The Assurance of Salvation (2 Timothy 1:11-12)
2 Timothy 1:11-12
Good morning everybody. If we could open our Bibles and turn to 2 Timothy, the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 1, and looking this morning at the last part of verses 11 and 12. The title of this message is The Assurance of Salvation. As you’re turning there I just wanted to comment for a second on how much I personally enjoyed that ice cream social last night, or yesterday afternoon I should say. I had my first bowl of ice cream and I said well, you know, I need to be biblical about this because God created Adam and Eve, two people, so I had a second bowl. And then after that I said well, after all, God is Trinitarian, so I went ahead and a third bowl. So that’s a textbook example on using spirituality to justify gluttony I guess, but it was just a great time.
And then one of the things that you guys did not see because you weren’t here during the week but one of the local Christian schools, I believe we were at Fort Bend Christian Academy, but their football team was going out to get ready to play on an away game and so they asked for a pastor to come, different pastors in the community to come and kind of give a devotional to the team before they got on the bus and left to play. And I bravely turned the job over to Gabe and Gabe… and I went there to support him, of course, and Gabe got up and did a great devotional, it went for about 5 to 10 minutes, even gave the gospel in case some of these young kids weren’t saved yet. And he talked to them about the need to be humble, even in athletics, and not to be glory-centered. So that was kind of one of the neat things that happened at this church during the week. There’s a lot of neat things that go on here that most people don’t know about unless I tell you about them so I just try to bring some of these things to your attention from time to time.
Well, here we are in the book of 2 Timothy, which is really about finishing the race, running your lap, completing the task that God has given us. Of course, by now hopefully we all know that this book was written by Paul, an apostle, to a very young man named Timothy. And the book is probably Paul’s…not probably but is Paul’s last writing, it’s his last will and testament, written from Rome, his second imprisonment there, as Paul is ready to die. And his concern in this book is Timothy, who is pastoring the church at Ephesus, is becoming afraid or shrinking back in his calling. Christianity is always one generation away from extinction. And Paul is concerned at this point, just prior to his death, that the truth of the gospel that he has been faithfully teaching all of these years will not get transferred to the next generation. And if that is true then everything that Paul has labored to produce will be for nothing.
So this whole letter is designed to deal with Timothy in his timidity, seeking to get him to persevere in his calling. And we entered into part 1 of a four-part outline, each chapter of the book is a different part of the outline but we find ourselves in chapter 1 where there is a general call to be faithful in the ministry. And we’ve seen the greeting, verses 1-2, we have seen a thanksgiving that Paul provides regarding Timothy’s faith and heritage and then he reminds Timothy of his gifting, verse 6. Timothy had a very special gift that God had given him to bless the church and Timothy, for whatever reason, had allowed that gift to become neglected or to lapse in its use and Paul exhorts this young man to use, or to kindle afresh this gift that is within him. And then verse 7 is a very strong exhortation to be courageous and not to yield to the emotions of fear which really do not come from the Holy Spirit that is within us. And then we moved last week into verses 8-14 where Paul calls Timothy to be unashamed, to not be ashamed of certain things. Now one of the things he is not to be ashamed of is the gospel. And in the process of calling Timothy to not be ashamed of the gospel he gives a very clear definition of what the gospel is and what the gospel does, verses 9-14. That’s where we find ourselves this morning.
We saw, over the last couple of Sundays, the benefits of the gospel And then later, today, Paul will remind Timothy of his own connection to the gospel. And then next week we’ll see the exhortation to guard the gospel. So Paul describes the benefits of the gospel, verses 9-10; Paul’s connection to the gospel, verses 11-12, and then the exhortation to protect the gospel, verses 13-14.
But you remember these benefits of the gospel; in other words, Timothy, you cannot relinquish this message because the gospel does things for people that no other source of knowledge does. Such as what? The gospel has within it saving power. The gospel has within it a manifestation of the grace of God. The gospel is eternal, it is the eternal plan and program of God, not something dreamt up by mere men. And last week you recall that we saw that the gospel conquers death, verse 10.
We went through the different forms of death: physical, spiritual, and eternal, that the Bible describes. And we saw how the gospel is the only answer to each of these forms of death, physical, spiritual and eternal. And Paul believed so strongly in this gospel that he himself was heavily connected to the gospel. In other words, what Paul is revealing to Timothy is if you shrink back in your calling then you’re shrinking back on my whole life’s purpose because everything I say, everything I do, everything I write, every ministry I engage in is somehow, Paul says, connected or interconnected with the gospel. And Paul begins to explain his own connectivity or relationship to the gospel in verses 11 and 12. And in the process Paul reveals six concepts or six ways that he was connected to the gospel. We’re going to look at those six ways this morning.
The first way that Paul was connected to the gospel was he calls himself a Herald or proclaimer of the gospel. Notice verse 11, where we pick it up, Paul writes: “for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.” Then down in verse 12 he says, “For this reason I also suffer these things, for I am not ashamed; for I know in whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”
And in those just very brief two verses Paul explains why the gospel is so central to his life and his ministry. He gives three connections to the gospel in verse 11 and three more connections to the gospel in verse 12. But you’ll notice the first thing that Paul calls to Timothy’s attention is that he personally, Paul, was what we would call a Herald or proclaimer of the gospel.
Notice again verse 11, “for which I was appointed a preacher….” From this word “proclaimer,” translated “proclaimer” in the English you get the Greek root from which we get the verb kērussō; kērussō means to herald, it means to proclaim, it means to teach openly and with great authority. And that’s what Paul was; he was not just a believer in the gospel but he was one who openly proclaimed it, he openly heralded the gospel. And in fact, that same word, kērussō is a word that Paul will exhort Timothy to later on in this book. 2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word;” kērussō ton logon. How do I know that? I know that because I speak a little Greek and read a little Greek but that’s also the logo, if you will, the slogan, if you will, of Dallas Seminary, going back to its foundations in the late 1920’s. And what that slogan simply means is to preach, in other words, to Herald, or to proclaim the Word of God. Timothy, that’s what you’re to do because that’s what I did in my life and ministry; I was an open proclaimer of the Word of God.
One of the things that’s very sad to watch develop in the body of Christ is a mindset that says this: we don’t change the message but we can change the method from place to place. I hear that constantly; as long as the message is intact the method that you use is up for grabs. I do not find that thinking anywhere in Paul’s thought. Paul is not neutral; the Scripture is not neutral, not only on the subject of the gospel but the method through which it is to be dispensed. The God-ordained method for dispensing the gospel, the God-ordained method for edifying and building up the church of Jesus Christ is the methodology of preaching, kērussō, in other words, heralding or proclaiming.
Many people think that this idea of an open proclamation such as what we are engaged in this morning, many people think it’s some kind of manmade idea, but the fact of the matter is, it is God’s method, because God is not neutral on the subject of the gospel any more than he is neutral on the method that is to be used in the proclamation of the gospel. Can people receive the gospel other ways? Of course they can; they can receive it through one on one conversation, they can receive it through reading literature, there are many different ways to receive the gospel. But God says My primary way of disseminating and dispensing the gospel is through kērussō, open heralding or proclamation of the gospel.
And yet, the preaching of the Word of God, which would include the gospel, is something that is foolishness to the natural mind. Paul talked about that in 1 Corinthians 1:21; he writes this: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
See, the Greeks wanted wisdom, the Jews wanted a sign, a miracle of some sort. And Paul showed up in Corinth with not only a different message but a different methodology. He would not submit to what the Greeks wanted; he would not submit to what the Jews wanted, he submitted to what God wanted, which is the message unadulterated, disseminated through preaching, (there’s the same word, kērussō) open heralding, open proclamation. And why is it foolishness to the world? Because every worldview wants things its own way. The Jews wanted a sign, the Greeks wanted some kind of wisdom which would compare to their own Greek philosophers. And Paul did neither, he preached the simple message of the cross and even the method that he chose to use would not accommodate itself to the worldview of the day.
You know, people, they come into church they want all kinds of different things to be done. Well, can we have kind of a question and answer format? Yeah, we do that some in Sunday School classes. Can we have more of an interactive model? Can we have this method over here, or that method over there? And the bottom line is we’re not interested in coming up with a new method, depending on some new fad that everybody seems to be writing at that particular moment. We are interested in God’s method. God’s method is just as significant as is the message itself, which is proclamation, open heralding, open teaching of the gospel.
Paul says that’s what I am; I am a heralder, or a proclaimer of the gospel. And how did Paul find himself in this position? You’ll notice verse 11, he explains it at the beginning of the verse, “for which I was appointed.” Now when was Paul appointed to this ministry of proclaiming the gospel? He tells us in the very first book he ever wrote, called the book of Galatians, he writes this: “But when God, who had set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,” and he begins to describe his calling as an apostle, something that began even in his mother’s womb, “from my mother’s womb.”
Jeremiah, the great prophet, the weeping prophet of the Old Testament describes a similar thing in his commissioning. Jeremiah 1:4-5 says this: “Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,  ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” The calling of Jeremiah was to tear down and to uproot and simultaneously to build through his various messages. And you’ll notice that both with Paul and with Jeremiah this calling began when they were in their mother’s womb and in the case of Jeremiah it seems like it even took place before he was in his mother’s womb.
And by the way, no extra charge for this, but the biblical position on what is taking place inside the womb of a mother, which is something our culture has been debating for the last three/four decades is what is taking place within the mother is a human being. Paul describes his own humanity in his mother’s womb, Galatians 1:15; Jeremiah describes essentially the same thing in Jeremiah 1:4-5. The Bible makes no distinction at all between pre-born and born. They are all persons. In fact, it’s interesting that when Luke describes John the Baptist and his activities in his mother’s womb Luke uses the Greek word brephos, which means baby or infant, which is the exact same word used to describe the baby Jesus, in the manger.
[Luke 1:41, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the babe [brephos] leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”  “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby [brephos] leaped in my womb for joy.” Luke 2:12, “This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby [brephos] wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:16, “So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby [brephos] as He lay in the manger.”]
Biblically speaking there is no distinction whatsoever between preborn and post born, unborn and those that are born. And so if you believe anything about the Bible it makes your position on this issue very clear, you’re prolife, whether you understand all the ramifications or not. And the moment the Christian church succumbs to a pro-choice or a pro-abortion type of position is the moment they are simply abandoning the biblical text.
So Paul was this proclaimer and this Herald of the gospel; he had that calling on his life from his mother’s womb.
It says here in the book of Hebrews, chapter 5, verse 4, it says: “And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God.” I don’t think Paul ever signed up for this; I think it was a divine calling on his life before he was ever born. And that’s how God called priests in the Old Testament. There was no vocational counsellor that said all right, everybody fill out this form and let’s look at your temperament and your abilities and let’s see if you’d be a good priest or not. It’s not something you signed up for, it’s not something you volunteered for, it’s something that God called you into. That is what Paul is revealing here in these verses and others. And how do you know if you have a calling of God on your life to do something for God? How do you know that? I think Paul helps us with that in 1 Corinthians 9:16. Paul writes this: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” You see, the calling of God was so strong on this man’s life, the apostle Paul, that there was this inner compulsion which compelled him to proclaim what he proclaimed. Most commentators believe that Paul is alluding to something that happened in the life of the prophet, Jeremiah, in chapter 20, verse 9.
You know, prophet Jeremiah kind of had a little bit of a pity party there in chapter 20, self-pity party. Why did he have a pity party? Because he had just been flogged by Pashhur, the high priest, and you would think anybody in that circumstance would say why am I doing all of this for God, all I do is get myself flogged and incarcerated and thrown into a pit. So he began to, as you might expect, in his humanity to feel sorry for himself. Why am I in the ministry? Why am I even doing this at all?
But then he gives an answer, in Jeremiah 20:9 he says, “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.” The more I keep my mouth shut because I want to get out of human persecution the more it’s like “fire shut up in my bones,” and I am more tired holding back that fire than I am going through persecution as a result of being a proclaimer. Timothy, this is your calling, Paul says, it was my calling, I’m ready to die. It’s your calling and you are to do what I have done, you are to go out and be an open heralder and proclaimer of the gospel.
Now there in verse 11 Paul had a second connection to the gospel, he was not only the gospel’s heralder, or proclaimer, he was the gospel’s apostle. Notice again verse 11, notice what it says there: “for which I was appointed a preacher,” notice that next clause, “and an apostle….” Paul was not the only apostle that received this commissioning and this calling. Paul had a very dominant role to play. Paul, in fact, is the one that would go on the three missionary journeys and take the gospel all the way to Rome. Paul was the one that would write thirteen New Testament books which explain to us more than anybody else the mystery nature of the church.
But what you’ll discover in the book of Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 20, it says this, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles,” not just the apostle Paul, “the apostles,” you’ll notice the noun “apostles” is plural; “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,” he’s using metaphorical temple imagery to describe the origin of the church and he says Jesus is the chief corner stone. Now the chief corner stone in a temple structure is the stone you put in first and all the other stones are measured or have their place in connection to the relationship that they have to that cornerstone.
But after Jesus Christ, the cornerstone, is placed in, then we have the foundational stones, Ephesians 2:20, which is not just the Apostle Paul, it is “the apostles” plural, and “prophets.” And they are the ones that God built the structure of the church on. The cornerstone goes in first, and then come the foundational stones and the rest of the structure rises according to that initial building. Paul, of course, being very prominent in that list but not the only member of the church having that kind of role, “apostles,” Ephesians 2:20, being plural.
Now one the things people like to do today is they say well, there are apostles today. I have even students at the College of Biblical Studies that will introduce themselves as apostle so and so. Let me ask you a question: how many times do you lay a foundation in a building? You only lay it once; once the foundation is laid it’s a done deal. The fact of the matter is the foundation of the church has already been laid through the original apostles, Ephesians 2:20.
What God has been doing for the last 2,000 years is He has been building on that foundation. We are all different living stones, using Peter’s analogy over in 1 Peter 2, playing different roles in a structure that God started building 2,000 years ago. I would contend this, that God right now is putting on the roof. It’s almost as if the structure is almost complete and one of these days the church will reach what Paul calls in Romans 11:25-26 the full numbers of Gentiles will have come in, in which case the earthly mission of the church will be concluded through the rapture of the church. [Romans 11:25-26, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;  and so all Israel will be saved, just as it is written, ‘THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”]
And then God, who cannot lie and is ever mindful of His unfulfilled covenants He made with Israel will place His hand back on Israel after the church has been removed and He will fulfill, through the events of the Great Tribulation and the events of the Millennial Kingdom every single solitary promise He ever made to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Paul was just that sort of person; he was so interested in the gospel because he was one of the foundational stones in this structure of the church, and he wants so desperately for Timothy to go on and build on this structure, as Christ or course is the ultimate builder of the church. But don’t shrink back in your calling, Timothy, or else the foundation has been laid for no reason.
This word “apostle” is also very interesting because it is revealing from the Greek verb apostellō, to send. Paul was one of the original apostles; he was also a sent one. If it were not for the work of the Apostle Paul and God’s work through the Apostle Paul I doubt any of us would be saved today. I doubt any of us would have any real knowledge or awareness of the gospel because Paul is the one that took the gospel outside of the borders of Israel, beginning with that first missionary journey and the gospel is exported into Galatia and then Asia and down over into Greece and ultimately into Rome. Three missionary journeys Paul went on getting the gospel into those regions; Paul, at the end of the book of Acts being taken as a prisoner to Rome which was the design of God because as Paul is taken as a prisoner to Rome apostolic teaching is also going to Rome. And that’s why the book of Acts concludes with Paul, Acts 28, in his first Roman imprisonment receiving many guests and visitors under house arrest and during that time the gospel is going out.
Paul says my whole life, my whole calling, my whole reason for living is related to the gospel as one of these foundational stones and also as the sent one. And how tragic it is, Timothy, if you neglect this heritage; how tragic it is by way of extension to us if we neglect these last two thousand years of what God has been doing. But we are to take that baton and run our lap in the race because of such a great heritage that we have received and been called into. Paul was not just a heralder of the gospel but he was an apostle of the gospel.
Also there in verse 11 we learn that he is a teacher of the gospel. Notice, if you will, 2 Timothy 1:11, it says, “for which I was appointed as a prophet and an apostle and a teacher,” the Greek noun translated “teacher” is the Greek word didaskalos, where we get the word didactic from. Paul was a teacher of the gospel. What is a teacher? A teacher is an explainer of the gospel; a teacher is one who gives knowledge to students and clarifies things that perhaps they can have clarity on no other way other than through this tremendous gift of the Holy Spirit that God has given to the church called the gift of teaching.
So we, by way of extension, Timothy by way of extension, is to go on in that heritage and to continue as the Lord gives us opportunities to clarify, to explain, to develop. Later on in the chapter to defend the gospel. It is my contention that the church of Jesus Christ has almost been preached to death. We’ve heard sermon after sermon after sermon from various high profile personalities giving us proclamations and proclamations have their place as we saw earlier. But one of the things that’s lacking in the church of Jesus Christ is teaching the things of God, explaining the things of God. The church of Jesus Christ, to some extent, has been preached to death but we haven’t been taught. And what a need there is in pulpits and Sunday School classes to explain, both to adults and to children in large groups and small groups the delicacies and the details and the definitions and all of the different things that go into the gospel and the revealed Word of God.
The knowledge level amongst the average Christian has suffered a precipitous decline from the prior generation to this generation. You know that if you ever teach any type of Bible college or seminary. There used to be a certain knowledge you could assume that students would come in with; they would know the basics and you wouldn’t have to cover the basics. And being in the role of a Bible college teacher for the last seven years I will tell you flat out that the biggest mistake you make as a teacher is assuming that your students know more than they do. Most of them know very, very little about the Scripture. Most of them come out of churches that really do not emphasize the teachings of the Word of God. They may emphasize emotion, excitement, they emphasize all kinds of different subjects but the knowledge that they actually have of the Word of God is very, very shallow and it’s very, very small. So consequently you have to spend so much time rehearsing the fundamentals that prior generations automatically picked up from their Sunday School teacher and their pastors and so forth.
And we at Sugar Land Bible Church, I think this is an area that we excel at; we don’t excel at every area, no church can. But God has given us the right mix of spiritual gifts where we have the ability to fill this vast need out there of teaching the Word of God to people the basics, the simple things.
And so Timothy is to continue on in this calling as a teacher, an instructor. What was the gospel to Paul? He was a proclaimer of it, an apostle of it, a teacher of it. Now we move into three more connections in verse 12, number 4, he was one who suffered because of the gospel. This gospel was so significant to Paul that if it meant that he had to suffer to get this truth to others he was willing to shoulder that load as God gave him power and resources to do this.
You see, most Christians today, particularly in America, will say this: Well, I will exert myself up to a certain level; I will push myself under God’s power up to a certain level but once my comfort zone becomes to invaded then I will sort of dial back. A lot of us say that we are serving the Lord sacrificially but the fact of the matter is we serve the Lord to a certain point of discomfort and once we hit that level of discomfort we really, unless we’re strongly compelled internally to do so, we really do not go beyond our comfort level. And what you discover with Paul is he went far beyond his comfort level because he knew the power of the gospel; he knew what the gospel did. He knew the benefits of the gospel.
You see this there in verse 12, he says, “For this reason,” well, for what reason? For what reason is in verse 11, he was the gospel’s herald, he was the gospel’s apostle, he was the gospel’s teacher, “For this reason I suffer these things.” If you ever wonder what Paul went through at the human level to export the gospel all you’d have to do is read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. If fact, you don’t have to read it because I’m going to read it right now. He is comparing his credentials as a true apostle with the false apostles in Corinth.
Paul says, “Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments,” that’s plural, he was in jail multiple times, “beaten times without number, often in danger of death.  Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.” Now why thirty-nine lashes? Because it was generally understood in Greco-Roman culture that if you were beaten with forty lashes you’re as good as dead, so if they wanted to spare your life they were nice about it and they gave you thirty nine lashes. Paul went through that five times according to 2 Corinthians 11:24.
 “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned,” in fact, in Acts 14, in his first missionary journey they threw so many rocks at him they thought he was dead and they left. Now what would most of us do under that circumstance. Most of us, when we face the mildest opposition we just throw in the towel. But Paul got right back up and went back into Lystra, after being thought he was dead, and completed his ministry. In fact, that very event, I believe, Paul is going to make reference to later on in this book because there was a young man watching that from Lystra, whose name happened to be Timothy. And Paul will remind Timothy of what he saw his mentor experience.
So “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep,” or the open sea.  “I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;  I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”
Anybody that’s been in spiritual leadership can tell you what a headache a church can be, singular. In fact, at this church I am just one of seven shepherds, I mean, I don’t know how I would live or function if the weight of the entire church was on my shoulders. Paul not only had that weight but he had the weight of all of the churches on his shoulders. [“27] I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.  Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?”
I mean, think about being a shepherd of all of those people and one person there all over the Mediterranean world wanders into sin and Paul learns about it and he’s burdened by it. Think of the weight this man was carrying.
“If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.  The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.  In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me,  and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.” 2 Corinthians 11:30.
It goes on for a whole chapter explaining what he went through for the gospel and what he is saying to Timothy is I am not asking you to do something that I have not gone through myself, and I don’t want to make this as if Paul white-knuckled it and did it through human power. He did not, he’s very clear that we are progressively sanctified the same way we are justified, by faith alone through the power of the Holy Spirit alone. The strength of God is there, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness God told the Apostle Paul.” [2 Corinthians 12:9] But it does not subtract from the basic pain he was in moment by moment.
The question for us is are we willing to make a similar kind of sacrifice. Maybe we’re not called to make the exact same level of sacrifice, very few people are. But I think as we all honestly look at our lives, particularly here in prosperous North America, we would have to say to ourselves that there is further distance we could go, in almost every area, to really get serious about the gospel, to see that the next generation receives the gospel intact. Of course, we’re all called to do different things. And this idea that is so prominent in so-called Christian television that Christianity involves no suffering, the prosperity gospel, what an abomination. I don’t know how to be nice about it other than to simply listen to this insanity being disseminated over and over again by people, promising health and wealth to people and simply to compare it to what Paul experienced. We need to quit listening to people and we need to start reading the Word of God, because a lot of Christians out there are far more influenced by the… just like the Corinthians, the oracle style or pizazz of the ministry they follow and their minds are filled with false ideas. Am I against teachers and teaching and preaching? Of course not, as I indicated earlier, but I’m far more interested in seeing people get into this book and use the Scripture as their primary base of knowledge and to screen everything they hear through the lens that they themselves have developed through perpetual study of the Word of God.
If people were students of the Word of God a lot of these so-called ministries would be out of business but as Paul will make clear later on in the book people like some of these so-called ministries because these so-called ministers are experts in telling people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. And who wants to come and listen to a sermon like this, about suffering. Tell me I’m going to be rich, tell me I’m going to be famous, tell me I’m going to have influence, but don’t talk to me too much about this subject of sacrifice and suffering.
What was Paul to the gospel? Paul, beyond everything else that he was, was a sufferer for the cause of the gospel. Paul was something else with respect to the gospel, this is number 12, he was bold about the gospel. He was not one who shrunk back concerning the gospel. He certainly was not one who was embarrassed about the gospel. Notice, if you will, again verse 12, “For this reason I suffer these things, but I am not ashamed,” it’s right there in the middle of verse 12, “but I am not ashamed,” this word “shame” in the Greek, [epiaiscunomai] hopefully I’m going to pronounce this right, E-pais-chun-o-mai, Epaischunomai, which means ashamed.
See, the same verb that Paul uses elsewhere, either as a noun or a verb to describe the temptation to be ashamed of the gospel. When you study it out you’ll find it in Romans 1:16-17, where Paul says: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel,” why would he be not ashamed of it? Because “it is the power,” see the benefits, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Later on in this book when we get to 2 Timothy 2:15 we’ll see that same root again coming out through the English translation “ashamed.” 2 Timothy 2:15 says, Paul says to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, but accurately handling the word of truth.”
Why is it all of the time Paul says don’t be ashamed of the gospel, don’t be ashamed of the gospel, don’t be ashamed of the gospel? There must be something within human beings that make us want to naturally be embarrassed about the gospel. What is it about the gospel that causes us so easily in our natural selves to be ashamed of it, to not want to talk about it too directly? When the subject of spiritual things comes up and the opportunity is there to share the gospel with people, the door is wide open, so many times we just want to do the God talk, the spiritual talk, the kind of Oprah Winfrey spiritual talk. And we never get into Jesus and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and Christ as the only way to God through faith alone. We want to just babble on and on about these kind of spiritual realities, or lack thereof, but we never really get to the gospel.
What is it about the gospel that causes us embarrassment? There must be something about it or Paul wouldn’t have to exhort both himself and Timothy to not be ashamed of it. What is it about it that makes us so uncomfortable? I think I have the answer, or an answer. It’s in Galatians 5:11, Paul says, “But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.” Some translate “stumbling block” instead with the word offense.
You have to understand this about the gospel; you have to know what you’re dealing with. The gospel is the greatest assault that can ever be waged on the pride of the natural man. God designed it that way. In fact, God designed the gospel in such a way that when you hear the gospel you are naturally offended. You recoil in your natural self at the hearing of the gospel. Why is that? Because what the gospel says is you cannot fix yourself. In fact, you are so far, we are so far gone in our trespasses and sins that we have no ability to fix ourselves. No amount of good works can somehow erase the nature of our sin depraved state. No good work that I can do can ever accom-modate for or counterbalance the negative, or the sin or the bad things that I have done in my life.
And you see, the natural man does not want to hear that. What they want to hear is you do A, B and C and you’re okay. So the fixing of yourself rests upon your shoulders. Now why do they want that? Because of pride. We grossly understate and underestimate the pride in the human heart. The pride in the human heart is so strong that we want to say, like Frank Sinatra did, that great theologian, “I did it my way.” See the emphasis on I and my and me and self? And the gospel comes along and says you cannot do it your way. In fact, if you do it your way you’ll go into finery indignation, you’ll go into the second death, eternal retribution.
The only real hope you have is to rest upon, by way of receiving a gift, by way of faith, what God has done for you. And unless you receive that as a free gift, totally independent of human works, you are not saved, you are not a child of God. But what about my sincerity? What about my devotion? What about my family history? What about my denominational background? The gospel comes along and says those things mean nothing to God. In fact, those things, Isaiah 64:6 tells us very clearly, those things are nothing more than filthy rags, a stench in the nostrils of God. [Isaiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”]
And if a lost person hears that message and understand it there is a recoiling that goes on. We even face that battle here with people that are saved, because for years and years and years they have been sharing the gospel wrongly; they add some kind of work that they have to do, people have to do, at the end. Receive Jesus into my heart, raise a hand, give money, walk an aisle, pray the sinner’s prayer, all of these topics that you do not find anywhere in the Scripture. And yet why do all of those all get inserted in the gospel presentations throughout the United States of America and the world? The answer is very simple, it’s pride at work. Pride is always saying to God well, let me do something, let me lay down my life, let me repent of my sins, let me feel remorseful, let me contribute. And the gospel comes along and says you can contribute nothing.
And even within the body of Christ you face this recoiling, constantly, when people are corrected concerning the clarity of the gospel and keeping the gospel clear. The gospel enthrones God, it dethrones man. And that’s why there is a temptation to become embarrassed about the gospel and if it gets a little too embarrassing we’ll just alter the message ever so slightly. But let me tell you something, when you alter the message ever so slightly it is no longer the gospel.
We need to offend people, not because we are offensive but because the message itself is offensive. I have one of those people-pleasing personalities for I’d love to please everybody and yet if that was my dominant concern constantly I could not preach or teach some of the messages you hear me preach and teach, I certainly couldn’t preach and teach this one because it’s an offensive message. And we need to not be offensive because we are lude, crude, rude and obnoxious but we need to be offensive because we are faithful to the message, understanding that that message itself, as designed by God, is an assault, it is an affront to human pride and there will always be this sort of recoiling at the message.
I am so excited that we’re having our Answering Islam Conference with Shahram Hadian, who was a refugee from Iran just before the Ayatollah Khomeini took over with his parents as a very young child, and how he came into the United States of America as a Muslim, and he says in his presentations, I believe he’s going to be bringing this up at some point, that the reason he is saved today is because he got mad. The reason he is saved today is because he got offended, because somebody, a high school classmate, a young girl, had the audacity to give him the Gospel of John, which explained the message of the cross through the Gospel of John. Now he went home and he read through that and his natural reaction, when he received that was not a big smile on his face, it was not yeah, and clapping and happiness, it was an offense. I was offended, I was bothered by that. This young woman that gave him the gospel was as sweet as apple pie, but Shahram found himself in a state of angst over this because that’s how the Holy Spirit has designed the message. And it’s through the offense of the cross that he ultimately embraced the cross by faith alone. Had he not been offended he would not be saved today.
And how tragic it is to see evangelical Christianity trying to build a bridge, theologically, into either Roman Catholicism or into Islam under the banner that we have to find common ground. A prominent teaching in many places is Chrislam, where we just syncretize and put it all together, we’re not that far apart. Shahram will tell you very clearly that if that was the message he had heard he would be unsaved today. He would have simply merged some of Christianity’s teachings, he would have syncretized some of Christianity’s teachings into his preexisting belief system and he would not be offended and he would be on his way to hell. It’s because he was offended that he became saved.
And this helps us understand what Paul is talking about here in verse 12 when he says, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed;” Timothy, you shouldn’t be ashamed either, because the gospel is offensive as it is remains the power of God unto salvation.
And then verse 12, Paul’s sixth connection with the gospel is he was confident in the gospel. Look again at verse 12, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” What had Paul entrusted to Christ? Paul had entrusted to Christ Paul. Paul had entrusted to Christ the safekeeping of his soul. And notice his choice of words, “He is able to guard,” that is protect my soul, until when? Until the end, as referenced by the phrase the day of Christ Jesus, an eschatological term. He guards it, He’s able to do it, and He will do it until the bitter end.
What Paul believed in was not the perseverance of the saints but the preservation of the saints. And how different those concepts are. The perseverance of the saints is this idea that you’d better be producing fruit because that’s the mark of a saved person. And if you’re not producing fruit right up until the end then perhaps you’re not saved. The preservation of the saints is a totally different idea because it places the onus not on man but on who? God! 1 Peter 1:5 says this of us, “who are protected by the power of God,” what ultimately is preserving us? It is God at work protecting us. And this why we teach and this is why we believe in eternal security. Jesus, in John 10:27-29 puts it this way: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Tremendous teaching there on the security of the believer.
If I thought my salvation depended somehow on me, with my highs and lows and my ups and my downs I would have no security whatsoever. Some days I may feel saved, other days not. But how different it is when we understand that the one who preserves us is not us but Christ. Philippians 1:6 says this, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” I’ve got a lot of unfinished projects around my house. You know God doesn’t have any unfinished projects? What God starts He finishes. Has God started a work in your life? Of course He has. Then He Himself has committed Himself to finishing or completing what He started. Paul is not looking at Himself, he’s not looking at his performance and he had a great performance compared to most of us. But that’s not his focus.
His focus at the end of his life is on God and what God has done and what God is going to do. Consequently Paul could say, “For I know,” and he could also say, verse 12, I am convinced, this man had no doubt about his salvation, as many Christians struggle, because he’s not looking at himself. He’s looking at God and His immutable holy character, who can’t lie. Romans 8:38-39, Paul says, “For I am convinced,” same Greek word here in 2 Timothy translated convinced, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” How could he say that? Because he’s not looking at Himself, he’s looking at God.
And this is what we call the doctrine of the assurance of salvation, the idea that you don’t have to wander through your life hoping, maybe I’m going to make it in, maybe I’m not, because Jesus has made us a promise: “Truly, truly I say to you,” John 5:24, “he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” When we believe in Christ, which means trust, we have, present tense, eternal life. Now how long does “eternal” last for? The way I read it is eternal life means forever. How could it be eternal if you could lose it. “…and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” “…has passed out of” there, the verb is in the perfect tense, meaning something that’s already happened in the past with ongoing results.
Where are you getting these strange doctrines from? They’re not strange, these used to be standard in evangelical Christianity. The Dallas Theological Seminary Statement of faith, started in the late 1920’s, boldly stood on this doctrine: “We believe it is a privilege, not of some but of all by the Spirit through faith who are born again in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures to be assured of their salvation.” Well, when? From the very day they take Him to be their Savior. Well, how could that be? Because this assurance is not founded upon any fancied discovery of their own worthiness but is wholly upon the testimony of God in His written Word. What are you looking at as you go through your Christian life? Are you looking at yourself or are you looking at God? That will determine whether you embrace the doctrine of the assurance of salvation or not. What is Paul saying here in verse 12, “He,” not Paul, “He is able to guard…until that day.”
Well, what happens if I have a down time? What happens if I slip up? What happens if I backslide? 2 Timothy 2:13 says this: “If we are faithless, He remains” what? “faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” Is this the teaching that most Christians are hearing today? No it is not. Here’s what they’re hearing today. John Piper: “No Christian can be assured that he is a true believer, hence there is an ongoing need to be dedicated to the Lord and to deny ourselves so that we might make it.”
I look at a statement like this and this is the kind of thing that I was taught from my Episcopalian semi-Roman Catholic background before I was saved. And yet this comes into the church of Jesus Christ. John Piper is accepted as a standard theologian and he is almost here teaching a doctrine of works and he is denying the assurance of salvation. And I read this and I say why don’t more people call this out for what it is? A gospel of works! Why is it that these people say these things over and over again from positions of prominence and the bad guys are people that want to call them on the carpet for it? And yet that’s kind of where we find ourselves today.
I’ve used this quote before from Bob Wilkins. He writes, “During the first message presented at Ligonier’s Conference in Orlando last June, Dr. R. C. Sproul indicated that Dr. James Boyce, a scheduled speaker at the conference was dying in the faith that very night. Then at the end of the message he asked all five thousand of us present to pray that Jim dies in faith. This struck me as sad. Here was a great pastor, a theologian, a teacher and an author, yet Sproul was not sure that he was regenerate because after all, in Reformed thougth if a person fails to die in the faith he proved that he was never saved in the first place. Wilkin says I was reminded of R. T. Kendall’s remarks that merely to a man the Puritans” who were caught up in this Reformed Theology, “the Puritans died doubting whether they were saved and fearing that they were going to hell. Dr. Boyce died that very night, June 15.”
You compare that to what Paul is saying here. Compare that line of thought to what Paul is saying there in verse 12, “For I know in whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” There’s no doubt about it at all in Paul’s mind of his eternity. There’s no doubt that “to be absent from the body,” as he says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “is to be” what, “present with the Lord.” And if anybody needed to think about this subject it was Paul. Why would I say that? Because the man is about ready to die.
2 Timothy 4:6 says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come.” Why does Paul keep talking about death and confidence in Christ despite death? Because he’s ready to die. And how important it is because if we’re not the rapture generation the mortality rate is still 100%, isn’t it! We’re all going to die. “It is appointed to a man once to die, and then to face the judgment. [Hebrews 9:27, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”]
How significant, how important it is to get settled on this issue and get back to the Word of God and be able to face death the way God would have us face it. Death is a promotion. Death, in a certain sense, is something to look forward to, not to fear on your deathbed the fires of hell as did many of the Puritans because of a very warped theology, but to look forward to seeing Jesus Christ. If you’re fearing death then you’re living way beneath your privileges as a child of God. And that’s why I have entitled this message The Assurance of Salvation.
Timothy, take the baton, run the lap, be faithful. Paul is telling us to do the same thing. Why? Because was the gospel’s heralder, apostle, teacher, sufferer, something that he boldly proclaimed and something that he had confidence in till the very end of his life.
You could be here today and you could have never entered into the blessings of the gospel because perhaps you’ve never had the gospel clearly explained to you. It’s called the gospel because Jesus did everything. That’s why the gospel is called good news, there isn’t anything more for us to do other than to receive it as a free gift. You receive from God something, as a free gift, through faith alone. Faith means trust, reliance, confidence and dependence. The Spirit of God has come into the world to convict men and women of their need to believe or trust in this gospel. So our exhortation to you today is if you find yourself under the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit to trust, the best you know how, this gospel. It’s something that requires no human work, you don’t have to walk an aisle to do it, you don’t have to join a church to do it, you don’t have to give money to do it, you don’t have to pledge to work harder to do it, you don’t have to raise a hand to do it. If you want to pray a prayer that’s wonderful but that’s not required either.
There’s one condition, to trust it, and the best you know how and as God deals with you in the quietness of your own heart and the quietness of your own mind, in the privacy of your own thoughts, trust, not in yourself, but in Christ and Christ alone. And if it’s something that you have done or are doing then you’ve just changed your eternal destiny. Shall we pray. Father, we are thankful for this reminder from the Apostle Paul’s pen about his relationship to the gospel and why we should embrace it and proclaim it. Help us, Father, to be faithful this week in the different places You call us, disseminating Your Word and Your truth through the gospel. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said….