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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: January 30, 2024

There’s a wonderful twist at the end of this little hymn that St. Paul gives us in today’s reading from 2 Timothy. “If we have died with him, we will also live with him,” Paul says, comforting us with the promise that persecution is not a sign that God has abandoned us, but a sign that he has embraced us. Hold fast in the face of hatred, Paul is saying, because death is not death for the Christian. If the world kills you, all the world can do is place you into the hands of Jesus Christ as He delivers you into life eternal.

“If we endure, we will also reign with him,” Paul says, again emphasizing this point. Hold fast the promises of Christ. Don’t let go and when Jesus ends the storm, you’ll see that you are wearing a crown of glory in His eternal kingdom. Again, a word of comfort.

Then a word of warning: “If we deny him,” Paul says, “he also will deny us,” quoting the words of our Lord Himself in Matthew 10. Don’t think that cowardice is something to play with. If you deny Christ to save yourself in this life, you are rejecting the salvation He’s given you in the life to come. You are telling Him you don’t want it, so He will honor your request. Deny Him and He will deny you.

But then, instead of a double warning to match the double comfort, we get a strange bit of tension. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” Well, if Christ will deny those who deny Him, how will He be faithful to those who are faithless to Him? Will those who reject Christ be saved or not? What exactly does this mean?

In the end, I think the answer is pretty straightforward. It means “if you remain in a state of Christ denial, then Christ will indeed deny you. But you can always come home. If you have faithlessly broken your covenant, if you’re thrown away the promises of your Lord, He has not thrown away His promises to you.” Quite simply, it means, “if you sin, repent and run into the arms of your Lord, the one who will take the denial off your lips and fill His lips with words of reconciliation.”

“It’s not too late,” Paul is telling us. “Come home to Jesus, come home to the faithful Son of God who will never lose His desire to clothe you in salvation and call you His brother.”

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