2021 – The Others
Paul’s Last Letter 3
Do Not Be Afraid
This morning, let’s begin with… Paul writing a very heartfelt personal letter to his son in Christ… Timothy.
2 Timothy 4:9-21 Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So, I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.
Add to this…
2 Timothy 1:15-18 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome, he searched for me earnestly and found me- may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day! - and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.
Using these verses – and other historical and geographical data - let’s reconstruct a likely set of events leading up to Paul’s second letter to Timothy…
--Paul returns from his mission to Spain.
--Paul receives word there is trouble in Ephesus, instigated by Alexander the coppersmith. Alexander may well have convinced the Roman authorities to issue an arrest warrant for Paul.
--Paul sends Tychicus to Ephesus with this letter. He leaves Trophimus in Miletus because he is ill.
--Paul goes north to Troas up the coast, where he left his cloak, books and parchments. because Paul was arrested there.
--Luke, travels with Paul to Rome… under arrest.
--When Paul arrives, Onesiphorus helps and houses Paul.
--Paul, then, has been in Rome for some months, time enough for a trial to be arranged and the first part of the trial to have transpired. It is not going well for Paul. He does not expect to be released; alive. Paul urges Timothy to get the lead out and pick up his cloak and books and bring Mark to Rome in a hurry.
--PostScript…We know Nero beheads Paul around the year A.D. 67.
Three observations, before we get the sermon going.
1) These are real people. This is real history. Paul is human. He hurts. He loves. He has loyal friends, angry enemies, and people who have failed him. There are dear loved companions who have deserted him.
2) It was a scary time... for Christians. When Nero first became emperor, he did great. He undid some of the terrible things his father, Claudius, had done. He was off to a good start… But after Nero killed his mother, and fired his advisors… Nero went off the rails. He became scary… especially to Christians. A bunch of Paul’s fellow missionaries were afraid. Phygelus and Hermogenes, Demas, Crescens, and Titus... all leave Paul. They head for the hills… afraid.
3) Timothy is also afraid. Paul does not want to lose him, too. Paul, is the writing 2 Timothy as a criminal, under arrest, on trial, soon to die. Timothy knows some of the Christians have already been tortured and executed by Nero! Timothy is afraid. Paul urges Timothy to be brave!
This is the main message of Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy… be brave! Here is the heart of the letter…
2 Timothy 1:6-12 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, for God gave us a spirit not of fearbut of power and love and self-control. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holycalling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.
Fear impedes the Gospel… Then… and now… When we are driven by fear, it is difficult to communicate the Good News. Fear and Good News are a mixed messaged. When we are driven by our anxieties, it is difficult to be the Good News to the world.
But God has not given us a spirt of fear. The word deilia is a strong word that means something close to "cowardice," not just ordinary fear, but a fear which renders one unable to function. Fear can’t preach the Gospel or be the Gospel.
Although, none of us are likely to be executed for our Christian faith, there are still times when we are driven by a spirit of fear; times when we need to understand the lessons from 2 Timothy; times when we need to hear… Be brave!
Let’s dig into these verses. Let’s see how Paul instructs Timothy to not allow the spirit of fear to impede the Gospel.
Four Ways to not be afraid… some of our fear levels are pretty high.
#1 There is power in your gift…
2 Timothy 1:6-7 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, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Paul had laid his hands on Timothy commissioning him as a preacher of the Gospel. Now, Paul reminds Timothy he has a gift from God that is to be used. Timothy’s gift is crucial… He is important. His gift is essential to Paul preaching and being the Gospel!
When I am feeling afraid… I need to be reminded myself… God has blessed me with his gift. When you are feeling like you want to crawl in a hole and pull the rock over you… You need to be reminded God has given you a gift. The knowing of your gift/or gifts is essential… it gives us courage. We are grace-empowered with gifts from God to be used in his service. These gifts come with the power from God to be used in love. They are to be used with discipline, Not recklessly. We are to be brave as we engage our gifts with love and self-control! God empowers the gifts he gives!
Where do we go for courage? #1
God’s gifts come with the power to do use them! Pause… reflect on your gifts… power… love… self-control … There is God given courage in His gifts!
#2 There is power in your holy calling…
2 Timothy 1:8-9 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began!
The word holy… means to be set aside for a sacred purpose. Holy is different. Holy is special. Holy is to be used by God for the Gospel! You have been set aside by God for a special purpose. You are not ordinary. You are not common. You are set aside to be used by God. This holy calling comes with the power of purpose.
Where does courage come from? #2
A recognition that we have a holy calling… empowered by God!
Pause… Reflect on who you are. You have a holy calling of power! You are holy!
#3 There is power in the Gospel…
2 Timothy 1:10-12 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do.
The power of the Gospel is sacrifice. Jesus was revealed on this earth as human. His death on the cross is the power of the Gospel. The power of the kingdom of God is not military, political, financial, or any other kind of earthly power. The power of the kingdom is the suffering of the cross. The only thing with the power to change the hearts of people is loving-sacrifice. Jesus changed the world by his death and resurrection. But he also changed the model of real-power in the world. Paul understood that the power of his message was through suffering.
Our sacrifice, our suffering, our being the Gospel… is the power of the cross to change the world. The being made right by God empowers us to sacrifice for the Gospel… that is the power to change the world!
Where does courage come from? #3
From knowing my sacrifices, my suffering for the Gospel… brings the Kingdom of heaven into the world!
Reflect on… who has sacrificed for you to bring you into the kingdom… who have you sacrificed for to bring them into the kingdom. You operate in the power of Gospel sacrifice!
#4 There is power in knowing who guards the Day…
NAU 2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Paul is able to suffer and die for the Kingdom because he knows the One to whom he has entrusted his life. Paul knows that all he has invested will be guarded until that Day.
It’s the bank account metaphor. All Paul suffered, it was a bunch… (wait, wait, wait)
2 Corinthians 11:24-27 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure… then his death…
All the suffering Paul endured was deposited into The Bank of the One. Paul knows that The Bank of the One will guard his savings account. On that Day when The One returns to renew the earth… Paul’s investment will be ready for him to make withdrawals for eternity!
Where do we go for courage? #4
Knowing all our suffering is creating treasures for That Day! There is power in knowing who guards the Day!
Reflect on knowing all you have given up for the Gospel is in an account… Hopefully, a significant investment!
Remember, this year, we are collecting principals of how to relate to the Others.
Principle Number Eight in interrelating with the Others… Fear must not impede the Gospel being taken to the Others!
I suppose I could land this sermon by pointing out any number of things we might be afraid of. But I think I will let you reflect on the fears that may be in your own heart.
--What fears of the future might haunt your heart?
--What fears of others might hurt you being the Gospel?
--What fears for others might cause you to hesitate?
--What financial, physical, getting old, security, self-esteem, your image… may impede your message?
--Positively… what sacrifices are you depositing in The Bank of the One for That Day?
I believe Paul thought there was a chance Timothy might desert him, like so many of his other companions. So, Paul pleads with Timothy, as he does with us… be brave…
…share in suffering for the Gospel by the power of God!
February 21, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
Copyright © 2021 Los Alamos Church of Christ - All Rights Reserved.