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Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
We’ve been studying the book of Romans attentively for some time now and we’ve eased the pace a tad more while we explore the “treasure” that is Romans chapter 8.
Most recently we studied the role of the Holy Spirit in the Age of Grace and now here we are in the middle of the chapter and the truth concerning the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the Believer just keeps unfolding. The more you examine this topic the more you see. It can be a bit overwhelming trying to absorb all this information all at once, which is one of the reasons we’re taking our time and we’re doing this verse by verse.
In the previous lesson, one of the things we learned is that the Holy Spirit was gifted to us as a guarantee of our inheritance. He is a “down payment” of our eternal glory.
You may be wondering what our inheritance will be.
You may be asking what’s eternal glory.
To be quick, our inheritance, suffice to say, means we’re going to inherit everything God our Father possesses and God owns everything in this universe and beyond…
In addition, we’re going to be made like His Son, and we will rule and reign with Him throughout eternity (Ephesians 2:6; 2 Timothy 2:12). This is what He has promised us (and more) and God the Father “sealed” the deal by giving the Holy Spirit to each one of us Believers as a “down payment;” a guarantee of our inheritance.
Eternal glory is your destiny if you’re a true Believer. You see, God is setting up His eternal kingdom at this time (John 14:1-4), and He uses suffering, trials, and testing in the lives of true Believers to work our glory. Our trials are the way to glory. They are the very “hand” of God preparing us, and molding us into the likeness of His Son.
Therefore, suffering is your destiny as well. But God rewards those who persevere.
True Believers will be eternally rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ for their faithfulness and their willingness to use their spiritual gifts voluntarily (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:11-12). This is the primary subject of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.
(2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Romans 14:10-12)
(2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Romans 14:10-12)
It is also significant that among the final words of Revelation, we find these words of the Lord Jesus Christ:
12: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My (what) reward is with me, to render to every
man according to what he has done.
God gives us salvation as a free gift, through faith. But He rewards us for “good works.” God supplies the resources by which we may serve Him and others but the decision to employ those resources is ours. When we choose to “labor for the Lord,” this is voluntary and becomes our responsibility so He rewards us. (1 Corinthians 15:10; Colossians 1:29)
There are 5 Crowns (rewards) mentioned in Scripture but they are described in general terms. There isn’t anything specific, in other words. What we do have is this:
The promise of Crowns: may be a symbol of victory, authority, and responsibility
The promise of heavenly treasure: (Matthew 6:20; 1 Peter1:4) – stresses their eternal value and security
The promise of accolades or commendations: this is seen in those passages where a reward is administered in the form of something like, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21; 1 Corinthians 4:5b)
The promise to overcomers: this crown could refer to rewards for those Believers who persevered through suffering, tests, trials, temptations, and death.
The promise of special responsibilities and authority of the Lord’s possessions: (Matthew 19:28, 24:45-47; 25:21, 23)
Now before some of you get the “big head,” our rewards may be likened to our spiritual gifts and then maybe our opportunities. But we will not wear them like badges of honor! Scripture says all our crowns will be cast at the feet of Jesus Christ – for only He is worthy (Revelation 4:10-11). Some of us may be given authority over many things or cities, which could include galaxies in this universe or another afar off.
(Matthew 25:21, 23, and Luke 19:17-19).
I say “some” because Scripture says there will be a loss of rewards.
Evidently, not everyone will reign with the Lord.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “There are no Crown-Wearers in heaven who were not Cross-Bearers here below” - food for thought.
Let’s review the Bible passages we are concerned with today:
17: and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed (since) we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Electricity and water for the most part choose a path of least resistance. This is natural.
And if given an option we prefer a life of comfort and ease? This too is natural.
Who wants stress? Who needs difficulties; and suffering – no thank you, right?
Now no one likes to deal with suffering. But it’s a fact that every true Believer will encounter a certain amount of it in their life time. According to verse 17 above, suffering is a required component of a Believer’s preparation for glory.
However, these verses are not talking about any and all types of suffering for everyone suffers here on earth even non-believers. Paul is speaking of the suffering we Believers endure for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:29).
Please turn to the book of Matthew, at chapter 16. I want you to consider Jesus’ story – the Man of sorrows.
24: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus told His disciples that He was going up to Jerusalem where all things written through the prophets about the Son of Man would be accomplished (Luke 18:31-34); this included His “suffering.” But even as He went to the cross, the twelve were in a state of disarray and did not anticipate this event. Jesus had been preparing them for what was to come after His departure (John 15, 16). Jesus told them the world would hate them, and they too would suffer, as He suffered.
To highlight the fact that they did not understand His words, one day, James and John came up to Jesus requesting that He grant them seats, one at His right hand, and one at His left hand in glory. The Apostle Mark gives us Jesus reply:
38: But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink (Matthew 26:39), or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
Both James and John couldn’t see it. They lacked understanding.
If they could have seen ahead to “the cup” Jesus spoke of in the garden and in reference to His suffering and death, they would have back off this request.
The message in this verse is simply this: the greater glory in eternity is related to our suffering in this life. (John 17:1)
Our coming glory is not connected to rank or privilege, which is what James and John had in mind. It is directly connected to our “suffering” on earth; the greater the suffering, the greater our glory, if we persevere.
By suffering Scripture does not mean physical suffering, essentially. The book isn’t talking about our physical problems or occasional illnesses. It’s not referencing our bad marriages, our rude children, and the boss at work who doesn’t treat you well.
It’s referring to all manner of suffering for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now I need to break this down a bit further because I don’t mean to imply that only preachers and teachers meet the criteria or that you need to be actively spreading the gospel, and suffering while doing so, for this to pertain to you.
You see just by being a true Believer, and living a Believer’s lifestyle (walking with the Lord Jesus Christ) you are going to attract negative attention. For instance: have you tried to pray in a public building recently, or tried to read Scripture out loud in a school or at work? If you tried, I bet you attracted some negative attention.
Some of this pessimism comes from within your own family. I know parents who have been alienated from their children for their beliefs and for standing up for God’s Word.
You may be at odds with some of your friends that you’ve known for many years because of your faith. It happened to me. A good friend of mine, of 15 years, disappeared from my life after I became a man of faith.
Some of you may have experienced “suffering” in the workplace. Believe it or not, it’s possible to experience “suffering” for the gospel of Jesus Christ in the church.
Scripture clearly teaches us that affliction is a necessary part of our preparation for our coming glory and the measure of our glory is directly related to the degree of our suffering.
Please turn to 2 Timothy, chapter 2.
2 Timothy 2
11: It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12: If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
Our walk with Jesus, in this life, will include suffering. This is what Paul meant by “endure.” Paul wasn’t speaking about enduring a life of comfort and ease. Paul was sharing with us what living the life of a Believer would bring to our doorstep. Paul knew what he was preaching about – he lived it.
While we’re here in the book of 2 Timothy, flip over to chapter 3.
I’d like to draw your attention to the Apostle Paul at this time; a man who suffered greatly for the gospel, but God said he would (Acts 9:15-16). However, this didn’t deter him in the least. In fact, it was in the midst of his trials and his sufferings that Paul did his best work. The books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon were written by Paul during his 1st imprisonment in Rome for example.
When Paul wrote this letter to his protégé Timothy, he knew his days were numbered; before his time was up he had to pass the torch to his brother in Christ Jesus, Timothy.
Paul wrote this letter in part to let him know that all those who live for the Lord will suffer. But Paul didn’t want him to see this as a negative and therefore neither should we.
It’s a positive. It’s in preparation for our glory.
2 Timothy 3
10: Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,
11: persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me
(2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
12: Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Now you may not lose your life, but since you’ve chosen to live a godly life there is bound to be some level of alienation from your family, your friends, your co-workers, society, and so on it goes.
You see, you’re 180 degrees out from the way the world thinks and acts. You’re in conflict with them and their ideals so don’t be surprised when they turn up the heat.
We need to adopt the same attitude as our apostle Paul and look at our sufferings for Christ Jesus as both necessary and our path to glory. In other words, the more you practice being faithful here, the more you pursue godliness here, the greater your eternal glory, when Jesus comes.
6: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until (when) the day of Christ Jesus.
So you have a few troubles in this life. You're misunderstood. Your children think you’re weird? You're hassled at home and at work because of your faith.
When you open your mouth to speak you're criticized or mocked – so was Jesus.
You can’t catch a break. You're rejected. You're alienated – so was Jesus.
As the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus…”
7: YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS;
YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;
8: YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”
Jesus Christ is the Firstfruits of the resurrection to come.
Jesus Christ is the forerunner, God who became man, lower than the angels for a time, He became the first to be exalted to glory and life eternal.
Paul said: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
These trials are testing your faith and that’s natural. But you pass the test by persevering – you press on towards the goal and your destiny.
When you suffer rejection, or worse, for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ you give God the glory, and you keep moving forward. As Paul said, “You run to win the race.” Therefore, these light and momentary displeasures are more precious than gold which perishes, because these good things when tested by fire won't perish, but will result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus comes.
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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