“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the Word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (2 Tim. 2:8-10)
Paul is speaking of some facts here that many may question, but they are facts that were proven and written of, spoken of and handed down by trustworthy people and not fabricators of myth. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and appeared to many… not just his close knit crew of followers either. Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 15: “He was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.”
These facts were handed down by a group of people who were intensely persecuted for believing this… to the point of being beaten, imprisoned and killed. Paul was one of these as it says in 2 Timothy. He was suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. It wasn’t because he was a cult leader or a megalomaniac miscreant. He was simply spreading around the news that Jesus Christ had died, taking on the sins of humanity in His death, and that putting faith in Him would revolutionize one’s life. People were believing this- prostitutes, the homeless, the blind, the rich, the elite, the military-minded, the intellectual, the religious, the barbarian, drunks and tea-totalers. It was a threat to the powers that be- both religious and governmental. These powers were deceived into thinking that this movement was a revolution that would overtake their positions of authority. They were certainly shocked when they would try and beat up, kill and imprison followers of Jesus, and their response would be to pray “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they’re doing!”
And Paul endured all of these things “for the sake of the elect”. Only God knew who was going to be drawn to follow Jesus, and Paul thought it was worth it to share this news with everyone he could, so that the few who God knew would believe it would believe it. You might say to yourself, “if God already knew, then why did Paul have to go in His stead to suffer?” It’s because the beauty that exists beyond this life in the Kingdom of heaven is greater, and also, God would not impose this love and truth on any person. Yet somehow, God knows the hearts of those who would be drawn to these truths.
Those of you that have read some of my other posts know how wild a life I led. Deep down, I was searching for something more than the life of degraded, drug ridden misery that I saturated myself with. As you read on, you will see how God began to invade into my world. It was at some of my worst moments. This is why I would give Him full credit for drawing me to Himself, because I was too whacked out to “elect myself” to follow Him. This of course elicited a response as well, so it is a double sided coin.
But I know there are many others out there whom God is already revealing Himself to, and we ought to pray and hope that we would be led to them to better explain exactly what is happening in their heart and mind! This isn’t something that can be forced. It is far too supernatural and beyond us to shove down someone’s throat.