Drinking Deeply

Monday, April 03, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Rethinking memory verses 2 Timothy 1:7

2 Timothy 1
3I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

This verse jumped out at me:
7"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. "
This is a verse well loved by John Eldridge in his book Wild at Heart. Unfortunately, he took this verse well out of context.

What John Eldridge said about the verse was that it was telling us to take risks, to take our lives into our own hands, with power. I could talk more about the book and how it abuses Scripture, but you can examine the reviews yourself at the Diet of Bookworms.

Back to the passage. What does "power" here really mean? Let's examine the context.
5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
Paul is writing to Timothy, telling him how encouraged Paul has been by how much Timothy has grown spiritually, demonstrating a faith that makes Paul sure that it dwells within Timothy. Because Timothy has demosntrated this faith so clearly, he reminds Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands. Now, this passage itself is not explicit what this gift is, but the rest of the book as well as 1 Timothy show us that this gift is the gift of teaching and preaching.

1 Timothy 4:13-15 states it like this:
13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.
Public reading, exhortation, to teaching, these are all part of the duties of a preacher.

Timothy is a preacher, and Paul is saying simply "Preach boldly!" On top of that, there is a strong echoing of 1 Timothy 4:12: "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. " Preach boldly even though you are young! Rather, set an example by your conduct, having a spirit of power, love and self-control.

Continuing the passage, we get a sense for what this "power" really means.
8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God
Don't be afraid of the testimony about our Lord. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel! Why does Paul speak thus? For he knows the truth himself:

Romans 1:16 states:
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.
Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power for salvation to all who believe! Who would be ashamed of this? This is the power for salvation!

On top of this, Paul writes "nor [be ashamed] nof me." Why would Timothy be ashamed of Paul? Because Paul is suffering for the Gospel, as Paul writes a few verses lower:
11I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12which is why I suffer as I do.
No. Paul is certainly not ashamed of his chains. Why? He is not ashamed because He knows that God has called him (appointed) to do so, that his job would entail suffering. And though he suffers, the Gospel is not bound.

He writes later in in 2 Timothy 2:
8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
Yes, Paul is suffering for the Gospel, but the Gospel is being preached, it will not be bound by the chains that bound Paul. So Paul encourages Timothy not to be ashamed of Paul. Just because Paul is bound does not mean that the Word is bound!

Continuing:
"but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God"
Do you remember that power in verse 7?
7"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. "
This verse gives us the answer to our original question: "What is the power?"

Only one verse later, Paul makes it clear: The spirit of power is the spirit to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. Thus the command is clear:

Timothy! Because you have been charged as a preacher of the Word, preach the Word! Preach it boldly and fearlessly! God has given you a spirit of power, a power to suffer for it. You will endure! Through all trials and tribulations, through chains dear Timothy, suffer for the Gospel. Set the example for all others in your sufferings, in your love, in your self control. Be a defender of the Word!

I cannot help but be reminded of the story of Abdul Rahman, who was an Afgan who had converted to Christianity and was under the death penalty because he had converted.

At the bottom of the article, what does it say?
Rahman, meanwhile, said he was fully aware of his choice and was ready to die for it, according to an interview published Sunday in an Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

"I am serene. I have full awareness of what I have chosen. If I must die, I will die," Abdul Rahman told the Rome daily, responding to questions sent to him via a human rights worker who visited him in prison.

"Somebody, a long time ago, did it for all of us," he added in a clear reference to Jesus.

May God grant us all that faith to die for the Gospel, to die in order that others may live, to say with Paul that we "endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." To His name be all glory.

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Blogger ts said...

perhaps, but then again it might be refering to moving the kingdom of God forward forcefully, with power.

matthew 11:11-12
11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

the kjv uses the word "violent" ...

12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

perhaps it's this mindset that paul is talking about. not so much suffering the assault of the enemy as violently assaulting the devil's strongholds. in that light, paul would be telling timothy, "hey, don't shrink back, but remember your calling and the power of the Holy Spirit which is in you to forcefully advance the kingdom of God."  

~

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