Bible Study Lesson and Devotional #8: 2nd Timothy Chapter One
Please read through the first chapter.
"A Spirit of Power, Love and Self-Discipline"
So Far we have learned that:
1. Paul is writing to Timothy from prison in Rome. He (Paul) is about to be executed under the notorious Roman Emperor Nero.
2. Timothy is struggling, in his assignment, as a leader and a pastor at the church in Ephesus.
3. Paul is writing to Timothy to remind him to perform his duty, "discharge all the duties of your ministry" (2 Tim. 4:5 NIV).
4. Paul reminds Timothy to return to walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh, "I remind you to fan into flame the Gift of God" (2 Tim. 1:6 NIV).
5. The Holy Spirit is Fully God, endowed with all wisdom, inexhaustible resources, endless love and compassion. Thus, each of us should learn to "walk by faith and not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7 NIV).
6. Paul is calling Timothy to Boldness not timidity!
7. The walk with Christ victoriously we must walk, "by the spirit and not by the flesh."
8. Because of the efficacious work of the Holy Spirit, we should be seen living lives of power, love and self-discipline.
Today's Concentration: 2 Timothy 1:8 "Do not be ashamed!"
The Theme: "Audacity"
1. Now having admonished Timothy to stop ministering in his flesh, but to work in union with the Holy Spirit; Paul now turns to specific directives.
2. The first directive Paul writes to Timothy is to stop being sheepish regarding the ministry of the Gospel. Stop being afraid! As Paul is readily aware, preaching the Gospel will and should cause confrontation. Not that a Christian should ever seek to cause confrontation, but confrontation, animosity, disdain, and out right hate will find the Christian. Paul writes the Corinthians and reminds them in chapter One that the Gospel is a scandal:
"Jews ask for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1st Cor. 1:22-23 CEB).
3. The Greek word for scandal is skandalon: it is associated with the part of a trap that holds the bait. It is a trap, a stumbling block, an a offense, and a trigger. Yes, the Gospel lived and preached by the Holy Spirit will trigger the unregenerate.
4. The point is: overtime if no one is "triggered" by you or the Gospel, you probably are not walking in the Spirit. You are probably walking by your flesh that needs to please others to feel good about yourself. STOP walking in the flesh!
5. Paul is specifically addressing Timothy's timidity in identifying with Christ or even Paul, himself. One can only presume that Paul has heard that Timothy has gone so far as to renounce Paul, or at least he was becoming less vocal about his relationship with Paul. Furthermore, because of the persecution of the Christians by Nero, Timothy may have dissociated himself to some degree even with Christ. We are not sure of what the full backstory is, but we do know that Paul admonishes Timothy to, "not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner" (2 Tim. 1:8 NIV).
6. Paul even goes further and invites Timothy "join him in suffering for the Gospel" (2 Tim. 1:8b NIV). Paul can testify as a prisoner who is about to be executed for his faith---that boldly proclaiming the Good News Of Jesus Christ can be dangerous. We know that Christians throughout many parts of the world are taking their own lives in their own hands by preaching the Gospel Message boldly and apologetically. For example there are 52 known countries where the Bible has been banned or severely restricted. The Voice of the Martyrs ministry writes that there are 52 countries where the Bible is considered: difficult/dangerous to obtain, or illegal or highly restricted, and or strictly illegal and only available through covert smuggling.
7. For example: In China, "Last year, the government banned the online sale of Bibles, an additional obstacle in a country where printed Bibles were already difficult to obtain. The Communist Party is also working on a new Bible translation intended to inject Chinese values into Scripture" (persecutions.com/bibles).
8. More Specific: See article below about Pastor Wang Yi who has been imprisoned in China for simply being a minister of the Gospel. The following is reprinted from the Voice of The Martyrs Ministry Website:
Pastor Wang Yi is the influential leader of Early Rain Covenant Church in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan province - one of the best-known house churches in China. He and his wife, Jiang Rong, were detained in December 2018 and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business operations.” If convicted, Pastor Wang could face up to 15 years in prison. A former law professor, Pastor Wang has been vocal in calling on the state to uphold religious liberties. Early Rain Covenant Church had been under pressure from the authorities for some time but matters escalated on Dec. 9, 2018. That night and the next day, police raided church members’ homes and arrested them. By the end of the week, about 150 church leaders and seminary students were in police custody, and the church had been forcibly closed. Since then most of those arrested have been released, including Pastor Wang’s wife, Jiang (released June 11, 2019), and church elder Li Yingqiang (released Aug. 19 2019). However, several others including Pastor Wang and Deacon Tan Defu, remain incarcerated. Those who have been released remain under surveillance. In July 2019, the defense lawyer for Pastor Wang Yi was barred from meeting with his client and officials assigned different lawyers to his case, even though he specifically chose his own lawyers prior to his arrest. Church members are very worried about their pastor and have received very little information about his condition or the progress of his case. Since the crackdown, some Early Rain church members have been sent back to their hometowns and banned from Chengdu. Others have lost jobs or been evicted. Church elder Su Bingsen was released in April 2019 and was flown home to Fujian in the company of security officials; his family was evicted from their home while he was in custody. Some of those who were released say they were abused and deprived of food and water. Early Rain may have been targeted because of its open approach to church mission, which included posting sermons online and street evangelism. The church also ran a Bible school for about 100 students and had a primary school. Its meetings around the city regularly attracted more than 800 people each week. Pastor Wang himself has been a prominent campaigner for greater religious freedom. In 2018, he wrote a declaration signed by hundreds of Chinese pastors, which includes a statement of Christian beliefs and a call for an end to persecution; it also recognizes the Chinese government’s authority. Many of those in China who have signed the ‘Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith’ have suffered persecution since. None of his close associates are certain where Wang Yi is being held, since officials have not released that information, and Wang Yi’s chosen lawyers were prevented from either seeing him or working on his case. The provided address is one of the locations where he could likely be held. Photo of Wang Yi in Prison Released - March 2020 An anonymous Early Rain church member received a photo of Wang Yi in prison taken on March 25. The person who provided the photo said it was intended to let people who care for him know his current situation. (You can view the photo on VOM's Facebook page.) Another church member said the pastor was due to be transferred from the Chengdu Municipal Detention Center in January, but his transfer was delayed because of corona virus. His wife, son and parents remain under house arrest. Wang Yi Will Not Appeal - January 2020 According to Pastor Wang Yi's lawyer, the Presbyterian pastor will not appeal his nine-year prison sentence. Instead, he will serve it in full. His lawyer said, "God is continuing his ministry ... by moving him from the courtroom to prison." His attorney also recounted how security personnel came and took Wang Yi's parents by force to his secret trial on Dec. 26, but his wife, Jiang Rong, was not allowed to attend. Wang Yi was much thinner than before, but he was in a good mental state. Continue to pray for his health while he serves his sentence and for the Early Rain Church. Wang Yi Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison On Dec. 30, Pastor Wang Yi was sentenced at the Intermediate People’s Court of Chengdu City, Sichuan province after a secret Dec. 26 trial. He was charged with “instigating subversion of state power” and “illegal business management” for being the senior pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church. Along with the nine year sentence, he was sentenced to deprivation of his political rights for three years plus a $7,000 penalty. Lesson: We need to stop being Sheepish! We should pray more for the modern day martyrs across the world. We should be supporting them with our abundance. We should be humbled by their example and boldly live out our faith by being obedient to our mutual Lord and proclaim His name. We need to stop being ashamed of the Gospel: 1. By systematically witnessing for Christ everywhere we go. 2. By praying and repenting daily of our own sin. 3. By being willing to be at odds with those around us, for the Gospel sake. 4. By offering our time and resources to ensure the Gospel is being proclaimed. 5. By supporting our local assembly, ensuring its durability and health. 6. By taking initiative and stop waiting for someone "to do it." 7. By asking how you can help! 8. By praying for believers like Pastor Yi. 9. By making the Bible a daily companion and not an ornament on Sunday. 10. By sharing with others about our online messages on Facebook as well as visiting our web page where messages like these are available. Christ has called us to "go forth and make Disciples," and to that end should be our cause. May God Richly Bless You My Beloved, Pastor Brad