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Not Being Ashamed of Christ, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2023 3:00 am

Not Being Ashamed of Christ, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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November 8, 2023 3:00 am

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I am saying it is characteristic of unredeemed people to be ashamed of Christ. And if a believer is ashamed of Christ, then he is behaving as if he were unredeemed. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's been said that cowardice asks the question, is it safe? And consensus asks the question, is it popular? While courage asks the question, is it right? John MacArthur has been showing you from 2 Timothy chapter 1 how you can be truly courageous for Christ, standing up for what's right, the truth of Christ, without fear.

John calls his current study unashamed. Before we get started, though, it's always a joy for us to hear how God is using these teaching programs in people's lives. In fact, we hear from friends like you who tell us that you're encouraged whenever we share testimonies from our listeners. So, John, you have a few short letters there that I trust will encourage all of us.

Share them with us. Yeah, this is always a joy for me. Here's a letter from a lady named Faith Ann. Thank you so much for your teaching about single people and married people from 1 Corinthians. I really appreciated being reminded that God provides for His people in a special way in that He gives us friends.

This is especially important to a single person like myself. I have come to a deeper understanding of how much of a blessing the friends that God brings into our life truly are. So I'm grateful and amazed even at God's mercy and gracious care of us. And thank you again, sincerely. And she signs her name, Faith Ann. And here's a letter from Cyril. Recently, a friend asked me what I thought about biblical creation.

Having come from the USSR and being educated as an engineer in the United States, I had trouble with that teaching. Well, the next day I caught you speaking on the Bot Radio Network. It was your creation series, the battle for the beginning. I downloaded your app and listened to the whole series.

I loved it and decided to look into it more. Just wanted to say that I'm grateful for you doing the series. He signs his name Cyril, and you can see here the Lord was providentially leading him to just what he needed to know. And then a letter from Noah. Grace to you has been a resource that I use for personal encouragement as well as help in sermon preparation. I'm a young pastor in Alabama, and I have leaned on your wisdom time and again. I am committed to preaching verse by verse through books of the Bible just as you do. Our congregation has grown by God's sovereign grace.

I write this to simply say thank you, and he signs his name. Well, Faith Ann, Cyril, and Noah, thank you for your thoughtfulness. And you represent thousands of people who write to us and tell us what we know is true, that God's Word never returns void, but it always accomplishes his intended purpose. Month after month, we're connecting people with biblical truth via the internet, our apps, television, free books, booklets. We do this consistently because this is why this ministry exists, to put the truth of the Word of God in the hands of as many people as we possibly can. So thank you for standing with us through your giving and, most important, through your prayers. You're having a multiplied influence for the kingdom. You're part of our team, and we thank the Lord for you.

Yes, we do thank God for you, friend. Thank you for your partnership in this ministry. Thank you for standing with us. And now, follow along with John as he shows you what it takes to live for Christ in a way that is unashamed. The passage before us in 2 Timothy is a vital one. It runs from verse 6 through 18. In fact, that whole last half of the chapter really surrounds one theme, and that is the theme of not being ashamed of Christ. Not being ashamed of Christ is mentioned in verse 8. It is mentioned again in verse 12. It is mentioned again in verse 16. Three times from verse 6 through 18, the Apostle Paul speaks of the issue of not being ashamed of Christ. That then is the theme of this portion of Scripture.

Now remember the scene. At the time of the writing, Paul is in a dungeon in Rome. He has been incarcerated in prison for the last time in his life, and he is here writing the last epistle of his life. This is his last will and testament. The final words of the Apostle Paul, just a little time before his head was chopped off his body and he entered the presence of the Lord he had served so faithfully. That dungeon is a dark, stinking, unhealthy place occupied by criminals, and in the midst of it is this one saint of God whose heart seems to be divorced from his circumstances and set on this young man Timothy to whom he writes. Paul knows he's at the end of his own life and ministry.

He knows there will just be a matter of days perhaps before his life is snuffed out in this world. But the ministry must go on and he knows that in great measure it is in the hands of young Timothy. Young, I say young, 36, surely at least 30 years younger than Paul. Timothy must take the torch, the baton, the mantle he must carry on and so Paul writes this epistle to strengthen him. Timothy perhaps is not of the same constitution as Paul.

He's not that indomitable character, that forceful, dynamic personality who can stand against any one person or any group of people in any event and hold his ground unwaveringly for the cause of Christ. There aren't many like that and certainly Timothy didn't have all that same strength that Paul had. In fact, it's probably very likely that Timothy drew strength from Paul and now that Paul would be gone it was of some burden to him that Timothy find strength within himself from the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We find some things about Timothy revealed in this epistle, but there is also a statement in 1 Corinthians 16, 10 that tells us a little about him. Paul writing to the Corinthians says, Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid for he's doing the Lord's work. Maybe that's an insight into the fact that Timothy could be intimidated, that he could be fearful and a little bit afraid when things were set against him and so Paul warns even the Corinthian believers to be easy on Timothy, perhaps indicating to us that he didn't handle the conflict as well as the Apostle Paul might have. Timothy has to carry on and he is perhaps by nature timid and he is under tremendous stress because as a young man he's trying to set the church at Ephesus right and that means he has to attack at the highest levels of leadership as well as at the level of the people.

He has to be able to defend himself against all kinds of philosophical theological error that's floating around and also the Romans have now unleashed a wholesale persecution against Christians whom they have blamed for the burning of Rome which Nero himself had incinerated and it may well be that for the cause of Christ Timothy too could be imprisoned and his life taken away. But so much has been invested in Timothy. He has been the protege of Paul.

Paul has been his mentor for several years. It's vital that that which is entrusted to Timothy be able to be used to its maximum in the generation to come and so Paul is deeply concerned that Timothy hold the line. The basic structure of the epistle is an exhortation to Timothy to be strong and to do his spiritual duty no matter what comes against him.

But in order to set up the exhortation, the first chapter is in a sense preliminary. The first five verses deal with motive. And in those verses, Paul uses several things to motivate Timothy's response. He uses his own authority, his altruistic spirit. He uses appreciation of Timothy. He uses a prayer and appealing to God. He uses affection in verse 4 as he tells him how much he longs to be with him. And then he uses affirmation in verse 5 reminding Timothy that he knows his faith is genuine and it has great spiritual roots.

He has a rich heritage and he is solidly in the Lord and in that affirmation should move ahead in spiritual service. So the first five verses acted as a motivation to Timothy. Now we come to verses 6 to 18 and they go a step beyond motivation. Anytime you want to put someone in the Lord's work, you start with motivation. There has to be a reason for them to do that and he piled up those motivational elements in the first five verses. But then it is necessary for effective service to Christ to have a pervasive attitude.

And what is that attitude? It is the attitude of not being ashamed of Christ. To put it in the negative, to put it in the positive, being courageously bold to speak for Christ. That's the underlying necessary attitude for anyone who's going to have an effective ministry for the cause of the kingdom. There must be a willingness to be courageous and bold for Christ no matter what that costs, no matter what that means, no matter what opposition that may bring up. So in these verses Paul speaks to the matter of not being ashamed three times because that's the heart of what he wants to say regarding Timothy's attitude. It is a call for Timothy to be courageous, to be bold, to have an uncompromising, unflinching commitment to proclaim Jesus Christ no matter what it costs. And anyone who's going to be effective has to take that position. Now let's face it.

This is a very practical word for us. Every one of us have had occasions in our lives, including me, when we have been ashamed for one reason or another to speak of Christ or to be linked with Christ. And it's not just persecution.

Timothy was under the threat of persecution that could have cost him his life, but the Bible says even the fear of man brings a trap. Just being afraid of what people will say about us or how they will react to us if we boldly proclaim Christ is enough to clam us all up on some occasions. Perhaps we were embarrassed. Perhaps we were afraid we'd be rejected.

Perhaps we were afraid that we didn't have adequate words to say. Perhaps we were afraid that we had lived in such a way that if we were to speak of Christ, people would say, wait a minute, that's not consistent with what I know about you. So whether it's at work or at school or in our social contacts, all of us from time to time have been ashamed to speak of Christ. There have been times in my life when I have had occasion to speak for Christ and said nothing and should have said plenty. We've all gone through that, fearing rejection or embarrassment or worrying about putting our position, our reputation in jeopardy because of a strong, confrontive identification with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And if we're going to be successful in serving the Lord, we've got to get to the place where we have victory over that shame or embarrassment or fear, whatever it might be.

We're not alone. It might be helpful for us before we look at the first chapter again of 2 Timothy to go back for a moment to Matthew chapter 26 and a very familiar and almost classic portion of Scripture. In Matthew chapter 26, our Lord Jesus was on trial and during the trial, you'll remember Peter hung around the courtyard. The rest of the disciples had left Him and fled. It says back in verse 56, they had all been ashamed to be identified with Him.

They were all not only embarrassed, but they were frankly afraid for their life. And when Jesus was taken captive, they ran as fast and as far as they could into hiding because they weren't about to put their life on the line, which shows the weakness of their commitment. But Peter, maybe a little stronger than they were, hung around at a distance, but when the test came in this very classic account, you remember what happened beginning in verse 69. Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard and a certain servant girl came to him and said, You two were with Jesus the Galilean. But he denied it before them all saying, I do not know what you're talking about. Just flatly lied rather than be identified with Jesus Christ and be in any kind of jeopardy. And when he had gone out to the gateway, another servant girl saw him and said to those who were there, This man was with Jesus of Nazareth and again he denied it with an oath, I do not know the man.

Another lie and this time with an oath. And a little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, Surely you too are one of them for the way you talk gives you away. He had that Galilean accent. And then he began to curse and swear, I do not know the man. And immediately a cock crowed and Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, Before a cock crows you will deny me three times. And he went out and wept bitterly. Now that is the classic illustration of being ashamed of Christ.

That's the classic. And we have all sort of climbed on the bandwagon to condemn Peter. In the past we've all thought how awful, how terrible, how weak, how unthankful, how unloving, how ungracious to treat Christ so, how sinful to lie in that way. And yet without exception every one of us who loves the Lord Jesus Christ have had our moments too when we might have spoken for Christ and failed to do that. We may not have cursed and swore and denied association, but we've all been ashamed of Jesus at some point in some place at some time. And that's sad.

That's sad. Could it be that Timothy was a little weak also like Peter? That Timothy tended to be a bit fearful? That Timothy was being hit from so many sides with so many threats and so much opposition that he was really falling a little bit? I don't think Timothy had grown totally cold in his spiritual life. I don't think he'd abandoned anything, but I think he was kind of cooling off.

I think the fire was waning a little bit. I think the battle had taken a toll on him because this epistle of 2 Timothy has very little commendation of Timothy, just one statement where he affirms his faith in verse 5. The rest of it is exhortation after exhortation after exhortation and I think that tells us that he was given to a man who needed that. But it's wonderful to look at the story of Peter because you learn that even Peter was recoverable.

And in John chapter 21, do you remember that Jesus met Peter on the Sea of Galilee shore after his resurrection? And he said to Peter three times, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? And of course the three questions related to the three denials. You denied me three times.

Will you affirm you love me three times? In other words, Peter, ashamed of Christ, was useless. Absolutely no function in Christian ministry could be given to him. He was useless if he was going to be ashamed of Christ.

How can you proclaim what you're ashamed of? But the Lord had to restore him and he did and said do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? And when Peter responded I love you, I love you, I love you, Jesus three times said feed my sheep, feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Now you're fit for service if you love me.

If you love me enough to what? Well then Jesus said to him, someday somebody's going to tie you up and take you where you don't want to go. And John said, Jesus said that referring to the death by which Peter would glorify God. In other words, Peter, do you love me? Will you serve me?

Even though it means your death. And Peter said yes, obviously, because in the text of John 21 he followed Jesus. And you see him on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 standing up with boldness and courage and conviction and an unflinching spirit and he denounces the whole populace of Jerusalem for crucifying the Lord of glory and he preaches Christ and Him crucified and he preaches the resurrection and he preaches the judgment of God so that the people cry out and say, what shall we do? And he calls for repentance and 3,000 of them are converted to Christ in that moment. And he went from being ashamed of Christ to being a bold proclaimer of the very Christ who was once an embarrassment to him and a cause of fear. Peter was ashamed of Christ, but when he got his life straightened out, he was very useful and not only did he preach with power on the day of Pentecost, but he preached with power throughout Jerusalem and filled the city with his doctrine. He preached with boldness and power clear through the book of Acts until he disappears from the scene.

And even when he was dragged into the Sanhedrin and they told him that he was to stop doing that, he said, you judge whether we ought to obey God or men. He it was who boldly thanked God for the privilege of suffering in the proclamation of Jesus Christ, he was a different person. He yielded to the power of the Spirit of God and he was useful to God and bold and courageous.

So there is recovery even for a waning believer. And it's only when you get past that shame, that fear, that embarrassment, whatever it is, that you become useful to God. Where there is boldness and courage and an unflinching conviction and commitment to proclaim Christ no matter what it costs, you have a useful servant of God. To understand how serious it is to be ashamed of Christ, though, let's go beyond Peter. And I want to take you to some words that Jesus spoke Himself. In Matthew chapter 10 would be a good place to start and we're just going to kind of introduce the concept and maybe get into the first point.

But in Matthew chapter 10, we have a very interesting section of Scripture. I want you to pick it up as Jesus teaches here regarding the cost of discipleship at verse 32, Matthew 10, 32. Jesus said, Everyone, therefore, who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. In other words, Jesus says, Everyone who openly, unashamedly, unabashedly, with conviction, speaks My name before men, I'll speak their name before My Father. In other words, if you'll claim Me, I'll claim you. If you don't claim Me, I won't claim you. Verse 33, Whosoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Now we're dealing with a very serious issue here, friends. This is a matter of salvation. If you are continuously and constantly ashamed to confess Christ, then He will be ashamed to confess you before His Father. You don't belong to Him if He doesn't belong to you.

If you won't acknowledge Him, He won't acknowledge you. And the implication here is that there's a price to pay for that. Notice verse 34, Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth.

I didn't come to bring peace, but a sword. Jesus is saying, I know there's a cost here. For I came to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. In other words, I know that if you confess Me in that Jewish environment, you're going to pay a price for it right in your own family. But if you're not willing to do that, then I'm not willing to confess you. In verse 37, He follows it up.

Here's the real issue. It's who you love most. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who doesn't take his cross, that means be willing to die, and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. And he who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. In other words, if you're willing to confess Me, if you're willing to take what rejection comes, if you're willing to give your life over to Me, even to death, then I'll confess you before My Father. But if you're ashamed of Me and if you're constantly ashamed of Me and continually ashamed of Me, then I don't have any relationship to you at all and I will not claim you before God. In Mark chapter 8, verse 38, you remember this text, don't you? What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Listen to what comes after that. For whosoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, you get that? You're ashamed to speak up for Christ because you know society is hostile to Him. The Son of Man will also be ashamed of Him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

Boy, what a statement. That's repeated, by the way, in Luke 9, verse 26. Now those passages tell us a very disturbing thing, that there is a damning sin among unredeemed people and that is the sin of being ashamed of Christ. Those people who as a life pattern want nothing to do with Christ and are not willing to confess Him before men and take whatever opposition and take whatever hostility and take whatever rejection may come will find some day when Jesus comes that He will not consider them to belong to Him at all. At His return, He will reject them and be ashamed of them. He would be embarrassed to have any association with those who were embarrassed to have any association with Him. He would be ashamed to allow into His heaven anyone who was ashamed of Him. And they will be consigned to eternal hell for He will not allow in His presence one who does not desire to confess His name.

Now what am I saying? I am saying it is characteristic of unredeemed people to be ashamed of Christ. And if a believer is ashamed of Christ, then he is behaving as if he were unredeemed. Because it is our very nature as believers, it is the very definition of who we are that we live to name the name of Christ.

We are even called Christians...Christians. The kind of shame that marks an unbelieving soul should never mark a Christian and yet sometimes it does. I suppose that shouldn't shock us since every other sin that unbelievers commit from time to time and place to place, believers may indulge in, except the ones of rejecting God and Christ. We can commit the sins of the unredeemed and one of them would be in some place and some time or some places and sometimes to be ashamed to be identified with Jesus Christ. But that's not the mark of a true Christian.

And if a true Christian were to do that, he or she would be acting as if they were unredeemed. How can one who loves the Lord Jesus Christ, how can one who receives the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord be ashamed of Him? And yet in such subtle ways we are. Oh, we would never say that we are ashamed of Him. Maybe we wouldn't even go as far as Peter in a hostile environment and deny the Lord if our life was on the line. Maybe we wouldn't go that far, but there are times and places when the shame comes out. And so the seriousness of this is pointed out not only by Peter's shame and the need to restore him, to make him useful, but by the fact that this is characteristic of the unredeemed, not the redeemed.

And we're acting like them if we show shame for the one who loved us. It's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, showing you how to be fearless and bold in telling others about Christ. It's part of his current study on Grace To You titled Unashamed. Friend, as John said before the lesson, when you support Grace To You, you help strengthen and encourage people like Faith Ann, Cyril, Noah, and in the case of pastors like Noah, you help encourage their congregations as well. To support our work, contact us today. You can mail your tax-deductible gift to Grace To You, P. O.

Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. You can also donate online at gty.org or when you call us at 800-55-GRACE. That's a toll-free number, again, 800-55-GRACE. And even if you're unable to give today, you can still support this ministry for generations to come by making Grace To You part of your estate plan or life insurance policy. For more about legacy giving, visit our website, gty.org, or call us at 800-55-GRACE.

That number translates to 800-55-47223. And thank you for remembering to pray for Grace To You, for the teaching we send out for those who hear this daily radio broadcast. Your prayers are really the most important way you can partner with us. Now for John MacArthur and the entire staff here at Grace To You, I'm Phil Johnson. Be sure to watch Grace To You television Sundays on DirecTV, channel 378, or you can watch any time at gty.org. And be back tomorrow to learn how to break fear's grip in your life, helping you not to be ashamed of Christ. Don't miss the next half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-08 05:49:58 / 2023-11-08 06:00:37 / 11

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