God Is Faithful
2 Timothy 2:10-13 (10) Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (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: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (13) If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. The faithfulness of God relative to His elect in Christ is here considered. The “faithful saying” is a sentence which concludes in v. 13. Paul was surely one of God's elect, hence, he makes a series of statements of certainty concerning the elect in general, himself included (vs. 12-13). He underscores those certainties with the certainty of v. 13: the unbelief of man does not thwart the faithfulness of Christ to His own word; He will do what He has promised or even threatened. A Christian might be of a mind to joyfully believe the first two certainties of this faithful saying but for some reason not the third: if we deny him, he also will deny us. That Christian's unbelief does not hinder Christ from denying him according to His own word, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father in heaven” (MAT 10:33). Christ will not confess a denier's name before the Father as an overcomer (REV 3:5); He will deny him that honor. For Christ to honor such a denier would be to deny His own word, and “...he cannot deny himself” (v. 13). The principle of v. 13 deserves further exploration, for it is applicable in other areas. Of the work of Christ to save those whom the Father elected “...unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ...” (1PE 1:2), Jesus said, “And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (JOH 6:39). Of His chosen, He also said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (JOH 10:28). For Christ to lose one that the Father gave Him to save would be to deny His own word, and again, “...he cannot deny himself” (2TI 2:13). Therefore, not even the unbelief of one of God's elect can thwart Christ's work of saving him unto eternal glory (though his unbelief will invoke God's chastening and denial of blessings in this life). If God were to damn to hell because of unbelief one whom His own purpose and grace (2TI 1:9) had covenanted to save, He would have to deny Himself. This He will not do. This He cannot do. In the face of the popular notion that the eternal destiny of sinners is conditioned upon their successful belief of the gospel, Paul's words here deserve special attention. It is commonly taught that Jesus Christ died for all mankind without exception and in so doing made eternal life for them only a possibility, nothing more. It is then said that all that is needed for a sinner to obtain eternal life and forgiveness of sins is that he must believe. Without belief, it is asserted, eternal life is an impossibility. This, of course, is dreadful news for multitudes who have never heard the gospel or who could not believe it (such as perished infants), or those whose faith is marred by unbelief (“...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” MAR 9:24). Some then affirm that God in mercy would not eternally damn such unfortunate unbelievers but save them by grace, in which case the proposition that “eternal life is an impossibility without belief” is manifestly false. Nevertheless, so much does this system emphasize the sinner's faith as being necessary to eternal forgiveness that it is even said that unbelief is the only sin which God can not forgive. God is honored when we reason together with Him from within His word (ISA 1:18 c/w ACT 17:2) and even tells saints to pray for deliverance from those who are unreasonable (2TH 3:1-2). Hearken to the following sound reasoning by Dr. John Owen, Chaplain to Oliver Cromwell and Vice Chancellor of Oxford University: “The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either: 1) All the sins of all men. 2) All the sins of some men. 3) Some of the sins of all men. “In which case it may be said: a) That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved. b) That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth. c) But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? “You answer, Because of unbelief. I ask, Is this unbelief a sin or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins.” Dr. Owen's assessment of the situation is not only insightful, it is unassailable. So solid is God's commitment to His own covenant promise of mercy to His elect that even their unbelief shall not forbid Him from taking away their sins. If it be objected that Dr. Owen's words are not those of an inspired apostle, then let the words of an inspired apostle declare the same theme. In the following text, Paul is speaking of the sure salvation God has sworn to the children of promise among Abraham's seed (ROM 9:6-13) who are His elect and His true Israel, some of whom are in unbelief: (ROM 11:27) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (ROM 11:28) As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. (ROM 11:29) For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. God will not repent of His covenant of grace and mercy to His elect. He is faithful to do as He has promised. So, then, when the question is asked, “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” (ROM 3:3), though men might say, “Absolutely!,” the Holy Spirit says, “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar...” (ROM 3:4). Where is your hope: in your faith or God's faithfulness?