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What we need is an unashamed Church in a shameless society. Our culture is unabashed and unafraid to express its rebellion towards God. We live in a shameless society, and we need a non-ashamed church to be witness to the Gospel within that society.Nobody gets to heaven unscared and unscarred. When you understand how great and glorious the Gospel is, that in itself allows you to remain committed. How do we suffer? By the power of God. Why do we suffer? Because the Gospel is worth it. Jesus Christ has disarmed death. He has neutralized it into the sense that it no longer holds us in bondage. Paul never feared death. He feared a wasted life. He feared going to the judgment seat of Christ with ashes in his hand. Paul dies at peace, because the Gospel breeds confidence and the Gospel steals the soul. While God demands faithfulness from those He has appointed to preach the Gospel, the success of the Gospel ultimately rests with Him, not with us. As believers we are charged with: being a stickler for doctrine, powerfully demonstrating the Gospel, seeking spiritual discernment, marking false teacher, and finally, discipling others theologically.
More From This Series
Philip De Courcy (00:00):
Let’s take our Bibles. If you’re with us for the first time this morning we’re in a series on Second Timothy, a series we have called without apology. The Lord has burdened me in recent days about this thought that what we need is an unashamed Church in a shameless society. Our culture is unabashed and unafraid to express its rebellion towards God. We live in a shameless society, and we need a non-ashamed church to be witness to the gospel within that society. And Paul’s going to help us to that end, because this is his legacy letter. And he writes to his young Apprentice in the ministry Timothy, and he urges him to minister without a spirit of fear.
He urges him to be unashamed than his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and his servants who preach the gospel. And if you’re with us last month, we made a start at looking at verses eight through 18 in chapter one, a message untitled Keeping The Faith. This is a part two. We’ll wrap up this section. And then in the month of January, we’ll begin in chapter two, but let’s read God’s word together. Follow along, just sit where you are, Second Timothy chapter one and verse eight. “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord nor of me, his prisoner, but sure with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling.
Not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time begun, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our savior, Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the gentiles. For this reason, I also suffer these things. Nevertheless, I am not ashamed for I know whom I have believed, and I’m persuaded that he is able to keep what I’ve committed to him unto that day. Hold fast, the pardon of signed words which you have heard from me in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus, that good thing which was committed to you keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
This you know that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus for he has refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain. But when he arrives in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and find me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that day, and you know very well how many times or many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.” So, reads God’s word. Keeping The Faith, Second Timothy one yet through 18. My friend Mark Hitchcock, who pastors a church in Oklahoma and teaches at Dallas Seminary recounts the story of a young Christian who decided to break the ice in terms of his witness for Christ on the campus of his school.
He plucked up his courage. In one particular day, he found a spot on the campus and he began to preach the gospel. Words came slowly. He stammered his way through the first few minutes of his gospel presentation, until he was interrupted by a hackler who shouted out to him, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, standing there making a fool of yourself like that.” The young man replied, “You know what, you’re right. I am ashamed of myself, but I am not ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We need an unashamed church in a shameless society, and that’s what we have in the passage before us here as Paul writes his legacy letter to his young protege in the ministry Timothy. And he urges him to be faithful in his commitment to the gospel.
In fact, the key to this passage is the word unashamed. You’ll find it in verse eight, you’ll find it in verse 12, and you’ll find it in verse 16. The point of this section of the letter is to urge Timothy to fully commit himself to the gospel, to keep the faith, to be unashamed of his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ his message and his messengers. Now, you remember from an earlier study that Timothy had a tendency to timidity. That’s why Paul will write and encourage him in verse seven that God has not given us a spirit of fear. Now while there’s no evidence in the letter that Timothy has given into fear, it’s a potential, it’s a temptation, it’s a trap. Paul writes to encourage him not to become unnerved.
Not unnerved by Paul’s own situation in that gospel preaching can lead you to imprisonment, not unnerved by the scandal of the gospel being made fun of in the culture, not unnerved by the cold winds that are blowing across the culture and the presence of heretics within the church of Asia. Timothy is being urged here to remain resolved in his commitment to the gospel, to be unashamed. We have come to look at this passage. We did it last month, and we’re going to look at it this month. And there’s three things that come out of the text. If you didn’t take notes the last time, let me remind you. Gospel commitment involves suffering, verse eight.
Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord nor of me his prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings of the gospel. Gospel commitment is a matter of suffering. Gospel commitment is a matter of safeguarding. Look at verse 14, that good thing, that’s the treasure of the gospel, that’s the body of truth that is indeed the message of Jesus Christ, that good thing which was committed to you keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Timothy if you’re unashamed, it will show itself in suffering. If you’re unashamed, it will show itself in safeguarding. And if you’re unashamed, it will show itself in supporting.
Verse 16, Paul makes known his gratitude to this servant Onesiphorus, who had refreshed him often and was unashamed of his chains, his imprisonment. Gospel commitment involves those three things. So, let’s jump back in. Number one, it’s a matter of suffering, that’s verses eight through 12. We reminded ourselves that nobody gets to heaven unscared and unscarred. Theologians talk about the church triumphant, that’s the church in heaven that has been saved to sin no more. That church will not be molested by the world any longer, but there’s the church militant, that’s the church on earth. That’s the church that must stand in the evil day, that’s the church you and me who must put on the full armor of God.
We cannot get to heaven unscarred or unscared. We must indeed make a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ. We must not be embarrassed by him, his testimony or those who preach that message, and suffering will come. Suffering, not ashamed ought to be the mark of the Christian. That’s why Paul says to Timothy in verse eight, “Share with me in the sufferings for the gospel.” Everyone will live a Godly life, he will face persecution. It’s through much affliction that we enter the kingdom of God. We reminded ourselves of that fact, and we started to look at ways in which you and I can be encouraged to stand. What are the things that will help us suffer gladly for the Lord Jesus Christ to like the early apostles rejoice that we suffer for him, that he has counted us worthy for that assignment.
Now, there were four things. We only looked at one of them. There was a certain companionship, that’s versus eight and 14. Paul encourages Timothy to suffer and then his own example we find several things that will reinforce our resolve to suffer. And one of those is a certain companionship. Look at verse eight, it begins with therefore. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ. I can access to the preceding verse, where we’re told that God has not given us a spirit of fear. In fact, if we read on in the verse eight, we’ll read that we are to suffer for the gospel according to the power of God. Now if you read down to verse 14, that power surely comes through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Now, I’m not going to rehash that thought, but let me just say this. The Christian is equal to what is going on around him, because the God above him lives within him to strengthen him for service. That’s Paul’s argument. Timothy, God hasn’t given you a spirit of [inaudible 00:09:39]. Timothy, minister according to the power of God. That power is available to you, because God’s presence has been universalized in the gift of the Holy Spirit who takes up resonance in the life of those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ. I love that thought. The Christian is equal to whatever is going on around them, because the God above them lives within them, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
That’s why Adrian Rogers, The Great Southern Baptist preacher used to say that when Christians realize that they’re inhabited, they’ll be less inhibited. There’s a certain companionship that helps us to suffer. Secondly and here’s where we really pick up from where we left off, there’s secondly a certain creed. There’s a certain creed that helps us to suffer, because having called Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel, Paul now outlines and defines the glorious nature of the gospel itself. Having mentioned the need to suffer for the gospel verse eight, look at how we begin in verse nine, who has saved us and called us with the holy calling. And Paul goes on to outline the sheer magnificence of the gospel.
And when you understand how great and glorious the gospel is, that in itself allows you to remain committed. How do we suffer? By the power of God. Why do we suffer? Because the gospel is worth it. Let me say that again. How do we suffer? Because the power of God is available to us. Why? Because the gospel is glorious. Gordon Fee and his commentary on Second Timothy tells us that what we have in these verses nine and 10 is probably a semi-cradle formulation of the gospel. Maybe a couple of pages out of an emerging systematic theology. It’s brief, it’s incomplete, but it is a solid expression of the grand and glorious nature of the gospel. We don’t have really time to unpack this, but if you were to take some time to study it, Paul talks about the source of our salvation. It’s God’s sovereign grace.
Look, he has saved us not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. Do you realize that God chose you before you chose him? Spurgeon said that he was glad that God loved him before he was born, because God wouldn’t have loved him after he was born. Here, we have God’s sovereign, electing, gracious purpose to draw you and me in time because he has chosen us before time. And Paul says, “Don’t get over that Timothy. That’s at the heart of the gospel. That’s why you suffer for the gospel and you suffer for the alaskaic like I do, because the source of our salvation is God’s sovereign grace, and the scope of it is eternal.
It begins before time begun, and it will lead to immortality and eternal joy. Its significance is that in his death, Jesus abolished death and life reigns once again on planet earth, verse 10, but now that grace has been revealed that was indeed concocted before time begun. And it has revealed itself in the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. I love that word abolished. It’s a term that means to disarm, to neutralize. Jesus Christ has disarmed death. He has neutralized it into the sense that it no longer holds us in bondage as we read abide in Hebrews 2:14 to 15. This is a glorious gospel. This is a wonderful gospel.
How do we suffer? Because the spirit of God reinforces and strengthens us to do so. And why do we suffer? Because this is a message worth suffering for. This is a glorious message, a magnificent gospel. And when that grips you and you grip it, then you’re unashamed of it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of it as it’s a one-of-a-kind gospel. There’s no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we might be saved. There’s nothing better than this gospel. Read the book of Hebrews, one of the writer’s favorite words, better. Jesus is better than Moses. Jesus priesthood is better than Melchizedek. Jesus sacrificed better than anything offered in the temple and the tabernacle. Jesus covenant better.
In fact, if you go to Paul’s first letter chapter one and verse 11, look at how he describes the gospel and his own salvation. According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. Hebrews two, three says, “I shall be escape of your neglect, so great salvation.” Guys study the gospel, don’t lose your wonder over the gospel. Understand its magnificence that God chose us in Christ before time began. Then the father sent the son who appeared, who disarmed death in his own death and resurrection, and paired for our sins and has called us to life and to immortality. That’s glorious. Shame on us if we are ever ashamed of it. That’s Paul’s point here.
There’s a creed, there’s a theology, there’s an emerging doctrine here of salvation in verses nine and 10 that just would remind Paul, this is worth suffering for. This is a glorious gospel, unparalleled shame on us of riverish. I’ve told you the story I think on a former occasion by the repeated here. High C.H. Spurgeon arrived late one day to preach for his grandfather, who was himself a minister. And the grandfather thought he’d have to pull one out of the heart. And as he was preparing himself to just get to the pulpit, the doors at the back of the auto turn him open and Young Spurgeon comes wall seen in. And his grandfather’s up in the pulp.
And as Spurgeon comes walking down through the pews on the people, he says, “Well, here’s Charles. Charles can preach the gospel better than me, but he can’t preach a better gospel.” Amen. You can preach a better gospel. There is no better gospel. Maybe better preachers, but there’s no better gospel to preach. It’s magnificent, it’s glorious. And Paul says to his young friend and Minister Timothy, “I want you to grip this and I want you to be gripped by it, because this is a gospel that we should not be ashamed of.” This is a gospel that allows a man to face death without fear. Why do you think Paul says here in verse 10, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel?
Because he’s probably weeks or months away from his own demise. And he’ll tell us in chapter four, he’s ready to depart. With the flash of a sword and the severing of his head, it will be absent from the body and present with the Lord. How is he sticking it out there in Rome as a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ? Because he believes the gospel’s worthy, and that gospel has disarmed the fear of death in the life of Paul. Read his writings by the way, Paul never feared death. He feared a wasted life. He feared going to the judgment seat of Christ with ashes in his hand. Paul dies at peace, because the gospel breeds confidence and the gospel steals the soul. I like the story that B.B. Warfield, the great Princeton theologian tells of a Christian man who was traveling through the west during the days of the pioneers.
And he get caught up in a gunfight. Bullets were flying everywhere. There was uproar in the town. And as he ducked down himself, he noticed a man who seemed rather calm and confidence in the melee. And he said to himself, “Now, there is a man who knows his theology.” And when the gunfire died down, he went up to the man. And without saying a word, he said, “Sir, what is the first question in the shorter catechism?” And the man replied, “What is the chief end of man?” “To glorify god and enjoy him forever.” He was a man who knew his theology. And when you know your creed, when you know your theology, when you know your doctrine, you can handle the bullets flying, life-taking a twist for the worst.
There’s a certain companionship here. There’s a certain creed here. Thirdly, there’s a certain calling here that enables Paul to indeed suffer valiantly and valiantly. And that Timothy must do the same. Let’s move on through the text, the good verse 11 to which speaking about this gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the gentiles. Having just spoken about the gospel, Paul and I reflects on his relationship to the gospel. Ge’s a preacher and a teacher of it. There’s an element of Paul’s willingness to suffer for the gospel here in a deep sense of duty and obligation rooted in God’s called in the ministry. Here’s another element of bearing up under suffering.
You’ve got the presence of the Holy Spirit. You’ve got a magnificent gospel to believe in, and to suffer for. And then you’ve got this sense of duty. God called you to preach it. God called you to teach it. God called you to be an apostle, a sent one out into the world. And that might land you in trouble and difficult situations. See, Paul has already taught about the call to salvation. Look at verse nine, “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling. God has called us irresistibly to himself by his grace and his sovereign mercy.” That’s the call to salvation, but there comes with it and after it, a call to service.
And Paul soon learned after his own conversion that God had appointed him to be an apostle to the Gentiles, and he would suffer much wherever he went, but Paul embraced that, because he was a man on a mission. He was undeterred and undaunted in the face of opposition, because he understood that he had been made by sovereign grace, a minister of the gospel. That’s why C.H. Spurgeon says, “When God calls you to the ministry, don’t stoop to be a king, because this is a high and a holy calling.” And Paul revels in that as he encourages this young minister in the gospel, and gives him reasons to be unashamed and to be faithful. Here’s one of them, because like me Timothy, you have been appointed to be a preacher of the gospel, and there’s nothing bigger and there’s nothing better.
This is a non-negotiable task, this is a noble task, this is a necessary task. I’d like to get into those thoughts, but I can’t. It is a non-negotiable in the sense Acts 26 verse 19, having related to King Agrippa his conversion and his call to the ministry to preach the gospel, that has landed him in trouble and has indeed pushed them into the presence of King Agrippa. What does Paul say about all of that? He says, “But I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. I mean this thing was foisted done on me. I’m not a minister of the gospel the gods by human exertion, choice. I’m a minister the gospel by divine appointment. This is a non-negotiable task for me, and it’s a noble task.”
In fact when we get the First Timothy 3 verse one, Paul will describe the ministry as something noble, something excellent, something great because this is non-negotiable, it’s Noble and it’s necessary. In First Corinthians nine, 16 to 17, he said that, “Necessity was land on me and woe is me if I don’t preach the gospel. I’m in trouble if I don’t preach the gospel. One, because if I don’t preach the gospel, people get lost and damned. And if I don’t preach the gospel, then I’m not living up to what my purpose in life is.” So, here’s the point guys, we’ll move on. Paul was unashamed in the light of the glory and magnificence of his calling. Paul had a high view of the ministry that helped him overcome his challenges and stay above the fray. And the point is this.
A man with a calling from God is a force to be reckoned with. He’s an unstoppable figure. You want evidence, go back to the Old Testament, just one Jeremiah whom God called, God sent, and God said, “Don’t be afraid when you stand before the nations, because I’ll be with you.” Or you go to the New Testament, I’ll give you one example. John, the Baptist who was fearless. In fact, he lost his head for the cause of Jesus Christ. And in chapter one of John’s gospel, what do we read of him? There was a man sent from God whose name was John. See, when a man has a sense of calling, he’s an unstoppable force. I was at the Pre-Trib Conference in Dallas this past week and we honored the life of Tim LaHaye, who started the Pre-Trib Conference some 25 years ago.
And his wife was there, Beverly and they give her an award to just mark our thankfulness for his life and for his ministry. And a young man give her indeed studied under Tim LaHaye. And he said, “You know, I always remember Tim LaHaye saying to us as young man, don’t look for a career, look for a calling. Paul had a calling. And when a man has a calling beyond his career, he’s an unstoppable force. And it roots his life, and it gives him confidence. It gives him purpose and he’s hard to turn away.” And that’s going to on in Paul’s life. What’s why W. A. Criswell pastor at First Baptist Dallas many years ago, the first and foremost of all the inward strengths of a pastor is the conviction deep as life itself that God has called him to the ministry.
No man will survive the ministry without a call, and it’s hard to stop a man in the minister who senses a call. I’m appointed an apostle, and a preacher and a teacher. Finally, under this thought of suffering, there’s a certain companionship, and there’s a certain creed, and there’s a certain calling. And then there’s a certain confidence that just reinforces the resolve to suffer. There’s a confidence here verse 12, “For this reason, I also suffer these things. Nevertheless, I’m not ashamed.” We’re back to this thought of not being ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and I’m persuaded that he’s able to keep thou which I have committed to him unto that day.”
Here’s another reason he’s unashamed, why he hasn’t buy and why hasn’t banded. Because in an uncertain world and in uncertain times, Paul had confidence about a few certain things. Every preacher needs to remember that you cannot persuade others of that which you are not persuaded yourself. Despite the hostility of the environment in which he ministered, Paul didn’t buy, Paul didn’t ban, because he had a confidence in God’s sovereignty, God’s son, and God’s sufficiency. I know whom I have believed. I’ve got a creed. I’m certain about the person of Christ. I know whom I have believed, and I’m certain about the power of Christ. He’s able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day, and I’m certain about the prospect of Christ in that future day.
He had a creed that produced a confidence. And I’m going to leave it at that because we’ve got a motor on, but the point is this. While God demands faithfulness from those he has appointed to preach the gospel, the success of the gospel ultimately rests with him, not with us. And that’s where Paul confidence was. There’s a debate among the commentators when he talks about that which I’ve committed to him. Was that Paul’s soul? Was that Paul’s future? Possibly. But when you go through this passage in this letter, that which is committed is often code for the gospel itself. And are we reading here that Paul has committed the gospel? He preaches to God, and prays that he tries to safeguard it, that God will see if God him on debt.
He’s looking to God to bring success, could well be. I’d probably lean in that direction. And if that’s the case, Paul’s anticipated feared about Timothy, Paul’s anticipated fear about the future of the gospel was alleviated in recounting the keeping power of God in relation to the gospel. He is able to keep that which I’ve committed to him against that day. Guys, God doesn’t want us to go through life bent over like a question mark. He wants us to go through life bold and upright like an exclamation mark. We have a creed. It’s Jesus Christ’s gospel that he died for our sins, that he rose again, that he has disarmed death. He has brought life to reign in life once more. There’s the promise of immortality.
All of that is true, and all of that should embolden us. In the tough days of the 17th century, the Puritan Thomas Watson, whose convictions cost him a fair share of ill treatment, said in the introductory remarks of his famous book, A Body of Divinity. He said this, and it just about summarizes what I’m trying to say in this point, “Such as are not settled in the faith can never suffer for it. Sceptics in religion hardly ever prove martyrs like that.” Sceptics in religion hardly ever prove to be martyrs, but I’ll tell you what, man and women and churches who know whom they have believed, and what it is they have believed in. They have a martyr complex in the sense that they are willing to suffer for the faith.
All right, let’s get moving on. That covers that thought of a matter of suffering. Commitment to the gospel is a matter of suffering versus eight through 12. Now in verses 13 through 14, we have commitment to the gospel as a matter of safeguarding. Hold fast the pattern of signed words which you have heard from me in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus, that good thing which was committed to you keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Dig in a little bit deeper, a gospel commitment requires safeguarding. See, Paul urges loyalty to the gospel here. He’s just outlined it. He has just defined it, and he has reinforced that Timothy, his love of it. And he’s honored by the fact that God has appointed him a preacher and an apostle with regards to it.
He says in nine, “Timothy, time of my departure is in hand. So, I’m going to ask loyalty of you. I’ve kept the faith, will you? I fought the good fight, will you?” Paul is Timothy’s intrepid leader, and he calls his young Master Timothy, not only to be a herald like Paul preaching the gospel, but a steward like Paul protecting the gospel. You see in verse 14, we read that Timothy has been entrusted with the treasure of the good news, and he’s got to keep that. He’s got to protect that. He’s got the stand guard over that. You’ve got a similar thought back in First Timothy six verse, 20 in his first letter to Timothy.
“Oh, Timothy guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you.” Timothy had been made a custodian of the crown jewels of this glorious gospel. Guys, if we’re going to keep the faith, we’ve got to keep the faith once delivered to the sins. This is the sermon in itself, but I just quickly wrote down several things from both that immediate context and the wider context of this letter of how you and I might guard the gospel. Here’s how we guard the gospel. Number one, by being a stickler for doctrine. You need to know what you’re guarding.
You need to be a stickler for doctrine. Look at verse 13, hold fast the pattern of signed or healthy words. The word pattern is an interesting word. It’s a Greek word that gives us the idea of a nightline sketch by an artist or an architect, a nightline sketch by an artist or an architect, Paul is saying there is an outline of healthy words. And Timothy when you come to understand what the gospel is and you define it and you outline it, don’t color outside the lines. Be precise. The Puritans used to say that they served a precise God, and so do we. And he’s precise about the gospel of his son, his deity, his eternal existence, his place as the second person within the trinity, his virgin birth.
The fact that Christ never sinned and could not sin, the fact that Christ gave himself as an atoning sacrifice by the giving of his life in bloody death, the fact that his son physically rose from the dead three days later, the fact that his son will return manifestly in power and glory at the end of history, that’s just a general outline of the person and work of Jesus Christ. And we are not allowed to color outside those lines. You want to guard the gospel and understand what it is, have an outline and a definition of what it is, and stay there and oppose anyone that wants to expand the outline, or erase it. Be a stickler for doctrine. Secondly, powerfully demonstrate that gospel.
We want orthodoxy, but we want orthopraxy. There’s nothing more deadening to the gospel than a lifeless expression of that gospel. That’s why Paul will say what? Hold fast to the pattern of signed Words which you have heard from me in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. We’ve got to express what we believe by life marked, by faith and love. Thirdly, by seeking spiritual discernment. We need to lean heavily upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We can only keep this charge. We can only fulfill this obligation by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. He’s the one who authored this book. He’s the one who has come to show Jesus Christ to us. He’s the one that illuminates our understanding of this outline of truth, and we need to seek his discernment.
Keep the gospel, guard the gospel yes by being a stickler for doctrine, by powerfully demonstrating the gospel by seeking spiritual discernment, by fourthly marking false teachers. Those who color outside the lines are to be exposed and in some rare occasions named, named. Did you notice in verse 15, Paul names Phygelus and Hermogenes, who abandon him. And one would assume they abandoned the gospel. They may have been leaders in training, just like Timothy, but Paul was nigh radioactive. You keep preaching what Paul preaches, you land in prison. You lose friends, and they abandoned Paul. They abandoned the gospel. Remember what Paul said to Timothy, “Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner.”
One would assume that these men had abandoned the testimony of the Lord and Paul his servant. Paul calls the might. I’ve got to feed the flock, but I’ve also got to warn them about wolves that will slaughter them. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to call out false teaching and false teachers. That’s how you guard the gospel. And fifthly and finally, by discipling others theologically. We’ll get to this next month. I can’t wait to get to this verse, but look at chapter two and verse two and the things which you heard from me. See, Paul in guarding the gospel has worked hard in the life of a young man to help him understand the outline of gospel truth. He has tried to call him to a life of holiness. He has warned him about false teachers.
His halves him resting on the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Paul, his disciple Timothy because the gospel is guarded by raising up a generation of gospel men. Just like you or like the 30 men that are in our training program here at Kenwood Community Church, where they got to read hundreds of pages of theology, where they got to answer exam questions about theology, where they’re going to be held accountable, where they’re going to be given an internship within our church, because we need another batch of deacons and elders. We need to send some of these young men up to the masters seminary right onto the mission field. We need to be training up young men who know the gospel, love the gospel, will die for the gospel, because that’s how we guard it.
By look what? Teaching faithful men to teach others to be fearful. Guys guarding the gospel, it’s so important. I hope you know that next year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Just finished the book by Erwin Lutzer who’s neither a retired mastor from Moody Church in Chicago. It’s a book I’d commend to you. It’s called Rescuing the Gospel. And he tells the story of the Protestant Reformation. It’s a great read, buy it. Rescuing The Gospel by Erwin Lutzer. And he just traces how Martin Luther rediscovers the gospel, and God uses him as an instrument of reformation. He tries to reform the Church from within, but he’s booted out by popes and prowlets. And he tries to reform the Church from without.
It’s an amazing story, story of courage, a story of providence, a story of being a stickler for doctrine regarding the gospel that has once more been rediscovered. Now what was interesting, when you get to the back of the book, the last page in the book, here’s what Erwin Lutzer says. “Martin Luther had rescued the gospel from the distortion of Catholicism. In some sense, our task is more difficult than his. We must rescue the gospel from Catholicism, along with a host of other movements, such as fraudulent so-called evangelicals whose entire television programs are dedicated to health and wealth theology, with special breakthroughs promised to those who send them money.
We have to rescue it from theological liberals, who deny the supernatural character of the Christian faith. We have to rescue it from false religions that compete for the allegiance of men and women. We must rescue it from the cults, who come to our doorsteps. We must rescue it from all who think that it’s up to them to contribute to their salvation, and they must make themselves worthy to receive it.” What he’s saying at the end of the book, just as Martin Luther in the Middle Ages had to rescue the gospel, protected, and guarded, that task is unfinished. And I challenge you as a man both the Kenwood Community and EV Free and other churches in this community, step up and guard the gospel, rescue it from a distortion of it, a corruption of it, addition to it, subtraction from it.
Be a stickler for doctrine. Don’t be a hypocrite, live it. Depend upon the Holy Spirit and pour your life into young man, and raise up a generation of gospel guards, custodians of the eternal message of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, as I was thinking about that whole idea of guarding the gospel, I was reminded of the story of an old pastor back in Northern Ireland, where I come from. There was in a part of Belfast, there were two well-known churches the Iron Hall and the Templemore Hall. And there was an old man called Pastor Tucker. I believe that he pastored both of them. But in his latter years, he pastored Templemore Hall, which was pastored by a number of friends of mine.
And one of them Victor Maxwell told me one day that in his latter years, even after he had retired, another man had come in to preach. He would sit on the platform behind the pulpit, on a nice big chair, a throne. And although he was old and didn’t preach as much, he sat there as the young men or others preached. And he had a walking stick by this stage in his life. And if he didn’t like what he heard, I’m told that he would actually whack the guys on their ankles with the walking stick. He literally did that, and here’s what he would say, “That’s enough of that. No more of that.” I like that. Just a practical funny expression of what we’re talking about here, “Hey, we need a few more guys like that.”
I’m not recommending you beat people over the head with walking sticks, but you know what, stand up at a Bible study, or somewhere or wherever you are, or you’re watching television and speak to it. “That’s enough of that.” I can’t watch TBN without saying, that enough of that. And just I’d rather be watching ESPN than that nonsense. Most of it is really about we need to rescue the gospel from that, enough of that. All right, we can wrap this up here, verses 15 through 18. Now if you look at these verses, you might argue this is a separate unit of thought. And you know what, Paul goes sideways here. Because in verses 15 through 18, having talked about Timothy’s loyalty to the gospel, he now he turns sideways and talks about the disloyalty of [inaudible 00:42:19].
And you might say that’s a little bit of a surprise. And in some of the commentaries that I read, they actually deal with it as a separate section, but I’ll make an argument this all goes together with the preceding verses. I think there’s a unit of thought here from eight to 18. We’re still on the idea of don’t be ashamed, keep the faith, guard the gospel, stand for the Lord Jesus Christ. We see that in verse eight. Therefore, do not be ashamed. We see it in verse 12, I’m not ashamed. And in this section, we’re going to read about a man Onesiphorus, who refreshed Paul many times and look at that word was not ashamed. It’s the same thought. Paul’s carrying on, and here’s our last idea and we’ll make it quick.
Paul is saying, “I want you to be unashamed Timothy. And that’s a matter of suffering, and that’s a matter of safeguarding, and that’s a matter of supporting.” Paul tells us sadly at the end of his life, there were many believers who deserted him. In fact, he says all of Asia. Maybe a little bit of a hyperbole there, but there seems to have been a great departure and an apostasy. We go from the great awakening of Acts 19 to the great apostasy in Asia. And Paul marks it, and then he singles out by name two men, Phygelus and Hermogenes, likely leaders in training who abound in him. When did this happen? It could be as soon as they heard about Paul’s second imprisonment. Paul was radioactive. He was toxic.
They were safeguarding themselves, not the gospel. They were stabbed them back, didn’t want to get into the crosshairs of the Roman authorities. They distance themselves from Paul and his gospel. Maybe come up with the gospel more palatable to the culture. Sod, but in contrast to these dirty dog deserters, Paul said, “Can I tell you about a guy? Onesiphorus, he’s been a good friend. They all abandoned me, but he refreshed me again and again.” And you’ve got this wonderful contrast between loyalty and disloyalty. And that’s why I think this is all tied together. Let me just give you a little profile of this man. He respected Paul. Look at the fact that he is not ashamed of Paul’s chains.
Paul was a hero to him. Paul wasn’t toxic, radioactive. Now, this is the kind of man I want to hang out with, one of those gospel stalwarts, one of those men has got fight in his belly, that preached the gospel and protect it. I’m a friend of him, because he’s a friend of Christ. I respect him. I’m not ashamed of his chains. Secondly, may not only see him respect Paul, we see him reach Paul, says he seeks him out. The Greek there is fairly strong. He seeks him out with intention. When you get the first imprisonment, Acts 28, Paul’s in a nice house. He’s easily accessible. It seems in the second imprisonment, he was harder to find, but Onesiphorus doesn’t give up.
And can you imagine even the danger he exposes himself to, going from one Roman office to the next, “Hey, have you any record of a man called Paul, preacher of the gospel?” But he seeks a mind he finds them. And then we not only read that he respected Paul and reached Paul, he refreshed Paul. Beautiful Greek word. It means to cool down. He was to Paul like a refreshing breeze on a summer’s day or for us, a nice cold Diet Coke. That’s the Kenneth Ministry had in Paul’s life. He refreshed me. Listen, as we finish, Paul was a faithful preacher of the gospel. He thrived, and he survived within a circle of reinforcing friendships and fellowships. Go to the final chapter of Romans, and you’ll find 33 names outlined by Paul.
People he fed off and people who fed off him. He always lived within a circle of reinforcing relationships, and that’s where I finish. Christian leaders need cheerleaders. Christian leaders need cheerleaders, and that’s what he’s saying to Timothy. “Hey, be a supporter of the gospel.” And in my implication, I think Paul is also saying, “Timothy, I hope you have your Onesiphorus, people who come alongside you because I’ve called you to a tough task. God has appointed you to be an apostle and a herald and a teacher. You’re going to have to suffer. You may wear chins someday. But you know what, if you have a Onesiphorus in your life, it will help you survive the tough times.”
Leaders need more than the fellowship of the spirit, they need the friendship of the saints. Genesis says it’s not good that man should be alone, and don’t forget where and when that was stated. When Adam was alone in the presence of God in the cool of the day in the garden, implication, it’s not good for man to be alone, even when with God. He needs human companionship. God has made us to live in community, because men in the image of God, God exists in community in tri-unity; Father, Spirit and Son. Mage in his image, we need each other and leaders need men to come alongside them, to encourage them. I don’t know if time to go through a nightline I had, we need people who will pray. We need people who will provide, we need people who will pray us, we need people who will please, we need people who will protect.
Pray. First Thessalonians 5:25, pray for us says Paul. Provide. Paul says, “If a man shares the word of God with you, you share your material things with him,” Galatians 6:6. Prayers, First Thessalonians 5:12 to 13, “Esteeming them, highly praise them, encourage them for their work sake.” Please, Hebrews 13:17, “Let them do their work with joy, don’t get in the way, don’t get in front of them, get behind them and urge them on and protect. First Timothy 5:17-19″ Don’t receive an accusation against a leader with two or three witnesses.” We’re done with this. Stored in a sea of place, that the Library of Congress is a small blue box. The label reads contents of the president’s pockets on the night of April 14, 1865.
Now, if you know your history, you know what we’re talking about. That’s the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The box contains five things; a handkerchief embroidered with the words A. Lincoln, a country boy’s pen knife, a spectacle case repaired by string, fourthly a purse containing a $5 bill in confederate money, five some old and worn newspaper clippings. Now when you unfold the clippings, you’ll find one in particular by John Bright, a British politician and statesman, who rose up in Britain and said that Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest men of all time. Now, we know that to be the case, but in that day, they didn’t. The jury was still out. The country was still divided.
Abraham Lincoln had enemies in the north and in the south. The biographies that tell us it’s a story hadn’t been written. It seems to me guys that you can almost imagine him by a candle light in the throes and the trauma of those years in his leadership, just unraveling that little piece of newspaper with the words from John Pride, Abraham Lincoln, the greatest man of our time, because the greatest leaders still need encouraged, reinforced, supported. And that’s what you heard with Onesiphorus and Paul. Keeping the faith, I know you men want to keep the faith. You keep this appointment every month, I love you for it. Well, let’s keep the faith. Let’s be willing to suffer. Let’s be serious about safeguarding the gospel, and let’s support each other to that end, and especially our leaders. Amen?
Lord, we live in a shameless society, where men are lovers of pleasure, rather than God. These are difficult and disconcerting times. We say of our own culture what Jeremiah said of his day, that man sin and they don’t blush, shameless, brazen, bold in their sin and their commitment to darkness, in their opposition to Jesus Christ. Well, if that’s the case, a shameless society must have an unashamed Church, made up of man just as brazen, just as bold in their commitment to righteousness in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lord, we signed the dotted line this morning. We want to be faithful, want to be unashamed. Give us the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the strength of the Holy Spirit to both suffer and safeguard, and support the gospel for Jesus’s sake. Amen.