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Final Words: 2 Timothy
October 27, 2019 2 Timothy 1 “Rekindle the Fire”
November 3, 2019 2 Timothy 2 “Be Strong in God's Grace
November 10, 2019 2 Timothy 3 “Reality Check”
November 17, 2019 2 Timothy 4 “Preach the Word”
“Rekindle the Fire”
2 Timothy 1
I all love a good campfire, don’t you? There is just something special about sitting around a fire – taking in the sounds of crackling logs, the smell of wood burning, and the sight of orange and blue flames flickering. In fact, fire can mesmerize you and take you into a different world. Yet, have you have wondered where fire comes from? A little bit of research will tell you that fire needs three elements to exist – heat, fuel, and oxygen. If any of these are not present, you cannot start a fire. Sometimes the part that is forgotten about is the oxygen. You need to provide this by making space beneath the fire, or by blowing on it. This same principle is applied when a fire has died down and needs to be rekindled.
The apostle Paul used this language as an analogy to tell a close friend of his to fan into flame (or rekindle) the gift of God in his life (2 Tim. 1:6). You see, Paul was writing a letter to his “dear son” in the faith (v. 2), Timothy, who was in charge of the church in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). At the time of this second letter to Timothy, Paul was in prison, chained like a criminal, and very close to the end of his life. Therefore, Paul wrote Timothy some of his last words to encourage him, to hear how the church in Ephesus was doing, and to tell Timothy that he would love to see him again (2 Tim. 1:4; 4:21).
Paul begins this letter by thanking God for Timothy as he remembers him in his prayer’s day and night (v. 4). He also is reminded of his faith, as well as the faith that was apparent in Timothy’s mother and grandmother (v. 5). Therefore, Paul wants to remind Timothy to fan into flame (or rekindle) the gift of God that in him from when Paul ordained him for ministry (v. 6). This gift of God is probably Timothy’s faith, but also the gifting and power of the Holy Spirit in his heart to be a minister of the Gospel. Yet, why would Paul tell Timothy to rekindle the gift of God? Is it because Timothy is timid, as some imagine it, and is fearful (cf 1:7; 1 Cor. 16:10)? Or, is it because he just needs encouragement? Or, is it both?
It seems that when you take into consideration all the ways in which Timothy helped Paul, traveled with him, suffered with him, and did ministry with him, in addition to all the positive ways in which Paul speaks of him, that Timothy is a strong, young man of faith, who needs further direction and encouragement from his mentor. Therefore, Paul goes on to remind him that God’s Spirit is one that fills him with power, love, and self-discipline (v. 7). Thus, Timothy is not to be ashamed of the Gospel or of Paul’s imprisonment because of the faith, but he is to remember God’s calling, salvation, purposes, and grace (vs. 8-11).
This call to rekindle the gift of God applied not only to Timothy, but to all believers. Therefore, it applies to us as well. Sometimes life can get challenging and we can forget who we are, God’s calling and gifting in our lives, and the power that dwells in us by his Spirit. Just as Paul reminded Timothy, so God reminds us today, that if the fire of our faith has died down, we need to rekindle it and flame into a bright and burning flame, so we may be strengthened and the world may see our faith.
“Be Strong in God’s Grace”
2 Timothy 2
What does it mean to “be strong”? Well, that depends on what kind of strength you are talking about. Someone can be strong physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. It also depends on what kind of situation a person is going through, as that will determine what kind of strength is needed. A person trying to finish an exhausting sporting event might need to be strong physically and mentally, while a person trying to study for a big test might need to be strong intellectually. Whatever it may be, we need strength in our day-to-day lives. Yet, I wonder, what is the source of our strength? The world offers all sorts of options, but in terms of our walk of faith, only God’s grace can offer us the strength we need.
This is the same truth that Paul wrote to his colleague Timothy about shortly before the apostle’s death. Paul was chained like a criminal (2:9) in a prison cell, while Timothy was left in charge of the church in Ephesus. Paul longed to see him again (1:4) and wanted to know how the church was doing in the midst of various struggles and persecutions. Therefore, Paul had a lot of wisdom, commands, and encouragement to send to his dear son in the faith (1:2). In chapter one, Paul tells Timothy to remember to fan into flame the gift of God in his life, and to not be ashamed of Paul’s imprisonment or the Gospel. In chapter two, Paul exhorts Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. This is a powerful command that speaks to the sort of faith and endurance Timothy should have.
The imperative verb, to “be strong”, is closely connected to faith in Jesus Christ and the call of God into ministry. Then Paul tells Timothy to be strong in “the grace”. What does that mean? Paul talks a lot about grace in his letters, and it is first and foremost a free, unmerited, gift from God. Grace is strongly associated with salvation (our justification from sin), and it gives believers access to God’s peace and strength. Finally, God’s grace enables believers, like Paul and Timothy, to do ministry. Therefore, Paul tells Timothy that his faith and ministry are grounded in Jesus Christ, and that God’s grace is the means by which Timothy has the strength to do ministry. It does not rest on Timothy’s own strength or anyone else’s, but on God.
Trusting in God’s grace when we are weak opens the door for God to work in powerful ways. God once told Paul that “my grace is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9). It is only when we realize that we have no strength of our own, nothing inside of us to help us or save us, that God can be magnified and change the way we think and live. Paul wanted Timothy to be strong in God’s grace, and that is what God wants from all of us today. May we find our strength in his amazing grace!
2 Timothy 3
There are times when we can get lost in the world around us or be deceived by the various cultural or political message we hear, read, and experience every day. It happens rather easily, since we do not always see, or want to see, beyond our own little circles. There might be shocking events happening around us, and even in us, but we are either unaware of them, or we deny they are a problem. Therefore, we sometimes need a reality check. We need to open our eyes and minds to a greater understanding of the world, and discipline ourselves to see the truths that really exist in accordance with God’s Word.
As we enter into the first century world and the apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, we need to remember that this was a time when many false teachers had infiltrated the Church, and a time of severe persecution against the Christian faith. Therefore, many were ashamed of the Gospel, swayed by false doctrines, and rejecting the truths that had been taught by Jesus and the apostles. Thus, Paul’s letter to Timothy confronted readers with some powerful reality checks about life, faith, sin, suffering, and Scripture.
First, Paul writes that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world who rose from the dead, destroyed death, and brought life and immortality (1:10; 2:8). Second, God’s Spirit is one power, love, and self-discipline, and who lives inside the hearts of believers (1:7, 14). Third, many have deserted Paul and been ashamed of the faith (1:15; cf 1:8, 16; 2:12). Four, believers are to flee from evil desires, pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace (2:22), and gently instruct those who oppose Jesus (2:25). Fifth, in the last days there will be terrible times and people will practice all sorts of ungodly, wicked behaviors (3:1-4). Sixth, despite this, believers are to have nothing to do with them, because although they fake godliness, they deny God’s power, never acknowledge the truth, and will continue to go from bad to worse (3:5, 7, 13). Seventh, just as Paul taught and endured persecutions and sufferings (3:11), everyone who lives a godly life will be persecuted (3:12). Eighth, believers are therefore to hold to the Holy Scriptures, which make them wise for salvation (3:15). And ninth, all of Scripture is inspire by God and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training people in righteousness, so that they might be equipped to do God’s work (3:17).
This is long list, but it is an important reminder of the world that not only Paul and Timothy lived in, but that we live in today. It is easy to be swayed by culture and popular opinion, so sometimes we need a reality check from God and his Word. Is there only one Savior and Lord who conquered death, rose from the dead, and is coming back again? Yes. Will there be hard times to come, when we are persecuted for believing in Jesus and living like him? Yes. Will there be wicked people trying to deceive and teach false doctrines? Yes. But, despite all of this, do we trust that Scripture is inspired by God, able to make us wise for salvation, and useful to teach and train in righteousness? I hope so! Amen.
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