2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV)
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time …
In his appeal and instruction to Timothy in this letter, Paul affords some great theological concepts for us to ponder. Let’s look at our verse in a wider context:
2 Timothy 1:6-14 (NIV)
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Paul speaks about the Holy Spirit a few times in this passage. In Verse 6, Paul tells Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God….” The implication is that Timothy has some degree of influence over the Holy Spirit within him. Here Paul is basically telling Timothy to “get fired up for God.” Why? Well in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul is giving instructions to believers and admonishes them: “Do not quench the Spirit.” When you quench a fire, you are stopping its source of fuel or air. You are attempting to extinguish it. With the use of this metaphor, Paul indicates that we (believers) can “inhibit” the power and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There appears to be an exertion of the human will that can counteract the will of the Spirit to give us power, love, and self-disciple as Verse 7 mentions. To me, the application is that if we are timid … if we are ashamed of the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ … if we are unwilling to suffer for His sake … it is not because of His unwillingness to empower us. Verse 8 tells us that God gives us the “power to suffer for the Gospel”. So if we are timid, it is our own unwillingness to “unleash” the Holy Spirit to drive our spirits and guide our souls. So Paul tell us – fan into flame the gift of God who indwells us and do not quench Him!
Part of the suffering we will encounter as believers appears to be related to living a holy life! That’s right! We will suffer from being good and doing good for others…. But that is the reason we were saved by the grace of God. We have been called to holiness … and that is the hardest thing for a human to do. In fact, we cannot do it apart from the power of God through His Spirit within us. As Jesus asserted, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Cf. Luke 18:27) And this power sometimes comes to us in the form of grace … a grace that was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. And we know that His grace is sufficient because His power is made perfect (complete) in weakness. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9) So we just need to realize that suffering goes with the experience of being human … but as a believer there is great reward for going through it … eternal life! All the more reason to fan into flame the gift of God!
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. This is pretty straightforward advice. The theological intellect that Paul had to share was incredible. I think that is why God called him to be a herald and an apostle and a teacher; and we would do well to heed his instruction and guidance in matters of faith – wouldn’t you agree? Paul tells Timothy to “guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” So what is Paul talking about here? Well, I believe the concept here is the “depositing” of the Holy Spirit within us. Let’s look to some other Scriptures to captures this point:
2 Corinthians 1:21-23 (NIV)
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,22 set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NIV)
4 For while we are in this earthly body, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly body, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the One who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Ephesians 1:13-15 (NIV)
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.
Notice how Paul uses this concept to explain the function of the Holy Spirit in our salvation – to be a deposit (like a down payment) on a promise or covenant to be kept in the future. A deposit is similar to a pledge or an oath to do something further, but you want to go ahead and “seal the deal” now. You put a deposit on a house because you intend to purchase and you want the seller to know you are serious about your commitment to follow through on the deal. Well, in this context, God has given us His Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. It’s an awesome analogy that Paul uses here to help us understand what God is doing. When you come to faith in Jesus Christ, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. He is sent to indwell you … put in your heart … as a guarantee of what is to come … eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. That is what you and I have been called to embrace and believe with our entire being! So why would we ever want to quench the Spirit of God who was given to us for life here and now … especially since we know that suffering will be part of what we must endure?
Well, I hope that I have stirred your thoughts on this subject. I know Paul has challenged my thinking through this letter; and I pray that I will not quench the Holy Spirit in my life at all … nor grieve Him through willful conduct in conflict with the call of holiness. (Cf. Isaiah 63:9-11; Ephesians 4:29-31) For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. Amen!