Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:11–13, NIV 1984).
My Musings – This is an interesting passage, containing four couplets, each beginning with the word “if.” What makes it interesting to me, is that the word “if” is typically the introduction to a conditional clause (if a certain condition is true, then a particular result happens), which it is in the first three couplets, but not the last one. This should cause the reader to question why that is so, because it begs an explanation, which is given in the text.
If we died with Him, [then] we will also live with Him – “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3, NIV). “Unless” also forms a conditional clause. As with most conditional clauses, we would like to substitute our own conditions (good deeds, live a “good” life, don’t commit any “mortal” sins, etc.), but we cannot. We must “die” with Him (accept His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf) in order to live (be born again) with Him. We cannot be born again, if we have not “died.” We die so we will not perish. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV 1984).
If we endure, [then] we will also reign with Him – John 3:16, cited above, is not a conditional clause. Whoever believes has eternal life. It cannot be eternal if it can be lost. So this conditional clause must mean something else. “Well done, my good servant!” his master replied. “Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” (Luke 19:17, NIV 1984). How we live (endure in) this life, does not determine if we will live with Him in the next. It determines how we will reign with Him in the next.
If we disown Him, [then] He will also disown us – This clause stands in juxtaposition to the first clause. We can either die with (be owned by) Him, or die without Him by disowning Him. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32–33, NIV 1984). If we disown Him, we will never see the Kingdom of Heaven. To make sure we do not misapply this clause, that having once genuinely accepted Christ we can later disown Him and lose our salvation, the final unconditional clause is added.
If we are faithless, [nevertheless] He will remain faithful – There will be times in our Christian walk that our “enduring” will be less than stellar. We will be unfaithful at times. But God’s faithfulness to His promise “whoever believes in Him shall not perish” is unconditional. He cannot be unfaithful. “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:16–19, NIV). As Christians, our identity is in Christ, God’s “one and only Son” and “he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.“
My Advice – Die with Him so you can live and reign with Him. Then live a life worthy of the calling.
Want to become a Christian (die with Him)? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ (endure with Him)? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”