Text: “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1: 9).
I have never had to serve time in jail. Several years ago I thought I might be about to go to jail, but it all worked out. I had been to a Branson Board of Aldermen meeting and then had come back to the church office to work. I was wearing a shirt and tie, but I had loosened the tie. My allergies were bothering me and my eyes were watery and swollen. It was around 9:30 or so in the evening when I left the church to go home. As I came to the stop sign just up from the church I saw no one was coming, so I just rolled through ( In Arkansas, we called that “rolling stops”—the police tend to frown on that!) and kept on going. But there was a policeman just up the block at the old School building who saw me. He pulled behind me and followed me all the way to highway 76 and then, when I turned on 76, he turned his lights on and stopped me. When he shined his flashlight on me, I’m sure he thought I was drunk. My collar was open and my necktie was loosened. My eyes were red and swollen. When He asked me to show him my vehicle registration, I opened the glove box and he spotted an old sunglass pouch that had my dad’s old sunglasses. I think he thought it was a container for a flask or something. “What’s that?” he asked. He looked rather doubtful when I told him. Then he had me get out of the car and walk the white line. Fortunately, I didn’t stagger, and after reviewing the car registration (It was the church car), and my driver’s license, he let me go with a warning to come to a complete stop at stop signs!
While I have never been a prisoner in jail, I have visited in different jails. I can tell you that it is quite an experience to get permission to visit a prisoner and to go through all the procedures required before gaining access and being locked in for a few minutes.
I am saying all this because while Paul was writing this letter to Timothy, he was actually in jail as a prisoner. In verse 16 Paul actually mentions the fact that he was “in chains.” As unpleasant as our modern day jails and prisons may be, I’m sure they are luxurious in comparison to the prisons of Paul’s day. But Paul was allowed to have visitors, even though he was in chains himself. And those visitors probably supplied him with food and necessities while he was imprisoned.
By the time Paul was writing this letter to Timothy, I would assume he was probably in his late 50s or early 60s. He had already made three Missionary Journeys and helped establish many churches in various Roman cities. As he would testify later on in this letter, he knew that his journey in this world was drawing to a close. Earlier Paul had been instrumental in Timothy’s conversion. He had the privilege of being Timothy’s spiritual mentor. Timothy had actually become a Ministry Associate, preaching and pastoring, much to Paul’s delight.
Now, as Paul’s ministry was drawing to a close, he was giving more counsel to his Spiritual Son, and we get to “listen in” as we read these words of encouragement. And the words he wrote to Timothy under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit are words that are just as meaningful to us as they were to Timothy.
There are several significant points that can be drawn for this passage. Let’s consider these:
I. OUR SALVATION COMES WITH A CALL TO HOLINESS.
a. Verse 9 begins with the statement,
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life…”
b. In our zeal to see people become Christians, sometimes we fail to emphasize the implications of accepting Jesus as our Savior. We say, “Just repeat this Sinner’s Prayer” and believe everything is done. But becoming a Christian is more than just asking forgiveness for the sins we have committed. It also means “repenting,” that is, “turning away from the practice of sinning.” Yes, Jesus forgives, but that forgiveness is based on the sincere sorrow for sinning against God and a strong desire to stop sinning and start living a life that is in submission to God’s Commands.
c. When our kids misbehave and argue, how often we as good parents tell junior to apologize. Junior responds with “Sor—ry”—an apology that shows no sign of remorse. The only thing for which Junior is sorry is that he got caught! And we parents know that the “apology” has absolutely no meaning to Junior. And when we confess our sins to God and say “I’m Sorry,” God knows whether we really mean it or not. His forgiveness and our acceptance into His family and a state of “Being Saved” are in direct proportion to the sincerity of our sorrow.
d. So, when Paul wrote, “He saved us and called us to a holy life,” those two things go hand in hand. Our salvation is reflected in the commitment we make to forsake our sins and follow His commands. When we accept Christ we are adopted into God’s Family. We are then holy because we belong to God. But then our “Holiness” must be reflected in our conduct!
II. SALVATION AND THE CALL OF HOLINESS IS NOT BECAUSE OF OUR SELVES, BUT BECAUSE OF CHRIST.
a. Verse 9 goes on to say, “…not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”
b. Paul said this in a similar way in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
c. But, you say, “Didn’t you just say that our salvation is linked to our commitment to forsake sin and obey God’s commands?” Yes, I did. But while our conduct gives evidence of our salvation, it is not the cause of our salvation. Jesus is the source of our Salvation. It is His sacrificial death on the Cross that opened up the way for us to have a right relationship with God. He took our sins upon Himself, and died in our place so that we could be forgiven. The Bible makes that very clear. Consider these verses:
i. 1 John 2:2 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
ii. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
d. I have heard this expressed like this: “We are not saved by our good works but we are saved to do good works!” In Romans 6:1-4 we read: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin. How can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his dead? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
e. It is all because of Jesus! And because of Jesus we are changed and our lives are different. We seek to honor Him and bring Glory to the Father through our lives!
III. BECAUSE OF OUR STATUS AS GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE, WE SHOULD KEEP FANNING THE FLAMES THE GIFT OF GOD IN OUR LIVES!
a. In verse 6 Paul told Timothy, “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.”
b. As Timothy’s spiritual mentor, Paul had trained him not only to forsake sin but also to be actively involved in spreading the Gospel to others. In Timothy’s case, this included answering God’s Call to Christian Ministry.
c. And the truth is, we are all called to be ministers of the Gospel. Acts 1:8 tells us that when we receive the Holy Spirit we are empowered to be His witnesses unto all the world! Yes, some are called to be Pastors or Teachers or Evangelists. But we are all called to be witnesses. In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul used the term “Christ’s Ambassadors.” An Ambassador is a person who has been designated to represent a King or a Country to another Government. We as Christians are to be Ambassadors for Christ—representing Him to the World. And, as such, we need to “Fan into Flame” our influence, our witness, our ability to represent Him to others!” I believe that Paul was telling Timothy to not be discouraged and not to slack off in his zeal to preach Christ. That “fanning into flame” meant continue to grow in Grace and Knowledge of Christ. Live in His Presence every day. Seek His will, His purpose, His direction in all that you do. Allow God’s Love in you to grow and to radiate from you as you touch lives. “Be all that you can be in Christ Jesus” as we reach out with the Good News of Salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord!
So Paul, as he was aware that his life in this world will soon end, gave these words of advice to Timothy that I would sum up with these statements:
>Remember how you came to Christ and how He saved you and called you to live the life of Holiness.
>Remember that your salvation was bought and paid for by Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the price by shedding his own life’s blood and dying in our place so that we could be forgiven and brought back into a right relationship with God.
>Don’t allow the passion for Spiritual Growth and Spiritual Service to weaken. Stroke the fire of passion so that the flames will increase.
But there is one more verse in this passage that seals the commitment. Paul, acknowledging his own condition of suffering in prison because of his faith and commitment to Christ, writes: “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Timothy 1: 12).
That is the clincher, the deal sealer! Our trust in Christ that He is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do, is the foundation of everything we know and believe as Christians.
Remember that “Jesus saved you and called you to a holy life” (Verse 9).
Have you accepted that Salvation and Call to Holiness?