6/22/17 Be Strong in Grace

Thursday, June 22, 2017


2 Tim. 2:1

Morning Meditations 6/22/17

This morning we will look at grace as Paul mentions it here to Timothy: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is writing for his last time. He is nearing the time of his martyrdom. He will end this letter with the statement: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand, (4:6).” We can consider these words parting words of the father to the son. This is very important. I believe that Paul says things to Timothy in this little epistle that he considers as final instructions.

The word “son” (teknon) means “offspring” and refers in the New Testament to pupils or disciples who are called children by their teachers, because the latter by their instruction nourish the minds of their pupils and mold their characters. Can you imagine the emotional effect that the words “Thou therefore, my son...” will have on Timothy a few years after Paul’s martyrdom? I believe it is good for every preacher to have someone who is a father image. I do not think it is essential. But I do think it is good. Timothy had someone in Paul who looked upon him as a son. He watched out for Timothy as a loving father would a son. He wanted the best for Timothy and instructed him accordingly. I believe when Timothy unrolled the Scroll and meditated on these words after Paul’s martyrdom, he wept for sheer joy that there was someone like Paul who considered him a son. Timothy may have felt forsaken by others and alone, but these words would warm him and put new determination in him to continue. “Thou therefore, my son...”

The words “Be strong” (endunamoo) is the translation of a word that means “to receive strength, be strengthened, increase in strength..” It is a present passive imperative verb. The present tense means to keep on doing something that is going on. The passive voice means that Timothy is receiving something from outside himself. He is not strengthening himself. He is receiving strength. The imperative mood is the mood of volition. It is a command that appeals to voluntary obedience. A command always expresses urgency. Paul is attaching urgency to this instruction.

Timothy has received strength from the Lord and is instructed to continue. Anything short of the preacher operating in God’s strength is flesh. Flesh can only turn out death. It can never accomplish God’s purpose. We must continue to receive our strength from the Lord. We must not take God for granted. An essential part of Timothy’s ministry will be prayer. As he prays and experiences the Lord’s fellowship, he will be endued with strength. A prayerless ministry is a powerless ministry. A prayerless ministry is a flesh motivated ministry. It cannot be otherwise. It is important that I see this. I can be right academically and theologically and bankrupt spiritually. It is not the written word alone that I must have. The written Word is the means for my faith to be in constant contact with His unseen presence. It is a means He uses to communicate with me. It is the way I exercise my faith and act on what He is saying to me now. Paul is saying to Timothy (and me) to be endued with God’s power.

The word “grace” (charis) means unmerited favor. It is the word that describes God’s mercy and attitude toward me because of the death of Jesus on the cross. So what is Paul saying to Timothy when he says “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus?”

I believe he is telling Timothy to be strong in the proclamation of grace. Grace should be an unavoidable concept that is projected in Timothy’s preaching. He must proclaim it, if he is to be strong in grace. He must explain it, if he is to be strong in grace. He must compare it to wrong concepts that Satan projects on the world, if he is to be strong in grace. I was a visiting speaker in a church that I had formerly pastored. It was a great time of renewing friendships and seeing people that I had not seen in a long time. Some of us were standing around talking in the front of the church. A lady that I had pastored in this place had brought some friends whom she wanted me to meet. As she introduced me to them, she looked at them and said, “He believes in the virgin birth of Christ.” I had explained this doctrine so often and the absolute necessity of it, that this woman associated the virgin birth with my ministry. I believe when you heard Timothy preach he was so strong in the proclamation of grace that when you would thing of Timothy you would think of grace.

I believe he is telling Timothy to be strong in grace as a motive for godly living. Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” It has been very difficult for me to teach grace as a motive for service. I want to teach law. Law is hard and unbending. It carries with it severe penalties to those who don’t obey. The law is judgmental. It makes the one who proclaims it judgmental. I had to come to this place in my life: do I believe grace will produce godliness? Am I willing to teach grace and trust it to produce the right end product, i.e. holiness? I discovered when I proclaimed law as a motive for holiness, it produced judges. It is hard, if not impossible, for me to quit a bad habit or remove a stumblingblock under the direction of the law, without becoming very judgmental of those who still practice what I just gave up.

A problem that this kind of thinking gave me is that it seemed to compromise with sins that were being committed and let the sinner off too easily. But then I would run into verses like “the kingdom of God is within you” which meant that God’s relationship with me is in my very thought life first. I remembered Jesus answering peoples thoughts as He spoke to them. I had to admit that I had sinned as severely in my thoughts as those whom I was condemning with the law. I began to realize if it were not for grace I would be in trouble. God loved me and forgave me on a regular basis for the defilement of the flesh. He did not chasten me severely because of that mental attitude sin. If God dealt with me in grace, why couldn’t I preach grace and trust Him to take that message of grace and work in the lives of those who heard it? Seeing grace as the teacher of holiness brought a completely new dimension of teaching in my life. It also brought a new crisis of inner turmoil. It was hard for me to deal with the feeling of guilt. I felt I was abandoning a part of the Scripture. It was difficult for me to change my mind. Satan enjoyed the law for holiness when Christ taught grace. So, he accused me of abandoning the Bible. I have learned to resist him with the teaching of grace. He can’t handle that.

Does grace let the sinner off? Yes. But it does not let Jesus off. A good illustration of this is found in John 8:1-11. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and said, “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” Of course they did not bring the woman to Jesus because of their interest in the law. But they were right. The law did say what they said it said. The law would have left this sinful woman under a pile of rocks for her family to dig out and bury. Would that have been right? Absolutely. There is no question about the right of it. But they did not bring her to Moses they brought her to Jesus (Grace)! I will not go into the story. Suffice it to say that Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more,”(John 8:11). Is Jesus letting this woman off that the law rightly condemned? Absolutely. Is He disagreeing with the law? Absolutely not. Isn’t that a contradiction? Absolutely not. What Jesus did is let her off and went to the cross and died in her place. That’s grace. Hallelujah!

Does the teaching of grace require less than law. Absolutely not. I close with saying that I have discovered that I can trust the teaching of grace to produce God’s desired result.

My we be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

In Christ

Earl White

Comments left for "6/22/17 Be Strong in Grace"

Leave a Comment