A Life of Courageous Testimony

2 Timothy 1:1-14

You can listen to the Sermon below HERE

We continue our series on the Spirit-filled life. We continue asking: What does this passage teach us about the Spirit-filled life. Today’s passage, I believe, tells us that the Spirit-filled life is a life of courageous testimony.

Last week we were in the 1st letter to Timothy. Today our reading is from the 2nd letter to Timothy. It is written by the apostle Paul while languishing in a Roman jail. This was Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome and would very soon end in Paul’s death. It is the very last of Paul’s letters. In some ways it is his last will and testament and in it he writes to his beloved disciple in Ephesus, Timothy. In fact Timothy is more than a disciple, Paul regards him as a dear son in Christ.

By this time the persecution against Christians had intensified and it was increasingly life-threatening to be identified as a Christian and to publicly proclaim one’s faith in Christ. So, as Paul wrote to Timothy, his fear seemed to be that Timothy might become timid and silent about the glorious truth of the gospel.

Have you ever been timid and silent about the glorious truth of the gospel?

Paul’s aim in writing this opening chapter of his letter is very clear – it is to call Timothy not to be timid and ashamed of the good news of Jesus, but rather to a life of courageous testimony.

The Word of God through Paul was telling Timothy then … and it is telling us now:

  • The world around you is putting all kinds of pressure on you to remain silent about Jesus and His teaching. Do not be silent!
  • The world around you can feel like a very threatening and dangerous place to speak up and speak out about Jesus and His teaching. Do not be timid!
  • The message about Jesus and His teaching can seem frightfully outdated and old-fashioned and sometimes out-of-touch with what everyone around you believes. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed!
  • The world around you can put all kinds of pressure on you to compromise and water-down the message of Jesus and His teaching. Do not compromise on sound teaching.
  • Do not be silent! Do not be timid! Do not be ashamed! Do not compromise!

That is powerful stuff. Those are powerful words if ever you have fallen silent or compromised the fullness of the Gospel message because of fear or embarrassment.

Now on the one hand we should all feel very convicted this morning … because at some moment in our lives I am willing to assert strongly that all of us have fallen silent or watered down the message of Jesus due to fear or embarrassment of some kind.

But on the other hand we should be encouraged that we are in good company. Timothy himself also clearly struggled with this in his humanity.

And then we should claim for ourselves the truths of this passage in God’s Word. It is not only God’s Word of command and encouragement to Timothy through Paul … it is also God’s word of command and encouragement to you and to me … to determine in our hearts today that we will live a life of courageous testimony … speaking out loudly and clearly the testimony of Jesus and His teaching.

How are we going to do this?

  1. Pray for each other (v.3-4)

Just very briefly allow me to point out that being part of a local fellowship of Christ-followers brings with it the call to pray for each other. Paul says to Timothy: “Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” Paul and Timothy had a deep relationship. Paul remembered Timothy’s tears when they had parted . You and I are in a deep relationship too … a covenant relationship with each other as members of this local church.. As Paul prayed for Timothy, so we are called to pray for each other as well. It is not only that you as members are called to pray for me, your minister; and that I, your minister am called to pray for you. It is also that we are all called to pray for one another as co-members of the Body of Christ.

In Ephesians 6 (Paul’s letter to this church that Timothy was now pastoring) he pleads with them: “Pray for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” Fearlessly. Just as Paul prayed for Timothy … so he had also asked that they would pray for him.

As co-members of the Body of Christ we need to be praying for each other to fearlessly testify about Jesus and His teachings.

Number 1 – Pray for each other!

  1. Remember your spiritual heritage (v.5)

Paul reminds Timothy about his mother and grandmother, from whom he had received his faith in Jesus. From Acts we know that Timothy’s mother had been Jewish but his father was a Gentile. There is no mention of the father here, which strongly suggests that his father was not a believer. And yet, despite that, Timothy’s mother and grandmother had risked rejection from his father to pass on their faith to him. Remember your spiritual heritage.

Now that may be a family member who led you to Christ. But it may also be others who stand as beacons in your memory … people who led you to Christ … or discipled you … or taught you the truth that Jesus taught. These people in my life were definitely my parents and my brother … but also men called Kurt Francis and Jaidevan Sarangarajan and Bill Griffin and Brian Jennings and Paul Viljoen and Gerald Lee. When I was a young believer, these men taught me and inspired me and encouraged me … and quite frankly would often have told me exactly what Paul told Timothy … don’t be timid! Speak up!! Speak out!

The Word of God says to us today: Remember those people! Remember your spiritual heritage! And be brave!

Number 1: Pray for each other. Number 2: Remember your spiritual heritage.

  1. Fan your gift into flame (v.6)

Here’s a very beautiful point. We are not called to live lives of courageous testimony without resources. This is the first of them … there are a few more to come in this passage.

When Paul had laid hands on Timothy to commission him as the pastor in Ephesus he knew that in that moment God had given Timothy the gift necessary to accomplish his ministry there. In Timothy’s case it was probably a package made up of the spiritual gift of leadership, teaching & pastoring … and it definitely included the gift of evangelism – the gift of verbally proclaiming the good news of Jesus.

God never calls us without equipping us … without gifting us to be able to accomplish the calling. But far, far, far too many of us have hidden our gifts under our chairs … because we feel safer that way.

  • Some of us here have indeed been called to courageously testify about Jesus by preaching the gospel to the local church and community … but your spiritual gift of preaching is hidden under that blue chair you’re sitting on.
  • Some of us here have been called to courageously testify about Jesus by leading worship … but your spiritual gift of music or worship-leading is hidden under that blue chair you’re sitting on.
  • Some of us here have been called to courageously testify about Jesus through painting or drawing or other visual arts … but your spiritual gift of artistry is hidden under that blue chair you’re sitting on … or worse … you are just using that gift for personal expression rather than ministry.
  • The list goes on and on. Hidden under these blue chairs are gifts of dance and drama and administration and service and encouragement and pastoring and management and faith-filled intercession … and on and on.

The Word of God to us today is … whatever your gift may be … fan it into flame!! How do you fan it into flame? Well the first step is to air it … to get it out from under your chair into the fresh air by using it. Fan it into flame by using it!

Number 1: Pray for each other. Number 2: Remember your spiritual heritage. Number 3. Fan your gift into flame

  1. Trust the power of the Holy Spirit within you (v.7)

The Word of God here highlights three specific resources the Holy Spirit gives us – the first of which is power. Paul tells Timothy to remember that he has not been given a spirit of timidity or fear. He has received a spirit of POWER.

When we consider stepping out to courageously testify to a friend or family member about Jesus … or to step up front to give a testimony in Church … or to sing or lead worship or pray … or to go out on the streets to present Jesus through art or drama … we may very well feel that we don’t have the strength to do it. We know what we should do … but we feel powerless to do it. We feel timid … afraid … embarrassed … maybe even paralysed.

God’s Word to us here is: “In those moments, do not trust your own strength. Go in the power that the Holy Spirit gives you.” Trust the power of Holy Spirit within you.

Long before, the Lord had said through the prophet Zechariah: “It is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord” (Zech. 4:6). In other words we will not accomplish God’s call through human might or power … but only in the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • Romans 8:11 says that the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us.
  • Ephesians 3:20 says that God is “able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us.”
  • Ephesians 6:10 says: “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”

Yes we are weak. But He is in us and He is all-powerful. And His power is made perfect in our weakness, says 2 Corinthians 12:9.  So when you feel afraid or inadequate: Trust the power of Holy Spirit within you.

Number 1: Pray for each other. Number 2: Remember your spiritual heritage. Number 3. Fan your gift into flame. Number 4: Trust the power of the Holy Spirit within you.

 

  1. Be moved by the love of the Holy Spirit within you

Because Timothy (and we) may be tempted to give in to fear, the Word tells him and us to remember that we have not been given a spirit of timidity or fear. We have received a spirit of POWER and of LOVE.

Remember the beautiful truth of Romans 5:5. God has poured His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. That love, we know, is not romantic love or even any kind of emotion of love. It is a self-sacrificial love. God’s Spirit within us fills us with self-sacrificial love. He fills us with love for God that is greater than our love for anyone … even greater than our love for ourselves. So we live to bring pleasure to the God we love.

Like John would later say in 1 John 4:18 “Perfect love drives out fear.” The Holy Spirit within us fills us with love for God, which over-rides our fears. He fills us with love for the people we are called to testify to, which moves us to speak up and speak out because we realise that unless we share the gospel and the truth of Jesus with them they might never know that they too can be saved from sin and death and receive the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Perfect love overcomes our fears.

Number 1: Pray for each other. Number 2: Remember your spiritual heritage. Number 3. Fan your gift into flame. Number 4: Trust the power of the Holy Spirit within you. Number 5. Be moved by the love of the Holy Spirit within you

 

  1. Exercise the self-discipline which comes from the Holy Spirit within you

Because Timothy (and we) may be tempted to give in to fear, the Word tells him and us to remember that we have not been given a spirit of timidity or fear. We have received a spirit of POWER and of LOVE and of SELF-DISCIPLINE.

The word is sophronismos (Greek #4995), one of these great Greek untranslatable words. I have heard it defined as “control of oneself in face of praise or of pain.”

I love that. Because I see in myself two powerful desires that may lead me to be timid in my testimony for Christ. 1. The desire to be liked and admired by others. 2. The desire not to experience pain and rejection.

When called to testify about Jesus and His words, the fear of offending others, earning their scorn or dislike or being rejected or even ostracized by them can easily stop us from speaking out. God’s Word says that when faced with this kind of temptation to “shut up” because of the fear of man (our desire for praise or the avoidance of pain) we should instead trust the power and love and self-control that the Holy Spirit gives.

 

Number 1: Pray for each other. Number 2: Remember your spiritual heritage. Number 3. Fan your gift into flame. Number 4: Trust the power of Holy Spirit within you. Number 5. Be moved by the love of the Holy Spirit within you. Number 6. Exercise the self-discipline which comes from the Holy Spirit within you.

  1. Remember the glory of the Gospel (v.8-10)

I’ll conclude with this. It is pretty much the most important point in this part of 2 Timothy. Paul summarises the glory of the good news which we are to share with others. He wants Timothy (and us) to remember that we are not bearers of just some unimportant good news. We are bearers of the best news ever delivered to the human race.

Here’s my paraphrase of Paul’s summary:

  • God loved humanity with an infinite love before the beginning of time … before God created the Cosmos and placed us in it.
  • In love, God created humanity.
  • When humanity rebelled against God and were separated from Him by our own rebellion, God Himself came to rescue us through the life and self-sacrificial death of Jesus.
  • By living a perfectly innocent life, then dying and rising again, Jesus destroyed the power of death on behalf of all who would believe in Him.
  • And now, life and immortality are given to all who hear and believe and receive this Jesus as their Saviour and Lord by faith.

This is magnificent news!! We are loved by God the Father. Jesus, God the Son,  has taken our punishment for sin on Himself. If we turn away from sin and rebellion and trust in Jesus Christ … we will receive life and immortality. That is something worth testifying about.

The Spirit filled life is a Life of Courageous Testimony. In order to life this life:

  1. Pray for each other.
  2. Remember your spiritual heritage.
  3. Fan your gift into flame.
  4. Trust the power of Holy Spirit within you.
  5. Be moved by the love of the Holy Spirit within you.
  6. Exercise the self-discipline which comes from the Holy Spirit within you.
  7. Remember the glory of the Gospel
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