2 Timothy 2:1, 8-13
You can listen to the Sermon HERE
We continue our series on the Spirit-filled life, asking each week, “What does this passage teach us about the Spirit-filled life?” Last week the passage from 2 Timothy 1 taught us that the Spirit-filled life is a life of courageous testimony; i.e. a life in which we overcome the temptations to be timid and silent about the glorious truth of the gospel, and instead stand up and speak out the message of life in Christ Jesus at every opportunity.
Timothy faced the threat of persecution and even death for speaking out the Good News of Jesus and His teaching. The threats we face are far less. But Paul’s aim was to command Timothy, and us today: Do not be silent! Do not be timid! Do not be ashamed! Do not compromise!
Last week we particularly considered the question: How can we live this life of courageous testimony? The answers we discovered in 2 Timothy 1 were:
- Pray for each other.
- Remember your spiritual heritage.
- Fan your gift into flame.
- Trust the power of Holy Spirit within you.
- Be moved by the love of the Holy Spirit within you.
- Exercise the self-discipline which comes from the Holy Spirit within you.
- Remember the glory of the Gospel
In 2 Timothy 2, the focus shifts from the how to the WHY. The letter sets before us those truths that should be our motives.
Remember Timothy was living in an era when to pronounce publicly that Jesus is Lord, not Caesar, was tantamount to treason and could swiftly lead to your imprisonment and even death. He lived at a time when the Roman Empire was riddled with sexual immorality of every kind and it was broadly and absolutely accepted, and to name these behaviours as sin and call for repentance would raise ridicule at best and fury at worst. He lived at a time when many were becoming wealthy through the production of household idols. Pagan worship was big money. And when you go around preaching that idols are dead pieces of silver and gold and cannot save, and that people need to reject such things and turn in repentance to the true and living God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ … your life can be in danger. Just look at what happened to Paul in this very city of Ephesus in Acts 19 when the silversmiths stirred up a riot because Paul’s preaching was destroying the profitability of their idol businesses.
Now if you are going to speak out courageously and call people to repentance from sin and faith in Jesus in the face of the possibility of ridicule, rejection, rioting and even death … you will need some powerful motives. What are those motives for the Christian?
Love for JESUS (v.1, 8-9)
Paul says, “My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v.1) and “remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead. (v.8)”
It starts there! There is no higher motivation than Jesus!
We speak about Jesus. We testify to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We bear witness to the personal life-transformation done within us by Jesus. And we do it because we are so immensely grateful to Jesus for all He has done … and because we have experienced Him and love Him. Loving Jesus more than anything else is the only way a human being can remain faithful to Him even in the face of death.
All human beings are created with an innate drive to survive. Biologically, when we are in danger, our bodies are pumped full of adrenaline – the so-called “flight or fight” hormone. We are hardwired to want to survive. As part of that instinct … most of us tend inevitably towards desiring comfort and personal safety, security and wellbeing, and the acceptance and approval of others … and we will pay a premium to have it. We will go to great lengths to avoid discomfort, danger, disapproval and inconvenience.
I think I’m correct in saying that 99-100% of us here today marvel in confusion when we read of people who refused to deny Christ and were killed for that refusal. We feel deep down that if we were placed in a similar situation we would have denied Christ. Our instinct for survival would have overwhelmed our desire to remain faithful to Jesus.
When we study the stories of these martyrs, however, we discover a common denominator. Revelation 12:11 explains it in these words: “They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
In a nutshell: They loved Jesus more than they loved their own lives.
Now you and I are far less likely to be faced with a literal threat of death. In our culture and community the greatest threats are likely to be ridicule and rejection. And yet, we still find ourselves shying away from even this. We don’t want to rock the boat … so we remain silent.
The answer to that tendency is not to hit ourselves over the head and berate ourselves for our wimpy Christianity. NO. The answer is to love Jesus more deeply.
When we love Jesus more than we love our own lives … we have never been freer.
When we are self-consumed … when we love ourselves first and foremost … we will always compromise … we will avoid confrontation and conflict and the risk of offending others … because there is no higher goal in our lives than our own self-preservation and comfort.
The #1 motive for courageous testimony will be that we love Jesus above everything else. Oh to be consumed by the magnificence of Jesus!! The One who lived and died and rose again from the dead for us and for our salvation!
Oh to love Jesus more than life itself.
I pray for the Holy Spirit to infuse every fibre of our beings with love for Jesus Christ the Son of God –the One who has loved us first with an everlasting love.
Love for the Elect (8b-10)
Paul was one crazy evangelist!!He was seriously driven to make sure that EVERYONE heard about Jesus and His salvation.
He says to Timothy, “This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s Word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect.”
We know that when he was writing this letter, Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome. He was soon to be executed. And yet we know that he was so committed to preaching the Gospel that everyone who came within earshot of him would have heard the good news of Jesus told to them. He was crazy for the Gospel!! He said in Philippians 1:12 “What has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. As a result (of my imprisonment) it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”
Now; was this because Paul was just loud and outspoken?? Was he just trying to get attention? No!! Attention was bad. More attention meant more persecution.
No. He says in v.10: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.”
That right there is the 2nd main motivation. #1 Jesus! #2 The elect!
Who are the elect? They are those whom God has elected for salvation. They are those who the Father is drawing to salvation through faith in Christ. They are those who will come to enter the Kingdom of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
But does this imply that only certain people are elected by God to be saved?
Strict Calvinists would say yes to that question. Methodist theologians would differ. Jesus said that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life,” and we believe that this means that God has elected to save ALL who call on the Name of Jesus.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “9 if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
So we believe that God elects to save everyone who repents from sin and places their faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is why our courageous testimony is SO important. Romans 10:14 says rightly: “How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a universal Gospel … not because everyone is automatically saved as some people want us to believe … but because all can be saved! And we have the high privilege of being the human agents through whom the saving gospel is brought to their hearts. God draws people to Jesus … but they also need a human being to tell them about Jesus and how to know Him and be saved through Him. This is our privilege.
So our 2nd motivation is that we testify courageously because we love those who have not yet come to know Jesus … and we love them enough to tell them about Jesus and to call them to repent of their sins, believe in Him, and receive His salvation.
To love someone who is far from God is to tell them about Jesus. To love someone who is far from God is to call them to repent of sin, trust in Jesus and receive forgiveness of sin and life everlasting.
The Promises of God (v.11-13)
The “trustworthy saying” of v.11-13 has the form of an early Christian hymn. It seems to be a sort of a sung creed – a statement of belief.
And basically it is four promises … for truths about our future which will motivate us to remain faithful to courageous testifying about Jesus.
- If we died with Him we will also live with Him: If our courageous testimony leads to our martyrdom – well we know that we will simply have exchanged this painful, frustrated existence for the glory of the perfect presence of the One we love! That’s a win!
- If we endure, we will also reign with Him: If our courageous testifying leads not to death but to rejection and persecution that makes life really tough … we get rejected by loved ones or we lose property or material wellbeing because of our faithfulness to Jesus … well fear not because our eternal future is that we are going to reign with Christ in glory. Here we may be subject to evil rulers … but eternity is coming… and there we will reign with Christ.
- The third promise is a strong motivator too … even though it is a negative motivator … it is a warning: If we disown Him, He will disown us. You say, “But that doesn’t sound like Jesus.” Well in fact it sounds exactly like Jesus who said in Matthew 10:32: “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven.” Jesus’ words! Not Paul’s. Not mine. Just remember … this is not about one or two moments where we failed and we “disowned” Jesus by our silence or our refusal to stand with the cause of Christ. Jesus will forgive us for that and restore us … just as He forgave and restored Peter. This is a present continuous in the Greek … so it is about a settled disowning. It is a decision to continuously refuse to be aligned to Jesus and confess Him as our Lord, Saviour and Master. If that describes us … then we are in grave danger and Jesus will deny us in eternity.
- The final promise is that if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself. Nothing we do or fail to do will ever change Jesus. A person may battle to have faith (i.e. be faithless) clinging to Jesus by their fingernails … but this has zero effect on Jesus. Jesus remains faithful and true all the way to eternity … and no matter how much we struggle to hold on to our faith in Jesus … Jesus will always hold on to us.
These glorious truths also inspire and motivate us to remain faithful to Jesus and be courageous in our testifying for Him.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit within us will fill us with a zealous and passionate love for Jesus, a selfless love for those who need to hear the Gospel, and with a growing awareness of the beautiful promises of God for our lives. And may we theerby become a people motivated to give courageous testimony for Jesus.