Michael Youssef - Standing for the Gospel
If the Apostle Paul himself is able to stand in this pulpit here today, what would he say? I believe with all my heart he would say, "Please do not be ashamed of biblical truth. Please do not be ashamed of biblical morality. Do not be ashamed of the name calling that they call you. Do not be ashamed, please, for believing in what is good and godly". If I understand anything about 2 Timothy chapter 1, it is this: shame is the child of fear. I'm going to repeat this. Shame is the child of fear. Fear and shame belong to the same family. He started letting Timothy, letting Timothy know that the spirit of fear is not from God. And here he says, "You need to be aware of the child of fear, and that's being ashamed of the truth, being embarrassed about biblical truth, watering it down so that you don't get attacked".
While Paul, appealing directly to his successor, Timothy, he is writing to every one of us, and he is appealing to the next generation and to this generation, saying, "Don't sell out on biblical truth. Don't be embarrassed about the gospel. Don't be ashamed of the Word of God. Don't dilute it to the point of unrecognition. Don't repackage the gospel to make it acceptable to the nonbelievers. Don't ever give up on the gospel truth, regardless of what names they may call you". Please, you must understand that the Bible does not waste words. Had Timothy not been tempted to be ashamed of the gospel and ashamed of the prisoner of the gospel, the Apostle Paul, had he not been tempted in that regard, Paul would not have told him not to be ashamed.
Had the Apostle Paul himself not experienced the temptation of being ashamed of the gospel, he would not have said in Romans chapter 1, verse 16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes". You don't think Jesus understood that temptation? You know, our Lord Jesus himself did not understand that this is a big, big, big temptation? Why else would have warned in Mark 8:38... remember, Mark 8:38. "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, I will be ashamed of him before my Father in heaven and his holy angels".
Every one of us care about the opinion of others, right? Some more than others. We all must admit that. In fact, we care more than we're willing to admit it. We all find it a whole lot easier to go with the flow than to swim upstream. We all find it easier to watch television than spend time in the Word of God. We all find it easier to sleep in than get up early and get on your knees. We all find it easier to wink at sin rather than confronting it. We all find it easier to let our kids get away with things than go to the trouble of disciplining them. We all prefer self-affirmation rather than self-examination. We'd all rather avoid witnessing for the fear of ridicule. Let's face it, none of us like suffering, none of us enjoy suffering. Our Lord and Savior himself in Gethsemane said, "Father, if there be some other way..." Paul said, "I prayed three times for God to remove that thorn in the flesh," whatever it was. And when the crunch came in Caiaphas's house, Peter said to a slave girl, when she said, "You are one of his disciples," said, "Who, me? Jesus? Who's Jesus? I don't know him".
Oh, my beloved friends, God's Word tells us that sometimes suffering is part and parcel of our faithfulness to God, who is faithful to us. And furthermore, when the crunch comes and we begin to suffer for righteousness, we're not going to be alone. He's never going to leave us alone. Remember, the worst thing they can do to me is what? Kill me? Ha, ha, ha, that is a wonderful promotion. And that is why in verses 9 and 10, look at it with me, verses 9 and 10, he's literally saying to Timothy, "Don't be afraid of death". Don't be afraid of death. Why? Because he said, "God saved us and called us and brought us from death to life". But that's not all. He said, "God will give us the power to not be afraid when that time comes".
We need to understand this: that when God created Adam and Eve in the garden, he created them having dominion over fear. But when disobedience set in, when God said, "Don't do this," and they did it, and disobedience set in, what happened? Disobedience brought fear. And in that irrational fear, most fear is irrational, with that irrational fear, they thought, oh, they could hide from God. They could hide from God. Ah, but on the cross, Jesus restored that dominion over fear to everyone who believed in him; therefore, fear has no place in the life of the brothers and the sisters of Jesus. Can I get an amen? How come? You need to know that Jesus has given us authority over principalities and powers, and authority over the darkness. If you're ashamed of the gospel, it's because of fear. Then you do not know or you have not yet learned how to take authority over these powers, authorities, and principalities.
We say, "How"? Because on the cross, Jesus disarmed the principalities and the authorities and the powers, and he alone rendered them useless against his children. Because by his death, the Apostle Paul said he abolished death. By his death, he abolished death. Can you say that with me? By his... (death, he abolished death). And in abolishing death, he abolished fear, fear of death.
Now, I need to stop here and make something very clear. The Bible speaks of death in three different ways. The Bible talks about the physical death. That's the separation of the body from the soul, and we all experience that. But the Bible also speaks of the second death. It's a spiritual death, where the soul of the nonbeliever is separated from God. Then the Bible also speaks of eternal death. That's when forever there is a separation of the nonbeliever's body and soul from God. All these three deaths came as a result of sin. They are sin's reward. But praise God, Jesus abolished eternal death for the believer. He has not only abolished physical death, because all the believers die physically, but for the believer, our physical death means living forever with Jesus. For the believer, physical death is no longer the grim ogre that scares us as it does scare the nonbelievers.
Jesus said in John 11, "Those who put their trust in him shall never, never, never die, shall never be separated from him, shall never experience the second death". And because of this, Paul is saying to Timothy, "Timothy, my body, Timothy, my boy, don't be afraid of it. The worst thing they can do is what, kill you"? But that's not the end of the world; in fact, that's the beginning of it. Please hear me right. Paul is saying, "The reason I have victory, the reason I have victory now, even though I'm in this dungeon of four walls and a little hole in the ceiling, the reason I have victory now, or I'm about to die, the reason I am not afraid of what can come to me, the reason I have not been ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what they do or say, is because I know that I have already passed from death to life. Dead or alive, physically, I'm already seated in the heavenlies". Look at verse 10 again. "Christ Jesus has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel".
Listen, when this body gives up on me, and it will, I have a superior body that is waiting for me. When this body gives up on me, which it will, I have a supernatural body there waiting for me. When this body gives up on me, which it will, I have a spiritual body that is waiting for me in heaven. Ah, to be sure, not many of us probably will end their life in a dungeon like the Apostle Paul. Not many of us are going to be beheaded for our faith. But some of us may lose friends over our stand for the truth. Some of us may be passed for promotion because of righteousness and standing for biblical morality. Some of us will lose business deals because of our righteousness in Christ. Some of us may be snubbed by neighbors and by others because we take a stand. For righteousness' sake, some of us, very few of us may lose their life. But the only thing that will happen when my life is snuffed out is I'm going to move from the basement to the penthouse. Can I get an amen?
Have you ever asked yourself the question: Why? Why do they hate us so much? Why do they hate Christ believers? What is it that makes biblical faith an irritant and a cause of anger to the nonbelievers? What about the believers, what about the infallibility of the Word of God that just want them to reject us? The answer actually is much simpler than you think. It's very simple. Here it is: because the natural mind, the natural mind, the non-believing mind does not want to admit the gravity of sin. They want to take pride in it. You see, they don't want to confess it and repent of it. They want to brag about it. The natural non-believing mind does not want to admit their inability to save themselves. "What's this business? Somebody dies 2000 years ago that he can save me. No, I save myself".
And that is why today many a preacher, that's really where my burden is. Many a preacher would rather preach man's virtue than Christ's cross. They reverse, today, they substitute one for the other. They really do. "Ah, you, if you have good thoughts, good things happen to you. Ha, ha, ha. If you say it, it'll be yours. It's all you, you, you, you, you have the power. You can do anything you want to do". Right. Why do they substitute the cross of Christ for man's virtue? Oh, they want to be liked. They just want to be liked. They want to be accepted. They want to be admired by the non-believing world. Question: What is Timothy to do? What are you and I to do? Verse 13, we are to guard the truth. We are to follow it literally. Why? Because it is God's blueprints.
The word translated "pattern" here, pattern of sound words, it's really the same word used for architectural design, or what we call the blueprints. That is why the dying apostle is looking to death in the eye. It could've been days, no more than weeks, when he was writing those words, and is pleading with the next generation, "Please, please follow the pattern of sound words, all of it. Please follow the blueprints. Please do not try to improve on it. Please don't try to deviate from it. Please don't try to modify it. Above all, don't you ever give up or get tired of upholding it, regardless of the suffering, regardless of the price, regardless of the temporary cost".
Salvation is by grace alone. We receive it as a gift from God when we repent of our sins, by daily growing in Christ, what the theologian calls sanctification, or growing more like Christ every day, growing in the spiritual sense. That's the partnership between you and the Holy Spirit, between me and the Holy Spirit, between us and the Holy Spirit. Children of Jesus, listen to me. You and I seek him, and he is found. You and I knock, and he'll open the door. You and I call upon the Lord, and he will answer us. You and I walk with him. He walks with us. You and I delight ourselves in him and in his will, and he will give us the desire of our hearts. You and I draw near to him, he'll draw near to us.
And that is why Paul said, verse 12, "I know, I know..." Oh, yeah, this is knowing experientially, not theoretically, knowing experientially whom I have believed. And I know experientially that he is able to keep me faithful. I know experientially that he is able to keep and guard the truth of the gospel. I know experientially that he can empower me to uphold unto the truth unmolested to the end. Question: What is Paul's burden? Obviously, we see it right here in this chapter. His greatest burden, as he is dying, is that false teachers and false preachers have infiltrated the church. They infiltrated the church while he's still alive, just like they're infiltrating the church now. These false teachers and preachers, they are bent on corrupting the gospel. They are determined to rob the church of its most and only priceless treasure that has been entrusted to us, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But I know. Say that with me, "But... (I know.) That he is able to protect it and keep it safe to the next generation until Jesus comes back".
Remember, the burden of the Apostle Paul, as he was facing death, is that Timothy be an instrument in preventing the truth of the gospel to be corrupted. But he also is aware of Timothy's proclivity toward fear and intimidation. And so, the great apostle is advising Timothy, "Timothy, you don't have to feel that you must carry that burden alone. Timothy, you don't have to feel that you can do this in your own strength. Timothy, you do not have to feel alone in carrying this awesome responsibility. Timothy, you need to ask God for help. Timothy, you need to be on your guard, but don't ever, ever, ever forget who upholds you as you uphold the truth. Timothy, be urgent in the task of holding on to the truth, as you lean on God".
It's clear from the last few verses of chapter 1, it's very clear that so many people in the church of Asia... remember, Timothy was pastoring the church in Ephesus when he wrote him, when he received this letter from Paul. He was in Asia. Paul was in Rome. And apparently, the word got back to the Apostle Paul that there's some in the church of Jesus Christ in Asia, just couldn't take the heat and opted to turn their backs on the truth. But thank God, there are exceptions.
As always, I thank God that there are many faithful knees have not bowed down to Baal. I thank God for them every day. Others sold out to the cultural demands and cultural conformity. Others have defected from the demands of the gospel. Others have opted for entertainment. Others have opted for tickling the fancies. But as far as you are concerned, Timothy, resolve to ground your confidence not in public opinion, but in Jesus, the guardian and the guarantor of the gospel. And that is why Paul said, "Don't be afraid, Timothy, don't be afraid. God will never allow the light of the gospel to be extinguished completely. He is watching over it. God is making sure that he will preserve it. Oh, Timothy, remember, remember that he is trustworthy. Remember that he's faithful. Remember that he will accomplish all things according to the counsel of his will". And so, my friends, wherever you are, and whatever you're going through right now, you can trust Jesus, the faithful and true, and you can trust him all the way, all the way until he takes you home and be with him for all of eternity.