As we reflect on God’s steadfast love towards us we begin a new series in 2Timothy, the final words of Paul to his beloved son in the faith, and note that because Christ has ‘destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’ he urges both perseverance in the ministry of the gospel and faithfulness to the gospel.
Sunday 16th April: Fan the Flame
We are called in our own time, to fan into flame the gifts entrusted to us and to press on unashamed, even if doing so proves costly. If the gospel is true, it must be the priority. However, daunting as it might seem, we remember that we serve together, as the family of God, and not in our own strength, ‘for the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline’. May we be faithful in the time given to us.
Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-10
Sunday 23rd April: Guard the Gospel
The Apostle Paul, passing on the baton of ministry to the next generation, has urged Timothy to fan into flame the gifts he’d been given. He wants him burning hot with passion, energy and commitment because nothing less than life and immortality in and through Jesus, the destroyer of death, is brought to light by the gospel. Through the Spirit’s empowering, Timothy is to give his all to the task of heralding Christ. This was no small thing. Paul was writing from prison for testifying to Jesus, however, he has confidence in the will and power of Jesus to guard what he has entrusted to Him, his life, therefore he urges Timothy to guard what Christ has entrusted to him, the good news of salvation. Although the pressure was on and with it the temptation to compromise, Paul insists Timothy holds to the truth he has received. The baton comes down to us in our generation, we can have confidence in the same Jesus to guard what we entrust to him, let us be no less faithful with what he has entrusted to us!
Reading: 2 Timothy 1:9-18
Sunday 30th April: Serve the Saviour
In his commentary, John Stott summarises our reading this week: in these verses “the apostle Paul seems to have been hammering home a single lesson. From secular analogy (soldiers, athletes, farmers) and from spiritual experience (Christ’s, his own, every Christian’s) he has been insisting that blessing comes through pain, fruit through toil, life through death, and glory through suffering. It is the invariable law of Christian life and service.” (The Message of 2 Timothy, p.65). Of course this is an echo of Jesus’ own call to discipleship, to take up our cross and come after him. These are challenging words, however, as Paul reminds Timothy, it is worth it; it is by heralding the good news of Jesus that men and women lay hold of salvation and eternal glory in Christ (v10), and ‘if we endure, we shall reign with him’ (v12). Here is our motivation to persevere in the faith of the gospel and to press on in labour for the gospel.
Reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
Sunday 7th May: Watching the Word
‘You’re twisting my words.’ Whether it’s insidious or ignorant, whether it takes place in transmission or reception, we all know the feeling of having what we have said misrepresented. Paul warns Timothy again of those who is represent God’s words and of the fast-spreading ruin it does to the church. The antidote is to gently remind and instruct with right doctrine – to correctly handle the word of truth. The method (with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us vs. 1.14) is to shun godless chatter and quarrelling but to look to the first mover in all of this – God – who’s solid foundation (his character, his gospel, his church) stands firm and is sealed, ‘The Lord knows those who are his’. Your eternal security is guaranteed but this demands a response – turn away from wickedness.
Reading: 2 Timothy 2:14-26
Sunday 14th May: Walking the Walk
In the words of the coronation service, the bible is ‘the most valuable thing that this world affords’ because it is no less than the ‘lively oracles of God’ – as St Augustine noted: ‘where the bible speaks, God speaks.’ The question is whose word will we take as gospel? The Apostle Paul warns that in the ‘last days’ between Jesus’ ascension and return there will be ‘terrible times’ as teachers opposed to the truth deceive and lead into error and reckless living. One necessarily follows the other. Paul therefore encourages Timothy to ‘continue’ in the truth and example he’d received, heeding and heralding the ‘lively oracles of God’ able to ‘make wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,’ and to equip the ‘servant of God’ for righteousness and ‘every good work.’ Which voice will we take as gospel (good news) in our day? Let us continue in what is most precious, to be made wise and equipped for life and service.
Reading: 2 Timothy 3:1-17
Sunday 21st May: Running the Race
The Apostle Paul recognised his ministry was drawing to a close. He had persevered, faithful to Jesus, the crown of righteousness awaited him, it was now Timothy’s time to take up the baton and serve. Paul charges him to be diligent in preaching the word ‘in season and out of season; correcting, rebuking, encouraging.’ For two reasons; firstly because nothing less than eternity was at stake. Paul ‘book-ends’ 4:1-8 with the reminder that there is a coming day when Jesus the righteous will appear as King and judge. That day will bring the crown of life for all those holding to the hope of Jesus, so Timothy is urged to work out his ministry as evangelist and pastor come what may. Secondly, people would turn from truth to myth and gather around teachers who affirm them. Timothy was therefore to imitate Paul in contending for the truth. These priorities still stand, as do the reasons for them, let us likewise heed the call to keep the faith and diligently fend for the gospel, discharging the duties of our mission with great patience and care.
Reading: 2 Timothy4:1-8