Starting Position #1
2 Timothy 1:1-2
A crisis of confidence is eating away American evangelical churches. We are plagued with an uneasy timidity about introducing and training others in Christ.
In contrast, this is Paul’s final passion in writing 2 Timothy. In our culture, however, some people object to the enterprise of training our children and others to walk in the gospel.
“Isn’t it an abuse of power to indoctrinate other people, especially little children?” they ask.
Our culture loves the enlightenment ( an 18th century philosophical movement) and the radical freedoms that it preached. “The mind must be left free to decide for itself. Train people to think, critique, discern. Then let each person chose according to his own inclinations,” it argues — even today!
But not even the most ardent advocate of radical freedom lives by this doctrine consistently. We don’t lecture our children at the street corner, explaining the comparable masses of their 25 pound bodies and a ton-and-a-half truck. We would like for our children to live, so we train them, sometimes rigorously, not to walk into the street.
Also, it is no safe assumption that when educated in the freedoms of the enlightenment, a person will choose life. Even common observation teaches us that people have a stubborn inner-inclination away from sound-judgment.
In contrast, the Bible shows the kindness and goodness of training our children, and others, to walk in the gospel. How?
Is this a good thing…
To train our children, and others, to walk in the gospel? Yes!
First, because the gospel tells us the truth. J. I. Packers classic, “Knowing God”, asks us to consider dropping a stone-age tribesman into the middle of a large city.” The tribesman would have true freedom, but would be, rightly so, in terror of his surroundings. The best life is the life lived on the basis of the truth.
The gospel tells us the truth about ourselves, that people are broken and sinful. So are you. Titus 3:5 reminds us all that our fundamental nature is one of hatred and passions.
The gospel also tell us the truth about life and how to live it. To hear, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” is liberating. Life is meant to be lived in the presence, context and guidance of the God who made us. [Prov. 3:5-6]
Finally, the gosepl tells us the truth about God. He is the God who is there and to whom every one must ultimately answer. Most people agree that if there is a God, He is a God of love ( 1 John 4:7), but few are ready to grapple with the implications that God is just. For He says in Exodus 32:7, “I will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” To walk according to the truth about ourselves, life and God is the only way to live life to its fullest.
The gospel does more than tell the truth.
The gospel offers…
a life of eternal value and power.
We need a life that wants to walk in the truth. Left to truth alone, we have no inward ability to want the truth. Some kindness beyond ourselves must shift our wills, our “want-to’s,” toward truth.
We also need a life that is able to walk in the truth. We admit there’s plenty we want and cannot do. We need a new power of action, some kindness that can efficiently put a desire to walk in the gospel into gear. See, we need the powerful life that only God can give. That’s why the gospel is such good news. The gospel provides the only way this truth and life may be attained
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.”
The gospel is not religious methodology by which we may discipline ourselves to please God. The gospel is the entrance into — and a life relationship with — Jesus Christ. To have Jesus is to have this truth. To have Jesus is to have this life. There’s no other way. Now He offers you His gospel truth and life as a free gift. The gospel is good-simple. Just take it — take Christ — and you will live.
So, training our children, and others, to receive God’s gift through Christ and to walk in the gospel is not just a good thing. It’s the best gift we ever give to someone, especially our children. So, lay aside this impediment to gladly, and often, interjecting, asserting and boldly declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ with those around you. Any decent person would do no less.
[If we are going to be intrusive with the gospel in our relationships, we will need authority, authenticity and affection. Next week, we will examine how Paul equips Timothy toward these three qualities.]