2 Timothy 1:6—2:13
I believe the Apostle Paul is encouraging Timothy to personal revival. To be more specific, I am persuaded that the revival of the Grace Message is the burden of Paul’s message in this text.
FIRST, Paul is saying that Timothy was to “stir up the gift of God” (vs. 6). The picture here is that of an ample campfire that once attracted those around to its beneficial warmth, light and protection; but now, those benefits are in jeopardy because its flames have died out and it is generating more smoke than heat. It is badly in need of being rekindled and fanned again into a flame. Timothy is in need of revival; likewise, we are in need of revival. Without revival we shall suffer great loss.
SECONDLY, Paul is saying that a revival in Timothy’s life and ministry (vs. 7) would be characterized by (a) a “power” to do right (Phil. 4:13); (b) a “love which is in Christ” – we are to love God’s Word, the saints, the lost (2 Tim. 1:13); and (c) a “sound mind” to bring every thought into subjection to Christ—a thinking like the mind of Christ; a thinking of Bible truth (2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 2:5).
THIRDLY, Paul is saying that a revival in Timothy’s life and ministry would give proper recognition to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and to the Apostle Paul as Christ’s special prisoner (vs. 8).
The issue here is addressed by the word “ashamed” (vss. 8, 12, 16). In Paul’s case, he was a prisoner because God had appointed him to be “a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles” (vs. 11), with the special deposit of the Grace Message being entrusted to his care (vs. 12). Revival will bring recognition of this fact and boldness for the believer to be a “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel” (vs. 8; Eph. 6:19-20).
NOTE: Verse 12 of this chapter has caused a great deal of discussion as to its interpretation. Because the overall context does not have to do with salvation, but service, I am forced to conclude, with Dr. Kenneth Wuest in his book, “Word Studies,” that verse 12 refers to the deposit of truth that was committed to Paul. One translation of this Scripture renders Verse 12 as follows: “I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that He is able to guard, until that Day, what has been entrusted to me.”
FOURTHLY, Paul was saying that a revival in Timothy’s life and ministry would result in a militant defense and propagation of the Grace Message. Hence, Paul’s comment to Timothy was to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1) and to “endure hardness, as a good soldier” (2:3).
A good soldier must stand fast and not retreat from the “sound words” of the commanding officer (1:13). He must guard the “good thing” that was committed to his care (1:14), and he must advance the cause for which he was enlisted (2:2).
A MATTER OF EDUCATION
Now, because I have chosen to use the words “revival” and “Grace Message” in connection with Paul’s challenge to Timothy, some will, no doubt, ask: “What is Revival?” And, “Just what is the Grace Message?”
Revival is the believer (or the Church) living up to their spiritual potential. In this Dispensation of Grace, the spiritual potential for every believer is the Spirit-filled life. When the believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, he is controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is then free to reproduce the character of Christ in us and through us. That is revival.
In answering the question, “What is the Grace Message?” – I would hope that most people would respond by associating the Grace Message, in some way, with dispensational truth.
The Apostle Paul, through what he called the “revelation of the Mystery” (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3), announced the Dispensation of Grace (Eph. 3:2). He called it the “Dispensation of Grace” because grace was the feature that distinguished it from any previous dispensation. In other words, even though God had displayed His grace many times before, none had ever seen the likes of God’s grace as it was manifested with this revelation of the Mystery (Titus 2:11).
Two of the main elements of this special dispensing of God’s grace, are what theologians have called the “Gospel of the Mystery” and the “Mystery of the Gospel.”
The Gospel of the Mystery distinguishes itself from all other forms of the gospel, in that it offers salvation to all men by “grace through faith” alone (Eph. 2:8). For the first time, faith must stand alone. What wonderful good news! Whereas in the previous dispensations, while good works or the Law could never save, there was a sense in which men could not be saved apart from good works or the Law (Rom. 3:21; Jas. 2:24).
The Mystery of the Gospel is the good news that people, at the moment of their salvation, would be marvelously baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13). Furthermore, all saved people would lose their former identity (Gal. 3:27-28; Eph. 3:6), and Christ would make them “one new man” or a “joint body” in Himself (Eph. 2:15; 3:6). The union formed between the believer and Christ is such that Christ is made the Head and the believer is made His Body. Together, with Him, we are “the Christ!” Together, with Him, we are blessed “with all spiritual blessings” in the heavenlies (Eph. 1:3).
This whole body of dispensational truth contains many other interesting features that are unique to this Grace Message.
- A new system for spiritual service (Rom. 8:2);
- A new inheritance (Rom. 8:14-17);
- A new hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18);
- A new baptism (Rom. 6:1-4; 1 Cor. 12:12-13);
- A new Gospel Commission (1 Cor. 5:14-20);
- A new ecclesiastical order (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11);
- A new building (Eph. 4:12-13);
- A new “Architekton” or leader of the work (1 Cor. 3:10; 11:1);
- A new standard for obedience (Rom. 16:26); and
- A new basis for doctrinal purity (Rom. 16:25).
For those who are interested in a further development of this question, “What is the Grace Message?” – a larger treatment in a two-part series by the same name is available in Bible Briefs, Part 1 and 2 (numbers BBF1118 and BBF1119).
Knowing and understanding this Grace Message is a matter of education. We cannot be revived in what we do not know. Reviving the Grace Message is a matter of studying to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Tim. 2:15).
A MATTER OF EYESIGHT
In Acts 26:13-30, we learn of the Apostle Paul’s conversion and his vision of the living, resurrected, glorified Christ. I believe that this is the initial installment of what Paul later called “the revelation of the Mystery.” It is here, though blinded for a season, he sees what God sees. He sees people in need. He sees people in need of being “turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God.” With Paul’s eyesight being restored, he immediately “preached Christ” (Acts 9:20).
A revival of the Grace Message will not only require that believers know the Grace Message, but that they have their eyes opened to the spiritual needs of the people. The Apostle Paul wanted to “make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery” (Eph. 3:9). The primary issue in this fellowship of the Mystery has been, and always will be, the salvation of the lost.
We have no right to talk of our knowledge of the Bible; we have no right to split our theological hairs; we have no right to debate our dispensational distinctive unless our eyes are first opened to the Apostle Paul’s vision of the lost.
We will never revive the Grace Message unless we can say with the Apostle Paul, “woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel…a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me” (1 Cor. 9:16).
A MATTER OF EXECUTION
During the course of our life, we may make a lot of elaborate plans. We may even enjoy discussing our plans with friends and neighbors. But, if we do not get around to working our plans, all of our discussions and plans will be fruitless; and so it is with reviving the Grace Message! We can have the education of the Grace Message. And, we can have the eyesight of the Grace Message, but if we do not have the execution of the Grace Message, the Grace Message will never be revived.
The Apostle Paul knew something about the execution of the Grace Message. In his farewell message to the Ephesian elders, he said that he was about to “finish” both his “course” and “ministry” with regards to his testimony of the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24).
Again, in Philippians 3:7-14, the Apostle Paul made a sacrifice. He “counted all things but loss” so that he could “reach forth” and “press towards the mark” in order to get the job done and win the “prize of the high calling of God.”
Now, in Romans 12:1-11, I hear the Apostle Paul begging all believers to make the same sacrifice. He wants them to use their God-given “faith” and “gifts” in “reasonable service.” I hear Paul, like a championship football coach, encouraging his men to follow his example and be “fervent in spirit” and execute their service for the Lord. I hear him calling out the positions of the players saying, “You prophets, ministers, teachers, exhorters, givers, rulers, and you that show mercy, GO! Run for the goal! You who know the Grace Message and you who see the need for the Grace Message, run with it! Press for the goal! Go on! Go on! And, YOU execute the Grace Message!”