Monday, 26 September 2011

2 Timothy 1:8-18 – The Call of Gospel Ministry

Here are the notes from last nights LightHouse.

1. Why does Paul write to Timothy?

2. Why might we give up speaking the gospel to non believers?

3. Why might we give up speaking the gospel to believers?

Paul has reminded Timothy (6-7)of his faith, his gifting and his empowering by God for ministry, Paul doesn’t want Timothy to give up or throw in the towel, or even to retreat in fear. But he writes to encourage him to be bold because he has been given God’s Spirit to empower him to proclaim, to enable him to love and to equip him to act wisely keeping the big picture in mind. Now Paul encourages and exhorts Timothy not to be ashamed, but to press.
(8)There are two things which Timothy might be ashamed of, **what are they? His testimony about our Lord and Paul. Don’t, says Paul, don’t be ashamed of telling people who Jesus is and what it means, and don’t be ashamed of my imprisonment and suffering. The danger is real, this is a real warning Timothy may well be ashamed of the gospel because it brings conflict with the false teachers and those inside the church who accept their teaching. And it seems that those false teachers are maligning Paul because of his suffering as if suffering somehow discounted his message. And Paul wants Timothy to come to him, something he will not do if he is ashamed of him.

Paul reminds Timothy of the wonder of the gospel and the nature of gospel ministry.

1. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel because...
(9)God has saved us. The gospel is the message of salvation, something Timothy has known and believed from a young age. God always intended to save a people for himself from the nations through faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel because it saves, it is the message of salvation, of deliverance, of reconciliation with God.

(9)God calls us to a holy life. The call of the gospel is not just to be saved and hold on to a golden ticket, it is a call not be saved but to live saved, to be different, to be being transformed into the likeness of Jesus in what we love, what we take a stand for, how we think, act and react. The message of the gospel is not just of our need and God’s rescue but it is of a growing vibrant discipleship which treasures God above all. **And what is our salvation and holiness down to? it is all of grace(9), we don’t deserve it, but God in grace by his power and for his purposes saves us and call us to live as his people living to the beat of his drum.

(10)it is our hope of life. Jesus has destroyed death, the wages of sin are paid and therefore death has no claim over those who have trusted in Jesus, in its place we are given life and immortality. We don’t get what we do deserve but are given what we don’t deserve because of Jesus.

Timothy don’t be ashamed of the gospel but be amazed at it. In Christ God provides rescue for the lost, deliverance for the defeated, and life for the dead. Testify to Jesus through whom God saves us by grace, empowers us for holy living as he sets us apart and guarantees out hope so that we begin living eternally now. Don’t be ashamed but praise God!

Do we ever feel ashamed of the gospel, we need to look again and be amazed at what God has done for us, at his love and grace. So that we are not ashamed but amazed.

2. Don’t be ashamed of me because...
(8)My suffering is part of God’s plan. Paul is in prison in Rome but **how does he describe himself? “the [Lords] prisoner”. He is not there because of Nero’s power, he is not there because somehow he has screwed up. His suffering and imprisonment are not an aberration or a mistake. God is sovereign over his imprisonment and he is in prison for the gospel. Don’t be ashamed of me Timothy but (8)join with me in suffering for the gospel. **How can Timothy do that? “by the power of God.” Suffering does not nullify the gospel but verifies the gospel because God works through it empowering his people to testify to the wonder of his grace and to entrust themselves to him in certain hope of his well done.

(11-12)Suffering is the norm in gospel ministry. (11-12)make even clearer this link between gospel ministry and suffering. **Why does Paul say he is suffering? Because of his appointment, his calling to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

(12)I am convinced and trust God. (12)His imprisonment and impending death has not shattered Paul’s faith, it has not caused Paul to be ashamed because he is utterly confident in the character and faithfulness of the one he has entrusted his ministry and life to. God will guard the gospel and him until Christ returns.

Don’t be ashamed of the gospel or of me, the gospel is glorious and true and suffering is all part of the ministry of God’s gospel which he calls us to. Knowing the gospel and knowing the God of the gospel are the key to not being ashamed.

When we feel ashamed, when we feel the temptation to flee, or just keep quiet we don’t need to redouble our efforts, we don’t need emotional manipulation or blackmail we need to refresh ourselves in the gospel and the God of the gospel.

3. Don’t be ashamed but...
Now Paul turns to what it will mean, what it will look like for Timothy not to be ashamed. **What does he tell him to do(13)? Keep on teaching what you heard from me. Don’t compromise on what you teach, don’t adapt it to fit in with the false teachers, even if what they teach seems to be what some in the church members want to hear, hold to and teach the truth. The pattern means the model or standard of the gospel which he has learned from Paul and which is testified to by the other apostles.

Timothy you know what you ought to preach, you know the truth, don’t be pressured into accommodating false teachers, or cowed into silence. Be unashamed and teach the truth. And it is not just the words of his ministry that matter but the mode of his ministry, his teaching and life are to be marked by sincere belief and love as modelled in Christ.

Guard the gospel is his next instruction. **Why do you need to guard something? Because it is under threat, it will be attacked, or stolen or vandalised or damaged. Timothy the gospel is under threat, it is gospel will be under attack, and just as you would something precious guard the gospel entrusted to you, that is both in you, that I passed down to you and that you teach others. That might seem a bit of an overwhelming task, but he is not alone, "with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

4. Don’t be ashamed like...instead...
Paul ends this call to Timothy not to be ashamed but to stand and faithfully declare the gospel and join Paul in suffering by giving him examples of some who have been ashamed and one who has not.

To be ashamed means to desert and that (15)is what happened in Asia, Paul’s imprisonment has led some to desert him, don’t be like them. Don’t hide away but come to me.

But Onesiphorus stands out as one who is not ashamed. **What did that look like? He goes to Rome – into the lion’s den – he searches for Paul, hard, and when he finds him encourages and refreshes him. He is not ashamed of Paul or of the gospel which has led to Paul’s imprisonment, be identifies with him and encourages him.

Paul wants Timothy to see the real danger – it is being ashamed of the gospel and of Paul. Instead of being ashamed and deserting he wants him to proclaim, to stand, to guard, to fight, to come to him.

Gospel ministry is hard; it is a calling to testify to Jesus and to suffer for that calling. It comes with the temptation to be ashamed whether that is by keeping quiet, or by compromising on the gospel, or by not identifying with those who suffer for the gospel.

What is the antidote it is to refresh yourself in the wonder of the gospel and the character and provision of God. To stand because you know the one who has saved you and are confident in the one who keeps you and who provides his spirit to enable you to stand!

These are the questions we then discussed in small groups afterwards as we sought to apply the passage to one another:
1. What parts of the gospel are we tempted to be ashamed of?

2. What parts of the gospel do we need to guard today?

3. What does it look like for us to follow Pauls’ instructions not to be ashamed?

4. What encouragement is there here to enable us to stand?

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