Suffering for the Gospel
As Paul writes his last words, he encourages Timothy to remember the gospel in kind of a strange way: he urges Timothy to join with him in suffering for the gospel. Is there a different way to see suffering? In this message, we’ll see how God empowers us to maintain His perspective. This passage will help us understand how treasuring the gospel changes the way we see life by setting our eyes on Jesus.
My name is John. I’m one of the pastors here on staff. Thank you for being here with us at Lifepoint. One of the things that you will hear from us at Lifepoint quite a bit is that ‘We exist to influence people to find and follow Jesus’. That’s our mission. That’s what we’re all about and everything that we do should flow from that. Everything that we talk about should be related to that. That’s what we want everybody to hear. And they say about the time that we’re tired of saying it, is about the time that people start to remember it. So we’re just going to keep on saying it. But we hope that you hear that over and over again.
The goal of influencing people to find and follow Jesus is that we would become Christ-like influencers. That’s what we want to do. We want to become Christ-like influencers. We want to be influencing people looking like Jesus in our lives and influencing other people to do the same thing. And so in order to do that, we have to ask the question how do we look like Jesus? How do we become like Jesus?
I think it requires us knowing Him, not just knowing stuff about Him. Not just knowing facts about Jesus, but really knowing who He is. And it requires us knowing His Word. Man, when God speaks to us in His Word He gives us truth. And if we’re going to be like Him, we have to look to His Word and know what He says. We have to remember the gospel. And that gospel word, that word ‘gospel’ just means good news. That’s the subtitle of our series that we’re in right now: 2nd Timothy “Remember the Gospel”. And the reason we say that is because all throughout the book of 2nd Timothy, that’s what Paul is telling Timothy. He saying ‘Hey I want you to remember the gospel’. I want you to remember this truth, because this is what matters. This is what is really important, and this is what’s worth remembering. This is what’s going to make us like Jesus and help us understand that.
And so I started thinking about what I remember and what fills my head. Man, I have a lot of wasted space. I could recite a lot of song lyrics to you right now if I wanted to. I could quote a bunch of movies. Man, I’ve got movie quotes up there. But, am I remembering the gospel? That’s why part of what we’re doing through the 2nd Timothy Series is we’re challenging us as a congregation, we’re challenging everybody, to remember God’s Word. And so every 2 weeks we have a new verse that were memorizing together. And we want to remember that stuff, and get beyond the silly stuff that doesn’t just matter, and actually fill our heads and our minds with things that are eternal and things that really will last and will matter. And so, I want us to take a look at our memory verse, 2nd Timothy 1:7. Hopefully you remember it. Hopefully you memorized it. But let’s all say it together, OK? It’s right up here on the screen.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Man, that is an important part for us to remember today. ‘Cause as we remember the gospel, we remember that we don’t have a spirit of fear. We remember that we have this power and love and sound mind that God gives by His Holy Spirit. So we remember these truths, and then we can apply that to our lives.
So we say ‘All right, well, I remember this, well why why don’t I see that?’ I think sometimes we tend to forget. We tend to let the circumstances of life distract us, right? We hit hard times. And in the midst of those hard times, we start to focus on fear, we focus on shame, we focus on our suffering or the hard things were going through. And that becomes our focus.
What Paul is saying, Paul’s writing 2nd Timothy while he’s in prison. And he’s at the point where he’s pretty sure he’s about to die. And so he’s saying I’m suffering right now. I’m going through these hard times. Timothy, remember, God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but power and love and sound mind. Remember these truths. Because I think what Paul is asking, he’s asking this question, he’s saying ‘What if God has something different for us?’ What if God intends for us to live unashamed, and to embrace suffering that we face? What if he wants us to cultivate an eternal perspective? See, I think Jesus wants us to see from an eternal perspective and that’s going to help us see every circumstance that we go through. And that’s what I think we’re going to see as we look at 2nd Timothy today.
So we’re going to read 2 Timothy 1: 8-18. And if you have a Bible, I want you to follow along. We’re going to put it up here on the screens, too. But if you don’t have a Bible, we want to give you one, because we believe this is worth knowing. It’s worth remembering. This is God’s Word and so good. So please, please get it. We have them for free at the welcome desk. You can just run by and steal one, and leave. I mean you don’t have to talk to anybody. We want you to have a Bible, and then take it home, open it, and read it, ’cause, man, this will change your life. There’s nothing like God’s Word. No substitute for it. So let’s read this together 2nd Timothy 1: 8-18
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, who has saved us and called us with the 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, 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’m convinced that he is able to guard what I’ve entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words, which you’ve heard from me. In the faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus, guard through the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the House of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome he eagerly searched for me and found me – the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day – and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.
Now because this is God’s Word and because it is so powerful and important, I want to pray for our time together. Father, God, thank you for your Word. I pray that in this time that you would speak to us; that you would give us wisdom from your Holy Spirit. You help us to hear from you clearly. Open our eyes and our ears and our hearts and our minds and prepare us to hear what you have to say to us. We love you, Lord, and we commit this time to you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Alright, so what we’re going to do is walk through each verse of this passage that we just read, and as we read through it, I want us to see some themes. There are some themes that are going to come out. The first thing we’re going to see is this idea of shame. We’re going to see the concept of shame coming up over and over again. We’re going to see the concept of suffering. How there’s suffering and difficulty in hardship, but throughout all of that, there’s an eternal perspective that Paul is teaching to Timothy. He’s discipling him. He’s saying ‘Hey if you want to follow after me, if you want to follow after Jesus, you gotta get this eternal perspective piece. So we’re going to see those things come out. So let’s dive in and look at 1:8. It says:
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner,
So right there we have to pause, because every time we’re studying the Bible if we see the word ‘therefore’ we have to ask what is it ‘there for’, right? I know that’s a cheesy joke, but remembered, yeah? So we have to ask why is it there? And so the reason it’s there has to go back to the verse that we memorize this week, right?
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
And ‘therefore’ because he’s given us this power in love and sound mind and taken away fear, therefore, don’t be ashamed. Why did he say that? ‘Cause shame is often tied to fear, right? He says you don’t have the spirit of fear, so don’t be ashamed. You have power and love and a sound mind that’s given to you by the Holy Spirit of God who dwells inside of you. That’s what we want you to remember, Timothy. That’s what you need to know.
So Paul’s writing, and he says don’t be ashamed of me, because here I am imprisoned for the gospel. Now Paul was kind of like that jailbird family member. You know, like he’s the guy that it’s kind of hard to be proud of. Its like Paul’s got arrested again? He’s in jail again? Paul, come on, can you stay out of prison for a week? Like what’s going on? Paul is always writing letters from prison. He says yeah I’m in prison again. Paul does this. And this is the way that he lives, right? He’s in prison, but why is he in prison? Look what he says. He says
Join with me in suffering for the gospel…
Like I got arrested for this gospel message of Jesus Christ. I’m in prison because of this good news. When we say the word ‘gospel’ we just mean good news, like good news about Jesus. That is something that flies in the face of our own self-lordship and that’s something a lot of people have a hard time hearing. And it gets Paul landed in prison on multiple occasions, but here he’s writing Timothy. And he’s like I think this might be the last time I actually get to write ’cause I’m probably going to die. And he says
Join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God…
Paul is saying don’t be ashamed because there’s something bigger going on here.
And I started to think about the things that we’re ashamed of. And then I thought about the things we’re proud of. And there is a really obvious difference, right, in the way that we respond. If we’re proud of something we show it off, don’t we? Like, you ever see a kid who gets the new toy for Christmas and they’re like ‘look, you see what I got?’ And every conversation somehow gets turned to talking about this new toy that they got and they’re like look check it out. Did you see that? You know, it can do this! It goes fast! Some adults are like this with different toys. We talk about these things. It comes out of us because it’s what we care about. We value it and we hold it highly, and it’s something that we speak about over and over and over again.
I remember when I was in 10th grade. I got to go to homecoming with ‘The Girl’. You know what I mean? And it was awesome! And I went to the dance and I was like, yeah, this is great! But about 2 weeks after the dance, the pictures came. And I got my homecoming pictures back and I can’t tell you how many people I showed these pictures to! I was like ‘”Yeah, that’s right, she’s with me!” I don’t know why either, but she’s with me! And like she’s just cute! You see, I was showing off and she did the thing in the picture that a lot of girls do. I don’t know why, but it’s like turn sideways and that one knee goes up? I don’t know why, but she did that. I was like ‘man that’s awesome’! I don’t know what it is, but that was great, right? And I love this picture and so I’m so proud of it. And I couldn’t think of any other dance that I had done that with the pictures of, you know? But I did this with her picture. And I was like, do I do that same kind of thing with the gospel? Like am I that proud, do I show it off? Do I say like look at what Jesus has done in my life? Dude, you gotta see this. Lucky I was here. And then he twisted me and change me, like God did all this in my life. But I think a lot of times, if I’m being honest, I’m kind of ashamed sometimes. And I say yeah, oh you’re interested in seeing a picture? I’ll see if I can find one, you know? Here’s kind of what guys like it’s not the kind of thing that I’m unashamed of. So I need to hear this. I need to hear ‘don’t be ashamed’. Don’t live in that fear. Let’s unashamedly speak this good news of the gospel.
Paul keeps going in verse 9 and he says this. He says he’s suffering and says Timothy I want you to
Join me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God…
Well who’s this God? Remember he’s given us eternal perspective all throughout this. He says this is the God who saved us and who called us with the Holy calling, right? This is that God, the God who didn’t save us according to our works. It’s not like we were good enough to get in right with Him. It’s like no, it was according to His own purpose.
Do you stop and think about that for a minute? It’s like God has a purpose for you. God has a purpose for your life. Which should blow our minds that God, who created the whole universe, has a purpose for you. And it’s not just any old purpose. But it’s a purpose that was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity by His grace. Like from before the foundation of the world God knew what He was going to do, and He created you and He made you with a purpose. And He says now He’s got a purpose for me and my life has meaning and direction. And we say well that’s all fine and good. There’s this concept of eternity he starts to point to this eternity from which this was created. But then in verse 10 he says yeah eternity, but now it’s appeared. Now this purpose has appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. And not only did He appear in the flesh, but He appeared and He died for us, so that we could have a relationship with God, which is what we’re made for and it’s the only thing that satisfies us. And if we don’t have that, then we’re missing what we’re made for. But then when Jesus died, he didn’t stay dead. He rose from the dead. And that resurrected Christ has appeared to many people. And it says here with the appearing of our savior Christ Jesus ‘He abolished death’. He got rid of it. So where’s fear now? Right? God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. Don’t be ashamed. He’s abolished death. Well, how do I live now? He’s brought to life an immortality, brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. God has spoken this good news to you. And I hope you hear this today…that He offers life and immortality – eternity. We talk about an eternal perspective this is what God gives us. And it’s all through the gospel the good news about who Jesus is. That’s what he wants us to hear.
And Paul says because I want people to hear it in verse 11 he says this is ‘I was appointed’ I was called as ‘a preacher an Apostle and a teacher’ of these things.’ God called me to proclaim it, to herald it, to preach it. He also called me to be instrumental in founding the church. That would be his plan of how this gets spread throughout the world. And he called me to be a teacher of it, which means like a master practitioner, like I’m showing you how to do that right now, Timothy. Paul is saying Timothy look, Jesus suffered, I’m suffering right now. Join with me and suffering if you want to be like Jesus, we have to follow his example. We have to do that. We cannot be ashamed because Jesus wasn’t ashamed. That’s what we’re following here:
In the light of the gospel (when we consider all these things in the light of the gospel) there is no room for shame.
And I like how the word ‘shame’ didn’t even fit on the top line of that slide so there’s no room for it on that line. But there’s no room for, I know that was a cheesy joke too, but there’s no room for shame in the light of the gospel of Jesus. There’s no room for it. If we really understand the gospel in which Jesus did and who He is and then there’s no place for shame, there’s no room for it. So what does Paul then say? Look at verse 12. He says for this reason because there’s no shame in the gospel, because there is this calling that God placed our lives and we’re suffering for the gospel, we don’t have to be ashamed. Because of that he says
I also suffer these things, but I’m not ashamed.
He says “I also suffer these things, but I’m not ashamed”. Just like I’m telling you, that’s exactly what I’m experiencing right now. Why?
For I know whom I have believed.
And I think the word ‘whom’ is very key right there, ’cause he doesn’t say I know what list of facts I believe. It doesn’t say I know what doctrinal things that I’m going to believe. That’s not what he’s saying. He says:
I know whom I have believed (and I’m confident in him) I’m convinced that He is able…
Y’all do you hear that? He is able, y’all. That’s big stuff, right? He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think. When we says that ‘He is able’ that means that whatever we face, He’s able beyond that, whatever difficulties we’re going to encounter. Remember, Paul is writing this in prison knowing he’s about to die. And he’s sitting here saying, “Timothy He’s able”. He’s able to do what?
To guard what I’ve entrusted to him…
But what Paul has trusted Him? I’ve entrusted my salvation and my life and my gospel ministry. All this, God, it’s all yours. And cultivating that eternal perspective throughout it all, look what he says, he says
I’ve entrusted to Him until that day.
It was said that Martin Luther was quoted as saying “I have 2 dates on my calendar…this day and that day”. And what he means by that he says ‘this day’ is today where we are right now, but ‘that day’ is the day that Jesus comes back, right? That’s the day that we’re longing for. That’s where hope is, because our hope is beyond this world. It’s beyond what we see and that’s what he started to paint the picture of. Like Timothy remember ‘that day’. It’s coming. It’s coming. So he’s painting this picture for Timothy. And then he says in verse 13 says
I want you to retain the standard of sound words that you’ve heard from me.
Retain it. Remember it. That word ‘retain’ is where we get the word echo and I kind of like that idea. It’s like I want this to reverberate in your head. I want this to bounce around and I want you to remember this, retain this standard and that standard is that same idea of pattern or example. Like I want you to follow my example.
Remember this and what I’ve said to you ’cause it’s true, these sound words, which you’ve heard from me. But don’t just remember it and have all these words in your head, but then live them in the faith and the love that’s in Christ Jesus. Because a lot of times it’s not just what you say, but it’s how you say it, right? We tell that to our kids all the time. It’s like that apology didn’t mean much buddy. You know like when you don’t mean it. How are you saying it? How are we presenting the gospel? We are all called to do this. How are we doing it? He says do it in faith and love and Christ Jesus. And then he says in verse 14, and I get excited about this, when he says,
Guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
Guys, the Holy Spirit dwells in us, if you put your faith in Jesus Christ. That means the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead that made him appear. Our savior, Christ Jesus, who has now appeared and brought all these promises, to now, that same spirit, dwells in you. That’s the spirit that empowers you. And that’s the spirit that gives us hope to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I like how Peter says it. He says it like this 1st Peter 2:1
For you have been called for this purpose since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in his steps.
Peter’s saying Jesus suffered. Paul saying in Timothy I’m suffering…join with me. And that seems bizarre. You don’t want to suffer. He’s not saying prison is great. He’s not saying you know come on I’m about to die yippee. He says no I’m in this really tough time, but, man, join me with suffering ’cause when you suffer for the gospel you understand the hope in a way that you can’t understand without it. There’s a hope that comes from the Holy Spirit of God. There is the coming of Christ on that day. There is the living Word that He gives us to retain and hang onto. And there’s the present Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us. These are all sources of hope. And you see in the light of the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. Then we have to be hopeful in the midst of whatever suffering we face. We have to have hope. It’s the only way we can have hope. In the light of the power of the Holy Spirit there is hope in the midst of suffering.
So then Paul goes on and he ends this passage with some shout outs to some people and a couple of ’em are kind of negative, right? He starts off in verse 15 he says:
You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes…
Those guys he’s saying, they abandoned me. Now what happened to Jesus at the end of his life, right? He was abandoned; he was deserted. And here Paul’s saying yeah I want to share in the sufferings of Christ. I want you to join with me and suffering for this and this is part of it, right? All turned away, all left me. They’re all ashamed of me. They’re all walking away. But there’s this one guy in verse 16 look at what he says:
The Lord grant mercy to the House of Onesiphorus for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains…
I think we have an opportunity to be like Onesiphorus. It says he wasn’t ashamed of Paul, but look what he did in verse 17 says:
When he was in Rome he eagerly searched for me and found me…
He didn’t like wander around and say ‘Oh maybe I’ll bump into Paul’. He said no I’m going there to find Paul for this purpose, because he’s imprisoned and suffering for the gospel, and that’s what I’m all about. And he goes to encourage him and then look what he says in verse 18 he says:
The Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day…
Paul’s giving this eternal perspective, right? He’s saying man, this stinks right now, but I want him to have mercy from the Lord on that day ’cause he’s got the perspective right. He’s got it. And he says and you know Timothy very well, what services he rendered at Ephesus. Timothy was a pastor at Ephesus. And so Paul saying hey you know this guy. You know what kind of guy he is – good guy. But what I love how Onesiphorusis (he’s not like one of the famous people from the Bible, right, he’s only mentioned twice in all of scripture) are both in this letter to 2nd Timothy. In that, he’s not like a Peter or James or John. He didn’t say Peter, James, and John came and visited me. He’s like, no, it was Onesiphorusis. This guy, right? Nobody’s really sure who he is. Just a normal guy obeying Jesus being faithful because he has this eternal perspective. And I started thinking about the way that suffering can connect us, right? In the way that Paul’s suffering connects him with the body of Christ, the people around him like that.
And I started thinking back to when I was in Louisiana. I grew up in Louisiana. And when Hurricane Katrina hit, we came back and after we evacuated and everything was very different. And the there was this weird sense of camaraderie among people who were there and who had lost things. And there were things shared in common. And somebody said ‘Man I need these trees chainsawed out of my driveway’ and they’d be like OK I’m coming to help. I think that we don’t have any food left and all the stores are closed. He says well I’ve got this freezer full of meat and it’s gonna go bad ’cause we lost power so let’s have a giant barbecue. Like that’s the kind of stuff that happened all over, ’cause there’s something about suffering that connects us. Something about suffering that goes across barriers and allows us to look past the walls that we would normally put up.
And I think Paul is identifying with that. And I think that really fits with the life of Jesus, right? He came to tear down these barriers and say anyone who put faith in him: that’s Jesus’s point, that’s Paul’s point. He’s saying this guy Onesiphorusis, he gets it, he understands that suffering can connect us and it doesn’t have to be this scary thing.
So what I want us to hear today is that…God’s eternal perspective, when we get that, it allows us to erase shame and embrace suffering. When we can see that there is a coming Christ on that day and there’s a living Word this right here with us now and there’s this Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us man we can embrace the suffering we face. We can erase the shame. There’s no room for it ’cause God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but he’s given us the power and love and a sound mind. That’s what God wants us to walk in. So how are you doing with that? How are you doing with that right now? How are you with living unashamed for the gospel? How are you with having an eternal perspective, when you face suffering? How are you with encouraging those people who are suffering and going through difficulty? This is what God calls us to do. I love the way that the author of Hebrews puts this whole perspective thing in this way I want us to land as he says in Hebrews12:2. He says
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down the right of the throne of God.
He had this perspective beyond his circumstances. The joy set before me endured the cross and what did He do after that suffering? He despised the shame. So He’s got an eternal perspective. He’s enduring suffering and He’s despising the shame. And now He’s seated at the right hand of the throne of God. That’s the hope that we have. Cultivate that perspective in all things and know that when God says that to us, it’s bigger than everything. It’s bigger than just us. It’s Jesus and it’s His spirit and His church.
Let me pray for us…Father, God, thank you for your Word. Thank you that it’s only by the power of your spirit and it’s only by the Word of God that we can get an eternal perspective. So God help us to do that. Help us to dig into your Word to remember the gospel to remember that truth that sets us free. To remember the words that You speak to us so that we see from your point of view everything we go through God. Your Word helps us cultivate your perspective. Help us to do that regularly by engaging with your work. We love you Lord. We trust you and in the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Who are the Christians that have mentored you or spoken into your life? How should you encourage them today?
When are you most tempted to be ashamed of the gospel or of its messengers? Why? How can you avoid this temptation?
In what contexts is God calling you to suffer for the gospel? What would keep you from being willing to suffer for the gospel?
Read 2 Timothy 2:12-14. How does verse 12 encourage you? How will you obey verses 13 and 14 today, this week, and this month?
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