The gospel with the message of salvation was at the heart and core of apostolic preaching.
If the Church in its ministry — either through its called ministers or through the individual witness of each Christ-believer — is to remain true to its apostolic roots, the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus must remain the focus of what is taught.
In the distressful days in which we live, opposition to the gospel will increase. For our own personal comfort as well as for encouragement to be bold witnesses, we take heart from Paul.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” — 2 Timothy 2:15
Hardly can circumstances be more dire for us than they were for the apostle Paul, who wrote his last letter to Timothy from prison. It is clear from this epistle that Paul anticipated the end of his ministry as well as of his life
(2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Nevertheless, Paul was not going out embittered, defeated, or without confidence. To the contrary! “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day…” (v. 8). Paul anticipated his future with hope and confidence.
So it is for us if we appreciate what the apostle says, for what Paul anticipated with confidence will be given “also to all who have loved His appearing.”
As we listen to the apostle carefully, we as God’s waiting, redeemed children do have a future – one of which we may be confident.
Paul was not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). The eighth verse of our devotional text (2 Timothy 1:8-12) tells us that he was not ashamed to tell about his Lord. The apostle was not soliciting sympathy in his plight; instead, he encouraged Timothy to share in witness to the Lord and the gospel with the confidence that the Lord would likewise exercise His gracious power in the ministry of Timothy.
Rather than lament over his present circumstances, Paul used the moment to give Timothy and the Church of believers reason to minister with confidence. He reiterated the reason for his hope and confidence in words which gave voice to the richness of the gospel—words that comfort also us in our distresses, while at the same time compelling each Christ-believer and the Church to witness to Jesus.
Words That Speak For Themselves!
The apostle’s words of comfort are so rich in substance and meaning that one prefers to let them speak for themselves. Read and reread them. Take a moment to ponder what Paul says as he encourages Timothy and the Church to “share 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 began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (Having read it once, read it again!)
Today we frequently hear that it really makes no difference what one believes so long as one believes something. We are not surprised then that the lives of so many are groundless, hopeless, and without direction.
Paul’s hope and confidence were not products of extraordinary intellect but were rooted in the gospel! “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” — the Day of Judgment.
Paul had entrusted the course of his ministry, the welfare of the Church, his personal welfare, his life, his soul, and his eternal wellbeing to the Lord. The Lord had called him to faith, had redeemed and sanctified him, and had called him into service. That same Lord would accompany him through the personal afflictions he was enduring, thus assuring the welfare of the Church as well as of fellow believers whom the apostle knew he would soon leave behind.
Paul was saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ—the Christ who had claimed him already in eternity. He was not ashamed of the Lord or of the gospel which had such power to create and sustain hope and confidence unto salvation.
Paul encouraged Timothy to such faith. By the power of the gospel Timothy was to pass on to others the selfsame gospel which begets such hope and confidence.
Thus as recipients of God’s grace we also are assured of our eternal inheritance. In the darkest of times we have a future! Such is the hope and confidence of all who know in whom they believe and trust in Him whose purpose and grace in Christ will not fail.
Even so, will we not assent to share in whatever affliction we are asked to bear as a consequence of sharing the gospel? The price we may be called on to pay for the privilege of proclaiming the gospel is more than covered by the grace of God. He shall bless all who know in whom they have believed. Such believers will share in the inheritance with the saints in heaven!