Summary: The incarnation was not an afterthought, but part of the purpose of God for mankind from all eternity.

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2 Timothy 1:8-11

The incarnation was not an afterthought, but part of God’s purpose for mankind from all eternity. It is the manifestation of the salvation determined from, literally, “before the ages of time” (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; cf. Romans 16:25). No wonder Paul exhorts Timothy to follow his example, and not be ashamed of the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8; cf. Romans 1:16).

When the angel appeared to Mary (Luke 1:31) - and later to Joseph - he announced that their son would be called JESUS: ‘for He shall save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). In the fields of Bethlehem, after the nativity, the angels proclaimed the birth of ‘a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11). When Jesus was presented before the Lord in the Temple (Luke 2:22), the aged Simeon was able to celebrate the Lord’s promised ‘salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people’ (Luke 2:30-31).

Paul reminded Timothy that “God… has saved us, and called us with a holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9). Those who are ‘called saints’ (1 Corinthians 1:2) are also ‘called to be holy’ (1 Thessalonians 4:7). We are reminded that ‘no man shall see the Lord’ who is without ‘holiness’ (Hebrews 12:14).

This salvation is given not on account of our “works” - as Paul explains elsewhere (Ephesians 2:9) - but according to God’s “own purpose (of) grace” (2 Timothy 1:9). Those who ‘love God’ are also known as ‘the called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28). Our inheritance is given completely at the discretion of God (Ephesians 1:11) - as illustrated in the case of Jacob and Esau (Romans 9:11-12).

This holy calling was given to us “in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:9). There is no alternative name by which we might receive salvation (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way (John 14:6).

This salvation and holy calling has been ours since before the Fall, before the creation of man, before all things began, from all eternity (2 Timothy 1:9). The bridge between eternity and time is our Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:6-7), as revealed in ‘the fullness of time’ (Galatians 4:4), and “manifested” in the incarnation (2 Timothy 1:10). This was promised in the Scriptures (Romans 1:1-2), and is revealed through the preaching of the word (Titus 1:2-3).

Without Jesus we are left sitting ‘in darkness and in the shadow of death’ (Luke 1:79). Implicit behind our text is the fact that Jesus was born to die, ‘that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man’ (Hebrews 2:9; cf. Hebrews 10:5-7). Jesus has “abolished death” (2 Timothy 1:10) through His own death, paying for us the ‘wages’ of sin (Romans 6:23).

Our Saviour “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). Jesus is the ‘light of the world’ - those who follow Him ‘have the light of life’ (John 8:12). He is the ‘resurrection and the life’ - those who believe in Him, though they were dead (spiritually) yet shall they live (John 11:25).

Elsewhere Paul teaches that those who were ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ ‘are quickened together with Christ… and raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5-6). For us, even physical death has lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). And neither shall we be hurt of ‘the second death’ (John 5:24; Revelation 2:11).

Of this gospel, says Paul, he “was appointed a preacher… and a teacher of the nations” (2 Timothy 1:11). Simeon acknowledged Jesus as ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel’ (Luke 2:32). Jesus, in His turn, has passed on this distinction to His witnessing church (Matthew 5:14; Acts 13:47).

We are not to be ashamed of the gospel, nor of Jesus, nor of His way of salvation. We are not to be ashamed of the church, nor of those who suffer for the testimony of our Lord. Instead we are to embrace our destiny in our Saviour Jesus Christ, with all that that might entail - in the power of God (2 Timothy 1:8).

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