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2 Timothy 1:8-18: Be Not Ashamed Print E-mail
2 Timothy
Sunday, 10 July 2011

Are you ashamed of the gospel?  Of course, most of us would quickly answer that question with a decisive Ďno, never.í  Thus, let me ask it in a different way: are you ever silent about the gospel?  Now that is a different question altogether is it not?  None of us want to believe that we are in any way ashamed of the gospel of Christ.  Yet, does not our silence betray us?  I mean if we are not ashamed then we will speak up.  If we are not ashamed then we will have that difficult conversation with our family member or co-worker or neighbor or friend.  Granted, we can offer other excuses for our silence, like fear or ignorance or laziness, but the fact that we do not overcome these with our faith perhaps reveals that we are in some sense ashamed of the gospel.  It is a convicting thought.  So then, what do we do about it?

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Of course, we are not the first to be tempted in such a way.  Paul was concerned that Timothy give in to being ashamed of the gospel.  In our passage this morning he writes to encourage him to be not ashamed.  His exhortation is clear in verse 8.  Look at that with me.  In the preceding verses, which we looked at last week, Paul had encouraged Timothy to remember that he had not been given a spirit of fear but the Spirit of power and love and self control (v. 6-7).  In light of that truth, Paul commands Timothy to not be ashamed of the gospel.  Instead, Timothy is to share in suffering for the gospel. 

Paul will go on to describe his suffering for the gospel and he encourages Timothy to share in that suffering.  Paul preached the gospel and suffered for it.  He is encouraging Timothy (and us) to do the same.  We are not to shrink back.  We are not to be cowards.  We are not to be ashamed.  Rather, we are to preach the gospel boldly, knowing and embracing the fact that such proclamation will lead to suffering.  Jesus called us to take up our crosses and not be ashamed of Him (Mark 8:34-38).  Peter tells us to expect suffering as followers of Christ (1 Peter 4:12-19).  And Paul agrees.  We must be prepared to suffer for the proclamation of the gospel.  We must not be ashamed.

Yet, how are we going to do this?  How do we avoid being ashamed and embrace suffering?  Paul goes on to give us some directions in doing just that.  What does he tell us?

First, we can avoid being ashamed and embrace suffering by the power of God through the gospel (v. 8b-10).

We are not left to depend upon our own strength.  Notice what Paul says at the end of verse 8.  We are not to be ashamed and embrace suffering by the power of God.  Our strength comes from Him.  Paul describes this by writing of Godís power in the gospel.  His work, His plan of saving us through the gospel encourages us to never be ashamed.  Look at verses 9-10.  Our salvation is His work.  We are not saved by our works but by His grace.  God did not save us because of anything good in us or anything good that we would or could do.  No, He saved us according to his own purpose and grace.  Paul is emphasizing that our salvation (from beginning to end) is all of God.  God planned our salvation.  We were given grace in Christ Jesus before the ages began.  Before we even existed, God was planning our salvation through Christ.

Not only did God plan our salvation and grant us grace even before the ages began, but God has accomplished our salvation by sending Christ.  The grace that God gave us so long ago now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus.  Jesus came to bring us grace.  He took on flesh, becoming a man, humbling himself, to accomplish our salvation, which He did by abolishing death and bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel.  Christ took on flesh and became a man.  He lived in perfect obedience to the Father.  Then, He died on a cross for our sins and was raised again on the third day.  By doing this, He abolished death.  Death, spiritual death, no longer has a hold on the believer.  Through faith in Christ we can have victory over this enemy.  Likewise, by dying on the cross and being raised, Christ has purchased life and immortality for all those in Him.  This is the glorious good news of the gospel: our sins can be forgiven and we can have new life, life eternal, by turning from our sins and believing in the death and resurrection of Christ.  Do not delay, repent and be saved today!

In just a couple of verses Paul outlines the grandeur of the gospel.  God has planned it, granting us grace even before the world began.  He has accomplished it through the work of Christ.  He has effectually called us to a holy calling.  And He has promised us life eternal, which even now we enjoy through faith in Christ.  So then, in light of this Ďbig pictureí of the gospel, how can we be ashamed?  The good news is so much bigger than any suffering or difficulty we could ever face.  How could we be ashamed of our God who was willing to humble himself, take on flesh, and become sin in our place, dying naked on a cross under the wrath of His own Father?  O brothers and sisters, be not ashamed.  Take up your cross and follow the Savior.

Second, we can avoid being ashamed and embrace suffering by following the pattern of Paul (v. 11-13, 15-18).

After his description of the gospel in verses 9-10, Paul then speaks of his own suffering in verses 11-13.  Look at those with me.  Paul was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher of the gospel.  He was to proclaim it to any and all, which he did.  And he suffered for it.  He was imprisoned in Rome, facing death, because he had faithfully preached the gospel.  Yet, he was not ashamed of the gospel even though it had cost him his freedom (and would eventually cost him his life). 

Why was he not ashamed?  He tells us in verse 12.  First, he was not ashamed because I know whom I have believed.  Paul knows the God who has saved and redeemed Him.  He knows what He has done to save him, namely sending Christ to die in his place.  Through the work of Christ, Paul knows the Lord.  He knows Him.  And he will not be ashamed.  Second, Paul is not ashamed because he is convinced that he is able to guard until that Day, what I have entrusted to him (following the footnote in the ESV, which I think is a better translation).  Paul has entrusted his life and his ministry to the Lord.  He is in the Lordís hands.  And he is convinced, He is certain, that God will guard that deposit until Christ returns.  We have spoken before of Paulís eternal perspective and I think we see it on display in these verses.  Paul is not going to let imprisonment or suffering or even death cause him to doubt the faithfulness of God.  He is able to guard and keep us.  And when the Day comes, He will keep all His promises to us.  Paul knows this and it prevents him from ever being ashamed of the gospel.

In the same way, he commands Timothy to follow his pattern and remain faithful to the gospel that Paul has preached.  Look again at verse 13.  He is telling Timothy to not give up on the true faith, the true gospel, the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).  Paul is passing on his ministry to Timothy and he wants him to stay faithful to the gospel that he has heard from Paul.  Timothy does not need Ďnew plans, new ideas, new teaching, etc.í  No, Timothy must hold fast to the true gospel that he received from Paul.  Unfortunately some had already begun to abandon Paul and his message.  Look at verse 15.  Yet, there were others who remained true.  Look at verses 16-18.  Paul is telling Timothy to not be ashamed, donít be like Phygelus and Hermogenes.  Rather, Timothy is to embrace suffering, following the examples of Paul and Onesiphorus.  We can avoid being ashamed and embrace suffering by following the faithful examples who have gone before us.  May we imitate their faith (Heb. 13:7).

Third, we can avoid being ashamed and embrace suffering by the power of God through the indwelling of the Spirit (v. 14).

God empowers us through the gospel, just as Paul has described in verses 9-10.  Yet, more specifically, God does that through the indwelling of the Spirit.  Paul has already spoken of this in verses 6-7, where he described the Spirit as One of power and love and self-control.  He alludes again to the Spiritís power in verse 14.  Look at that with me.  By the Spiritís power, Timothy can guard the good deposit entrusted to you.  What is this good deposit?  In light of the context, it refers to the gospel and the ministry of the gospel.  Just as Paul knows that God is guarding him, he knows that He is guarding Timothy. 

Yet, that does not mean that Timothy can sit around and do nothing.  No, Timothy must guard the good deposit.  But he can only do it through the power of the indwelling Spirit.  It is not Godís sovereignty or manís responsibility, it is both/and.  God is sovereign in guarding us and keeping us, which He does through the Spirit.  Yet, we are called guard the good deposit through the power of the Spirit.  We are to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (manís responsibility), knowing that it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Godís sovereignty) (Philippians 2:12-13).  By the power of the Spirit, Timothy is to guard the good deposit.  He is not to shrink back from declaring the gospel that he has received from Paul.  He is to embrace the suffering that comes from preaching such a gospel.  He is to be faithful.  And so are we.  As we said last week, the same Spirit that indwelt Timothy, indwells all those who turn from their sins and believe in Christ.  Including us.  We are not to be ashamed and we are to embrace suffering and we are to guard the good deposit of the gospel, through the power of the Spirit.

If we step back at this point and consider Paulís argument to Timothy up to this point in the letter, we see that Paul wants Timothy to never be ashamed of the gospel but to remain faithful even in the face of suffering.  He is to remember that he is being prayed for (v. 3ff).  He is to remember the legacy of faith that he is now a part of (v. 5).  He is to remember the Spirit that he has been given, one of power and love and self-control (v. 7, 14).  He is to remember the gospel, the great plan and work of God to save us from our sins through sending His Son to die in our place and be raised from the dead (v. 9-10).  He is to remember the example of Paul and Onesiphorus, and their willingness to embrace suffering and not be ashamed (v. 11-13, 16-18). 

In light of all of this, how can Timothy be ashamed?  How can Timothy be afraid?  How can Timothy not be willing to embrace suffering for the sake of the gospel?  Indeed, how can we not?  The next time you are tempted to sit in silence, the next time you are tempted to let an opportunity pass, remember Paulís charge to Timothy in these verses.  Remember that you are being prayed for, that you are part of a legacy of faith, which includes Paul and so many others.  Remember Godís glorious work of saving you, His plan and His grace.  Remember Christ your Savior, who suffered on your behalf.  Remember the Spirit of power that has graciously been given to you.  Remember and be not ashamed.  Never be ashamed.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 21 July 2011 )

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