By R. B. Shiflet
The following article was published in the January 5, 1961 Timely Messenger. It is run again in honor of Pastor Shiflet’s home-going to be with the Lord.
Unashamed of the Gospel of the Grace of God
2 Timothy 1:8-12
The second epistle of Paul to Timothy was his farewell note. It was the last of his inspired writings, and he was fully aware of the attacks that would come upon the gospel. In this letter, he passed his commission to young Timothy, and among other things, he urged that Timothy “Be not 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.” (2 Timothy 1:8). Emphasis is placed on the need for an unashamed witness for the gospel of the grace of God. It is an interesting thought that the word translated “testimony” in this verse is the very word that has given us the English word “martyr.” The word originally meant a “witness,” but, so severe were the sufferings of early Christians that the word changed in meaning to denote one who paid with his life for his witness. The sufferings connected with the gospel are both expressed and implied as Timothy is exhorted not to be ashamed.
We can be unashamed of the gospel of grace because of its history. It is actually prehistoric; it was planned and given to us “before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Our hope, our position, our calling, which are surely the result of this message of good news, were planned before the foundation of the world and kept hidden in God until revealed through the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:1-9).
We can be unashamed of the gospel of grace because of its present manifestation. This gospel that had its beginning before times eternal is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour! (2 Timothy 1:10) Books have been written on the joys of the Christian life, the results of the gospel in the lives of sinners, and the values of the “here and now” of salvation (Titus 2:11-13). Undoubtedly, we have not yet scratched the surface of revealed truth in 2 Timothy 1:10.
We can be unashamed of the future provisions of the gospel of grace, for according to 2 Timothy 1:12 He is able to guard the good deposit against that day. Whether this be the salvation that we have entrusted to Him, or the commission He has entrusted to us, we can rest in the assurance that He is able to keep it.
Unashamed of the Mystery Given to Paul
2 Timothy 1:13-15
In these verses, Paul relates how that all the ones in Asia had turned away from him. They had rejected the message and the messenger. Only a few short years before, they had wept bitterly because he had told them that they would see his face no more. He and his message had been well received, and had the Asians heeded his warning to the Ephesians elders concerning the wolves that would come from the outside and the misled believers from within, they would no doubt have stood with him. On the contrary, when he became a prisoner of the Lord for the Gentiles and pronounced judgment on the nation Israel, putting into the prison epistles the fullness of the truth of the body of Christ, many of his followers turned against him.
Without sounding as though we had a persecution complex, we are aware that many of God’s servants today have experienced the same result when they preached the truth of the mystery, with emphasis on the one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and the sevenfold unity of Ephesians 4:4-6. May we be able to say with all the sincerity of Paul,
“Nevertheless, I am not ashamed.” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Unashamed of the Service We are Called to Do
2 Timothy 1:16-18
None of us today can claim the call of an apostle, in the sense that Paul was called. Most of the readers of this article may not be evangelists, pastors, or teachers. Many are shut-ins who are not able even to attend the meetings where the gospel is preached and the Word taught. But there is a service for everyone, and even though it may be a very menial service, it must be done without shame.
Onesiphorus (his very name means “profit bringer”) was one of the few who had not turned away from the Apostle Paul. In fact, when he learned that Paul was in Rome, he sought him out very diligently and refreshed him. Onesiphorus could very well have been like too many of us are; he could have made a slight effort to locate Paul, and then have said, “I tried to visit him, but I could not find where they were keeping him.” But we read that he sought very diligently! He “was not ashamed of my chain,” said Paul. What a lesson in Christian service. Visiting the down and out, writing letters of encouragement to servants of the Lord, praying faithfully for the work, taking care of the physical needs of the church building (yes, even the sweeping and mopping) if done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and without any feeling of being ashamed of what is being done, can make you a blessed part of the “fellowship of the unashamed,” along with Timothy, Paul and Onesiphorus.