From the desk of Pastor Pete Fox
We’re continuing our sermon series in 2 Timothy called “Pay it forward”. Which I have to be honest, I really didn’t like that title. But as I’ve been reading the book, it really is appropriate.
Let’s jump right in and read the passage for today. 2 Tim. 1:8 – 18
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. 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, 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. And of this gospel, I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 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. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
Paul didn’t mention Timothy’s mother and Grandma just to be nice. He didn’t mention his own forefathers just out of respect. He mentions all these people right off the bat because He wants to establish the importance of Godly Men and Women living out their faith and passing it along to the next generation.
As Dennis mentioned last week, Paul is writing this letter from a Roman prison. He knows he’s about to die soon for His faith. Many of his former ministry partners left him out of fear that they were going to get thrown in jail and die as well.
We’re not talking about «Café Christianity». We’re not talking about showing up for a service once a week. We’re talking about warfare. We’re talking about entering into a battle over faith. Do you really feel like you are in a battle?
This thought really got me this week. Like if you don’t engage in this battle, you’ll be useless. He says in verse 15 that all who are in Asia deserted him. Two things. First of all, everyone left him? Everyone? 2nd – Do you hear the language he’s using? He’s saying they’ve deserted. In fact, at the end of this book, he says, when he first defended himself “all deserted him”.
What I’m trying to show you is that Paul is making it very clear that we are in a battle, a battle for the souls of men, women, and children.
And man! How discouraging is it to give your life for the sake of the gospel so that people can be saved and God can be glorified and you don’t get married, and you really don’t have a home, and you spend all your life traveling from city to city, and you start like 15 churches, and you’ve had to endure afflictions, hardships, distresses, beatings, hard work, sleeplessness, hunger, and imprisonment.
And you come to the end of your life, your sitting in a jail cell for «caring too much». And you only have a handful of people left to show for all your hard work. Who wants to sign up? Who’s going with me? I mean, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. And it looks like this. It looks like «complete failure».
Now, I rarely ever bust on other preachers. Like, the last time I did I was heckled by a homeless guy. Seriously, we were at the Red Carpet Inn when the church first started. And we would have like 10 homeless people every week coming in for free coffee, which was awesome. And this guy is sitting in the 2nd row next to a pole, and he’s leaned up against it, sleeping.
I’m not saying he was snoring or anything, but he looked comfortable. Didn’t move for like 20 minutes, eyes closed the whole time. And I said something about some of these TV preachers that are always hitting people up for money and how people must be listening to them because their still on TV.
And as soon as I said it, without skipping a beat the homeless guy wakes up and says “Well that’s because they speak much better than you do”. Calls me out in the middle of my sermon. And what could I say? Not only is it awkward. But he was right. He called me out. I haven’t given a dollar to a homeless person since that day. Kidding!
But anyway, all that to say, in light of the Apostle Paul’s letters and his life and what following Jesus cost you. I can see how a lot of Christians really don’t like some of these TV evangelists and preachers who only talk about how God is going to bless you. Especially, if you would just do some more things… give some more things.
Because those guys sound nothing like Paul. So be careful. Because if you are expecting God’s blessings to look a certain way, you’re going to be seriously disappointed as a Christian. And it happens all the time. People are constantly walking away from Christianity for many reasons. But one of the main reasons is that their expectations haven’t been met. Their expectations from God and others haven’t been met.
So, what you can expect is this. Expect suffering, pain, loss, hurt, and possibly even death. But, in the midst of those things, you will find blessings that you could have never fathomed. Not just material blessings that people are always promising you.
Like blessings, you couldn’t think of. Blessings that never go away. Blessings that allow you to experience true life in a way that you didn’t know existed.
And mostly I’m talking about the blessing of God himself. God can’t give you anything greater than himself. And he does want to bless you with himself. But the problem is that we usually don’t want him until we’re in trouble. And then we cry out to Him and He draws near to us. And we find joy, and peace, and contentment and mercy and grace even in the midst of suffering.
So in verse 8, Paul says don’t be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus or of me, Jesus’ prisoner.
You can’t miss this. Paul is saying, don’t disassociate with me out of fear that the bad stuff that’s happening to me will happen to you.
Look at Paul’s perspective. Don’t be ashamed of Jesus or of me, Jesus’ prisoner. He’s like, I’m not in a Roman Prison, I’m in Jesus’s prison.
That changes things. You won’t hear from Paul how unfair his circumstances are. He’s so in tune with God’s will that he 100% believes that he’s not a prisoner of anyone except Jesus.
He’s saying, my life is His completely to the point that it led me to this jail cell. So Jesus has me here and it’s for a perfect reason.
Do you know why we get so upset about our circumstances? Because it’s our life, not Jesus’ life. You want peace, contentment, and joy in the midst of suffering. Recognize that your life is not yours but Jesus’ life.
So Paul says in verse 8, don’t be ashamed of Jesus or me, instead join us in suffering for the Gospel according to the power of God.
Ok, he’s not saying come to prison with me. Although that could definitely happen. He’s saying we are in a battle, and it’s full of suffering, stay in the fight. Don’t desert. And do it according to the power of God.
What power is he talking about? Let’s keep reading.
verses 9 – 12
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, 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. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 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.
The same power of God that saved us and gave us a specific calling, it has nothing to do with our works or strength but instead, it was a complete result of God’s purpose and Grace from eternity past.
That’s the power he’s talking about. He’s saying, God is in control. God defeated death for us. God is causing all things to work for the good of those who love Him. These are not Roman bars, this is Jesus’ jail cell. He put me in here, and he can get me out. Jesus suffered, and now I’m suffering. Don’t be afraid Timothy, God knows what he’s doing.
I know whom I have believed in, and I know that anything I entrust to him will never be lost. Paul is saying, you can’t lose this way. There’s no safer place I can be then in this jail cell.
verses 13 – 14
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
He’s saying to Timothy, don’t be afraid man, don’t start to waver on your teaching. Don’t water it down, don’t worry about what people think or what they say, keep the teaching the same.
And guard the gospel! Again you hear this war language? Guard the gospel man. The whole battle is going to be won or lost over the gospel. The most important thing the enemy can do is steal the gospel. If the enemy can just change it slightly… Just throw a little bit of confusion into it…
But here’s the deal. The treasure, the gospel, is in us. No one can take it from us. That’s why Paul says to guard the treasure through the Holy Spirit who is also in you. Remember what Dennis said last week? God did not give us a spirit of fear.
The Holy Spirit who is in us is not afraid. So you better allow the Spirit to control you. You better follow the Spirit’s leading. Because as soon as you stop following the Spirit, you will start to be afraid, and start to question things, and allow the enemy to influence you.
verses 15 – 18
You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
I think he calls these people out for leaving him because he wants Timothy to remember that it can happen to anyone. It’s a matter of taking our calling seriously and not getting complacent. When things are going well, it’s easy to think I will never walk away from the faith.
I will never water down the message. I will never compromise the word of God. And Paul is saying, these guys did. Remember how solid they were. It can happen to anyone. Don’t be arrogant. Don’t get complacent. You better remember every day, that this is a battle.
And then how about Onesiphorus? What a blessing to be ministered to. Every time Onesiphorus came walking into the jail it must have been like Jesus coming to visit. Paul’s not asking for anything crazy, he’s just saying this guy just kept ministering to me knowing it might cost him. Knowing he might get thrown into jail for even associating with me. We all need and want those kinds of friends. But all we can do is be that kind of friend to others. Be that blessing to someone else.
Jesus is that friend to us. Everyone deserted him. He was arrested, his closest companions ran away. Peter denied him 3 times. And he willingly suffered and took the punishment for them and us. When you’re discouraged, don’t forget that Jesus willingly entered into suffering for our sake. Despite the fact that we rejected him. That all abandoned him. He was that friend to us. And we need to be that friend to others no matter what they are to us. No matter what they’ve done to us.
But what I want to leave you with today is this theme of persevering and passing on the Gospel to the next generation no matter what you’re up against. Don’t be ashamed, don’t desert, don’t become complacent, remember the faithful people who passed along the Gospel to you. And do the same.