2nd Timothy -- Treasure Faith
This letter from Paul to Timothy takes the form of a 3-point sermon, first stated in chapter 1 verse 7, “For God has not given use spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
POWER; LOVE; and DISCIPLINE. 3 aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life.
OVERVIEW / Summary:
—In verses 8-14 of chapter 1, Paul gives some more detail on these three points.
—In chapter 2: 3-6, Paul gives three illustrations to characterize these points further. —Soldier, athlete, farmer. We have power to live a new life and completely turn from the old, like the soldier. The “race” we are running is according to the rule of Love. The hardworking farmer is Christ who is disciplining us for a certain outcome.
—In Chapter 2:11-13, Paul gives a “trustworthy statement” which boils down how we should live these three truths: 1) die with Him so we will live; 2) endure and reign or deny Him and be denied by Him; 3) We will be found in faith by Him who is faithful. THE OUTCOME IS THAT WE WOULD HAVE FAITH.
—The rest of chapter 2 and chapter 3 gives more detail and warnings about how and what to endure.
—Chapter 4 is a conclusion reminding Timothy that Paul has done all these things, so Timothy can too! “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have KEPT THE FAITH” (4:7). These three things correlate to and parallel the three points in chapter 1, the three illustrations in chapter 2, and the "trustworthy statement” in chapter 2.
On this particular reading, I was struck by chapter 1:8-14 which gives more detail on “power, love and discipline.”
POWER—We can suffer “according to the power of God,” by His grace who “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” There is a new life to live to the full, and it cannot be shaken despite our present suffering. There is certain victory! We are soldiers in the Lord’s army, and we already know which side is going to win.
LOVE—“Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” Love is the standard—the rule—by which we live and therefore minister. It is Christ’s love, not just any definition of “love” we or others come up with.
DISCIPLINE—“Guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” The discipline is not just “self-discipline” as some translations render it; rather, it is being disciplined by God Himself through the Holy Spirit! He is “dwelling” or living in us, so we must walk in obedience to Him.
**SO WHAT IS THE ‘TREASURE’? In us we have the Life of Christ, who abolished death. He saved us and called us with a holy calling, which is not something we can ever merit or earn. That is definitely true treasure, but it is helpful to consider the first part of the letter to understand Paul’s point. Paul is an apostle “according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus” (1:1). He always keeps this in view, as he will receive the “crown of righteousness” when Christ appears (4:8). All who “have loved His appearing” will also receive that promise. This is both a present and future experience, and both require FAITH. No faith, no experience of that life.
The Holy Spirit dwells in us, and Paul also notes the “sincere faith” that dwells in Timothy (1:5). Faith is such an overused word in our culture that I think we have forgotten what it really means. Faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8), not just a belief, a religion or a decision we make of our own volition. FAITH IS THE TREASURE. God has given us this gift of faith, and He is giving us the power to guard it. (Sidenote: if the gift referred to was the life of Christ, why would we have to guard it??? HE is the one sustaining US).
The question which follows: DO I TREASURE FAITH? Paul’s encouragement to Timothy was that He should “kindle afresh the gift of God” according to that sincere faith (vs 6)—and to do that by the power of the Holy Spirit.
**The response is to not be timid, as Timothy was apparently prone to be. If my faith is stagnant, then perhaps I am treasuring the wrong things.
-Perhaps I am turning back to the old life, uncomfortable or afraid of the life lived by faith which I cannot fully see. Suffering for Christ’s sake will be hard, but God has given us POWER to overcome.
-Perhaps I am afraid of what others will think of me and therefore compromising in the true, full counsel of God —“sound words.” By faith, we can be sure of His coming again—“loving His appearing”—and boldly share His love with everyone. Nothing else matters, including what others think of me. CHRIST’S LOVE will sustain us.
-Perhaps I am distracted from seeing everything through the eyes of faith, worried about what is going on around me in this crazy world. The Holy Spirit will guard us and help us see things how God sees them. Christ is the faithful farmer doing everything to cultivate faith in us—this includes using the circumstances around us. EVERYTHING IS FOR OUR DISCIPLINE.
Treasure Faith, which Christ has granted us to experience His eternal life now and forever.
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!