Convinced that He is Able
2nd Timothy 1:1-14
The second letter of Paul to Timothy is a radical departure from the first letter he wrote to his young protege. Paul’s first letter deals with many church issues and roles of people who serve in the church. When we read Paul’s second letter you can sense the tone of this letter, there is a sense of urgency. Paul sees the need for a permanent record of his concern for the gospel in his second letter. This is now Paul’s second or third imprisonment and by now Paul is used to the ways of a Roman prison. The letter has been dated by church historians to be between 66 and 67 AD. This also stands as the generally accepted date of Paul’s execution by the Romans. Before Paul leaves this flesh he is in he wants, he desperately needs to impart some final words to the only person to whom he trusts, Timothy. Through Timothy the message of the gospel will be preserved, strengthened and set throughout the world. Paul knows his death is near and this is his final gift to his “son” Timothy.
A final letter written before Paul’s death shows his emotions, his human nature and his concerns which are that Christ be glorified and the gospel be proclaimed. We know of final letters sent by men in wartime. Going forward into battle they write poignant letters expressing love for their families and asking for forgiveness for things they might have done. From ancient wars to the civil war, and even today we can see these letters written by men who knew that the chances were they would not be coming back. I remember my letter I wrote to my sister before we were to go into a battle. I didn’t think I would make it back, but here I am praise God! Here this morning by His grace to preach His Word. You want to compose these letters to set things right before you die. Paul is not writing his final letter to ask for forgiveness or to ask for anything other then that the gospel of Jesus Christ be spread throughout the world, in season and out of season. Paul is desperately striving to bring the good news to the world through Timothy, his only trusted person on this earth. Paul is convinced that God is able to accomplish this.
Now No one can put themselves into the mind of a condemned man. How can we bring our minds to think about Paul’s state of mind? His death was imminent , his executioners were sharpening their blades, yet this final letter written to his “beloved” Timothy shows the Apostle in all his human emotion. In his heightened mental state Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, despite his physical needs. Paul shows us the love he has for Timothy he uses the same greek word “beloved” for Timothy that is used in Matthew 3:17, As Jesus rises out of the water after being baptized by John we hear God say, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” We see many other clues about the way Paul viewed Timothy, one is he starts the letter with “…grace, mercy and peace from God…” (2) All of Paul's letters begin with grace and peace, but only to Timothy does he add mercy, perhaps to bolster Timothy’s confidence in dealing with the church at Ephesus. Timothy needed the mercy of God for that service. Now Paul is convinced that God is able to grant mercy to Timothy, and to bring Paul to glory with God
But how can Paul view this as a certainty? Will Timothy heed these words? Paul knows God’s promises, and in verse 3 Paul states that “he serves God with a clear conscience the way his forefathers did…” Paul knows and sees the promise from Scripture of Jesus Christ. Paul is a “Rabbi of Rabbi’s” and his eyes were opened on the Damascus Road to the true purpose of the prophets, the law, and the kings of the Scriptures. All of it, points and clarifies the person and glory of Jesus Christ. Paul is convinced that God is able to fulfill every promise the He has ever made.
Paul continues to expand on the theme of the promise of faith when he discusses Timothy’s Grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, these women more then the men of that time, saw the promised Messiah in Jesus Christ. Now this faith and this promise has been handed down to Timothy. He has been taught the promise, and he has been given his faith by God. Paul is convinced that God is able to hold Timothy in His arms no matter the suffering he goes though or the trials that lie ahead for him.
Suffering and shame seem to go together so easily in our lives. In our suffering we forget who we are, we forget that we are adopted into the family of God, we have been grafted into God’s family, and this adoption, this grafting in, doesn't alleviate our suffering, in fact it makes it worse for us. In this suffering Paul reminds us not to be ashamed of our faith. Today, our brothers and sisters in the middle east and china are suffering for the faith unashamedly. Paul flips this thought of shame and instead announces that this suffering is a great privilege and honor, he tells Timothy, “But join with me in suffering for the gospel…” (v.8) For suffering for the gospel is what our mindset should be, but why? Suffering is hard. Disease is hard. Family disputes are hard. Death is hard. Why should WE suffer for the gospel? Paul answers this wonderfully in verse 9 he say, “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 granted to us from all eternity.” Paul tells us we were DEAD PEOPLE in our sins, and nothing we could do, no works of our own could save us, only Christ’s sacrifice could release us from God’s wrath. We were rebels waging war against God, but God, BUT GOD, released us from our rebellion and changed us to new creatures. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come” 2 Cor 5:17 Paul is convinced that God is able to comfort us in our suffering, and hold us in our despair.
Paul then reasserts his position again to Timothy about the need for the gospel to be proclaimed . Paul is not ashamed and in v.12 Paul tells us, “…for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that Day.” Paul is without doubt, he is perfectly set for his death. Paul tells us that he is convinced that God is able to guard and protect him from all harm to his soul. He has given his soul to his maker and God will guard it and protect it until the day of Christ’s second coming. Paul is convinced, utterly persuaded that God is able, that God is all powerful to bring him to an understanding that surpasses all knowledge.
Finally Paul needs to make clear to Timothy that he must hold fast to the doctrines that Paul has taught him. He can’t be swayed by the false winds of change. Timothy must stand fast, he must retain the “sound words” given to him. Timothy is given this charge by Paul hours or perhaps minutes before his death, brother Timothy cannot, he must not take this lightly. Just as this congregation has held fast despite the changing winds of society and culture.
Now, Paul who earlier has made clear he has given his soul to God to protect; instructs Timothy to guard what God has given to him through the Holy Spirit. God has given him the truth of the gospel-that we were blind people, blind in our sins, blind to the world around us, blinded by the sinful nature that inhabits all of us. No one can restore our sight but the sin-less lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Christ extends his free gift of salvation to all through His death on a cross and His resurrection from the dead. Jesus is the first fruits, He has conquered sin and death for us in our undeserved state. 1 Cor 15:55 tells us, “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” This free gift came with a high price, the crucifixion of the Father’s beloved son, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” Paul is convinced that God is able to keep the gospel truth through the Holy Spirit dwelling in Timothy.
How does this strike our hearts today? Are we as convinced as Paul that God is able? That God is able to help me find that job? That God is able to help me overcome addiction? That God is able to change my life? Paul certainly knew that, and if you are in Christ this morning you know that Jesus has taken you through many hard times in the past and he promises He will in the future.
Are we keeping the “sound word” in our hearts this morning? Paul with his last written words charges Timothy and us to keep the Word of God. Are we being faithful to God? Can we say that God is able to make us faithful to Him? We have been given our final letter and it has been written with love and truth to allow us to continue to know that God is able to see us through anything we experience here. We must be absolutely and confidently convinced that God is able to provide us with His loving care now and forever. Lets continue to tell others that God is able to see them through whatever they are going through. God is able.Conv