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2 TIMOTHY-SERIES : NR 2
Theme: Unashamed of the Gospel!
Scripture : 2 Timothy 1 : 8 – 18

The Apostle Paul now moves on to a very sensitive issue: Timothy (and our) shame to openly stand up for the Truth of the Gospel message. Openly testify – before PEOPLE. Yes, it is a truly sensitive subject.

In those ancient times of many gods and many lords – as 1 Cor 8:5 puts it – the people gloried in the performance of their gods. And remember: the Christians had to live within this milieu of idolatry and remain faithful to the truth. It was not easy.

Within such an environment the temptation for Christians to rather remain silent was great – remain silent about the crucified Lord in whom they believed – as Rom 1:16 says. In that verse, Paul says that he is NOT ashamed of the Gospel message.

With “ashamed” the Apostle means the absence of confidence to openly preach the Crucified Christ as ONLY EXCLUSIVE (excludes other options) Saviour and ONLY truth. A reluctance to associate themselves with the Apostle Paul, because under house arrest in Rome he was not a model/example of the fruit of Christ’s deliverance. He rather appears to be a loser.

The first time when Paul was imprisoned in Rome for the sake of Christ, Timothy stood by and supported him, but now that Paul is there a second time, it seemed as if Timothy was losing courage. He is a little ashamed to acknowledge that his teacher and spiritual father was locked up in prison as a criminal.

However, he lost sight of the fact that Paul was not the Emperor’s prisoner, but Christ’s and because of his faithfulness to Christ Jesus. By rights, Timothy should have been grateful and proud of the Apostle.

Sometimes there is a price to pay for faithfulness to the Gospel message. Sometimes the price is suffering and affliction. Timothy, HIMSELF should be prepared for that.

Fortunately, no Christian should doubt the power of God in such circumstances. It is not about the endurance of the Christian, but about the affirmation that God gives. That is why we should never be ashamed of the truth!

READ VERSE 9 AGAIN

Not by human means, but only by the power of God, a Christian can endure and weather suffering for the sake of the Gospel message, says verse 8.

And how else, because the whole of the salvation of the sinner has its origin in God, without any human assistance. It is only Him – from A-Z – that saved us and called us to live for Him. With THAT salvation and calling, we had absolutely nothing to do. We did not lend a hand. And it is exactly the faithful lifestyle of that calling that often causes Christians to suffer.

But, if it comes 100% from God, how will He then not give the strength to endure the result. Everything, but everything is founded so deeply in God Himself.

If we for example just think about salvation – that is, the complete salvation of the believer – then we can see that it so purely emanate from God himself. There is not 0.0001% part or decision or merit from man. It is just absolutely based on God’s initiative, His own decision and grace. Yes, the deepest foundation of salvation is anchored in the decision which He made. It is about HIS choice, HIS love, HIS compassion. The Bible calls it mercy. Is it not astonishing?

If I today have the assurance of salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I can know/be sure that it is because God chose me. My salvation is grounded in Him.

But, there is more than even that: He showed this grace towards me in Christ since from eternity – before the creation already. Eph 1:4 says that God’s predestination goes back to before the creation. It is simply enormous! Every person who is born-again becomes so BECAUSE he/she was chosen by God for salvation before the creation already. And that while such a person out and out deserved eternal death.

Everything, everything hinges on God’s decision, His mercy and compassion. And when we grasp that, it encourages us to live wholeheartedly for Him.

READ VERSE 10 AGAIN

This grace – of which verse 9 speaks – is very radical. It means that – without ANY assistance from humans – God already took it up into His Divine Plan to save His people in Christ. It is something awesome!

But – this eternal Divine Plan of God’s came to a concrete reality in history when Jesus Christ became human at Bethlehem and died on the cross at Golgotha and arose from the grave.

NOW grace is no longer something before the creation in God’s heart, but it is WITH us! Christ Jesus himself embodies grace in flesh and blood. And it is preached in our hearing. And the Spirit works alive and powerfully in us. And in faith-confidence in Him we are in our own experience bring saved. It is not something distant and abstract. It is here with us and in all who comes to faith and repentance. Jesus is our concrete Saviour.

Someone who truly realises that he/she one day would stand in judgment before God and that you shall not be able to vindicate yourself there, SUCH a person urgently searches for a Saviour, the same way a terminally ill person searches for healing.

Jesus did not come for the dying who thinks they are healthy. But for the dying who KNOWS and acknowledge that they are dying.

Jesus finally broke the power of that eternal death. There can hardly be better news! The physical and eternal death is a power and has a hold on all people due to the debt of sin everyone is in. But people who are in Christ are no longer captive of this power. It is the best news ever! HIS death swallowed their death. And HIS resurrection brought them everlasting life.

EVERLASTING meaning IT SHALL NEVER END! Think about it! It exceeds everything that this world can offer us!

READ VERSES 11-12 AGAIN

Look at this: Of THIS (refers back to verses 9-10) Gospel (Good News) I (Paul) was appointed a herald and an apostle (messenger) and a teacher (who gives instruction). Gospel message = Good News.

What is the Good News? That God has broken the power of eternal death – as verse 10 said.

Of this powerful message, God has appointed Paul with Divine authority to preach to all the gentile nations. He is SO convinced of his calling that he is prepared to remain obedient despite humiliation and suffering. That shows us how true it is. Paul is a unique messenger (that is what apostle means) – a representative and herald and teacher – one who proclaims AND gives instruction.

But do not think for one moment that someone who was called by the Lord and who is obedient, would be welcomed with open arms by the people. On the contrary. You and I shall also not be welcomed. To Paul, his obedience resulted in suffering.

A mere year or two ago 15 churches in England received anonymous threatening letters which threatened them that their church buildings would be attacked with petrol bombs if they do not stop holding church services. They were churches that openly proclaimed Biblical viewpoints that were in direct opposition to popular worldly views. And persecution comes!

The Apostle was however not fearful, because he saw the unseen. He can see HIM who can be trusted. He builds his faith upon a living Person.

In addition, he is convinced about something. He is convinced that God can guard THAT which He entrusted to Paul. Yes, the Lord has entrusted the Gospel message and the teaching of it to Paul. And therefore it is the Lord’s business to guard it. Paul does not concern himself with things that are in the Lord’s care. In Paul’s case, GOD HIMSELF will see that Paul’s chains and imprisonment do not smother the teaching of the Gospel message. The kingdom fights a way forward for itself, says the Scriptures.

READ VERSES 13-14 AGAIN

In the ministry of the church at Ephesus, Timothy had to follow a specific guiding principle. And that is the sound teaching which he heard from the Apostle Paul. That is the only truth of the Gospel EXACTLY as the Apostles proclaimed it. And it is the message that heals and is free of false doctrine. It is the purest expression of the Christian Faith – the way the apostles taught it. And we today, are privileged to have all of it in writing in our NT.

We are therefore not one millimetre BEHIND Timothy. We have the very same apostolic doctrine that he had – even though he did not have the NT.

It is only the original unique apostles whom Jesus himself appointed, who could say words like: “ONLY what you have heard from ME, you must follow and proclaim”.

That is all that the past 2000 years of church history was supposed to be about. Herald after herald after herald, generation after generation, the apostles’ words had to be proclaimed and taught as accurately as possible. And through this, the Holy Spirit CALLS the elect out of all the nations to come to faith in Christ.

Yes, in Christ, Timothy, and all true believers, HAVE the LORD’S love and faith. And that we must proclaim and follow the pure truth. It is nothing out of ourselves. It is the faith and love which is IN HIM. Too wonderful for words.

And in that way, we can be a part of the Lord’s triumphant procession in the world. Nothing is in us. Everything is entrusted to us from Above. GOD does it. He builds His church (Matt 16:18). He SENDS His Spirit to dwell in the child of God. And it is particularly by the power and ministry of the Spirit that Timothy (and us) must guard the truth of the message of the Apostles.

Listen carefully: We MUST guard it at all costs. And keep and proclaim it undefiled. It is a matter of life and death. The fact that the power comes from God himself, makes all the difference!

READ VERSE 15 AGAIN…

The apostle’s style of writing is so precious. The one moment he is busy encouraging Timothy to remain faithful to his calling. And the next he interrupts himself to first make a personal remark about the behaviour of certain people towards him (Paul) while he is a prisoner in Rome. The majority have deserted him, but ONE remained faithful.

It is not an interruption, because through this Paul wants to encourage
Timothy not to follow the majority in their desertion, but to remain faithful with the minority.

The words in verse 15 are terrible.

We do not know what the circumstances were to which he refers. Although Timothy knew. Who or what the “everyone in Asia“ was, we do not know and it does not help to speculate about it. The point is, though: The apostle was lonely in prison and was dismayed to realise that confessing Christians did not dare to associate themselves with him, and therefore deserted him.

And: important: they were in the majority by far. Yes, Onesiphorus was faithful, but not the rest. Who Phygelus and Hermogenes were, we do not know. But Paul had great expectations for them. That is why their faithlessness was such a tragedy for him. No, they did not desert their faith in Christ, but they did not dare to openly be associated with the apostle. They have therefore openly denied him. The way Christ himself experienced with His disciples.

The Scriptures, therefore, teach that those who truly persevere with Christ is in the minority. Those who dare to openly stand up for Christ, are few. The road is narrow, and the gate is small, Jesus said. Particularly to stand up for the Great Name among people who are not necessarily sympathetic. O, we must seriously pray that we may have the courage for that. Pray that you may/would be among the minority, and always remain! Whatever it takes!

READ VERSES 16-18 AGAIN

Although the majority sadly deserted Paul, Onesiphorus did not! One man – was faithful to the end. And so too his household.

Perhaps Onesiphorus lived in Ephesus and visited Rome on business. While there, he may have heard that Paul was captive in one of the many prisons. He, therefore, went from prison to prison searching until he found the Apostle. And after that, he often visited him to encourage him spiritually and was not ashamed at all to associate himself with that man in chains.

In this, Onesiphorus was an example to Timothy.

Paul very much wanted to reward Onesiphorus for his unselfish devotion but did not have the means for it. Besides, one cannot lay claim for the reward with God. We can indeed count on the Lord’s mercy. His mercy is in any case the most wonderful something. The apostle, therefore, is asking the Lord to have mercy on Onesiphorus and his household. By grace alone. That is the deepest prayer one can pray for someone else.

Onesiphorus was a truly born-again person – whose life was renewed by God the Holy Spirit so that he did not act in his interest any longer, but was prepared to serve. Back in Ephesus he also served the church and promoted Paul’s interests. What an encouragement to Timothy – and for us today.

The ACTUAL reward of mercy is however not in THIS life, but when the Lord returns. To receive mercy THEN exceeds everything in value.

THEN we shall be very thankful and glad that we persevered NOW. THEN we shall hear that a life full of devotion to Christ Jesus is never in vain. What an expectation!

Category 2 Timothy

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