First Posted: 3/31/2011
The Gospel of Christ is Never in Chains
April 3, 2011 Sunday School Lesson
2 Timothy 2:8-19
Having given Timothy instructions on dealing with matters in the church and how to conduct his own life, the Apostle Paul again gave the young evangelist wise counsel that is good for all of us to practice.
We always do well when we remember Jesus. Study the life of the Savior, think about His death on the cross for your sins, and He will become even more dear to you.
Remember, also, that He was “raised from the dead,” becoming what the apostle called the firstfruits in his letter to the church at Corinth. We have an interest in Christ being the firstfruits because in His death and resurrection, we follow Him.
As a preacher of the good news of Christ Jesus, Paul was treated like a criminal and jailed. People often wanted to stop him, but they could not stop the Word of God. This must have brought a great deal of comfort to Paul, trusting that even as his adversaries had him in chains, they would never confine the gospel of Jesus.
Anyone who undertakes the Lord’s work will encounter opposition in some form. It is not easy work, but we do it with an eternal purpose in mind. Paul said he endured hardships “that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.”
Someone might ask why believers are willing to suffer, and there are at least two reasons that will have their fulfillment in eternity. First, the apostle said he suffered “for the elect’s sake.” The elect are people intended for the salvation found only in Christ Jesus, and with that salvation comes glory forever.
The second reason a believer is willing to pay the cost of discipleship is, as Paul explained, if we are dead with Christ we will live with Him in eternity. A Christian is dead to the desires of the world and alive to Christ so that we will live with Him in eternity.
A warning is attached to this promise of hope, though, because there is also an assurance that if we deny Jesus, He will deny us. Some people argue against this point, saying that a loving, holy God will not send anyone to hell. In the first place, it is not God’s will that people should go to hell. Secondly, God does not send people to hell. They make that decision for themselves. Thirdly, God is perfectly just. When He tells us He will deny us, then He will do just that. If God is not faithful in one thing, we cannot trust Him to be faithful in anything. “He cannot deny himself,” Paul said.
Study the Word so you will meet with the Lord’s approval. The way Paul explains this is to tell us to be careful as a carpenter draws and cuts a straight line on a board in order that his work will be acceptable.
There are many notions about religion, but we will not stray as long as we seek the truth and follow the teaching of God’s Word.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church, Lumberton, N.C. [email protected]