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Sermon Message


"God's Unchained Word!"

2 Timothy 2:8-10
Theme: The Christian's confident motivation for spreading God's word throughout the world is found in its great theme, its divine power, and its saving impact.

(Delivered Sunday, November 9, 2008 at Bethany Bible Church. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

I'm glad for any opportunity our church has to highlight the ministry of The Gideons International. I believe that God's blessing on its work around the world has been because of the simplicity of its basic mission—that is, to place the Bible in the hands of as many people as possible; and to trust God to work mightily through His own word.

This morning seems like a good time to open the Scriptures together and consider what it says about its own ability to change people's lives. And so, I ask you to turn with me to Paul's second letter to Timothy—and to a passage that wonderfully affirms the confidence we can have in power of God's word.

* * * * * * * * * *

I hope that you'll take the time soon to read all the way through this little New Testament letter. I believe you'd not only find it an encouraging portion of Scripture to read; but that you'd also be impressed with how much it has to tell us about the nature, authority, and life-transforming effectiveness of Scripture.

Paul had a very personal stake in the idea that God stands behind His own word when he wrote this letter; because he was in prison for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, he was soon going to be executed for it. Yet, though it was about to cost him everything to preach the gospel, he had absolute confidence in its success.

As he sat in prison, his thoughts turned to his younger brother in the Lord, Pastor Timothy—who served the church in Asia Minor; and who had also been charged by Paul to preach that same gospel. And so, tucked in the middle of this letter are these words of counsel to Timothy, found in 2 Timothy 2:8-10:

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:8-10).

Paul was sitting in a prison cell, bound in chains, and about to have his preaching on this earth silenced by his own death. And yet, he had a joyful confidence that the message he proclaimed would never be silenced. It may have been true that he was in chains. But he affirmed that—no matter what else may happen, no matter what the character of the times may be, no matter how hostile this world may become toward the message of the gospel—God's word is by no means chained. He was confident that God's word would be victorious whenever and wherever it was faithfully spread and proclaimed.

I ask this morning that we look a little closer at what Paul says about his confidence in the "unchained" word of God. Let's learn what it was that motivated Paul to be willing to suffer so much in order to proclaim its message to the world in his day. And by God's grace, may we also become confident that God would give His own word success; and become motivated, like Paul, to proclaim God's word to the world in our own day.

* * * * * * * * * *

The first thing I ask you to notice about what motivated Paul to spread the word of God is . . .


Among the many exhortations Paul gave to Timothy in this little letter, we find this command: "Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel."

Now; what did Paul mean when he said that it was "his" gospel? We can be sure that he didn't mean that he invented it. He didn't make up the gospel he preached. In fact, he had even at one time viciously opposed it. Instead, he affirmed that it was a message that had been authoritatively given to him by the Lord Himself. The resurrected Lord Jesus had met him on the road to Damascus while he was on his way to arrest Christians. Jesus converted Paul that day, and then commissioned Paul to go out into the world and preach the very gospel he had once opposed.

And so, it was Paul's gospel because it had been given to him by the Lord. But we might also say that it was 'his' gospel because he had become so thoroughly identified with it through the commission of the very Jesus who had completely transformed his heart. It was 'his' gospel, because it's great theme had become the theme of his own life. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-5; he wrote,

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).

* * * * * * * * * *

The glorious theme of Paul's gospel was a wonderful Person named Jesus Christ—God's Son and the Savior of the world. And Paul, here, calls Timothy to "remember" Him. Timothy was to call to mind, and to always keep before him, this Jesus that Paul had preached in 'his' gospel.

But what was it about Jesus that Timothy was to remember? Look at how Paul refers to Jesus Christ as "risen". When Paul stressed that Jesus was risen from the dead, he was also stressing the fact that our Lord had first suffered and died on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. And furthermore, in affirming that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead, Paul was also affirming that God the Father had fully accepted Jesus' sacrifice for us; and that God now declares us "justified" when we place our trust in that sacrifice. Timothy was to "remember" this about Jesus.

And also note in our passage how Paul refers to Jesus as "the seed of David". Paul was stressing to Timothy that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Messianic promises of God in the Old Testament. He was calling Timothy to remember that the birth of Jesus into this world was the keeping of God's promise to King David back in 2 Samuel 7:12-13;

“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

Jesus, according to the gospel that Paul preached, was not only our atoning Substitute on the cross, but was at the same time the promised King of kings and Lord of lords—the Messiah. Jesus, according to Paul's gospel, was both "of the seed of David", and "was raised from the dead".

* * * * * * * * * *

Timothy was urged to "remember" Jesus Christ. Jesus is the great theme of the Scriptures that Timothy was to keep on preaching. From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, the Person and work of Jesus Christ is the great, exalted 'subject matter' of God's word. And if you and I want to be truly motivated to faithfully spread God's word around the world, then we need to be sure that we "remember" Jesus Christ!

There are lots of interesting things we can tell the people of this world. But there's really only one message from God that will save their souls. It's the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ; and it's our privilege to share it. We spread that message when we faithfully declare God's word—because it is through the faithful spread, proclamation, and exposition of God's word that people come to know the revealed truth about Jesus Christ—raised from the dead, and of the seed of David.

Let's be sure we "remember" Jesus Christ. The more we do so, the more motivated we will become to spread God's word about Him throughout this world.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; I suspect that another reasons Paul stressed Jesus Christ to Timothy as "risen from the dead" is because he also wanted Timothy to have courage—and to be willing to suffer for the preaching of Christ as Paul himself was suffering. He told Timothy at the beginning of the letter that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God" (1:7-8).

Paul was not afraid to suffer for Jesus, because he himself had remembered that "Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead". And Paul was able to say, "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (1:12). Paul was confident that the same God who had raised Jesus from the dead would also one day raise him. And he wanted Timothy to remember Jesus “raised from the dead”, so that he'd be confident of the same hope.

And what's more, the same mighty power that raised God's Son from the dead is also work able to give the preaching of God's own word success! This leads us to the next great truth about God's word that should motivate us to spread it; and that is . . .


Paul spoke of the gospel of Jesus that he preached; ". . . for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained." Paul lived for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And even though he was imprisoned for proclaiming His word, he rejoiced that God would nevertheless caused that word to spread and transform the lives of others.

* * * * * * * * * *

We are taught, by the Bible itself, that God's own word is a 'living' force. Hebrews 4:12 says,

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

God Himself stands authoritatively behind every word that He spoke. Back in Isaiah 55, God Himself said this about His own word;

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).

The unbelieving world often resists God's word. It often belittles it and seeks to push it off into the margins of irrelevancy. Evil governments have often banned it, and prohibited the preaching of it. Even to this day, many unbelieving people seek to eradicate it from the face of the earth. Men try to shackle God's word. But no matter how they may try to do so, God's word cannot be chained. "Heaven and earth will pass away," our Lord tells us; "but My words will by no means pass away" (Matthew 24:35).

* * * * * * * * * *

Paul saw, from personal experience, how seeking to chain God's word only spreads it further. He himself was once the world's greatest opponent to the preaching of Christ—and he ended up becoming the church's greatest missionary.

One time, while in prison in Rome, he wrote to his fellow Christians in Philippi and told them;

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear (Philippians 1:12-14).

Putting the preachers of God's word in chains only chains-up the preachers—but not the word. And so, let's never fear to proclaim God's word and spread it through whatever means God gives us. Let's be willing to suffer for it. In fact, let's even be greatly motivated to proclaim it and spread it "in season and out of season" (2 Timothy 4:2); knowing that God stands mightily behind His own word both to protect its proclamation and to give it success.

* * * * * * * * * *

And this leads us to one more motivating truth about God's word . . .


Paul said, "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." Perhaps the greatest motivation we could possibly have for spreading God's word around the world is because it saves people's souls.

Paul speaks here of "the elect"; and while the doctrine of God's sovereign election might bother some people, it greatly motivated Paul. He affirmed that when it comes to those of us who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and believed on Him, God

. . . chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6).

Paul had no idea who the 'elect' are when he went out to preach. And of course, neither do we. All that Paul knew—and all that we can know—was that God's 'elect' are out there, and have been chosen by Him for Himself from before the foundation of the world. But one thing Paul knew for certain was that, when God's word is faithfully spread, and when the gospel message it teaches is faithfully proclaimed, 'the elect' will hear it, will believe it, and will be saved by it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Look with me at 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 as an example. Paul greatly loved the Thessalonian believers; and when he wrote to them, he was able to tell them;

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation . . . (2 Thessalonians 2:13a).

That was God's sovereign work—to elect them. And how was it that they entered into that salvation that God had chosen them to from the beginning? What part did Paul play in that choice? He says it was

. . . through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13b-14).

It's God's business to know who it is that He has sovereignly chosen for salvation. But it is our business to proclaim that gospel by which the chosen hear of Jesus and believe on Him. And that's what motivated Paul. That's why he was able to say that he willingly endured all the things that he suffered. It was "for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory". He was motivated by the fact that the success of the preaching of the word of God in saving the elect is absolutely guaranteed under the sovereign hand of the God of the word!

* * * * * * * * * *

We have three great "motivations" presented to us in this morning's passage for doing all that we can to help get God's written word out into every place in the world that we can. First, we should spread God's written word because of its great theme—that is, the Person of Jesus Christ. Second, we should spread it because of our confidence in its divine power—that is, that God sovereignly protects it and ensures that it accomplishes what He sends it out to do. And third, we should spread it because it is God's appointed means of calling His elect to Himself for salvation—and that its success in saving the elect is absolutely guaranteed.

So, let's spread His word! And let's do all this in great confidence; knowing that "the word of God is not chained".

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