THE CHALLENGE TO BE FAITHFUL
2 TIMOTHY 1:8-12
One of the most popular shows on TV at the moment, so the ratings tell us, is “The Biggest Loser”
· Why it is so popular is a great mystery to me…. But I know that one of my daughters watches it every week….
Apparently last week one of the guys who had lost weight in previous weeks suddenly put on a couple of kilos…. A big no no!
And so according to the advertisement on the TV for this week’s show the big challenge for this guy now is to remain faithful to the cause…
· To get back & stick to the diet… don’t eat .. & put in the hard yards in terms of exercise.
Well, in a similar vein, though on a much more important level, in our passage from 2 Timothy 1 today, the Apostle Paul issues a challenge to Timothy
è THE CHALLENGE TO BE FAITHFUL! [to his Christian calling]
Last week when Mark introduced the first in our series on faithfulness in Christian service from 2 Tim. 1:1-7, we saw how God had prepared Timothy to date…
· His Christian heritage, his gift from God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yet Paul understands only too well the difficulties that lie ahead.
So in verses vs. 8-12 … just read to us… he issues a challenge for Timothy to remain faithful when times get tough.
And that challenge begins with an exhortation from vs 8 not to be ashamed …
è DO NOT BE ASHAMED TO TESTIFY ABOUT CHRIST!
Here is the no. 1 temptation when it comes to faithfulness in the service of God… the temptation to be ashamed of Christ and the gospel message about him.
Why is there such a temptation to be ashamed?
Basically because the testimony about Christ is so deeply unpopular….
· A message which highlights human sin & guilt before God, accountability at judgement seat of God and our total inability to help ourselves or merit anything before God.
Friends, don’t underestimate this temptation. It is strong and insidious.
· Were it not so Paul would have had no need in Rom. 1:16 or later in vs 12 to declare that he was not ashamed of the gospel.
· Nor would Jesus have issued the strong warning in Mark 8:38: “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.”
The testimony about Jesus is foolishness to some and down right offensive to others… especially in the current climate of new age relativism.
But Christ is not the only one Timothy might be tempted to be ashamed of.
If Timothy is not to be ashamed of Christ neither is he to be
è [Nor] ashamed of Paul, his prisoner
vs. 8b… READ….
Paul was currently most likely sitting in a Roman dungeon…
Vs 15 tells us that everyone deserted him (vs. 15)... criticism from without and within!
It was dangerous to be associated with Paul… treated like a criminal.
But he is Christ’s prisoner… ultimately in jail by will of the one to whom he testifies.
So will Timothy identify with Paul or will he shrink back?
· Will we identify ourselves with fellow Christians we know in the wake of criticism leveled at them by others? Or will we simply be silent… embarrassed, ashamed?
So the negative side of Paul’s challenge is not to be ashamed. But of course this immediately opens up the flip side of the same coin.
Timothy is not to be ashamed to testify to Christ or ashamed of Paul…
è BUT RATHER TO JOIN WITH PAUL [ME] IN SUFFERING FOR THE GOSPEL!
Vs. 8c … READ…
Friends, since the gospel message is so deeply unpopular with the human race, if you want to be a faithful Christian, you will suffer…
· You may enjoy the comfort and support of the College community here, but it is not that way out there! Out there, if you want to be faithful you will suffer…
· suffer rejection, persecution and in some parts of world physical abuse and even death.
But that is part of the deal… part of cost of belonging to Christ and our hope in him!
· Recently watching world championships… interview with Emily Seebohm… 14 year old backstroker in winning 4x100 metre relay…
· Ken Sutcliffe asked her what a typical day was… rise 4.30am… pool 5.30am…then school… back to pool after school… then homework… dinner and bed… - all day every day!! But she knew it was part of the deal….
So too for us … suffering for the sake of the gospel is part of the deal!
If you want to be faithful expect it. Even more, the apostles embraced it!
A couple of chapters later 2 Tim 3:12… Paul would make this clear as crystal:
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
It is not that we go looking for it! It is just a statement of fact.
So Paul urges Timothy not to shrink back but to take his share of suffering as a faithful servant of Christ.
The big difference between faithfulness to a human cause and faithfulness to God that we are not left to our own resources but as Paul notes at the end of vs. 8 “by the power of God”
As Paul has already reminded Timothy he possesses the H.S.… a spirit of power.
So God’s assistance is always available to the one who would be faithful.
And it seems it is this reference to God that leads Paul in vs 9-10 to move on to the third aspect of this challenge to be faithful.... which I’ve simply called…
è REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE!
vs. 9-10… READ…
Why is it that Paul suddenly reminds Timothy of what God has done?
· Has not left the theme of shame and suffering because he comes back to it in vs. 12.
I think it is because Paul knows that memory of past achievement has a powerful effect on our faithfulness in the face of hardship and trial.
· To go back to Emily Seebohm… another interview with Nicole Livingstone when finished 4x100… will this stimulate her to go on… sure will..
· Or it is like when I play golf… most of time these days things don’t go well. Then out of the blue comes this one great shot that brings me back again next time to hope for more!
So when it comes to challenging Timothy to join with Paul in sharing sufferings, he reminds Timothy of what God has done… to strengthen his resolve...
· This is part of the way HS works in our lives.. through remembering all that God has done… strengthens our resolve to share in suffering that comes for the sake of the gospel.
What is then to which Paul draws to Timothy’s and our attention here. First, that…
è God [He] has saved us and called us to a holy life!
Just as for Timothy God has saved us…
· Brought us into new relationship with him… forgiven all our sins and failures…
· But more than forgiveness he has given us a new life… a holy life … a life where we are constantly being changed, as Paul notes elsewhere, from one degree of glory to another!
· And all of this as Paul makes clear is purely by God’s own purpose and grace…. Nothing from us at all!
· We know this friends. We have already experienced his love and grace in our lives.
But more than this, the God who saved us and called us to a holy life is 2nd the
è God who [He] has brought to light life and immortality through the gospel
We know God now yes! We are forgiven yes!
But there is still more to come - eternal life and immortality.
· Death has been destroyed through the cross of Christ. Eternal life and immortality are to come… Provided we are faithful to the task!
What is clear through verses 9-10 is that all this has come about purely by God’s grace…. purely his mercy from start to finish… even before time began…
So although we are responsible to testify to Christ, to endure and even embrace the sufferings that follow… ultimately Paul also knows that whatever happens we can
è TRUST IN GOD’S PROTECTION!
Vs. 11-12… READ….
Paul returns to where he began and confesses that he is not ashamed of the gospel.
His commission to a herald, apostle and teacher is the reason for his suffering.
We know from the rest of 2 Timothy that he is aware he will soon die.
· What good will his sufferings have been then? What of the gospel message? What of his own future?
The God who has brought life and immortality to light can be trusted with the future.
In a great climax to this passage Paul declares his confidence in
è God’s [His] ability to guard what we have entrusted to him until that day!
Literally the verse reads “to guard my deposit” until that day.
Although in a moment Paul will instruct Timothy to guard the deposit of sound teaching, the apostolic gospel passed on to him, here he refers to “my deposit” and it is God who guards that.
· The “deposit” here then should be understood more broadly, probably referring to the sum total of Paul’s own life, the continued proclamation of the gospel message after he is gone and the care of his converts he will leave behind.
So too with us, encouragement not to be ashamed of the gospel, to continue to be a herald and teacher, to take our part in suffering for gospel is that God can be trusted!
Nothing is in vain, gospel will continue to be proclaimed, life and immortality await!
So the challenge to be faithful lay before us today just as much as it did then….
· Challenge … not to be ashamed to testify to Christ or be identified with his people….
· To take our share in suffering for the gospel message we proclaim….
· To remember all that God has done … and finally whatever may come our way
· To share with Paul an unshakable trust in God’s ability to guard our deposit until that great day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
Let’s close by praying that by the power of God for each one of us, it may be so!