Do Not Be Ashamed - Week 3

The Gift and the Prize

2 Timothy 2-3

Acceptance from God is something He freely gives to those who believe. God’s acceptance is unconditional. The free gift of being born again into God’s family is something that is simply received.  There is no after-action required.  Nothing we can do is bad enough to make Jesus’ death on the cross insufficient to cover all our sins.
 
The Gift
 
“The gift and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29) Nothing can snatch us out of Jesus’ hand. Every sin was nailed to the cross, including sins of believers after they were born again. Every believer will receive the GIFT, and spend eternity with Jesus, no matter what their behavior is.  The Prodigal’s Father never stopped loving his son; he was always his child. This parable of Jesus illustrates the love of our Heavenly Father.
 
This great truth is hammered home by the A and A' points of the chiasm in 2 Tim 2:11-13:

A If we die with Him we will live with Him
A ‘ If we are faithless, He is faithful.  He cannot deny Himself.
 
A tells us that if we believe in Jesus, and are baptized into His death, then we will live with Him forever.  Nothing is included here about subsequent behavior. A’ underscores that point: if we are faithless to God, He is still faithful to us. Why? Because we are “in Christ.”  His Spirit dwells within us.  If God rejected us after placing us into His body, He would be rejecting His own body.
 
The Prize
 
The PRIZE is conditional upon obedience. That is what Paul emphasizes to Timothy. Timothy has been faithful to this point.  But Paul wants him to understand that to win the PRIZE you have to finish well.
 
The B and B’ parts of 2 Tim 2:11-13 chiasm make this point (the center of the chiasm being the main point):

B If we endure, we will reign with Him
B ‘ If we deny Him, He will deny us.
 
If we want to gain the PRIZE of reigning with Jesus, sharing His throne, we must first endure.  If we deny Jesus in this life, He will deny us the PRIZE of reigning.  If we deny Jesus in the way we live, we will be ashamed.
 
We saw the men and women in 2 Timothy 3 who pursued their own pleasures and pride. They were disapproved concerning the faith, not rejected. God does not reject His children. Acceptance is unconditional. But disobedience makes us disapproved. Someone who is disapproved will lose rewards.
 
 
Something Worth Dying For
 
Paul is gladly giving his life to win the PRIZE and exhorts his key disciple to do so.  The shame of being disapproved by God is not something that only affects us in the next life, however. The consequences, or wages, of sin, is death or destruction.
 
Timothy called us to repentance, for our own benefit. We want to experience the best life now, and the greatest reward when we are approved at the Judgment Seat of Christ. But Timothy called us to repentance not out of a fear of rejection, but out of the security of knowing we are accepted. Because we know we are accepted and God wants our best, we can admit our faults.  He will not condemn us; He wants to help us, to grow and prosper us.
 
So let’s admit our 2 Timothy 3 faults. Let us embrace the reality of our flesh, admit it, ask for help from God and brothers and sisters, and let’s get better.
 
The PRIZE of life is something we can gain each day. The abundant life is available for all who will receive it through the obedience of faith.  But it requires putting to death the flesh. That is hard.  It requires the humility of repentance.  But we can do so joyfully, knowing we have a loving Shepherd, a benevolent Father, a faithful Husband who accepts us completely.  “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God.”
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