Mickey D. Brackin
Senior Pastor, Mars Hill Baptist Church, Lawrenceburg
It had been more than 30 years since that moment when the light “had shown around him from heaven” (Acts 9:3). His journey had taken him many places since that day. From the dusty road of Damascus to a Roman prison cell, Paul now waits for the inevitable, his own execution! All alone he sits in the darkness and dampness of a prison dungeon.
The story of his life is about to close, but before it ends, he takes his pen in hand to write one last and final letter. The words that flow from the aged apostle’s pen may seem strange and unusual to some. From this inspired pen are written words of encouragement, strength, instruction and challenge.
These words are not the words of a forgotten, old, bitter individual but rather they are words of a loving, thankful, spiritual father to his beloved son in the faith. His last written words are for Timothy, the church then and the church now.
In the darkness of the prison, Paul’s memory shines on Timothy’s face as he offers thanks for Timothy’s faith and the testimony of his legacy of faith (II Timothy 1:3-5). Timothy’s faith, unlike the many imposters of faith, is indeed a “genuine faith” (v. 5). In the prison dungeon, Paul’s faith was strengthened as he remembered and thought of young Timothy’s faith. Soon the ministry torch that Paul has faithfully carried would be passed to Timothy, Titus, and other young leaders within the church.
As a loving spiritual father to a beloved son, Paul challenges Timothy to be mindful of his calling and to keep the flames of that calling ablaze in his heart (v. 6). Do not let the coals grow cold; for indeed it will be the steadfastness of this calling that will enable him to face the coming days when persecution and suffering intensifies.
During such sufferings Paul instructs Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel or those who suffer for the gospel’s sake (v. 8). Even during times of great suffering Timothy must be understanding of God’s plan and purposes at work. Suffering should not be a call or reason for shame but rather a time to be faithful and loyal to God’s call (vv. 8-11).
Just like Timothy, every follower of Jesus Christ will find themselves at the place where fear and faith clash. Someone has well said, “We fight fear with the promises of God, but we conquer fear with the God of the promises!” The follower of Jesus should understand that God has supplied everything needed to live a Christian life. Because of this understanding we can live with a godly confidence no matter the situations, circumstances, or sufferings of this life (vv. 12-14).
The wonder of Paul’s confidence comes because although he writes these words sitting in a prison cell, he understands he’s standing on the threshold of glory.