Sunday, January 22, 2012

PAUL'S FINAL INSTRUCTIONS TO TIMOTHY
2 TIMOTHY 1:10-18
THE WORK OF CHRIST

Next Paul described God the Son. (10) He, Christ, abolished death and gave us eternal life. This is the heart of the gospel. Christ through his death on our behalf brought eternal life to those who believe in him. Jesus said it this way: “For God so loved the world (or God loved the world this way), that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16)

Let’s talk about death for a minute. When God placed Adam in the Garden, he gave him instructions. In my opinion, he made a covenant with him. He said in Genesis 2:16: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that eat of it you shall surely die.” Adam ate the fruit of the tree. He violated the covenant with God. He disobeyed God’s instructions. So God, who is always faithful to fulfill his part of the covenant, imposed death upon Adam. First, there was spiritual death. God drove him out of the Garden and out of his presence. He also was condemned to physical death, for he was prevented from reaching the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22).

Paul picked up the theme in Romans 5 as he compared Christ to Adam. He wrote “…sin came into the world through one man (Adam) and death through sin…” (Romans 5:12).

So, we inherit death through Adam. This is the theological concept of original sin. There are two thoughts that are relevant to this. First, because Adam sinned, every human being born since then, including you, entered the world with a fallen nature. We have sinful tendencies and desires from birth. David acknowledged this in Psalm 51:5. Jesus said “…whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God”. John 3:18. We are children of wrath unless and until we become children of God. Ephesians 2:1-3. If you do not believe children are sinners, go to the children’s building and watch.

Second, the guilt of Adam's sin is credited not just to Adam but to all of us. God regards us as having sinned in Adam. Therefore we deserve the same punishment as Adam. So, we inherit sin and death from Adam.

But do not worry if you think this is unfair. The Bible says we all sin. Romans 3:23. And the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23. So, either way you get to the fact that you sin and you must die. Every man and woman must die physical death unless they are blessed to be alive at the Second Coming. That is the judgment on mankind.

But part of Adam’s punishment was banishment from the presence of God. Not only will we die physically, but we will die spiritually. Hell is the place where those who reject God are gathered to live outside of his presence and blessing. So it will be terrible. It is so bad, Revelation calls it the Second Death. Revelation 20:14-15 describe it as a lake of fire.

Jesus spoke of eternal punishment in parables. In the parable of the weeds, Matthew 13:24-30, he said used weeds as a symbol of those who rejected Christ and said the weeds would be gathered first and burned (verse 30). He explained the parable to his disciples in verses 36-43. He said “…at the close of the age the son of man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all breakers and thrown them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashingof teeth. (verses 39-43).

There is only one exception. That is the gospel message. Here, in 2 Timothy 1: 10, Paul said Christ abolished death and brought life and immortality. When we commit our lives to Christ and repent of our sins, God imputes our sin to Christ who paid for it on the cross. He also imputes Christ righteousness to us and gives us eternal life.

This physical body will die for now. But our spirit will live forever. And one day, Christ will renew and remake our physical bodies and we will walk the new earth forever in them and in his presence.

In 2 Timothy 1:11, Paul states again that he was appointed to preach this message (preacher), to take it to other nations (apostle) and to teach its ramifications (teacher). This is the message of the gospel Christ appointed Paul to preach (11).

This gospel is the reason he was persecuted. (12) Why was he persecuted? Why do men hate the gospel message and the people who preach it? If it is such good news, why do many react so violently to it?

I think it is because it puts all power on God and none on man. Man is only saved because God has mercy on him and extends grace. It is not because of personal worth or good works. We would rather think God must accept us because we are acceptable for whatever reason. Jesus said they hated me and they will hate you.

Paul suffered terribly. Yet, Paul was not ashamed. He said this in his introduction to the book of Romans: “I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16. The gospel is the only message for salvation.

In verse 12 (2 Timothy 1:12), Paul stated the reason he was not ashamed, the reason he did not back away from the gospel when he was persecuted. The reason was that he trusted Christ to preserve him and the gospel. He said this in verse 12: “for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” (ESV) Other versions say “what I have entrusted to him”, and the hymn you know is written for that translation because it is based on the KJV.

However, the context here and later in the letter is Timothy’s guarding the gospel that was entrusted to him as it was to Paul. Paul will later tell Timothy to entrust the gospel to other faithful men as it was entrusted to him. It is the same idea of Paul’s saying he was made a steward of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

Christ entrusted the gospel to Paul, then to Timothy, then to us. We are pretty weak. We do not spend enough time concentrating on what the Bible says. Many redefine the gospel. But Paul says God is able to guard the gospel, to keep it undefiled. He has many times brought revival or reformation to accomplish that. He raised up men and women who read the Bible and cry out against those who have corrupted its message.

So, in verses 13-14, Paul exhorted Timothy to guard that deposit of the gospel. He could do this by the power of the Holy Spirit. As can we.

How could Timothy do that? How can we do it? Paul told Timothy in verse 13-14. He said “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

Timothy was to follow the teaching of Paul. Paul followed the teaching of Christ. Make of list of the things Paul taught and put them up against a list of the things Christ taught and see how they match up.

What of us? We are to follow the teaching of Christ and of the apostles. Read and study your Bible. Listen to sound teaching. Only by knowing the truth do you recognize counterfeit. You must do this to be safe.

The job of the teacher is to learn the text and teach what it means. It is not the job of the teacher or the theologian to come up with new ideas that are not Biblically based. It is not the job of the teacher or the theologian to explain away the text. Be on guard when any message starts with the words “this does not really mean this”. It is the inspired word of God. You may not change it.

Does any false teaching or preaching occur today? Since there is no accountability for media based ministries, you have to judge what they say. There are some great ones. There are some terrible ones. There are many cults and spin offs of Christianity. You must guard against them. And if you are a teacher, you are even more accountable.

Part of Paul’s suffering was due to the fact that many he won to Christ abandoned him. In verse 15, he states that all in Asia turned against him. He named two men specifically. In contrast, he touted Onesiphourus, who stayed faithful to Paul and even found him in Rome and refreshed him. To him Paul said the Lord would grant mercy on the day of Judgment. The implication is that those who abandoned him would not find mercy, but rather judgment, for they had fallen away.

Follow the steps of Paul and Timothy. Whether you are persecuted or abandoned or live in freedom, proclaim the Gospel, guard the Gospel and bring glory to God.
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