Sermon on 2 Timothy 1:3-10
Text: I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy is an intensely personal letter. He was in prison in Rome for telling people about Jesus. The first time that he was in Rome, his defense had gone well, and he was released. Now, however, it appeared that his time on earth was coming to an end. As he sat in Rome, he thought about all the people in his life as he prayed for each one of them. AS he begins this letter to Timothy, he thanks God for him and prays for him. “I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” (Verse 3) Perhaps, the last time that he saw Timothy, he told Timothy that he would never see him again. He recalls this event and longs to see Timothy again: “Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.” (Verse 4) Since Paul didn’t know if this would happen, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he wrote this letter to his friend and co-worker to encourage him in his ministry. One of the commentators that I read as I prepared this sermon had this title to summarize the book of 2 Timothy: Be strong. This encouragement is so very fitting for us as we go through our lives and face opposition to our faith. BE STRONG. 1. Fan Into Flame The Gift Of God. 2. Don’t Be Ashamed Of It.
Again, as we said earlier, Paul was thinking about Timothy. In doing so, he notes, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (Verse 5) Paul notes the sincere faith that Timothy had. It wasn’t just for show. Timothy wasn’t just going through the motions. It was a true faith in his Savior. Paul also notes where this gift had come from. His grandmother Lois was a believer, and she passed her faith down to Timothy’s mother, Eunice. Eunice and Lois showed their love for Timothy and told him all about a Messiah that was to come into the world to recue people from their sins. When Paul arrived in Timothy’s hometown, Lystra, he told Timothy that the promised Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. The Holy Spirit worked through the words of Lois, Eunice, and Paul to create this saving, sincere faith.
It is here that we want to pause and thank God for faithful parents and grandparents who love their children so much that they sit them on their knees and tell them about the love that Jesus has for them. They love their children so much that they brought them to the baptismal font. They love them so much that they bring them to Sunday School and a Lutheran elementary or secondary school. Of all the things that they could pass on to their children, they see this as the most important thing. If you had parents or grandparents like that, thank God for their love for you in sharing what is truly important. If you have the privilege of doing this right now, may God bless you as you tell the children entrusted to your care by our God all about him.
Paul continues in verse 6, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Timothy was to continue to fan into flames the gift of faith that had been given to him. Don’t let your faith be just some dying embers. Fan it into flames. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, make it a bright, strong faith.
This is an encouragement for us, as well. It is so tempting to think that we believe and that’s good enough. There’s no need to read or study God’s Word. I know that Jesus is my Savior, and that’s good enough. Yes, that is a saving faith. However, if we don’t continue to be in God’s Word, that flame of faith that was burning so brightly at one time, can start to fade and will eventually die out. It’s similar to taking a pot off a burner on the stove. It will be hot for some time, but eventually it will be cold. It only stays hot if it’s in contact with the burner. The same is true of our faith. If we don’t keep in constant contact with God’s Word, it will eventually fade and die. We fan this gift of faith when we are in contact with God’s Word. Perhaps we might not have all of the opportunities for Bible classes during the summer months as we have the rest of the year, but there are still opportunities to read his Word on our own. Our faith is strengthened when we receive the Lord’s Supper. Dear friends, may the Holy Spirit help us to fan into bright flames the gift of faith.
Paul mentions the gift that was given to Timothy when Paul’s hands were laid on him. This took place when Timothy was chosen to be a pastor and evangelist. He had been given a special gift that he could use in his ministry. Paul encouraged Timothy to continue to fan that gift into flame. Keep using that gift. Look for ways to put that gift to work. God also gives us gifts, talents, that we can use in service to him and to others. What are the gifts that God has given to you? It may be tempting to sit back and let others do the work. However, God has given is these gifts so that we can serve him and others. May God open our eyes to see these gifts and then use them to his glory.
As we use these gifts and let our faith shine forth, we will meet opposition from the world around us. When we stand up and say that something is sinful, people won’t want to hear it. When we tell them that faith in Jesus is the only way to be saved, they will say that you’re not inclusive. If you give up some of your free time to serve at the church, people will say that it’s a waste of time. This shouldn’t surprise us. After all, remember where Paul was as he wrote this letter? He was in prison for telling others that there was only one God, and that Jesus was the only way to salvation. When you read about Timothy in the Bible, you see that he may have had a somewhat timid personality. Because of this, Paul wrote to encourage him to be strong in his faith and telling others about Jesus. So, Paul wrote, “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.” (Verse 8)
Ultimately, there are two reasons that might make us ashamed of the gospel. The first is a fear of the world, which is hostile to Christ. Many great men of faith fell to this fear, such a Peter in the courtyard of the high priest, as he denied knowing whom Jesus was. The second reason that might make one ashamed of the gospel is a failure to see Jesus as our priceless treasure. In verses 9&10, Paul reminds us of what Christ has done for us.
He writes in verse 9, “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” When did God choose you to be his own? It was “before the beginning of time.” Before the world was created, before God said, “Let there be light,” he chose us to be his own for all eternity. What a testament to God’s love for us. God saw you, God knew you, before the world and chose you. God wanted you to be with him in heaven.
Paul continues in verse 10, “It has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” We wouldn’t have known about God’s love for us, if it were not for the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ. God’s own Son came down from heaven to show us just how much God loves us. The first thing that Paul notes is the Jesus “has destroyed death.” We are reminded of Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death —that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Jesus came to the earth to free us from our fear of death. We know that death, eternal punishment is something that we all deserved. We know that this is our rightful end because of the many sins that we have committed, including those times when we were ashamed to let anyone know that we are Christians. We wanted to blend in, so we went along with the crowd, hoping that no one could tell that we are believers. Jesus came and took on human flesh and blood, so that he could live a perfect life in our place. Then, in order to destroy death, he died on the cross, paying for all our sins. As a result, we don’t need to fear eternal punishment, for Jesus has paid the debt that we owed our holy God. Death has been destroyed.
Instead of death, Jesus “has brought life and immortality to light.” (Verse 10) Jesus’ resurrection brings life to us. We know that, if we pass away before Jesus comes back again in glory, we will be raised to life in him. Instead of looking at an eternity of punishment, we can be confident of immortality in the glories of heaven.
Finally, Paul reminds us of God’s love, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” (Verse 9) You are saved. You have been called to be God’s child. Note the words: “Not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” What if God told you that he had done most of the work, but it was still up to you to finish the process of your salvation? What a terrifying thought that is! We would always be wondering if we did enough or if we did the right things. Is there something I’m missing? No, in God’s amazing love, he tells you that he has done everything necessary for your salvation. He chose you before the creation of the world. He came to the earth to live, die, and rise again for you. He called you when he created faith in your heart. How could we ever be ashamed of God and the gospel message? This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to us. That is why Paul wrote, “The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (Verse 7) God enables us and strengthens us to live for him and to make a bold testimony of our faith.
I know it might sound morbid, but I would like you to think about what you would want to say to your family and friends as you are lying on your deathbed. Your time on this earth is coming to a close. What do you say to them? I would imagine that you would tell them again how much you loved them. There might be some details that you need to share about your estate. I think that it would be entirely possible that you would want to encourage those you are leaving behind to remain faithful to their Savior, in whom you have placed your hope. Paul does that in this letter to Timothy. He gives Timothy some instructions about things that needed to be taken care of. Paul warns Timothy about some false teachers that had arisen and were causing problems. Paul also takes the opportunity to tell Timothy how much he cared for him. Yet, none of these things were the main purpose in Paul’s writing. The main thing Paul wanted Timothy to do is remain faithful to his Savior. Later in the letter Paul writes, “As for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 314-15) It is my prayer for all of us this morning that we would also be encouraged to be strong in the Lord. May we continue to fan the flame of faith through God’s Word and the sacraments, so that it burns brightly in our dark world. May we never be ashamed of what we believe or whom we believe in, but that we would let our light shine before all people. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, be strong. Amen.
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