Letters From God
Do people send letters to each other as often as they used to? Probably not, but isn’t it nice to get a letter from someone you love, be it family, or just close friends. Especially if you’re away from home, and you get a letter telling you how much someone is thinking about you.
Think about this; You’ve been away from home, all your life. Home, is where your spirit came from, and your spirit came from God. And Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells us that our spirits will return to God who gave them. But for now, you’re away from home. Sometimes when we read the new testament, we might not appreciate the fact that we’re reading a letter from home. The new testament is filled with letters from God in heaven, written to you.
What we call, the “books” of the new testament, are literally letters, that were written to congregations of Christians, and some are letters that were written to individual Christians.
You might say that the exceptions to that, are the gospels of Mathew, Mark, and John. They’re not addressed to anyone, and they seem to be more like written documentaries, rather than personal letters. We could call them biographies of the life of Jesus Christ. And John tells us specifically, the purpose of his biography, in John 20, verse 31; “But these have been written, that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, YOU may have life in His name.”
But even within these “biographies”, the writers quote many of the very words of Jesus. And most of the time, those words are spoken to you and to me.
The book of Luke is a biography of the life of Jesus, but it’s addressed to Theophilus. And the book of Acts is a biography of the “Acts of some of the Apostles”. But it too, is addressed to Theophilus. The book of Hebrews isn’t addressed to anyone, but it sounds like a letter, that’s been written to individuals, with the words “we”, and “us” being used repeatedly. The writer says; “WE must pay closer attention”, and “how shall WE escape”. He says; “Therefore, holy brethren”, and again he says; “Take care brethren”. “Encourage one another” he says, and “Therefore, let us fear”, and “Let us draw near”. I don’t know for sure who wrote this letter, but I know for sure that he wrote it to us!
The book of Revelation, contains some brief letters to various congregations, but the book as a whole, is a letter from Jesus Himself, to all Christians everywhere. The very first verse says; “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him, to show to His bond-servants..” That’s us!
James wrote a letter addressed, “to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad.” That’s all Christians, everywhere. Peter addressed one letter to “those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” I take that to refer to all those who are “not of this world”. They’ve been “translated from the domain of darkness, into the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). Isn’t that you, haven’t you been “translated” into God’s kingdom?
Then Peter wrote another letter that he addressed to “those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” That’s our faith!
Jude wrote a letter to “those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept in Jesus Christ.” And then of course, John wrote some other short letters. “Third John” is addressed to someone named Gaius.
And “Second John” is addressed to “the chosen lady and her children”. Some people think that refers to a specific woman, but others think that refers to a specific congregation. But couldn’t it also refer to “the bride of Christ”, His church? And her children of course, would be all Christians, everywhere.
“First John” isn’t addressed to anyone, until we get to chapter 2, verse 1, when John writes; “My little children; I am writing these things to YOU, that YOU may not sin.” And it’s kind of like the Hebrew letter, because it talks about “WE”, and “US”, and “YOU”, throughout the letter.
Consider the letters that Paul wrote. He addressed one letter to the Christians in Rome, and another to the congregations of Galatia. He addressed another to the saints at Ephesus, and one to the saints at Philippi, and one to the saints at Colossae. He addressed two letters to the church of the Thessalonians. There’s one letter addressed to the church of God at Corinth, “along with the saints throughout Achaia.” And then there’s another letter written to the church of God at Corinth, “along with ALL who in EVERY place, call upon the name of the Lord.”
Then of course there’s the two letters addressed specifically to Timothy. There’s one addressed to Titus, and there’s one addressed to “Philemon, and to Apphia, and to Archippus, and to “the called out who are in his house.”
But there’s one thing that all of these letters have in common. No matter who they’re addressed to, and even if they’re not addressed to anyone, they are ALL written to each and every one of us! “All scripture is inspired by God..”, 2 Timothy 2:16, and it’s ALL written to you, and to me, as individuals.
I’ve chosen one letter however, that I’d like us to focus on. And that letter is 2 Timothy. So I’d like to read a part of that letter, and I’d like you to take it personally, as if it were written directly to you. So then, it’s going to be a letter from God, to you. Here we go, beginning with 2 Timothy 1, verse 1..
This is God speaking, through “Paul, and apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child.” Now just substitute your name there instead of Timothy’s.. From God, thru the apostle Paul, to ______ , My beloved child.
“Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience, the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers, night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” (V-s 2 thru 5)
Think about your faith. Did it first dwell in a family member? Maybe your mother or father, or a grand-parent? Or did your faith first dwell in a friend. Whoever it came to you from, God is mindful of YOUR faith.
“And for this reason, I remind you to kindle afresh, the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (V-6) You don’t have a “miraculous” spiritual gift, but you DO have gifts that God Himself has given you. You know what your specific gifts are, what your strengths are. Well, God wants you to USE those gifts. If you haven’t been using your abilities as you could be, then God wants you to “kindle afresh” those abilities.
For instance; Has God given you the gift of the knowledge and understanding of how to be saved? Well if He has, then He wants you to use that gift, and tell others how to be saved. Do you think possibly that you’re not “good” at talking to people about God? Listen to these next few verses..
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, and love, and discipline”.. or in other words, “sound reasoning”. (V-7) Listen to this explanation of that word; “Moderate and sensible behavior that fits the situation, aptly acting out God’s will, with sound reasoning.” God is telling us to not be timid, and refuse to use our abilities. But to realize the power that God has given us to accomplish things. And to use our God-given gifts, with love, and with sensible behavior, in order to accomplish His will.
“Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner. But join with me, in suffering for the gospel, according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us, with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted us, in Christ Jesus, from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher.” (V’s 8 thru 11)
There’s a lot that was said in those verses. But what God said to us there, is don’t be ashamed to preach the gospel! It’s the power of God! He saves us by it, He calls us by it. It’s according to His eternal purpose. That’s also what it says in Ephesians 3:11; “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And now God has revealed that purpose to us with the appearance of Jesus. And it was thru Jesus that death was abolished, and it was thru Jesus that life and immortality appeared. And it was all revealed thru the gospel. So then once again, God hasn’t given us a spirit of timidity. He’s given us a spirit of power and love and self-discipline, and He’s given us all various gifts and abilities. So then, don’t be ashamed of the gospel, but use your gifts to spread that gospel.
Paul said, in verse 12; “For this reason, I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed in, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him, until that day.”
Verses 13 & 14; “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
Retain those words of God, because they’re a treasure. Retain God’s word in faith, and in love, and in Spirit of God, that dwells in us. What is the spirit of God that dwells in you? It’s a spirit of confidence, and of power, and of love, and of discipline, and of unity, and of concern for the lost, and it’s a spirit of responsibility for what God has entrusted to you.
I’m going to jump to chapter 2, verses 1 & 2. Verse 1 says; “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Always remember; You are a child of God, and you are standing strong in the grace of God! That’s almost exactly what Paul wrote in Romans 5:1 & 2. Listen.. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith, into this grace in which we stand! And, let us exult in hope, of the glory of God!”
A child of God, standing strong in God’s grace, through faith in Christ.
Now, 2 Timothy 2, verse 2; “And the things which you have heard from me, in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men (or women) who will be able to teach others also.”
You’ve heard many things from God’s word. What are you going to do, with everything that God has told you? Chapter 1, verse 14 told you to “Guard.. the treasure that’s been entrusted to you.” But to “guard” it, doesn’t mean to hoard it, and keep it to yourself. It means to keep the word pure, and to protect it. Don’t let anyone “mishandle” the word. A lot of people want to twist the word, don’t they? So that they can try to make it mean something that it doesn’t mean.
Well, God has given you the responsibility to guard the word, so that doesn’t happen. In chapter 2, verse 15, God tells you to “Be diligent to present yourself unto God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, handling accurately, the word of truth.”
God had already said in chapter 1, verse 8; “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.” Now in chapter 2, verse 8, God reminds us of that testimony. Here’s what God says, through Paul; “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel. For which I suffer hardship, even to imprisonment, but the word of God is not imprisoned.”
The word wasn’t imprisoned, because Paul was preaching it even while he was in jail. And so were other faithful Christians. But what about today? Is the word imprisoned today? If it’s up to you to preach the word, would the word be imprisoned, or would it be free, to accomplish what God intends for it to accomplish?
Do you remember what God said in Isaiah 55:11? “So shall My word be, which goes froth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding for which I sent it.” So then, God’s word will NOT be imprisoned! The only question is; Will YOU have any part in helping it accomplish what it was sent for?
Listen to verses 10 thru 13, 2 Timothy chapter 2; “For this reason (so that the word isn’t imprisoned) I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement; For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure with Him, we shall also reign with Him. If we are faithless, HE remains faithful! For He cannot deny Himself!”
God will always be faithful. But we need to make sure that we remain faithful. We need to keep believing that Jesus is the Christ, Mat 16:16. And we need to keep repenting of our sins, Luke 13:3. And we need to keep confessing His name, Mat 10:32. And we need to endure till the end of our lives, Mat 24:13.
And if there’s anyone here that hasn’t been baptized, you’ll need to do that. “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Acts 22:16
These words were written to you!