Daily Remember Christ and the Cross
Four powerful motives for living aggressively for Christ–2 Timothy 2:8-13
You probably don’t remember how important remembering is? My prayer today is that you would embrace just how vital remembering is to God. The Old Testament is clear how essential remembering the great acts of God is to the spiritual well-being of God’s children. Look at your outline or turn to Exodus 12.
On the night before the exodus, when God instituted the Passover as a perpetual ceremony in Israel, God said in Exodus 12:26 to 27, “And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’ And the people bowed low and worshiped.” The Passover was meant to bring about a heart-driven spiritual reflection.
Later, after God thundered the Ten Commandments from Sinai and charged Israel with the Shema and specific instructions to “impress them on your children” in Deuteronomy 6:20 to 23, Moses went on to say: “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand.
22 ‘Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; 23 He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’” Again God shows you the value of remembering the Law.
After crossing the Jordan and making crucial covenants, Joshua would put up stones–why? Joshua 4:6 to 7, “So that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
God wants his people to recall–why? Because God’s children have always tended to forget the wonderful things He has done. The Lord Himself changed the Passover and turned it into a remembrance of His person and work with the ordinance we call communion or the Lord’s Supper. FBC participates in communion every week so that each one of you would remember.
First Corinthians 11:24 to 25, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me. 25 … This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” You and I desperately need to daily remember–to recollect, think, harken back, consider, retain, bring to mind Who Christ is and what Christ has done for you. Remember who you are in Christ, what Christ has left you here for, what He delivered you from and where you are headed forever.
You know it’s true–you and I struggle with remembering what God has done. And that’s why Paul calls Timothy to remember in verses 8 to 13. Turn in your Bibles to 2 Timothy 2 and follow along in your outlines. Paul commands Timothy to remember Christ and His work on the cross.
Read verses 8 to 10, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 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.”
The process of remembering was on Paul’s mind as he writes this letter. In Chapter 1 Paul tells Timothy to remember not to be ashamed of Paul or the Gospel. Now in Chapter 2 Paul commands Timothy to remember to live aggressively for Christ. Even under the threat of being arrested, tortured and killed for Christ—Timothy, I want you to train men, fight the good fight, compete as an athlete, and work like a farmer.
But why should I be willing to suffer or be attacked or put in jail, or die Paul? This passage says, because Christ suffered and died for you–remember that. When you remember, you can resist being ashamed and when you remember you’re able to focus on what is most important in ministry, no matter what the cost.
Until Christ returns, the bold proclamation of the Gospel will continue to stir up the opposition of this spiritually blind, Christ-rejecting world. But remembering what Christ did for you energizes you to stand firm against suffering and persecution. Timothy understood if he ministered as courageously and faithfully as Paul, he might also suffer as severely like Paul. But remembering Who Christ is and what Christ did for you motivates you to embrace any sacrifice you might make for Him.
So, directed by the Spirit of God, this passage calls you to remember Christ so that you’re motivated to live like a trainer, soldier, athlete and farmer. Remembering what Christ has done motivates you to live normal Christianity. Paul motivates Timothy to live aggressive when all others prefer to live passive. Paul spurs Timothy to stand up for Christ when everyone else wants to not create conflict.
In verses 8 to 13, Paul gives Timothy four great motivations to live aggressively for Christ. So what are you motivated by? Regular folks are motivated by acceptance, curiosity, honor, independence, order, power, social status, money. But God’s true children are motivated by something far greater, found here. Today, verses 8 to 10 give three motivations and verses 11 to 13 next week give one additional motivation.
Christianity is not only investment, a fight, a competition and really hard work–your Christian life is impossible. You desperately need to depend on the Spirit of God. And along with the filling of the Spirit, God wants you to remember–why? So that you’re motivated to keep training, keep fighting, keep competing and keep working hard in ministry. Are you ready? Remember verses 1 to 6? Why should I be a faithful teacher of teachers? Why should I suffer hardship like a soldier, compete to win like an athlete, and toil hard like a farmer?
#1 The PREEMINENCE of Jesus Christ
Verse 8 says, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.” Paul begins with a command–remember Jesus Christ. Paul urges Timothy to always keep in mind and think about. You know how this motivates people. Remember the Alamo. In World War II, remember Bataan. Remember the Holocaust. And recently, remember 9-11. Be motivated by memory.
Christian, take the time to “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.” Timothy, your service will be more aggressive, you’ll have greater courage, greater boldness, greater endurance with evil treatment or suffering for the Lord. If you remember Christ’s preeminence, who He really is–God incarnate, your Creator and sacrificial Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
And the way Paul says it here, this is not an option. Timothy and you Christians, you must remember–I command you to present tense, continually, 24/7 remember. The active voice carries the idea of “continue to remember” or “keep on remembering”. Always bring Christ to mind, recall Christ and think on Christ and the cross. Start each day remembering Who Christ is and what Christ has done for you. Paul actually brings up three areas of reminder about Christ for Timothy.
First Christ is RISEN Verse 8
“Risen from the dead,” Christ was dead and now is alive. Paul seems to be fortifying Timothy against his natural fears that apparently threatened to fill his soul–the fear of being arrested, then marched off to face a terrible death. The Lord Jesus paid such a price. Terrible things happened to Him. He was betrayed by a friend, deserted by others, falsely accused, wrongfully condemned. He was mocked, scourged to the bone, then crucified with criminals.
But Christ was raised from the dead–He is alive! He has ascended into Heaven and He is seated at God’s right hand on the highest seat of power. He ministers to us now as our Great High Priest. Remember this Timothy, as you are threatened with death from Rome by preaching the Gospel and identifying with Paul. Death was not the end for Christ–remember that.
The preeminence of our Lord Jesus Christ should always be in the forefront of our minds. Christ is the ultimate trainer of teachers. He is the greatest soldier, the greatest athlete, and the greatest farmer/hard worker. He fought the greatest battle and won the greatest victory. He ran the greatest race and won the greatest prize. He sowed the perfect seed and reaped the perfect harvest.
You must keep in mind that Jesus’ path to glory was marked by pain before pleasure, sorrow before joy, humiliation before glorification, persecution before exaltation, death before resurrection, earthly hatred before heavenly worship. To remember those truths about our Lord’s earthly life will protect us from the false belief that if you obey, you’ll become rich. If you believe, you’ll be protected from persecution. Or the false idea that if you follow Christ, everything will be easy.
Timothy and FBC believers, if Jesus’ perfect obedience to His heavenly Father did not bring earthly prosperity and well-being to Him, how much less can we expect to receive those things with our imperfect service to Him? You are to remember Jesus Christ–first of all because He is risen from the dead. More literally, “Having been raised from the dead.” A perfect participle–Christ was raised and He remains raised from the dead. He was made alive and remains alive today.
Christ’s resurrection proves the Gospel is true. The resurrection demonstrates the Gospel’s power to awaken the spiritually dead. The resurrection proves Christ’s death paid for your sins and you can be forgiven. The resurrection promises a future, perfect, resurrection body. And the resurrection guarantees our eternal home in Heaven.
But Paul is not speaking merely of remembering the resurrection, important as that is–but rather of remembering Christ, who is alive because of the resurrection. We do not serve a past event or a historical dead person. But we serve Christ because He is no longer dead, but alive now. We remember worship and serve the living Jesus Christ.
Paul says to Timothy and to you here–live bold, Christian. Stand firm and speak out, because you serve a risen, alive Savior. Be motived by remembering. This is God who loves you, is all-wise, and all-powerful. This very God died for you, rose for you, gives you all you need to live and serve Him and is in total control. Live focused like a soldier, aggressive like an athlete and hardworking like a farmer for Christ–why? Cause you can’t lose, because Christ is alive. Secondly . . .
Second Christ is a RELATION
Remember that Christ is a verse 8, “descendant of David.” Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man–100% God and 100% man in one person without confusion. Christ limited the exercise of His divine attributes, when He lived and ministered on Earth, but Christ was never less than God and never less than man.
When Paul uses the phrase, “descendant of David,” Paul is not only speaking of Christ’s humanity as our sympathetic High Priest who has experienced all your suffering, temptations, hurts and your pain. Also, “descendant of David” describes Christ as the royal King, the majestic Lord in the line of David the king.
In Luke 1:32 to 33, before Jesus’ conception the angel proclaimed to Mary, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” Remember Christ, Timothy and FBC Christian. Stop being ashamed, stop hiding among Christians, and invest into others, get focused, get aggressive and work hard. Why? Christ is the God/man, descendant of David.
As our perfect High Priest, Christ is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses,” because Hebrews 4:16 says Christ “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”
Christ understands your weaknesses. He knows your temptation to be afraid and ashamed. He can help you overcome them. Remember Christ–why? As the descendant of David, Christ is also Lord. As your sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ controls everything you are and everything that happens to you. You must resist temptation, but you need not fear temptation, because our Lord, 1 Corinthians 10:13, “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Timothy, be motivated because Christ understands your struggles to speak out and also is Lord over all your circumstances, so you have nothing to fear. And third . . .
Third Christ is to be REJOICED over, “according to my gospel”
John Calvin clarifies, Paul calls it “MY gospel”–not that he professes to be the author of this gospel, but merely the messenger of the Gospel and minister for the Gospel. The Gospel is the message of deliverance from sin and escape from just punishment. The Gospel is the message of restoration to a relationship with God now and forever.
The Gospel is the good news that God is the one who does the work of salvation, not man. The Gospel is the good news that God loves his own enough to choose them to be saved. Everything that matters in life and eternity is resolved by Christ for you–rejoice Tim.
Paul presents Christ as preeminent because the Gospel is the work of Christ on behalf of sinful men and women in order for them to enjoy abundant life now and eternal life forever. Paul says to Timothy, this is “according to [or, “in harmony with”] my Gospel.” “According to my Gospel” does not refer to Paul’s personal opinion about the Gospel, but to the divinely revealed message of Jesus Christ entrusted to Paul and that Paul has proclaimed as chapter 1 verse 1, “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” It is Paul’s Gospel since . . .
1. Paul had received it by immediate revelation (Galatians 1:12)
2. Paul continues to proclaim it as its herald, apostle, and teacher (2 Timothy 1:11), and
3. Paul still clings to it with his whole heart, even now as He is facing immanent death
Paul’s gospel is powerful. It’s life-transforming now and the only door to Heaven later. This genuine Gospel will cause reaction. It will save souls, but also lead to satanic attack.
When Paul preached his Gospel in Jerusalem, he was mobbed. When he preached the true Gospel in Athens, he was mocked. When he preached an accurate Gospel in Rome, he was martyred. Yet Paul was never ashamed of his Gospel. He was just as prepared to preach it to Nero as he was to Caiaphas, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, or anyone else.
Paul calls it “my gospel” because all of its glorious fullness had been revealed to him and entrusted to Him. Paul calls it “my gospel” because Timothy needs to rejoice that he too has received this message of life and has the honor of sharing it with others.
Remember who Christ is, Timothy. Remember who Christ is, FBC believer. Be motivated, Timothy, by the preeminence of Christ as the one who is alive, the one who is your High Priest and Lord and the one who accomplished your salvation. Paul says, you may suffer by coming to see me, teaching the Word, or preaching the Gospel–but so did Christ. But Timothy and FBC Christian, be motivated next by . . .
#2 The POWER of God’s Word Verse 9
Timothy knew Paul was no coward. When Paul challenged Timothy to face tribulation, he was only asking him to do what he himself was prepared to do. Paul described his own difficulties in verse 9 and in contrast, shares more motivation. Read verse 9, “For which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.”
“Suffer hardship” is the same Greek word Paul used in verse 3, when he urged Timothy to suffer hardship. I am doing what I asked you, Timothy, to be willing to do in verse 3. Paul was not a robber, murderer, or traitor, even by the standards of Roman law. Yet he was incarcerated as a criminal, probably in the infamous Mamertine prison in Rome, awaiting certain death.
Paul was jailed under harsh conditions and was suffering simply because he preached the Gospel and represented Christ. Paul expected to be executed. Paul had no earthly protection against the malice of Nero, who was capable of great wickedness and who had a vested interest in making a public example of Paul as a Christian leader.
The book of Philippians tells us some of Nero’s household became believers. Tradition tells us one of them was Nero’s mother. Yet Nero killed his own mother, possibly for her faith. Nero hated Christians. So Nero treats Paul like a criminal. The Greek word criminal means “evildoer” or “malefactor”. The word is used only here and in Luke 23, where it describes the men who were crucified with Christ.
The word is made up of two terms—evil and work, describing a person who is depraved, bad to the bone. The word criminal is a strong term used to describe violent people, like murderers, thieves, and traitors, all who were punished by torture and most often death. Paul is suffering. The term imprisonment includes the idea of bonds or shackles or chains, picturing Paul’s actual circumstance.
Just like Christ, Paul is unjustly treated like an evil person, a criminal, now bound in chains, facing torture and death. Nero had just burned Rome (A.D. 64) and blamed the Christians, of whom Paul was a leader. Thus Paul was chained and treated like criminal scum. All this for the Gospel. But there was no hint of self-pity in Paul. Rather, there was confident encouragement.
In contrast to Paul remaining in jail, facing ongoing suffering, is God’s Word, which can never be shackled or locked away. When Paul says, “but the word of God is not imprisoned,” he uses a strong contrast. The continual present tense suffering of Paul and ongoing imprisonment is in strong contrast to the Word of God, which is never jailed and can’t be stopped.
The Greek text powerfully describes Paul’s suffering as ongoing. But the Word of God is described as never in the past and never today and never into the future can God’s Word ever be stopped, jailed or chained up–no matter what.
Hey, the religious freedom we enjoy in the USA is nice, but it is not needed for God’s Word to go forth in power. Religious freedom is sweet, and all of you who enjoy it should be grateful and take advantage of the opportunities it affords for worship, witness, and service. But the power of God’s Word has never been dependent on man’s protection or subject to man’s restriction. That’s Paul’s point–the Word of God cannot be imprisoned.
The writer of Hebrews agrees in 4:12, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” No power on Earth or in Hell can shackle the Word of God.
Sometimes God’s servants are stifled, or silenced in death, but God’s Word still rings out. You may have been taught God’s Word by a man who demoralized or later denied the faith. Friends, the Bible he taught, if accurate, is still powerful in and of itself. Other teachers are tortured, imprisoned, killed, Bibles are burned, men compromise, but God’s Word cannot be chained. God’s Word is like Christ, alive. God’s Word can no more be shackled than God Himself.
Philosopher Voltaire once bragged he would bury the Bible. Not long afterward, Voltaire died, his house was purchased by the Geneva Bible Society and they used his home as a place to store Bibles for distribution. Burn! Men may deny the Word of God. They may doubt it, despise it, and distort it. But the Word will still pierce their innermost beings, where it awakens conviction of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. The Bible is what brings salvation and the Bible is what brings sanctification.
Remember Christ and the power of God’s Word, Timothy and FBC Christian. And be motivated to continue to teach the truth of the Gospel for salvation and God’s Word for sanctification, regardless of circumstances or threats or risks. But Paul doesn’t stop motivating Timothy, he continues in verse 10 with . . .
#3 The PURPOSE of Ministry Verse 10
“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.” The third motivation for aggressive faithfulness is the divine purpose of the Lord’s work on Earth before He returns. “For this reason” refers to what Paul just said in the preceding verse, about remembering the preeminence of Christ and the power of God’s Word.
You are to remember and be motivated by the purpose of ministry–for lost family and lost friends to come to Christ in salvation. Paul says he suffers for the sake of the chosen–those God calls to be his children. So they obtain salvation, which is only found in Christ Jesus and the only way anyone anywhere will end up in Heaven–eternal glory.
Paul says, Timothy, I endure suffering so that those God has chosen would respond to God’s unstoppable Word, proclaimed through you and me, about Christ and the cross. You don’t know who is chosen by God in advance. But those who are elect will eventually respond to the Gospel when taught correctly.
This is what I am suffering for in prison, Timothy, and this is what I am calling you to suffer for now in Ephesus and elsewhere. I’m not responsible for saving them so they obtain salvation–I am responsible for sharing with them God’s Word, so God will awaken them in time. Can you imagine if you were responsible for anyone’s salvation–if it was your fault they rejected Christ and spent eternity in Hell all because of you? You weren’t compelling. You looked bad. You were unclear. You didn’t have the right answer.
That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches God elects, you engage. God saves, you share. Election is a gracious, sovereign and eternal act of God by which He, on the basis of His character and purposes alone, selected certain individual sinners to be saved and glorified through union with Jesus Christ. You share with everyone, and those whom God chooses respond in time and get saved.
Election is a biblical doctrine. Election does not belong to a group of reformers, teachers or schools. It is clearly and repeatedly taught in the Bible. God chooses. If you’re saved, it is only because you were chosen a long time ago. Deuteronomy 7:6, “The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession.”
John 15:16, “You did not choose Me but I chose you.” Romans 8:30, “These whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Ephesians 1:4, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” If you think that is difficult to embrace, the Bible teaches that God is the one who elects and everyone is still responsible to respond. Scripture teaches both truths.
Jesus said, “You will not come to me,” holding people responsible–yet Christ also teaches He and the Father are involved in awakening people to respond. In fact, the Bible puts both truths in the same verse without apology–God is sovereign in calling people to salvation and people are responsible to respond.
In Acts 16:14 with Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to the truth.” Acts 13:48, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Theologians call this an antinomy–two truths, both true, yet seem to stand in opposition to one another.
But you say, “I don’t understand.” That is not surprising. You are finite, God is infinite. But what a motivation for Timothy and you. The issue is not that you have all the answers. The requirement to share the Gospel in ministry is not to be eloquent, convincing or profound. The issue is you proclaim the truth that God saves sinners.
The God/man came to take our place, died for our sin, rose from the dead and when we exchange all that we are for all that Christ is, when we put our faith dependently on Christ and turn from our sin, we will be saved. Who did it? God awakened our hearts so we could respond in faith and repentance from sin, through God’s Word concerning His Gospel. Paul says it in verse 10 so clearly, you were chosen to obtain salvation—“chosen so that they also may obtain the salvation.”
All of you who are in Christ and headed for glory are chosen to proclaim the Gospel message. Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
And just like God promised Paul, Paul is calling Timothy to trust in God’s sovereign will as He continues to proclaim the Gospel to the saints and teach God’s Word to the saints. Acts 18:10, “For I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” They are not saved yet, but you stay and share. Timothy can bear up under whatever difficulties, because those whom God has chosen will respond and obtain salvation.
God sovereignly calls every believer in His grace. He sovereignly requires their faith to make His gracious calling effective and He sovereignly calls those who are saved to be His witnesses to those who are not. Are you motivated? Then remember Christ and the cross.
1 REMEMBER the PREEMINENCE of the LORD Verse 8
2 REMEMBER the POWER of the WORD Verse 9
3 REMEMBER the PURPOSE of the WORK Verse 10
And next week, you will be absolutely blown away by remembering . . .
#4 The PROMISES of God in verses 11 to 13
What does it mean? Come back next week. And take home some final brief thoughts.
1. Aggressive Christianity is NORMAL Christianity
Paul is not talking to super Christians, but everyday Christians. Those who want to minister pursue their faith like a coach, a soldier, an athlete and farmer.
2. Develop the Habit of REMEMBERING throughout each day
Set your alarm, write it on your hand, write yourself a note, but remember deeply and daily the person of Christ and the work of the cross.
3. Trust in the power of the WORD to bring salvation and bring sanctification
Share verses, have friends read chapters, but trust in God’s Word to change lives.
4. Don’t try to save anyone, but do SHARE the truth of the Gospel
God must save, you are called to share the truth that salvation comes through submission to Christ alone. Share the message that God saves sinners.
5. The eternal glory of verse 10 is HEAVEN and all its blessings
You only get to Heaven if you are in Christ and Christ is in you, which always is proven only by those who follow Christ. Are you a genuine Christian, following Christ?