Monday, October 18, 2021

Fight The Fear #2: Challenged To Stand – 1 Timothy 1:8-18

Fight The Fear #2: Challenged To Stand – 1 Timothy 1:8-18

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The story goes that a man died and went to heaven. It just so happened that when he arrived it was get to know each other night. The man asked how that worked and an angel who was showing him around the city of gold said, “Well we all get together, fellowship a bit and then we all take turns and tell something that happened in our lives.” The man said, “Well, I led a pretty boring life. I wouldn’t have anything to tell.” The angel encouraged him to think back to the events of his life and the man said, “I did survive a hurricane called Katrina.” There you go that would be great.”

So that evening after a heavenly potluck the man who was last in to heaven was the first to speak. He introduced himself and then with a bit of bravado he told the story of spending 3 whole days on his roof top until the Coast Guard rescued him from the flood waters of Katrina. The people in heaven applauded and he set down feeling pretty good about making an impressive entrance into heaven’s society.

As he set down he saw another man getting ready to speak and there was quite a stir among the gathering. The new man turned to his guide and asked, “Who is that getting ready to speak?” The angel looked and then said, “Oh that's Noah, it’s his turn next.”

Perspective can really change the way we feel and think about things, especially our experiences as children of God. Right now we are going through our second year of a Covid pandemic. And we are dealing with a lot of fear, we are also dealing with a lot of anti-Christian hostility some of it due to our unwillingness to shut up our churches or give up our freedom. And these are real concerns, real issues for our time, but it helps if we keep the things we are dealing with in the perspective or God’s word, history and even eternity. Our view of life and its events is much further because God has given us eyes that can glimpse eternity.

Review and Background

We are presently in the book of 2 Timothy and it is a book that can deepen our vision and broader our perspective when it comes to overcoming the fear that is the first battle we all must fight and win if we are go overcome all the other obstacles this world will thrown at us.

Remember that Paul is writing this last epistle from prison to Timothy, his son in the faith. Timothy and the other believers at risk from the Roman Emperor Nero, who had imprisoned Paul and hundreds of other Christians. Timothy and the others had good reason to be afraid. The threat of capital punishment under Roman law, had always been there, for the crime of introducing new gods and for refusing to worship the old gods, especially the emperor himself. But this was the first empire wide hunt for the people of the way, the followers of Christus, the Christians, sometimes called the Galileans by the Romans.

Some Background on the First wave of Roman persecution from ISBE –

After the burning of Rome in 64 AD, Nero made the Christians scapegoats to deflect the blame that was being directed toward him. From that point on for over 200 years the Christians of the Roman Empire faced severe persecution. We read references to this first persecution throughout the new Testament epistles.

1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Peter’s description of the persecution as “fiery” may have been literal as much as it was metaphorical. The Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote, “And in their deaths they were made the subject of sport, for they were covered with the skins of wild beasts and were worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when day declined were burned to serve for nocturnal lights. Nero offered his own gardens for that spectacle, and exhibited circus games, indiscriminately mingling with the common people dressed as a charioteer, or else standing in his chariot.”

In Revelation, the last apostle, John has been banished to the isle of “Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 1:9). This wave of persecution under the authority of the emperor Domitian, who ruled from 81 – 96 AD.

Jesus told the church at Smyrna, Revelation 2:10, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
In Pergamum, Jesus remembers his faithful martyr, the first time that word is used in the Bible, Antipas. Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr (my faithful witness), who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

At Philadelphia Jesus reward the church with an “open door” because they had not denied his name. Revelation 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Denying Jesus’ name was all that was required to not suffer death.  

Tertullian who lived and died during this 200 year reign of terror upon Christians recorded, “Public hatred asks but one thing, and that not investigation into the crimes charged, but simply the confession of the Christian name.”

At the very beginning of this 200 year persecution, Paul writes Timothy and tells him, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.” Then in verse 8 of 2 Timothy 1, Paul goes further and he challenges Timothy to stand strong and have courage as a child of the faith.

Call To Courage – 2 Timothy 1:8-12

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Unashamed Suffering

Paul writes to Timothy and tells him don’t be ashamed of these two things, the testimony of the Lord nor of Paul being held as a prisoner for that very testimony.

Three Reasons Timothy can stand and not be ashamed. Paul tells Timothy to partake, to share in the afflictions of the Gospel. This is what the Lord told the apostle that night in the upper room, “in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.” And here Paul is detailing the ways in which Timothy can stand unashamed.

Unashamed because God gives power v. 8 “be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power (dunamis, dynamite) of God;”

Unashamed because God gives purpose and grace v. 9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” Paul tells Timothy that our purpose and grace was given not recently, it is not something that hasn’t stood the test of time, even the test of eternity, but that purpose and love was given before the world began in Christ Jesus. Time and circumstance can’t change this because it was established in Christ Jesus before time even began.

Unashamed because Christ has defeated death vs 10. “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” Though it was in eternity past, that our purpose and grace was established in Jesus Christ, it is no longer obscured but has been made manifest, revealed by the appearing of Jesus and confirmed by His abolishing death through the resurrection and revealing to us life and immortality through the Gospel.

Timothy you can stand against the fear because God has given you power, grace and purpose that predate time how can they not be sure and steadfast? Timothy you can stand and endure persecution because Jesus has come, defeated death and shown us the light of life and immortality through the Gospel. No fear can obscure that light.

Next Paul give Timothy an example of how he has stood even while awaiting death in a prison cell.
Paul’s Example Unashamed because he Knows Christ Vss 11-12

Paul says, this gospel that has given us the light has been my calling as a preacher, an apostle and as a teacher. For this Gospel and for the calling that came with it, Paul says “For this cause I suffer these things but I am not ashamed. Timothy I am encourage you to stand, now let me share why I have been able to stand. Then he makes this powerful declaration of faith, “I know whom I have believed.” Isn’t that a simple but surpassing phrase. “I know the one I put my faith in for salvation, for forgiveness, for eternity.”

I know, the word used here is εἴδω eidō; it is used almost 700 times in the New Testament. It means to see, to know, to be aware, to behold, to be sure, to understand, to perceive with the eyes, to perceive by the senses, to inspect, examine, to look at, to get knowledge of.
From the knowledge of the Old Testament through the darkened eyes of a Pharisee to the opened eyes of an apostle blinded by the light of Jesus on the Damascus Road. Paul has known the One he believed.
He has known him through the travels, through the trials, through the suffering, stonings, and shipwreck. He has known Him through prisons,  poverty and power. He has known Him in salvation, suffering, and sanctification. He has known Jesus and in that knowledge He is utterly convinced, persuaded beyond a single doubt that Jesus will keep all that Paul has committed into His care and keeping until the day Paul finally sees with his eyes, the One he has know with his heart, soul and life.

Unashamed and Unafraid

What Paul is writing to Timothy, by the supernatural power of God’s Holy Spirit, he is also writing to us. No matter what the circumstance, no matter what the trail, no matter what fear we face, we can stand unashamed in the same power, grace, light and knowledge that made Paul a hero of the faith and gave Timothy the courage to continue in Paul’s example.

In one of the first epistles Paul wrote, long before this wave of persecuation form the Romans began, he told the Christians scattered throughout Galatia, Galatians 6:7-10 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
What we sow, we reap. If we so in fear then we will reap the corruption that comes from fear. But if we sow in faith, if we plant our seed of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit then we will reap life, life everlasting. A harvest of faith that will be fully revealed when we reach glory. Therefore we must now faint, we must now give up, we must not fear, because we will reap in due season. We can’t let fear, stop us from getting out into the field and planting the gospel. We can’t let fear stop us from gathering in God’s house. We can’t let fear control our thoughts and direct our steps. Instead we must do what God’s word says and “as we have opportunity let us do good!” Let us do good.

Transition:Paul has told Timothy and us, because of Gods, power, because of God’s purpose and grace, because of Christ’s resurrection, because we know Christ, then we will not be ashamed we will not fear. Like Timothy, we will answer the call to courage and he will also answer the call to hold fast.

Call To Hold Fast – 1 Timothy 1:13-14

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Unashamed of the Truth

Paul tells Timothy to fight the fear but he also tells him to fight the right battle. Hold fast the form of sound words.

That is an interesting phrase. Form means outline, or pattern or standard. Timothy is to stand and fight but he must hold fast to those things which are the truths for which he is fighting. The battle must be fought but it must be fought in the right way. That right way to fight against the fear is with the words, the truth that Timothy has heard from Paul in the faith and love of Jesus Christ.

Fight for What Is Right

Years ago I remember seeing a saying that was quoted two ways and the way you turned it gave it completely different meanings.

The saying was this “Right make might” or if you turned it the saying was “Might makes Right.” To a Christian only the first way is correct because the truth is where we must begin and end and the truth makes us powerful.
The second to me says, “If I am strong enough, I will force what is right.” One is about the power of truth the other is about the power of man.

Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” For the child of God every battle is for the cause of truth, for the cause of those sound words that have been passed down to us through the word of God. 

One of the Baptist distinctives that sets up apart from most of the worlds religions is this. “The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice.” If its not taught here, if we can’t find it in these sound words then it has no place in our life. And if it is in here then we will fight in order to do what God tells us to do as His church and His people.

Transition: There is one more thing that Paul calls Timothy’s attention to and it is in this chapter because it is an example of fighting the fear or surrendering to the fear. The examples are of three different men in the last three verses 15-18. Here we hear Paul give a …

Call To Loyalty 1 Timothy 1:15-18

This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

Ashamed or Unashamed

Paul encourages Timothy by reminding him of those who have been faithful and those who have been fearful.  He tells him about Phygellus and Hermogenes, these two men that he names as examples of fear, desertion and failure. They and many others “turned away” from Paul.

But there was one who did not. This was Onesiphorus, his name means “bringing profit.” He stood faithful and was not afraid. He scoured the largest city of the Empire, millions of people to find one isolated prisoner named Paul. Timothy knew who he was, perhaps a member of the church at Ephesus, perhaps a member of the church Timothy was now pastoring. In addition he may have given his life is serving the Lord or lost his life before Paul wrote this letter for Paul asks that the Lord give mercy to his house, his family. And that the Lord grant mercy in that day, for he ministered to me in Rome and Ephesus.

What label will we carry into eternity?

Ashamed or Unashamed. Fighting or surrendering? Standing or retreating? Will we be those who encouraged, those who prayed, those who showed our love to our family and our church? Will we be faithful? Overcoming fear by standing on the firm foundation of faith in God our father, Jesus our Savior and the Word of God?

In this day and time, in our own troubles and trials, we must fight the fear, we are God’s people and we are equipped by God, through Jesus Christ to be courageous no matter what circumstances this world puts us in. We are called to be unashamed. We are commanded to “hold fast.” We are challenged to be faithful examples to those who will remember us after we are gone.

Conclusion: Christianus Sum

We began he sermon with a glimpse into the persecution that begin in 64 AD and continued for 2 centuries under Roman law.

For over 200 years anyone that would follow Christ would have to fully count the cost. A cost that could be their freedom, their jobs or their very life. For 200 years just the  profession of being a belier in Jesus was a crime worthy of capital punishment. At the height of one terrible wave of persecution during this time 20,000 Christians were slaughtered by the Roman government in one region. Each person captured was required to identify themselves and then given a chance to recant their faith in only one God and Jesus Christ their only savior. The story is told of one old deacon who was brought before the tribunal and when asked his name he replied “Christianus sum” Latin for “I am a Christian”. This was who he was, this was his identity and there was no reason to ask him anything else. He was a Christian and nothing else in all the world mattered. That phrase, “Christianus sum” became the cry of the Lord’s own during this terrible time. Whoever said it was not allowed to present a defense or to call in an advocate. It was their identity and it was their judgment and it was their death sentence. “Christianus sum” the men would say and “Christiana sum” the women would reply as they stood before their executioners.

You don’t have to speak Latin, but I believe what those early persecuted Christians said should be our response as well. When people ask us who we are. When they ask us why we do what we do. When they ask us what makes us stand in the face of fear and fight may our answer always be “Christianus sum, I am a Christian!”

And may that always be our answer.

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