Stir the fire of your heart to hot–2 Timothy 1:6 to 7
What kind of temperature do you prefer–the freezing cold of 30 degrees below? The cold of a ski day on the slopes? A cold and cloudy day of rain? The kiss of a cool breeze on a bright, California day? The heat of a summer day at the beach? The blast of the Santa Ana heat? The cooking of 110 degrees or above? Or the heat of a hot bath or a jet-filled Jacuzzi? What is your favorite temperature? Some of you wish you were living in another climate.
Of course when it comes to body temperature, 98.6 is preferred by most doctors. At home, some of us set the thermostat to cold, some to cool, and others warmer. Concern over temperature is a normal part of our lives and this morning, God is concerned about your spiritual temperature. What would you say your spiritual temperature is? How many of you are hot for Christ? How many of you are cold for Christ? Then does that mean the rest of you are lukewarm for Christ?
What would you say your conviction temperature is? How many of you are bold for Christ? How many of you are embarrassed of Christ? Then does that mean the rest of you are hesitant for Christ? “Chris, that’s for the mature, the zealous, the paid pastor–not for the average Christian.” The New Testament says differently.
Paul encourages every believer in Romans 12:11, “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” And Jesus warned in Matthew 24:12, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” John warns two churches in Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” And Revelation 3:15 and 16, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” The warnings to everyone here about not living hot are serious.
Hot in our culture means having a relatively high temperature, giving a sensation of heat or burning, an angry remark, having an attractive appearance (“She’s so hot”), something of intense and immediate interest, a wire (electrically energized), someone unusually lucky, currently popular, an item illegally obtained (“Those diamonds are hot”), or an item excitedly new (“That’s a hot new Tesla”).
John MacArthur describes biblical hotness as, “people who are spiritually alive and possess the fervency of a transformed life with a passion to serve Christ. The cold are those who reject Jesus Christ. And the lukewarm, they are not genuinely saved, but do not openly reject the Gospel. The lukewarm often attend comfortable churches and claim to know the Lord. But unless they repent, they are on their way to hearing, ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.’”
Now it’s true, every genuine believer can cool off from time to time–and at times, a Christian may surrender their assurance of salvation by acting lukewarm. But no true believer will remain in that state–for those who do, there are only two options. They are disobedient, awaiting God’s discipline. Or they are deceived, awaiting damnation.
Genuine salvation involves regeneration, being born again, which changes your nature. You were spiritually dead and now you are spiritually alive. You have new motivations, new desires, new want-to’s, a new willingness, new passions and a new zeal. So what is your spiritual temperature today? Are you hot? What is your spiritual conviction today?
Are you bold? That is the question Paul is going to ask Timothy in his final letter. And God’s answer will be, “The hot minister their gift, and the bold depend on God’s resources.” Turn to 2 Timothy 1:6 to 7. You remember what is going on with Paul and Timothy–Nero shifted the blame of the burning of Rome from himself to Christians and now believers are being made to pay with their lives.
As a leader of the Christian movement in the Roman world, Paul has been arrested, tried and is headed for death by beheading. He writes his last will and testament to Timothy, who is ministering in Ephesus, in order to exhort him to live hot and live bold, focused on ministry for Christ. There is a great possibility that Timothy had grown fearful and somewhat apathetic in his ministry.
The opposition he faced in Ephesus would be like you trying to stand for Christ at UC Berkeley. The pressures within the church and persecution without may have taken their toll on Tim’s spiritual boldness and zeal. There is a great possibility that his spiritual fire may have cooled. How do we know?
In 2 Timothy, Paul only gives one commendation to Timothy, found in verse 5—“I am mindful of the sincere faith within you.” The remainder of the comments directed at Timothy are all exhortations. Although Paul does not accuse Timothy of sin, Paul does give Timothy at least seven admonitions in 2 Timothy to fire up his son.
There was a reason last week Paul spoke to his spiritual son about their friendship. Paul is sincere in his love for Timothy, but he also hopes to motivate Timothy to be bold and live hot. Notice the obvious motivation in verses 3 to 5.
Timothy should be thankful to be saved and to be prayed for by Paul. “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day” (verse 3). Timothy, you can be thankful to have a unique relationship with the Apostle Paul himself in verse 4, “longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.” And Timothy, you can be thankful to have a godly heritage from your mom and grandma, in verse 5, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”
And notice the beginning of verse 6, “For this reason I remind you . . . “–Timothy, you have a lot to be thankful for. Look hard at these verses–Paul wants Timothy to “remember” (verse 3), “I recall” (verse 5), “I am mindful” (verse 6), “I remind you.” One of the keys to being bold and living hot is to daily remember what Christ has done for you.
Do you remember what you were before Christ called you in salvation? Do you remember the rebellious sin and defiant evil you did against Christ? Do you remember being lost, proud, angry, lustful, selfish and hateful? The starting place to bold hotness is remembering what you were and what Christ did for you.
So now after the motivation of all these amazing blessings in your life in verses 3 to 5, Paul gives two methods in two verses to growing hot and living bold in verses 6 to 7. “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” Paul gives two methods to living on fire and growing brave for Christ.
#1 Exercise your GIFTEDNESS in ministry to fire up your heart for Christ
Timothy’s zeal and devotion seems to have cooled a little. So Paul’s first exhortation in verse 6 is for this young pastor and apostolic assistant to do that which would restore his spiritual heat and boldness. Timothy’s work was really tough. He was preaching sound doctrine in the midst of heresy.
When people don’t like what you teach, even though it’s accurate, sound and compelling, they will attack you over some other issue, accuse you about your weaknesses–focus on you instead of the real issue in their own lives. And they will make living miserable. If the church doesn’t support you, love you, defend you and stand for the truth, you’ll get worn out–you’ll cool. You’ll become overprotective. You may become less bold.
So in verse 6, Paul exhorts Timothy, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” To Timothy Paul says, “On the basis of remembering all the sweet blessings of verses 3 to 5, “Be motivated to kindle afresh the gift of God.” You know this picture. You may have just experienced it.
You’re camping with friends or sitting around the backyard firepit with family, all enjoying a sweet fire. Over time, the wood burns and turns to coals, the ash begins to cover the fire and the temperature begins to cool. Then you take a stick or fire poker and you stoke that fire–you stir the fire. Not only does it rise back to flame, but the fire produces great heat.
This is exactly what the Greek word, kindle afresh, means–to keep the fire alive. And what was Timothy to stir up, to continue to use, in order to remain hot? The gift of God–to kindle afresh the gift of God. These are spiritual gifts—God-given abilities for service to the body of Christ every genuine believer has.
The Greek word for gift is charisma, which denotes a specific expression of charis, which is the word for grace. God wants believers to know that spiritual gifts are grace gifts. They’re expressions of His grace, gifts from His grace, given by His grace to you. Spiritual gifts are unique abilities each believer receives from God at salvation which enable them to display some aspect of Christ in a unique way to the body of Christ.
Look at verse 6—“the gift of God which is in you.” God’s giftedness is already in you. The gifts Paul tells Timothy to use in order to fire up are the general categories of gifts Paul describes in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. You remember 1 Corinthians 12:7, “Each one is given by God the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” God sovereignly bestows these Christ-revealing enablements on believers by His own divine will, totally apart from any personal merit, qualification or personal seeking.
Paul admonished believers in Rome in Romans 12:6, “Since we have gifts [that’s charismata, the plural of charisma] that differ according to the grace [charis] given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.” In other words, use your gifts in ministry. Here in 2 Timothy 1:6, Paul uses the singular charisma–not gifts, but gift.
He does so the same way as Peter does in 1 Peter 4:10 to 11, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God [many colored grace of God]; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Both Paul in 2 Timothy 1:6 and Peter here are speaking about each believer’s unique spiritual giftedness, which may encompass several specific gifts. God gives you a combination of gifts in order to put Christ on display in the Church in a unique way. Like a painter working with the main colors on his palate, God takes a certain amount from the main gifts listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthian 12. Then, from the service and speaking gifts listed there at your salvation, God mixes from those main colors a combination of gift colors in you, to make you a unique expression of His grace, the many colored, manifold grace of God.
So now, every real believer is unique in the way they can put Christ on display. And each genuine Christian is gifted to serve. Your giftedness is inseparable from your divine calling. If you’re saved, you’re gifted–if you’re gifted, you’re created to serve. At salvation, each Christian’s grace gifts are bestowed on him to equip him to serve God in the specific area of ministry or areas of ministry to which he’s been called.
These grace gifts are divine enablements for effective service in the church. Spiritual gifts are God-given abilities for service in the body of Christ for every authentic believer. Get this—gifted service is not optional. Apart from proclaiming the Gospel in the world and ministering our gift in the church in the service of the Lord, our life on earth is worthless.
John MacArthur says, “Your sole purpose as Christians is to obey, and serve the Lord through the gift He blessed you with, so that the body of Christ may be built up to accomplish God’s purposes.” This is why Paul exhorts Timothy to anazpureō (to kindle afresh) “keep the fire alive,” fan the embers of your giftedness into flame and do not let them die out. “Serve, Tim!”
Kindle afresh carries the same drive of consistency as does Paul’s declaration, “I die daily” in 1 Corinthians15:31.You need to continually bury self-will in order to continually allow the Holy Spirit to work His will through you. Just like Paul must wake up each day and bury self, so every believer must each day continually kindle afresh, fan into flame, the gift of God he has received.
If you don’t, Paul warns in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” The Thessalonians were refusing some of the expression of gifts in their church and it quenched the Holy Spirit—literally, quenched means to put the fire out. But you here, by refusing to minister your giftedness in service to the body of Christ, you’re doing the same–quenching the Holy Spirit. You are putting the fire out.
With certain athletic talents a coach may say, “Use it or lose it.” Romans 12:6 said concerning your giftedness, “Let each exercise them accordingly.” Use it or lose it! Under the Spirit’s guidance, by His power, in the church, you must regularly exercise the gift you have received from God, lest it atrophy from neglect and disuse.
As far as we know, Timothy’s giftedness was preaching, teaching and doing the work of an evangelist. Paul tells him later in 2 Timothy 4:5, in order to fulfill his ministry, Timothy must continually exercise those gifts. When God gifts you, you’re a steward of that giftedness and expected to use your giftedness in service for Christ in the church.
Since the New Testament was not yet completed, Timothy might also have had the gift of prophesy–that’s the apostolic gift which enabled an apostle or those they laid their hands on, to accurately preach or teach God’s Word before the New Testament Canon was completed. Look carefully at verse 6, “to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
Paul could have laid his hands on Timothy at the time of his conversion, when Timothy received his unique spiritual giftedness. But more probable, 1 Timothy 1:18 and 4:14 indicate Timothy received some apostolic gifts by the hands of Paul with the eldership of the Ephesus church, according to prophecies made concerning Timothy at a later time.
But Paul’s exhortation remains unchanged. Divine giftedness is to be continually fanned into flame, in order that Christ may fully work out His will for us and through us. The very fact you are gifted from God demands its full and constant use. And the fact that each of you has a divinely bestowed giftedness means you have a divinely appointed ministry.
Whatever your gifts are, they are to be continually exercised dependently in God’s power, for the building up of His church and for the glory of His name. How do you discover your gift? Simple–you begin to serve and listen to God’s people. If you think you’re a teacher, yet people instantly fall asleep, you’re not a teacher. If you think you’re a leader, yet no one is following you–you’re not a leader. If you think you’re a giver, but you clench your fist around every dollar–you’re not a giver. And of course, if you think you’re merciful, but the people you talk to at the hospital want to die after you leave, that’s not your gift. Serve and listen to spirit-filled people,
When you begin to function the way God has gifted you, your boldness will grow, because you know you’re doing what God has appointed you to do. God made me this way. In the past, occasionally I became nervous when I was called upon to preach to thousands. Then I would pray to the Lord, “You made me this way. This is your fault, I’m only doing what you made me to do. Please work through me”–then boldly went out to preach His Word.
Nothing gives a believer more hot boldness than knowing he is in the Lord’s will, and is operating His gift in the power of the Holy Spirit. The hot minister their gift in the power of the Spirit and the bold depend on God’s resources. God’s methods to grow hot and live bold . . .
#1 Exercise your GIFTEDNESS in ministry to fire up your heart for Christ
#2 Depend on God’s RESOURCES alone to fire up your heart for Christ
A second method for remaining hotly bold for Christ and for guarding against being ashamed of Christ is to rely on God’s resources–read verse 7. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. With the verb has given, Paul reminds Timothy God has already supplied us with what we need. Paul affirms this truth also in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
Peter says the same thing in 2 Peter 1:3, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” God provides everything you need for everyday faithful living–growing Christlike and service to Christ when you first believed. So there is no need to be timid, Tim. God never gives or empowers a spirit of timidity.
Even though it’s crucial to develop a reverential fear of God, the word timid is different. The Greek word for timid is cowardly, shameful fear generated by a weak, selfish character. When you are vacillating or apprehensive, you can be sure it is because your focus is on yourself. You’re hanging on your own human resources and not depending on the Lord nor relying on God’s available resources.
Our Lord is never responsible for your cowardice, your lack of confidence or being shameful of Him. When those temptations come, you must rely on God’s supply, since God gives you what you need when you need it. Paul reminds Timothy in verse 7, the resources you have from your heavenly Father are power and love and discipline–strength, sacrifice and self-mastery. Look at each one biblically.
First POWER is the Greek word dunamis, denoting great force or energy. This is where we get the English term dynamic and dynamite. Dumamis also carries the connotation of effective, productive energy, rather than raw and unbridled. God provides us with His power in order for us to be effective in His service. Paul says, “Timothy, you have God’s power if you depend on His resources.”
In Ephesians 1:18 to 20, Paul did not pray for believers in Ephesus to be given divine power, but he prayed they might rely on the divine power they already possessed. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
Because of Christ and through His Spirit, you have the resource of God’s own supernatural power, the very power He used to raise Christ from the dead. Though not the same fullness New Testament saints enjoy, Old Testament believers had some measure of Holy Spirit power to serve their God, and were reminded by the prophets to depend on God, not themselves. Like Zechariah 4:6b, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
Make certain you never forget that God does not provide His power to use for your own purposes. God provides His power to accomplish His purposes through you. It’s not, “I can do all things,” meaning everything I want to do for Christ Jesus. But, “I can do all things” meaning God’s things, in God’s strength. I can live His way, serve in His Church, share His Gospel, in His strength.
When your trust is only in Christ, your desire is only to serve Him, as you live dependently upon His Spirit. God is both willing and Ephesians 3:20, “able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”
Second LOVE: which, in our culture is better understood as SACRIFICE. God also has given each believer the resource of His love which, like His power, you received when you were born again. Paul affirms in Romans 5:5, “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
This love is agape, the volitional and selfless love that desires the best and works for the best interests of others. Agape is not emotional, conditional nor selfish. Agape does give conditions–it is not, “if you do this, I will love you” type love. Agape is not, “because you do this, I will love you” type love. Agape is “I will love you, serve you, and give to you regardless” type love.
Agape is a self-denying grace that says, “I will give myself away on your behalf.” Directed back to God from whom it came, agape says, “I will give my life and everything I have to serve you.” John MacArthur says, “Our spiritual lives are measured accurately by our love. If our first love is for self, our life will center on seeking our own welfare, our own objectives, our own comfort and success. We will not sacrifice ourselves for others or even for the Lord. But if we love with the love God provides, our life will center on pleasing Him and on seeking the welfare of others, especially other Christians.”
Timothy and every Christian, this is the love God has shed abroad in your heart. This is the resource you have to be bold and hot for Christ.
Third DISCIPLINE: which might be better understood as SELF-MASTERY. Discipline literally means a secure and sound mind. The Greek word also carries the idea of a self-controlled, disciplined and prioritized mind. God-empowered self-mastery allows you as a believer to control every element of your lives. This Spirit-empowered self-control creates a biblically ordered life, where God’s Word and God’s wisdom can be applied to every situation.
When you live by this godly discipline that the Spirit supplies, your priorities begin to be placed in the right order and every aspect of your life becomes devoted to advancing the cause of Christ. Because of his Spirit-empowered discipline, Paul could say these powerful words in 1 Corinthians 9:26 to 27, “I run in such a way, as not without aim [I know where I am going]; I box in such a way, as not beating the air [I don’t miss] but I buffet my body [that’s not what we do after church, ‘buffet our bodies’ at lunch—no, I beat my body into submission; I make my body do what I want, not what it wants] and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”
The great resources–strength, sacrifice and self-mastery belong to every believer. These qualities are not natural. You are not born with them. They cannot be learned in a classroom or developed from experience. They are not the result of your family, environment or instruction. This power, love and discipline come only from God Himself.
But every genuine believer here possesses these God-given resources. Power to be effective in His service, love to have the right heart toward Him and others, and discipline to live every part of our lives according to His Word. When these strengths are all present–boldness and hotness are certain and great things will happen in and through our lives for our Lord Christ Jesus.
Read verses 6 and 7 again slowly, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” The hot minister their gift and the bold depend on God’s resources. Like the best food you have ever eaten, how will take this home?
Couldn’t resist adding one more application point, so squeeze it in . . .
0 Living hot is a CORPORATE process—you must be involved in the local church.
1 The difference between the lukewarm and the cooling is REPENTANCE
If you claim not to be an unsaved lukewarm church attender and like Timothy, you are merely someone who’s been cooling off and not running hot for Christ, there is only one way to determine which one you are. The lukewarm will do nothing to change. Those who’re cooling will repent and determine to live hot by ministering their giftedness in ministry and begin to strongly depend on God’s resources alone. Which one are you?
2 You have much to OVERCOME in order to live bold for Christ
The culture is seducing you to live convenient. The enemy does not want you in the battle. Your giftedness is a weapon the enemy does not want you to fire. Your own flesh continually offers you excellent excuses to be lazy and not on fire. The world, your flesh and the devil do not want you to obey God’s Word to stir up your gift in service to the Church and depend on God’s power. Who will you listen to?
3 Fanning the fire to live hot for Christ requires you to REMEMBER
Each verse calls for memory. Verse 3, “Constantly remember,” verse 4, “I recall,” verse 5, “I am mindful,” verse 6, “I remind you.” Remember what you were before Christ. Remember what Christ did for you. He became a man for you, lived on earth for you, suffered for you and died for you. He chose you, then called you, gave you a new heart, a new life and a perfect, eternal home. Remember what He did and you will want to serve Him like He served you. Kindle afresh.
4 ZEAL is expected of all genuine Christians
Romans 12:11 says, “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” There is great virtue in hard work for Christ–diligence. But do so with your heart engaged–fervent. With a dependent will, be fervent in Spirit. This verse means this—“Christian, manifest a passionate heart for Christ while you do lots of things for Christ.”
When Jonathan Edwards was still a young man, he wrote his seventy resolutions. The sixth resolution seems to capture the meaning of fervent in spirit. Edwards wrote, “Resolved: To live with ALL my might while I live.” Fear losing your first love. Seek to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Intensity and wholeheartedness do matter–don’t settle for less. Are you living hot for Christ?
5 Genuine Christians do live HOT and seek to be BOLD
Luke tells us that disciple is just another word for Christian–a Christ-follower. A disciple, not a special category of believer, more mature, but merely a born again believer. And Luke 14 records the Lord’s expectations of His genuine, born again followers.
Luke 14:26,27,33, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
A true believer is willing to do anything for Christ. They want to obey from the heart. They desire to worship Christ by offering their entire lives to Him as a living sacrifice. So this morning, if you are not hot for Christ, nor bold for Christ, there are only two options–which one are you? Are you disobedient or deceived?
Are you disobedient, awaiting God’s discipline? Or are you deceived, awaiting God’s damnation? The hot minister their gift, and the bold depend on God’s resources. Let’s pray.