by Pastor Ron Thomas
RODGERS BAPTIST CHURCH
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Text: II Timothy 1:8-18. "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.
13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well."
Introduction: We have begun this second letter from the apostle Paul addressed to Timothy. This letter finds Timothy continuing as the pastor of the church located at Ephesus, therefore it is regarded as one of three church epistles. Things have changed however for Paul. He is writing this letter from a prison cell in Rome. These are the last words of Paul to his "son in the faith," and II Timothy is the latest and last of the New Testament books contributed by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are calling this series, Last Words To A New Generation Of Christian Leaders. Timothy represents just that, a new generation of believers who will take the reigns of leadership in the churches. Last words are important. With his health failing, Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott summoned a close relative to his bedside. He then said, "I may only have a few minutes with you, so be a good man. Be virtuous, be religious, be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here." Much in the same way, close to the day when he would be exterminated by Nero, Paul is telling Timothy to be a good pastor, a good Christian leader.
As we continue and conclude this first chapter, Paul challenges Timothy, "Don't be ashamed." Three times in this passage, the apostle Paul uses the phrase, "not ashamed." It is used in verse 1, verse 12, and verse 16. The Greek word used here that is translated "ashamed," is epaischunomai. It is the same Greek word used by the unjust steward in Luke 16:3, who was suddenly caught in a situation of losing his job. Looking for things he could do, he confessed that he was too proud to do menial work or beg. He was "ashamed" to be a ditch digger or beggar. The mere thought of it, brought him shame! Paul's admonition in this passage is clear. He is telling Timothy, and he is telling us, "Don't be ashamed. Stand tall!" Ashamed of what? From our text passage, Paul is making four powerful statements. The order of these statements require that we move about in this passage, rather than follow strictly from verse to verse.
Statement one: Don't be ashamed of Jesus Christ. Verse 8a reads, "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord." Judas Iscariot was ashamed. Somewhere along the way, Judas switched loyalties. He became disillusioned with Jesus, and abandoned ship. Of course, he did not do this openly, but inwardly and deceitfully. Jesus was headed for suffering, not success, at least in the world's eyes. Jesus was always talking about denying self, carrying a cross, or becoming a servant leader who was not above his master. As Judas listened and looked at Jesus, he saw that following Him would make him to at least appear to be a ditch digger and beggar to the world. You see it mattered to Judas how he was viewed by the world. Judas was ashamed of Jesus, and sold Him out!
It was the same with Peter. His vision of following Jesus included gain and glory. Peter envisioned a crown, not a cross! Suddenly, Jesus looked pretty weak and pathetic. He didn't want to be associated with this common, defenseless Galilean, who was to be crucified as a common thief. Peter was ashamed of Jesus, and denied even knowing Him!
As Paul sits in a prison cell in Rome, things hadn't changed. Following Jesus still meant suffering. Verse 8 concludes, "....but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." Obviously, Paul was paying a price for His stubborn loyalty to Jesus! Paul was sold out to Jesus! He shouts at Timothy, "Don't be ashamed of Jesus Christ!" Why?
We remain loyal to Jesus, because when we were lost sinners, He saved us! Verse 9a says, "Who hath saved us." Paul was saved! They say that the distance between the head and the heart is 18 inches. Unfortunately, a head or mere intellectual knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is not enough! Jesus Christ wants your heart. In Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Eighteen inches can mean an eternity with Jesus Christ, or an eternity without Jesus Christ. Paul had heart assurance! Paul was loyal to Jesus Christ because He saved him!
We are loyal to Jesus, because we were nobodies going nowhere, when He called us to a higher, holy purpose. Verse 9 continues, "and called us with an holy calling." Have we forgotten this? Jesus saves us from our sin and rebellious ways, so that we can live holy lives that glorify Him! We are called to holiness, to saintliness. Paul goes on to say that we are saved and called according to "His purpose," ...not ours! Life is not about us! In verse 11, Paul speaks specifically of his place and position given him by Jesus Christ. "Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles." Preachers, teachers, pastors, ministers, missionaries, all believers, are called to a life of meaning and purpose! Jesus Christ not only gives us life, knowing Him and walking with Him, makes life worth living!
We are loyal to Jesus, because we have nothing to fear, with Him by our side. Verse 10 says, "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." Why stand with Jesus? Do you know anyone else who has "abolished death?" By His resurrection, Jesus has destroyed death! Death for the believer is not the end, but a glorious beginning! Believers are immortal! Our victory over death and dying, is brought about when we accept the gospel! Why should we fear anyone? Why should rejection by the world be a threat, when Jesus loves us with an everlasting love!
Statement two: Don't be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The word "gospel" appears two times in this passage.
In verse 8, Paul speaks of "the afflictions of the gospel."
In verse 10, the word "gospel," is used in association with the victorious, conquering life of Jesus Christ. The word "gospel" of course means glad tidings or good news. The good news is the message of God's redemptive love revealed in Jesus Christ. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." What wonderful news! We are loved by God! This love is available to everyone, a whole world of sinners. Salvation is not extended just to the blue states or just to the red states, but to every state! Why? How? The answer is in verse 9b which declares, "....not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." The gospel message does not flatter humanity. It tells us that we are not good enough for Heaven, as we are. It not only tells us that we are unworthy of Heaven, but that we are sinners worthy of Hell. Salvation is by grace through faith, not by our works or good deeds! This good news message, delivers the bad news as well, and in many cases, creates enemies. The apostle Paul is in prison, because of this very reason! He was suffering because of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, yet he was not ashamed.
The gospel message is contrary to human reasoning and pride, and can set up a situation that tempts us to be ashamed of the gospel! Paul refused to be ashamed of the gospel. In Romans 1:16 he said, "For I am not ashamed (same Greek word that is found in I Timothy 1) of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
Preachers who go soft on sin, are ashamed of the gospel. Preachers who never preach about Hell, are ashamed of the gospel. Believers who fail to witness when the opportunity presents itself, are ashamed of the gospel! Paul tells Timothy and tells us, "Don't be ashamed of gospel message. Speak up!"
Statement three: Don't be ashamed of those who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Back in verse 8a, Paul says, "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner." We can't forget that Paul is writing this letter in prison! He is a jailbird! Make no mistake about it, not everyone liked Paul. Paul was often direct, to the point of being insensitive and offensive, and at times could be overbearing in his zeal for the Lord Jesus Christ. Timothy was like a son to Paul. They were joined at the hip in purpose and ministry, so you can be sure, he took some heat, because of his relationship with Paul. There was an opportunity for Timothy to distance himself from Paul! Others did!
We see this in verse 15. "This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes ." Who are Phygellus and Hermonenes? Obviously they were fellow laborers in Asia Minor who abandoned him when the going got rough! Paul had been deserted and abandoned by people, who should have supported him.
Not everyone however was ashamed of Paul. There were those who remained loyal to him. In contrast to this shameful duo, in verses 16-18, Paul singles out one man as an example to Timothy. He writes, "The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: 17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. 18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well." The name Onesiphorus speaks of one who brings profit. This one man and his valuable ministry, brought to Paul a means of refreshment, that proved to be invaluable. Onesiphorus had a ministry of refreshment. Paul describes him as one who often refreshed him. The word "refreshed" in verse 16, means to cool again, to cool off, recover from the effects of heat; to refresh (one's spirit). Think of a hot stuffy room filled with people who are oppressed by the heat. Seeking relief, someone opens a window and allows a cool fresh breeze to flow into the sweltering room. The fresh air gives a new surge of strength and energy to everyone in it's path. Onesiphorus sought to bring relief from pressures, weariness, loneliness, and discouragement. He took the time and trouble to track down Paul. He overcame great obstacles in the maze of prison cells, when he could have easily given up. Onesiphorus made diligent effort to seek out Paul and find him, for the purpose of ministering to him! He was not ashamed of the preacher of the gospel!
During the American Revolution, the colonists had to choose where to place their loyalty. Would they stand with the British Crown, or would they stand with the Patriots? The story of the Revolution is about divided and misplaced loyalties. Paul challenges Timothy to be loyal to the man of God. Hebrews 13:7 says, "Remember (think of, feel for) them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."
Statement four: Live so that at the end of your life, you will not be ashamed, as you stand in the presence of Jesus Christ.
In verse 12, Paul speaks of his life commitment to Jesus, and loyalty to the gospel, as a deposit he had made. He says, "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." Paul knew he had placed his confidence in the right person, Jesus Christ. God's call had led him to suffering as a common criminal, yet he had no doubts or fears concerning the future! The phrase "keep that which I have committed," literally speaks of making a deposit for safe keeping. A deposit of what? The deposit of his soul salvation. The deposit of the souls who were saved through his preaching. The deposit of his message and ministry!
Paul's words are designed to encourage a pastor who was no doubt discouraged. Timothy had found that being a pastor was sometimes equivalent to being a pin cushion or punching bag! It could be, that when Nero finished with Paul, he would turn his thirst for Christian blood toward men like Timothy! It didn't matter, as long as Timothy made the same deposit to the dependable One, Jesus Christ. When everything comes down, when all men fail and fall, Jesus will still be standing! Jesus will keep that which we have committed unto Him against the day of His victorious return! Hallelujah!
Based upon this confident assurance in the dependability of Jesus Christ, Paul challenges Timothy to follow his example; to stand up tall for Jesus Christ. Notice verse 13. "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." We know that Paul's words, including this letter, were given by the inspiration of God. We can stand upon the Word of God. Verse 14 continues, "That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us." Paul speaks of Timothy receiving his own deposit, things "committed" to him to "keep" or guard with the help of the Holy Spirit living inside of him. This deposit consisted of the gospel itself, as well as his gifts and calling. Paul was obviously at the end of his life. Later in this same letter, Paul will be able to say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." Timothy needs to live his life so that when his time comes, he can do the same!
Are you living as if you are ashamed? We cannot afford to be ashamed of Jesus Christ, His gospel, or His people. No one can live our lives for us. We will be held accountable for our own lives, as we face the Judgment Seat of Christ. What we do today, will either be rewarded or go up in smoke. Hear Paul's prison cell challenge today. Do not be ashamed! Stand tall!