International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday April 3, 2011
Purpose: To warn us of the dangers of spiritual amnesia
Scripture Text: 2nd Timothy 2:8-15 (NRSV)
II Timothy 2:8-15
(8)Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a (descendant of David—that is my gospel, (9)for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. (10)Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.(11)The saying is sure:If we have died with him, we will also live with him;(12)if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; (13)if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. (14)Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. (15)Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
There is an old Henny Youngman joke that goes something like this; “I had to quit loaning my kids money, I found out it made them sick..............it gave them amnesia.”
All too often we find ourselves in the same situation with our faith and our beliefs, we forget what has been done and what has been promised, we get amnesia when it comes to our Christianity. Paul addresses this problem in this letter he writes to Timothy, shortly before Nero had him beheaded on the Appian Way outside of Rome.
Paul was facing a crisis, he was imprisoned and in chains. He had evidently been released from “house arrest” and according to legend had either gone or was preparing to go to Spain, but was arrested again and this time Nero ordered his death.
Paul relates to Timothy the essentials of his belief; Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and he was a descendent of King David. Paul himself had encountered Jesus while traveling to Damascus to persecute the early Jewish believers, on behalf of the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem. During his ministry, after that encounter, Paul faced many hardships, from imprisonment, beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, and maybe partial blindness, but what he was currently facing was far more serious.
Reading between the lines, it appears that Paul may be worried about how Timothy and others would react to his death. His words of assurance seem to say, death is not so bad, because it means, living with Christ. Living or enduring, likewise, is not so bad, because we will reign with him. Even losing our faith, for a season, can be overcome, because Christ remains faithful, and our faith can be restored. The only thing there is no glory or hope in, is denying Christ. The outcome for denying Christ is to be denied by Christ.
Paul then speaks of what will likely happen after his death, there will be a “wrangling over words.” History teaches us that the “wrangling over words,” is still going on. Back then according to Paul's personal doctrine, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Christ was the Messiah promised by God in the Old Testament, as early as Genesis 3:15, the promised descendant of King David, that had defeated both death and the grave as foretold by the prophets, and by Jesus himself.
From the close of this passage you can get the sense that Timothy may have come from a wealthy family, but had now gone through that wealth, and maybe needed to swallow some pride and become a paid worker for the church. Something that Paul now endorses, although he himself had struggled not to accept help in the past.
Whether we are facing death and old age, or maybe a crisis of faithlessness, our best hope still remains in our belief in Jesus Christ as the risen savior, the one who remains faithful in His promises to us. The command from Paul was,” present yourself to God as one approved by him,” doing God's work preaching, teaching and testifying of His goodness and faithlessness. What are the faith resources you use when you are going through a crisis?