Stir the fire of your heart–2 Timothy 1:6-7
What kind of temperature do you prefer–the freezing cold of 30 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 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 cold, some cool, others warmer. Concern over temperature is a normal part of our lives–and this afternoon, 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? The, 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.” But the New Testament says differently.”
Paul encourages every believer in Romans 12:11, “Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Jesus warns 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. 16So 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. 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-tos–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 in ministry for Christ.
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 Berkley. 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 Timothy’s spiritual fire may have cooled.
How did Paul start His help? Look at how Paul begins this letter. This is powerful. In verses 3 to 5, Paul forces Timothy to recall his past and how he first became a Christian. Look at verse 3—”remember’, verse 4—”I recall”, verse 5—”I am mindful”, verse 6—”I remind you”. Do you want to fire up? Recall what you were when you first became a Christian–remember your deliverance. Remember your salvation and forgiveness as your new life began. Paul wants Timothy to recall what he was as a non-Christian and the first days when he became a Christian.
One of the steps to being bold and living hot is this—daily remember what Christ has done for you. I was lost, I was enslaved to sin, I was desperate, I was unhappy, broken, and spiritually dead. Do you remember what you were before Christ called you in salvation? Paul says to Timothy and you, remember your rebellious sin. Remember your defiant evil. Remember your selfish pride. Remember your enslavement to lust, greed and anger and remember your guilt from sin. The starting place to bold hotness is remembering what you used to be as a non-Christian–then as a new Christian.
So now, after the motivation of all these amazing blessings in your life in verses 3 to 5, Paul gives two more steps in two verses to growing hot and living bold in verses 6 to 7. Read them with me. “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” Paul gives two methods (making up our two points) 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 has cooled a little. So Paul’s first exhortation in verse 6 is for this young pastor and apostolic assistant to do that which will restore his spiritual heat and boldness. Timothy’s work was 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 over your weaknesses, focus on you instead of the real issue. And they’ll make your life miserable. Thank you for not being that church.
If a church doesn’t support you, love you, or defend you as you stand for truth, you will get worn out–you’ll cool. You’ll become protective and less bold. You’ll chicken out. 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’re camping or sitting around a backyard fire pit and everyone is enjoying a sweet fire. Over time, the wood burns and turns to coal, the ash begins to cover the fire and the temperature cools off. So you take a stick and you stir the fire. Not only does it rise back to flame, but the fire gets really hot. 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 gift is charisma, which denotes a specific expression of charis–which is the word for grace. God wants believers to know spiritual gifts are grace gifts.
Like the present on your birthday–God gives you a gift. They’re expressions of 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 seeking or work on your part. 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 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. Peter does the same 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 teaching 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 very unique way which only you can do. 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 in you from those main colors, a combination of gift colors 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–only you can do it. Each genuine Christian here today 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, 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 kindle afresh” (to keep the fire alive), fan the embers of your giftedness into flame and do not let them die out. “Serve, Tim!”
Paul is looking you in the eye and says, “Serve, Christian!” First Thessalonians 5:19 warns, “Do not quench the Spirit.” The Thessalonians were refusing some of the expression of gifts in their church and it quenched the Holy Spirit. Guess what quenched means? To put the fire out. But you here now, by refusing to minister your giftedness in service to the body of Christ–you’re doing the same, quenching the Holy Spirit, you are dousing our fire.
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.
Paul adds in verse 6, during this apostolic age, verse 6, “to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” To teach the Word before the New Testament Bible was assembled, apostles appointed teachers and prophets by laying their hands on them, in order for them to teach God’s Word. 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’re 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’re 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. If you think you’re merciful, but the sick you minister to at the hospital want to die–that’s not your gift. Serve and listen to Spirit-filled people.
When you begin to function the way God gifted you, your boldness will grow–because you know you’re doing what God appointed you to do. You know God made you this way. In the past, occasionally I became nervous when I was called upon to preach in some situations. Then I’d 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 I would preach His perfect, living Word, no matter what. Nothing gives a believer more hot boldness than knowing he’s in the Lord’s will and is operating His gift in the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s steps for you 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. Another 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 growing Christlike and serving Christ in the Church. So there is no excuse for being timid, Timothy.
God never 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 timid is a cowardly, shameful fear, generated by a weak, selfish character. When you are vacillating or apprehensive, you can be sure it’s because your focus is on yourself. You’re relying on your own human resources and not depending on the Lord, nor reliant upon God’s abundant and promised supply.
Our Lord is never responsible for your lack of confidence, being ashamed, or even your silence about 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 STRENGTH
The Greek word is dunamis denoting great force or energy. This is where we get the English dynamic and dynamite. Yet dunamis also carries the connotation of effective, productive, focused energy rather than raw and unbridled. God provides us with His power in order for us to be effective in His service. Productive. Paul says, “Timothy–you have God’s power if you depend on His resources.”
Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that the Spirit is “able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” That’s beyond what we can even imagine. Though not the same as a New Testament believer, Old Testament believers had some measure of Holy Spirit power to serve their God, and were reminded by the prophets to depend on the Lord, not themselves. Zechariah 4:6b, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
And you already know that God does not provide His power for you 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 anything I want to do for Christ. 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 and your desire is to serve only Him, then as you live dependently upon His Spirit, God is both willing and able.
Second Love is SACRIFICE.
God 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 not give conditions–it is not “if you do this, I will love you” type of love. Agape is not “because you do this, I will love you” type of love.
Agape is “I will sacrifice for you, regardless” type of 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, or SELF-MASTERY
Discipline literally means a secure and controlled life. The Greek word also carries the idea of a self-controlled, disciplined, prioritized mind. God-empowered self-mastery allows you as a believer to control your thinking and behavior. 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 only 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’m 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 of strength, sacrifice and self-master, 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 all three of these strengths are present, boldness and hotness are certain and great things will happen in and through our lives for our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. 7For 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 you . . .
A The difference between the lukewarm and the cooling is REPENTANCE
If you claim not to be an unsaved, lukewarm church attender but 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 start living hot by ministering their giftedness in ministry and begin to strongly depend on God’s resources alone. Which one are you?
B 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?
C Fanning the fire to live hot for Christ requires you 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, washed 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.
D 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.” Christian, today—FBC, today. Fear losing your first love. Seek to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Intensity and wholeheartedness matter. Do not settle for less. Will you live hot for Christ?
E Genuine Christians do live HOT and seek to be BOLD
Luke tells us the term disciple is just another word for a Christian–a Christ-follower. A disciple is not a special category of believer, more mature–but merely a normal, regular, born again believer. In light of that, 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. 27Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 33So 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. What will you do? Let’s pray.