The Expository Files

The Gospel In 2 Timothy 1:8-12

2 Timothy 1:8-12

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." - 2 Timothy 1:8-12

Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ and he wrote this to Timothy, the young evangelist. These two men were strongly allied in the preaching of the gospel. It was their shared desire to get the message into the minds of lost men and women. There isn't any doubt, they were not ashamed of the message (Rom. 1:16,17). They were willing to suffer hardship in spreading the message because they believed in and they were loyal to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who abolished death "and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."

Local churches should be filled with people having this same disposition. It should be a priority of our individual hearts and our collective work, to get the gospel out into the world. We should be concerned that there are so many people who have not obeyed this message, the gospel. There are people who have access to the Bible, but do not read and study it seriously. There are people who read the Bible, but do not apply the instructions to
their life and their religious practice. We should be troubled by this. And our plans should be, to preach the same message Paul and Timothy delivered, and with the same fervor.

This passage teaches some very basic things about this message, the gospel. Sinners can be saved and called to a holy calling according to God's purpose and grace given in Christ Jesus.

There is never any reason to be ashamed of anything having to do with the Lord. Paul said to Timothy: "do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner..." Dear reader, if you believe in God - as the Creator; the Father of the Jesus Christ; the author of the Bible; the provider of every good and perfect gift - be proud of those convictions and be willing to confess them. To believe in God secretly is not the kind of faith in deity recommended in the Scriptures. There is no reason to be silent, or to make some effort to hide your faith. Paul said, "do not be ashamed."

Reflect on the greatness of the message. God made man in His own image. But even before that, God made plans to come to the aid of His creatures. 1 Peter 1:20 tells us that Christ's redemptive work was "foreordained before the foundation of the world." The plan of salvation, revealed in the New Testament as the gospel, was conceived in the perfect mind of God before the world began. In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son to bring to  pass that plan. Jesus died for the remission of our sins, but was raised from the dead. Through the apostles, these facts were announced and written. Today, you can read the Bible - learn of your sin, respond to Christ and be forgiven. This is the greatest message you could hear; the best news you could listen to. And as a result of understanding these things, we should never have any reason to be ashamed of anything pertaining to the Lord and  His testimony through the apostles. Paul said to Timothy: "do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner."

Not only is there no reason to be ashamed of the Lord and His plan for our salvation, it is important and great enough to suffer for. In this passage, Paul said to his young brother: "but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God." If there is something we should not be ashamed of, and it is worth suffering for, it must be supremely important to our welfare, now and after death. Likewise, if something has no
element of shame and is worthy of suffering, it must be there is nothing else like it.

There is nothing else like the gospel! Let me remind us of what we are talking about. We are not talking about just another church, another religious organization, or one religious creed chosen among many. We are talking about the gospel God gave to save us from sin and enable us to be ready to die in hope.

God planned this for us before we existed. He gave the law of Moses to the Israelites to prepare for this. He sent His prophets to tell of this in advance. John the Baptist paved the way for Jews to believe. Then Jesus came on the scene - preaching and teaching the gospel of the kingdom. He told the truth about man and God. His conduct was perfect, without any sin. He was crucified by lawless men, but in that death He purchased the remedy for our sin. God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to His right hand. The apostles preached that message, we have it in the New Testament. We can respond, according to the instructions given, and live as God intends for man to live. We shouldn't be ashamed of any of this. We should be anxious to do it and tell others.

Observe the action of Deity for us in verse 9: "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." In this message God offers to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, because of our sin!

Through the gospel, God says to us: "I will save you from sin . . . I will enable you to live according to My holy purposes. And this generosity, I planned for you 'in Christ, before time began'." Do you see why, there is no reason to be ashamed of this message? Do you see why it is a cause worth suffering for?

Our problem as human beings is sin - living life outside of God's will. Because we have sinned, we cannot work this problem out ourselves. This verse says: "not according to our works." We must depend upon God, who says He will save us and call us with a holy calling. And this is "according to His  own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." What a powerful and clear statement of the essence of the gospel. God offers to do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves because of our sin.

There is something else to observe, still in verse 9. Paul said to Timothy, God "saved us and called us with a holy calling." When we hear or read the gospel, God is calling us. In the gospel message, there is an invitation, a calling from God. We are called to renounce our sin, believe and obey Christ and lead a holy life.

Consider what is involved in being called. As you give thought to this, focus on being invited and responding. To be called is to be invited. In reading the New Testament, in hearing gospel preaching - God is calling you; you are being given an invitation. {See also 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Thess. 2:13-14}. In each of these passages, it is appropriate to think of God's calling as His invitation to us. His invitation, issued through the gospel, for us to be saved from sin in Christ and obtain the glorious eternal outcome.

Here is an essential part of that. If God calls, how do you answer Him? An invitation is of no value if you do not respond. We learn in these passages - through the gospel, God is calling us; calling us to come out of sin and into Christ. The question is - if God calls, how do you answer Him?

You answer the call, by doing what Jesus and His apostles instructed. In Mark 16:16, Jesus said: "he who believes and is baptized shall be saved." How very simple that is. When you believe in Christ (with all that belief involves), and when that belief causes your obedience to Him in baptism - you are answering the call of God to be saved. You are obeying the gospel. You are not earning status with God by your works; you are responding to
God's gracious invitation; you are accepting His gift.

It is personally important to accept that gift by obeying the gospel, because Jesus Christ "has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." This is about the effect of what Jesus did. In His coming - His life, death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God - in that work He did, there is for us this effect: He abolished death and brought life and immortality to light.

For the faithful Christian, serving and honoring Christ by faith, death does not have the same effect or impact it has against an unbeliever. Jesus made death of no effect; He robbed death of its terror, making it possible for His people to face it with sanity, composure and hope.

Can you imagine, encountering the reality of death, without Jesus Christ? Without God's work for us in Christ, death would simply be the end of life on earth, and the beginning of an unpleasant eternity. There would be no basis for any hope about any kind of good existence after death. When our faith in Christ becomes active, and we accept God's invitation, it is like that reality is abolished. That problem finds a happy solution. Jesus robbed death of its terror, making it possible for His people to face it with sanity, composure and hope.

The apostle Paul was appointed to be a preacher, an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles - to convey this good news. He was willing to suffer; he was not ashamed, for he knew what He believed and who He believed in. Paul committed Himself to God, and Paul knew the message he proclaimed was true. Approaching the end of life, Paul found no nagging uncertainty, no shadow of doubt, no waning confidence in the Lord, but an overwhelming certainty; and the basis of that certainly shines in this verse. It was grounded, not just upon what he believed, but upon WHOM he had believed, namely the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Saints of all ages have found in this marvelous text sufficient confidence and trust to fortify them against all the misfortunes of life and to enable them to face death itself in the beautiful serenity of full confidence in the Lord.

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 10.5, May  2003

 

 

 

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