeneration (not baptismal regeneration but being born again by the Holy Spirit).

The next verse states that "if we endure, we shall also reign with Him". The very presence of the word "if" obviously denotes a possibility of not enduring. Thus the reigning is contingent upon our endurance.

Now here is where we segway into the previous post about denying the Lord. What exactly this means is I think open to clarification but it does seem to infer that the Lord will deny in someway those who have denied Him.

And finally His faithfulness is not reliant upon our continued faithfulness for He cannot deny Himself. I find comfort in that statement as I know He upholds the promises of His word regardless of my failures and weakness.

Comments?

19 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

The junior pastor at my church once preached on that passage.

He said we should not treat the last part as a message of comfort:

"If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."

He claimed that God remains faithful not to us, but to Himself. He thinks it is a warning not a message of comfort.

I totally disagree with him. I think that breaks up the structure of the saying.

God Bless

Matthew

Kc said...

I generally consider these verses (11,12) provide the reasoning for the admonition to faithful service in verses 2 thru 10 and that vs. 13 provides the assurance we need never doubt Christ faithfulness.

In this context I would consider that the denial mentioned in vs. 12 is refusing faithful service in which case I suspect Christ’ denial would pertain to our request to Him (prayers).

I agree that the “if” preposition denotes potentiality but even if we were to take a hard determinist position and consider the “if” preposition as only a means of classification we still cannot escape the fact that the “we” being referenced here are we believers. This fact alone should drive us to the Lord begging the strength and courage to remain faithful. We should never consider our faithfulness a forgone conclusion. To do so is to negate the admonition itself.

Jim said...

Matthew, as they say across the pond...rubbish.

Of course God is faithful to Himself and His word.


KC,

Precisely! I believe the scriptures are loaded with warning and admonitions to be faithful.

jazzycat said...

I think Matthew’s pastor has it right.

v. 11 implies if we have not died with him we will not live with him.
v. 12 implies if we do not endure we will not reign with him. Romans 8:31-39 makes it clear that all of God’s elect endure and will reign with him. As Rom. 8:33 says who will bring any charge against God’s elect?
v. 12 if we deny him, he will deny us (see Mt. 10:33) To assert that Christ can deny regenerated saved believers is a contradiction to Romans 8, especially v. 1 & 31-39 and also many other passages of Scripture such as 1 John 5:4 where John says everyone born of God overcomes the world.
v. 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful. He does not wink at those who are faithless. He is true to his Word and punishes everyone with eternal death who does not remain faithful to their profession. If they do not remain faithful would mean their profession was false and not a loss of salvation.

Jim said...

Wayne, again you have imported your presuppositions into the text here. You are failing to recognize there could be more options than A or B.

There is a progression in these verses which is wholly dependant upon the acceptance that Paul is speaking to those who have indeed "died with Christ".

You have built a doctrine around assumed "endurance" or "perseverance" which I do not see the Bible stating. Rather the scriptures are rife with warnings about not shrinking back or losing heart.

1 John 5:4 does not state that whoever is born of God, but whatever is born of God. It then goes on to define the what as our faith.

Overcoming the world is directly linked here to our faith. Remaining faithful to the Lord is a command.

Yet, the Lord cannot deny Himself or His promises.

"If they do not remain faithful would mean their profession was false and not a loss of salvation"

Wayne, please explain to me how this does not boil down to a works based salvation whereby we MUST keep ourselves saved. If our eternal salvation is contingent upon any endurance or "remaining faithful" on our part is ceases to be all of grace and instead becomes works.

If I have failed to read your position correctly please correct me.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wayne

v 11- We do something. Something happens to us.
v. 12- We do something. Something happens to us.

According to you and my pastor, this pattern is broken in the next verse-

v 13 We do something. God is faithful to himself.

If verse 13 follows the pattern of the previous two verses, the faithfulness must be in relation to us, rather than to God.

That God cannot deny Himself is a statement of His faithful character towards us.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wayne, a better way of handling this text while holding to Perserverance would be to argue that God is faitful to those who are temporarily faithless.

You could argue that God's faithfulness towards those who are temporarily unfaithful entails that they will eventually repent and be restored.

Though if you did, you would be left with a problem relating this to denial in verse 12.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

jazzycat said...

Jim,
You said…….
There is a progression in these verses which is wholly dependant upon the acceptance that Paul is speaking to those who have indeed "died with Christ".

Speaking to and speaking about is two different things. Paul in many places speaks to believers about the behavior of non-believers and false professors. Therefore, in this passage he is contrasting the two.

O.K. using the KJV on 1 John 5:4-5………
1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Just add the next verse and you have the same bottom line…. You’ve certainly affirmed the Calvinist view of regeneration that faith does indeed come from God as a gift, which also confirms Eph. 2:8-9. In verse 5 John connects the what with the who. Everyone with faith (believeth that Jesus…..). Therefore, if all believers overcome the world, how can you say Jesus will deny some for denying him?
Also….
Titus 1:15-16 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Do you think Paul is talking about saved people here?)
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Are you going to tell me that being denied by Christ is not condemnation?)

You said…..
You have built a doctrine around assumed "endurance" or "perseverance" which I do not see the Bible stating. Rather the scriptures are rife with warnings about not shrinking back or losing heart.

You seem to have accepted FGT doctrine that all professions of faith are true and that these warnings are about separating one’s state in heaven. My view is that false professions are in view in these warnings and the separation is between heaven and hell.

You said….
Wayne, please explain to me how this does not boil down to a works based salvation whereby we MUST keep ourselves saved. If our eternal salvation is contingent upon any endurance or "remaining faithful" on our part is ceases to be all of grace and instead becomes works.

I am a 5 point Calvinist and works salvation is precluded by definition in Calvinism. Anyone who believes one must work to keep himself saved is not a Calvinist. What I do believe in is the power of God in salvation as Paul puts it. Such a person is regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, and is a new creature that has been enabled to be conformed to the image of Christ by that same power. Our eternal salvation is not based on our remaining faithful. Our remaining faithful is based on the power of God’s grace. You see it is God that keeps believers faithful through his power and grace and not human effort. As John said the faith that is born of God overcomes the world. This faith resides in believers.

Jim said...

Wayne you have introduced several other ideas of which I somewhat agree and somewhat disagree.

If I affirm any truth it neither makes it Calvinist or FG theology, but rather Biblical.

"You seem to have accepted FGT doctrine that all professions of faith are true and that these warnings are about separating one’s state in heaven"

I do not accept professions as necessarily true. That term has been misappropriated to define those who say with their lips what their hearts are not convinced of.

Paul is not speaking of those who have made "professions" but rather of those who have died with Christ.

He then continues that train of thought with the following verses.

Why would He not just have worded the verses in this manner instead?

"For because we died with Him,
we shall also live with Him.
Because we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
Because we cannot deny Him,
He will not deny us.
Because we are not faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."


Ok, the last part makes absolutely no sense like that. Paul is not making a rhetorical statement, neither is he addressing the failures of false professors. Rather he is making comparatives between our obedience, faithfulness, and God's promises to Himself.

I will try to do separate posts on some of the other issues you have raised.

Again, my desire is to seek truth, not the agenda of any group or theological camp.

Antonio said...

Jim, something from my blog:

http://free-grace.blogspot.com/2006/11/is-public-identification-with-christ.html


The Scriptures pose one condition, and one condition only for the appropriation of eternal life and justification: Taking Christ at His word concerning His promise to guarantee the eternal well-being of all who simply trust Him to do so. Faith in Jesus Christ with the purpose of receiving His intended gift is the passive instrument of reception.

Yet, conditional language is found employed throughout the entire Bible. Blessings are promised for obedience and calamities and negative rewards indicated for rebellion and unfaithfulness.

In numerous places in our Sacred Text there are found beneficial consequent results conditioned on obedience and works, as well as negative outcomes for unfaithfulness. Many make these texts out to be salvific, to have a soteriological significance. But to do so by a plain reading of the text would be tantamount to works righteousness, works salvation (the favorable blessings are conditioned on works!). So how do they get around this? They import Perseverance of the Saints theology into those Scriptures which results in (1) equivocations, (2) necessary modifications of the text, and (3) most important to note, a perversion of the gospel.

Is confession of Christ necessary to go to heaven?

Matt 10:32-33
"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."

Notice the "therefore" beginning this verse. In inductive study of the Bible you learn to ask the question, "What is the 'therefore' there for?" This passage resides in the context of persecutions for one's faith (see 10:16-31). Confessing Christ means publicly identifying oneself with Christ by word and deed, even at the risk of one's life!

If entering heaven is contingent on such acts, then the same is conditioned on works!

----------
There are many who equate the call to self-denial, self-mortification, giving up one's life, and doing all other kinds of hard works, with conversion, but by so doing they either explicitly or implicitly deny the freeness of the gospel. By no stretch of the imagination is the demand for self-denial and self-sacrifice an invitation to receive a free gift. The attempt to harmonize these polarities always ends either in hopeless absurdity or in theological sophistry.

In this respect the man on the street is often more perceptive than the theologian. If someone were to offer him a gift in return for self-denying obedience, he would readily recognize that offer as grotesquely misrepresented!

The Son of God never engaged in such contradictions. What was free, He represented as free. What was costly, He presented as costly.
----------
(Zane Clark Hodges)

Question for the Lordship Salvation advocate: "Would you relegate a brand new, recently converted Muslim to hell because he has not come out to his family and/or village, proclaiming his identity with the Son of God?"

Where is room for development? Where is room for discipleship, and growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Now on to a treatment of 2 Tim 2:11-13

"This is a faithful saying:"

Paul uses this phrase 5 times in his epistles. This is his way of saying "Take great note of what is to follow, for its truth should be unquestionably relied upon, its veracity guarded, and its certainty cherished." It has an emphasis similar to Jesus Christ's "Most assuredly I say to you" (Greek :"Amen, amen, lego humin"), which has the force of "I solemnly assert to you." Paul is getting ready to share some very important encouragement and admonition with us. Perk up your ears!


"For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him."

This is another way of saying that every believer has eternal life and can never lose it. If you have believed in Christ for eternal life, then you have died with Him in a positional sense (Rom 6:5, 8; Gal 2:20; 5:24). And, if you've died with Him, you will live with Him, forever. Notice that there is no escape clause here. There is no such thing as one who has died with Christ who later loses his salvation.


"If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him."
[what happens when we are faithful]

Paul had spoken of his own endurance, using the same Greek verb, in v 10. There it clearly refers to persevering in the faith in spite of persecution and suffering (v 9). If other Christians follow his example and endure in the faith in spite of persecution and suffering, then they will rule with Christ.

The Lord Jesus also made it clear that only overcoming Christians will rule with Him. Compare Luke 19:11-26; Rev 2:26; 3:21. While all Christians will be in His kingdom, only Christians who endured in this life will be a part of His kingdom administration. Since serving Christ is what we will do in eternity (Rev 22:3), increased opportunity to serve Him is something which is extremely desirable.


"If we deny Him,
He also will deny us."
[what happens when we are unfaithful]

The second half of verse 12 is antithetically opposite of the first half. After the words "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him," we expect, "If we don't endure, we shall not reign with Him." That is precisely what verse 12b is saying. To deny Christ is to fail to endure in the faith. To be denied by Him is to be refused the privilege of ruling with Him.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ some believers will be confessed by Christ (Matt 10:33). He will acknowledge overcoming believers before God the Father and the angels as those who will rule with Him (Luke 19:17, 19). However, some believers at the Judgment Seat will be denied by Christ (Matt 10:33). He won't deny that they are saved. Remember, even if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He can't deny Himself. He will deny them in the sense that He will deny that they are worthy to reign with Him (compare Luke 19:22-26; Heb 11:38; Rev 3:4, 21).


"If we are faithless [or better "unfaithful": Greek = apistoumen]
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."

Note that even if you or I are faithless, Christ remains faithful. Why? Because He can't deny Himself. He promises to give eternal life to all who believe in Him for it. Our faithfulness is not part of the equation! (good news for us!) It is His faithfulness that determines whether we stay saved or not. Since He will always be faithful to that which He promised, all those who have trusted in Christ, including unfaithful, apostate ones, will live with Christ forever.

The freeness of the offer of eternal life must be emphasized. If a passage in the Bible conditions a favorable result of any kind on works of obedience or faithfulness (excepting the works, obedience, and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!), it manifestly cannot be speaking soteriologically!

Paul's beautiful and poetic saying is comforting, challenging, and alerting all at the same time.

(1) Eternal security is guaranteed
(2) Reigning with Christ is the reward for endurance and perseverance in our confession of Jesus Christ
(3) Significant loss of reward will be experienced for those who will not endure i their confession
(4) God is faithful to His promises. Our entrance into heaven is not conditioned on our faithfulness, but solely on God's! (Amen and Amen!)

(Portions of the treatment of 2 Tim 2:11-13 have been adapted and/or taken from an article by Bob Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society: may he get the credit and God receive the glory!)

Jim said...

Antonio, thank you for your thoughts. You are a most eloquent blogger!

jazzycat said...

Matthew,
You left out the IF:
v 11- If we do something. Something good happens to us.
v. 12- If we do something. Something good happens to us.
If we do something bad. Something bad happens to us.
v.13- If we are bad. He is good and denies us.
Why? Because He cannot deny himself.

Our difference is in what does DENY US mean. If Him being faithful means those he denies are still saved, then what is he denying? We both agree that it means we will not reign with Him. I believe because they will be in hell. So, if there are two classes of believers in heaven and one class is being denied before God by Jesus, then this position must be consistent throughout Scripture and it simply is not as some of the passages I have mention indicate. I have noticed no one has offered an explanation.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wayne
With regard to verse 13 you are inserting your own thoughts in.

It says nothing about denying us, that is in the previous verse.

It says 'He abideth faithful'.

Either He is faithful to us or He is faithful to himself.

If we look at the structure of the saying, it would seem that the faithfulness is manifested to us, as in the previous verses, the clause following our action relates to us-

v 11 We do something. Something happens to us.

v 12 We do something. Something happens to us.

v 13 We do something. Something happens to us (the Lord remains faithful to us).

On the other view:

v13 We do something. The Lord is like this (He is faithful to Himself).

That simply breaks the parallel structure of the saying.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

jazzycat said...

Jim and Matthew,
How could the following passage be consistent with there being a class of believers in heaven that Jesus denies?
Jesus speaks of believers being one. He says He is in believers and they are in Him. Can he deny himself? He says I in them…… that they may become perfectly one! How can he deny a group of glorified believers if they have become perfectly one? Jesus says He desires that they be with Him where He is and see His glory. Does this sound like some will be denied and thrown in the outer darkness? I think the answer is that those who are denied by Jesus will be in the outer darkness alright, but the outer darkness is HELL.

John 17:20-26 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Jim said...

Wayne,

We do not deny that ALL believers will eventually be glorified and enjoy God's presence for all eternity.

The question is; will all believers be ready for the judgement seat of Christ and hear "Well done thou good and faithful servant"?

What about the servant that hid his talent in the earth?

What about those who choose to enjoy the pleasures of this world rather than suffer affliction with the children of God?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Wayne, denial in verse 12 is contrasted with reigning with Christ.

To be denied is simply the denial of being a co-regent with Christ.

Just take the text at face value.

Kc said...

I suppose a great deal hinges on who the “we” is that Paul is referring to. I think it might also be helpful to try and determine the purpose or intent of this passage. I am still persuaded this is an admonition to faithfulness addressed to "we" believers.

jazzycat said...

Jim,
Thanks. I understand your position. I do think that Scripture does not contridict Scripure and where apparent contridictions exist, they must be reconciled. Taking Scripture at face value is fine if it agrees with the rest of Scripture. For example: No one would argue the meaning of John 3:16 or John 6:47. Some read more into those two passages than are there, but the basic point is very clear and they are very much in harmony with the rest of Scripture.

Thanks again. If I think of anything else to add I will do so.

Sidharth said...

Both the Calvinist and Armenians have sucked out the life of God's Predestination.

It's so beautiful.

I'd like you to read an article I wrote: If you are the son of God

To remain saved is to remain or continue to abide in Christ. And if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit.

Sidharth