Guard the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:13-14)
2 Timothy 1:13-14
Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 1 and verse 13, we’re going to look today at just two verses, verses 13-14. The title of our message this morning is Guard the Gospel. And here we are in the book of 2 Timothy where Paul is exhorting Timothy to finish, or complete the race that God has given to him. It’s really a call, if you will, to Christian perseverance, to stay at the task.
The book is written by Paul, an apostle, to Timothy, a very young individual who is thinking about throwing in the towel because life and ministry is just too difficult for him. This is Paul’s very last letter that he wrote; this was written about A.D. 67, from Rome. It’s a very special book in the Biblical canon because it’s a description of Paul’s final word. These would be Paul’s final words to this young man, Timothy.
So the book sort of begins with a general call to endurance, chapter 1, we’ve been working our way through that chapter. We have a greeting, verses 1-2; thanksgiving, verses 3-5. There is a very strong exhortation, verse 6, for Timothy to not neglect his spiritual gift, verse 6. There is a very strong call to courage, verse 7. And then you go into verses 8-14 and we’ve sort of slowed down the pace here, taking our time through verses 8-14. It’s a call not to be ashamed. Not to be ashamed of what? Well, one of the things that Timothy is not to be ashamed of is the very gospel itself. And we can kind of divide that section into the following parts; you have the benefits of the gospel, verses 9-10, Paul’s connection to the gospel, verses 11-12, and then there’s a very strong calling to guard the gospel, verses 13-14.
You remember the benefits of the gospel? It’s saving power, it’s manifestation of grace, it’s the eternal plan of God, and the gospel really is the only tool that God has given to us that helps us with our greatest problem, which is the reality of death. And this is why Paul connected himself, or rather the Lord connected him to the gospel. Paul describes his own connection to the gospel in verses 11-12, he was the gospel’s herald, apostle, teacher, sufferer, something that he was extremely bold about. And last time we saw Paul on his death bed was confident in the gospel.
What are you going to be confident in when you die? What source of truth are you going to lean upon? Everybody has to lean on something. Paul at his waning hours, just prior to his death, was completely confident in the gospel because he understood that the gospel was not about him and his performance but was about God and His faithfulness to His promises.
And so that moves us into the verses that we’re looking at this morning, a very strong exhortation now to Timothy who is to some extent potentially going to be derelict in his duties at the pastor of the church at Ephesus, unless he buckles down and follows the apostle’s exhortation. That leads to a very strong exhortation to guard the gospel, to protect the gospel.
So notice, if you will, 2 Timothy 1, beginning at verse 13, Paul says, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” There has been, in biblical history, a transfer of spiritual knowledge from Paul to Timothy. Now how did this information get transferred from Paul to Timothy. Paul explains that transfer and how it took place there in verse 13 when he uses the expression “in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” In other words, this spiritual knowledge transferred from Paul to Timothy “in the faith,” number 1, number 2, in “love,” and number 3, “which are in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s spend just a few moments on these different prepositional phrases. Notice this phrase, “in the faith.” Notice, at least the way the New American Standard Bible translates it, I looked at this in the Greek this morning just to make sure it was accurate, notice the definite article in front of faith. We’re not talking in Scripture or in the mind of God about multiple faiths, different sources of truth. He says Timothy, you have received “the faith.” “The faith” means this is the truth, and so Timothy, what you have in your hand is, as he’ll call it in verse 14, a deposit from God, a treasure, this is not a man’s opinion, this is “the faith.” And we need to understand that today as Christians that that’s what we are custodians of. We’re not custodians of a version, someone’s version of things. We are custodians of “the faith.”
And you’ll notice that this was transferred to Timothy by Paul in love. One of the dangers of being a Bible oriented church, as we are here at Sugar Land Bible Church, where we place an emphasis on biblical teaching, doctrine and those things, is people somehow, and I’m not sure how this happens but somehow they get the idea in their minds that the end result is learning. In other words, the end result of spirituality is the accumulation of facts.
But you’ll notice here that Paul, through his use of this word “love” explains that doctrine and truth and Scripture is not an end but it is a means to an end. The acquisition of knowledge, as important as it is, is not the end result but it is rather a means to something higher. You might recall what Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:5, the first book in this two part series of 1 and 2 Timothy. Paul explains in 1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of our instruction is” what? “love.” The goal, or the end of our instruction is not data and information and all of those wonderful things, it’s actually “love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
If learning simply stays at the level of knowledge and actually never becomes wisdom, you all know the difference between knowledge and wisdom—knowledge is knowledge, wisdom is knowledge applied to life. If knowledge stays knowledge and never becomes wisdom or applied to life then we’ve missed the calling of God.
In fact, there are many, many people that I know and God help us should we fit into this category ourselves, that are very knowledgeable about the Bible, they can quote all kinds of verses, they can quote all kinds of facts and figures, they can rattle off all kinds of data but if it is not done with the spirit of love and a spirit of service, remember Jesus, the epitome of truth, washed the feet of the disciples. If it’s not done with a humble attitude then what good is it at the end of the day. It’s really of no good. Paul, did he not make that point very clear in the so-called love chapter?
1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “If I speak,” you know the verses, “with tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy going or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” It’s interesting he keeps saying “it profits me” not a little, but “nothing.” So Timothy, you have received the faith but it has come down to you with a spirit and an attitude of love.
What is it that really draws us to Christ? Is it not ultimately His kindness, which leads us to repentance. Yes, truth draws us to Christ to some extent but Christ is not just truthful, He is love. 1 John 4:8 says “God is love.” It’s not saying God is loving, it’s saying “God is love.” One of His core attributes is an attribute of love. And when we see that love exhibited in God, when we see that love exhibited in God’s people it has a way of drawing us to the things of God.
And so this is how Timothy received the truth; he received “the faith” in love. You’ll also notice this prepositional phrase here, “in Christ,” verse 13, which you have heard from me in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. The only point of access to these things is not in our own guru of our choice. Our only access to these things is through Christ. “For there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved, Peter explains as recorded in Acts 4:12. [Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”]
Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” John 14:6. Earlier in this two part series, 1 and 2 Timothy, says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
You’ll notice also there in verse 13 it says, “Retain the standard of sound words,” the Greek word for “words” there is the Greek word logos, which means word, most of the time when it’s used in Scripture it means the written word of God. But you’ll notice it’s prefaced by another descriptor there, the word “sound.” What Timothy has received is not just words but “sound words.” That word “sound” is an interesting one, I started to track this down; it’s hygiainō in Greek. And as you start to track that down what you begin to discover is that word is used to describe health, healing, vitality, life. For example, that identical word is used in Luke 5:31 which says this: “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.” That’s hygiainō; those that are described as well or healthy, that’s that particular Greek word that Paul is using here as he writes to Timothy.
What is “the faith”? What is “the truth”? What is the content that Timothy has received from Paul? He has received from Paul healthy words, words that are necessary for your spiritual health, words that are necessary for your spiritual well-being. In fact, Paul likes this word because he uses it a lot. 1 Timothy 6:3, it says, “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words,” that’s the word “sound” same word used here. Titus 1:9 describing the job of elders, “…so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine,” same word, healthy doctrine. Titus 1:13, it says, “For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound,” same word, “in the faith.” Titus 2:1-2, it says “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. [2, “Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensitive, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.”]
So the idea here is the biblical teaching that Timothy has received is heathy teaching; in other words, teaching that you need for your spiritual health. In other words, if it’s not part of your diet you cannot mature the way God would have you, would have me, mature. Now how many of you really enjoyed eating broccoli as kids? How many of you still enjoy eating broccoli? I mean, we hate the whole idea, if you’re honest with yourself. If you’re not, then you might need counselling, I can see you after the service. But there are things that we eat that we don’t necessarily enjoy. If I had it my way I would eat jelly-filled donuts all day long. That’s what I want to do, but you see, eating jelly-filled donuts as your only consistent diet cannot produce health.
And I bring this up because there are some things we take into us, spiritually, that aren’t really pleasant when we first hear it. It’s not enjoyable, it’s not something we look forward to and yet if it’s not part of our intake, and as we seek to live it out we really cannot become healthy in God the way God would have us to grow. These are sound words, healthy words. And tragically we will eventually get to this passage, over in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, where the time will arrive when the church will just demand jelly-filled donuts all the time; no broccoli, no vitamins.
2 Timothy 4:3-4, you know this verse no doubt, these verses, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;” now that word translated “sound” is our word again for health, same exact word, “but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,  and will turn away their ears away from the truth and will be turned aside to myths.”
There arrives a time in church history, Paul predicts, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, where the church won’t even be able to be healthy any longer because it will demand a hearing of things that don’t produce health. But Timothy, you have received sound words and in this climate of this demand for jelly-filled donuts you are to stay with the broccoli. Yeah, you can eat some dessert in its proper time and place, but don’t alter the diet of your flock, continue to teach them sound and healthy things which you may not want to teach and they may not want to hear but it’s so necessary for their development in Christ, and their spiritual maturity.
You’ll notice, then, in verse 13, that Timothy is to “retain this standard,” see that. Retain what standard? Retain the “standard” of these” sound words” which we call “the faith.” So there’s going to be a climate where you’re going to be forced, or tempted I should say, to compromise this standard, but you, Timothy, retain this standard. The Greek word there, translated “retain” is echō, it’s the idea of to have, to hold, to cling to, to grab, sort of like when you’re on one of those buses or trams and if you don’t grab hold of that pole you’re probably going to fall over as that bus or tram takes off. The idea here is Timothy, you need to grab on to these healthy words because your own stability and the stability of those under your leadership is dependent upon this.
Now we go into verse 14, which is a parallel idea. Many times in Jewish thought (Paul was Jewish) they expressed an idea and then they expressed the exact same idea in the very next line or verse but in different words. If you want a fancy name for this it’s called synonymous Hebrew parallelism. Even though the Bible was written in Greek Paul is a Jewish thinker and so you’ll notice that this happens a lot in the book of Proverbs, the book of Psalms. So Paul sort of restates the same idea in verse 14 but he puts a slightly different word into effect so we can get a greater visual imagery of it.
Notice what he says there in verse 14, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” Timothy, what do you have? You have treasure. Notice that word “treasure,” actually in Greek when you study that it reads as follows, “the good deposit.” A deposit has been made by God into my life, Paul says, as an apostle, I have transferred that into your life, you now have the good deposit, or the treasure which means that what Timothy possesses and what we possess has value. Why does it have value? Well, it has value because, first of all, it comes from God, if it comes from God it must be good, right? Because the book of James says God can only give good gifts. [James 1:17, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”]
It also has value because of what this truth, “the faith,” these healthy words, what they “healthy words” produce. Paul is going to develop this a lot more clearly in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, but Paul writes: “All Scripture is inspired by God and” what? “profitable,” profit means a benefit, if your business is profitable it’s doing well. If your household income is profitable it’s doing well. In the same way the Scripture brings a certain profit, spiritually speaking, or benefit into someone’s life. [2 Timothy 3:16;17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”]
What does it produce? It produces teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:17, “so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every work,” what word did I just leave out there? “every good work.” It doesn’t just say equipped for work, it says “equipped for every good work,” and I’m fascinated by that word “every.” The healthy words that Timothy has been entrusted with, if he gives himself to these things, not just by way of knowledge but also by wisdom, his life will be equipped for everything God wants to do through your life. That’s a very high statement, is it not, about the sufficiency of the Word of God.
All the way through the Bible we’re told of the good things that happen as we avail ourselves to God’s Word. All the way back in the book of Isaiah you remember, chapter 55, verses 10-11, it says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and to not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;  So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty,” or void, “without accomplishing what I desire.” Jeremiah 23:29 says this: “‘Is not My word like fire?’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?’”
Isn’t that interesting, that we’re holding in our hands a hammer, which is analogized in the natural world to shattering a rock. That’s what the Word of God does. When it’s listened to, read, and then obeyed it’s something that dismantles a person’s life and fortunately doesn’t just leave it dismantled but it reconstructs it. That’s, Timothy, what you are holding in your hand. That’s why it’s a treasure; that’s why it is a good deposit.
He says there in verse 14, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure” watch this, “which has been entrusted to you.” You say entrusted; entrusted, that rings a bell, I’ve heard that somewhere. I know where I heard it from, last week’s sermon we talked about that. Because last week we studied verse 12, didn’t we? And what did we study there in 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” Paul says, “what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Then you drop down to verse 14, it says, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” Paul trusted God with something…his soul, his eternity, his future. All of that was in the hands and the custody and the management of God and Paul essentially trusted God with those things.
And then God turns around and says okay, you’ve entrusted Me with something, I’m going to trust you with something. And what did God entrust to Paul and now to Timothy? It’s this deposit or treasure, or “healthy words.” You’ve entrusted me with something and interestingly enough in this arrangement God has trusted you, Paul and Timothy, and all of us, with something. This is why Timothy is to be a guard or a manager over this deposit, just like God is a guard or a manager over Timothy’s very soul.
What does it mean to be entrusted with something? Or entrusted with something from God; what does that mean? The fancy word for this is stewardship. When God trusts you with something you become a steward of whatever it is he’s entrusted you with, in this case truth. A steward is not an owner but is a manager. This, these “healthy words” that we have received from God, this sound doctrine, is not ours, God is the one that ultimately gave these things to us but He gave them to us so that we would manage these things on His behalf.
So we are, in many, many ways stewards of the riches of God; we are stewards of His Word. If you want to add to your stewardship list we are stewards of three things beyond that that God has given us: time, talent and treasure. We all have, in this room, differing degrees in different areas time. We all have in this room with different degrees and realms talent. My talents are not your talents, your talents are not my talents, the talents you have are different than the person you are sitting next to, and so forth, but we all have different abilities or talents in certain realms. And we have time to employ those and we all have, to some extent, treasure which means worldly wealth or possessions.
Those things are not ours, they are entrustments from God, just as truth here is an entrustment from God and we are to manage those things on God’s behalf. It’s not my bank account and my money, it’s not my spiritual gift, it’s not my Bible. As the pastor of Sugar Land Bible Church this is not my church. These are all things that God has given; He’s given things to me as a steward, He’s given things to you as a steward and we need to get the “I” and “my” out of the equation. These things don’t belong to us anyway. We need to see God as the owner and the giver.
And our responsibility as stewards is to manage these things for God. Paul describes the obligations of a steward, 1 Corinthians 4:2, “In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.” That’s what God wants. And since these things are given from God there is a day of accounting whereby God will, in some way, shape or form, ask us, indeed command of us, what did you do with these things I gave. I put three unbelievers in your work station at work, what did you do with that? I’ve given you abilities in different areas, what did you do with those? And the day of accounting comes and it’s God’s right to demand an accounting because He’s the ultimate giver of those things. So Timothy, you are a steward of truth and you are to guard it, you are to protect it; in a certain sense you are to manage it for God.
What is Timothy to do with this truth? Again, verse 14, “Guard,” see that opening word there, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” You are to guard the truth, that’s why I entitled this message Guard The Gospel. It’s interesting, when you study this in Greek it’s this verb translated “guard” is the Greek verb phylassō, and it is the exact same word used in 2 Peter 2:5, which says this: God “did not spare the ancient world, but preserved,” that’s phylassō, God “did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” Before the flood waters his planet earth, Noah was, and his family, eight total, were protected by God, guarded by God.
So what does this word, phulassō mean? It means to keep safe, to guard, to protect. Timothy, you have a very precious deposit, you are to protect that deposit. Now in Greek it’s very interesting that this verb, phulassō, is what we call the imperative mood. What does that mean? It means this is a command. When he says “guard the deposit” he is saying this is not a suggestion, this is not an option. It’s not one of these things where it’s try this on, see if it fits, if it works out great, if not that’s fine. That’s not at all what’s being said here. It’s saying protect, or guard this truth that you have been given.
People like to say well, the Bible defends itself; well, in a certain sense it does but at the same time the steward, which would be us, over truth we have some sort of role to play in protecting and guarding this very precious treasure, this deposit of truth that we have. Why protect it? Because of Satan’s goal. Satan, more than anybody else understands the gospel. He understands its power. In fact, Paul, back in verse 9-10 described the benefits of the gospel, saving power, manifestation of divine grace, the eternal plan of God and it conquers death. The gospel is, as Paul describes it elsewhere, Romans 1:16-17, “…the power of God unto salvation,” that’s what the gospel is. [Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”
I like that word power, it’s the Greek word, dunamis, where we get the word dynamite, or explosion. What is the gospel? It is dynamite, it is an explosion, spiritually, that happens to a person when they trust in the message of the gospel. Now if the gospel does all of these things, put yourself in the mind of the devil—what would you do with the gospel? If I were Satan, I hope I’m not too much like him, but if I were Satan I’ll tell you what I would do: I would do everything I could to distort it. I would do everything to twist it. I would do everything I could to contort it. I would do everything I could to turn it into a pretzel so that it doesn’t really say what God actually says originally it was supposed to say.
Now why would I do that if I were Satan? Because I know from my understanding of angelology, the doctrine of angels, that the plan of salvation is not open to Satan, nor is the plan of salvation open to the demons, or the third of the angels that fell with Lucifer. In fact, Christ Himself said in Matthew 25:41, that eternal fire itself has been prepared for the devil and his angels. [Matthew 25:41, “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’”] Hell itself was never even originally created for man; it was created for Satan in the Luciferian rebellion and that’s why the demons, constantly, when Christ shows up in the gospels they always say what? “What do you want with us, ‘Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the appointed time.”
It’s interesting that the demons take theology pretty seriously. They knew exactly who Christ was, they didn’t have a debate about His deity, like we do. And they fully understood the reality of hell. In fact, they knew that they were headed there, they just didn’t want this to be the time, and they knew they were hurling into a time of torment. So you put yourself in the mind of the enemy and these demons and your destination is already determined by God, you can’t reverse it, so what would you do if you were the devil? If I were in that situation I would try to take as many people down with me as possible, because the moment someone believes the gospel they are going to enjoy something, throughout all eternity, that I will never be able to enjoy.
And so consequently Satan launches an attack on the gospel, constantly. Paul describes this attack in great detail in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, which says: “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” Just like a dad with a daughter, who keeps his virgin daughter away from the wrong type of guy, Paul in a certain sense is functioning like that. He is trying to protect the Corinthian church and their virginity, spiritually speaking. But then Paul says,  But I am afraid” now Paul was afraid of things, “I’m afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received,” now watch this, “or a different gospel which you have not accepted,” Paul sarcastically says, “you bear this beautifully.”
You’ll notice a lot of things in those verses, 2 Corinthians 11:2-4. Notice that Paul makes reference to the simplicity of the gospel. It is not complicated, it’s so simple a child can understand it and respond to it. And he draws an analogy to what was said in the original command, going back to Eden. Remember the original command? Genesis 2:16-17, it’s probably the easiest job description on planet earth ever: “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat form it you surely die.”
Translation, you can do whatever you want to do, just do not eat from the tree of knowledge; that’s the only thing off limits. Everything else is within your will or freedom to do. How complicated is that command? It’s not complicated at all; it’s quite simple. And how the devil came, as a serpent and twisted the whole thing around and as you study the Genesis 3 story he’s subtracting words out of the command, as he’s parroting it back to Eve; he’s adding words. Eve is adding words and subtracting words; Eve starts to think that we can’t touch it. Well, God never said you can’t touch it. She’s taking something simple and making it complicated because the devil is whispering that in her ear.
See, that’s what Paul is worried about with the Corinthians. The gospel is easy to understand and I’m afraid that the serpent, who wants as many people to go into hell as possible, is going to take something simple and he’s going to beguile it and twist it around so that it becomes something that God never said. It’s interesting, Paul here talks about a different gospel. Paul talked about a different gospel over in the book of Galatians, you’ll remember. Galatians 1:6-9, he said, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;  which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven,” now isn’t it interesting that Satan is a what? An angel! For “if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” The mind of the devil, the agenda of the devil, is to take a simple gospel reality and truth and twist it to such an extent that it is no longer God’s message. And so consequently Paul warns us, the Galatians, the Corinthians, here Timothy, about another or a different gospel which raises a very interesting question. How do you recognize a false gospel? I jotted these three things down, maybe these will help.
Number 1, false gospels place the spotlight on what man does rather than what Christ has done. Any time an individual is wrapped up in their own performance, their own merit, what they must do to please God, whether it be pray, pay and obey, or whether it be don’t smoke or chew or go with girls who do, or whatever, any presentation of the gospel which puts some kind of performance on man, some kind of spotlight on man rather than Jesus and what He has done when He said it is what? “Finished!” is a false gospel. Beyond that, false gospels emphasize, always, a process rather than a person. Christianity is not a process, we’re not getting you involved in an process, some kind of elaborate system of do’s and don’ts and works, that’s not what Christianity is. Christianity is about a person, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the source of your spiritual life and vitality as a Christian. He is actually the source of your fruitfulness. The source of your fruitfulness is not your work ethic; the source of your fruitfulness is not on your ability to wake up early and “the early bird gets the worm” kind of philosophy. That’s not the source of your fruitfulness. The source of your fruitfulness is Jesus. The whole point of Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ. And how people get so confused on this and think it’s some kind of merit system of demerit system or some kind of system or performance.
Number 3, false gospels deny the five sola’s, sola is a Latin word that means alone or by itself. Sola Christos, Christ alone, Sola Fide, faith alone, Sola Gratia, grace alone, Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone, Sola dei Gloria, to the glory of God alone, Christ alone, Christ by Himself is the gospel. Faith alone, what gives you a relationship with God? What allows you to continue to have the power to live the Christian life? Faith alone. Why does the Bible make such a big deal about faith alone? Because faith is the only thing that we can give to God which is not a work.
Romans 4:5 says, “But to the one who does not work, but believes..” it is “credited to him unto righteousness.” [“But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”]
So we’re dealing with Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone. What is grace? It’s unmerited favor from God. We stand and live before God, not based on what you did or didn’t do last week, not based on your own shortcomings, which we all have. You had shortcomings last week, I had shortcomings last week, it doesn’t change anything with God because our standing before Him is based on grace, unmerited favor. If it was based on justice or merit or favor then you could factor in last week if you want to, but that’s not the system that the Scripture reveals to us.
Religion says God did 90%, you kick in 10%. That’s a false gospel, isn’t it. The gospel is God did 100%, you receive it as a gift, the only way you can receive a gift from God is by faith. Christ alone, faith alone, grace along, Scripture alone, these are the rallying cries of the Protestant Reformation. That’s why these are Latin expressions. The authority base for the truth that we have received is the Bible, period! It’s not even what you hear from a pulpit. It’s not even what you hear from a pastor. A pastor or a pulpit or a teacher has value to you if that pulpit or pastor or teacher is explaining what this book says. But the pulpit is not the authority; the authority is the Scripture.
So we build our hope and our case from the 66 books of the Bible that we have. We do not believe in subsequent dreams and visions from God that somebody had, for example, in North America describing the guest appearance of Jesus in North America in the 1800’s, which is the doctrine of Mormonism. Why would we reject that? Because it is not sola Scriptura. I read the Bible, I’ve been reading it for a long time and I don’t even read about North America in this book; I certainly don’t read anything about what happened in the 1800’s, so why do people have this idea that Jesus made a guest appearance in North America in the 1800’s. Well, they went outside the Bible, they went into a couple of non-canonical books, The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, The Doctrine of Covenants.
Why is it that the Mormons, not if, but when they show up at your house, why is it that their Bible is bigger and different than ours. It’s a difference of sola Scriptura, and God has set up the whole thing this way because of Sola Deo Gloria, to the glory of God alone. He has devised it in such a way that man, when he receives the gift of God, can take no credit for it, because you cannot take credit for a gift you receive. That’s why it’s easier to give a gift than to receive it many times, isn’t it? Because when you receive a gift it requires a certain degree of humility, just to receive something for free. And yet that’s what God has done because He doesn’t want a situation where humans are strutting their stuff in heaven, detracting from God’s glory. If you add a single word to the gospel then we can strut our stuff, something I did, and yet God will not tolerate that.
What is a false gospel? A false gospel places the focus on man rather than Christ, it emphasizes a process rather than a person, and it’s a denial in every single instance of one or more of the five great Solas of Christianity. Now the gospel doesn’t just get you saved. Most people, when they think of the word “gospel” they think that’s it, that’s my ticket to heaven. That’s part of it, and that’s a wonderful thing to have, but the gospel gives you the power to mature, the same resources which get us to heaven as a free gift by God are the identical resources that propel us in Christian life. And that’s a process we call the middle tense of salvation, our progressive sanctification, which is different than the prior column, our justification. So the gospel doesn’t just justify us, it progressively sanctifies us if we will avail ourselves to the resources of the gospel.
And thus Paul says in Galatians 3:3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” I don’t know what that verse says to you but it hits me right between the eyes every time I read it, because so much of my Christian life is spent striving in human power, and God has to remind me that it’s not human power that got you in the front door to begin with. How would you think that human power and flesh and scheming and manipulation is somehow going to help you Monday morning at work? I like Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control….” What do we hear today from people? Be loving, be at peace, be patient, be kind, be good, be faithful, be under control, have self-control. We miss the whole point of the verse. We can’t even produce these things on our own. It specifically says, “But the fruit of the” what? “Spirit” produces these things. The only thing a lecture on teaching you how to be more faithful is going to do is make the flesh try harder, which ultimately will result in frustration and failure.
Did you catch the end of Romans 1:17, I read verse 16 earlier, “But the righteous” shall what? “live by faith.” I thought that meant that I believe in Christ and I’m made righteous with God, it says that. But it says more than that. It says “the righteous shall live by faith,” shall walk by faith, shall be empowered by faith, shall face conflicts on Monday morning by faith, shall face financial shortfalls by faith, shall face interpersonal conflicts by faith. “Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh.” [Galatians 3:3]
See, this is the false gospel of works that we buy into many times. John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” What’s my job God? Is my job to produce fruit? Wrong! The Christian is never called to produce fruit. The Christian is called to bear fruit; produce fruit means that we conjure it up through strength; bear fruit means it comes naturally and organically and spontaneously out of an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. What’s my job? Abide, just be that branch connected to the vine, that’s it. Don’t worry about your ministry, don’t worry about how many people you’re going to witness to this week, don’t worry about how you’re going to handle this problem, how you’re going to handle that problem, “My grace,” God says, “is sufficient for you.” Your job is to abide, just remain in Him. To me that means keep short accounts with Him; when we sin keep the channels of communication open, you speak to Him through prayer, He speaks to you through His Word.
You say well, I don’t want to be taught by His Word, I want to hear Him audibly. Okay, read the Bible out loud then. And just abide in Him, be with Him, acknowledge your dependence on Him. That’s what it means to abide. Focus on that. Now the fruit, whatever He is going to produce in your life is going to come quietly, spontaneously and automatically.
You say well, is this an Old Testament principle to? Yes it is! Zechariah 4:6, now you’ve got to put yourself in Zechariah’s shoes, he had to jumpstart a temple building program, to a group of post-exilic rebellious returnees that didn’t want to get the project done and they were facing opposition. So he had a monumental task in front of him. And yet what does God say, through Zechariah to Zerubbabel, the man who was responsible for getting this project going, “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but” what? “‘by My Spirit,’ says the LORD,” isn’t that great! The just shall live by faith.
But why is it that we’re so vulnerable to doing the opposite? Why is it that we are so vulnerable to false gospels? Why is it that we are so vulnerable to a system whereby I think I can contribute somehow to my success and effectiveness as a Christian? The answer to that really is pride. Pride always wants to contribute to the process. Romans 3:27 says, “Where then is boasting? It is excluded.” Ephesians 2:9 says, “Not as a result of works do that no one may” what? “boast.”
So then given Satan’s agenda to pervert the gospel, given Satan’s agenda to cause as many people as possible to go into going to the Lake of Fire, given our human pride which is so strong in us where we want to somehow contribute to the process, Timothy you have a very onerous task in front of you. You have a difficult task, because you have received the truth from God; you have received the oracles of God, you have received the good deposit, you have received the healthy words.
So therefore what are you to do in the midst of these perpetual attacks? You are to “guard” the treasure, philaso [1 Timothy 6:20, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge.’”] That is your responsibility as a spiritual shepherd, you are to guard, you are to protect, you are to exercise oversight, you are to react against, all of these man-made and satanically energized distortions of the truth.
What happens if the gospel gets distorted? Well, it’s no longer the real gospel, it’s no longer the power of the gospel, and it puts you into bondage. Every false gospel, whether it’s how we’re saved or how we live, which places the emphasis on man’s performance rather than yielding volitionally moment by moment by faith to the divine resources in front of us, all of those false gospels put you into a state of bondage at the end of the day. That’s why 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is” what? “liberty.”
Jesus did not come into the world to shackle people. He came into the world to allow us to live as God designed us to live, under His power, in freedom and in fullness. And yet if I discard the true gospel of unmerited favor, either by justification or progressive sanctification, I go right back into the bondage from which I came. Another name for this bondage is legalism, where the emphasis is now on a process of some sort, rather than a person; where the emphasis is on me and not God, where the Five Solas are abandoned.
So Timothy, your job, verse 14, the beginning of the verse, “Guard” this gospel, protect this gospel and that’s what true spiritual leaders do. Acts 18:28 says this of Apollos: “for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” Why would a man that debated Jewish individuals who were very, very knowledgeable? He did it because he was trying to protect the gospel, because he knew that the Jewish thought of that day would result in enslavement. What are elders supposed to do? Here’s an interesting question: how much should an elder know? Titus 1:9 says this of elders, “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able to both exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”
Standing in front of a group and exhorting people in correct thinking is a good thing but you see, the duty of an elder goes far beyond that. The elder must also have the ability to not just exhort in truth but to refute those who contradict. That’s what Apollos was doing. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that lies within you,” notice this, “with gentleness and reverence.” The goal in the argument is not to beat people so far into the ground that they’ll never see the light of day but it is to protect the gospel with a spirit of reverence and civility and respect. That’s hard.
“Speak the truth” in what? “love.” I’m much better at the first part than the second. Speaking the truth is the easy part; doing it in love is completely different, isn’t it? How many of us win arguments but lose hearts because we come across so brash and domineering in our composure and we miss our calling, which is to not back away from the truth, not to shy away from the truth, but to “speak the truth in love.” Isn’t it interesting that Peter says a defense, that’s the Greek word apologia, where we get the word apologetics, which is the defense of the truth.
Jude, the Lord’s brother, talked about the defense of the gospel in Jude 3. He said, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the” definite article, “the faith which was once and for all handed down to the saints.” Jude says I wanted to write a happy letter about our common salvation, but because of the inroads of challenges to the gospel I decided to write more of a negative letter, exposing false teachers and telling you, as God’s people, to contend earnestly for the faith.” Not “a” faith, “the faith, which has once for all been “handed down to the saints.” The deposit, the treasure, is yours, it’s a done deal; the Canon is shut, but now defend it, be aware of the devil’s attempt to contort it and distort it.
I spent a lot of time as a new Christian listening to a ministry which was sort of a counter-cult ministry, they had a slogan which has always stuck with me, it says: Are you willing to do for the truth what the cults do for a lie. Look at these people in the sun under their works based system, knocking on doors, passing out pamphlets, and here we have the truth of God and are not under deception. And most of us probably would not even come close to doing the things these people do.
It’s quite indicting when you look at our comfort level. And I’m not arguing that we should ramp it up in the flesh; that would contradict everything that has preceded. What I’m saying is we need to respond to the Spirit of God; our hearts need to be broken for the things that break God’s heart. Is your heart broken for the things that break God’s heart? That’s what God would have of us.
Now Timothy, as you are defending the faith and guarding the faith, I want to remind you of one thing, and we will close with this point here, right in the middle of the verse it says “guard,” open parenthesis, just think of that conceptually, “Guard” open parenthesis, “(through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us”) close parenthesis, “the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” I love the fact that that parenthetical comment is there because you read this and you think to yourself it’s all on my shoulders, I’ve got to work harder and demand more from my flesh. But Paul is very clear that you will guard this through the Holy Spirit that’s already inside of you. Timothy, tap into the resources of God, which are yours. Did you know that the Holy Spirit is inside of you? You say does it say that in the Bible? In Romans 8:9 it says it; in Romans 8:23 it says it. James 4:5 says it. 1 Corinthians 6:19 it says it. In fact, we have privileges with the Spirit of God in our age that no age in prior dispensations has ever known. [Romans 8:9, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Romans 8:23, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as son, the redemption of our body.” James 4:5, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”]
Jesus said in the Upper Room, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another helper, that He may be with you” for how long? “forever.” [John 14:16] Did you know that those in the Old Testament age didn’t even possess the Holy Spirit forever, the best I can understand it. That’s why David prayed, in Psalm 51:11 take not Thy Spirit from me. [Psalm 51:11, “Do not case me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”] Why would he pray that unless it was a possibility that the Spirit could come and the Spirit could go?
Judges 16:20 says this, “She said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson?’ And he awoke from his sleep and said, ‘I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” 1 Samuel 16:14 says, “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.” I read the Old Testament and I’m not seeing this permanent indwelling that Jesus spoke of in the Upper Room. That’s why that statement that He made concerning our age, that the Spirit would be in you forever, is such a monumental statement. We have a privilege with God that those in the prior ages could only dream of, yet it’s ours. The body is the permanent temple of the Holy Spirit and as the Holy Spirit is within us the Holy Spirit says to us rely on Me. Someone said once that the Christian life is difficult. I disagree. The Christian life is impossible because it was never designed to be lived out through human power. Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Do we have fleshly desires? Of course we do. How is it that I have the self-control not to act on those desires? The Spirit within me helps me if I’ll yield to Him in my decisions moment by moment.
I like what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored eve more than all of them,” I’m so glad the verse doesn’t end there, “yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
2 Timothy 2:1, right in our context, Paul says, “You therefore, my son, be strong” not on your education, not on yourself, not in your capacity to parse Greek words, nothing wrong with learning things about the original language of Scripture, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the” what? “in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” So as you guard this deposit Timothy, I want to tell you something, you’re not doing this through human strength and power, you’re doing this through My power.
It’s possible someone could be here today and not even understand the power of God or have a relationship with God because they’ve never fulfilled the condition which is necessary to enter into a relationship with God. The New Testament, 160 times, gives us one condition for entering into a relationship with God; it is the word “trust,” or “believe” which is the idea of dependence upon. Christianity is not a twelve-step process, it’s a one-step process, it is a question of faith or belief or dependence, or confidence in the promises of God. The moment you shift in your mind confidence in yourself or your religion or your system, you shift that to a person is the moment you are saved. Well, what else? That’s it! Now just take advantage of the Spirit within you as you go through problems in life. But what gets you in the door is confidence in that singular person, Jesus Christ.
If it’s something you need to do it’s something you can do right now as I’m speaking; you don’t have to walk an aisle to do it, raise a hand to do it, join a church to do it, give money to do it, it’s a personal matter of privacy between you and the Lord, where you, in the quietness of your own heart, the best you know how, depend upon Him and Him alone for the safekeeping of your soul. That makes you a Christian. You can do it now even as I am talking, as the Spirit of God places you, some of you under conviction. If it’s something you have done or are doing then your destiny has just been changed. If it’s something that you need more information on I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for this command given to Timothy to guard the gospel. Thank You for this precious truth that we have. Help us to walk this out this week under Your power and enablement. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name.