Title: Rekindle the Fire
Text: 2 Timothy 1:6-14
Date: August 13-14, 2016
All right so Paul is writing to his young son in the faith. This is the last letter that he writes to Timothy, and interestingly, it’s actually the last
letter that came from Paul’s pen, and therefore, it's really important as we’re going to understand and look at this letter.
Timothy is up in the city of Ephesus. He’s been asked to lead these churches there that came out of this major revival several years before and Paul is writing to Timothy to really give him some wisdom and direction in his leadership. Paul tells him to confront certain leaders or teachers that are teaching strange doctrines that is very dangerous. He gives him the godly qualities and characters that he should look for in those that are going to lead the church there. He also then begins to speak to him personally about his own life. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, he wrote. You can really hear the words of a mentor as he begins to say take pains with these things, be absorbed with these things, persevere. These are really a personal call out to Timothy to really pursue this in his life.
Now when you get to this second letter to Timothy, it’s even more personal, and the reason, I’m convinced the reason for that is because Paul knew that his time on this earth was coming to an end. Paul knew that his ministry was about finished. In fact, he writes later on in this letter, he says, the time of my departure has come. I have for the good fight. I've finished the course. I have kept the faith. But he knew then that the end was near so knowing that he didn't have much time, then he writes this letter, which is one of the most personal letters. It’s one of the most compelling letters, one of the most inspiring and frankly it's one of the most quoted. There are more verses in this letter that are quoted in just about any other book because of the personal application of these verses; it’s really significant. One of the reasons is that we see what's happening, this sense of urgency in Paul, has to do with what's going on in his life and the whole Christian movement is really seen in what’s the story of Paul’s life.
If you remember what happened, he has been in Jerusalem and a revival broke out, and so the Roman soldiers hearing the commotion came down and arrested Paul but they arrested him for protective custody. And so, no charges were pressed against them but then they heard there was a plot to kill him, so they transferred them to Caesarea, where the governor was for further protection. Still no charges against him so he sat there for two years without ever facing charges. Finally, he appeals to Cesar because he is a Roman citizen and he has this right and so off they send him, you know, on a ship through to Rome and of course we know from the Book of Acts what a treacherous journey that was. Finally, he arrives in Rome allowed to rent his own personal quarters although he is always and constantly under Roman guard.
Now what follows then is nothing short of amazing because here Paul is, you know, still as a prisoner of Rome, or maybe Rome as a prisoner to him, there is a revival that breaks out amid the entire Pretorian guard. The guard has a revival as they hear the Gospel, chained up Paul, of course. And hundreds come to visit Paul while he is in his quarters and a revival breaks out in Rome.
Now, what actually happened then is fascinating. Many presume, many historians presume, that when Paul did appear to, before the emperor, that he was exonerated and released and there were no charges, but what happened next was interesting. Many of you might know in your history that a major fire broke out in the city of Rome in the year 64 AD and the Emperor in charge of the empire at the time was Nero. If you might remember one of the most famous things in his, his leadership of Rome with this fire and in fact three-fourths of the city of Rome was burnt to the ground. But many began to suspect that perhaps Nero, himself, had caused the fire to be lit because he had this desire to rebuild the city and what better way to do it than to burn it down and become the architect of the rebuilding and according to his deign and his desire.
But when he got wind that actually he was the suspect, he looked then for someone to blame. Now here is this rising Christian movement. It is gaining tremendous impact in the city of Rome. And so many of the Romans looked with suspicion that there's a growing Christian movement and so Emperor Nero seized upon the opportunity to blame the Christians. He had Paul arrested, rearrested and executed eventually. He then instituted a systematic persecution of the Christian movement and the torturers that he brought upon the church are just tragic. The first significant major persecution in the empire and of course we know, of course, that the Christian movement only exploded more out of that. But there is that sense of urgency in Paul. He’s been rearrested he knows that his time is coming to an end. So, with that he writes Timothy one of the most urgent, personal, compelling and inspiring letters.
So, let's read it. We’re going to begin in verse 6, that is the focus today, particularly on verse seven because in many ways verse 7 is like the theme of the entire letter, where in verse 7 he writes, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but God has given us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind.” That is one of the most practical and important verses out of this letter.
Let’s start in verse 6, “For this reason I remind you, to kindle afresh, the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,” he is calling Timothy to live a boldness in his faith, to live out it. Now Paul is bold, you know, if you know Paul at all, you know that he is just a bodacious, bold, you know Gospel pastor. “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner but join with me in suffering for the Gospel according to the power of God who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity”, again he is hanging on the Gospel here.
“But now God has revealed to us by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and the teacher. For this reason,” verse 12 is famous, it should be highlighted and underlined, it is one of those famous declarations of faith, for this reason, “I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed, for I know in whom I have believed and I'm convinced that He is able to guard or to keep that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain, therefore the standard of sound words which you have her heard from me in the faith of the love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
I. Kindle Afresh the Gifts of God
You can see the personal calling out to Timothy to live out in boldness and he starts in verse 6. One of the themes that we need to really take hold of ourselves is, this call out to him, kindle afresh the gift of God that is in him. I love that. Kindle afresh, he wants him to stir it up, the idea of kindling is of course from a fire, we love a campfire. And if you've been around the campfire, you know that when you stir up the ambers, it strikes up the fire, it just brings fresh newness of life to it. And that’s what he is saying to him. Kindle it, stir it up, he is calling him into a bold life, bold living. Now, Paul has a sense of urgency, significant events change your perspective and this is what's happening with Paul. He’s been arrested. He realizes his time on this earth is coming to an end and, as you can imagine, changes his view. Significant events change your view, they change your priorities, they change what's happening.
I remember in fact this week we’re coming up on the anniversary of our daughter being killed and that was an event so momentous to us. It rocked us to core. It changed our perspective, frankly it changed our priority. There is a sense of urgency to the Gospel in us. Like the time is short, we must use our time well, we must use our time with the urgency of God, the baton, we felt, was taken from her. We need to pick it up and live with a sense of urgency in our lives.
A. God has not given us a spirit of fear
This is Paul, he has that perspective of eternity now, sense of urgency. So, he tells him to kindle this afresh, to stir this up, and in verse 7, where we really camp today is, he says, now listen, now God has not given us a spirit of fear, let's be clear he says. That's the opposite of kindling afresh the gift of God. Fear is a debilitating prison and we were born in it. What it is says here, God has not given us the spirit of fear. We have the spirit of fear, it didn't come from God. We were born in that condition and so it's important to recognize because fear frankly is a debilitating prison that has robbed many people from fulfilling the purpose of God and the calling of God in their lives.
Now the Greek word for fear here is interesting, it is used in no other place in the New Testament, it is unique in that sense. It is not fears in the sense of don’t be afraid of the dark or don’t be afraid of heights; really it's more the sense of community or cowardice and has to do with the idea of not being afraid of people. Don't be afraid and in other words be bold and confident in giving out the Gospel in your life. Live boldly. And I think this is a good word. God does not want us taken by fear or living in fear. God wants us living out a life in boldness. There is just something freeing.
If fear is a prison, then living with the boldness of Christ is freedom and it’s important for us to understand that this has been going on, it’s the nature of man. In fact, you know, when Jesus was ministering, it was noted in the book of John 12:42-43, that it says “Many even out the rulers of Israel,” “Many even out the rulers believed in Him” but again its fear, it is the condition that we are all born in. “But because of the Pharisees they were not confessing him because for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue. For they love the approval of men rather than the approval of God”. And so he is telling us that when you're concerned about the approval of God more than anything else, there is a boldness that comes in you, you’re not afraid of men. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 3:12 Paul writes, “Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech.” This is Paul, you know Paul, he is bold, and if anything, Paul is almost too bold sometimes. He is like unafraid, unashamed.
You know when I think of boldness like that I think about a time when we had this leaders meeting, and I mentioned this a few Wednesdays ago when, there is such a powerful and humorous event at the same time. We had this leaders’ meeting and at the leaders’ meeting, we asked everyone to introduce themselves and to say, you know, what ministry they were in. And so, we had this big circle and my name is so and so and I do this ministry, my name is so and so, and I do this ministry and we continued to round the room and the last one to introduce himself was Pastor Kaveh. He is, as you know one of our elders and pastors, and he is the pastor of the Iranian fellowship that leads many hundreds of Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ. I mean this man has a powerful, a powerful ministry and so we’re going you know, my name is so and so I do this, my name is so and so and I do this, and then Kaveh says, “My name is Kaveh, bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.” And we all went, “Can I have another turn?” I mean there is just like some boldness when you hear it that way, then yeah, of course, bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ is a bold thing. See where does that come from? Where does that boldness come from?
Is it that I have “confidence in me”? To quote from the “Sound of Music”, confidence like this comes from God. It’s faith. It’s faith. Here is David, Psalms 71:5, you know David, right, he is famous for his faith, the strength of confidence that he had in God. And this is what he writes in Psalms 71:5, “For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.” You are my confidence from my youth.
And we know of course when he encountered Goliath he was a young man. Many presume in his teens even, yet he had this confidence not in himself, of which is pure arrogance; confidence in God which is pure faith. And in fact, you know, David answered and said, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin. I come to you in the name of God of Israel.” I don’t know… there is just something way stronger about that. I come to you in the name of the Lord God of Israel and I will defeat you some day and the army of Philistines he says so, and you can almost imagine him saying to the people of Israel, so that these people here know and everyone would understand that there is a God in Israel. There is boldness to that faith; there is the confidence in God.
In fact, arrogance and self-confidence gets in the way of it. There is a strength of faith that Roman 8:15-16, Paul writes, and he is very practical in it, “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba!” which is the most intimate Hebrew way of saying like papa or daddy. You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out “’Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” What is he saying to us? He said if you know who you are, God has given to you a relationship based on the fact that He has adopted you as sons and daughters. You can imagine the commitment that is behind the idea of adopting us as sons and daughters. I am committed to you. I am for you. I am with you.
B. Kindle afresh the spirit of power
When you know that God is for you, it changes your perspective that God is with you. That God works through you. And so, this is what he is calling Timothy to recognize. God has not given us a spirit of fear but he goes on to say in verse 7, but God has given us a spirit of power. So, he is telling him, kindle afresh, kindle afresh the spirit of power.
Now the word power here in the Greek is the word from which we get dynamite. Well actually, the inventor of dynamite was looking for a word, looking for what to call it when he invented gunpowder and he happened upon, of course, this Greek word “dunamis”, and so he says I will call it “dynamite”.
And interesting thing, just as a side note of history, you might know that of course, the man who invented dynamite, his name is Nobel. And when his brother died, when Nobel’s brother died the newspaper in error printed his obituary. And so, he got to read his own obituary and they called him the agent of death. And it just hit him like a ton of bricks. And he therefore, after reading that, he took 95% of his vast wealth and he committed it to peace, thus the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Peace Prize being the capstone of it all. And so, this word, however, comes from “dunamis” in the Greek and it means power.
Now that is important because it takes power to move what we think cannot be moved. It takes power to change what we think cannot be changed. And so, this is why Paul speaks so boldly up of it. Romans 1:16, using the same word, he says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” What is behind that, a boldness, a confidence. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God”, same words, “it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.”
The power of God gives eternal life. God gives eternal life. Paul has every confidence because the Holy Spirit empowers his life and he wants the same for Timothy. He wants the same for us. Stir up the spirit of power God has given us, to us, a spirit of power. And in fact, Jesus said similarly in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power”, same word, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses”, you will be empowered by the Spirit to be witnesses with a boldness right “in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and even the remotest part of the earth” even in the DRC of Congo. Didn’t that video just want to make you got to pastor in Congo. It should have. That was inspiring! That was the whole idea.
God is still seeking and saving the lost. That is power. God is still transforming lives. He’s still giving eternal life by the same power. Now, what is the power that moves on the soul, that stirs up, that kindles afresh? See when you think about power in the soul to change what we think is unchangeable, to move what we think is unmovable, to transform a person toward godliness, how does that happen? Kindle afresh the gift of God. You kindle a fire, of course that's the idea you spring forth a fire.
The question is what fire, because here's the thing many people do not recognize the significance of the fire of God. And what happens with the way a lot of people think, they make their own momentum. It is important for people to understand the significance. So frankly they make their own fire. They make their own fire. People don’t understand the significance, so they make their own. And the end result of that, I can just tell you is not good. In fact when you look at the history of Israel, which we should, because it is an example to us, and in Isaiah 50:11, he gives, this is the word of the Lord, “Behold, all you who light your own fire, who provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the tortures you have set ablaze. And this you’ll receive from My hand, you will lay down in sorrow, it will not end well.”
God has given us a soul to be ignited by Him. He has made it for that purpose. See people are looking today; they are looking, longing for something in life. Many people are so empty and they’re just looking for some kind of spark, some kind of joy, something to live for, some purpose, some kind of meaning. People are looking and longing. Where does that kind of joy come from? We want to live with the joy in our lives. Where does that come from? We want to live with the spark. Where does that come from? We want to live with some kind of purpose and meaning. Where does that come from?
You know you look at the history of Israel, it is a great example, and we know in their history that they turned their hearts away from God, even though God had chosen them amongst all the nations of the world. He had chosen them to place His name at, to place His heart there, but they turned their backs on God. And they turned their hearts toward the things of the world and, the end result of it, of course, they were defeated and destroyed exiled into Babylon, modern day Iraq. 70 years they were exiled and at the end of 70 years they were allowed to return only to find the city in a heap of ruins. And as they were going through the stones to rebuild the temple and rebuild the city someone discovered a copy of the Word of God. And so, they gave it to the priest who brought it to the governor and read it and then their eyes were opened. Oh, how far we have come. God has called us. God has gifted us. God has blessed us. God has place His name on us and we turned our back on him and now we see all the ruin of our lives.
And so what the governor did, he brought everyone together. Nehemiah, he wanted them all to hear this word that they would all understand what had happened. And so, they set up a podium and the high priest stood up and began to read the Word. And the Holy Spirit began to move and the people began to weep and cry and mourn for they saw what they had lost because they had turned their hearts away. But Nehemiah stood up and he actually stopped them from their crying and their weeping and their mourning. And this is what he says in Nehemiah 8:10, because it is a really important word, “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.” He is calling them to revival right there.
See there is an important word. The joy of the Lord is the revival that transforms our lives, the spark, the meaning, the purpose, the joy is found in that. And so, he was calling them to that. The point of course is that when God moves upon our soul, we are satisfied in our soul. Our spark is from the spark of the Spirit in our lives. The meaning and the purpose comes from Him. That is so satisfying that when your heart is filled and satisfied, the things of the earth grow strangely dim, to quote the hymn. It’s a great word for us.
Maybe a food illustration would be a good illustration, because the Scripture uses food to describe the sense of hunger of thirst, of longing. We are longing, we are people thirsty, this world is filled with people that are empty, longing and thirsty for something they're dry. And so, here’s the illustration.
You know imagine if you're really, really, hungry. You're just famished. You are so hungry and you're going on the street and you hear “ding, ding, ding”. Oh that’s a hotdog stand and hotdog, I want hotdog, problem is do you know what is in a hotdog? I mean if you saw how a hotdog is made I think it would be rather unappetizing but at that moment “ding, ding, ding.” You’re famished and you think “oh hotdog, I will have it” but the reason you want it is because you’re empty. See if you are filled, if you have been given an invitation, and you have, to feast at the King’s table and to feast upon all that’s good and delectable and delightful, that which fills and satisfies, imagine that you are filled and satisfied at the kings table and you push back from the table, and you’re sipping your espresso at the end of the meal. Ah it’s all good you know, and then you hear faintly in the background “ding, ding, ding.” I don’t want a hotdog. I have no desire for that because I have been filled. I am to the full.
Spiritually speaking we need to see the analogy. Unless we have filled to the full and the joy of the Lord is our strength, and the spark of the fires is from Him, we’ll be finding ourselves in deep trouble.
II. Kindle Afresh the Spirit of Love
So, he then goes on in verse 7 to say, God has given us also a spirit of love. See that speaks to Him. Spirit of love. Where do you get that? It is the Holy Spirit. The fruit or the result of God, the result of the Spirit is love. That’s the spark about igniting relationship. You can’t stir it up yourself. It is the Holy Spirit, you can stir up the Holy Spirit, you can stir up the fire of Holy Spirit of God in our lives.
A. Return to your first love
That’s why, interestingly Jesus in the Book of Revelation, you might know as He speaks to the churches, He speaks to the church of Ephesus, this is years after Timothy had been there, but he calls Ephesus to return to your first love.
God has given us the Spirit. Kindle it afresh. Return to your first love. He had many good things to say about the church in Ephesus but there was this one thing Revelation 2:4, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” Things can change over time. Marriage can become routine, a job that you thought at first to be exciting can become mundane, things change over time and if your relationship to the Lord is suffering the same way, He is calling us to be ignited again, things change over time.
When you have your first child everything is absolutely, astonishingly wonderful and you write everything they say and do in a book. Put it on Facebook. They did this. After three or four kids it changes completely. Oh whatever, but see, the spark of that fresh newness of life. See the first thing Jesus wanted them to do, back to that in a church of Ephesus is to remember, remember, remember the love that you had at the first, remember the joy that you had when you first received Jesus Christ into your life. If you’ve forgotten, one thing is for sure, God hasn’t forgotten.
Our love in Jeremiah 2:2, he says to Israel similarly, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me through the desert, through a land not sown.” I remember well the love that you had at first, do you remember? Remember it again, remember, see God wants love to be the foundational definition of our relationship to Him. You know why, because that is the foundational definition of His relationship to us.
It is a transforming power. Love transforms the soul. When you move away from love, when it grows dim, you're moving away from the power that transforms your life and you start to enter back towards fear. When you move away from love you move towards fear. In fact, in 1 John 4:18- 19 he says, “Perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.”
I’ve found, now we raise five kids, now adopted our granddaughter, love is a much more powerful way to have a relationship with a child. It is way more powerful than any kind of harsh, legalistic word. It is a way better way to define your relationship because when you move away from love, you’re moving towards fear and that’s not at all what God wants to define us with.
He says remember and “do the deeds you did at the first”, that’s a good word. What were the things you were doing when you first came to faith in Jesus Christ? Do those things again. Where you were worshipping, and singing with all of your might, do it again. Where you hungry after God’s Word and reading it with all your heart, do it again. Do the things you did at the first. Have the joy. Return to your first love, do it again.
B. God gives us a sound mind
And lastly, we close with this. He says, God is also given to us a “spirit of power and love and of a sound mind.” God has not given us a spirit of fear. Fear distorts judgment. Fear distorts the mind and the result of bad thinking is bad living. And this is really important. He wants us to be victorious, instead of being driven by fear, instead of being driven by worry, instead of being driven by anxiety.
I want you to have peace. Peace even, even a peace that surpasses understanding. Let me give you a great verse. Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, Paul grasps this well, “Be anxious for nothing”, let fear not dominate in any area of your life. Wearisomeness is not of God. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He is bringing in faith to it, and then he says “the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension,” but get this phrase here, that peace “will guard your hearts and it will guard your minds in Christ Jesus”.
God does not want us to be taken by fear, to be living according to fear, to make decisions according to fear or worry or anxiousness but I want you to have a sound mind. The sound mind looks at life from the perspective of faith, from that confidence that God is with me that God is for me that God works through me.
See that’s why I love verse 12, back to 2 Timothy 1:12 is one of those famous versus that is like a declaration of faith, where he says “I am not ashamed for I know in in whom I have believed”. I know Him, oh I know my Lord. I love that phrase, I know whom I have believed and “I am persuaded”, I am convinced that “He is able to keep that, to guard against that which I’ve entrusted to him until that day”. That is a powerful, powerful word.
God gives a sound mind so that you have an answer to anxiety, you have an answer to fear; you have to have an answer. Because fear, we are born in it, and it will start to speak words of fear in your life. You will start speaking words of anxiety, words of wearisomeness. You have to have an answer, you have to have an answer, and it is in Psalm 42:11, David writes, again it is a wonderful example he is a man of faith, and he give us his insight into his own thinking and he, very interesting in this verse because he is actually speaking to himself… and does anybody speak to themselves… and the rest of you are not telling the truth. We all speak of ourselves it’s part of who we are. But this is an important process because you need to have an answer to fear. When fear starts to speak, you have to have an answer for, when worry begins to speak you have to have an answer, when anxiety begins to speak you have to have an answer.
Psalm 42:11 David writes, “Why are you so downcast oh my soul?” He is speaking to his soul. “Why are you so downcast?” Defeat, defeating thoughts, God does not want us living that way. Why are you so downcast oh my soul? He knows he is downcast, he knows he is going through a valley, he is going through a dark time, he knows he is so he speaks to it. “Why are you so downcast oh my soul? Why have you become disturbed within me?” He is speaking a word to himself. “Hope in God” man “for I yet shall praise him, the help of my confidence and my God.” That’s a good word.
We need to have an answer. That’s why when Paul writes in Romans 8:31, it’s such a compelling and powerful word to us. “What shall we say to these things if God is for us, who can be against us?” That is a grasp of faith that gives boldness to life. Fear has an answer, it is faith. Worry, God did not give us that spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind and it is a victorious way to live.