11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him… (2 Tim. 2:11-12)
What powerful words! What an incredible promise! And right here, as an aside, let me say that I have heard both powerful and unpowerful preachers enumerate the promises that God has for us in the Bible, and I have never heard them mention this one. You wonder, What are Christians being taught in churches today? Aren’t Christians being taken for a ride by the very preachers they have entrusted their souls to? And it is a ride straight to hell.
But let us embark on our lesson today by looking at another incredibly powerful scripture.
“Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:24
That’s talking of our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture here plainly states that it was not possible that death could hold Jesus.
If language is anything to go by, the words “not possible” mean something, don’t they? Another word for “not possible” is “impossible”; and other words for “impossible are, “impracticable”, “unachievable”, “out of the question”.
It is clear, therefore, that there are some things that death can achieve; and there are others that it cannot. That’s interesting, because even the Bible makes clear the power of death, for in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26, we read:
“25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
Death is an incredibly powerful enemy. No man is free from the grip of death. Even the great partriarch David was held by death, as the Bible says in Acts 13:36,
“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.”
But of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible states:
“But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” (Acts 13:37)
Death had no power over Jesus simply because it was not possible for it to have power over Him!
“not possible”. What beautiful words! In the context they are in, they probably are the sweetest words in the Bible. But they are not just beautiful; they are also powerful. The power in those words is incomprehensible. And the stratospheric question here is, Why was it not possible that Jesus should be held by death?
The Bible says it is because God would not allow it.
“Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Acts 13:35)
God would not suffer, or allow Jesus to be held by the power of death. Again, that is awe-inspiring. How could that be so? Why?
You see, God is the determiner of everything. He is the I AM. All things exist in Him. All things and everything therefore is easily under the control of God. So when God says or does or even so much as wishes something (for He always does so according to His irrefutable wisdom), there is NOTHING that can rebuff Him. In fact, it is much more than that. When God was creating the universe, He just wished it, and it was so.
In the same manner, God did not wish Jesus to see corruption – and it was so.
So how come that every man since Adam has seen corruption but not Jesus? What made Jesus so special? Why would God wish and therefore not allow Jesus to be held by death? Was it on a whim?
Certainly not. The reason why God would not allow Jesus to see corruption is, simply, because Jesus obeyed God! It is that simple; and yet, again, it is not that simple. The price that Jesus paid to obey God is uncomprehendable. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:12 that
“because he hath poured out his soul unto death”.
Jesus poured out his soul unto death. The Bible is full of the sufferings and ultimate ignoble death of Jesus. Jesus lived the kind of life that we find practically impossible to live here on earth.
It is in this context therefore that the Apostle Paul makes clear the importance of our identification with Christ. He tells us that in order for us to achieve anything of value in the Spirit, we MUST identify our lives with the sufferings and death of Christ.
“11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…” (2 Tim. 2:11-12)
Notice the sequence of events here. If we die to self as Christ died to self, we shall have the life of Christ in us here on earth. As the Apostle Paul says,
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Gal. 2:20)
If we suffer with Christ here on earth, we shall reign with Him in heaven.
And pray, what, exactly, is suffering with Jesus?
The words of Jesus Himself explain this best.
“39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Mat. 5:39-41)
[God’s call to the church is to crucify self just as Christ did]