2-timothy: The Result of the Resurrection

Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on March 27, 2005

2 Timothy 2:10-13

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The Lord’s Day
Morning

March 27, 2005

EASTER SUNDAY

II Timothy 2:10-13

“The Result of the Resurrection”

Dr. J. Ligon
Duncan III

Amen. If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with
me to II Timothy, chapter two. Last week as we were looking at II Timothy 2,
verses 1-9, we came to verse 8, a passage in which Paul makes a glorious
declaration about the resurrection as a central part of his gospel. That’s
something that Paul repeats on numerous occasions.

Tonight Derek Thomas will be preaching from I
Corinthians 15, a passage which explains how the resurrection is central to
Paul’s preaching of the gospel. It’s essential; it’s necessary for our
salvation, and Paul makes a similar statement here in II Timothy 2:8: “Remember
Jesus Christ,” he says to Timothy, “risen from the dead, descendant of David,
according to my gospel; for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a
criminal, but the word of God is not imprisoned.”

And that glorious declaration of the truth of the
resurrection leads Paul to make a statement about the significance of the
resurrection in his life…about the results of the resurrection not only in his
life, but also in Timothy’s life and the lives of the Ephesian Christians, and
in our lives, brothers and sisters. He’s speaking about the consequences, the
significance, the effects, the results of the resurrection in our lives as
Christians today, and that’s the passage that we’re going to study this morning.

Second Timothy 2:10-13 contains first, in verse 10,
a passage in which 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 doctrine of
the resurrection, the truth, the reality of the resurrection to reorient the way
that you look at every trial in your life.

And then in this glorious exhortation, 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 the Book of Romans, chapter five, he
quotes those verses, those stanzas of that ancient hymn, in verses 11, 12, 13 of
II Timothy 2 in order to exhort you and me to live in light of this glorious
reality of the resurrection–a reality that has already transformed us into a new
creation and changed the way that we look at the world, and the way that we live
and minister in this fallen world.

So before we read God’s holy word here in II
Timothy, let’s look to Him in prayer and ask for His help.

Our Lord and God, You have given us this word.
It is Your truth. We thank You, O God, that these are not simply stories or
cautionary tales, or moralistic exhortations to live life taking a leap of
faith, but these are the very words of the one true God, spoken to the people
that He has created, meant to be our only rule of faith and life. We ask that
by Your Spirit You would help us to understand the truth of Your word, and to
bring to bear in our experience the reality of the resurrection. We ask these
things through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Hear God’s word.

“For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that
they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal
glory. It is a trustworthy statement:

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 also will deny us;

If we are faithless, He remains faithful;

For He cannot deny Himself.”

Amen. And thus ends this reading of God’s holy, inspired,
and inerrant word. May He write its eternal truth upon our hearts.

Here is Paul in prison, bound in chains, awaiting
execution, celebrating the resurrection. How does that happen?
How does a
man awaiting an unjust sentence from unbelieving Gentiles, whose hope in life
has been to spread the word of Christ to as many people as possible…how does a
man face this kind of frustration? He wants to be on the mission field! He
wants to be preaching the truth! He wants to see churches being planted and
established; he wants to be seeing people become believers in the Lord Jesus
Christ, and he wants to see believers in the Lord Jesus Christ discipled…and
he’s held in this dingy dungeon! And he’s celebrating the resurrection! Why?

Because for the Apostle Paul the resurrection is
not simply a historical fact
which establishes the claims of Jesus Christ to
be who He says He is, and to have done the things that He claims to have done,
and to have accomplished the salvation He claims to have come to accomplish,
though it is that. It is a historical fact; it is the record of a space/time
reality, a supernatural activity of God in our human history. For Paul, the
resurrection is not simply that. It is not simply a historical fact. It’s not
simply a historical fact that establishes the claims of the truth of
Christianity, though it does that. The founder of no other world religion
claims to have been raised from the dead, but Jesus. And so it is a historical
fact which attests, which witnesses to, which corroborates the astounding claims
of Christianity about who this Jesus Christ is and what He has done, and that He
will come again.

The resurrection is more than that for the
Apostle Paul. The resurrrection is a transforming reality in which every
believer participates,
and he is attesting to his own participation in that
reality of the resurrection, and he is applying the truth of that resurrection,
the reality of that resurrection, to his present sufferings in this passage.

Our privilege as believers is to behold whatever
suffering we experience in this life in the light of the resurrection, because
the resurrection of Jesus has changed everything for us! It is that
truth to which the Apostle Paul is attesting in his own experience in this
passage, and he’s doing it as an example to Timothy, an example to the Ephesian
Christians, and an example to you and me.

There are so many things I would like to show you
from this passage, but we have time, I think, to look at three things in
particular
, and the first thing you’ll see in verse 10.

I.
Paul endures all things in his calling for the sake of God’s elect

Here Paul says, “For this reason I endure all things
for the sake of those who are chosen….”

Did you get that? 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,
for the sake of those who have rested and trusted in
Jesus Christ alone for salvation, 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.

You see, the point of verse 10 is to show us that
the well-being of the church was the aim of Paul’s life, of his preaching, of
his ministry, but even of his sufferings. He says, ‘I endure all these things:
I endure this criminal accusation, I endure this wrong imprisonment, I endure
the beatings, I endure the persecution, I endure the mocking, I endure the
estrangement: I endure all these for the sake of….you! God’s people!’ It’s
an amazing declaration of the way Paul saw his adversity, his personal adversity
serving the interest of the church, and it’s all because of the reality of the
resurrection.

You see, because of Jesus’ resurrection, and because
Paul died with Christ, because when Paul turned his back on his own
righteousness and trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, he died to sin
and self and to the world, and he was raised to newness of life in Jesus
Christ. And because of Jesus resurrection and because Paul has died with
Christ, he sees his sufferings in a very different light. All of his personal
adversity, all of his suffering in his trials–he sees that as serving the
interest of the well-being of the church. It’s an amazing thing. He views his
imprisonment as profitable for God’s people. Because the up-building of the
church is more important than his own safety, he’s ready to die and be thought
of as criminal for the welfare of the church! He’s willing to die, and by his
manner of death to confirm the godly in their faith.

This is extraordinary. Paul is showing us what it
means to experience the newness of Christ, the newness of life in Christ even in
the midst of our adversity here. It changes the way that he looks at his
sufferings. His sufferings have been appointed for the benefit of God’s people.

Do you remember how Paul explains
elsewhere that it is our privilege not only to believe on Christ, but also to
share in the fellowship of His sufferings?
And do you remember how he
says that it is our privilege as believers to fill up that which is lacking in
the sufferings of Christ? Now, Paul is not saying that somehow the atoning work
of Jesus Christ and His active obedience on our behalf was insufficient, and so
we as believers need to do just an itty-bitty bit more, and then that will make
Christ’s atoning work satisfactory for our forgiveness of sins and our inclusion
in the family of God. That’s not what Paul’s teaching.

Paul is teaching that Jesus’ death fully satisfies
the sins of all those who rest and trust in Him alone for salvation. But what he
is saying is this: As the Master suffered, so also His people will suffer in
this life. What is Jesus’ message to His disciples when He says,

“Shall the Master suffer and not the servant? If they have persecuted Me, they
will persecute you”?

The principle that Jesus teaches His disciples is, in
union with Christ, what happens to the Master happens to the disciple. And the
Apostle Paul is saying that ‘I have suddenly understood that the reality of the
resurrection transforms the way that I view my sufferings in this life.’

How did we sing it in the opening hymn? Turn with
me to 277. You’ve already sung to the Lord that you believe this. Look at the
fourth stanza. It’s at the bottom of the page, No. 277:

“Ours the cross, the grave, the skies…”

Now, that’s Pauline logic: if the skies are yours through
Jesus Christ; if you’ve been united with Jesus Christ so that you are looking
forward to everlasting fellowship with Him; if the skies are yours, so is the
cross and the grave. If you’re going to go the way of glory with Jesus Christ,
you’re going to go it via the way of death and self-denial and suffering. And
the Apostle Paul is saying that he has suddenly realized the power of the
resurrection transforms the way that believers look at their sufferings.
Because of the resurrection, because of faith-union with Jesus Christ, Paul’s
life is bent towards the well-being of the people of God. He realizes that his
suffering is meant for the benefit of all of God’s people.

Now, I want to ask you, my friends: would that
transform the way we look at our personal adversity?
You’ve just been given
a diagnosis: it’s terminal cancer. The doctors think you’ve got three to six
months. You have just been given the privilege, believer, of participating in
the fellowship of the sufferings of the body of Christ, for the sake of
God’s people.

You’ve got a wayward child, straying far from the
Lord, breaking your heart because you want him to know the Savior; you want him
to be part of God’s people. You have been given the privilege of the fellowship
of the sufferings of the body of Christ, for the sake of God’s people;
and your endurance of that suffering and the way that you endure that suffering
is meant for the well-being of all of the people of God.

You know, when we endure intense trials,
one of the things that happens is, our eyes turn in on ourselves.
The
pain, the emotional and psychological and spiritual torment is sometimes so deep
that we can’t see anything else! And the Apostle Paul is saying, ‘The
resurrection has transformed the way that I look at my suffering, my trial, my
hardship, my adversity; because I realize that that exists in my experience for
the sake of the well-being and benefit of God’s people. So suddenly Paul’s eyes,
instead of being focused in on himself, turn up and look out at God’s people and
say, ‘How can I be a help to the people of God in the midst of my suffering?”

My wife’s uncle, who was more like a grandfather to
her, died just a couple of months ago. And he was a dear, dear, man–one of the
kindest men that I’ve ever met. He was the son of a Scottish Presbyterian
minister, and served as an eye doctor in North Carolina for many, many years.
And his pastor, who visited him several times in the last weeks of his life,
reported to the congregation in his funeral sermon that he never could go by to
check on Mr. Hudson when, before he could open his mouth, Mr. Hudson was
checking on him! “How’s your family, pastor? How are you doing?” And the last
time that he went to visit Mr. Hudson, as he was on the way into the hospital he
said to somebody, “You know what? I bet that before I can minister to Mr.
Hudson, he’s going to ask something of me about my family.” And sure enough, he
walked into the room, and from his hospital bed less than three days from death,
the first thing out of Mr. Hudson’s mouth was, “Well, pastor, how’s your
family?”

His eyes weren’t turned in on himself–his own
predicament and suffering, the physical ailments that were going to take his
life in a matter of hours. He was thinking about ministering to others! That’s
how he was.

And Christian, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has
transformed every experience in trial and suffering so that whether you’ve lost
a job, or you’ve been betrayed by a friend, or you’re enduring turmoil in the
family–or maybe you’re being persecuted for Jesus Christ…you’re being laughed
at by friends because you trust in Jesus Christ. Maybe you’ve been mocked, or
you’ve been made peripheral to a particular group because you trust in Christ.
Or maybe you’re enduring an illness. Maybe you’ve been bereft of a dear loved
one, and your heart is breaking. Maybe you’ve buried a child. I don’t know
what it is, but your suffering, your trial, your hardship, your adversity…it
is designed by the resurrection for the benefit of God’s people.

That’s what Paul is saying. The resurrection has
changed the way that he looks at his own personal adversity. He has a
church-serving view of personal adversity.

II. Paul is motivated by a desire
for the salvation and blessedness/eternal happiness of God’s elect.

But there’s more. Look at verse 10 again.
There’s a second thing to learn here.

“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 he not only has a church-serving view of
adversity, he is saying that he has a salvation-promoting view of his personal
adversity.
In other words, 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. He understands
the logic…the logic that death for the Christian is the entrance to life, and
that the only way we share in Christ’s life and glory is by sharing first in His
death and humiliation, and that as every believer dies to sin and to the world
in Christ when we are regenerated, when we are united to Him by saving faith, so
also that begins a process of life whereby we mortify sin. We die to sin daily,
living to Jesus Christ, and it is that process of dying to sin and self and
living to Christ which will one day culminate in our experience of glory. And
the Apostle Paul is saying, ‘When I suffer, my suffering is designed to promote
the eternal well-being of God’s people so they experience all of what it means
to be saved, in all its glory.’

You know, when the trailers, when the advertisements
came out for the third Lord of the Rings movie, The Return of the King,
they had this great ad–it not only had great visual pictures, but it had three
phrases that it flashed up on the screen as it showed you battle images and
warfare. And those phrases went something like this: “There can be no triumph
without loss; no victory without suffering; no freedom without sacrifice.”
I
remember when I saw that trailer, I thought it was moving; and I thought, you
know, that really captured Tolkien. It really captured what he was writing
about in that book, The Lord of the Rings.

But I also thought, you know, that’s an
incredibly Christian motto!
There can be no triumph without loss; no
victory without suffering; no freedom without sacrifice. To turn it around the
other way and use the language of hymn 277, “…ours the cross, the grave, the
skies.” It’s a package deal. And the Apostle Paul is saying that because of
the resurrection and because of his faith-union in Jesus Christ, he yearns for
the eternal welfare of the church and for the church to experience all the glory
of what it is to be redeemed, to be saved, and he knows that his suffering
serves that interest.

Have you ever thought about your suffering in
that way? ‘Lord, use my suffering to promote the eternal well-being of Your
people.’

This last couple of weeks, two friends in this
congregation have undergone serious, serious operations–life-threatening
operations to their hearts. And I’ve been able to be a spectator as those two
families have encouraged one another in Christ, in the midst of those
operations. And I want to tell you, as a fly on the wall watching them encourage
one another, it has encouraged me no end. You know, it’s not often that you get
a friend writing to you what he thinks may be his last word of greeting to you
in this world; and when a friend writes to you in that circumstance and
professes his utter confidence in Jesus Christ, it can’t help but encourage you
in the faith!

You see, that’s a church-serving view of personal
adversity: where you are determined that… because it is God’s plan that in our
adversity as believers that we serve the interests of our brothers and sisters
in Christ…that we promote the growth in grace and sanctification, and
experience a full salvation for the people of God in our adversity…that turns
adversity and the way we look at adversity on the head!

The resurrection does that. The
resurrection completely changes the way we look at adversity.
And that’s
what Paul is saying: 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, and he expects Timothy to as well.

But he’s not done yet. In verse 11-13 he goes on to
show how he lives and ministers in light of this faithful saying. He
expects Timothy to live and minister this way. He expects the Ephesian
Christians to whom Timothy was a pastor to live and minister this way. He
expects the Christians of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson to live and
minister this way. He’s emphasizing here why he’s willing to endure all these
things. And look at what he says:

“It is a trustworthy statement:

For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

If we endure, we will also reign with Him;

If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

If we are faithless, He remains faithful,

For He cannot deny Himself.”

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.

Now, in this passage the Apostle Paul gives
us a picture of a Christ-centered, Christ-clinging approach to personal
adversity. And the first thing he says is this: “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.

You want to see a picture of victory in a Christian
life? It’s not health and wealth. It’s not ‘no problems.’ You know, our
problem is that when problems come into our lives we think something’s wrong!
‘Lord, it’s not supposed to be this way! We’re not supposed to have these
trials and hardships! We’re not supposed to be experiencing this suffering!’

You want to see a picture of Christian victory?
Let me show you one: it’s Paul in a prison, chained, waiting to die.
That’s
Christian victory! Why? Because Christians are into sadomasochism? No! But
because Paul is experiencing true life, even in the midst of his suffering he’s
celebrating the resurrection! There’s a picture of Christian victory. Christian
victory is not a picture of ‘no cancer, no problems, no family strife, no
marital troubles, no financial struggles’–that’s not the Christian life. The
Christian life is victory in the midst of those things! It’s life, despite
the fact that we live in the valley of the shadow of death.

And the Apostle Paul is simply saying 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 as well as then
and there.’

He doesn’t stop, does he? He goes on to say, “If
we endure, we will also reign with Him.”
The Apostle Paul says, ‘Christian,
this is why you endure the trials: because at the end of that endurance comes
reign.’ It’s a military term he uses here. To “endure” is the word “remain”.
It’s the way a Roman commander would have told his troops to stand firm, no
matter what was happening in terms of the barbarian charge against them.

You know, when Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of
Wellington, fought Napoleon Bonaparte in the Battle of Waterloo, he was not
fighting with a veteran army that he had commanded in the peninsula campaign in
Portugal and Spain, and had won great victories against Napoleon’s
vice-generals. He was fighting with a rookie army. It was sort of like the
first ‘European Union army.’ He had about 70,000 men–about… something like
two-thirds of the men Napoleon had. Napoleon outnumbered him by thirty
percent. But Napoleon had gathered all of his old veterans from the Russian
campaign and from all the other campaigns and had pulled them together. He had
more than 100,000 of them.

And Wellington’s commanding these European rookies
from all over the place. Some of them had never seen battle before, and so what
Wellington did is, he sprinkled his British troops throughout those rookie
regiments. He wanted those Belgians fighting next to Scottish Highlanders!
Why? Because when the heat was on, when Napoleon starting throwing his columns
of men into his line, he wanted those Highlanders to…what? To
remain, to stand.
And you know, that was Wellington’s battle plan: to hang
on. That was his battle plan against Napoleon that day. ‘All I want to do is
keep my army together until the Prussians can get here. That’s my plan today
against Napoleon: to remain, to endure, to hang on…; and so he planted troops
in their midst just to stand, so that the ones who had never before been in
battle wouldn’t break when the onslaught came.

And here’s what Paul is saying to the Christian:
Stand, 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.’
The Apostle Paul is preparing you for the onslaught, but
he’s reminding you of the reign. You stand, you remain, you keep trusting in
Christ, and let me tell you what’s coming: you’re going to judge the world with
Jesus Christ.

Did you know that both Jesus and Paul tell you
that? If you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the humblest believer, and
by His grace you persevere to the end, you will judge men and angels on the last
day, and you’ll reign with Jesus Christ forever. The Apostle Paul says that
hope, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because He died and
He
was buried and He was raised to glory and exaltation, I am
confident that no matter what I experience in this life, I will be raised with
Him to glory and to exaltation, because “…ours the cross, the grave, the
skies.” That logic cannot be broken in Christian reality: “Ours the cross, the
grave, the skies.” We will reign with Him.

But, of course, my friends, there’s a warning
here too, isn’t there? “If we deny Him…” and this hymn is simply quoting
Jesus, isn’t it? “If we deny Him, He 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, you turn your back on
Christ, you deny Christ, and the Apostle Paul says this: “He will deny you.”
Because He is the only name under heaven by which a person can be saved: Jesus
Christ.

But for the believer, there is this great promise
of victory even in the midst of hardship and trial.
Do you see what Paul is
saying? 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’s of the essence of Christian discipleship. But the resurrection
transforms the way we view that hardship.’

On May 10, 1940, in the middle of that great
conflagration which we now call the Second World War, Winston Churchill was made
the Prime Minister of Great Britain. And he met with his cabinet three days
later, on May 13, and on that same day gave his first speech as Prime Minister
to the House of Commons. Many of you have heard this speech on tape; some of
you may have heard part of it rebroadcast within a few days of its being given.
It’s one of the most stirring speeches ever given. He says to this House of
Commons, speaking to his nation in a time of dark trial:

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We
have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many
long months of struggle and suffering.

“You ask, ‘What is our policy?’ I can say it is to wage war by sea,
land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us
to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable
catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

“You ask, ‘What is our aim?’ I can answer in one word: it is
victory

“But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our
cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time, I feel entitled to
claim the aid of all and say, ‘Come, then, and let us go forward together with
our united strength.’”

And you see, the Apostle Paul is calling you and
me to a bigger battle, a greater conflict against a far more dreadful foe; but
he is arming you with even more hope than the hope of allies coming to our aid,
or to yours.
He is saying, ‘In the resurrection power and promise of Jesus
Christ, your suffering and hardship has been transformed from defeat into
victory, so that it now serves the interest of the well-being and the spiritual
growth of all of God’s people, and as you endure it, you will certainly reign.’
Paul is saying that the power and promise of the resurrection assures us of
ultimate victory in an even more important struggle than the struggle that
Churchill spoke about against Hitler.

My friends, do you realize what the resurrection
says?
It 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.

But, my friends, if you are here today not
trusting in Jesus Christ, I want to say to you that all those adversities are
for you merely the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that have no
meaning. It is the resurrection which supplies meaning to suffering in this
life.
It is the resurrection power which enables us to endure that
suffering, trusting and resting in Christ alone. It is the resurrection promise
which assures us that we will reign with Him. May God grant that no one goes
from this room without resting and trusting in Jesus Christ, and thus dying with
Him; because “…ours the cross, the grave, the skies.”

Let’s pray.

Our Lord and our God, we thank You for the truth
of Your resurrection, and for the transforming reality of it. Grant that we
would believe Your word. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen. Grace be with
you, through our resurrected Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

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