A number of popular artists, including Ray Charles and Joe Cocker recorded the song … “Unchain my heart”. The song starts like this: “Unchain my heart, baby let me be. ‘Cause you don’t care, help me, set me free. Unchain my heart, baby let me go. Unchain my heart, ’cause you don’t love me no more. Every time I call you on the phone, some fellow tells me that you’re not at home. Unchain my heart, set me free.” The song is labelled as a ‘heart breaker’ because it is a sad song. He is pleading with his girlfriend to release him from this ‘one sided affair’. He loves her, but she does not return that love. For the sake of his sanity and future, he wants to be unchained … so that he can start anew. When Paul wrote to Timothy he was in prison. He refers to being in chains. He was in prison for preaching the Gospel not because of crime. He was chained to one soldier on either side just as a high level, sentenced criminal would be. He writes:
2Ti 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Verses 8 and 9a inform us that his incarceration and suffering were due to the Gospel … and in verse 10 he says he is prepared to suffer like that because the Gospel he preaches is not chained. He suffers being chained but the Gospel is not chained and that makes it worthwhile to suffer because the elect of God will hear the Gospel and they will be saved for heaven (eternal glory). Notice that though he personally is chained in prison and unable to preach the Gospel, “God’s word is not chained” (v9b). God’s Word cannot be chained, silenced or stopped. Many have tried this … even in Paul’s day. His arrest was a result of the Jews’ trying to kill him to prevent the Gospel’s progress and success. “But God’s word is not chained.” (v9b).
Paul understood the doctrine of Election. He grasped that God is sovereign and that in eternity past He chose a people for Himself. The vastness of this people would encompass all nations. That was the promise to Abram in Genesis:
Ge 12:1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
When you add the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8 to this promise … God election penetrates into every ethnicity! Consider the awesome song in glory:
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
We can understand something of what John means in chapter 3:16 of his Gospel when he uses the term “world” … “God so loved the world”. Now coming back to Paul being chained … yet the Gospel of God being totally free … “God’s word is not chained” (v9b). Paul, like you and me, was a human being made of flesh and bones. He could not preach in more than one place at a time … and as he wrote to Timothy he was chained to soldiers in a Roman dungeon.
But the Word of God, though being able to be committed to paper (papyrus), is spiritual and once heard and learnt can be within anyone, anywhere all the time. This means that the Word of God in the heart is the Word of God (Gospel) readily available to be shared with (preached or taught) any hearer anywhere. It’s not chained. It cannot be silenced. It is always available. Many countries where Christianity was banned would find and confiscate Bibles and burn them in huge fires. But did that stop the Word being preached?
Dr. Johnny Lea in his book I Survived a Communist Onslaught reveals how the socialist military in China would burn down churches, burn Bibles and kill hundreds and thousands of Christians … especially pastors. He himself, dumped on a heap of dead people. They thought he was dead … hence the title of the book I Survived a Communist Onslaught. Churches and Bibles can be burnt. Christians and pastors can be murdered … “But God’s word is not chained” (v9b). You cannot stop the Word of God. As Isaiah says:
Isa 55:10 “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
People are saved through hearing the message because when the message is read or heard, the Spirit of God attends the Word and choses to grant grace to those hearing, who are the elect. They will believe, they will respond and they will be saved. God chose in eternity past and He shall honour His choice bringing the elect to full salvation. This is why the Word of God cannot be chained, lost, destroyed or silenced. Stretching to the very last minute before the trumpets are blown and God calls time on this planet ushering in the Final Judgement (Jesus’ Second Coming), the Word of God will be available, calling and beckoning and wooing until the very last of the elect come into the Kingdom as sheep come into the sheep pen for protection.
There are two matters of concern here. The first is that you make totally certain that you have entered into God’s salvation through the Blood of Jesus. The second is that you use God’s Word, His Gospel to reach the elect … for wherever they are in society and in the world, when they hear, they will repent and believe and be saved.
Dear God, thank You that Your Word is not chained. Thank You that Your Word is powerful and will accomplish the purpose for which You sent it. Please help me to know Your Gospel and eagerly share Your Gospel with as many people as You give me opportunity to speak to about Jesus and His salvation. For Jesus’ sake, amen.