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IF WE SUFFER, WE SHALL REIGN WITH HIM!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,
Pastor Emeritus

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, March 15, 2020

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (II Timothy 2:12; p. 1280 Scofield).


Monday night I was alone. I went downstairs and turned on the television. A very popular new-evangelical pastor was speaking. He is a man that is well known for speaking on prophecy. I listened to his teaching until he was finished. I may as well have read a new-evangelical commentary. This man’s message was based on the church at Sardis, Revelation 3:1-6. But it was only a commentary. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones would say, “it was only the introduction to a sermon,” for it contained no negative (or positive) application to the people. He did not apply the words in verse 2, “I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Nor did he apply to his people the words of verse 1, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”

Part of this man’s problem is that he is wedded to the evangelical doctrine that all his people will be raptured before they have to go through any Tribulation. So this man’s people never question that they may be left behind when the rapture does come! It would shock his people, and many would flee from his church, if he preached on the pre-wrath rapture, instead of the pre-Tribulation rapture. The great evangelist John Sung told the Chinese people to expect tribulation. Thus he prepared them for tribulation and suffering under Communism! I personally agree with Dr. Sung.

Leslie Lyall records a famous preacher who spoke of the pre-Tribulation rapture. He was followed by Dr. John Sung, who preached a whole sermon against that teaching (Leslie Lyall, A Biography of John Sung, p. 140). What will happen to people when they discover that they are living in the middle of tribulation? They have not been prepared to go through any tribulation at all! Hearing “sermons” like the one I heard on TV, according to Dr. A.W. Tozer, is like “trying to shave with a banana” – rather than a razor!!!

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A minister can be like this man and yet be thought of as a preacher of the Gospel. No man truly preaches the Gospel who does not insist on repentance – but on a mere acceptance of the doctrine that Jesus died in our place!!! Dr. Tozer said, “This faith, which ignores the judgment of God, is as deadly as cyanide” (“Of God and Men”).

How different from this new-evangelical speaker, was the Apostle Paul! Paul was stoned and left for dead at Lystra (Acts 14:19; p. 1168 Scofield). Shortly after that Paul came to Iconium and Antioch. Now Paul was speaking to brand new baby disciples. What did he teach them? Look at Acts 14:22 (p. 1169). Stand and read it out loud.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22; p. 1169).

You may be seated.

Who would dare to teach this to a new-believer’s class today? “WE MUST THROUGH MUCH TRIBULATION ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” The word translated “tribulation” is from the Greek word “thlipsis.” It means “pressure.” We could therefore say, “We must through many pressures enter into the kingdom of God.”

The Lord Jesus Christ used that word “pressures” in the Parable of the Sower. Christ said,

“He that received the seed [the Bible] into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and [at once] with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but [endures] for a while: for when tribulation…ariseth because of the word, by and by he [apostatizes]” (Matthew 13:20, 21; p. 1015).

The word translated “tribulation” comes from the word “thlipsis” in the words of Christ. Those who apostatize do so because they are unwilling to go through the pressures that come to them. These are not new pressures. Every solid Christian has felt the pressure to leave his church and become a lost new-evangelical. The difference between a lost evangelical and a real Christian lies in the fact that the real Christian has gone through the pressures, while the apostate did not go through the pressures. Dr. J. Vernon McGee said that those who refuse to go through the pressures is not a real Christian, has never been truly converted, “yet hath not root in himself” (Matthew 13:21). As our main text put it, “We must through much [pressure] enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

I will list a few common “pressures” that cause “stony ground” people to apostatize,

(1) Unsaved friends will “pressure” you.
“Whosoever…will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4; p. 1309).

(2) Unsaved relatives will pressure you. Jesus said, “A man's [enemies] shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:36, 37; p. 1010).

    Unsaved parents and unsaved brothers and sisters will pressure you by saying, “Don’t go to church so much.” “Don’t become a fanatic,” “You can be a Christian, but don’t get too involved in that church.” New-evangelicals will tell you to slow down and not be a serious Christian.

(3) Pressure from lost people must be overcome by separating from them. God’s Word says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:17, 18; p. 1234).

Everyone who is a great Christian in God’s eyes has gone beyond the pressures of the lost world. Here are some of them: Dr. Cagan, Mrs. Hymers, Wesley Hymers, David Brainerd, Evan Roberts, General Booth, John and Charles Wesley (their own mother tried to stop them), Jonathan Goforth and his wife Rosalind, Gladys Aylward, Dr. John Sung, Dr. John R. Rice, David Livingstone, Adoniram Judson, William Carey, Hudson Taylor, C. T. Studd, Jim Elliot, Rev. Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, and all those who have died as Christian martyrs on the mission field, like William Burns of China, who said, “I am ready to burn out for God. I am ready to endure any hardship that I might save some,” and Dr. A. W. Tozer, who said,

We accept Christ’s friends as our friends, His ways as our ways, His rejection as our rejection, His cross as our cross, His life as our life and His future as our future (“That Incredible Christian”).

Is this sermon too strong? If you think so, what about this clear verse, II Timothy 2:12,

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (II Timothy 2:12; p. 1280).

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
     There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
     Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
In the cross, In the cross,
     Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
     Rest beyond the river.
(“Near the Cross” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22; p. 1169).

“The more difficult the going, the richer the rewards”
– A. W. Tozer.

The book, Goforth of China, was written by Jonathan Goforth’s wife Rosalind after his death. What a truly wonderful missionary Rosalind Goforth was!

She first met him after looking at his Bible, “I found his Bible worn almost to shreds, and marked from cover to cover.” Rosalind said to herself, “That is the man I would like to marry.” That autumn he said to her, “Will you join your life with me for China?” Her answer was “yes.” A few days later he said to her, “Will you give me your promise that you will always allow me to put my Lord and His work first, even before you?” She answered him, “Yes, I will, always.” Little did she know what that promise would cost!

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me”
(Isaiah 6:8).

Our church has lost most of those who were not willing to suffer as missionaries. It is my prayer that every person here this afternoon will become a missionary. You and I can be missionaries to the whole world by (1) Winning souls; (2) Praying for our world-wide mission; (3) Giving enough money each month to help our Internet mission send out our sermons, including this one, to help missionaries in the Third World preach the Gospel. One missionary pastor said of our opportunities today, “We must be global Christians with a global mission because our God is a global God.” Will you answer with Rosalind Goforth, “Yes, I will, always”?

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” But it must be the right kind of suffering, because all people suffer in this world.

1. It is not the common suffering experienced by all people. “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1; p. 578).

The suffering spoken of in II Timothy 2:12 is not the common suffering experienced by all people.

2. It is not only the suffering experienced by those whom Satan makes suffer.
“Satan…smote Job with sore boils” (Job 2:7; p. 570).

3. It is not suffering because we have sinned. “And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13; p. 11). “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21; p. 763).

I believe that the “suffering” spoken of by the Apostle in II Timothy 2:12 is part of the struggle true Christians go through in these last days – in the midst of the end-time apostasy – when “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12; p. 1281). The Apostle Paul said,

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8; p. 1281).

Dr. Tozer said, “The more difficult the going, the richer the rewards.”

Please stand and sing “Near the Cross.”

Jesus, keep me near the cross, There a precious fountain
     Free to all, a healing stream, Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross, Be my glory ever;
     Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul, Love and mercy found me;
     There the Bright and Morning Star Sheds its beams around me.
In the cross, in the cross, Be my glory ever;
     Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God, Bring its scenes before me;
     Help me walk from day to day, With its shadows o’er me.
In the cross, in the cross, Be my glory ever;
     Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait, Hoping, trusting ever,
     Till I reach the golden strand, Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross, Be my glory ever;
     Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river.
(“Near the Cross” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

Turn to II Timothy 2:3,

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3; p. 1280).

Now read II Timothy 2:12,

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (II Timothy 2:12; p. 1280).

We are saved by repentance and faith in Jesus. He died in our place as sinners on the Cross. He rose from the dead to give us life eternal. Turn from your selfishness and sin and trust Jesus. He will save anyone who turns away from sin and trusts Him. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7; p. 1321). Amen.