Monday, April 22, 2013

Death of death and life upon life (2 Timothy 1)

Christianity has lasted - first proclaimed millenia ago it's message is still fresh today. One of it's most effective evangelists was Paul - who was martyred for his part in passing on the news of Jesus. His famous last words are a letter to his protege Timothy, in which he said:
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
This world-changing message has survived not as a dry dogma but as a dynamic reality in the lives of people who "know whom [they] have believed." Paul calls Timothy to hold on to the "pattern of the sound (healthy) words" that he heard from Paul "in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus" not by brute force and unthinking determination but "by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us." 

This is relational and definable, documentable and dynamic.

Norman Grubb reflected in line with this that the foundation of the UCCF in 1919 was a strong defence of the gospel and repeated outpourings of the Holy Spirit. The gospel stays central through a dynamic work of the Triune God in his people.

The heart beat of Christian fidelity is holding onto the good news of Jesus, a message that speaks to every part of life, and is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. To stay with the gospel is a matter of dwelling in the life of God.

What do those who hold to the gospel do? 
Evangelicals (evangel people = gospel people) are known for their activism, they form churches and mission agencies that seek to convince people of Christ, they're compelled by love to do this.

In every age, and ours is no different, people aren't afraid to share their angle with other people. Watch the advice that pours out when a friend suffers or something goes wrong on a wider scale. If the world and his wife don't mind giving their perspective, why shouldn't a Christians speak their mind with proof and persuasion?

Some will reject this good news about Jesus, and others will hold on to it. Paul says - he recalls the faith of Timothy's mother and grandmother who knew Jesus at some point before Timothy. Timothy shares in his family's faith - he has a personal relationship with Jesus but he has solidarity with other believers. The same can be said of Onesiphorus, who sought out Paul to refresh him. A priceless man, a gospel man.

What is this good news?
God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
Good news from before time, from the purpose and grace of God. Good news of Jesus, appearing in this world. Good news of the death of death.

Paul was a pioneering communicator of this message, confident and effective. Why be ashamed of a message that doesn't just offer to improve circumstance but promises the death of death through the death of Jesus, which offers the holy grail of immortality? Such good news is crying out to be told.

Each generation receives this pattern of healthy teaching and has to decide what to do with it.

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