Thursday, March 8, 2012

2 Timothy 1:1-2

Vs. 1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” 
The Apostle Paul begins his epistle by introducing himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus. Now God’s promise of life is not just for Christ’s Apostle’s; nor is it stated just for Timothy to whom Paul is writing; God’s promise of life is for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ God's only begotten Son, (John 3:16). Now Paul’s declaration of his being an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God indicates God’s prerogatives in all such matters. For it is God by His Sovereign Will who not only elects us to salvation (John 1:13; Rom. 9:11), but also to His service (John 15:16). Therefore at salvation, at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ the Lord (Eph. 1:13-14), God sends the Holy Spirit into us who first effects our regeneration (Titus 3:4-7), or our being born again (John 3:3-5). But He also endows each believing individual with whatever Spirit gifts they are to have in the Body of Christ, (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Now this is in accord with God the Father having first established a priority for His Spirit given gifts and their execution in the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:28-31). For it is God who has set each member in the Body of Christ just as He pleased (1 Cor. 12:18). And so just as God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son appoints us to salvation (Acts 13:48). So it is that the Holy Spirit according to His will equips each one of us with whatever Spirit gifts we are to have (1 Cor. 12:11). And that is why each member of Christ's Body is a vital member and is nessecary to make the whole function well (1 Cor. 12:12-18). For no believer (and thus no gift) in the Body of Christ is either unnessecary or an independent entity of any other member. All members are necessary for the Christ's Body’s functioning well as a whole (1 Cor. 12:19-25).

Now if someone professes faith in Jesus Christ yet they cannot discern having any Spirit given gifts then they are disqualified from serving Jesus Christ and the church in any Spirit gifted roles. That is why the Apostle’s Paul’s initial declaration is being looked at here so deeply. For Paul was called by Jesus Christ and equipped by the Holy Spirit to be an Apostle. Paul didn’t just decide to be an Apostle after his conversion on the Damascus road. It was something God called him to be even before he was born, but was not revealed to him until then (Gal. 1:15-17). Therefore as the Scripture declares it is God, not man who decides whom God has chosen, and whom God has equipped, and how we are to serve Him. For man always looks at the outward appearance, i.e. degrees, diplomas, similar personal histories, or likes and dislikes etc. but it is God who always looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). And thus He chooses whom He chooses to bring glory to Himself (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

Now Paul’s Apostleship by the will of God is not an independent entity but is “…according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” Therefore before Paul became an Apostle of Jesus Christ He had to first enter into Christ's life by receiving His promise of life that is given to all who believe in Him. And thus far above and exceedingly more important than Paul’s Apostle status is the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus. For this promise of life is offered to all and given to all who believe in the crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ. That is God’s promise of everlasting life that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself declares in John 3:16. And thus is brought to us by Jesus Christ’s crucifixion death, resurrection from grave and ascension back to heaven, by which the Holy Spirit’s outpouring came into the world and thus it is He who then indwells everyone who believes (John 7:38-39). And so it is the Holy Spirit of God who brings this promise of life to all who believe in Jesus Christ the Lord (Eph. 1:13-14). Therefore God’s promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus, is universal, excluding no one. But it is in no way universally applied. It demands a response from each of us to either repent and receive God’s gift of life through faith in Jesus Christ and be saved from our sins and the judgment to come (Acts 2:38-40). Or to remain spiritually dead in ones trespasses and sins separated from God and all the life that is in Christ Jesus the Lord (Eph. 2:1-10). That is the reality of us all apart from the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus. Yet as we read further into Apostle Paul’s epistle we soon discover that this is not the will of God for anyone to be dead in their sins and transgressions, separated from Him, but rather that all should come to know Christ and thus experience His life within us.

Vs. 2 “To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy,and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Three blessings from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord the Apostle Paul now bestows on Timothy whom he calls his beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace. These salutations also appear in 1 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4; and 2 John 3 and encompass what happens to us in our standing with God when we come to a personal faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. That is we become children of God no longer alienated from God, but become recipients of His grace, mercy and peace (John 14:26-27). That Paul calls Timothy a beloved son is not literal, rather Timothy was a young man whom Paul had discipled but who had no father in his life; though he had a Godly mother and grandmother (vs. 5). Now these blessings, grace, mercy and peace are again gifts of God’s ongoing love for us when we believe in Jesus Christ His Son. That is the sole condition for being eternally forgiven and entering the Kingdom of Heaven, and thus having them, ones trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God which then brings us into God's family and thus makes us receipients of His grace, mercy and peace. And so as God's children we should strive to be and live like people of grace, mercy and peace. So lets look at them.

First grace: Grace theologically as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is “the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.” Now God's grace is freely offered to everyone because of Jesus Christ’s having come into the world as a Man and suffered death on the cross for all our sins. That is why God's grace is now availible to us all. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be
saved." John 3:17-18
God’s grace then does not come to us because we deserve it, or have earned it (vs. 9). On the contrary God’s grace comes to us because of His love for us and His seeing that there was no other way for us to be saved from our sins and eternal damnation, but by Him. Therefore God’s grace must be received as a gift of His love for us by our personally believing in, then confessing the crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; 13). For it is God’s Son Jesus Christ who took all our sins upon Himself and suffered sins penalty on the cross for us all, so that if anyone looks to His suffering death on the cross, trusting that as payment for all their sins, they will have forgiveness of them and everlasting life (John 3:15-21). Grace then is what distinguishes the New Covenant from the Old. “For the Law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

The second blessing the Apostle Paul bestows on us is mercy. Mercy is why Jesus came into the world to be, and to bring, God’s mercy to everyone broken by their sins (Matt. 5:3; 9:9-13). Mercy then is foundational to the Lord Jesus’ Mission of Redemption, which is to redeem believing humanity from sin and death. Which involves not only His sinless obedience to the will of God so that His righteousness can be imputed to everyone who puts their trust in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). But it also required His death on the cross to pay for the sins that we all have committed (Rom. 3:23). For the Scripture says,“…without the shedding of blood there can be no remission.” Heb. 9:22
Therefore God's grace and mercy is inseparably linked to what He has first done in order to save us through the death and resurection of His Son Jesus Christ. Now God’s mercy requires our repentance towards God and our faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). That is how we receive it (Pr. 28:13; Jer. 36:3; Luke 18:9-14; Rom. 5:1). In this repentance is essentially a change of mind about oneself, ones sins, and quite possibly even God Himself God (Luke 15:11-32). Therefore God’s grace initiates salvation for us; “For in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8 But His everlasting mercy is given only to those who repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

The third blessing the Apostle Paul bestows on us is peace. Peace is what the angels heralded across the heavens at Jesus birth. “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14 For with Jesus’ birth the fullness of God came to humanity to restore the Peace of God that was severed from creation when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. And thus Jesus Christ came to end the horrible enmity that exists in creation, and that creation itself has towards God our Creator. Now in this there is a progression of restoration. First there is the restoring of sinful humanity to the life; love and peace of God, that is paramount. And that is why Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). For apart from the life, love and peace of God, both individuals and creation itself is like waves on the unsettled seas. And thus people strive with others, and within themselves, because their is no lasting peace apart from God. Even creation itself so clearly manifests the brutal cruelty and enmity that exists in this world because of its alienation from God. Therefore the first step in God's plan of Redemption is to restore as many as will believe in His Son Jesus Christ to Himself and thus too a state of peace. Jesus Christ then serves as the only Mediator between a Holy God and sinful humanity (Heb. 4:14-16). Then when that is fulfilled God Himself will remake all of creation with a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells and thus a world and people and creation devoid of all enmity and sin and all of the effects thereof (Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Peter 2:13; Rev. 21:1-8). Now that's something to sing praises to God about!

Experiencing peace with God then begins not by trying harder to please God (Rom. 4:4-5; Heb. 4:9-10). Rather by admitting that one is morally and spiritually bankrupt before God and thus incapable of making oneself acceptable in His sight. Then receiving the only solution for our sins which separate us from Him and His peace by believing in Jesus Christ crucified and Risen from the dead which then brings us into a personal relationship with God the Father and restores His peace in us (Titus 3:4-7). Therefore as a child of God, born again by the Spirit of God, fully under the grace of God we experience the peace of God in our lives, as Jesus’ promises for all who believe in Him (John 14:26). Not only by Divine impartation but also as we keep Christ’s commandments which His Spirit guides us to do, to resist the sinful desires of the flesh and rather live by the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). That is what it means to be a disciple or follower of Jesus Christ. You first receive Him unconditionally then you seek to follow Him in discipleship. For you’ll never experience peace with God as long as you shut Jesus Christ out of your heart and try to go it on your own. God’s peace is inseparably linked with ones relationship to Him through His Son (John 14:6). Again the first step of obedience towards God is to confess oneself a sinner and receive the only solution for our sins, which is to believe in Jesus Christ crucified and Risen from the grave which brings the Holy Spirit into ones life, who then brings us to life (Eph. 1:13-14). For this is the Scriptures testimony: “…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

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