Ashamed of the Gospel?

by Wayne Barber

This is the first segment of several in which we want to look at the subject "Ashamed of the Gospel." All of us have been in those intimidating situations when we know we have a message about Christ to share, but, fearing possible embarrassment or even harm, we are ashamed to share with others. I remember when I was hunting in Louisiana years ago and when we were approaching the camp after a morning's hunt I heard the guys say, "Hey, shut up, the preacher is coming"! Immediately I was made to feel like I was a misfit or something. All of us have experienced that and our response may differ as to how we handled it, but the feeling is the same.

The text we will be looking at comes from 2 Timothy, where the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy-and us-to never be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He, himself, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote in Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

In this first segment, let's just get into the contextual flow of 2 Timothy. In chapter one, Paul writes his beloved son in the faith. In verse one Paul makes a statement we should not overlook: "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus." All that Paul was and all that he preached is summed up in "…according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus." "According to" is the little word katá, which carries the understanding of "corresponding to the measure of something."

"The promise of life in Christ Jesus" is the secret of Paul's life. It was not just the message he preached, but it was also the means through which he could endure all the hostile circumstances that came into his life.

The life Paul speaks encompassed all that he would ever need. The word for life is zoeâ. It means the "essence of life." Remember that Paul was in prison when he wrote this. In Colossians 3:4, Paul said "When Christ who is our life returns…." In Philippians 1:21, Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Christ was Paul's life. He was the essence of what made Paul tick.

In verse 4 Paul remembers his final parting with Timothy and Timothy's tears on the occasion. You feel Paul's emotion: "…longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy." In verse 5 he remembers the heritage of faith that was passed to Timothy through his mother and grandmother and in verse 6 Paul reminds him to fan the flame of the gift that God has given to him: "And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands."

As I understand this verse, the laying on of hands did not "impart the gift," but acknowledged it. Paul tells him to kindle afresh the gift that is within him.

The word has the idea of fanning the flame. The flame was burning in Timothy but it just needed fanning. This tells me that even though the Spirit has given us all gifts, they are not going to operate without our willingness to surrender to Christ.

Now, we haven't yet gotten to the text that I'm heading toward, but let me ask you a question: Are you ashamed of the gospel of Christ?