“CHRISTIAN! Proud or ashamed of the Gospel?”
ILLUS.: In the early hours of yesterday morning (British Time) Steven Redgrave won a fifth gold medal in his fifth successive Olympic Games. There is hard a Brit alive who isn’t proud to British at that point. Even my SA blood gets excited about that and I am proud of my adopted country.
BUT when football hooligans go on the rampage / or the SA cricket captain admits to taking brides to forecast/fix matches we feel a sense of disappointment and deep shame to be associated with such actions.
These feelings of pride and shame are very strong and very real.
Pride or shame over our sporting heroes is not a matter of life or death in spite of some people’s passion for sport and the now famous comment “Football is not a matter of life or death it is much more impotent than that!”
For the Apostle Paul writing to his friend Timothy telling him NOT to be ashamed of him or the gospel it was in fact a matter of life and death.
Physical life and death because of Paul’s predicament – imprisoned awaiting trial and probably execution and also for Timothy working away in Ephesus in a hostile environment as the Persecution of Christians was gaining pace!
BUT the gospel that Paul and Timothy and every Christian is witness to is in fact not just a matter of PHYSICAL life and death but has huge implications for what happens in this life and after!!
Why then was Timothy tempted to be afraid and ashamed?
Why are we tempted to be ashamed / embarrassed by what we believe and Jesus Christ?
We know that Timothy was young and timid – and given the context in which he lived it was easy to see how he could be afraid / ashamed?
1. Realise your Resources [v.7]
In v. 7, which we saw last week, Paul reminds Timothy of God’s gifts of power, love and self-discipline.
His encouragement is “Realise your Resources!” There is no need to be afraid or ashamed.
2. Resist being afraid / ashamed [v.8a]
2 Timothy 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. ….(NIV)
ILLUS.: How do you respond / feel when in a group someone makes scathing remarks about Christians / Church?
OR “You are not one of those ‘born-again’ Christians, are you?”
“Don’t tell me you actually go to church – I gave up fairytales long ago!”
Why do we feel embarrassed / ashamed? Usually – certainly for me – it is because we are afraid of what other people may think about ‘me’.
Yet Paul writes to Timothy and urges him to let suffering rather than shame characterise his Christian life! No one desires to suffer but given a choice between suffering and being ashamed of God and his gospel Paul says, “Choose suffering!” After all, what is the worst that can happen to you – death – which is what Paul was facing? In the face of death what others think of me pales into insignificance. AND Jesus has overcome death so what is there to ultimately be afraid of.
Don’t be ashamed Timothy:-
Äof the Lord.
Äof the Lord’s people.
Äof the Lord’s gospel.
…these same three things apply to Christians today.
… of the Lord
We must not be ashamed of Christ. Every Christian is Christ’s witness – essentially Christian witness is testifying to or about Jesus Christ. “Am I ready and willing, if needs be, to be a “fool” for Christ’s sake? 1 Corinthians 4:10 10 We are fools for Christ, …! (NIV)
… of the Lord’s people
Timothy must not be ashamed of his Lord nor of Paul, one of the Lord’s people.
It is possible to be proud of being a Christian but ashamed of belonging to God’s people.
ILLUS.: “I believe in Jesus but I don’t go to church – it is full of hypocrites!”
Well, why not join us one more won’t make any difference!”
When Paul was arrested and thrown in jail some of his ‘friends’, so called, abandoned him and didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Paul urges Timothy not to be a fair-weather friend to God’s people.
… of the Lord’s gospel
The world we live in where tolerance and pluralistic beliefs abound the claims of the Christian gospel to the uniqueness of Jesus as the absolute Truth and only way to God goes down like a lead-balloon. The gospel can seem very foolish – the temptation to water it down to accommodate popular philosophy is very strong. The days in which Timothy and Paul lived were no different, gods and philosophies were two-a-penny BUT Paul urges Timothy and us not to be … ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. Romans 1:16
… resist being ashamed of the Gospel but rather be willing to suffering for it.
3. Rather be willing to suffer. [v.8b]
…. But for the right reasons!!!
2 Tim. 1:8 … But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
We must define what we mean by suffering. What kind of suffering are we talking about?
We suffer for different reasons:-
ÄAs members of the human race – common to all.
ÄAs a result of the wrongdoing of others.
ÄAs a result of our own foolishness.
ÄAs a result of our witness to the Gospel of Christ.
In the context of this letter Paul is talking about the final one!
Having urged Timothy to be willing to suffer for the gospel – because it is worth suffering for – Paul now launches into a description of what the gospel is.
4. Recall what the gospel is! [v9-10]
2 Timothy 1:9-10 9 [God] who has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (NIV)
Here Paul describes the gospel – he has done so in other letters so what he says here in not new – it is the same gospel he received. It is the same gospel that all the apostles taught.
2000 years later there is still only one gospel of Jesus Christ / one message of salvation.
We need to convey the gospel in a contemporary way to people in the 21st C but we are not at liberty to alter in any way the substance of the message!
So what is the gospel?
Three basic areas:-
ÄThe Features of Salvation (What it is)
ÄThe Fountainhead of salvation (Where it comes from)
ÄThe foundation of Salvation (What it rests on)
… The Features of Salvation (What it is)
3 phrases in these two verses that give us an understanding of what salvation is.
“… saved us…” / “…called us…” / “… brought life and immortality to light…”
The gospel of salvation is not JUST forgiveness for sin. We do not simply teach a gospel of ‘sin management’ as some kind of spiritual insurance policy. “Your sins are forgiven, you have a ticket to heaven, now relax and live your life as you wish!”
Also called to life a holy life [v.9]. To live for God in a way that pleases God.
Also ‘immortality’ is an integral part of salvation.
ÄSaved us – justifies us before God – on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross God accepts us and pardons of offences against him
ÄCalled us to be holy –sanctifies by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God as we co-operate with Him he progressively transforms us to be more and more like Christ.
ÄThen finally we will have new bodies / immortality in heaven perfect in every way – will finally glorify all his people.
We must never restrict the gospel of salvation to a narrow view of just forgiveness of sin as important a part as that is.
… The Fountainhead of salvation (Where it comes from)
Answer in v.9 – 2 Timothy 1:9-10 9 ….. — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, …..
…before the beginning of time …OR before the world began / OR from all eternity.
This wonderful gospel of salvation that is offered to all in Christ is something for which we can claim no credit. This was in the plan and purpose of God before any of us were born. This salvation is all God’s doing and the teaching that this was planned and given us ‘before time’ is difficult to grasp and understand and causes our finite minds to boggle and still come up short!
However, this teaching of the Bible about God’s plan and purposes for us from before the beginning of the world are not there to baffle us or to entertain our curiosity. BUT when we consider that the God of the Universe is concerned about “me” and has taken the initiative and completely provided for my salvation / rescue – it should cause great humility and gratitude in me.
It also brings the assurance that my eternal safety doesn’t ultimately depend on me but on the purposes of God.
ILLUS.: Recently the world watched with great anxiety as the Russian submarine the Kurtz lay stranded at the bottom of the Barents Sea. Sadly all the crew died.
There have been other such incidents where the crew has been rescued.
Imagine a diving bell being lowered to the ill-fated sub and the members of the crew saying to the rescuers:- “I’ll think it over!” — “I’ll wait for a more convenient time!”– “I am in good health just as I am.” — “There is too much to give up – this is a very sophisticated life as a sub-mariner.” — “I don’t understand the workings of the diving bell.”
Ridiculous?? Yes! Yet refusing God’s rescue is just so!
… The foundation of Salvation (What it rests on)
It is not some fanciful theory or mystical ritual. The gospel of salvation is firmly founded in history. 2 Timothy 1:10 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (NIV)
God’s grace may have been given ‘before time..’ BUT it was shown to us in history – in time and space – in the physical world!
What did Jesus accomplish? Look at v.10b
– physical / Jesus rose from the dead / we still die BUT
– spirtiual death / all like this until made spiritually alive in Christ
– eternal death separated from God’s love forever.
Whether there is a distinction between these two words is unclear – though probably it is immortality that describes the kind of life that Jesus offers.
Bear in mind who is writing these words – a man facing imminent execution. YET in the very presence of death he can loudly claim: “Christ has abolished death”
Now I realise that the process of dying can be unpleasant / leaving loved ones to struggle in this life concerns us deeply / sorrow and bereavement is very real and painful BUT as Christians surely we need to witness to the world that death is not a terrible final end – but a glorious new beginning and so even in the midst of sorrow Christians can REJOICE.
This is the gospel Paul believed: So why was he suffering for it?
Because he was endeavouring to pass it on – he had been appointed a preacher / apostle / teacher.
5. Recognise your responsibility.
2 Timothy 1:11 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am… (NIV)
There are no apostles like Paul today. But there are preacher and teacher, men and women call by God to devote themselves to this work.
While some are esp. gifted in preaching and teaching ALL Christians are responsible to testify / witness to Christ and gospel of salvation.
If we faithfully bear witness to Jesus and his claims we will suffer for it in some way. We are not to look for trouble / force the gospel on people BUT the gospel is an offence to those who reject it.
ILLUS.: How can you be so arrogant as to claim that your beliefs are the only true ones.
We don’t have to condemn other beliefs but simply by claiming Jesus as the absolute Truth we automatically exclude other claims. BUT it is not our claim it’s HIS.
6. Remember where true security lies.
2 Timothy 1:12. …….Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (NIV)
Paul is not ashamed of the gospel nor is he ashamed to suffer for it.
Because his security and the security of the gospel is in safe hands – GOD’S!
The words … what I have entrusted to him … are lit. “my deposit”.
Does he mean the deposit of my life into God’s hands OR does he mean God’s deposit of the gospel to me?
Both are taught in the NT BUT having just described the gospel and himself as it preacher/ teacher and in 2v2 he will talk of entrusting to others what he has taught Timothy it seem he has in mind the gospel that God’s has committed to him / and us / to pass on!
And what gives Paul great confidence for the future success of the gospel is the fact that God himself is the Guarantor of the Gospel. He takes final responsibility for its preservation. Just as he takes final responsibility for the preservation of all his saints.
IF the gospel of salvation, even in small part, depended on us it would be very shaky ground – Fortunately it depends solely on God who is able to guard it and us until the day Jesus returns!
Jesus gave a stark warning to those who were embarrassed by him: Mark 8:38 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (NIV)
Are you, like Paul, convinced of the truth of the gospel and that God can guard His Gospel and you to the end?
It is a glorious gospel from a glorious Saviour – we have everything to be proud of if we belong to Christ and nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
“CHRISTIAN! Proud or ashamed of the Gospel?”
1. Realise your Resources[v7]
“… spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”
2. Resist being afraid / ashamed [v8a]
of the Lord
of the Lord’s people
of the Lord’s gospel
3. Rather be willing to suffer [v8b]
As members of the humanity – common to all.
As a result of the wrongdoing of others.
As a result of our own foolishness
As a result of our witness to the Gospel
4. Recall what the gospel is [v9-10]
The Features of Salvation (What it is)
“… saved us…” – Justifies
“…called us…” – Sanctifies
“… brought life and immortality to light…” – will glorify
ÄThe Fountainhead of salvation (Where it comes from)
– salvation is all God’s plan and God’s doing
The Foundation of Salvation (What it rests on)
“Jesus has brought life and immortality”
5. Recognise your responsibility[v11-12a]
ALL Christians are responsible to testify / witness to Christ and gospel of salvation
6. Remember where true security lies[v12b]
God himself is the Guarantor of the Gospel
He guards all his saints