D.A. Carson, “Preserving the Gospel”
2 Tim. 1:1-2:2
We think of preserving the gospel defensively, primarily in criticism of those we think have gone astray.
We need to begin with saying what the gospel is. The gospel is first something you proclaim. It’s news, dramatic news. You announce news. The New Testament emphasizes teaching, proclaiming the news.
The content of this news is what God has done through Jesus Christ to save us: bringing Him to earth to the cross and raising Him again to right hand of Majesty on High where He reigns to bring about God’s purpose until the last day and the revealed perfection of God’s glory and transforming us to be like Him. He bore our sin! God made Him who knew no sin to be sin that we might be the righteousness of God in Christ, 2 Cor. 5:21. God looks at me through the righteousness of Christ.
This is the good news!
The gospel is not what we should do. Though a response is demanded, it is first of all news of what God has done through Christ. It doesn’t simply “tip” us into the kingdom (“how to have a good marriage in ten easy steps”) but instead gospel centeredness stamping everything in our lives.
Six steps to preserving this gospel:
1. Fan into flame what you received, v. 3-7.
Timothy is an heir to the faith of his mothers who taught him the Scriptures from his youth. Their faith stamped his, faith that is worked out in observable ways. Timothy saw this faith in his mother, Paul sees itin Timothy. Not merely a corpus of beliefs but news of what God has worked out in our lives that people are different! Character, direction changes!
Heritage of faith passed on from Christian to Christian. For this reason, fan into flame the gift of God! It is possible for these things to be assumed. One of most dangerous things we face in western church: the gospel becomes merely assumed. Most people don’t learn what I teach, they learn what I repeat. If the gospel is something I genuinely believe in and yet there is something I really really am interested in (sociology, strategies for reaching unevangelized), the people I talk to will pick up what I am most excited about. Is it the gospel? Fan into flame the heritage of gospel in the area to which you are called so that the gospel is front and center and others hear the gospel. Gospel may be denied/lost because it is assumed.
Think constantly about the gospel. Read Scriptures with gospel in view. Fan into flame gospel fueled service. The fire of the Spirit motivates.
2. Maintain a clear grasp of the value of the gospel, v. 8-11.
Keep reminding ourselves of the gospel! Think of His wrath, eternal destruction in hell, yet forgiven and granted His Spirit, regenerated, unity with other believers, hope of resurrection existence with no sorrow or pain or suffering or jealousy or rage, perfect union with Christ, consummated joy secured by someone else: Christ Jesus. And we have to be encouraged to keep that in view? Yes. The gospel is anchored in eternity and manifested in history. He saved us in eternity past! (v. 9-10)
3. Maintain a willingness to suffer for the gospel, v. 8, 2:8-10.
The theme of suffering is Biblically central. It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe to suffer for His sake. “Granted”: graciously given to you, a gift. That I may know Him…and the fellowship of His suffering. In Acts 5:41 the disciples are rejoicing because they were counted worthy to suffer for His name. Jesus warned his followers in John 15 that if they persecuted Him they would persecute them also. Biblically speaking, suffering for sake of Christ considered normal. In west, we speak of suffering as divorce or cancer. But in the New Testament it has to do with Jesus and suffering for His sake.
What if when we faced any opposition whatsoever, instead of being outraged we say thank you, Jesus, for the privilege of suffering the disgrace of Your name. Not being masochistic but having a newfound courage to embrace the fellowship of suffering. Far from being ashamed for being put down or slandered, we rejoice because we were counted worthy to suffer for His name. We sometimes think suffering Christians are too fanatical and over the top. Paul says: no, don’t be ashamed of me or of the gospel or of those who suffer for sake of gospel rather join me in my suffering. Requires courage, gentleness, boldness, accurate articulation, willingness for God to grant us the privilege.
4. Maintain the mandate to guard the gospel, v. 13-14.
Understand the pattern of sound teaching, how Bible fits together in the great God who discloses Himself in the person of Christ Jesus. More than mere moral lessons.
5. Distinguish the betrayers and supporters of gospel, v. 15-18.
We are tempted to be soft on our friends and those we are in relationship with. Paul’s priority was on how they’re responding to the gospel. It is the shared gospel that links us. One hope, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father who is over all. Who is for the gospel and thus united with us? Who is undermining us? Our alliances must not be on racial preferences, who went to school with, etc. Ally with those who are gospel driven.
6. Work hard at proclaiming the gospel, 2:1-2.
One of ways to preserve gospel is not by being defensive but by sharing, giving it away. If we are becoming self absorbed and defensive, we are losing the gospel. We are all of us bound up with teaching the gospel to another generation. We have responsibility to pass it on, looking for those able to pass it on to yet another generation. Share it. Tell it. Proclaim it.
Note: these are my notes hastily typed during the presentation. Any and all error in transcription is mine and not the instructor’s. Also, please excuse the multitude of grammatical errors!