“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 2:11-12).

As a follower of Christ I am so often weak and faithless. Do you know the feeling? Despite the indwelling power of God’s Spirit I am constantly reminded of my flesh, the tug of this world, and the temptation of the Adversary. I sometimes sense a cycle of rebellion (which apathy, complacency, and self-centeredness are), repentance, and then gracious restoration. Despite the war that is waged in my soul and the defeats that are all too common, He always calls me back home to Himself and His ways. And in doing so God reveals my unworthiness afresh and simultaneously deepens my understanding of how desperately I need Him as my Savior and Lord.

Yet Paul’s warnings to Timothy are worth heeding. Endurance and the continued embrace of the Gospel to the end are marks of those that “have died with Christ”. There is no such thing as being “in Christ” and yet utterly falling away and rejecting the hope found in Christ alone. John speaks to this when he says, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19).

So, this passage tells us that those who are in Him – we who have died to ourselves and surrendered to Him – have the assurance of eternal life (how can we call it eternal life if we can lose it?). Paul tells us that our salvation necessitates that we will endure to the end and will not disown Him. For those who have truly tasted the sweetness of Jesus never desire to return to the sinful ugliness that has been left behind. Nor do they finally disown Him because they understanding the consequences of their final rejection (they are disowned by God – v.12). But what reasons does this passage give us for this promise?

First, we are His. He has called and claimed us. Hence the promise that we will live with Him in verse 11. Paul’s letter to the church at Rome puts it this way, “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). And, secondly, because we, by grace through faith, are a part of Him (as in the body of Christ analogy) and he can not disown Himself. That’s why verse 12 says that even in our unfaithfulness He is faithful for us. He must be because He can’t reject a part of Himself. How comforting and glorious is that? He is always faithful to Himself and therefore to us. Amazing! Notice the similar context in Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.  In other words, Jesus initiates our redemption and guarantees the eternality of it. So we will live with Him, endure, reign and never disown Him in, by, and through His power to uphold us.

But our war for righteousness wages on. In the power of His Spirit we can have victory in our daily living for Him but, as fallen and not fully sanctified children, we will, against our strongest desires, stumble and fall. Paul understood this struggle and the experience of both defeat and victory that we encounter in our human bodies – we yearn Christ’s righteousness and for His glory while still dealing with our maddening humanity. He also understood that our ultimate victory is to be found the never-ending faithfulness of God to Himself: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:19-25).

I am so thankful – actually overwhelmed – that in my weakest of moments He is faithful for me. He faithfully went to Calvary to purchase my forgiveness for all of eternity. He also faithfully intercedes for me in my failings so that I will not ultimately and utterly fall away. How then could I ever contemplate totally rejecting this Savior and not enduring to the end? How could I dare to turn His grace into license? How could I not love Him so much that I, like Paul, agonize over my inability to perfectly model my ever-faithful Lord?