Saturday, April 2, 2011

Communicating Personal Beliefs

Paul continues to teach his protegee, Timothy, from the prison epistle 2 Timothy 2:8-15. He is in chains and links his incarceration to Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. In fact, he said that the resurrection (Matt 28:5-8; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-17) of King David's chief descendant - Jesus (Matthew 1) - was the Gospel he preached and taught. If we are approached by anyone who teaches or preaches differently, that person is to be avoided at all costs. Paul was encouraging Timothy in suffering by putting him in mind of the resurrection of Christ at verse 8. Jesus Himself had taught the disciples that He had to suffer before he received glory (Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; John 3:14). They did not understand the teachings until after His glorious resurrection. If we come to understand the Gospel as Paul did in verse 8, suffering makes sense. Though Paul was a good man, he was incarcerated for communicating his personal beliefs as an evil-doer. Although Paul was in chains physically, his soul and spirit was free. He was yet encouraged because the operation of the word of God can not be chained. He believed this would encourage Timothy not to be afraid of chains while ministering the word. In Romans 1:16 he wrote, 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.' His sufferings were great as were the fruits of his love. Paul endured all things for the sake that God's elect might obtain salvation in Christ with eternal glory. He was not only concerned about his own soul, but he was concerned with the souls of others. Jesus said in His Great Commission regarding the Gospel, "... Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matt 28:19-20 Paul then began verse 11 with one of his favorite phrases: "It is a faithful saying". (see I Tim 1:15; 2 Tim 2:11; and Titus 3:8) Then to prove the truth of his Gospel, Paul recited a verse from a hymn that was probably sung in the churches of his day. It links Jesus', as well as our own, suffering and glory. As we share in His death, we will live with Him in His kingdom. If we endure suffering, we will reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will deny us. If we are faithless, unlike us, He will remain faithful (verses 11-13). Timothy was strengthened to maintain these great principles, which belong to the nature of the Lord, and not allow himself to be drawn aside by the speculations which only subverted souls and corrupted the faith. Finally, everything Paul had written concerning the Gospel and proving its' truth was to be brought to the attention of the Christians whom Timothy pastored. They were to be placed in remembrance of what they had already been taught and charged not to be in controversy over words that are not of profit to Christ. Strife is not only useless, but it can be hurtful. Paul wanted Timothy to do his best to discourage bickering that can destroy Christian fellowship and more importantly discredit Christ before the world. In verse 15 Paul is concerned that ministers must show themselves approved and accepted before God. They must be workmen who are not ashamed to do their work. They must rightly divide the word of God. They can not be slack or unfaithful. It will require continuous study. And what about us - the congregation? If anything can be said of us these days, it is that congregational business meetings carry more weight than congregational Bible studies. Verse 15 is not addressed to Timothy or to ministers specifically. I would believe that all Christians need to be systematic students of the Word of God in order to show ourselves approved unto God. Written by Deborah C. Davis

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