New Testament professor encourages audience to find strength in God’s grace
Riverside, Calif. (Oct. 5, 2023) – Dr. Frank Thielman talked about God’s empowering grace while speaking at the School of Christian Ministries Lecture Series at California Baptist University on Oct. 3.
“God has given every believer not only the gift of salvation but the gift of His Spirit. And His Spirit provides us with the strength we need to use the gifts that God has given us,” Thielman said.
Thielman is a chair of divinity and professor of New Testament at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author of multiple books and commentaries on Romans, Ephesians and Philippians. He spoke on 2 Timothy and how the Apostle Paul worried about his friend and coworker Timothy. When Paul was in prison in Rome, he wrote to Timothy, giving guidance and encouragement.
“Paul gives Timothy some really practical advice about how to remain faithful to his Christian commitment and how to help others remain faithful, too,” Thielman said.
In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul encourages Timothy to be strong.
“Paul is telling Timothy to do something, but the passive voice of the command implies that the strength he is commanding Timothy to have will not come from Timothy himself. Something has given Timothy strength,” Thielman said.
Paul is talking about depending on the grace that is in Christ Jesus, he said.
“That word grace means that He gave us a gift,” Thielman said. “Paul wants Timothy to get his strength to remain faithful to Jesus and to God's people from this completely free gift of salvation that God has given to him. When He saves us, He keeps giving, and that goes way beyond the moment of our conversion and reaches into our everyday Christian life.”
God gives this gift to all believers, so they are equipped to do the work God calls them to do, Thielman said. But they need to avoid getting caught up in the fallen world.
“The follower of Jesus, who transmits the faith to others so that they in turn can transmit it to others, needs to avoid getting bogged down in the world's priorities and values, needs to stay tuned in to God's word and needs to work hard,” Thielman said.
Though, Paul’s point was not to make the audience members feel guilty.
“Paul's word to you is the same as his word to Timothy long ago. ‘You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,’” Thielman said. “Remember the wonderful love of God for you and the magnificent gift of salvation in the Holy Spirit that He has given to you. Then go forth to serve Him with the abilities and opportunities that He's given you.”
The School of Christian Ministries Lecture Series provides an opportunity for students, alumni, faculty members, pastors and guests to learn from leading evangelical scholars who use their academic expertise to serve the church.