Proper 22 (27) (October 2, 2016)
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
2 Timothy 1:1-14 | New Living Translation (NLT)
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I have been sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus.
I am writing to Timothy, my dear son.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.
Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.
I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.
That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.
This week we start on the second of two letters that Paul wrote to Timothy. We sort of skipped right through the first letter. We will be taking a look at four sections in this letter and it appears that I may using part of this letter for a sermon series in October, so what you see here, you may also hear from the pulpit. But not this week, Pam is finishing up our series on The Church: Why Do We Exist? She will be preaching on Ministry Service.
Let’s get back to the scripture. Paul is writing this letter to Timothy and is commending him for his faith. He commends Timothy for following in his mother and grandmother’s footsteps of faith. Paul reminds Timothy to keep the flame burning. I think that is a reminder that is needed for all ministers. It is possible for the flame to be snuffed out by all the stuff of ministry. We need to be reminded why we were called. Tomorrow night is our district ordination service. I love the litany as each of the ordinands respond to the vows they are making to God and to the church. I listen and renew those vows that I made as the ordinands make their vows for the first time. It is always a powerful thing. I love what Paul writes next and I chose it for the picture this week: For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
I know in my own life, God had to do quite a bit of convincing to get me to the point of preaching. I’ve always struggled to get words out and yet when the Holy Spirit comes upon me during a sermon, I forget all about that. Paul writes that line as a reminder because we should never be ashamed of telling others the good news. Paul writes, “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time – to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” Wow! Paul lays it all out. Here is the Good News once again. Notice that our salvation is more than a ticket to heaven. Paul does not say that we were saved to go to heaven – no – there is so much more than that. We are saved by Christ and called to live a holy life. We don’t hear much about this any more. God has called us to more than salvation. He has called us to live lives that are set apart – for his use – and we don’t even deserve it. I think about that in my own life. It’s been many years since I’ve been saved, but this idea that we have been called to more than that – to live holy lives – becomes clearer with each passing year. When Christ comes into our lives, we are transformed – we are made new. We don’t have to live in our old life because of the power of the cross and more importantly the power of the resurrection. The old life – the power of the “old man” has been broken through Christ resurrection. Not only has Christ broke the power of death and sin, but he has illuminated the way to immortality.
There’s an interesting concept. What would you give for immortality? What if death wasn’t the end? The Good News is that death is not the end for those who are in Christ. Paul tells us that those who are in Christ are immortal. We are new creatures – the old is gone the new has come writes Paul in II Corinthians 5:17.
Paul says don’t be ashamed of this Good News – and don’t be ashamed of me because I am in chains because of the Good News. Paul is in prison specifically for preaching the Word – the Good News. Paul says don’t be ashamed and don’t pity me. I know who I trust – and I know that God – Christ – the Holy Spirit will keep me — he will guard me — he is able — he is worthy to be trusted – until the end of the age – or as Paul puts it until the day of Christ’s return. What a lesson for us today. We have much turmoil in our nation. It appears that we have “gone off the rails.” Yet, we trust in the One who will keep us — he will guide us — he will guard us — he is able — he is worthy to be trusted — until we go to home to our Savior – or he comes back for us!
It is for this reason – I am sure that Paul reminds Timothy to “hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me.” I like the definition from the dictionary of wholesome:
: helping to keep your body healthy : good for your health
: morally good
: suggesting good health or behavior
I think we could safely say that wholesome spiritual teaching promotes good spiritual health and behavior. Paul says this wholesome pattern of teaching is grounded and shaped by the love and faith that we have in Jesus Christ. I think that is important – wholesome teaching is grounded in Christ and nothing else.
Paul says guard the precious truth that was given to Timothy – and again, he says that to us – his followers – his teachers – his preachers. The only way we can hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching is by the power of the Holy Spirit – who lives in us – who works in us. The Holy Spirit helps us, enables us, empowers us to guard that truth that has been entrusted to us.
That same Holy Spirit works in our lives – to give us power – for love and for self-discipline. For my preacher and teacher friends – remember this as you step in the pulpit tomorrow and preach the Word!