Remember English grammar class tests. 1. Identify nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. 2. Pick out the simple sentence. 3. Identify the following sentences as compound, complex or simple. Did you enjoy these tests as much as I did?
When it comes to the gospel, the New Testament writers use sentences of various complexities to to depict its wonder. I recall years ago being asked to lead a Young Adult study on the topic of salvation and its wonders. I began with one of the simplest summaries Paul, the apostle, repeats throughout his correspondence.
I thought of this again in this journey through the mentoring manual of Second Timothy. Summarize salvation from God’s perspective – “He saved us.” Can it be expressed more simply? Can its wonder be described or translated into the languages of our world with more succinctness than this?
As Paul writes Timothy and invites him to sign up for the school of suffering, he notes –“He has saved us…” and then he adds details – “He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9-10)
He saved us, called us, and gave us grace. God is the greatest Lover of our souls. He has rescued us, included us, andblessed us abundantly, as an act of His amazing grace.
‘Give credit where credit is due,’ is an addage I’ve heard in various contexts. Recognizing talent, time and treasure might mean a thank you note, a plaque, a speech, a word of appreciation. When it comes to salvation, God is to be thanked. His own purpose and grace planned it all, in fact the timing of His grace gift was pre-historic – “before the beginning of time.” To say this creates wonder, mystery and praise, is an understatement.
In time, in fact, at just the right time, God revealed His salvific plan by sending His own Son. Our Savior, Christ Jesus, appeared. Emmanuel – God with us! Through Christmas sermons are a challenge to preach, (most people who show up think they know the story) have we ever lost the wonder of it all?
Christ appeared and through His life, death, burial and resurrection He brought life, true life and immortality to light through the gospel. People not only heard the message, they saw it in the wonders of the incarnation.
It’s interesting that Paul reminds the same church Timothy served of these same truths. Both leaders and those led need gospel reminders from seasoned leaders. What does he write in Ephesians 2:8-10? ‘For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ I’ve been parked on these verses as I prepare to lead a few hours of training on what is taught here. Though good works do not contribute to saving faith, they are evidence that we genuine possess it.
The core truth, though it may be amplified many times over, remains a simple sentence – “HE SAVED US.” Both mentors and those being mentored need to be able to affirm their clear understanding of this truth.