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Guard the Gospel - Not ashamed

2Timothy 1:8-12
Sunday, 22nd April, 2012

Not ashamed   These words appear twice on this passage  in verse 8 and verse 12.  In the middle is a description of the Good News. So why do you need encouragement to not be ashamed? Of what are you ashamed?  Timothy was , we believe , in Ephesus, teaching the good News of the Kingdom of God, risking his life in a city known for its aggressive anti-Christian  behaviour.  Religion and capitalism combined against  Paul in a serious piece of persecution. Paul was now in prison in Rome . That was the common lot of the early church leadership. Join the Leadership Team and get a beating, imprisonment and maybe execution! The lot of church members was little different. It could just be a dead stop on promotion at work or and end to getting a job. That is the lot of the church in this world now. And if you have not felt that pressure, much of the church would simply think ‘You should be so blessed’  But the pressure is on right across the world to silence the way the truth and the life.


And that brings fear and shame. We may not be persecuted but the average response to saying ‘I am a Christian’ ranges from surprise, curiosity, sad you are so deluded, to: anger that you have caused so much trouble on the world.


So Christians in this country, in spite of the religious tolerance enshrined ion law, are ashamed of the Good News. We hid away from expressing that Jesus is the only way, that there is a heaven to be gained and a hell to escape. That Jesus is the truth and what he says is the only solution to 21st Century living. That eternal life is more important than this life.  We are ashamed  and we keep our mouths shut and pretend that walking the walk is enough and we do not have to talk the talk.



Paul was in prison. To most that is a sign of failure, evidence of criminality. Hardly the guy to identify yourself with. Jesus was a country bumpkin, who collected a rag- tag following and then was executed as a rebellious slave.  Hardly the leader of a great religion. He even promised trouble, persecution and death for his followers!  But Paul turns our natural reticence to suffering on its head.

do not be ashamed – rather join me in suffering

8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

When was the last time you provoked persecution? God’s word says, join Paul in suffering for the Good News, by the power of God.  Instead of keeping our heads down we are encouraged to challenge the status quo, declare the Good News, not aggressively but in sincerity and clearly, not ashamed of it even when our friends despise us for being a Christian.


But it is what we are not ashamed of that fills the centre of this passage and we will return to it in a moment.

First we will look at verse 11.

Appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.

11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am.

The reason Paul is in prison is not that he is a criminal or pervert or subverting the people. The reason he is suffering is that he is appointed a herald, an apostle and a teacher of this Good News.

Four words that describe our mission.





They sort of pair up Apostleship is about being sent ; The herald is about proclaiming The Good News.

So Paul was appointed and sent to proclaim and teach the Good News.


Appointed and Sent (apostle)


Proclaim(herald) and Teach


That is what Jesus taught in Matthew 28:18-20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That is our great commission, that one of our responses to the love of God in Christ Jesus.


The passage ends with a second reason why we are not to be ashamed.


 Not ashamed because I know and trust Jesus

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


It is not just about the Good news being a creed to be believed but also about a relationship to be developed.

I know who I have believed.. It is knowing a person

I am convinced that he is able to guard.. it is about trusting Jesus. Jesus is the Good News. And so the Good News is defined by him.


 The word ‘Guard’ here is best understood by reading the whole of the letter. We have described the letter as ‘Guard the Gospel or Good News’   because the word guard appears in verse 14 and the letter goes on to call us to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, to endure hardship, remember Christ Jesus, and having described some of the errors that were to be avoided, Timothy is encouraged to study the scriptures, to preach the word faithfully. Here is an outline of the letter.


I    Greeting 1:1-2

II   Guard the Gospel 1:3-18

            a. Keep the faith 1:3-7

            b. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel 1:8-12

            c. Guard the Gospel 1:13-18

III  Be Faithful 2:1-26

            a. Be strong; endure hardship    2:1-7

            b. Remember Jesus Christ 2:8-13

            c. A workman approved by God 2:14-26

IV  Continue in what you have learned 3:1-17

V   Paul’s charge to Timothy to Proclaim 4:1-8

VI. Personal Remarks 4:9-18

VII Final Greetings 4:19-21


This letter is about not being ashamed but guarding the revelation of Jesus Christ.  It begins with the sure knowledge that  we can trust Jesus.

and am convinced that he is able to

guard what I have entrusted to him until that day


Which brings us to the centre of this passage, the Good News itself.


There is an article in Christianity this month on the Gospels. In it Tom Wright suggests that the church ignores huge chunks of the gospels and therefore reduces the gospel. We have, in the last 6 years constantly been studying the John’s and now Matthew’s gospel for that very reason. To get the full picture of the Good News. Here we have a summary:


The Good News

9 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, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.


 It is a three point summary. We are

·        Saved

·        Called

·        and we are recipients of Grace


It does not here say what we are saved from , nor does it detail what is meant by a holy life. That is for us to read in the rest of the Bible and New testament in particular. But we must be in no doubt that our Good News is about bowing to the  King of kings, accepting his salvation and mercy, signing up to a life-long obedience to his rule in our lives. Anything less is a shallow fabrication. This calling is what Paul has specified for himself in saying he is a herald and apostle. The Good News is what he is called to herald and teach.


So the question is ‘are you saved?’ And ‘Are you called?’  You cannot have one without the other because they both describe the change that God seeks to make in your life. There can be no salvation and carry on as you are. There can be no calling to obedience without accepting Jesus as a personal Saviour. A holy calling is to a holy life. That begins by you being made holy in Christ, it continues throughout the rest of your life as Christ is formed in you. It is the highest calling but it is especially for those with a poor view of themselves. Holiness is nothing to do with being a cut above the rest, it is the life of repentant sinners who have discovered grace.


The logic of this is what follows in today’s reading, it is the logic of grace.

Mercy we were told last week is not getting what we deserve. Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve. We are saved from sin and death. We are given a holy calling. Our lives are to be lives of grace.


– not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

 God did not choose you because you were lively, good looking, healthy, rich, intelligent, witty, loving or caring. He chose you by grace. He does not reject the ugly, the poor, the unhealthy, the not so bright, the unhappy , the unloving or the pervert. In fact he is more likely to choose those who are weak and those who are poor so that his transcendent power can be shown. The rich and intelligent get too much recognition without grace . So don’t look around the church wondering why there are so many people whose lives are a struggle. We are demonstrations of grace. That God chooses the weak things of this world to confound the strong. You are , each one of you valued because you are you, with all the complicated, mixed up lives and emotions you have. God says to you. “I love you” and Jesus says “I died for you”, the Holy Spirit says” We will dwell in you”. You are God’s chosen people. Stop measuring yourself by this world’s standards and measure yourself by God’s love. He does not ask that you have quality, he wants to be the quality in your life, to be the reason you are lifted up from the mess and called to a holy life.


To clarify how grace is what you receive, Paul points out that you could not have anything to do with your salvation.


This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus,


Get it? Your salvation predates the Big Bang. Steven Hawking eat your heart out we know there was god before the big bang! We know there was grace and a plan of salvation before the dawn of time.


Now it has been revealed in Jesus. The gospels are the story of the revelation of grace. That is why we read it. Not just the Christmas and Easter stories but the important stuff in the middle about the kingdom of God.

And what has been revealed in our Good News?

Our Saviour, Christ Jesus, has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.


Our message is either nonsense – people still die and how do you know there is life after death – or it is the only good news the world has ever had! The life and death cycle is broken in Christ!  And the proof is what we celebrate week in , week out as we break bread and drink wine together. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!


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