by Mike Ratliff
16 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. Romans 1:16 (NASB)
I have shared this before, but will do so again. When I first began this ministry, Possessing the Treasure, I was absolutely shocked not at the push-back against the Biblical truths I posted, but from where the majority of that push-back came. I had always assumed that those outside of the “Church” who hated God and hated his truth being presented as absolute would the ones who would be the most vicious and obstinate in their attacks, but I was wrong. The vast majority of the push-back, the back-stabbings, the most vicious, and absolutely evil attacks on the direct, clear meaning of God’s Word, exegetically and contextually presented here as God’s absolute truth came from what I would call “Religious Christians.”
That would trouble some, but I have learned from this that just because people claim to be in Christ does not mean that they really are. We see this in 1 John 2:18,19.
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:18-19 (NASB)
Paul ran into this a great deal in his ministry as well and we see this in his dealing with the Corinthian Church who had some there who opposed him to his face claiming he was not really an Apostle since he suffered so much. Of course those claims from some false teachers who came into that church teaching a false gospel and tried to move that church’s affections for Paul away from him to themselves while teaching a gospel of works righteousness and licentiousness.
In Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy, which would be his last, he knows he is about to be martyred. He knows also the reason, which is the gospel. Carefully read these two passages along with my commentary.
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, 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, 10 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, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:8-14 (NASB)
Paul is a prisoner in Rome. In v9 we read that all who are in Christ are “called..with a holy calling“. This is the goal of God’s election (our sanctification) which we see in Ephesians 1:4. Also, this salvation is, “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” Our salvation is by grace through faith not by human effort or merit (Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:4-6). This salvation was “according to His own purpose.” God’s decree and work of redemption is based solely on His own purpose and good pleasure. Elsewhere, this divine purpose is identified in terms of mercy (Titus 3:5) and love (Eph. 1:4,5). Our salvation was, “granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” This tells us that the divine decree of redemption through Christ is from eternity (Eph. 1:4; Titus 1:2; 1 Pet 1:20; Rev.13:8). This emphasizes that our salvation is entirely by of grace and not at all in response to or grounded upon our efforts. In v10 Paul is referring to our Lord’s incarnation in His first coming. He. is the Mediator of the covenant of grace (Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6). Also in v10, “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” This is through His death and resurrection (Heb. 2:14, 15; Rev. 1:18). In vv11-12, “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.” Here we see that Paul knows that his calling and obedience to that calling is the very reason for his suffering. However, he is not ashamed. Why? He knows His Savior and because of that his view and hope is in eternity not in the temporal. He then then encourages Timothy in vv 13-14 to emulate him in the same power of the Holy Spirit that he has and that means he will probably suffer for it as well.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NASB)
Paul’s mission was to obey our Lord in ministry and that was to preach the Gospel, plant churches and minster to our Lord’s people. He did that and it caused him to be arrested and would ultimately cause his martyrdom. However, Paul accepts the inevitability of his death, even if it may still be several months away. His sense of completion in this second imprisonment differs markedly from his exception of release to carry on further ministry when he wrote Philippians (Phil. 1:24-26; 2:24). Notice how he says his being poured out as a drink offering. This is a metaphor of death (cf. Phil 2:17) which comes from the OT sacrificial system.
I want to close this post with Paul exhortation to Timothy from 2 Timothy 4:1-5. It should be for us as well.
1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 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, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB)
That passage describes our time perfectly and we should be doing exactly as Paul commands Timothy.
Soli Deo Gloria!