A sermon idea based on 2 Timothy 1:1-14.
2 Timothy 1:1-14 NRSV
 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,  To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
 I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.  Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.  For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;  for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,  who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,  but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher,  and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.  Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…
In light of what God has done – he has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline and has saved us and called us with a holy calling, having revealed all of this through Christ Jesus – let us then fully and totally commit ourselves and all that we are and have to him.
Information about the text that matters to the message…
Paul writes from the heart to young Timothy about the subject of faith and how it can grow stronger over time as we develop a deeper trust in the God who has proven himself to be so faithful to us.
There are, in this passage, a couple of big “God” statements about who God is and what God has done. And then, there is a call to Timothy to respond to God’s work in the footsteps of Paul. This passage could be an entire series of messages, but this is how I see it breaking down.
What God Has Done on Our Behalf
First, he has given us the gifts of power, love, and self-discipline.
If you feel fear and timidity, it isn’t from God. If you’re worried and anxious, that isn’t from God. That doesn’t mean those feelings are always sinful or that they always come from the devil or even from your sinful nature. It simply means that, whatever the source of our fear and anxiety, it isn’t from God.
What is from God? Power. Love. Self-discipline. The very resources we lack on our own for being fully connected to God are provided us by his goodness and his presence in our lives.
Second, he has saved us and called us with a holy calling.
He has completely saved us. That is, everything that is necessary for the redemption and restoration of our broken humanity is already provided by the prerogative and work of Christ on the cross.
Paul points to the ageless past as the point of origination of our salvation in Christ. It isn’t in any modern moment or experience that our redemption takes place. It is within the timeless initiative of God to save us and call us to himself.
What We Get to Do in Response to What God Has Done
Paul gives multiple challenges to Timothy here and we can learn something deep from each one of them.
First, we get to rekindle the gift of God within us.
And what is that gift? It is the ability to see and approach God. To know him. To understand (at least in part) who he is and to deepen our faith in and relationship with him. The gift is to believe, in spite of every threat, that God is good and ready to receive and bless us.
Second, we get to join in the suffering of others, relying on the power of God.
We love to think of the church as a body of people who are somehow good, made better by the work of Christ, and experiencing victory together every step of the way in this life.
But isn’t the church so often a body of the broken and a fellowship of those who suffer and struggle?
Third, we get to hold onto the treasure of the gospel no matter what.
The gospel, itself, is the story of God’s action on behalf of a lost world to provide a pathway of salvation and renewal. Paul describes this gospel as a “treasure” in more than one passage, and here he urges Timothy to guard it as a precious possession.
I still remember a sermon I heard preached over two decades ago by Dr. LaVerne Butler in which he broke verse 12 down into these three simple points:
- I know whom to confess – Jesus Christ.
- I know what to commit – everything, all that I am and have.
- I know when to collect – when King Jesus returns to restore all things.
Those three phrases still motivate me after all of my wanderings and journeys since that season.
I know that God is faithful because I’ve personally experienced his gifts, his love, and his saving and renewing work in, around, and through me. And because of his faithfulness, I believe that he is absolutely worthy of my committing all that I am and all that I have to him.
The big call-to-action in the message…
If you’re holding anything back in terms of living with complete surrender and open-handedness toward God, consider the goodness of God toward you and your experience of his gifts and calling. In light of his saving and empowering work in your life, determine to commit every last part of who you are and what you have to him!
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About the Cover Art: Photo by Muzammil Soorma on Unsplash.
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