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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

2 Tim 1:8-10 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Because of the unfeigned faith of Timothy, noted in the preceding verses, Paul reminds him of the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands (Vs. 6). This refers to the miraculous, supernatural gift of God that only the apostles of Jesus, by divine guidance, were able to impart to faithful and deserving servants of Christ. The purpose of the laying on of hands by others, such as elders, was a customary form of consent to, or the approval of, a minister of Christ at a local congregation (1 Tim. 4:14), or the blessing of ministers of Christ being sent out to preach the gospel message of salvation to the world (Acts 13:2-3). Only apostles were given the power to impart the ability of performing miraculous gifts.

Paul exhorts Timothy to keep this gift of God active and stirred up. He urged the Thessalonian Christians to quench not the spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). This is a similar encouragement to Timothy. Like a fire is to be kept aflame, so was the gift of God is to be constantly stirred up within Timothy. With his spiritual desire and zeal enlivened, he would be able to, more effectively, preach the message of salvation wherever he had the opportunity. The true doctrine of God given him, was not to be suppressed by fearing those that may oppose it. But with a mind to preach God's word, and out of a heart of love, to serve the cause of Christ, Timothy was encouraged to teach the doctrine of eternal salvation, with the power of God, that was miraculously imparted to him by the laying on of the hands of the apostle Paul (See Verses 6 & 7 above).

Endowed with unfeigned faith, God-given power, love for the gospel of Christ, and a sound mind to teach God's message of eternal salvation, Paul wrote these encouraging words to Timothy: Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. Paul, Timothy, or any minister of Christ, can effectively, and convincingly, teach the gospel of Christ without fear in his heart for any cause. There can be no fear of ridicule or rejection by family, friends, or other men and women, to whom the gospel is preached. Neither can there be fear that will possibly come from the trials, temptations, and persecution by those that reject God and His Son, Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. True followers of Christ Jesus must never be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. It is power of God unto eternal salvation.

The apostle Paul, other apostles, and many inspired disciples of Christ, serve as examples of rejection, ridicule, scorn, pain, and suffering that they received from unbelievers of the world, because they accepted Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and preached His message of eternal salvation. Can we, that are Christians today, expect a different treatment? Indeed, we can not! Paul, realizing the trials and tribulations that Timothy must face by proclaiming the gospel of Christ, told him to be thou partaker of the afflictions he would receive from those that are inspired by Satan to oppose God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul assures Timothy that, by serving the cause of Christ without fear or shame, he will be led, and given strength, by the power of God.

Paul told Timothy that it is God who hath saved us - the same God that offers eternal salvation to the entire world, through Christ Jesus, His Son. Just as God calls the world to be saved from the death grip of sin, Paul said that, both he and Timothy were called unto salvation by God with an holy calling. God's calling, Paul said, is not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. God does not call the world to obey His will, and become Christians, based on the works we have done in the past, or on the potential works that we have the ability to do in the future. Salvation can not be merited; it is offered to all according to His own purpose and grace. Salvation can only be attained in Christ Jesus, which wasGod's plan from the beginning of time.

And how was God's plan made known to the world? It was made manifest by the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ. By the human birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus carried out God's plan of salvation. By His resurrection, Jesus abolished death giving those, that obey the will of God, eternal life and immortality. This spiritual fact was revealed and made available to the entire world by the teaching of Jesus Christ, His inspired apostles, and Holy Spirit-inspired disciples that preached His message of salvation - that is, life and immortalitywas brought to light through the gospel.

The gospel message of Christ Jesus was given, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. It contains, not only God's promise of eternal salvation, but also contains His plan by which all mankind can gain the hope of attaining it through His Son, Jesus Christ. Verse 9, of the lesson text, assures us that salvation is made available only to those that are in Christ Jesus. In order to be found in Christ Jesus, New Testament scriptures tells us that God places us into His body, the church of Christ, only when we obey His will by accepting, believing, and confessing Jesus to be His Son and our Savior, repenting and turning away from our sinful past, and being baptized for the remission of our sins. Romans 6:3, 1 Corinthians 12:13, and Galatians 3:27 confirm that baptism is necessary to have the hope of eternal life - it is the final act required by God before He adds them to the church of Christ, and, in doing so, putting them in Christ Jesus.

Although it is a lengthy quotation, the entire process of attaining the hope of eternal salvation was expressed by Paul in his letter to the church of Christ in Ephesus. Knowing of their faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Paul prayed that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:17-23).

Such is the gospel of Jesus Christ! Accept it, study it, believe it, and teach it to all you have the opportunity to do so, for in it, and only in it, is found the hope of eternal salvation to all that obey it!