Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 14, 2007
The Heart of Christianity
II Timothy 2:8-15
Many decades ago a man was struggling to find inner peace and salvation from his sins. He struggled with the concepts of Christianity and how the logic of it could work in his life’s journey. One morning he came to the mission station in a transformed mood. He said that in a dream the night before that he had fallen into a deep pit where he lay helpless with no way of escape.
A priest of Confucius leaned over the edge and said, “Let me give you some advice, my friend; if you get out of your trouble, never get in again.” Then a priest of Buddha came and stretched out his arm over the edge, saying, “If you can manage to climb up so I can reach you, I will help you out.” Then Jesus came. He climbed down into the pit and carried me out of it.”
Paul writes to his young friend, Timothy, “Remember Jesus Christ…” (2 Tim. 2:1a). How important this is for all people who are seekers of God. The center of religion is not a doctrine, an uplifting idea, concept, way that relates to reality, a perspective of looking at the universe, a world view, or any method of looking at things.
Reuben Welch wrote, “The heart of our religion is not something but someone!” Shout it from the rooftops. Let the world know that the heart of Christian faith is a person: Jesus. The basis for the Gospel is not a “something” but a “someone”. The implications are phenomenal!
I. Remember Jesus Christ Risen from the Dead. (v. 2:8)
We need to remember that He is risen and is alive in October as well as Easter Sunday. If we are not careful that statement becomes mundane, routine and dull. But the truth is Jesus is alive.
William Barclay wrote, “The tense of the Greek verb which Paul uses does not imply one definite act in time, but a continued state which last forever. Paul is not so much saying to Timothy: ‘Remember the actual resurrection of Jesus’; rather he is saying: ‘Remember Jesus forever risen and forever present; remember your risen and ever present Lord.’”
He is the ever risen and ever present Lord who redeems us from our sins. He is the only one that who is capable of that act. No one else, not us, no other event…only Jesus can redeem lost people. Ss Peter tells the religious leaders in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (NIV). Sin shames us, salvation honors us. This redemption of honor propels us into eternal life and heaven forever with the ever present Lord! No longer are we dead. We are alive. Just like Jesus called Lazarus from his deep dark tomb and offered him back to Martha and Mary, he will call us from our deep dark tomb of sin. He will remove the grave clothes which hinder us from the freedom he offers through his Holy Spirit.
II. Remember Jesus Christ in the life moments of suffering. (vv. 2:11-12).
It is not a cause or an idea or an indefinable cosmic being for which Paul is languishing in chains suffering for the kingdom. It is for a person, Jesus. It all centers in a relationship. Reuben Welch wrote, “…when the tears are dried and the emotions have subsided, what is left over is a relationship. And when all our doctrinal words are finished…what we end up with is a quality relationship with a Person.” 
I heard that many years ago the Germans trained birds to sing by putting them in a dark room and then they turned on a music box. I believe there are times that we are in a dark room of suffering when God begins to sing to us a love song of comfort. He then asks us to join Him in song. Jesus brings us from death to life — from enduring suffering to reigning with Him. He does this with His presence.
III. Remember Jesus Christ is faithful as we are faithful. (v. 2:13).
It is in the cross of Christ that I find faithfulness, but it is also in the resurrection that I find faithfulness. Barclay said, “The Christian is the partner both in the shame and in the glory of his Lord.” My faithfulness is predicated on his faithfulness to me.
James Fenhagen reminds Christians that they are called to be holy and it comes through the route of faithfulness. He writes, “The call to a holy life to everyone who life has been touch by the reality of God. Holiness is not the fruit of specialness, but of faithfulness. For to be faithful in a relationship is to honor it by the way we live…It is a call to participate in those things that contribute to human solidarity, forgiveness and compassion, righteousness and justice, and global peace.”  The ultimate is spiritual peace through Christ’s entrance into our life. How are you honoring Christ in the relationship you have with him?
Jesus died to be true to the will of God; and as Christians we must follow that same will of God as faithful witnesses wherever it leads! (Derl G. Keefer)
 William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956) 189.
 Reuben Welch, To Timothy and all other Disciples (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1979) 49.
 Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1990) 300.