Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God (2 Timothy 1:8)
Reading through the first verses of the 2nd letter to Timothy, Paul makes it plain that what Timothy has, his salvation, the Holy Spirit, the gospel message itself, is to be valued at all costs. Paul speaks of the gospel being an utterly single-issue priority, given to the church to maintain. Paul speaks of the contents of that gift:
…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…
It really shouldn’t shock anyone that the main thing always needs to be maintained. What is shocking, to me at least, is how tenaciously the author of the letter is about the main thing. Certainly this tenacity is the key to the longevity of what we know today as the church: the Gospel must be held central. Certainly this tenacity is what will keep us through the times to come as well.
Paul ventures on overwhelming us, his audience, with the variety of ways the we are admonished to prize the gospel. But the necessity of closing the hand on this issue is apparent. Paul, our author, suffers as a prisoner. A prisoner whose locked away, not under house arrest, but tossed in a dark and gloomy hole in the ground. A prisoner on death row with execution day in sight. The realness of his confession is put to the ultimate test–and he’s holding on to what’s holding him up: the Gospel.
This same thing he holds out to Timothy, and us, the reader’s of these final instruction from Paul. Fan into flame the gift you have been given, he says (6). Transfer this to others, just as I’ve transferred this to you (6). Do not be ashamed of the gospel (8). Testify to it (8). Suffer for it (8). Herald it (11). Carry it to others (11). Teach it (11). Keep it as the patter of sound teaching (13). Be loyal to those who are loyal to it (8,15,18). Guard it Timothy. Guard it (12).
May it be said of us, who call on Christ as our savior, that we’re so about this message, that we would suffer all things being stripped from us for it. It appears from Paul, that this is what we have been called to. Keep it central at all costs.