If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;2 Timothy 2:12(NASB)
As believers, we have been given many precious promises - not only those that relate to our justification but also promises in connection with our sanctification. At salvation, we were born again at a particular time and particular place. At salvation, we were justified by faith in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and life everlasting. At salvation, we were transferred from the kingdom of Satan in the kingdom of God, but as born-again children of God, we also have many promises connected with our ongoing, lifelong sanctification.
The process of sanctification starts the moment we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and continues to our life's end. And here in the book of Timothy, we find that this teaching from Paul is about our ongoing sanctification and spiritual maturity.
As members of Christ's Body, we are His representatives here on earth and are called to suffer hardship as good soldiers of Christ. We are not to get entangled in the everyday affairs of the world. We are to remain loyal and obedient to our heavenly Commander-in-Chief through the empowerment of His Holy Spirit.
Paul also likens the maturing Christian to a dedicated athlete who trains hard to win the prize... or to a tenacious farmer who having diligently sown some seed, waits patiently for the crop to germinate, grow, bud, blossom, and produce much good fruit. Christians are promised rewards of gold, silver, precious stone, and heavenly crowns, if we live our lives as the Bible instructs.
Paul is teaching the important principle of hard work, willing obedience, and patient endurance in the Christian life - even in the midst of suffering and pain. He reminds us that because of our identification with Christ's death, burial, and Resurrection, we have won the victory. Because we are identified with his death, we are saved from the penalty of sin - our justification. Because we are identified with his life, we are being saved from the power of sin throughout our Christian life - through the ongoing process of sanctification.
Paul tells of the paradox that death leads to life, weeping comes before joy, the cross is carried before the crown is worn... and suffering for Christ leads us to reign with Him in glory. But every believer has the free-will to choose to either 1) suffer hardship as a faithful servant of Christ or 2) to try to escape life's problems by denying the Lord His right to govern their life. The first results in a victorious Christian life while the latter leads to a defeated Christian life - saved but suffering loss of heavenly rewards.
Sadly, believers who are not prepared to suffer for Christ's sake deny the Lord Who bought them. They spurn God's promise that His grace is sufficient. They refuse to trust in the Lord with all their heart. This is living in unbelief. It is a blatant denial of the Lord. Every believer is bought with a price - the precious blood of Christ, but if we deny Him His right to our life through unbelief or carnality, we are warned that He will deny us.
OH! We are not denied eternal life which is a free gift of God's grace to all who believe that Christ died to pay the penalty for their sin. Paul tells us that those He justified He glorified. However, we can be denied our reward. We can be saved by grace through faith (justification) while being denied the wonderful reward that we have been promised when we suffer for His sake (through the sanctification process).
Paul is addressing maturing believers in this verse. He explains that although we are saved by faith and nothing can change our eternal destiny, we are required to live by faith and grow by faith. We are to grow in grace, walk in spirit and truth, mature in the faith, live godly in Christ Jesus, and to live our lives in a way that honours the Lord. And if we do this, we are promised a reward.
We are to follow His command like a good soldier. We are to persevere in the arduous race of life like a committed athlete. We are to work diligently, faithfully, patiently, and enduringly like the stolid farmer who tills and toils and plants and waits for the precious harvest. And if we suffer with Christ, we will reign with Him.
Every Christian is called to be a spiritual believer. Every Christian is expected to walk in spirit and truth, so that our lives are honouring to the Lord. None of these things are easy but God has promised to reward all who suffer for His name's sake. Let us not be found wanting in our Christian walk... for if we deny Him... He will deny us. We will be saved - but denied our promised reward. Let us take this severe warning to heart, live our lives to His praise and glory, and to be prepared to suffer for love of our Saviour Who bought us with His precious blood.
Heavenly Father, thank You that I have been saved by grace through faith in Christ. I want to serve as a faithful soldier, running the race that is set before me and patiently enduring all the hardships that may come my way. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient in every area of life. Help me I pray, to live according to Your will so that I may stand before Your throne and hear You say, "well done, good and faithful servant," for Your praise and glory, AMEN.