2 TIMOTHY 1:1-7
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,2 to Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.
And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:1-7).
This letter has been described as Paulís "Last Will and Testament." You know all about wills. There is an old saying that goes, "Where thereís a will, thereís a relative." Paulís will had nothing to do with money. He didnít have any. His will involved a heritage of spiritual service. He bequeaths that service to his young protege, Timothy. As we read through this inheritance, several things will be observed.
There will not be a lot of new theology revealed in this epistle. Instead there will be a reminder of a lot of things that have already been taught in the past. In my role as a Fire Department Captain, Iíve often told my fire fighters to keep things simple; weíre not advanced enough to make advanced mistakes.
REMEMBER YOUR HOLY CALLING
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,2 to Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (2 Timothy 1:1-2).
Paul begins most of his epistles with a reference to his apostleship. Do you know what is an apostle? Iíll give you a hint. It isnít the husband of an epistle. The word apostle describes one who has been commissioned and sent out with a very special authority. The word was used in Athens of the admiral of the fleet who was commissioned and sent out with authority to lead the fleet.
You might be thinking, "Thatís all very nice and good, but what on earth has that to do with me? Iím more concerned with passing exams or getting a job or in getting through next week without messing up too bad." Let me assure you that Paulís apostleship has everything to do with you. It relates to you because Paulís ministry was directed toward YOU.
Paulís apostleship was a bit different from that of the other apostles. They had all been with Jesus during His ministry. Not Paul. The first we see Paul in the pages of the Bible, he is an anti-Christian fanatic. He is out trying to have Christians arrested and put to death. But then God saved Paul and gave him a very special calling. He called Paul to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. That is what it means for him to be Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus. His mission was to take the promise of life in Jesus to the Gentiles.
What is the promise of life in Christ Jesus? That is the gospel. It is the good news that Jesus came to earth to die on the cross for the sins of men. He died the death that we deserved and God judged Him as though He were a guilty sinner. And then He was buried and then He arose from the dead to show that death has been defeated. He now promises eternal life to all who will trust in Him as Lord and Savior.
Have you come to Christ in faith? If you have, then you have found three things. They are the three things that are mentioned in verse 2:
The word grace refers to a gift which is given to you that you cannot earn and that you donít deserve. You donít pay for a gift. Otherwise it is no longer a gift. And you canít pay for grace, either. It is unearned and undeserved.
Mercy in the negative side of grace. If grace is being given a gift that you donít deserve, mercy is not being given the punishment that you do deserve. Imagine that a police officer pulls you over for a traffic infraction. Mercy is when he doesnít give you the ticket that you deserve. Grace is when he invites you over to his house for a steak dinner. God has shown both grace and mercy to us. As a result, we have peace.
The world today sees very little in the way of peace. You have only to turn on your television set and you see both wars and rumor of wars. The Jews used to visualize the turbulence of the world as they would a stormy sea with its waves crashing into one another.
What brings about such unrest. Ultimately it is because man is at war both with himself and with God. His heart is restless until it finds rest in God.
Grace, mercy and peace come from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of this we have a holy calling.
REMEMBER A HEART OF LOVE
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. (2 Timothy 1:3-4).
As Paul writes these words to Timothy, there is a fond remembrance of a long term friendship. Paul remembers the heart of Timothy and the tears of Timothy. That is not to say that Timothy was a weepy wimp. But they had been through a lot together and there was a deep and abiding friendship that had sprung up between them.
Do you have any friends like that? Someone with whom you can share anything? Someone that you could go years without seeing and when you came back together it would be as though you never left?
Friends like that are rare. They donít result from casual conversations. They come about when you have been in the trenches and on the battlefield and when there has been great effort expended. I donít mean that you have to go to a literal battlefield to make friends. But I do want to point of that Christians are a part of a great spiritual battle. When you are on the front lines of that battle you have the opportunity to enter into the sort of friendship that Paul describes in this passage.
REMEMBER YOUR HERITAGE OF FAITH
For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. (2 Timothy 1:5).
I was raised in a Christian home. My parents were Christians and they made a commitment that their children would be raised up in the faith of our Lord. That meant our entire family was in church on a regular basis. It also meant that we had regular Bible reading and prayer as a family.
Timothy had that kind of heritage. It was given to him via his mother and his grandmother. Timothy was brought up in a home of mixed faiths. His mother was Jewish and had been taught about the Lord of the Old Testament Scriptures. His father was a Greek.
Let me give a disclaimer. Even though Timothyís mother was married to a Greek, this does NOT mean it is okay for a believer to marry an unbeliever. To the contrary, the Bible says very clearly
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Let me state a further observation. You will never marry someone whom you do not first date. For this reason, I believe that Christian young people should avoid dating those who are not themselves Christians. Iíve seen far too many times when a believer begins dating an unbeliever and soon they are in love and they either rationalize away or ignore altogether the commands of God concerning being unequally yoked.
What happens when a child is raised within a family where one parent is a believer and the other parent is not? I know what ought to happen. The believer ought to be salt and light to that child.
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy (1 Corinthians 7:14).
Does that mean you can be saved by being married to a Christian or by having Christian parents? Not at all. But it does mean that such a person is set apart for some very special blessings.
REMEMBER YOUR HELP FOR GIFTEDNESS
And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6).
What is this gift of which Paul speaks that was given to Timothy through the laying on of hands? I think it likely that this is the same spiritual gift that Paul describes in his first epistle to Timothy.
Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
Notice that this gift was brought through the laying on of hand both through Paul as well as through a prophetic utterance and was accompanied by the elders of the church laying their hands upon Timothy.
What was this gift? I think it had to do with the reading and exhortation and teaching of the Scriptures. Timothy had a special gift in being able to do these things. That gift had been given from God. It had been affirmed through the church through a prophetic utterance and it had been affirmed when the elders of the church had laid their hands upon Timothy, thus commissioning him to do the work of teaching.
There is a principle here about spiritual gifts. One of the ways in which you are able to determine what is your spiritual gift is through the affirmation of the church. If you think you have the gift of teaching but no one in the church has the gift of listening, then maybe you donít really have the gift of teaching. The church and especially the elders of the church are able to lead you and help you in determining what might be your spiritual gifts.
Sometimes the elders will allow a person to fulfill a certain ministry task and they will stand back and watch to see how that person does. If they do well, the elders will approve that personís giftedness in that area. If they do not do well, the elders might come to the appropriate conclusion that the person is not gifted in that area.
This had taken place in Timothyís case. They had watched him and they had seen him minister and they had heard him teach and they came to the conclusion that God had gifted him in this very special area. They laid their hands upon him, ordaining him to this special ministry.
That had taken place a long time ago. Timothy had been in ministry for a number of years. He is older now and, to be frank, he is a bit tired. Some of that early zeal has waned. Some of that fire has burned down low. He has been down in the trenches for a long time and it has taken its toll.
In 1 Corinthians 16:10, Paul tells the Corinthian church that if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid; for he is doing the Lord's work, as I also am. The implication is that Timothy was inclined to fear the sort of strife and confrontation that characterized the church at Corinth.
Timothy evidently has some stomach ailments that brought on the advice from Paul: No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23).
Timothy had once been warned by Paul: Let no one look down on your youthfulness (1 Timothy 4:12).
Now Paul writes to remind Timothy to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you. When you speak of kindling something afresh, that presupposes that there has been a fire. I know all about fires. Iíve made it my profession to extinguish them. But this is the kind of fire you want to burn. This is the inner fire that gets you excited about doing the Lordís work.
Have you ever burned with that fire? If you never have, then you are missing something special. There is a wonderful fulfillment to be had in seeing the Lord do His work through you. There comes a great sense of accomplishment and significance to realize that the God of the universe is doing something significant through you.
Everyone wants to feel significant. Everyone wants to feel that your life counts for something. But best of all is to realize that what you are doing in this life has eternal significance.
Perhaps you are one who has burned with that fire of significance, but that was a long time ago and now even the embers are cold. You put in your time and it was good for a while but that was then and this is now and there are times when you wish you could go back to the way things used to be. You canít. But you can rekindle the flame.
How? How can you rekindle a flame that has gone out? How can you get back that first love? You do what Jesus said to do in His instructions to the church at Ephesus.
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
The flame can go out in your life. And the flame can even go out in an entire church. The solution is the same, whether individually or corporately.
You take the first step. And He will take the second step. And by the time you get to the third step, you will come to realize that it is really He who took the first step. That brings us to our last point.
REMEMBER THE HANDIWORK OF GODíS SPIRIT
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7).
The translators of the New American Standard Version saw fit to render the word "spirit" with a small "s." That is okay because the original Greek text did not distinguish between words using capitalization. But I think that the spirit of which Paul speaks in this verse is more than just what I have in running through my body.
God has given us a spirit. It is THE Spirit. It is His Spirit. And there is nothing timid about the Spirit of God. When you are filled with His Spirit, you are anything but timid.
Do you recall the spirit of the disciples in the early days of the church? When the authorities came to arrest Jesus, the disciples scattered to the four winds. All you saw were heels and elbows. But then came the resurrection. Jesus appeared to them alive and in the flesh and a few days later they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Suddenly Jerusalem is alive with preaching. Instead of a single Galilean Rabbi, now there are twelve of them and they are all preaching with the same power and the same authority as their Master.
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13).
The disciples werenít able to change the world because they were eloquent or because they had a seminary education or because they had the right sales techniques down. They were uneducated and untrained men. But even the unbelieving leaders of Israel could look at these men and recognize that they had been with Jesus.
What are the characteristics of your spiritual life? Is it characterized by timidity? Or is there a holy boldness of power and love and spiritual discipline? You will only see that if you have been with Jesus. You go to Him and you ask for His Spirit. And then you go out and let your light burn before a watching world.