How to fight discouragement (Part 3)

Paul preaching the gospel at Athens
Paul preaching the gospel at Athens

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. 2 Tim. 1:8

As we look at the reasons Paul gives to Timothy not to give up on the faith, perhaps the greatest reason is the faith itself as it is enunciated in the gospel. The afflictions Timothy was enduring were the afflictions of the gospel, which tells us how God saves sinners: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (ver. 9-11).

The gospel is the greatest message proclaimed among men, and it is our privilege as followers of Christ to proclaim it and to live it. One the things discouragement does is to pour water on any zeal we might have for making Christ known. To counteract this, let us remember that the gospel which we believe and proclaim is wonderfully great. There are at least five ways we can see the greatness of the gospel and of our salvation in Christ.

It is great in its scope, stretching from eternity past (9) to eternity future (10).

It is great is its design, "according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." This is a design of grace, not works. It is a design of God, not man. This is not a human intention but a divine, and on this lies our hope.

It is great in its security, for God's counsels will always stand (Ps. 33:11; 135:6). It does not rest on the fickleness of men but on the power of God. It is secure because it is of grace and not of works (note this emphasis in verse 12).

It is great in its cost, for it came to us through Christ Jesus, who died so that those who believe in him might live.

It is great in its nature. It is a "holy calling" to which we are called; it is a transforming salvation which God brings to us in Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Rom. 12:1-3). Moreover, in saving us, God gives us life and immortality (ver. 10), eternal joys at God's right hand.

For this reason, let us commit ourselves, our future - everything - to God unreservedly, and let us not be ashamed of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us keep what God has committed to us without discouragement (ver. 14), because God will keep what we have committed to him (ver. 12).

By: Jeremiah Bass