We’ve been graciously called to suffer. This should be a comfort to us when we inevitably face persecution because of the gospel.
Timothy, it seems, was feeling discouraged, and perhaps prone to being ashamed of the gospel. Paul, his beloved mentor and friend, encouraged him to not be ashamed, but to 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, – 2 Timothy 1:9
In this verse, we see two actions that God did to believers in Jesus and two reasons why He did them. The first action was that
1. God saved us
Paul describes God as He who saved us. He saved us from the wrath that we deserve because of our sins, by dying on the cross for sinners like us and rising again. And if you believe in Jesus, you are saved by Him. Praise God! He saved us, and secondly, He
2. Called us to a holy calling
He saved us and called us to a holy calling. Now, who’s the “us” that Paul is talking about here? You could say that he’s talking about him and Timothy, and that may be true, but it’s true for every follower of Jesus. He has saved us and called us to a holy calling. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. We have been given a holy calling.
So, a Christian is not a person who is saved and then does nothing. A Christian is one who is saved and is called to a holy calling, a life set apart for Jesus Christ, in service to Him.
So, we see those two actions that God has taken for believers, and then we see two reasons why:
1. His own purpose
It was not because of our works. In other words, neither Paul nor Timothy nor any of us were saved or called because we were good people. We didn’t do anything that merited favor in His sight. Instead, it was because of His own purpose. The overriding reason for why He saved and called anyone was because He wanted to.
And this isn’t a “just because” kind of thing, like a child might say. His purposes are always good and perfect. He did it because it pleased Him and because it was the best thing to do.
This should humble us. He didn’t save and call us because of anything in us. He did it primarily because of His own purpose. And secondly,
2. His grace.
He did it because of His own purpose and grace. These two cannot be disconnected. For His purposes are gracious. Grace has always been part of the plan, and it will always be part of the story.
In fact, He established His gracious purposes toward us before the ages began. Paul says of God’s grace that He gave it to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. It’s fair to say this is talking about before the beginning of creation, before Genesis 1:1. He had already decided to save and call us before even the universe was created. How amazing is our God!
Why say this to Timothy? When we are tempted to be ashamed or to be timid, we need to run back to what God in Christ has done for us. Grace motivates us to press on when we are suffering for His name.