From today on let’s look at the second letter to Timothy. This is the last letter that Paul wrote. It is thought that he probably wrote it around 66 A.D. just before Paul’s martyrdom. At this time Paul was shut up in the Roman underground prison. If you look at Acts 28:30 and 31, Paul who had come to Rome “for two whole years…stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” After this he was temporarily set free and he went as far as Spain preaching the Gospel. Then when he returned again to Rome, he was arrested by the Roman emperor Nero and was shut up in the Roman underground prison. The place was a poor environment made of carved out rock and no sunlight came in at all. Under such conditions Paul who knew that his time of death was near wrote this letter to his disciple, Timothy. He really wanted to talk to him in person, but in his situation that didn’t seem possible so he wrote this letter telling what he really wanted to say. These last words of Paul were written with his death right before his eyes so they really carry considerable weight. He wrote what he really wanted to say badly. What was it that Paul really wanted to say?
Already we have seen some things in the first letter that he wrote to Timothy. In today’s passage Paul is advising not to become timid. Please look at chapter 1 verse 6. Here it says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Apparently Timothy was timid and lacked confidence. This may have come from him being young and so he may have lacked confidence in his relationships with the elders. It also may have come from the troubles and anxiety of dealing with false teachers. Even though the reason is not clear, it is apparent that a lack of confidence was a serious problem for Timothy. The flame of “the gift of God” is about to go out. Paul is warning Timothy that that must not happen. “The gift of God which is in” (6) Timothy “through the laying on of” (6) Paul’s hands must not become cold. It must be fanned into a flame again. That is because “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (7) Today let’s look at three aspects of how we can overcome fear and “fan into flame the gift of God.” (6)
- The promise of life has been given (Vs. 1,2)
First please look at verses 1 and 2. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Here Paul says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” (1) He didn’t become an apostle because he thought he would become or wanted to be an apostle. He became “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” (1) Everything is “by the will of God.” (1) If we know that then we don’t fall into complaining and dissatisfaction or self-pity. For Timothy the pastorship of the Ephesian church was extremely difficult. However, it was “by the will of God” (2) that he became the Ephesian Church pastor. If you know that what you are doing is “by the will of God” (1) then you can certainly overcome the difficulties and moreover, you can be thankful.
Also here it says that Paul became an apostle “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” (1) This is according to the promise of eternal “life that is in Christ Jesus.” (1) Those who believe in Jesus Christ are promised eternal life. If we believe that then there is no need to fear anything. We go this way and that way according to what is before us because we think that the things of this world are everything. However, if we look to heaven, “according to the promise of life” we can overcome all difficulties.
Paul says the following in II Corinthians 4:16 to 5:9: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened. Because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”
Paul says here, “our light and momentary troubles”. (II Cor. 4:17) Really they are not “light and momentary troubles”. (II Cor. 4:17) They are very heavy! However, when they are seen from the perspective of eternity, these difficulties diminish in importance and weight. The eternal glory “far outweighs them all.” (II Cor. 4:17) Those who believe in the Savior Jesus Christ are promised this “eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (II Cor. 4:17) That is “an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (II Cor. 5:1) Now certainly on this earth while we are in this earthly body we carry many kinds of loads and groan, but when in the course of time there will come a time when our physical body will perish and at that time we will enter into our “eternal house in heaven”. (II Cor. 5:1)
Paul accepted this at face value. Therefore, no matter what happened he was not moved. Even though he was tortured from all sides, he never reached the end of his rope. That was because he believed that even if he died, living life, eternal life, would be given to him.
Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ, who is in Christ, will live, even though he dies. Of course Christian’s bodies will perish, but their souls will definitely not die. For Christians death is like moving. We move from this earth to heaven. This is a much more wonderful place than this earth. It’s more wonderful than Hawaii! It is so much more wonderful that it is incomparable. That is the eternal kingdom in heaven. In the course of time when Christ comes again we will receive an unperishable spiritual body and for eternity praise and worship the Lord. Our physical body becomes tired, sick, commits sin, and groans a lot from being far from perfect. However, the body that we will receive in the course of time is imperishable, a perfect body. We will receive such a body. Therefore, for Christians death is something to look forward to, something that we can hardly wait for. Of course, there is the loneliness of being temporarily away from our families on this earth, but we know that in the course of time we will be able to meet again in heaven so we can overcome that sadness.
In general when we say that a person has died, we say that “he passed away”. However, for Christians he hasn’t “passed away”, but he has only just “moved away”. He has moved from this earth to heaven. Now he is living in heaven. For Christians death is only the entrance to the glorious heaven. On this earth the last moment is linked to the first moment in heaven. When we close our eyes for the last time on this earth, in the next moment when we open our eyes we will see Jesus’ face. That is Paradise. Therefore, it is only natural that we would want to go to heaven. Paul said, “I desire to depart and be with Christ.” (Phil. 1:23) I can understand his feelings. This promise of life is given to all Christians.
We want a better life, to be richer, to have fun, to enjoy life, a life without any inconveniences. We want to be healthier, more beautiful, and have a more enjoyable life. Of course, to think like this is not bad, but if you obsessed with it, you uselessly waste money, time and strength. However, if we know not only about life on this earth, but also that eternal life has been given to us, it is no longer necessary for us to dwell upon such a manner of living. At the time Paul wrote this letter he was shut up in the Roman underground prison. Even though he was in such a poor environment, he was thankful from his heart to the Lord. That was because he believed in the promise of eternal life. All is in the will of God. To live and to die is all in the hands of God. If we know that even if we die that a living life has been given to us, then that is also gain. Therefore, we can put all in God’s hand. “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) Therefore, it is not necessary for Christians to worry about anything. To be alive in this world in and of itself is thankfulness. To die is also Hallelujah! That’s because we know we are going to heaven. Paul is trying to tell Timothy this.
- Night and day you are remembered in prayer (vs. 3,4)
The second point is about prayer. Please look at verses 3 and 4. “I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.”
Paul constantly remembered Timothy in his prayers both at night and day. Paul was in an underground prison so he may not have known when it was day or when it was night. However, in any case, he was always praying for Timothy. For Christians there is no greater encouragement than intercessory prayer. Paul knew well Timothy’s personality and also the situation he was in so it wasn’t just customary prayer, but he could pray from his heart seeking God’s help. Even though he was in the prison, even if he was tied by chains, he could pray. Not only that, but Paul’s personal prayers were night and day, 24 hours a day. He constantly remembered Timothy. How great an encouragement that was for Timothy!
Now he is in heaven, but Rev. Kuester who was the pastor of the Calvary Baptist church of Gardena that sent out my wife to Japan in 1979 always remembered us in prayer. Several years after Rev. Kuester retired when we visited in his home in Oakhurst near Yosemite. Rev. Kuester brought out a really worn out paper asking whether or not any of the prayers requests had been answered or not and if we had any new requests. The paper was a monthly prayer calendar that my wife had made many years ago when we gave a report at Calvary Baptist church of Gardena when Rev. Kuester was still pastoring there. Rev. Kuester had been praying for us every day with that calendar for years! We realized how much we were supported by prayer! That was such an encouragement for us!
However, what we must not forget that more importantly Jesus Christ is praying for us. Please open your Bibles to Romans 8:34. “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Jesus Christ is sitting “at the right hand of God and is also interceding for” (Romans 8:34) you.
Also let’s open our Bibles to Hebrews 7:24 and 25. Here it says, “But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” A priest is a person that intercedes for us. Christ as a priest that “lives forever” (Hebrews 7:24) and is alive now too, lives to intercede for us.
Verse 4 says, “Recalling your tears.” Jesus recalls your tears. Just as Paul knew Timothy so well, rather more than that, Jesus knows you well and “Recalling your tears” intercedes for you.
In ancient Christianity there was a great theologian named St. Augustine. Until he was saved at the age of 33 he led a pretty terrible life. His mother was a Christian, but to her dismay Augustine left the church and became an active follower of a pagan religion called Manichaeanism. At about the age of 19, Augustine began an affair with a young woman in Carthage. The woman remained his lover for over thirteen years and gave birth to his son, Adeodatus. The person whose heart ached over this was his mother, Monica, who was a Christian. She prayed endlessly for her son. She prayed, and prayed, and prayed. She was greatly encouraged by a certain holy bishop. He saw Monica praying with tears and consoled her with the now famous words, “the child of those tears shall never perish.” Monica ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity after 17 years of resistance. He was baptized in April when he was 33 years old. His mother, Monica, died that year in the Fall. Truly because of his mother’s prayers the great theologian of the ancient church, St. Augustine was born.
Jesus Christ recalls your tears. He knows you well and even now is praying for you. There is no greater encouragement than this.
There is a Japanese Christian song called “Don’t forget”. The words of the song are: Don’t forget that always Jesus is watching over you. Therefore always keep a smile in your heart.
However, someday a violent storm will blow away your smile. Therefore always let the Word of God slip out from your heart.
Don’t forget that the night of sadness will change to the hope of morning to quickly get back your constant smile.
Don’t forget that Jesus is praying for you. If so then you will receive courage and strength and no matter how violent of a storm comes upon you, you will be able to overcome and can have joy and peace in your heart. If the Word of God doesn’t slip out of your heart, the night of sadness will change to the hope of morning.
- You have been given a sincere faith (Vs. 5-7)
The third point is to remember that you have been given a sincere faith. Please look at verse 5. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded now lives in you also.
Here Paul is reminded of Timothy’s faith. The reason that Paul is reminded of Timothy’s faith is as verse 6 says, “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,” by being reminded of his faith Paul wanted to encourage Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) once again. Then Paul says that Timothy’s faith is a “sincere faith.” (5) This “sincere faith” (6) is a real faith. Paul is saying that therefore, Timothy must stand on that faith. That is because this faith will help him overcome his difficulties. There is a saying, “Remember your original intention.” When we walk in faith various unimportant things get stuck on our faith and without notice we become separated from this pure faith. Our pure faith falls into impure faith. However, if we stand in pure faith we can “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) again. We won’t have to worry about the various voices around us, and just stand firmly on the pure faith that the Lord has given us.
Let’s look at how Timothy was given pure faith. Here it says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded now lives in you also.” (5) It lived in his grandmother and mother and that faith was passed down to Timothy. Probably they entered into the faith when Paul went to Lystra on his first missionary trip. The family was brought up and supported well by that faith. Therefore when Paul visited Lystra the second time Timothy joined the ministry. Timothy’s mother, Eunice was a Jewish Christian and his father a pagan Greek. Even in the midst of this he made the Gospel of Christ an important part of his life. “Lois” means “a person that gives a good feeling” and “Eunice” means “a good victory”. Timothy’s family through the Gospel of Jesus Christ was given a good feeling and victory. From this a pure faith grew up.
From this we can see how important it is to pass down the faith. So that a pure faith like Timothy is grown up we need to think once more about what faith in the family should be like. Then since such a pure faith is given we must continue to stand on it. If so, we will not be shaken up by circumstances, but by receiving God’s help and power we can rise up.
Please look at verse 6. Here Paul says, “For this reason I remind you.” “For this reason” (6) is referring to the contents of verse 1 and on. In other words, it is that the promise of eternal life has been given to Timothy. It is also that Timothy is being prayed for day and night. Also he has been given a pure faith. Therefore, he must “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) again. The flame is about to go out because Timothy had forgotten to fan it. He had been depending on his own knowledge and power rather than God’s knowledge and power. Rather than being God centered he had been pastoring by human opinion. The real solution can be brought by God only. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (7) By God’s Spirit we can “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) and can work with confidence and power.
In what areas do you lack confidence? Work? Health? Human relationships? Financial? We have many kinds of fear. However, such fears cause the “gift of God” (6) to burn out. Who you must fear is God who has power to throw your soul into hell. We must fear God. If you fear God, then there is nothing to be fearful of on this earth. Paul wasn’t fearful before the Roman emperor Nero. That’s because he knew what God had given him. That was not “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (7) “Self-discipline” (7) includes an ability to make calm decisions. Here Paul says, “For God did not give us.” (7) “Us” (7) also includes Paul himself. Such things were given to Paul so he was not fearful.
This can be said of us too. We too have been given “a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (7) Therefore, it is not necessary to be fearful of anything. Rather, let’s pray seeking the power from above and that the flame of love will burn more and more. Also then while examining all of our actions by a calm knowledge, let’s “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) This is what Paul with martyrdom right in front of his eyes wanted to say so badly.