Guardians of the Gospel

From Lynda Lindsey

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. II Timothy 1:6-7

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. II Timothy 1:8-9

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. II Timothy 1:13-14

Paul’s last letter, written to Timothy from a cold Roman prison cell, is a poignant and reflective call to continued, faithful service to Christ. Knowing his execution is imminent, Paul’s exhortations and encouragements carry a sense of urgency. Paul calls us to lay hold of the purpose for which we’ve been called, serving Christ and making Him known. Paul calls us to serve God boldly, not timidly, with a sincere faith and a clear conscience. It’s a call to guard God’s gospel, entrusted to all believers, and to spur believers on to greater faith and service.

Believers, entrusted with the good news of the gospel, are called to guard what has been entrusted to us, but we don’t guard it in the sense of keeping others away from a great treasure. We guard the immense treasure of the gospel to keep it pure, true to the original pattern, in order to give it away in all its truth! The world, finding great treasure, would hide it away; servants of Christ, having found great treasure, willingly offer to share. Guarding and preserving the gospel may bring suffering and hardship; even so, the Holy Spirit generously supplies our every need as we patiently endure what comes.

Jesus abolished death and brought life through His suffering. Jesus, Paul, and countless others are examples to us: hold fast to the true faith even in suffering or death. Christ’s servants, in order to offer refreshment to the lost, the dying, and the discouraged, need more than unashamed conviction; we need faithfulness, boldness, courage, zeal, and passion. By employing our spiritual gifts we encourage and refresh one another. Paul urges us forward. Fan the flame; don’t allow zeal to damp down and die out like an unattended fire. Be bold, stay the course, and guard well the gospel!