By Adam Brown –
Timothy is enduring resistance and opposition in his local church. The cause? He has implemented the instructions mailed to him by his mentor, the apostle Paul (1 Timothy). Yes, he is enduring, but he is struggling. It is hard to pastor when there is conflict in the church.
To encourage him, Paul offers sage advice: Focus on Jesus Christ and the promises of the gospel. When trouble comes; when the church is at war; when despair and discouragement threaten to sink your ship, Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in the gospel (2 Timothy 2:8).
Remember, Jesus is the Christ
Yes, Jesus is the Messiah (Christ is the Greek word for Messiah) promised in the Old Testament. He is the offspring of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-7), the True Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), the New Joshua (Joshua 1:6), Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14, 8:8-10, 9:1-7), the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), and the coming-to-conquer Son of Man (Daniel 7:7-14). And, this is only scratching the surface! Jesus is the YES to all of God’s promises (1 Corinthians 1:19-22). Jesus is the Christ. Remember that when faithfulness to Jesus means certain suffering.
Remember, Jesus is Risen from the Dead
If Jesus has been raised from the dead, it means, first of all, that He died. And, we know that He died by brutal crucifixion. More than that, we know that as He hung dying on the tree, He carried our own sins in His body, though He Himself was without sin (1 Peter 2:21-25). There is no suffering that compares with the suffering of Jesus. If He, our leader, our God and our King, suffered and died, then we too should expect some suffering in this life.
But God would not let His holy One see decay and on the third day He was raised from the grave immortal, imperishable, and in glory! Jesus defeated death, disarmed the devil, and opened a door for us to immortality. We too will be raised indestructible to be like Christ if we but persevere until the end. Victory over death has a way of taking the sting out of all suffering, including church conflict.
Remember, Jesus is the Offspring of David
The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7) is central to a biblical theology of the Old Testament. Evidently, it is also central to a biblical theology of the New Testament. Jesus is the Son of David, the One through whom God will keep His promises to the son of Jesse.
God promised David that his son would build a House for God’s Name (2 Samuel 7:13a). Solomon built a Temple of stone. That Temple fell to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 B.C. By contrast, Jesus declared boldly, “Tear down this Temple, and in three days I will build it again” (John 2:19). On the third day after they tore Him down, He was raised to life as an eternal cornerstone for an enduring Temple, of which we are living stones (1 Peter 2:4-8).
God also promised David that his son would reign from his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:13b). As the King of the Jews in the line of David, Jesus is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. He is the Sovereign – the Crown – of all nations (Psalm 2). All the kingdoms of this age will fall. But Christ’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom, one that will endure forever without end. King Jesus will return to take back the world and establish His reign over all forever and ever.
Thus, a little suffering now fails to compare with the immeasurable riches in Christ that are offered to those who believe. And we, with Paul, can confidently assert that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).
The Enduring Paradox
In spite of all this, there is an enduring paradox. Even though the Lord offers us eternal life and invites us to reign with Him forever – provided we do not deny Him, of course – (2 Timothy 2:9-10), short-sighted men and women in the church will continue to quarrel about words until the end (2 Timothy 2:14).
O tragedy of epic proportions!
This cannot be stopped. The church will endure such infliction until the King returns for His Bride. Nevertheless, the faithful can stop quarreling by choosing, rather, to focus on Jesus Christ and all the promises of the gospel.