Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fan into Flame

2 Tim. 1:5-7 (ESV)
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. [6] 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, [7] for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
I love how Paul talks about faith dwelling in Lois, Eunice, and Timothy. Paul sees faith as something living. It is not intellectual assent, though intellectual assent is not necessarily divorced from faith. Faith lives, as the Holy Spirit lives, in Christians. It dwells in us, it has a life of its own.
So Paul reminds Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands. The gift of ordination, the zeal to preach the word of God, it is easy for that gift to wane. This flame is fanned not by donations to synod. It is fanned by reading God’s word, spending time in word and prayer.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self control. Preach the gospel with confidence. Don’t be afraid to tell people their sins are forgiven. I don’t know why but it seems many are afraid to unabashedly preach that sins are forgiven, as if this will encourage sin. The Gospel though does not manifest itself in such fear of sin. Fear drives people to sin, by the way. The Gospel manifests itself in boldness, love for others, and self-control, because it frees from sin and gives us power over sin. Not that we ever cease sinning, or needing to be forgiven. But telling someone they need to stop this or that does not give them the power to do so, the guilt has the effect of trying to drown itself in more of the same mire. The forgiveness of sins frees them from the chains of sin, so that even if they fall back in the mire for awhile, they walk back out and return to the waters of their baptismal grace, knowing that they are forgiven. Knowing that they have no need to drown themselves in sinful behavior, they are given power, confidence, boldness, love for themselves and their neighbor, and self control. And the faith that dwells within them, starts leading them out, as it takes on a life of its own. We have no reason to be afraid of the Gospel.


Nancy said...

Amen and amen!

Brigitte said...

"Don’t be afraid to tell people their sins are forgiven."

Is that for pastors only or especially? There is the story of two Christians in a boat (I don't know why, if they are lost at sea or whatever; are we talking about emergency only?), where one can hear the confession of the other and absolve him, and the other way around. So where-ever you have TWO...

Yesterday, I was on the phone with someone, and as she has often done over the years, she lamented her messy life --again. (She has not been to church regularly for a while.) I told her that her sins were forgiven. I think she did not breathe for a while.

I just said that like that because Bror wrote that like that.

Nancy said...

We all need to hear those words...over and over again, so we can rejoice in the life we have been given. And, they should be offered when we confess our sins one to another. In this we are given healing...

James 5:16 NIV

16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Your friend is blessed to have a woman who believes God for a friend!

Brigitte said...

Thanks, Nancy.