The Word of God Unbound
2nd Timothy 2:8-15 *
Paul had no doubt as to the reason he was chained and imprisoned. He was being treated as a dangerous criminal because he preached that Jesus had come back from the dead. The Roman authorities wanted Paul dead because the Doctrine of the Resurrection was an affront to civil authority. It was believed that the most effective means for controlling a captured people was fear. When they killed a man He was expected to remain dead! They couldn’t have it known that there was a power greater than that of Rome. The Jews had many reasons for wanting him dead, but again, the main reason was his preaching about the resurrection.
At the time Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy, he was literally just hours from his execution. Strangely enough, the apostle had come to accept his imprisonment and the inevitability of death. He was comforted and reassured by the fact that the Word of God was able to move beyond the prison bars and accomplish his/its purpose – to offer hope of the resurrection to everyone able and willing to believe! Some have labeled the early apostles fanatics for their willingness to suffer and die for what they believed. They did not cherish life and liberty less than us; they simply understood a greater truth. There is neither life nor freedom apart from the resurrection of Jesus the Christ!
The inescapable truth of Paul’s testimony is that no power or authority can prevent the Gospel accomplishing its purpose. Following the Revolutionary War there was a cooling of religious ardor in Europe. It is said that a man entered a bookstore in France and asked to purchase a Bible. The proprietor scoffed at him, telling him that modern thought would soon guarantee that there would not be a Bible left anywhere in the world. It is true that the love of God has been nearly extinguished in Europe and that even in America there is not the same love for Scripture that once existed. But like Paul said, the Word will find a place of acceptance. Today in places like Korea, China, and Africa there are evangelistic explosions. The Word of God will not be bound or confined, but will find a voice and make itself known.
I. The Eternal Qualities of the Word
A. The Word is not limited by the vessel carrying it
1. It is not just a book. It is the Word of God!
2. Written before the foundations of the universe were laid, it was and is the agent of creation
B. No power may prevents its expression
1. Ministers may be confined, not the word
2. Men may seek its destruction, but might as well try to extinguish the stars
3. Tyndale’s example will ever be repeated. Tonstal attempted to destroy Tyndale’s New Testament. He bought up several hundred copies and burned them publicly. With the money Tonstal provided, more Bibles were printed. Thus the image of the Bible tied to a burning stake and dozens of others leaping from the flames.
C. Scripture will accomplish its purpose
1. Bringing people to a saving knowledge
2. Equipping the saints for the work of faith
3. Tearing down the strongholds of Satan
4. Prevailing over false gods, philosophies, and religions (Dagon)
II. Why All This Is True
A. The Bible owns the attributes of its Creator
1. Having the power to build and to destroy
2. Able to enforce its commands
B. The Bible is attended by the Holy Spirit
C. The Word may produce explosive enthusiasm
1. The death of ministers is not the Gospel’s death
2. The feebleness of Christians increases the Gospel’s power
3. The coldness and idleness of the Church cannot prevent the fire of truth starting blazes in hearts and minds
4. Its rejection by sinners is not its overthrow
The Gospel is much like a ray of sunlight. It can go anywhere – be it palace or dungeon. “Walls cannot confine it, nor iron bars imprison it; it is free and makes men free….” (C. H. Spurgeon). Let it but enter a man’s heart and he is set free though the world wrap him in chains and cast him into the bowels of the earth!