Luke 6:42-45: A Tree and Its Fruit

Read: Luke 6:42-45

After telling a parable concerning teachers, Jesus gives another parable talking about one’s deeds and speech. He illustrates how deeds and speech are like a tree and its fruit: Any given species of tree will only produce the kind of fruit that the species produces, not the kind of fruit from another species. The analogy here is that a good heart will produce good deeds and speech and an evil hear will produce evil deeds and speech.

In logic, the kind of relationship describe by Jesus is called modus ponens, which says “X implies Y. X, therefore Y”. What one cannot do under this kind of relationship is say, “Y therefore X”. This is called affirming the consequence, which is not valid. However one can say, “X, therefore possibly Y”, which is an inference from evidence. In other words, if one has a good heart, then one will have good speech and deeds, but good speech and deeds don’t prove a good heart, rather they serve as evidence for a good heart. At times, people can “fake it”. Likewise, one can say “not Y, therefore not X”, which is called modus tollens. James makes this argument concerning the relationship between works and faith. He saying that he will show you his faith by his works inductively and without works, faith is dead via modus tollens (James 2:14-26). Works and speech are outward expressions of the inward change that happens when one believe in Christ, and there can be used to determine the condition of one’s heart. A person that calls himself a follower of Jesus yet does not do good in keeping with that faith has a questionable faith. But at the same time this isn’t necessarily a tale-tell sign of a Christian either. Jesus illustrated this with parables too concerning wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30), which are practically identical. Likewise, not everyone who says “Lord, Lord’ will be recognized by Jesus even though they seemingly did good things in his name (Matthew 7:21-22)

The Bible is explicitly clear: salvation comes by faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). But at the same time, works are evidence of this faith. Christians therefore ought to examine his or her own faith to make sure that he or she is not trusting in works or something else entire for salvation, rather in the completed work of Jesus. Likewise, this is not a license to go on a witch hunt to weed out the tares – in fact Jesus warns against this. Rather, again each should examine his own heart asking, “Do I call Jesus, ‘Lord’?” If not, then repent and believe the gospel! If so, “Am I obeying his commands?” If one can honestly answer “yes” answer these questions, then there is no need to worry about others questioning one’s faith based on works.

Lord, You are my Lord! Help me to follow your commands!

Luke 6:39-42: Teaching Godliness

Read: Luke 6:39-42

Jesus told numerous parables, which are earthly stories to communicate heavenly truth. A few of these parables are short while others are long, and some he offers insight into their meanings and others he does not. Luke inserts a break in the discourse that Jesus to note that Jesus was telling a parable, this one short and with an explanation. He tells a parable about two the blind leading the blind, and how in doing so they both fall into a pit. The explanation Jesus gives is quite simple: a student is not above his teacher but when trained the student will be like the teacher. This parable is typically applied to to the previous section of Jesus’ sermon that is talking about judgement. While this certainly does apply to judging others, the principle is broader, concerning those who teach. The warning here is against the sort of teachers who are unstudied, living a life of ungodliness or both. Such teachers are blinded by bad doctrine or sin of their own making it hypocritical to tell others about bad doctrine or sin. Jesus uses hyperbole to explain this: hypocrisy is the proverbial plank in one’s own eye which is huge compared to a speck in another’s eye.

The New Testament speaks often about the role of teaching in the church. Teaching is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:7) and a role in the church (Ephesians 4:11). The ability to teach is also a characteristic of church leaders as well (1 Timothy 3:2). The word of God is how one knows what to teach (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:15). At the same time, there are warnings against false teachers. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 shows the characteristics of false teachers who subvert the gospel: in short they are conceited, stir up division, and seek godliness as a means of gain. False doctrine and ungodliness is a matter of life and death on matters of salvation because bad doctrine and ungodliness turn people to false gospels that cannot save.

Teaching the word of God is a high calling and cannot be understated, but it comes with great responsibility too. Jesus’ calls for anyone wanting to teach to be mindful of what he or she is teaching and to be mindful of one’s personal holiness. Both personal holiness and sound doctrine requires a teach to also be a student of the word of God because it acts as a mirror so one can see oneself (James 1:23) and also as a sword, piercing the mind of the hearer (Hebrews 4:12). Not everyone is called to be a teacher, but just about every believer will be called to teach another believer at one point, especially if one has children. The call for everyone then is to study the word of God, apply to one’s own life, and teach it faithfully so others too can live godly lives and hold to sound doctrine.

Lord, help me learn your word so I can live and teach godliness!

Luke 3:2-6: “Prepare the Way”

Read: Luke 3:2-6

John the Baptist was a kindred spirit to Jesus and apparently a relative too. His birth took place on months before Jesus’ birth did (Luke 1). The scriptures don’t contain anything about John’s early life, but the story of John picks up around the same time Jesus’ does in 29 AD. Luke likens John the Baptist to Isaiah as a prophet that “received the word of the Lord” (John 1:21) and went out into the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. John’s status as a prophet is confirmed by likening him to Elijah (Luke 1:17, John 1:25) and Jesus himself appealed to the testimony of John about himself as a witness to confirm the veracity of his message (John 5:31-34) because n that day and having a second testimony other than one’s own was necessary to deem a testimony as true. John’s witness to Jesus was set in place that when Jesus did come, he could point others to Jesus, as he did. John was calling people to repentance to prepare hearts to receive Jesus for salvation.

To drive the point home and link it to his theme of universally accessible salvation, Luke quotes from Isaiah 40:3-5 from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) noting that there was a voice crying out in the wilderness to “prepare the way of the Lord” The text in Isaiah is in the context of a text to no condemn people, rather to comfort them telling them of a one who is coming and will shepherd them. The chapter ends with the famous verse talking about how those that wait on the Lord will renew their strength and soar. John is the the voice calling out the wilderness who is preparing the way for Jesus, who is the Lord in Isaiah 40. Luke extends the quote from Isaiah more than Mark 1:3 does to include a quotation about the “salvation” of the Lord. Luke’s regard for the salvation of “all people” is evident here and elsewhere in Luke 2:30-32 and Luke 2:10.

Salvation was never intended to be limited only a select group of people, rather it is intended for all people everywhere. But salvation isn’t automatically applied to everyone, rather it requires that one have faith in Jesus. Christians that receive salvation then should be about the task of preparing the way for others to receive Christ. The Isaiah text speaks of level mountains, raising valleys, smoothing rough areas, and straitening paths so that the coming of the Lord will be easy and without resistance. Part of evangelism requires that removal of barriers so that everyone everywhere has a chance to receive Jesus without hindrance. Some barriers are cultural such as language or cultural beliefs. Other barriers may be preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. Whatever it may be, removing barriers people can come to Jesus, repent of their sins, and be saved!

Lord, show me the barriers that hinder the gospel and help me to remove them so more can be saved!

Hebrews 10:26-39: Don’t Throw Away Your Confidence

Read: Hebrews 10:26-39

Hebrews 10:26 is among one of the more controversial texts in Hebrews along with Hebrews 6:4. The center of the controversy here, as with the text in chapter six, has to do with a doctrine called “perseverance of the saints” or “eternal security”. Basically there are two camps: there those that think that one can lose their salvation after they have been saved and there are those who think that once a person is saved, there is nothing that person can do to lose his or her salvation. Scripture does teach that those who believe belong to God and cannot be taken away. John describes this relationship using a shepherd and his sheep as a metaphor—the sheep know the shepherds voice and cannot be taken away. These are the ones who have eternal life, and it cannot be taken away (John 10:27-29).  Paul makes a beautiful doxology in Romans 8:33-39, where he is convinced that nothing can separate those who believe from Christ. The role of the Holy Spirit in salvation is that the Holy Spirit as a “seal” for salvation. The idea is that once the decree of redemption is given, it is sealed as a king seals a royal document by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

To fully understand Hebrews 10:26, one has to look at the context of the verse.  Hebrews 10:26 is a transitional verse between the practical pointers that the author of Hebrews had just given and a warning passage concerning willful sin, particularly those who were apparently forsaking their gatherings.  This text, however, is different from Hebrews 6 on two counts. First, Hebrews 6 is talking about doctrine and spiritual maturity, and apparently some had fallen prey to deceptive teachings that had caused them to believe something other than the true gospel of Jesus. Hebrews 10, however, is talking about practical theology. Second, the Hebrews 10 text uses the first person pronoun “we” when talking about those who fall into apostasy rather than a third person as in Hebrews 6. He is including the believers to whom he is writing and himself in the group he is talking about here. These distinctions are necessary, because these two text, although similar, are not talking about the same thing.

The “we” that continue sinning after “receive knowledge of the truth” no longer have “sacrifice for sin”. This text continues, citing from the Old Testament about the judgment of God. He cites from Deuteronomy 16:35 where God consumes Korah and his company because they rebelled against Moses and makes a general warning about those who break the Law of Moses. He builds on this saying how much more so the offense is when one tramples on God and his grace. He then quotes from Deuteronomy 32:35-26, talking about how judgment belongs to God and how God will judge his people, then makes a weighty proclamation about how terrifying it is to fall into the hands of a the living God. The author of Hebrews then turns their attention to the days when they were under persecution for doing good and reminds them of the joy that their salvation brought them, and encourages them not to throw it away because of this.

This first-person, inclusive warning suggests that in some instances, when Christians are obstinate, God will give them over to the world and let the world deal with them rather than protect him with his divine grace (that is, his sacrifice for sin) and his “rest” (Hebrews 3:7-19). When Jesus forgives a person of his or her sin, the forgiveness is applied when God passes his final judgment, but it does not necessarily spare believers from the consequences of sin while on earth. And sometimes, God will let the consequences of one’s sin consume them. Life itself is hard enough, but life while dealing with the consequences of sin is probably as wretched as it comes in this life. The author of Hebrews then quotes from Habakkuk 2:3-4, reminding them what the prophet said – God is coming, but wait for him in faith, because faith has great value even in the here and now. These last few verses set up the next chapter that has been called the “Hall of Fame of Faith” when talking about faithful men and women throughout history. Rather than shrink back, they held to the promises of God rather than go back to lives of unrighteousness and sin.

So the warning goes out even now – deliberate, willful sinning after receiving knowledge of the truth may put a believer in a place he does not want to be: outside the will of God all the while reaping the consequences for sin. Rather than do this, believers should remain faithful, and even when the bad times come there will be joy because of the hope of salvation. A wise man will not so quickly throw away his confidence, because it has great value!

Lord, I’m safest when I trust you! Help me to do this instead of sin against you!

Hebrews 9:23-28: Once and For All

Read: Hebrews 9:23-28

Toward the end of Hebrews 9, after having showed how Christ inaugurated the New Covenant with blood, argues that Christ’s one-time sacrifice is sufficient on two counts.

  • First, he argues that Jesus offering is sufficient for all time. The offerings of animals were necessary to purify the things that were used in the tabernacle and temple, serving their purpose while the old covenant was in place. The inauguration of the New Covenant was made in blood too in the tabernacle in heaven, but this blood was the blood of Jesus himself. The difference, however, was that Jesus’ sacrifice was once and for all because he offered his own blood – a perfect sacrifice. Jesus does not have to offer himself continually, year after year, but died once, and this satisfied the sacrifices for all time.
  • Second the author of Hebrews argues Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient once and for all because he died once in the same manner as all men do. Jesus died once for many taking their sins upon himself. Jesus himself was without sin, yet took the sins of the world upon himself and died as men do, and in doing so took the judgment due sin upon himself.

Knowing the Christ died once and for all means that salvation is sealed once and for all for those who believe. Salvation will come when Jesus returns. Christians should be “eager” for his return. Jesus’ return could be at any time, and nobody knows when he will return (Matthew 24:42-44). Nevertheless, Christians should not let complacency set in, but should live their lives in eager expectation of his return and be ready when he does. The citizenship of the believer is in heaven, and when he does return he will transform and glorify those who believe! (Philippians 3:20)

Lord, my sin had been dealt with once and for all. Help me to be eager for your return!

Hebrews 5:11-6:8: Spiritual Maturity

Read: Hebrews 5:11-14, Hebrews 6:1-8

Hebrews 6:4-6 is one of the more controversial set of verses in the New Testament. There are a couple of Christian doctrines that are at stake concerning this text. The first is called “perseverance of the saints”, which says that those who are truly saved will persevere to the end. The second, which is closely related to the first, is called “eternal security”. This doctrine teaches that those who are saved cannot lose his or her salivation. Some groups of Christians, however, believe that the loss of salvation is possible based on this text and Hebrews 10:26. Other groups see these texts as what would happen if such things discussed in the text were possible. In any case when one begins to consider any texts, it is important to not remove the text from the context in which they appear. It is also important to consider the whole witness of scripture to support one’s theological viewpoints. Hopefully, through a careful look at this text and others, one can draw a conclusion about what is going on here in the text.

Hebrews 6:4-6 appears in the midst of a discourse about spiritual maturity that starts at the end of chapter 5 and continues to the middle of chapter 6. The author of Hebrews is chastising the recipients of the letter because, as he sees it, they ought to be teachers when they are like children. He uses food as a metaphor to explain the fact they are like babies drinking milk when they ought to be as adults eating solid food. He wants them to move beyond the basic doctrines to deeper doctrines, and he gives a list. In verse 3, he declares that he wants “us” to move onto spiritual maturity, but in the warning, he switches to third person, talking about people who have who have been “enlightened” and have “partaken” and “tasted” the things of God (particularly the Holy Spirit), yet have fallen away, saying it is impossible to crucify Jesus again.

At the heart of the debate over this text is if one can be a partaker in the Holy Spirit and not have salvation. For some, only those who are saved can experience the Holy Spirit. For others, some see the work of the Holy Spirit, particularly through “enlightenment” in the life of a nonbeliever as a necessary prerequisite to salvation. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 2 talks about the role of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of God. According to this chapter, the things of God are only comprehensible by the Spirit of God. The spirit of the “world”, “flesh”, and “man” cannot understand such things, therefore it is necessary to have enlightenment from the Holy Spirit in order to fully comprehend the things of God. By implication then, knowledge of the truth concerning salvation and all other doctrines can only come from the Holy Spirit. What appears to happening in Hebrews 6 is that some have experienced to some degree or this enlightenment and have rejected it to the point of apostasy.

The question here, however is whether or not these third person individuals in the text had responded in faith to this knowledge that resulted in salvation. Scripture does teach that those who believe belong to God and cannot be taken away. John describes this relationship using a shepherd and his sheep as a metaphor—the sheep know the shepherds voice and cannot be taken away. These are the ones who have eternal life, and it cannot be taken away (John 10:27-29).  Paul makes a beautiful doxology in Romans 8:33-39, where he is convinced that nothing can separate those who believe from Christ. The role of the Holy Spirit in salvation is that the Holy Spirit as a “seal” for salvation. The idea is that once the decree of redemption is given, it is sealed as a king seals a royal document by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Given the fact that salvation (and all true doctrine from that matter) requires enlighten from the Holy Spirit and the fact that those who are saved cannot be separated from God, it would appear that one is able to receive some sort of knowledge from the Holy Spirit, yet able to reject it through a “falling away” from sound doctrine prior to the point of salvation. To illustrated this, the author of Hebrews uses a metaphor of rain falling on the ground and bringing forth plant life – sometimes the plants are useful, sometimes the plants are weeds, thorns, and thistles. The Holy Spirit comes to some, and sometimes some believe and bring forth good doctrine, and sometimes some reject the Holy Spirit by rejecting, twisting and distorting the truth. Jesus describes the latter condition as a sin that is “unforgivable” which he calls “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 12:31-32). The reason that the author of Hebrews is spurring the believers to move past basic doctrine to spiritual maturity is so that the deceptions of false teachers will not lead them astray. Paul encourages Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-4 to preach the word because a time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine rather will turn to myths.

Vigilance and aggressive pursuit of true doctrines resulting in spiritual maturity help defend against these deceptive teachings, but there does appear to be a point of no return for some. Rather than take chances, one would do well to believe the gospel and move towards spiritual maturity so they can help recognize and call out false doctrine when it does come about. Spiritual immaturity is not a place to stay, rather something to be left behind.

Lord, help me to become spiritual mature so I can help teach others your ways!

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2: Being a Blessing

Read: Ecclesiastes 11:1-2

The reflections in Chapters 11 and 12 are the beginning of the end of the book of Ecclesiastes that reflects on the finality of life and how one should live in light of this. The Preacher begins these reflections by talking about charitable giving and being a blessing to others. He seems to be pessimistic and almost a miser in many ways as he massed fortunes. But in all this, the Preacher concludes, contrary to popular belief, that charitable acts have benefit. The Preacher says that one should “cast there bread on the water” and find it there later and that one should divide his fortune too. The preacher here is encouraging acts of a charity and being a blessing to others. Such acts can have a high return on investment.

Charitable giving is something that exists throughout the Bible. Deuteronomy 15:7-11 encourages those with means to give freely to those in need. Proverbs 11:24-25 and Proverbs 22:9 encourage the wealthy to be generous in their giving rather than miserly. The entire story of Ruth talks about the charity of Boaz towards Ruth and Naomi.  Jesus says that it should be done for charities sake rather than trying to be braggadocios about it (Matthew 6:1-4).  The early Christians sold their possessions shared the proceeds with those in need (Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:34-37, Acts 11:29-30, Romans 15:25-28). The act of giving to others in need is undoubtedly an integral part of what could be called “normal” Christian behavior.

The ultimate purpose of blessings is so that the salvation of God will be known among the nations. The Psalmist in Psalm 67 asks God for blessing to this end. He wants the ends of the earth to worship God because of the blessings that God pours out on the earth. The ultimate blessing God gave came through Jesus. Jesus died on the cross and resurrected from the grave to make a way for everyone to receive salvation from God. At the end of the age, there will be a multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation worshipping before God (Revelation 5:9). The Preacher is correct in noting that blessings have a good return on an investment. God uses it as a means to draw the nations to himself. In the same manner, Christians to should be willing to bless others through charitable giving!

Lord, help me to bless others through what you have blessed me with!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15: Hearts Set on Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15: Hearts Set on Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 was classically adapted by The Byrds in the song “Turn, Turn, Turn”. The song is lifted right out of the text for the most part. The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes penned this poem in light of a general observation he makes: there is a time for everything. He lists 14 things using classical Hebrew parallelism about many life events concerning life. The Preacher, being an old man, perhaps saw many cycles of these various antonymous pairs. And he himself had probably experienced many of them first hand with his family, fortunes, and friends. The general observation has already been made in one fashion in Ecclesiastes 1:1-11. In chapter one and here in chapter 3, the Preacher describes the circular nature of life with an ebb and flow to all things. When one makes and observation that something is new, this really is not the case. Rather, someone is really rehashing the same old stuff. It might have the appearance of newness, but in and of itself is nothing of note.

The Preacher does make some observations concerning God though. First, he says that God has set the hearts of man on eternity, yet no one can fully comprehend it. Man has always yearned to understand what is beyond the temporal existence he lives in. Second, he notes that the best thing for men to do is be happy and do that which is good. Man should enjoy the fruits of his labor; this is a gift from God. And third, he says that everything that God does endures, and nothing can be added or taken away from this. God’s work in its totality is complete and infinite. The Preacher says this is so that man might fear God. The contrast between the finality and finitude of the experience of man and the eternalness and infinitude of God stand in stark contrast to one another. The Preacher in all his endeavors could still not obtain or grasp what it is like to be like God in these regard, and all his pursuits left him empty

The yearning for eternity can only be satisfied with one thing: God. When Jesus came to earth, he came as a man to break the cycle of death so that man might be free of it. Jesus died, but he did not stay dead. He resurrected from the dead. He also came to disrupt the cycle the Preacher describes in other ways. In the end, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears (Revelation 21:4). All that stands in contrast to what men desire from eternity will be satisfied in Jesus. When Jesus says he came to that men may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). God has set the hearts of man on eternity to that they would fear him – that is trust him. The provision that God made to satisfy this is Jesus, who was God in the flesh. There can be no greater satisfaction than that which comes from the maker of the universe!

Lord, my heart yearns for eternity. My heart yearns for you!

Ecclesiastes 2:12-17: God Doesn’t Pity The Fool

Read: Ecclesiastes 2:12-17

The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes does indeed believe that it is better to be a wise than to be fool. He uses the analogy of walking around. When one walks around in the light he or she sees where he is going while the one who walks around the darkness trips over everything and runs into objects. The wise man is the one who walks in the light and the fool is the one who walks around in the dark. But the Preacher says, nevertheless, that the fate of both types of people is the same: they die. He sees this as vanity and empty of meaning. Also at the end of the day, no one remembers the wise man any more than one remembers the fool. Because of the fate of death, the Preacher hated life.

What is apparent though, is the Preacher did not consider was the prospect of eternal life. Eternal life comes from having faith, and this is counted to one as righteousness (Romans 4:5, John 3:16, 36). Jesus himself compares the wise man to the fool in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus says that the one who hears his words is like one who builds his house on a rock such that when rain and floods come, the house stands. But the fool builds his house on the sand, so when the rain and flood comes, it washes the house falls. Those who hear Jesus’ words and put them into practice are like the one who builds his house on the rock. Jesus taught many things, and eternal life was among them. Faith in Jesus is the beginning, just as fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

People do not have to be as the Preacher in Ecclesiastes and hate life because of the similar fates between the wise man the fool. One would be wise to consider Jesus’ words concerning eternal life. At the end of days, the Lord will resurrect everyone, but the fools who rejected Jesus will not be pitied, rather will be condemned and the wise man who listened to Jesus will not be condemned. The Lord will not forget those who have faith. He has written their names in the Lambs book of Life (Revelation 20:15). Christians can rest assured they are not among the fools, but among the wise. While some men are wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 26:12), it is God who is the ultimate judge of all things, and it would be best in any case to be wise according to God’s standards than one’s own (Proverbs 3:7)!

Lord, help me to be wise by listening to and obeying your teachings!

2 Timothy 4:10-22: Legacy

Read: 2 Timothy 4:10-22

After telling Timothy to fulfill his own ministry and talking about how his end was near, Paul addresses a number of personal matters, but in the process lists people who have slighted him and those to whom he praises for their assistance. Paul expresses that he wants Timothy to come to him soon, because he knows that he is nearing death. Only Luke the doctor (Colossians 4:14), remains with Paul, perhaps to look after him because Paul is dying. Paul mentions those who have left or abandoned him. Some had left or were not present apparently for good reason, such as Titus, Crescens, Tychicus, Erastus, Mark, and Trophimus who were going about the work of spreading the gospel. Prisca, Aquilla, Carpus, and Onesiphorus had lent their aid to Paul in his work. Other “brethren” greet Timothy: Eubulus, Puden, Claudia, and Linus. There are undoubtedly nameless brethren too. Paul lists two people that had caused him grief: Demas and Alexander. Demas loved the world and abandoned Paul and the gospel ministry for it. Alexander the coppersmith “vigorously” opposed the teachings of Paul. Paul warns Timothy against Alexander because of the harm Alexander had caused him. He is listed with Hymenaeus (1 Timothy 1:20) who is mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17 with Philetus. They are all accused of teaching unsound doctrine and blasphemy. Paul says that Timothy should be on guard against Alexander.

Between the names that Paul mentions Paul talks about his trial; his first hearing. He had appealed to Caesar concerning the gospel in Jerusalem (Acts 25:11). Paul was apparently on his way to Rome and was undergoing a series of preliminary trials before his case was brought before the emperor.  Paul says that all had abandoned him here, but he says the Lord stood with him. He was proclaiming the gospel to all the Gentiles, and Paul had made this his goal. Paul had been selected has God’s instrument for the proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, Acts 13:47). Paul also credits the Lord for rescuing him “from the Lion’s mouth”, perhaps a reference to Daniel 6 where God rescues Daniel from the lions because he had remained faithful to the Lord even though there were laws prohibiting his worship of the Lord. Paul is hoping that through such suffering, the glory of God will be made known to all the Gentiles. This is Paul’s life mission (Romans 15:20) and he had accomplished much. The long list of names given in 2 Timothy are just a few of them. Paul calls such people “letters of commendation” that testify to the confidence of the work that Paul was doing as he spread the gospel to the Gentiles (2 Corinthians 3:1-4). Ultimately, Paul is looking forward to the ultimate rescue when he will be taken to be with God in heaven where he would receive the crowns that await him.

Christians today owe their salvation to God, but God used people like Paul for the purpose of the prorogation of the gospel to the gentiles. Many Christians can probably pinpoint who it was that shared the gospel with them such that that sharing resulted in repentance and salvation.  The gospel has been passed down from generation to generation from the first Christians until now and it is still going forward into the entire world. Paul outlines the pattern for this propagation in 2 Timothy 2:2 – taking what has been taught, teaching others who will be able to teach others. At the end of one’s life, hopefully one will be able to look back and recall those whose lives had been touched because of one’s faithfulness to the mission of Jesus. Paul even though he felt abandoned, could still recall the names of many who he shared with that he calls “brethren”. The legacy of Paul is the gospel, so should it be for all those who make it their life’s purpose to preach the word!

Lord, help my legacy be the gospel!

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