2 Timothy 004 – Gospel Benefits2 Timothy 1:8-9b • Dr. Andy Woods • September 27, 2015 • 2 Timothy - The Call to Persevere
2 Timothy 1:8-10 Lesson 4
Let’s take our Bibles, if we can, and turn to the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 1, taking a look this morning at verses 8-10. 2 Timothy 1:8, the title of our message this morning fits perfectly with the baby dedication; the title of this message is Gospel Benefits. Paul explains the benefits of the gospel in these verses that we’re going to look at this morning. In fact, the reason Paul hung in there with the gospel and the reason he wanted Timothy to hang in there with the gospel is because the gospel can do something for a human being that no other source can do.
This is all couched, if you will, in a book that spans just four chapters trying to get a very young man named Timothy to finish the race. Paul says I’ve run my race, and now Timothy, the baton is in your hand and you need to run your race. The subject of perseverance is the giant theme that everything in this book revolves around. Remember this book was written by Paul to Timothy, it was his last book, Paul’s last book, not written from a place of comfort but rather from a place where Paul was about to die, in his second imprisonment from Rome.
Timothy, no doubt a believer, a son in the faith, is shrinking back from his calling in the ministry. He’s becoming scared, he’s becoming intimidated, the task of ministry and the threat of persecution seems just overwhelming for this young man and he’s lapsing backward. The problem with that, of course, is if Timothy lapses backward everything that Paul has done up to this point in time, in terms of spreading the message of the gospel, is in vain. It really doesn’t matter what one generation does if another generation doesn’t pick up the baton of truth and take it. And that is the risk that is being run here. The source of generational truth is it transfers from the apostles to the next generation is in jeopardy.
And as we have said before in the sermon series Christianity is just that way; it’s always one generation from extinction. That’s why in the ministry report that I did in the prior hour I placed a special emphasis on the children; that’s why the Merkins, it was so important for us to pray for them as a family and to commit to helping them in whatever way we can do to raise their child in the grace and admonition of the Lord because if the truth doesn’t get transferred Christianity dies and how important that transfer is from one generation to the next.
So this, in essence, is Paul’s last word, the very last thing Paul said prior to his death. There’s a four-part outline to the book. The book begins, as we saw, with a generic or a general call to faithfulness in the ministry. We have seen the greeting, verses 1-2 and then from there we moved into a thanksgiving, verses 3-5, where Paul celebrates Timothy’s life, he celebrates how he came to Christ, but he reminds Timothy of his heritage. The truth came to Timothy through a price that was paid by others, and Timothy and all of us are similarly called to pass that baton of truth on to others as well.
He’s reminded Timothy, verse 6, of his gifting; he has a special ministry gift and God has not given spiritual gifts to the body of Christ to be dormant. Timothy is to fan the flame of his gift into full power, not be intimidated but to use that gift. In fact, we saw last week that all of us have at least one spiritual gift, and we are to employ those gifts in God using us, building up His church, the body of Christ.
And then we also saw verse 7 that Timothy is called to be courageous in the time period that he lives in. And that really is our calling as well, we’re to be courageous, not trusting in ourselves, in our own power and resources but in the power of God that He supplies us through the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds Timothy that God has not given him a spirit of fear, verse 7, but of love and power and a sound mind.
And now we move into verses 8-14 where there is a large paragraph where Paul exhorts Timothy to not be ashamed. Not be ashamed of what? Number 1, don’t be ashamed of evangelism, the first part of verse 8. Number 2, don’t be ashamed of Paul, second part of verse 8. And then number 3, don’t be ashamed of the gospel, verses 9-14. And it’s in verses 9-14 that Paul gives a beautiful statement of the gospel and what the gospel does. What are the benefits of the gospel? In fact, that paragraph is so majestic we will have to examine it over the course of several weeks.
But notice, if you will, this calling that Paul gave to Timothy not to be ashamed. Number 1, do not be ashamed of evangelism. Notice, if you will, 2 Timothy 1:8, it says: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.”
What is Timothy to not be ashamed of? Number 1, he is not to be ashamed of something that Paul describes as “the testimony of our Lord.” There is one thing, many things we know about Jesus Christ, but this much we are certain of, Christ was a man of suffering. Isaiah 53:3, of Jesus, spoken 700 years in advance, says this: “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Jesus suffered and if a person seeks to serve God but somehow they think they are exempted from suffering, then they will have a tendency to shy away from part of Christ’s message. They might gravitate towards some of it but not all of it, because after all, Jesus did teach (as we will see in a minute) that a servant is not greater than his master. You recall that from the Upper Room, John 15:20 puts it this way, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
Christ was a man of suffering, He was a man who was rejected, He was a man who was abused, He was a man who was despised. And so much of American Christianity portrays the message of the cross as a life of prosperity, a life of leisure, a life of power, a life of influence, a life of relaxation. And there is a tremendous tendency to shy away from or be embarrassed about… not all of Christ’s message perhaps, but some of it. And we’re not entirely sure if Timothy really grasped this idea of suffering, that he was called unto suffering.
What saved Timothy was his faith in Christ, but as he continued to grow and as he continued to move into a position of leadership suffering was part of the calling. And apparently Timothy had become embarrassed or shied away from that aspect of Christ’s message.
Acts 14:22, Paul, when he was there in southern Galatia, which was probably the first time he met Timothy, said this in Acts 14:22, Luke records it of Paul, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’” You’ll notice there that “the kingdom of God,” contrary to what many people teach, “the kingdom of God” is yet future. We are not in the kingdom now; that’s obvious by looking at the state of our world. The kingdom is yet future. The kingdom is our destination. The kingdom is where all who have trusted in Christ are headed.
But notice that as we grow in Christ we enter that kingdom through the process of discipleship, “Through” not just a few tribulations but “many tribulations.” Timothy, have you forgotten that part of the message? You have forgotten this calling that you have to suffer for the things of God. And consequently Timothy was embarrassed, he was shying away from that part of the message.
So Paul writes in verse 8, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,” remember Jesus suffered and a servant is not greater than his master and through many trials we enter the kingdom of God. You too, Timothy, if you seek to live the godly life which God has called you to live, you too will suffer.
It’s also possible that testimony or our Lord here could be a reference to evangelism. It’s easy to become embarrassed and to shy away from basic face to face evangelism. Paul said in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written “But the RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Paul said I am not embarrassed by the gospel, I am not ashamed of the gospel because the gospel contains within it power. That power is going to be described in the verses that follow. There are things that the gospel does for people that no other source can do. And yet you enter into the power of the gospel, many times, through a fence. Paul, in the book of Galatians, chapter 5 and verse 11 said, “But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision,” that would be works, “why am I still being persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.”
Notice that the cross has contained within it a stumbling block. The cross has contained within it an offense. God, in fact, has designed the gospel in such a way that it strikes a direct blow to the pride of man. Now why is that? Because the gospel in and of itself tells us that we are in a hopeless condition and the only way we can have that hopeless condition corrected or rectified is to receive from God, by way of faith, a free gift.
And let me tell you something, that message just doesn’t go over well in contemporary America because we worship the achievers, the doers, those that accomplish things, those that accomplish great feats, whatever they may be, in literature, or finance, or politics or any realm. We love the winner, we love the work ethic, we love the achiever. And in this culture the gospel comes along and it’s very message is you are so far gone in your trespasses and sins that no human work can be possibly done by any of us to fix ourselves. We, contrary to what America thinks, cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
The only way to be made right with God is to receive something from Him as a gift. Let me tell you something: it’s a lot easier to give a gift than receive it. When we receive a gift it requires humility. It’s like when someone buys lunch what’s our natural reaction? Well, let me help you with the tip. And a lot of people are trying to help God with a “tip,” God, you bought lunch, here, let me throw in a few dollars to help things out.
The gospel won’t allow that, and consequently the gospel is a striking blow against the pride of man. And to teach the gospel correctly is hard in that climate because it’s a frontal assault on the way the natural man things. And Timothy likely was in this climate of people that wanted their ears tickled, as he’ll tell us later on in this letter that even the gospel message itself was offensive to them. [2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,  and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”]
And Timothy was tempted to shy away from the gospel. Most likely the temptation was preach part of the gospel but not the whole gospel. And Paul, who never succumbed to this temptation was very much afraid that Timothy was headed down that road. So “do not be ashamed” Timothy “of the testimony of our Lord,” do not be ashamed of evangelism or the message of suffering that all disciples must bear up under through God’s power.
There’s a second thing that Paul tells Timothy not to be ashamed of, he says, number 2, Paul says don’t be ashamed of “me,” the apostle Paul. Notice, if you will, the second part of verse 8, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me, His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.”
You’ll notice that Paul did not write this book from a luxurious Hilton penthouse suite. You’ll notice that he describes himself as a prisoner. This was not even the first imprisonment, this was the second imprisonment in Rome which was far more severe than the first imprisonment. There are no, with very few exceptions, guests that Paul is allowed to receive, there is no hope of an optimistic release as he expressed during his first imprisonment. There are very limited evangelistic opportunities. And Paul was put in this position because of his stand for the things of God.
And Timothy, no doubt, reasoned to himself, as he was in Ephesus, you know, my mentor just got thrown in prison for being bold for the gospel, if I get too close to Paul, if I get too close to his strategy, if I get too close to his ministry philosophy the same thing can happen to me, Timothy most likely thought. I too can be thrown in prison. And Timothy was, in a certain sense, ashamed of Paul.
And Paul is very clear here that if you publicly distance yourself from the suffering inherent in the gospel message to the disciple of Christ, you are altering the message. That is not the original message that has been entrusted to you; you are not to gravitate towards and preach part of the gospel, you are to preach all of the gospel. That’s part of the package—suffering.
Suffering doesn’t make us right before God; we get right before God by receiving what He has done as a free gift by way of faith. But as we grow in Christ suffering naturally comes. A servant is not greater than his master and as you publicly distance yourself from me, Paul says to Timothy, your changing that part of the message. [John 13:16, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” ESV]
You know, if you look across the ocean and you look at all of these people that are being beheaded and crucified for the cause of Christ, we read most regularly now and see even visual images in this age of technology in which we live, our brothers and sisters suffering greatly for the cause of Christ in other parts of the world. And there’s such an American tendency to shut our mind to that. Let’s just shut that off and not think about that, because America is sort of a bubble, if you will. We, for the last 200 plus years of our existence have been able to escape the suffering that is so easily imposed on other Christians in distant lands. And we have a tendency, consequently, as Americans, to want to change the message.
Yes, we’ll pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ but let’s not gravitate too much to these doctrines of suffering because what we have here in America is different and America is different; America is special, America is unique, there are things that we enjoy in this culture that are not enjoyed by any other culture. Yet that does not give us the right to alter the fundamental message of the cross.
Paul will explain to Timothy, later on in this book, 2 Timothy 3:12 that “all who seek to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” So Paul says don’t ignore me, don’t ignore the sufferings that I’m under, but Paul says to Timothy, come on in, the water is fine.
Notice what he says there in verse 8, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in the suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” Timothy, it’s part of the package, it’s part of the message, it’s part of the calling. You do not have a right, as a servant of God, to pick what parts are conducive to you and what parts aren’t. Suffering will come so don’t be embarrassed about what has happened to me; I am directly in the will of God and you need to be in the will of God as well and see the whole package for what it is.
But here’s something I’ll promise you, Timothy, if you come and join me in this cause of suffering you are going to discover something that you’ve never experienced before and what is that suffering? It is “according to the power of God.” The Greek word for power here is dunamis, where we get the word dynamite; it speaks of explosive power. And what Paul is saying to Timothy is this: as you come and enter your calling of suffering you’ll discover a source, or a reservoir of power that will sustain you that you never thought possible.
You know Paul, like Jesus, went through many, many sufferings and Paul spoke of this in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul writes, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
You see, Paul had something called a “thorn in the flesh.” The word “thorn” there in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 is a reference to a stake; you think of a sharp stake pushed into somebody’s skin. People speculate as to what it is, was it a health problem, was it an emotional problem, was it a relational problem? [2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.  And he has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”]
We really don’t know, but whatever it was it caused him pain, and in fact this pain was so severe that Paul, in that chapter, pleaded with God three times to take it away. Take it away—God said no. Take it away—God said no. Take it away—God said no. And then God said something very interesting, He said I’m not promising to take you problem away, what I am promising you is this: “My grace is sufficient for you.” [2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”]
As we enter the realm of suffering we discover a reservoir or the dunamis power of God, which enables us in a miraculous sense to stand up, endure, in the midst of suffering. God never promises to remove suffering; what He promises is the power is available to sustain yourself, or better said, for God to sustain you as you enter suffering.
And how can you ever know that that power is there unless you go through suffering? Show me a Christian that never goes through any form of suffering and I’ll show you a Christian that only has an intellectual knowledge of the power of God. And how God is pushing us away from simply an intellectual knowledge of His power to something far more meaningful, an experiential knowledge of His power. Only the Christian that enters this realm of difficulty and has nothing to draw upon, has nothing to rely upon but God Himself, only that type of Christian or believer can know anything about this dunamis power of God, this reservoir of power that is available to us in the midst of suffering.
Timothy, God loves you so much that He wants you to experience this and the only way you’re going to experience it is if you enter suffering along with me. Until you accept the calling upon your life to suffer you will be left with a very shallow understanding of the power of God. You will understand it intellectually but you will not understand it experientially.
We look at suffering as the greatest evil that can happen to us. God says no, it’s actually your friend, it’s your blessing. It enables you to access a dimension and a quality of spiritual life which formerly you’ve never been able to access. You know why? Because a Christian that does not suffer is used to relying on his or her natural self, talents, money, whatever, relationships, whatever things he may have going for him or her in the flesh to get through tough times. But until those props are kicked out from under us, until we have nothing to depend upon but God Himself, only then is this reservoir of power accessible, understandable, available. Only then does a Christian experience this. So as Paul writes to Timothy he says don’t be ashamed of evangelism, don’t be ashamed of me either, a prisoner of the Lord.
As we go down to verses 9-14, only looking today at verses 9 and 10, he says, number 3, do not be ashamed of the gospel. Why is that? Because the gospel, number 1, has benefits, verses 9-10. [Verse 9, “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 granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.
 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”]
There are things the gospel can do for you that no other source of truth can. Number 2, Paul, because of what the gospel was, was intimately connected to it, verses 11-12. [11, “for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.  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’s whole life revolved around the gospel and he explains that in verses 11 and 12. And then finally that paragraph concludes with a very strong exhortation to guard the gospel. Why guard the gospel? Because the gospel brings with it power and benefits which aren’t available in any other message. And consequently when the message of the gospel is tampered with, it ceases to be the gospel and it becomes emptied, or devoid, if you will, of the power of God.
What are the four benefits of the gospel? We will do these this morning. Number 1, it’s saving power, verse 9. Number 2, it is a manifestation of the grace of God, verse 9. Number 3, it is eternal, verse 9. And then finally, number 4, the gospel does something to help a nagging condition of the human race which is death. The gospel is your only ticket, if you will, to conquer death.
So let’s look at these one by one, the benefits of the gospel. Notice first of all the gospel’s saving power. This is why Timothy should not be ashamed of its message. Notice verse 9, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”
Number 1, the gospel has saving power. This is why Jesus is called our Savior. In fact, salvation can be described in three tenses; most people think of the gospel as something you believe in and escape hell, and that’s only part of the message. There’s a past tense, a present tense, and a future tense of deliverance or salvation only through the gospel.
The first tense of our salvation is justification, where we, at the point of faith in an instant of time are saved from sin’s penalty. And you’ll notice there at the bottom of the screen some verses that used “saved” in the past tense, Ephesians 2:8-9. [Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”]
But then we grow as Christians and we have difficulty in our Christian life because we have within us the new nature that wants to do the right thing but have you noticed that the old nature just doesn’t disappear and die. The temptations and the yearnings of the old nature are always pulling us backward as God’s people. And so it’s necessary to move into a middle tense of our salvation, the present tense of our salvation, called sanctification, or progressive sanctification, where we are gradually being delivered from sin’s power as we walk by faith moment by moment and yield to the resources of the Holy Spirit that is within us moment by moment. And that’s a process, that requires learning, that requires perpetual obedience, that requires understanding the power of the old nature yet the power of the resources within us.
So that middle tense of our salvation some make great strides in, others do not, but is a process that we are all in until our dying day and then will come the third tense of our salvation called glorification, where we will be delivered from sin’s very presence. In fact, once that happens the old nature that’s in me won’t even exist anymore. The old nature exists as long as I am in this body but the time in history comes when out of this body, in a glorified body, without even a desire to go back into sin. And we are delivered from sin’s presence at that point; it occurs either at death or the rapture of the church, whichever comes first.
You’ll notice in Romans 5:10 that “saved” is used in the future tense, just like Philippians 2:12 uses “saved” in the present tense, just like Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 uses saved in the past tense.
[Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Philippians 2:12, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”]
So I have been saved, justification; I am being saved, sanctification; I will be saved, glorification. That’s salvation, that is what God offers us in the gospel. And we have been called into this gospel. You’ll notice there in verse 9, He “saved us and called us.” See, there are many things God has done for us before we even believed in Him. Romans 8:29-30 says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called,” that’s the word that’s used here, those “whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified.”
How interesting it is that even prior to justification by faith alone God has already done three things. He’s foreknown us, He’s predestined us, Paul here is focusing on our calling, the Spirit of God comes upon us through conviction, which is what we were praying earlier in the baby dedication, that the Spirit of God would come upon this young life at a very early age and she would respond in faith to the gospel. God does not believe for us, He can’t believe through a pastor, He can’t believe through parents, although parents can create, as I tried to say earlier, the right climate through which faith can one day be exercised through godly living and godly teaching. And how the church can cooperate with a young family, helping them in that respect. But Paul says we were called into this, we heard this, we came under the conviction of the Spirit, we responded by way of faith and consequently we are now saved, we are in the realm of salvation and the gospel.
You’ll notice also there in verse 9, He “saved us and called us,” notice this, “with a holy calling.” We are not getting enough messages today in the evangelical church on holiness. Happiness is in, holiness is out in the current fads that we find ourselves. Yet the calling that we have in Christ is a holy calling. Holiness has two dimensions to it; there is something called positional holiness where the righteousness of Jesus Christ is transferred to our account at the moment of faith in Christ and consequently God sees us with the same purity that He looks upon His own Son. If you have trusted in Christ positionally you are just as righteous to God the Father as is Jesus Christ Himself.
You say well, I certainly don’t deserve that, and you’re right, you don’t, none of us do. It’s a gift, it’s been transferred to us. It’s our new identity. Paul writes this in the book of Philippians, chapter 3, verse 9, after a life of self-righteousness, Paul finally says “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,” see many people today believe that they are righteous before God through some kind of undertaking on their own behalf, through their own efforts. Paul is very clear, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”
You talk about a guy prior to his conversion who was totally wrapped up in self-righteousness it would be the Apostle Paul when his name was Saul. He felt that through his own actions and efforts and his zeal and his tribal identity and his role as a Pharisee and all of these things, that that somehow gave him standing before God. Paul, earlier in this book, calls such teachings skubala. What does that mean? It means manure in Greek, that’s the actual meaning of the word. [Philippians 3:8, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”]
All of that self-righteousness he calls dung, animal excrement, in comparison to what he learned that he now possessed because of faith in Christ, it dawned on him that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that his righteousness, which he had from God, was not based on what he had done, it was based on what he had received as a free gift. And what a revolution that is into the thinking of a Pharisee; what a revolution that is into the thinking of a self-righteousness person. What a revolution that is into a person that is religious in nature and thinks that somehow what they do earns them some kind of merit before God. And so consequently Paul experienced positionally holiness.
And then Paul says you know what? Maybe my practice should catch up with my position. I mean, if I’m really holy before God maybe that should alter some of the decisions I make in this world in which I live. Maybe I should turn down, under God’s resources, the yearnings of the old nature, because if I go back to the old nature, which is still a possibility for a Christian, if I go back to the old nature then I’m not really living according to my new identity. In fact, I am like what the book of James says, I look in the mirror, I move away from the mirror and I forgot what I looked like. [James 1:23-24, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;  for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”]
That’s a description of a Christian that goes back to the sin nature. They simply are not living according to their identity; they are living beneath who they are, they are living beneath their privileges and this is what we call practical righteousness. Paul spoke frequently about practical righteousness. He wrote to the Romans in Romans 6:12-14, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,” notice Paul, as a saved man, still had lusts of the flesh, which he could return to. He didn’t have to return to it but the yearning is there. And then he writes in Romans 6:13, “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
You know, if you go back, Paul says, if I go back, if any of us go back, we still have that positional holiness but practical holiness disappears. We forget our identity, we forget who we are. And so what has the gospel brought to Paul? What has the gospel brought to Timothy? What has the gospel brought to all of us? It is a calling by which God calls us with a holy calling. It’s not about happiness; it’s not about self-help. It’s not about getting my needs met. Now I’m not against any of those things, I believe in His providence and timing supplies many of those things, but that is not the dominant thrust of this passage.
The dominant thrust of this passage is holiness; holiness which you have and therefore the choices we make in life should be different, shouldn’t they. What has the gospel done? It has, number 1, saved us; number 2, called us; number 3, it has given us this holy calling. All of that under the category—saving power.
But the gospel, number 2, also does something else for us. Notice again verse 9, “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ….” The second thing the gospel does for us is it gives us grace. Paul is very clear here, not according to works. You know, we throw around these words so frequently many times we lose sight of what they mean. What is grace? Grace, simply stated, is the unmerited favor of God; it is receiving something from God that you did not earn nor deserve, it is given to you as a gift.
And how the Adamic nature recoils against God’s grace because the old sin nature with its pride always seeks to earn something from God. The sin nature always seeks to enthrone self somehow. And that’s why this gospel is a gospel of an offense; you cannot pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. You cannot save yourself! You cannot fix yourself, even in the self-help culture you can’t fix yourself. You can only rest or trust, by way of grace in what God has done for you.
Ephesians 2:8-9, you all know the passage, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” You say I’ve got that one down, I’ve memorized it. You’ll spend your whole life on that verse because your sin nature is counter intuitive to everything that verse says. You will fight and struggle within yourself that somehow the grace of God doesn’t apply to you because your self-righteousness is not enough; you will fight and struggle within yourself to let me add something to the equation. That’s what the sin nature does. That’s why the gospel is an offense, because our whole program with God comes from unmerited favor.
Romans 11:6 puts it this way: “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” You add one human work to the gospel, you’ve just changed it. You add a single work, such as let me do something, let me show some emotion, let me sorrow in some way, let me give up something, let me give money, me, me, me, let me do this, let me do that. It’s a different gospel. And yet those types of mixed gospels are so popular today. Why are they popular? Because they appeal to the prideful sinful tendency in man, God bought lunch, let me leave the tip.
When Jesus said “It is finished!” there’s no tip to leave. What part of “It is finished” do we not understand? “It is finished” means completed. The transaction that Christ has accomplished for us is over, “It is finished,” the only thing left to do is to receive it as a gift. How do you receive a gift from God? God has set this up so there’s only one way to receive it: by faith.
Romans 4:4-5, Paul says this: “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.” You show up at your job Monday through Friday and you get your pay check twice a month or once a month, however it works, and you say to your employer, thanks for the gift? Of course not, because you logged in hours and effort away from what you’d rather be doing, home with your family or somewhere; you spend hours on the job to earn this pay check. We all know that a pay check is not a gift. That’s what Paul’s point is.
“Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.” Notice the underlined portion “But to the one who does not work, but” does what? Believes. “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” There’s only one way to get in on the bottom floor with this gospel and it is to receive it as a gift. In the mind of God there is only one way to receive this gift and that’s to believe, or to have faith in. Synonyms would be to trust in, to rely upon, to have confidence in.
And any gospel presentation that adds another verb to that equation is not the gospel. It is a human work, of sorts, which perverts the gospel from its original meaning. Isaiah 64:6 says this: “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” How does God look at self-righteousness? It’s a “filthy garment.” It is something before Him that is simply unacceptable. The only thing He will accept is the perfection of His Son who said, “It is finished!” Who seeks to transfer the righteousness of Christ to us in a nanosecond if we will simply come to God, not on our own terms but on His terms, which is to believe, which is the only way in the thinking of God to receive this gift.
And this gift, you’ll notice there in verse 9 is available only in Christ Jesus, “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 granted,” now notice who’s doing the granting, God is, He’s the giver for the receiver, “who had granted us” these things “in Christ Jesus.” This offer of salvation is found “in Christ Jesus” alone is what Paul is saying.
You know, the early church could have gotten along hunky-dory with the Roman Empire if they had just said Jesus and instead of using the definite article “the” substitute it with the little letter “a”, Jesus is a way, if they had just done that they could have gotten along fine with everybody. There wouldn’t have been a Neronian persecution or anything else because the Romans could have had their deities, the Jews could have had their system, the Roman citizens could have had their own gods and deities and plans, just say “a” not “the.”
And there’s such a temptation in Timothy to change the wording. I mean, you’ll pack the place out if you just make this change. And everybody will be your friend, everybody will be happy and you won’t have to worry about imprisonment and incarceration. And we know how the story ended; the early church did not change the message, which has been handed to us. And how Paul is so fearful that Timothy might alter it and if it’s altered the truth cannot go from one generation to the next like relay runners passing off a baton.
Jesus said this: “I am the way,” notice the definite article, “the truth, the life,” if that weren’t clear enough he says, “No one comes to the Father but through Me.” [John 14:6]
Paul, in Acts 4:12 puts it this way: Luke records Peter in Acts 4:12 saying this: “”And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Paul, in his prior letter to Timothy writes this, 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Do we understand the pressure that we are being put under today in America, theologically, to alter the gospel and to make it just a tad more inclusive? The whole culture is saying to us, in fact, the whole culture is screaming to us the only thing that matters is if you’re sincere; as long as you mean well and your heart is sincere who are we to say that one path to God is correct and one path to God is incorrect?
Let me tell you something very much from the heart; you can be sincere about something but sincerely wrong in what you believe. The prophets of Baal, who cut themselves in hopes that their gods would answer like Elijah’s God was about to answer, the prophets of Baal who sliced their own skin were very sincere people. In fact, they were out there, if I remember correctly, hours, all night long, screaming, yelling, moaning, to the point where they were slicing themselves. You talk about sincerity, they had it. But there was no answer because they were sincere about something yet sincerely wrong.
Sincerity, when it comes to truth is almost irrelevant unless you’re sincere about what is truth, something becomes true or doesn’t become true based on the sincerity of its adherents or advocates, truth is truth regardless of human reaction to it.
And you get into this whole subject of the emergent church, you get into this whole subject of the ecumenical movement that is sweeping the country and the world and it’s always the same temptation, just change the message, get rid of the exclusivity of it. It just isn’t PC to talk in these terms. And where would we be today if Timothy had changed the message. Where is the next generation going to be if we in this generation change the message? What, then is the gospel of God? It is number 1, saving power. Number 2, it is a manifestation of God’s grace. Next week we will see it is eternal and we’ll also be spending a lot of time on verse 10,which explains that the gospel does something that has plagued humanity since the fall in Eden. It actually conquers death itself. And so we’ll be looking at those things.
It’s possible that you could be here visiting and unaware of how to enter into a relationship with God. As we said in the sermon today entering into a relationship with God is called good news because Jesus did all of it. “It is finished.” And so we simply come under the conviction of the Spirit and we respond by way of faith to what Jesus has done. People throughout the ages have been trying to enter into a relationship with God their own way, the Frank Sinatra approach to spirituality, “I did it my way.” That doesn’t wash with God. You have to come His way or you can’t come. And don’t shoot the messenger; it’s in the book.
So if you’re here today and you don’t know Christ personally our hope and prayer is that the Spirit of God, as He places you under conviction, to respond to this message of the gospel the best way you know how. It’s not something you have to raise a hand to do, walk an aisle to do, join a church to do, give money to do, but it’s a private moment between you and the Lord where you receive what He has done for you. You receive it the only way it can be received, by way of faith, as a gift. You’re trusting in Christ and Christ alone for the safekeeping of your soul and your eternity; you are no longer trusting in yourself, you’re no longer trusting in another source but you’re trusting exclusively in Christ. Becoming a Christian is a one-step program. You can do it right now as I am speaking, the best you know how; believe or trust in this gospel If it’s something that you want more information on I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, we are grateful for this ancient book and how it deals with the same temptations that we are faced with today. Help us, Lord, to walk out truth this week as we rely upon You as we go through suffering and as we don’t tamper with the message but faithfully give this message to other people. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said….