“Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner.” These words from Paul sound rather intimidating when you consider the circumstances surrounding this text. “But, share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,” he continued (2 Tim. 1:8).
Suffering is the natural reality for those who are unashamed of the gospel. Conversely, those who are ashamed of the gospel bail out when harm is recognized. Jesus said the world hated Him and will therefore hate those who are in Him (Jn. 15:18-19). Paul, being rather obvious, said, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).
Those who are willingly shamed for the gospel (mocked, disgraced, discomforted, humiliated for the sake of Christ) run headlong into suffering. They have an attitude of boldness. They do not equivocate or compromise. They confront the world in the face of hostility. They speak the truth no matter the repercussions. In other words, they are courageous.
Such radical courage comes from a strong set of convictions grounded in the gospel. The progression to courage is clear. Courage rises out of conviction. Conviction rises out of understanding. Understanding rises out of knowledge. Knowledge is rooted in the gospel.
With that being said, here are four steps to be unashamed of the gospel from 2 Timothy 1:12-14.
Step #1: Believe the Gospel
The first step to being unashamed of the gospel is to believe the gospel. It is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16) and only those who are saved possess the spiritual tools necessary to be unashamed (2 Tim. 1:7). This is why Paul boldly admitted, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim. 1:12).
This is a belief that compels the soul to trust and rely on the person and work of Christ. Jesus is the “whom” in the context (2 Tim. 1:9, 10, 13). It wasn’t that Paul didn’t know the Scriptures. It was that Paul knew the Christ in the Scriptures (Jn. 5:39). They testified of Jesus (2 Tim. 1:8). Since courage rises progressively out of knowledge, the Scriptures must be known, understood, and believed.
Step #2: Trust the Gospel
The next step to being unashamed of the gospel is to trust the gospel. Paul continued, “I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what I entrusted to him” (2 Tim. 1:12). He acted on what he believed. He believed Christ, so he trusted Christ.
This text is a remarkable picture of true faith. It is when we give all of ourselves to God’s mighty keep. He is like our trust bank. We deposit our soul with Him and trust that He will protect it. Of course, there is no greater power than God. So, our soul is eternally kept from all things that would seek to take it away from His care (Rom. 8:37-39).
Step #3: Keep the Gospel
The third step to being unashamed of the gospel is to keep the gospel. Paul instructed, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). By “sound words,” Paul meant life-giving, healthy words, the medicinal cure for the soul. These words are found only in Scripture.
Again, the notion is that courage progressively rises from the ground of divine truth. When we are rooted in such ground, we rise with courage. Therefore we are to follow—pattern ourselves after—the teachings of Scripture. In other words, we are to live godly.
Step #4: Guard the Gospel
The final step to being unashamed of the gospel is to guard the gospel. “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:14). The spiritual transaction of faith is that we entrust our soul to God, and God entrusts His gospel to us. As God guards our soul, we are to guard His gospel.
This is a military expression that means to protect and keep safe. You wouldn’t want someone to steal your soul from God’s care. Neither does God want you to keep His gospel so loosely that someone might take it away. Fortunate for us, we have God’s Spirit dwelling within us to empower us for the job.
In closing, you can’t guard the gospel you don’t keep; you can’t keep the gospel you don’t trust; you can’t trust the gospel you don’t believe. The gospel of Christ must be believed, trusted, kept, and guarded with your life. By doing these four things, you will endure suffering as a courageous soldier in the army of the Lord. Your soul will be safe in Christ, and His gospel will be safe with you.
Christian, be unashamed of the gospel.