2 Timothy 2.11-13 When Christ denies us

The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have 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.

2 Timothy 2.11-14

These verses call us to endure, so that in the future we may reign with Christ. The alternative to enduring is denying and being faithless (ESV). If we do that, the text is clear that Christ will deny us. This tells us that Paul is talking about a denial that goes deeper than what Peter did, because Jesus did not deny Peter but restored him. That fact alone shows us that this denial is not what we observe in Peter’s case.

What this denial consists in is further explained by the word, “faithless”. Since we are justified by faith, I take this to mean that the denial spoken of here is a repudiation of the gospel that is antithetical to being justified by faith. Faith is the apprehending of Christ with one’s whole being, holding on to him for forgiveness, salvation and life. Denying Christ in the sense spoken of here is the opposite of that: It is repudiating Christ in the firm belief that he is not faithful to do what he promises to do for us in the gospel.

How does a person evidence that they are repudiating the gospel in such a damning way? There can be greater or lesser manifestations of this repudiation of the gospel. A greater manifestation of it would be to simply repudiate the historical person of Christ altogether and to say, “I do not believe in Christ. I do not follow Christ. I put no hope in Christ.” But there are many lesser manifestations, but equally serious repudiations of the gospel. There are many who claim to follow Christ, but the Christ that they follow is not the Christ revealed in the Bible. They deny essential aspects of what the biblical gospel proclaims. There are also those who may adhere to an correct understanding of the gospel, but who do not live in accordance with what they profess.

If a person denies Christ in the way referred to here in these verses (and only God knows when the outward denial is the true expression of that inner state of eternal denial of Christ), Paul says that such a denial will result in Christ denying that person. However, in doing so, Christ remains faithful. His promise of salvation and forgiveness and eternal life, which all flow from his person and work on the cross, still remain the only hope for sinners. Christ “cannot deny himself” in the sense that his promise of salvation flows from who he is and what he has accomplished and it can never be changed or repudiated.

Paul emphasizes this to show the firmness of our hope in Christ. We must endure and hold on to him in faith, knowing that he is faithful and will never renege on his promise of salvation.


Psalm 91 Will God always protect us from evil?

This very well known psalm is often used to claim protection from evil things happening against us. It most certainly teaches this, but there are qualifications that need to be made.

First, there is the qualification of who can claim this protection. It is the one who “dwells in the shelter of the Most High.” This refers to the person who looks to the Lord as a “refuge and fortress” It is “trusting in God” as v. 2 makes clear. The idea of “dwelling” is repeated again in v 9. “Refuge” also communicates a continual trust in God’s protection. Verse 9 explicitly says that it is “because you have made the Lord your dwelling place” that “no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

“Dwelling in the Lord” communicates to me an idea of continual trust, but more than that. It is living in a way that everything we do is related in the proper way to God and his presence with us. It is seeing every aspect of our life with respect to God. Given the greatness and glory of God, his reality should be the primary influence on everything that we think, say and do.

The idea of “dwelling” is further described in vs. 14-15. It is a “holding fast to God in love.” There again is an idea of continual trusting, but with the added quality of “love” which shows that the person sees and delights in the greatness and glory of God. Another “because” is given in v. 14 : It is “because he knows my name.” To know the name of God is to know what he is like–his character.

The second qualification that needs to be made with regard to the promise of protection and deliverance is that it is not a promise of unconditional immunity to anything evil. It is instructive that the devil quoted verses 11-13 when he tempted Jesus to throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple. God is not promising here that we can always cheat death because of our relationship with him.

I think one of the wrong assumptions that we often bring to passages like this is that these evil things that are happening are outside of God’s will. We see them as negative attacks on God’s people that God does not design and that he thus protects us from. Seen in this light, how could we escape the conclusion that God constantly fails us? How many Christians have suffered innocently? How many have died young (v. 16)?

But when we look at the promise here through the lens of God’s meticulous providence which decrees all that happens, we see them differently. To me, the key phrase to understand what the psalm is promising is v. 8. “You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.” These bad things that are described here are evil things that are coming from God’s enemies (someone has to shoot the arrows in v. 5!), BUT they are also God’s just recompense of the wicked. God is promising that the one who dwells in him will not be punished in judgments like the ones described here.

The deliverance promised is ultimately a spiritual deliverance. Very often, God delivers us here and now from physical dangers such as the ones mentioned in the psalm. But we have to apply what I call “the Betsy Ten Boom test”. Was God unfaithful to this precious saint who lost her life in the Nazi concentration camp? Was he unfaithful to his promise to “satisfy Betsy with long life” (v. 16)? No, Betsy had eternal life and triumphed fearlessly (see v. 5, “you will not fear…”) over the evil that she walked through.

So, yes, we can use Psalm 91 to ask our loving Father for protection from all kinds of evil, but we must understand that his deliverance is ultimately a spiritual deliverance. He brings us through “many trials and tribulations” (John 16.33, 1 Peter 1:6-7


Numbers 11.10-15 A perfect Savior foreshadowed

Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the LORD blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. 11 Moses said to the LORD, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12 Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? 13 Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ 14 I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.”

Compare Moses’ attitude with that of Christ our sin bearer. Moses was unable, as a sinful human being, to carry the weight of the sin of the people. They were a “burden” in verse 12. But Christ is able to “carry all this people alone.” Jesus will never tire of “carrying me in his bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child.” Whereas Moses wanted to be killed rather than deal with the sinful people, Jesus was willing to be killed in order to save his sinful people.

On this Good Friday, when we remember the sacrifice our perfect Savior made for us, let the contrast of this imperfect savior in Numbers remind us of the glory of Christ, who bore the burden of our sin in his Body on Calvary!