Blog / Book of the Month / Fan into Flame / 2 Timothy 1:1–14 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday October 2nd 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Fan into Flame / 2 Timothy 1:1–14 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday October 2nd 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Fan into Flame / 2 Timothy 1:1–14 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday October 2nd 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday October 2nd 2022: Season of Pentecost / 2 Timothy 1:1–14 "Fan into Flame"

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

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, 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, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until That Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. “Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow is wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly,”[1] which is to say there is no time like the present. For all the World some folks are not persuaded to lean on the Lord either in good times or in bad times; they rather seek the alliance and favour of men. The Christian learns to believe in God, because they see that the help that comes from men apart from Christ is worthless and trust in them above God is ruinous.[2] And when I say men, that is to say men, women, children, old, young, popular, celebrity, outcast or fool, anyone really who would provide worldly support or encouragement apart from the Word of God and sound doctrine. This is why, as Saint Paul writes the young pastor Timothy, he says, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”    

Now Saint Timothy, to whom Paul writes, is a pastor and most all of us gathered here today are not, although some are. So when we contemplate the “good deposit” some will point to Paul’s words where he says to Timothy, “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,” and see a kind of deposit of faith there in what Paul writes that comes from being a pastor. Listen carefully to those words though, Saint Paul says “fan into flame,” which is to mean that the fire is already there. So where does it come from, from the laying on of Saint Paul’s hands alone? Did Paul refrain from speaking God’s Word to Timothy before the moment he laid his hands upon him in ordination? Unlikely, so we ask ‘what is the source of this fire?’ Earlier yet in Timothy’s life Paul points to Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. So, on the one hand these are women of faith who shared the faith with the boy Timothy as he grew up in their family and on the other hand Timothy is one who heard them as they shared the faith with him and learned to lean on the Lord rather than living life as one seeking the alliance and favour of men. The continued encouragement of Timothy’s grandmother Saint Lois and his mother Saint Eunice through the years would only have further helped him to fan into flame the fire ignited in his heart by the Holy Spirit.   

In the darkness of the night a man came to Jesus who is the Light the of the World to ask Him questions and to speak with Him, this is the Pharisees named Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews, and in that conversation Jesus explains where the fire of faith comes from in a person’s heart, when He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”[3]

And so it is with Saint Timothy, the Holy Spirit as we confess in the Small Catechism calls, gathers and enlightens[4] Timothy, Lois, Eunice, Paul, you and I and then Timothy, you and I and each of these are baptised into Christ Jesus. So Paul’s words to Saint Titus apply here as well, “[God] saved us, [through the] washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy,” and then Paul gives this direction to young pastor Titus, which would be the same kind of advice for young pastor Timothy, and advice for us all as Christians when Paul says, “I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”[5]

Today we mark Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Canada Sunday at Mount Olive and LWML-C in this congregation and across Canada have many faithful grandmothers like Lois and mothers like Eunice, who have grandchildren and children whom they encourage and speak the faith to, and our LWML Society here and many others across Canada also participate in the adopt a student programme with our Lutheran Seminaries. And in those cases even if they are not the biological grandmother or mother to a young man being formed into the public office of the ministry they are grandmothers and mothers in the faith towards them as they work to encourage and build them up, as they for their part, fan into flame the fire of faith.

Did Saint Lois and Eunice know that the young Timothy would end up becoming a pastor? Did they somehow have future knowledge of that? Do you know the potential impact of your words of encouragement and your care for others? Do you have future knowledge of how those words will turn out? If it is grounded in the Word of God, set firm upon Christ Jesus then you can trust in them: “Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow is wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.”

eople don’t share with others the things they are ashamed of. That’s not what they normally do. The wicked may have pride of ownership for their sin but this is not so with the repentant, the one who repents has sorrow for their sin and the weight of shame and guilt burden their soul and conscience until they receive forgiveness in Christ. They may be able to speak of it afterwards but they don’t speak of it in glowing terms, they aren’t embracing it, they aren’t holding it up as high and glorious and good. The righteous are called to feel no shame for their God given gift of faith, therefore don’t let the World shut your mouth when it comes to this gift of faith. In his letter to the Roman Christians Saint Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.””[6] Where would Timothy be if Lois and Eunice shut their mouth and failed to speak to Timothy about Christ Jesus? Where would Timothy be if Saint Paul refused to write to him in his time of need with words of hope in Christ Jesus? Where would you be if no one in your family, none of your friends, none of your pastors ever spoke the Word of God to you? As Saint Paul reminds us, Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in [Christ] will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” And this is where the rubber hits the road, Paul asks, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”[7]

The LWML-C supports the work of their congregation, the preaching and teaching of the Gospel, they support their pastors and the young, and they contribute where they can and how they can, they are called to serve by the same Holy Spirit who called Lois and Eunice to serve Timothy not knowing at first how that support would grow or how the Holy Spirit would use them to fame into flame the good deposit of faith. For Paul, for Timothy, for the LWML for Mount Olive for you and for me we are called to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown, yet we are called to stand on the solid rock Christ Jesus, we are called to speak of Him constrained to what is revealed to us in Scripture, in the very Word of God, and when we do we need not be ashamed of Him. As Jesus says, “everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven.”[8] Do not encourage your loved ones to chase after the World, do not encourage them to seek the alliance and favour of men. “Friendship with the world is enmity with God,”[9] as Saint James writes. Christ remained true to His heavenly Father, He did not chase after the favour or friendship of the World. He perfectly guarded the good deposit which by His Holy Spirit He put into Saint Timothy’s heart through His Word and Sacraments, and into Saint Lois and Eunice, and Saint Paul, and into you and into your heart as well: Guard this gift, insist on it, share it with others, and hold fast to it, by the grace of God, just as Christ Jesus hold fast onto you. 

Dear ones if you believe that a fire will do someone harm you seek to put it out, but if you believe a fire is God pleasing and a true benefit to others then you fan it into flame. Guard this good deposit of faith entrusted to you, do not let anyone stamp it out, guard the fire of faith in your heart and in the hearts of others and remember no one writes a letter of encouragement and instruction to someone who is in no need of it. Saint Timothy needed Paul’s letter, just as he needed the encouragement of his grandmother and mother earlier in his life. Grandfathers and father, brothers and uncles you likewise know where the sparks of faith are lit, these sparks of faith may be as small as a mustard seed[10] yet you know where they have been kindled in the baptised in those who have heard God’s Word so dear ones with the Word of God and with prayer, with every help you can muster by the grace of God guard and defend those little sparks of faith, fan them into flame, each of us men women and children need to keep from sitting idly by, do not be content with tending your own fire alone.

Dear ones “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” and for each time you failed to speak up, there is forgiveness, do not fear; for each time you shrunk away in weakness, there is forgiveness, your power is not in yourself it is in Christ; for each time you gave way to hate, there is forgiveness, God is love; for each time you lacked self-control, there is forgiveness, go and sin no more, “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”[11] Above all others Jesus was, is and ever shall be brave and courageous, He is strength itself and power beyond understanding, He is love, and His self-control is without fault. This is your Christ Jesus, be not ashamed of Him or the Good News of Him and His redemption of you. He who has ears let him hear, the wind of the Holy Spirit blows where and when He wills, it blows between your lips into the ears of those around you, sometimes in the most unexpected of ways. “If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus, who died to save us all.”[12] Amen.    

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] The Present, Oxford Treasury of Sayings & Quotations, Oxford University Press 2011, Page 366.
[2] Lectures on Isaiah Chapter 1-39, Luther’s Works Volume 16 American Edition, Concordia Publishing House 1969, Page 111. 
[3] John 3:5–8
[4] 3rd Article of the Creed, Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2017, Page 17.
[5] Titus 3:5–8
[6] Romans 1:16–17
[7] Romans 10:11–17
[8] Matthew 10:32–33
[9] James 4:4
[10] Luke 17:6
[11] James 4:7
[12] There Is a Balm in Gilead, Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #749 stanza 2.

Photo Credit: Main Photo sparks and flames from pexels; detail of Saint Paul Statue from pexels; detail of sparks from unsplash; dandelion seeds blown by the wind from pexels; baptism from schultzphotographic; detail of grandma with grandchild from pexels; detail of reading the Bible from pexels; detail of support from pexels; detail of car fire being put out from pexels; detail of mother with child from pexels.