Over the last several weeks we’ve been discussing the biblical warrant for creeds and confessions. We have seen that these short statements of faith are legitimate because the Bible itself contains creeds and confessions. Within the pages of Scripture we find short summaries and synopsis of the faith.
We have look at a couple of them already, and today we look to 2 Timothy 2 to find another.
In verse 11 Paul says, “The saying is trustworthy,” and then he details a few lines of what that saying was. Evidently, this was a common confession among the people of God at the time. It had become a “saying” among the people.
Today, we’ll say something like, “You know what they say,” and then we will quote some cultural proverb or cliché. Maybe something like, “He who hesitates is lost.” That’s just what people “say.”
What do we mean by that? Well, it is what we confess to be true. We believe that hesitating or vacillating on a decision will have a negative effect on your prospects.
That of course isn’t necessarily a biblical confession though. But what we find in 2 Timothy 2 is.
And this is what the early church was saying:
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.
We might say that this is an eschatological confession. It is a creed stating their belief in the last things, particularly about the judgment and our eternal destiny.
The first line simply states that those who enter the grave in a believing state will have eternal life. We might even infer what we sometimes call “the doctrine of the intermediate state.” It is the idea that though our bodies die, our soul lives on.
The second line says something about our status in heaven. If we persevere in the faith we will reign with him. In other words, our quality of life will dramatically improve. Believers will become God’s vice regents and we will have dominion over the earth like Adam did in the beginning.
The third line turns, and reminds us of the fate of the unbelieving. Those who deny Christ will be denied by Christ and denied entry into His kingdom.
And the last line further elucidates this thought by reminding us of the unbeliever’s damnation. If we are faithless, he remains faithful. That is, he is faithful to punish them as they deserve.
In all, the creed is a rally call to God’s people, encouraging us to remain faithful to Christ and not to apostatize from our faith.
To put it another way, this creed reminds us of how important it is to hold to our creed.
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