• 2 Timothy 2:1 – by Dan Hayden •
Truth matters! We are being told today that it doesn’t—but it does. In most endeavors of life, this is a given. Truth does matter in medical science, for instance, because life and death are often at stake. A diagnosis is either right or it’s wrong—and even when it’s bad news, a patient wants the doctor to tell him the truth. Lab results, MRI’s and Cat scans are diagnostic tools whereby physicians probe the truth. Pluralism doesn’t work in hospitals. In that environment, pluralism is absurd.
That is the way it is in most areas of life. Rules govern the game and facts determine the outcome. End of argument! Yet, when it comes to religion and ideas about God, the room clouds with smoke and the mind turns to mush. Here, truth is like a Rorschach test—everyone sees whatever they want to see and nobody is wrong. Tolerance is the password and absurdity is the new reality. Supposedly, this is the pathway to societal and global peace.
Now, the problem for Christians in all of this is not that they can’t see through the hype. Bible believing Christians know that pluralism does not work in spiritual matters any more than it does in the physical domain. Yet, even though some in the broad stream of Christendom are getting sucked into the vortex of this mystical thinking, the challenge for most believers is simply having the courage to speak up for the truth. As in the old story, they know that saying “The emperor has no clothes” can be dangerous for their health.
Well, the Apostle Paul understood the pressures that a Christian experiences when living in a culture that is hostile to the exclusive message of the biblical Gospel. So, when he sought to motivate Timothy, who was discouraged as a result of being persecuted for his faith, Paul said to him, “You therefore my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).
Now, that’s what Timothy needed. It was important for him to be strong as a communicator of the Gospel of God’s grace in Christ, and it was essential that he be strengthened by that grace in his own life. The word “be strong” is the Greek verb endunamoo which basically refers to inner strength: en (in) + dunnamoo (to strengthen). The idea is to be empowered inwardly. You see, Paul was not asking Timothy to show him his muscle. He was appealing to his inward character—his courage and his resolve.
The biblical concept of salvation in Christ alone is an exclusive message that doesn’t set well in a pluralistic environment. Yet, because it is the truth, Timothy needed to be strengthened in his resolve to communicate it even in the face of opposition. Also, because criticism and persecution can take its toll on human emotions, Timothy was being encouraged to remember that God’s grace in Jesus Christ is sufficient for every circumstance of life. In other words, his heart would be strengthened by simply relying on God’s grace.
So, that’s God’s message to us as well.We also need to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The Gospel we communicate is politically incorrect, but we are to be strong in our resolve to make it known nevertheless. People’s reaction to the Gospel of grace won’t always be positive, but we can be strengthened by God’s grace to be courageous and enthusiastic about salvation in Christ in spite of their resistance.
Truth does matter—and what we believe about Christ and the Gospel of grace is of ultimate importance. Eternal life is at stake. So, be strong—for Christ’s sake, be strong. ■
This article was published in the Spring 2004 issue of Sola Scriptura Magazine.