2 Timothy 1:8-14 provides powerful instruction on how to remember your calling. There is great encouragement here for modern-day believers.
Today’s message is Paul’s final encouragement to the young pastor, Timothy. The letter of 2 Timothy is intensely personal, passionate and urgent. In the first chapter, we find three major truths that Paul wrote about under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And they are relevant and timely truths for us today.
I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced, is in you also.
Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.1 Timothy 1:5-6 CSB
Here, Paul encourages young Timothy to remember his salvation.
Here we see the words “sincere faith.” This is what Paul is working to make sure Timothy never forgets. This literally means “unhypocritical.” It is used in the sense of “a pure faith.”
From a parental perspective, having children is a wonderful gift. But with the gift comes responsibility. And we see that a big part of Timothy’s faith story includes the influence of godly family members.
Let me ask you: Are you teaching your kids the Scriptures? Do they see in you, mom and dad, a “sincere faith” in Christ? We cannot overstate the importance of living out the Christian life before watching children.
Recently we had the great privilege of seeing three families stand before you here in the North Venue for what we call our parent/child dedication. For those who have stood right here and participated in that event, it is a commitment to being the primary faith influencer of your kid. That’s the way Pastor Jerry says it every time and it’s an intentional word choice that is meant to establish the home as the place where faith is formed. We must take seriously what it means to equip the next generation. Here at Trinity, The Family Place, we’re committed to helping you in this endeavor.
What Paul is doing here is establishing as the basis of his encouragement and exhortation, the foundation of the gospel. In Timothy’s life, the gospel produced within him salvation. And Paul reminds him of that in this scripture.
Did Paul think Timothy forgot he was saved? Probably not, rather, he was trying to help Timothy fix his eyes on all the gospel means and does within our lives.
I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ when I was 9 years old. I’ll never grow tired of telling how I was a young boy, who grew up with parents who loved Jesus and who brought me to a church that preached Jesus, and yet, despite growing up around the things of God, when I was 9 years old I realized that my life was marked by sin and death, and if not for the finished work of Christ, that sin would lead me into eternal condemnation. And so, on a Monday night in 1998, I called out in faith, believing that Jesus was my only hope for salvation, and in that moment, Jesus rescued me. Now that was just the beginning of me realizing two things: (1) I was a massive sinner and (2) we have a great savior!
If you’re a Christ-follower today, then I want you to make a point to remember your salvation and share that story with someone. It’s a story that needs to be told! It’s the foundation of everything else that God wants to do in your life and with your life.
King David, after being confronted with sin, wrote these words in Psalm 51 (NIV).
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Like Timothy, we must never lose sight of our salvation. Maybe today you need to cry out like King David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation!”
The next major truth comes within a verse that is packed full of meaning. Look at 1 Timothy 1:7 (CSB): “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”
Here we see Paul telling him to remember the gift!
That is the gift that you received because of your salvation.
He writes of one negative aspect and three positive aspects of this gift. First, we see him saying that in Christ we have been liberated from fear!
Folks, that’s good news. I don’t know a person alive who has never encountered fear. It’s a natural response and one that visits all of us from time to time.
In fact, we live in a day when fear is actually quite an obsession for many. It’s common for people to speak of this phobia or that phobia, and it only takes a quick Google search to produce a whole list of recognized phobias, that apparently someone somewhere suffers from.
A few of the interesting ones I found include:
Arithmophobia (fear of numbers) – I never enjoyed my math classes too much, but I’m thankful that I never suffered from arithmophobia.
Then there is ablutophobia (fear of bathing), which I would have formerly just called “middle school boys.” I can’t tell you how much Axe body spray I’ve seen after working in student ministry for all those years!
Then there is this one: Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (Fear of long words). It’s very ironic.
Now, you may not have a fancy phobia, but fear touches all our lives in some way and some time.
Here today, we’ve got people who are afraid of death. Afraid of connecting with other people. Afraid to trust God with their finances, afraid to commit themselves to Jesus. These are all real fears.
In my life, people tell me all the time I should be afraid because I’ve got three daughters. And you know what, that does come with a degree of fear. We’re raising them to be confident and to trust God, but one day soon, I’m going to have to launch them out into the world! And that makes me a bit fearful.
The object of Timothy’s fear is unclear. Perhaps it was evangelism, preaching, or pastoral leadership. Whatever it was, we know that this fear did not have to be paralyzing to Timothy because the Spirit produces what we need. Namely: The power you need to endure and the love you need to minister, and the sound judgment to not be led astray!
Maybe you’re here today and you feel like Timothy. Remember this: God delights in using the weak and the ordinary in order to demonstrate His power.
The third truth we see Paul write about begins in verse 8 and flows through to verse 14.
8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.
9 He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,
12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me, until that day.
13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
14 Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Here we see Paul saying to remember your calling.
There are three aspects of our calling as Christ-followers that leap off the page here and the first is found in the verse 8.
Part of our call means to not be ashamed.
I hope as you read these words that you feel the passion with which Paul writes.
Picture Timothy in the tough city of Ephesus, where there were competing religious systems and worldviews all around him. I’m sure there would have been many who thought the message of the gospel to be foolishness. And Paul’s exhortation is: Don’t be ashamed!
Today we have all kinds of conflicting and competing ideologies. We too need to be reminded about our calling and our mission. May we never be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus Christ!
For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)
Not only must we be unashamed of the gospel, but Paul adds that Timothy (and we) should also join with him in suffering for the gospel.
Suffering, rather than being removed by the gospel (as the health and wealth preachers would have it), is actually part of the gospel. Jesus made this clear from the beginning when he forewarned his followers in the Upper Room:
Suffering is not something any person or group chooses or endures in its own power, and that is why Paul calls Timothy to do it “by the power of God,” which Timothy had been given, as verse 7 said. Suffering is made possible by the fact that we are empowered and we are not alone. The people of God form a gospel community so that we can comfort one another in suffering.
A Christian without a community is like a lone brick in a field. Of course, that brick has value, but not nearly as much as if it was surrounded by other bricks to make a wall!
And so, we find Paul saying that you can remember your calling by
Like Timothy, our calling includes guarding the truth of the gospel! We cannot be led astray, or let others be led astray, by false teaching!
I’m reminded of a story that Charles Spurgeon once told about a lion. He said imagine if all of us here today were an army that was tasked with guarding a caged lion. We had gathered together around this lion and sworn to fight for him in the face of danger. Then suppose an enemy army began to approach. Might I suggest that the best way of defending this lion would be to simply “let him out”? Because lions have a way of defending themselves! And similarly, the best way to defend the gospel is to let the gospel out. Preach Jesus and him crucified, unashamedly and clearly. And the lion of Judah will defend himself!
We guard the gospel by clinging to it. By celebrating it. By being clear with the gospel. And by not compromising the gospel.
Here is the gospel: It’s the good news of what God has done through Jesus and that which we could have never done for ourselves. He paid the price for sin and offers us new life through the finished work of Jesus.
1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
There is a great encouragement and challenge here for the modern-day Christian. Like young Timothy, we cannot forget our salvation, the gift of God, and our calling! May we never be ashamed of the gospel. May we suffer well for the gospel. And may we always guard the gospel.
This article is adapted from a sermon entitled A Final Word of Encouragement. This sermon is part of a series focused on helping believers read through the entire New Testament in one year.
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