Sermon Titled “It’s All Part Of The Plan” (2 Timothy 1:8-12) – Sunday 21st September 2014
Last weekend’s sermon was the second in a series on the book of 2 Timothy. I missed the first sermon unfortunately (which introduced the first few verses of the first chapter), but let me give just a quick synopsis of verses 1-7 before starting this post.
When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he was a prisoner in Rome, charged with preaching the gospel. Most of his supporters had deserted him by this time, but for a few loyal and faithful friends, one of whom was Timothy. Timothy was in Ephesus however, and Paul yearned to see him one last time. He sent his colleague Tychicus to deliver his letter to Timothy, and to also relieve Timothy from his post so that he might be able to go visit Paul in prison.
The nature of Paul’s letter to Timothy is much more personal in nature than any previous letters he had written, most likely because he anticipated that his days were numbered, and because he also worried that Timothy might not have the mental resolve to stay strong under such oppressive circumstances (Nero had falsely accused the Christians of starting the Great Fire of Rome – 64 CE – hence the Christians were seen at that time as an abomination). Paul’s letter to Timothy is one of love and encouragement.
Continuing on with Paul’s second letter to Timothy, let’s look at what he said in verses 8-12:
- 2 Timothy 1:8-12 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He 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 Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 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. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
Right off the bat, Paul exhorts Timothy to stand tall and not “be ashamed” of the testimony of their Lord. Paul’s counsel to Timothy, though centuries old, applies to today’s Christians as well, and even to those living in areas where religious freedom is enjoyed. Concerning Timothy however, it’s obvious that his fears were justified, as are the fears of those, who today, also face a real threat of persecution. But what about those who face no threat at all? Many Christians are free to speak openly about their faith, yet not all are bold enough to do so.
Sadly, some Christians would rather blend into society and conform to non-Christian values because it feels safer to “fit in.” I’m by no means judging either – I’ve been in situations myself where I’ve tried to deter the topic of conversation because it was headed in a direction that I perceived would bring “negative” attention to my Christian beliefs. Paul tries to discourage that type of response by reminding all Christians that they have been divinely gifted with a spirit of power, not timidity.
- “7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Furthermore, Paul also suggests that even in the midst of suffering or criticism, one can still find peace and solace. Knowing full well what it is to suffer, Paul makes it clear that every painful ordeal he ever endured (in his quest to share the gospel), had only served to make him a stronger person. As he wrote his letter from a prison cell, knowing that a gruesome fate awaited him, his words indicate that he was somehow at peace.
“I know whom I have believed,” says Paul. These are such significant words. Because of his unabridged faith in the authenticity of the Lord, Paul’s determination, joy, and perseverance did not falter. Author C.S. Lewis once proposed that if Jesus was not who he claimed to be, then he must be a liar, a lunatic, or worse. If you believe that he is neither a liar nor a lunatic, but that Jesus is who He says He is, then you must also believe His Word.
And if you do believe the Word of God, then you’ll also know that it doesn’t promise a happy ending for everyone. In fact, without sugar-coating the details, the Bible says that “unbelievers,” among others, will spend eternity in a fiery lake of burning sulfur (Revelations 21:8). If that’s true, shouldn’t we feel as compelled as Paul did to share our faith, rather than conceal it?
God had a specific plan and purpose for Paul, but He has one for us too. It may not be quite so sacrificial or heroic, but it requires from us the same level of discipline and obedience. We are expected to demonstrate God’s love for others by helping out wherever we see a need, and by speaking the truth whenever the opportunity presents itself.
It is God’s desire for us to be a light in this world, and to trust the plans that He has for us, even in the face of mockery and condemnation.