2 Timothy 4:6-22 – A summary of a life!

2 Timothy 4v6-22

 

A summary of a life!

 

Introduction.

If you knew you had one week to live —

–   What would you change in your life?

  • Would there be things you rush around trying to accomplish?
  • Would there be people you would want to see to say, “I am sorry!”
  • Would you be wringing your hands saying, “If only ….”

 

Paul life is at an end and he knows it. And he can confidently and without boastful pride say – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

  1. Paul’s Present Circumstances

 

Paul is in prison – death row really – He has had a preliminary hearing and is awaiting the final trial where he expects to be sentenced to death. He recognises that his time has come to die.

 

We tend to think of Paul as a great spiritual giant – the indomitable apostle and of course he was that but he is also a man of flesh and blood. One who felt loneliness, fear, disappointment etc. He is still a frail human being like all of us.

What has added to his difficult circumstances is that he feels very much alone.

He describes his sense of isolation in vv.9-18

He is deserted by friends, opposed by enemies and unsupported practically.

 

In this verses Paul mentions many people – we can’t look at all in detail.

In verse 16 he says At my first defence, no-one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. (NIV)

 

Paul felt abandoned and alone. He is cut off from the churches he established and from the people he knows and loves. For a variety of reasons – some legitimate – his friends are not supporting him in this time of greatest need.

Some of his friends have gone to different places for good reason – probably in ministry of the gospel. And Paul does not criticise them for that but does miss their support.

 

There are those who have deserted him for illegitimate reasons.

2 Timothy 4:10 ….. Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. …

This is clearly extremely painful to Paul as Demas had in previous times been a fellow-worker for the cause of Christ BUT because he love the pleasures of this life had deserted his fellow Christian, Paul. Was it because of the stressful circumstances of the increasing persecution and he had chosen the cowardly approach? We are not told but what we do know is that instead of “Loving Christ’s appearing” [v8] he had fallen in “love with this present world”

All through history and even in the church today there are ‘Demas’es. Those who in order to save their own skins / to satisfy their own desires will abandoned their fellow-believers in time of their greatest need. When the going gets tough they don’t keep going but rather simply go away! Fair-weather friends!

 

Then there are those like Alexander the metal worker [coppersmith] who go out of their way to oppose the gospel and all Christian worker – they make life difficult. No one ever said being a Christian was easy. Any one can ‘go with the flow’ even a dead fish can go with the flow – it takes someone with strength, spiritual stamina like Paul to go against popular opinion – to stand alone.

 

Yet as we read on we realise that Luke is there in Rome and has done what he can to support Paul during this time.

I believe that this passage gives great insight into our feelings –as we read this passage we realise that Paul has a number of good friends, many in distance places– but his circumstances are so stressful and emotionally draining that he laments that he is alone with no one to help.

 

Paul needs human friendship.

Paul’s deep affection for Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:4 4 …, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.

2 Timothy 4:9 Do your best to come to me quickly,

If Paul is ever to see Timothy again then he must come quickly while he is still alive. Again at the end of the letter…2 Timothy 4:21 21 Do your best to get here before winter. .

Paul indicates in v.8 that he longs to be with Christ.”…longs for his appearing”.

The longing for human companionship and the longing for Christ’s presence are not incompatible. Sometimes some super-spiritual Christians claim that they never feel lonely because Jesus satisfies all their needs. That is nonsense!! Human companionship is God’s provision for humanity. He is the God who said of Adam in the Garden of Eden that it is not good for a man to be alone!

As wonderful as it is to know Christ’s presence in our daily lives and to look forward to his return — these are not intended to be substitutes for human friendship and companionship.

 

Paul needs physical care.

2 Timothy 4:13 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, …. (NIV)

The winter is coming and if his execution is delayed he will need his warm cloak.

 

Paul needs mental stimulation.

2 Timothy 4:13 When you come, bring … my scrolls, especially the parchments.

We do not know what was written on these scrolls and parchments but we know they were precious to Paul.

 

What do we learn from these request of Paul’s?

In 2 Timothy 4:16-17 16 At my first defence, … the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, …….

We know the Lord strengthen Paul and that in the solitude of his dungeon God was with him. Yet the help that we get from God is both direct and indirect.

He does give inner peace and joy – YET he also uses human means to supply our needs.

ILLUS. Man in flood – God will rescue – canoe/ motor boat / helicopter. Man refused all because God was going to rescue!! He drowns and complained to St. Peter that God never rescued him. “We send a canoe / motor boat / helicopter” said Peter “What more do you want!”

 

We must not despise God’s human means of meeting our needs.

STOTT “When our spirit is lonely, we needs friends. When our body is cold, we need clothing. When our mind is bored we need books. To admit this is not unspiritual, it is human.”

 

  1. Paul’s Past Assessment.

What is Paul’s assessment of his life as he faces his death?

2 Timothy 4:6-8 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (NIV)

 

Most of us live very busy lives – they are filled with work, family, church life, recreation – we busy ourselves with looking after our homes and cars, acquiring possessions etc…. … How do we appraise all this? But what criteria do we judged our lives?

 

Paul gives two vivid pictures to portray his imminent death – being poured out like a drink offering, …….and the time has come for my departure –

The first speaks of a life given in serve to God which is about to give the final offering of life itself.

ILLUS.: It was C T Studd one of the most gifted cricketers England ever knew who came from a very wealthy family – he left all this and went first to China and later to Africa as a missionary. His reason “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me then no sacrifice is too great for me to make for him!”

Like Paul he was willing to pour out his life in sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. We don’t have to go to China or Africa to show our devotion to Jesus – it is not a matter of geography it is a matter of the heart.

the time has come for my departure – a picture of a ship preparing to leave harbour – the moorings ropes are already being untied and the vessel is about to sail.

 

How does Paul describe his life and particularly his approx. 30 years of ministry?

He uses three phrases:-

  • I have fought the good fight,

Paul has exerted himself and expended his energy in the cause of Christ – he has given his all

  • I have finished the race,

Earlier in his ministry Paul in speaking to the Elder of the Church in Ephesus were Timothy now was said this.. Acts 20:24 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (NIV)

Now many years later he can say “I have finished the race!”

  • I have kept the faith.

Does it simply mean that he has kept faith with his master, Jesus? I think it means more than that. In the context of the letter of urging Timothy to guard the gospel that has been entrusted to him, Paul means that having being entrusted by God with this precious commodity, the good news about salvation through Jesus Christ, he has faithful proclaimed that message without addition or compromise!

 

By what criteria do you and I judge our lives?

 

ILLUS.: Jim Elliott – young missionary with 4 companions killed by tribal Indians in an Ecuador jungle in the 1950’s. As a young man in college with his heart set on serving God completely he wrote these words in his journal.

“Life is short it will soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last”

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose.”

The apostle Paul wrote about how we are to assess what we do on earth – how our lives will stand up on the day of judgement – 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 11 For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day [of Judgement] will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. (NIV)

 

Don’t judge your life by earthly criteria.

It is not usually those who have their name in lights who are significant in God’s kingdom.

Godly mothers raising their children don’t usually appear on the cover of Hello magazine. Those caring for the poor and needy are not pay vast sums of money. Those faithfully serving in their local church and reaching out in love to friends and neighbours won’t even make it in to the local press ……

BUT God sees and judges by a different set of standards to the world.

 

When the rewards are dished out in heaven there are going to be lots of surprises – it will not be those who have been in the limelight on earth who will be at the front of the queue. There will be godly women who have wrestled in prayer who will be way ahead of preachers with their names in lights.

 

  1. Paul’s future Assurance.

Paul wasn’t looking for earthly acclaim but for heaven’s approval.

2 Timothy 4:8 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (NIV)

 

Paul was about to stand before a Roman court – possibly before the Emperor, Nero, himself and he would be found guilty and condemned to die. However, he looks beyond the unjust earthly proceedings to the heavenly Judge who is righteous and true and who will reverse the verdict of Nero and declare him righteous – the crown of righteousness.

 

This is not only Paul’s prospect but everyone who loves Christ and longs for his return! Do you?

 

What preparation have you made / are you making for your eternal future. Jesus talked about laying up treasure in heaven.

 

Illus.: Jester given a beautiful wand by the King saying “Don’t part with this unless you find a greater fool than yourself!” Years later the king was dying and call this jester of whom he had grown fond to his bedside.

King: “I wanted to say good bye as I am going on a long journey!”

Jester: “Where are you going?”

King : “ I have no idea!”

Jester: “How long will you be gone?”

King: “That I can tell you – it is forever.”

Jester: “What have you done to provide for your well-bing on the great trip?”

King: “Nothing!”

Jester: “Since that is the way you feel – take this wand. You are the fool to whom I should give it!”

 

God has provided for us in Jesus all we need to prepare for death and eternity – only a fool will refuse that provision!

 

The ageing apostle who has been faithful to God and his gospel wrote this letter to the young Timothy to urge him to do the same – and also us.

 

At the end of this letter Paul uses two words that sum up his life and beliefs – grace [v.22] and glory [v18].

It is only by grace that we come to God / only by grace we can continue to worship and serve him / it is only grace that will keep us for the future. Thus having received the grace of God it should be our ambition to return glory to Christ.

I guess Paul would sum up his life thus: “From God grace; to God glory!”

If you and I claim to be Christians is this what characterises our lives?

 

 

 

2 Timothy 4v6-22

 

A summary of a life!

 

 

  1. Paul’s Present Circumstances

 

  • Paul needs human friendship.
  • Paul needs physical care.
  • Paul needs mental stimulation.

 

  1. Paul’s Past Assessment.

 

  • I have fought the good fight,
  • I have finished the race,
  • I have kept the faith.

 

  1. Paul’s future Assurance.

 

  • He will be award by God
  • So too All who love God also

 

***********************************************************************

 

Paul’s life sum up:-

“from God, grace; to God, glory!”

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2Timothy 4:1-5 -Sound Doctrine Or Felt Needs?

Sound Doctrine Or Felt Needs?

2Timothy 4:1-5

Rev. Bryn MacPhail

There is a basic question that we should all ask ourselves from time to time: Why do we go to church? Do we go to church for Christian fellowship? Do we go because we like the music? Do we go because of our children? Do we go to improve ourselves as human beings? Why do we go to church?

The apostle Paul predicts our flawed motives in chapter 2, when he says that “in the last days dangerous seasons will come ” and people will become “lovers of self “, loving pleasure rather than loving God(2:1, 2, 4). Paul also predicts in chapter 3, verses 3 and 4 that, “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn aside to myths “. Paul predicts there will be a time when people go to church , not to glorify God, but rather, they will go to church to satisfy themselves.

The “dangerous seasons ” Paul predicted is, unfortunately, the reality we live in. The focus, unfortunately, has shifted away from God’s glory and God’s kingdom to the ‘felt needs’ of the individual church members. People come to church in 1999 armed with the question, ‘What’s in it for me ?’. And when people stop attending a church, the answer often given is, ‘I wasn’t getting anything out of it’. How is it that, over the last 2000 years, church has become about us rather than about God?

The primary reason we gather at church on Sunday is to learn about God and to grow closer to Him . Everything else is secondary. Knowing Christ, becoming like Christ, is what we are here for. These are the goals of sound doctrine . Sound doctrine aims to correct our faulty beliefs about God, and it aims to shape our character to be like Christ. If sound doctrine is so vital to the life of a church, what is it that produces sound doctrine?

Faithfulness to God’s Word produces sound doctrine. Sound doctrine produces mature Christians. Mature Christians fulfill the ministry God has called us to . This is what we learn from Paul’s final set of exhortations to Timothy in the first 5 verses of chapter 4.

Paul begins this section with a “solemn charge ” to Timothy. Your pew Bibles render the Greek to read “solemnly urge “, but this does not effectively communicate the forcefulness of the original Greek. The instruction Paul gives Timothy here is, by no means, optional. Paul is issuing a forceful directive to Timothy, and also to us: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the Word “(v.1, 2a).

In previous chapters, Paul exhorted Timothy to become one who could “handle accurately ” God’s Word(2:15). Paul also sought to inspire confidence in Timothy by reminding him that “All Scripture is God-breathed “(3:16). And now, Paul concludes his exhortation with the simple command: “preach the Word “. This is to say that sermons must be expositions of the Bible, not expressions of the preacher’s opinions. This is to say that when you share your faith with non-Christians, your witness should be grounded in what the Bible says, and should not be grounded in your personal experiences.

Why should we share our faith in Christ with others? Isn’t it politically incorrect to share my beliefs with others? It may indeed be politically incorrect to share your faith, yet Paul, with the authority of an apostle, commands us: “preach the Word “. All Christians, not simply all ministers, are commanded in Scripture to share their faith.

Since Christians are commanded to “preach the Word “, it follows that Christians should be familiar with God’s Word . Knowing God’s Word and sharing It go hand-in-hand. Charles Spurgeon once said of John Bunyan, ‘Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God’. Ours should be too. If we are to be effective in communicating the Gospel to others, we must become committed to filling our soul with the Word of God.

Some of you, no doubt, will procrastinate sharing the Gospel with others, desiring to wait until you feel that you adequately understand Scripture. For the procrastinators among us, let me remind you that our adequacy comes from God, and not from ourselves . We preach and serve Christ with the strength He provides (1Peter 4:11). Sharing with others your sophisticated theology is not necessarily more effective than sharing a simple biblical truth. A simple truth from Scripture, powered by the Spirit of God, is all that is required to change a person’s heart.

Let me give you an example from the life of Karl Barth. For those of you who have never heard of Karl Barth, he was the most prolific theologian of this century. He is the Wayne Gretzky, the Babe Ruth, of 20th century Christian theology. Karl Barth’s theology was as complex as it was profound. When Barth visited the University of Chicago, students and scholars crowded around him. At a press conference, someone asked, ‘Dr. Barth, what is the most profound truth you have learned in your studies?’. Without hesitation he replied, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’. Karl Barth, perhaps the greatest mind of the 20th century, was impacted most, not be reading theological treatises, but by the simple truth, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’. Surely this demonstrates to us that we need not wait until we are Bible scholars before we begin obeying the command: “preach the Word “.

What else, besides fear, prevents us from sharing our faith with others? The apostle Paul frames his command to “preach the Word ” by reminding Timothy, and by reminding us, that Christ is coming again “to judge the living and the dead “. The imminence of Christ’s kingdom should give us a sense of urgency for sharing the Gospel. Well known theologian, Jonathan Edwards, was motivated in this way, writing that he always endeavoured to preach and act ‘as if (he) had already seen the happiness of heaven and the torments of hell’. Without the reminder that Jesus is coming again “to judge the living and the dead “, we will lack the necessary motivation to obey the command to “preach the Word “.

Once we find ourselves motivated to “preach the Word “, we may find ourselves asking the question, ‘When is it a good time to share the Gospel with others?’. Paul gives us the answer to this question in verse 2, “preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction “. What does that mean, “in season and out of season “? We don’t need to examine the nuances of the Greek to realize what Paul is saying here. You are either “in season ” or “out of season “–there is nothing in between. Paul is clearly exhorting us to be ready to share the gospel on any occasion or circumstance. The Greek word translated “be persistent ” in your pew Bible, and “be ready ” in my NASB, is a common military metaphor which means to “always be on duty “. Those who act one way at work, another way at home, and yet another way at church betray the command of Scripture to be on duty as a Christian at all times.

The command to “preach the Word ” is expanded on in verse 2. The first word, translated “convince ” or “reprove ” refers to how the Bible is meant to correct our behaviour. The second word, translated “rebuke ” refers to how the Bible is meant to correct our beliefs. The third word, translated “encourage ” or “exhort ” refers to the positive work of the Bible. The Bible doesn’t simply correct error, it also instructs us in righteousness to help us to avoid all forms of ungodliness.

The qualification, “with great patience and instruction ” describes the manner in which we are to “convince, rebuke, and encourage “. This makes perfect sense. The call for “patience ” recognizes that change and maturation do not happen overnight. And the call for “instruction ” recognizes that maturation is not simply about outward conformity, but about the inward renewal of the mind.

In verses 3 and 4, we are reminded why persistence in proclaiming the Word of God is so important, “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn aside to myths “. Surely, Paul is accurately describing our present context. The prominence of television in the life of the average North American is evidence of this.

The average American household has the television on more than 7 hours a day(Boice, Here We Stand , 185). Television is programming us to think that the chief end of man is to be entertained. It is no surprise to me, that individuals whose minds are filled with the brainless content of daytime talk shows, daytime soap operas, and evening sitcoms, have little interest in what Paul describes as “sound doctrine “.

Sound doctrine calls us out of our comfort zone. Sound doctrine challenges our sinful desires and behaviours. Sound doctrine calls us to shift our focus away from ourselves, and calls us to focus on God. Paul predicts that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine “. I am afraid that “the time ” Paul predicted has arrived. And because we are living in “the dangerous times “(3:1) Paul predicted, we, more than ever, need to heed Paul’s counsel to Timothy.

We truly do need to “be sober in all things “(v.5). This is a call for moral alertness–the ability to discern right from wrong, and to have the presence of mind to avoid the wrong. We truly do need to be ready to “endure hardship “(v.5). When you share the Gospel with people who would prefer to have “their ears tickled “, it follows that you may be rejected along with the message.

Nonetheless–hardship or no hardship–Paul calls Timothy, and he calls us to “do the work of an evangelist “(v.5). What is the “work of an evangelist “? The work is to “preach the Word “(v.2).

We call ourselves Christians and, for the most part, we act like Christians, but Paul calls for more: “carry out your ministry fully “(v.5). As Christians, we don’t pick and choose what we want to do and what we don’t want to do. We are called to do our ministry “fully “. Sharing your faith is a part of being a Christian as much as running is a part of playing soccer. We cannot opt out of sharing our faith–it is what we are called to do.

Sharing your faith begins by letting others know you are a Christian and what that means. Your testimony can be as simple as Karl Barth’s: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’.

And remember, the results of evangelism are not up to us. Nowhere in Scripture can you find a conversion quota that Christians are expected to meet. Our call is simply to “preach the Word “. If we are to “preach the Word “, it follows that we would feed on the Word. This is why we come each Sunday–we come hungering for the food of God’s Word. Attending church is not about getting one’s needs met. Attending church is about obtaining fuel for the journey–not our personal journey, but the journey that God has called us to.

Come to church then, prepared to feast on sound doctrine. Sound doctrine, combined with the work of God’s Spirit, will not only transform you, but it will transform others as you seek to become one who faithfully preaches the Word of God. Amen.

Lloyd George, British prime minister during World War I, said, “When the chariot of humanity gets stuck … nothing will lift it out except great preaching that goes straight to the mind and heart. There is nothing in this case that will save the world but what was once called, the foolishness of preaching.” Men may not appreciate the ministry of the preacher and his divine imperative to preach the Word, but it is a high calling, one of the world’s most needed occupations.

 

2 Timothy 4:1-5 – The majesty of ministry

THE MAJESTY OF MINISTRY

2 Timothy 4:1-5                                                                           Notes -Ray C. Stedman

 

We are now approaching the climax of the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy. From the loneliness of his prison cell in Rome, and in view of his approaching martyrdom which he knows is coming, Paul addresses these solemn words to Timothy, who is far away in pagan Ephesus: 2 Timothy 4:1-4

1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (NIV)

 

Few texts describes more accurately the day in which we live.

In these words, the apostle is seeking to open Timothy’s eyes to the importance of what he is called to do. Paul flings back the boundaries of time and space to reveal to Timothy the unseen realities before whom every Christian lives and works:- 1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge Paul says.

 

There is nothing more helpful to us amid the pressures of life than to realise that what we are doing is a very important thing; yet it seems hard to understand our Christian faith in this way. Like Timothy, we see ourselves as a minority amidst a majority largely indifferent, unbelieving and sometimes some are just plain evil. Our voice seems to be a mere whisper in the tumult of chaos and the clamour of other voices. We can easily think that our daily Christian living is   almost insignificant, that we are contributing nothing to arrest the moral slide of our day, that we cannot speak with any impact at all against the voices of unbelief we hear on every side.

 

I am sure Timothy felt that way too. In his day there was an upsurge in evil and an increase in the voices that were denouncing faith and belief. Immorality was widespread in Ephesus; sexual perversions were accepted as an appropriate lifestyle in that city, just as they are in our day.

 

  1. Living in God’s Presence.

 

What the apostle does here is roll back the separation between the visible and invisible worlds and show us in whose presence we are living.

Paul reminds Timothy that he is living and labouring in the presence of God:

  • the Father, the Creator, the One who holds in his hands the life breath of every human being, the One who is Sovereign over all human events.
  • And that he carries on his ministry in the sight of Christ Jesus, the One who is to be the Judge of all men, before whom every human heart is exposed, the One before whom everyone, believer and unbeliever, must ultimately stand and give an account.

 

So Timothy carries on his ministry before the One who thoroughly understands all of human history.

 

Not only do we labour in the sight of the Father and the Son, but Paul, in other passages, has told us that believers are called the “theatre,” the “spectacle” of the universe. In 1 Corinthians 4 he speaks of himself in that way: “We are made a spectacle before the world, before angels and before men,” he says {cf, 1 Cor 4:9}. In Hebrews 12 the writer reminds us that we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses,” {Heb 12:1}. In our limited, finite observation of life we often feel like we have been abandoned to labour alone, but we are not.

Furthermore, not only are we being observed and helped by these powerful forces for righteousness in the universe, but we are involved, as Timothy was, with the greatest program the world has ever known. Paul charges Timothy not only in the presence of God and of Christ, but “by his appearing and his kingdom.”

 

” appearing,” refers to the second coming of our Lord. – epiphania, (the English word epiphany). At his second coming Jesus will “judge of the living and the dead”[v.1]. But also refers to his first coming. In fact, it is used in that same way in 2 Timothy 1:10 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (NIV)

Paul is asking Timothy to look back to that first appearing of Jesus, who by his death and resurrection brought life and immortality through the gospel and thus began in that invisible, remarkable way to spread the kingdom of God on earth.

And also to look forward to the day when ALL people will give account to Christ as Judge of ALL the world. By his witness, Timothy is involved in the advance of that greatest of all tasks which God is doing in the world.

 

That sets things in the right perspective. When we live and work and talk as Christians, we live righteously and justly, we live lovingly and compassionately before man. When we involve ourselves in the hurts of others to speak a word of comfort and relief, and especially when we point men to the Saviour who can change their lives, we are involved in this greatest of all human endeavours, in a work that eclipses in significance and importance anything that has ever happened in human history.

 

I am trying to set forth for us what I have called, The Majesty of Ministry. We are doing an extremely significant thing. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” {Matt 6:12, Luke 11:2 KJV}. When we are living, speaking and behaving as Christians should, that is what we are doing: We are answering that prayer, we are advancing the kingdom of God, we are causing the will of God to be done on earth as it is done in heaven. There is no higher calling.

 

ILLUS.: In John Pollock’s biography of Billy Graham there is recorded an incident which occurred when Lyndon Johnson was elected President of the USA. The President asked Billy, with whom he had been friends for years, what particular position he would like to have in his administration. Without a moment’s thought Billy said to him, “Sir, I believe that Jesus Christ has called me to preach his gospel. To me that is the highest calling any man could have on earth.” That was an appropriate response.

 

Billy Graham has turned aside from many such invitations so that he might maintain the calling to which God has called him. But we must not think of him as being unique in that regard — every one of us is called to the task of proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  1. Proclaiming the Word of God.

 

2 Timothy 4:2 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.

 

“preach the word,” doesn’t apply to preachers only, as if this can only be done in church, on a platform, or behind a pulpit.

This is not addressed to preachers only. It includes all the people of God, for it does not merely mean to “preach” as we tend to use word – i.e. from a professional preacher in a pulpit — the word is really, “announce, proclaim, set it forth, deliver the truth, make it known.” This can be done over a cup of coffee, in an office, or in a car while you are driving to work. It is something that can come up any place, anytime. Where human hearts are open, seeking, longing and hurting, there is the place, there is the opportunity to “preach the word.”

 

“Proclaim the good news,” Paul says — and it is good news. It is not news of what we have to do for God – that is not the gospel – The gospel is the story of what God has already done for us. That is what ministers to the aching heart. The gospel is the news that God loves us, he pities us, he sees us in our hurt, our agony, our failure and our weakness. The gospel is that he sees us in our strutting boldness and pride and still he loves us. And he has already done something about it — through the death and the resurrection of Jesus, in that amazing series of events that came through the appearing of Jesus on earth, he broke the stranglehold of evil upon human hearts — he found a way to set aside his own just sentence of death. Through those who open their hearts to the Saviour, he has found a way not only to die for us, but to come and live in us, and start the process of renewing us, remaking us, and restoring us to our lost inheritance. That is the word we are to proclaim. That is the answer we Christians have to the increasingly obvious hurt and heartache of human need all around. It is the most effective thing we can do in our day.

 

“Proclaim the truth; preach the word.” Then he tells Timothy, & us, how to do it:

 

2.1. Urgently

…; be prepared in season and out of season; … “Be urgent …,”

Urgency means to do it with passion, with a deep belief in our own hearts that this is what is needed.

Do not just come to somebody whose life is falling apart, and say, “By the way, I’ve got something that might help you. Let me see if I can remember it. It’s to do with Jesus and the gospel.” No, that leaves no impression at all. Rather come with a deep sense of commitment and belief yourself and say, “Let me share with you something that has meant everything to me.” This presupposes that we are convinced and passionate about Jesus and his gospel.

 

“in season and out of season.” Some have taken it to mean that you are to push the gospel on people whether they want it or not — like the Boy Scout who helped the woman across the street even though she did not want to go. Some Christians take this passage to mean they have the right to impose a witness upon people whether they are ready to hear it or not. But, as John R. W. Stott has wisely said at this point, “This is not a biblical warrant for rudeness, but a biblical appeal against laziness.”

It is directed at the Christian speaking NOT the person listening. Do it whether you feel like doing it or not. Always be ready to proclaim the Word. There is nothing else that can set human hearts free. That is why this is central and why, amidst all the other implications and exhortations of Scripture, the apostle singles this one thing out and says to Timothy, “In the light of the presence of God and the significance of the work you are doing, this is the one thing you must not neglect: Proclaim the word of God.”

 

2.1. Relevantly.

Then do it, Paul says, with a variety of approaches. Notice how helpful and practical this is. “..correct [convince], rebuke and encourage [exhort]..

It is rather interesting that those words reflect three different approaches that we can use in announcing the gospel.

“Convince” is a word addressed to the mind — argue, reason, set it forth in a systematic, reasonable way, answering questions, [and questioning answers] removing obstacles.

That intellectual approach is perfectly suitable because many people have doubts that need to be answered.

We need to know what we believe and why. It is a reasonable, logical explanation of what is going on in the world, for why men act the way they do.

 

But also there may be some who will need “rebuke.” That contemplates someone who has fallen into sin, someone who needs a word that will appeal to the conscience because of sin which is destroying him or her and hurting others, sin which is demolishing, depersonalising and dehumanising those involved in it. Sometimes it is necessary to speak a word that points out the evil effects of wrongdoing, a word that seeks to address the conscience to turn away from this so that it no longer spreads evil among humanity. When you do that you are proclaiming the gospel.

 

Then there are some who need “exhortation,” encouragement; they need their wills challenged and encouraged to act. Many people are fearful to try something new, fearful to believe something that they cannot prove. Here is where the approach of encouragement comes in, exhorting them and encouraging them to set aside their fears and believe the truth of the gospel. We are to involve ourselves in all of these helpful approaches.

 

2.3. Patiently and intelligently

 

“be unfailing in patience and in teaching” — patiently keep on teaching. I believe this indicates that Christians ought to beware of pressure tactics that seek to make people act or say they believe when they are not yet really convinced. Many evangelists and others, unfortunately, have resorted to psychological tricks and gimmicks, pressure tactics to get people to come forward and commit themselves in an emotional movement or mood that does not represent a real commitment of the heart. That is not a part of the gospel approach – we are not to employ pressure tactics to get people to move.

 

Nor are we to abandon those who are slow in responding, – we are to keep on explaining; answering questions, clarifying, applying the gospel to specific situations. All of that is the work of teaching.

 

Notice the text begins and ends with an admonition to “Proclaim the truth.” State it first, announce it, herald it, proclaim it; and then explain it, teach it, break it down, make it clear.

 

 

 

  1. The Context of Proclaiming the Word.

 

The opening words of Chapter 3 describe the condition of some., “Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power thereof,” {cf, 2 Tim 3:2-5}.

 

He picks this up again here – At its base is a dislike of the truth:

2 Timothy 4:3-4 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (NIV)

Surely that is descriptive of our own day. It indicates a time when the general population will forsake what is commonly called ‘a Christian consensus,’ an undergirding of the institutions of social life by Christian principles, and substitute others.

This is the time in which we live: “They will not put up with sound teaching.” Sound teaching is that which leads to health and wholeness of spirit, soul and body, teaching that permits human beings to live at peace, to develop themselves and enjoy their lives. But, Paul says, men and women will turn away from that and refuse to hear it.

 

WHY? … because truth requires the admission of human weakness, which people do not like to admit; the restraint of passions, which they do not like to do; and submission to the authority of God and other authorities under him, which they dislike and reject. They turn away from the truth, as this indicates; they will not even give it a hearing. It is not that they will listen to the truth and then decide whether it is right or wrong; no, they do not even want to hear it. They do not want you to say anything in this direction, and they resist, sometimes openly, sometimes with subtle influences, every attempt to introduce the truth into any kind of social or governmental situation.

 

Then, since they will not listen to teachers of truth, as the apostle says, they will look for others who will teach them what they want to hear. There is a disease, widespread in our day, called “itching ear disease,” which Paul mentions here. This is an ear that wants to hear a particular line of things, an ear that wants to be entertained, that is always looking for something new, an ear that wants constant affirmation and does not want to hear anything negative or contradictory. People who have this disease look for teachers who will scratch that itch; and the result is that they “wander into myths.”

 

What do these teachers, which such people accumulate in great numbers, teach? They cannot teach the truth because the truth is unacceptable, so they teach attractive lies, fantasies for the most part, speculative philosophies that emerge from the minds of men.

There are many of these myths abroad today. I do not know all the myths that were taught in Timothy’s day, but these errors appear again and again in the course of human history.

 

Take the myth of reincarnation. –you can come back to earth to live another life, and then die and come back to earth again. That is the myth that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, die, die again!” Reincarnation directly contradicts the evidence of revelation. It is diametrically opposite to the biblical teaching of the resurrection of the body and then the judgement

 

Take the myth of evolution. In the last century, by and large, this myth began to take over the scientific world, again without a shred of empirical evidence to support it. Any attempt to try to set forth anything to the contrary is met with ridicule and mockery, put down as though those who hold any other view are village idiots, incapable of reasoning with intelligent men. I am not talking about changes in creation BUT a theory that ALL the universe just happened.

By believing the theory of evolution one can deny cretion and a creator, deny the Fall of Mankind THEN there is no need for any redemptive act on the part of God. Why should we need to be redeemed if we have never fallen? That is the theology of the lie of evolution.

Take the lie of human autonomy, which we hear on every side today. We hear that man is the measure of all things; man is the ultimate intelligence in the universe; our destiny is in our own hands; we can and must work out all our own problems; there is nothing more out there. Reflected almost every time you turn on the television, pick up a newspaper or read a magazine is this underlying assumption that man is the measure of all things.

 

On and on we could go

  • the myth that science has all the answers!!
  • The myth that my sexual orientation and practice is entirely my choice and is no business of anyone else – that it has not effect on society at large.
  • The myth that says the stars determine what happens to me

 

The Paradox of our Time

The paradox of our time in history is that

we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers;

wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints;

we spend more, but have less;

we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families;

more conveniences, but less time;

we have more degrees, but less sense;

more knowledge, but less judgement;

more experts, but more problems;

more medicine, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life;

we’ve added years to life, but not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.

We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space;

we’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul;

we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We have higher incomes, but lower morals;

we’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men and short character;

steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare;

more leisure, but less fun;

more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce;

of fancier houses, but broken homes.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom;

a time when technology can bring this letter to you,

and a time when you can choose either to make a difference or just hit DELETE.

  • Kindest regards> Sheryl Ozinsky > CAPE TOWN TOURISM

 

What is the answer? – to condemn? Protest? Rant and rave? We want to seize hold of these things and smash them. But that is not what the Word of God says will work. The apostle reminds us that the most effective thing is, preach the word, announce the truth, tell of reality, make it clear, spread the word.

 

You and I are called to advance that work. Do not let anybody tell you that your life as a Christian does not count. It counts tremendously. It is the most significant thing taking place on this earth today, far and away above any international program, act of Parliament.

Glory in what God has called you to do, and be faithful to his command:

 

ILLUS.: Lloyd George, British prime minister during World War I, said, “When the chariot of humanity gets stuck … nothing will lift it out except great preaching that goes straight to the mind and heart. There is nothing in this case that will save the world but what was once called, the foolishness of preaching.” Men may not appreciate the ministry of the preacher and his divine imperative to preach the Word, but it is a high calling, one of the world’s most needed occupations.

 

THE MAJESTY OF MINISTRY

2 Timothy 4v1-5

 

  1. Living in God’s presence

 

²   In the presence of God…

  • … and Christ Jesus (in view of his

Judgement, his comings, his kingdom)

 

 

  1. Proclaiming the Word of God

 

²   Urgently

  • Relevantly
  • Patiently and Intelligently

 

 

  1. The context of proclaiming the Word.

 

  • Selfish desires
  • Itching-ear disease

²   Myths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Timothy 3:15-17 – Why and how should I read the Bible?

Why and how should I read the Bible?

2 Timothy 3v15-17

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUS.: When we first came to UK, South Africa was still an unpopular place to come from, politically speaking. When we lived in SA I was very critical of SA govt. and its policies. Working in London when first arrived in England I was often questioned [usually very critically / aggressively] about SA. I used to get very irritated at the ignorance of people regarding SA. How could they have an opinion about something they had never investigated. When I questioned they about the SA situation many had little or no understanding.

 

When it comes to the Bible there is often a similar attitude. “The Bible is a load of rubbish! It is full of myths and contradictions!” Yet very often those same people have never read the Bible. I can understand someone saying ‘I am not interested in reading the Bible – I don’t really believe in God or Jesus!’ That may be a good reason why a person should read it BUT at least they are being honest.

 

The question is ‘WHY SHOULD YOU READ THE BIBLE?’

Anyone who has been through the UK education system should have read some of the classic books. You would expect a person to know Dickens, or Jane Austen, or Shakespeare, or ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Wind in the willows’ These are wonderful English classics that are still selling well after all these years; you would expect people to at least have read some of these best-sellers…

 

The Bible – The most popular book.

 

Estimated annual sales of Bibles is 44 million.

A few years ago there was an article in ‘The Times’ – a sub-heading was ‘Forget the modern British novelists and TV tie-ins; the Bible is the best selling book every year.’

The article continues ‘As usual the top seller by several miles was the .. Bible. If cumulative sales of the Bible were frankly reflected in best-seller lists, it would be a rare week when anything else would achieve a look in. It is wonderful, weird of just plain baffling in this increasing godless age – when the range of books available grows wider with each passing year – that this one book should go on selling hand over fist, month in, month out … It is estimated that nearly 1 250 000 Bibles and Testaments are sold in the UK each year.

When the Bible Society was asked to comment a spokesman simply replied ‘Well it is such a good book!’

 

 

 

 

The Bible – The powerful book.

 

There is a great resurgence of interest in the supernatural – there is an interest in occult practices, ouija boards, occult movies, in witchcraft and wizardry [there are more witches in the UK than there are clergymen] – Horoscopes are in almost every popular newspaper and magazine. It is not that there is a disinterest in supernatural powers but there is an interest in a supernatural that leaves God out.

In the Bible God offers us an opportunity to meet with the supernatural powers of good. To met with the living God.

The Bible is not simply paper and ink – behind this written word is the power of God himself.

The British PM, Stanley Baldwin, in May 1928 said, ‘The Bible is a high explosive. But it works in strange ways and no living man can tell or know how that book, in its journey through the world, has startled the individual soul in ten thousand different places into a new life, a new world, a new belief, a new conception, a new faith.

 

The Bible – The most precious book.

 

ILLUS.: in Antakya – Turkey. The young university student who was overjoyed to receive a Bible.

 

Countless stories of People in USSR in Communist days who cried and jumped for joy to receive a Bible after so many years of no Bible or sometimes only a page or two.

 

Why is this book so popular, powerful and precious to so many

Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (NIV)

comes from the mouth of God is present tense – God is continually communicating to his people and that id primarily through the Bible.

 

  1. GOD HAS SPOKEN – REVELATION.

 

How has God spoken – or how is God speaking? Through creation – creation tells us something about God

 

Romans 1:19-20 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Psalm 19:1-3 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Science is the discovery or exploration of God’s revelation in creation. The Bible and science are complimentary – they are not enemies. But the Bible is not a science text book – it was never intended to be.

 

But ultimately God speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (NIV)

It is true that God can speak to us directly and guide us – we will deal with that in a few weeks when we speak about guidance – but for now we will look at the way God speaks through the Bible.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)

God-breathed – the writer is saying that the Bible is God speaking. Of course he used human agents but nevertheless God is 100% behind the inspiration of scripture.

This does not mean that there are no difficulties in the Bible. Even the Apostle Peter found some of Paul’s letters hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16).

 

There are moral and historical difficulties and some apparent contradictions. Some of the difficulties can be explained by the context of the writers. N.B. The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by at least 40 people [kings, scholars, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, historians and doctors].

It contains different types of literature [history, poetry, prophecy, apocalyptic and letters]. Some difficulties can be resolved others are hard to resolve. However difficult some parts might be that does not mean we should abandon our belief in scripture.

 

Every great teaching of the Christian Faith has its difficulties – the love of God and the suffering of the world is hard to reconcile – yet every Christian believes in the love of God and tries to reconcile the suffering of the world within that context. Similarly we believe in the inspiration of scripture and endeavour to understand the difficulties within that context. It is important for a Christian to hold that ALL scripture is inspired by God.

 

As soon as we move off this base we place ourselves above the scripture – if we accept that the Bible is ‘God-breathed’ then its authority must follow from that.

If the Bible is God’s Word then it must be the supreme authority for what we believe and how we act.

 

  1. a) Teaching   b) Rebuking

 

The scriptures are our authority for what we believe [our creed]. It is in the Bible that we learn about God, Jesus, the cross, the Holy Spirit, God’s love and God’s judgement.

 

  1. c) Correcting   d) Training in righteousness

Here we find out about relationships, marriage, morality etc….. The 10 commandments are a brilliant code upon which a society / nation can base its laws.

 

The Bible gives us many clear directives for day-to-day conduct.

It teaches that marriage is a gift from God BUT that singleness is a high calling. It teaches that a sexual relationship outside marriage is wrong.

That it is right to try to get a job IF we can.

That it is good to give and to forgive.

 

Some say, ‘This religion stuff is just a lot of rules and regulations – it is boring and restrictive!? It is true that sometimes the Church and Christians have been guilty of being legalistic and miserable looking.

Good and just rules and regulations are not restrictive but bring freedom.

ILLUS.: Boys at a football ground with no proper field markings and without a referee – chaos and fighting and no enjoyment.

BUT when referee arrives, lays down the law, sets the boundaries and controls game – wonderful enjoyment.

When God said ‘Don’t commit adultery!’ He was not being a spoilsport – when people leave their wives / husbands and children to commit adultery lives get messed up and people get hurt.

 

ILLUS.: Computer – various handbooks and user’s guides – The Bible is the Manufacturers handbook.

 

  1. GOD SPEAKS – RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

 

There are some people who know the Bible very well – study and analyse – but there is no love for God.

Jesus to the Jewish leaders …

John 5:39-40 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (NIV)

The purpose of the Bible is to bring us into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is God’s love letter to mankind!

2 Timothy 3:15 15 …..the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

  1. a) To those who are not Christians.

Romans 10:17 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (NIV)

There are many people who will testify to coming to faith in Jesus Christ simply through reading the Bible. [David Suchet (Poirot), Sam Solomon, ….]

 

  1. b) To those who are Christians.

Become like Jesus   2 Corinthians 3:18 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

ILLUS.: A couple married for a long time often become like each other..

 

Joy and peace in crisis     Psalm 23:5 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (NIV)

ILLUS.: peace when Jayne and Esther died. Sorrow but not as those who have no hope.

 

Guidance   Psalm 119:105 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (NIV)

Health and healing to our bodies Proverbs 4:20-22 20 My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. (NIV)

This does not mean that Christians never get sick or die prematurely. [This will be dealt with in a future section.]

 

Defence against spiritual attack         Matthew 4:1-11 The temptation of Christ … “Jesus said, ‘As it is written…..'”.

In our sophisticated, technological age we ignore or disbelieve in spiritual powers – in Africa and other places the awareness of spiritual powers in a way of life. Christians need to be aware of spiritual forces.

 

Power Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (NIV)

The word of God breaks through our defences and speaks to our hearts.

ILLUS.: As a boy when my Dad asked me to wash his car. Reading ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it to the glory of God.’

 

  1. HOW IN PRACTICE DO WE HEAR GOD SPEAK THROUGH THE BIBLE?

 

If you have never read the Bible seriously I encourage you to do so. At least read one of the gospels and get a picture of who Jesus is!

Some parts are not easy to understand – study aids can be helpful or read and study with someone who can guide you.

 

  1. a) Set aside time to read the Bible regularly [10 – 30 minutes]
  2. b) Choose a suitable place – alone if possible. Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
  3. c) Ask God to speak to you, then
  4. i)   Read the passage [You will probably find it helpful to use reading notes]
  5. ii)   Ask yourself:

What does it say? What does it mean? How does it apply to me?

iii) Pray about it. [How to pray – imagine Jesus is sitting with                                         you like a friend and simply talk to him in everyday language]

  1. iv) Put it into practice. Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

CONCLUSION.

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (NIV)

  1. We shall produce fruit.
  2. We shall persevere.
  3. We shall prosper – not necessarily materially!!

 

WHY AND HOW SHOULD I READ THE BIBLE?

2 Timothy 3v15-17

 

The Bible

– The most popular book.

– The most powerful book.

– The most precious book.

 

  1. GOD HAS SPOKEN – REVELATION.

 

Romans 1:19-20; Psalm 19:1-3;

Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

  1. a) Teaching  
  2. b) Rebuking
  3. c) Correcting  
  4. d) Training in righteousness

 

 

  1. GOD SPEAKS – RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

 

John 5:39 – 40 … the Scriptures that testify about me, [Jesus]

2 Timothy 3:15 … to make you wise for salvation

  1. a) To those who are not Christians.

Romans 10:17 …faith comes from hearing the message

 

  1. b) To those who are Christians.

     Become like Jesus         2 Corinthians 3:18

 

     Joy and peace in crisis Psalm 23:5

 

     Guidance                         Psalm 119:105

     Health and healing to our bodies

Proverbs 4:20-22

 

     Defence against spiritual attack

Matthew 4:1-11

 

   Power                               Hebrews 4:

 

  1. HOW IN PRACTICE DO WE HEAR GOD SPEAK

THROUGH THE BIBLE?

 

  1. Meet with other Christians to be taught and  

     study together

  1. Set aside time on your own to read the Bible regularly.
  2. c) Choose a suitable place.
  3. d) Ask God to speak to you, then…
  4. i)   Read the passage.
  5. ii)   Ask yourself:

                  What does it say?

What does it mean?

How does it apply to me?

            iii) Pray about it.

  1. iv) Put it into practice.

2 Timothy 3:10-15 – Dare to be Different

2 Timothy 3v10-15

 

Dare to be Different.

 

Introduction

 

What makes us tick?

To be more personal – What makes you/me tick?

Everyone has a worldview – a philosophy of life. That set of beliefs which influences, even determines, the way we think and speak and act.

Now not everyone is able to articulate his or her philosophy of life. BUT simply because I may not be able to articulate the reasoning and motivation behind what I do doesn’t mean I do not have a life philosophy.

 

ILLUS.: English grammar – what is a modal verb? In the sentence “I can speak English” speak is the verb and can is the modal verb.

Unless you are a teacher of English grammar you are unlikely to know that yet every speaker of English uses the rules of grammar without necessarily being able to explain the rules.

 

Likewise we all have a philosophy of life / a worldview even if we are unable to put it into words!

 

Our pattern of life is determined by what we believe as we look back over the last century or so we see many philosophies that have been prominent and some have fail and others will – Marxism, National socialism, Freudianism, materialism, hedonism, relativism and pluralism…. We could go on and on.

 

 

  1. Ungodly Pattern.

 

2 Timothy 3:2-4

  • People will be lovers of themselves – rather than …
  • lovers of money,
  • proud, arrogant, abusive,
  • disobedient to their parents. ungrateful. Unholy. without love, unforgiving,
  • slanderous, without self-control, brutal, haters/strangers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited,
  • lovers of pleasure
  • lovers of themselves ……rather than lovers of God — (NIV)

 

Much of the thinking behind many of these views is not new and what is certain is that they have not and will not offer solutions to human questions and needs.

 

These ideologies can all be summed up under the three phrases that Paul uses at the beginning of chapter 3 – Lovers of self, lovers of money and lovers of pleasure RATHER than lovers of God.

 

There is a philosophy / pattern of life / a worldview that is from God and there are all others that are not of God and therefore of Satan.

Those who are characterised by self love, pleasure and materialism are not necessarily irreligious – indeed they have a form of godliness [v5] but deny the power i.e. Holy Spirit’s work in their lives. They are quite happy with experienced based, self-fulfilling religion that doesn’t interfere in their lives but are not too keen on dynamic spirituality.

 

We have seen in recent years a great surge in things spiritual – New Age religion has blossomed, a growing interest in the paranormal.   We sometimes get distressed – rightly and understandably – by those who distort/ oppose the gospel and trouble the church BUT we need not fear even if some weak people are taken in // or indeed if large numbers of intelligent people follow after fashionable falsehoods. There is something patently spurious about false teaching / belief and there is something self-evidently true about truth. Error may spread and be popular for a time but it will not last forever “…it will not get very far…” [v9] [Stott p.91]

 

There will always be false teachers // false beliefs and always people willing to follow false philosophies – history is littered with “‘isms” and ideologies that have come and gone and returned again is new disguises. Behind them all is the craftiness of Satan doing all he can to delude and keep away from the Truth of God revealed in Christ.

 

Sadly Paul is describing here not just people who are irreligious and openly hostile to the Church BUT often this is describing some inside the church who want a form of religion without the divine empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This happens when human philosophies sideline the Word of God – and decisions are made on the basis of “what will benefit ME!”.

 

  1. Godly Pattern.

 

BUT Paul’s charge to Timothy – and us – is not to catch this infection of an ungodly pattern of life but to stand out boldly against the prevailing popular fashion.

 

In this passage before us Paul twice addresses Timothy with the strong words “But as for you…” {you however, … in gk. The same words} v10 & v14. In stark contrast to the contemporary decline in morals, empty show of religiosity and the spread of false self-serving teaching Timothy is called to be different and if necessary to stand alone!

 

Every Christian is called to be different… Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould – Romans 12v2 [JBP]

 

The pressure on us to conform are huge – and if we are honest we have allowed the world to squeeze us – There is the direct challenge to traditional beliefs and morals BUT there is the more subtle influence of secularism which seeps insidiously into church life.

 

We need to be careful and balanced in our assessment – and above all biblical. What we sometimes claim to be biblical values are no more than our cultural and denominational traditions which we are reluctant to relinquish. If we hold on to outdated, anachronistic traditions we are no better than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who substituted outwards forms of religion for true spiritual faith.

 

On the other hand, we need to ensure that our desire to be relevant and attractive to contemporary society doesn’t cause us to drift from the truth of God’s revelation. If our concern is to make everyone comfortable and happy then we are guilty of what Paul describes in 2 Timothy 4:3 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (NIV)

 

We MUST hold fast to the truth – content – of the Gospel but be willing to change the packaging – present it in a relevant and contemporary way

 

So what is the godly pattern Paul urges Timothy to follow. 2 Timothy 3:10-11

You, however, [But as for you, you] know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings —

 

Paul is not simply saying to Timothy – “I am the senior pastor and you’re the junior so just do what I do!” NO Paul is laying out an apostolic pattern for ministry – in other words, these are the things that should characterise a godly Christian’s ministry. Every Christian is a minister of the gospel – and those like Timothy who aspire to leadership within the church should exhibit these characteristics even more.

  1. Teaching / doctrine.

In his 1st letter to Timothy Paul encouraged Timothy to follow “good teaching / doctrine”. It is not that Timothy has simply heard Paul’s teaching and understood it intellectually – he is not just a detached observer but he has embraced it and made it his own.

2 Timothy 3:14 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, …, (NIV)

 

ILLUS.: I understand the basic rules of football – but it is not something I am passionate about – you may call me a detached observer – but for some it is all consuming. The now famous quote “Football is not a matter of life and death, it is much more important than that!”.

 

For Paul and Timothy and every committed dedicated Christian – the gospel is more important that life itself!

 

What we believe is crucial – thus the study of God’s Word is indispensable. It is our spiritual food – without it we are malnourished, our growth is stunted.

The Christian who imagines that he or she can develop spiritual without sound doctrine is deluded.

Doctrine / biblical teaching is characteristic of a godly pattern of life. {SEAN – so helpful is this regard]

 

  1. Way of Life.

Paul mentions Antioch, Iconium and Lystra .. Timothy was a citizen of Lystra and when Paul first went there Timothy was probably there. He heard Paul teach about the Gospel of Christ – he saw how Paul suffered for his beliefs. Then he travelled with Paul, observed his lifestyle and was convinced that here was aman who didn’t just talk BUT lived out in daily life what he believed and taught.

Titus 2:10 10 … in every way … make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive. (NIV) … adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. (KJV)

 

i.e. wear the doctrine of God like a garment. Doctrine / biblical teaching is not just propositional dogma hidden away in dusty books in a theologian’s study.

No it is belief that impact practical everyday living. For doctrine to be real and useful it must walk around in the nitty-gritty of everyday life.

 

How does what we believe influence the way we live? If there is no discernible different to everyone in the world then we must ask the question – do I really believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. The gospel must affect the way you live!

 

  1. Purpose / aim.

Spending time with the Apostle Paul – Timothy was in no doubt about what motivated Paul.

What drives you? What is your aim in life? What are you trying to achieve?

A bigger bank balance? A promotion? A perfect house? ….

2 Corinthians 5:9 9 So we make it our goal [aim / purpose] to please him, ….

Philippians 1:21 21 For to me, to live is Christ ….. (NIV)

Philippians 3:10 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (NIV)

 

Is this your / my purpose in life?

If not then we are drifting along with those Paul contrasts in the 1st half of the chapter – lovers of self, money, pleasure!

 

  1. Faith / trust in God in all situation.

It is easy to trust God in the good times – Paul had known those. BUT how about in the tough times. Paul had known plenty of those too.

When writing to the Corinthians he defends his apostleship thus…

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 23 … I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (NIV)

 

To the Philippians he writes…

Philippians 4:12-13 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)

Through all these trials his faith remains strong and true.

Can include in these his reference to endurance, persecutions and sufferings.

In fact he says [v12] all who desire a godly life will be persecuted –

The godly arouse the antagonism the worldly – it has always been so.

 

 

ILLUS.: Just this week I heard about a Christian evangelist in Paraguay who went to a new place to preach and many responded – but some local gangsters took exception and they shot and killed him.

 

Maybe in business you have taken a strong moral stand on something and as a result your superiors / colleagues have made life very difficult for you.

John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. …. (NIV)

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

  1. e) Patience /tolerance

Not an indifferent tolerance that is characterises modern day political correctness gone mad – where it is never acceptable to say someone’s moral behaviour is wrong. No Paul is talking about godly patience and long-suffering with those who are difficult and aggravating – who rub us up the wrong way. Spiritual fruit patience!

 

  1. Love

If there is one characteristic that should set Christians apart from all others it is love. John 13:34-35 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 13:2 2 If I have ….. not love, I am nothing. (NIV)

1 John 4:8 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

In contrast to the worldly/ ungodly pattern of life which is characterised by self-love – the godly pattern is to be characterised by self-giving love as demonstrated by Christ in his death and resurrection.

 

Christians are called to be different – the Church is God’s counter-culture / God’s new society. But not separated from the world hidden in cloisters. We are to be in the world while at the same time not of the world. Called to live among the godless while living godly lives.

It is radical – it is risky – BUT Jesus asks us to follow him – “To dare to be different” – not squeezed into the world’s mould.

 

This kind of life demand complete dedication – complete obedience to Jesus as LORD. None can do it perfectly this side of heaven BUT is this our aim / purpose / goal in life.

Can you say with Paul “For me to live is Christ …” “Christ is my life!”

 

SING: Take my life….

 

Dare to be Different.

 

2 Timothy 3v10-15

 

  1. Ungodly Pattern. 3:2-4

 

  • people will be lovers of themselves
  • lovers of money,
  • lovers of pleasure

……rather than lovers of God

 

  1. Godly Pattern. 3:10-15

 

  1. Teaching / doctrine.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of… v14

 

  1. Way of Life.

… make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive. (NIV)adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. (KJV) Titus 2:10

 

  1. Purpose / aim.

.. make it our goal to please him. 2 Corinthians 5:9

For to me, to live is Christ … Philippians 1:21

 

  1. Faith / trust in God in all situations.

(include endurance, persecutions and sufferings.)

all who desire a godly life will be persecuted v12

 

  1. Patience / tolerance

godly patience and long-suffering – spiritual fruit

 

  1. Love

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

 

2 Timothy 3:1-9 – Beware of Self!

2 Timothy 3v1-9

 

Beware of Self!

 

Introduction.

 

ILLUS.: There is a well-known story in Greek mythology about a very handsome young man named Narcissus. He repeatedly spurned the advances of women who fell for him. One of these spurned women eventually prayed to the gods that Narcissus would himself experience unrequited love.

Her request was answered in that one day he knelt to drink from a fountain and saw a lovely image peering back at him from the water. He struggled to get close to it to kiss it but each time he got close it disappeared. He was so captivated by the image that he never left the fountain again. Narcissus eventually lost his appetite even for food and slowly withered and died from his obsessive preoccupation with himself.

 

There is a limerick that sums up his folly:

There once was a nymph named Narcissus,

Who thought himself very delicious;

He stared like a fool

At his face in the pool

And his folly, today, is still with us.

 

When God created Adam and Eve it was for a relationship with him. They had meaning and significance and dignity in their relationship to God and worship of God. This gave them the ability to relate to each other without any interference / problems and God put them in a material world that they were to care for and use for their good and God’s glory.

BUT when sin entered the picture because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience of God’s instructions they put themselves in God’s place (1st) (“You will be gods” Satan told them) and the whole meaning of life was turned on its head.

We were designed to worship God, love people and use things. BUT if we start worshipping ourselves we ignore God and start loving things and using people!

 

Paul’s warning to Timothy in this passage is that basically human nature is selfish – the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges this selfish bent in human nature and when people don’t accept Jesus as Lord they stand in opposition to Christ, to Christ’s Church and to Christ’s message.

This is because in stead of seeking to please God they are concerned only with pleasing themselves and will use others to that end / trying to lead some astray.

 

 

In you have the New International Version of the Bible you will note that the heading for this section is “Godlessness in the last days”.

 

  1. The “Last Days” – What does this mean?

 

2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (NIV)

 

The way this chapter begins is very emphatic. [Remember there were no chapters and verses in the original letter] Paul is imprisoned in a Roman dungeon. Up to this point in the letter he has talked about not being ashamed of the gospel – of suffering like a good soldier – he has warned Timothy that behind the word battles and the godless chatter and the stupid/senseless arguments spread by false teacher there lurks the evil figure of Satan himself.

 

Why then does he emphasis what Timothy already knows – that there will be terrible times ahead? Because the opposition to the Truth of the gospel is not a passing fad but a permanent characteristic of the gospel age.

Wherever there is witness to the truth of the Gospel in Jesus Christ Satan will be at work, usually through people, to cause trouble and suffering for the Church.

 

Terrible – perilous / hard / violent / used of dangerous wild animals, fierce and untamed / or wildly raging seas. Times that are hard to endure and hard to deal with.

If anyone is under any illusion that being a true follower of Jesus Christ is easy and comfortable then think again. See how Jesus suffered and remember that “the followers are not greater than their master”. And that Jesus promised his disciples “John 16:33 ….. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

 

It may seem natural to think of the “last days” as that period of time just before Christ’s return but the bible will not allow such an interpretation. For the NT writers the “New Age” or “Last days” arrived when Jesus came.

Acts 2:14-17 [Peter on the Day of Pentecost]…., this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 ” ‘In the last days, God says,       I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions,

your old men will dream dreams. (NIV)

Here referring to the beginning of the church age, not the end of it!

Hebrews 1:1-2 1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, ..

Referring to Jesus coming to earth the first time.

What Paul is describing to Timothy is the present situation – there would be little point warning him about something in the distant future that he would not live to see. Timothy was living in the “last Days” as are we. This terrible times will come and go and appear to worsen towards the end culminating in the appearance of the “man of Lawlessness” that Paul refers to in 2 Thessalonians 2.

History confirms that the church has always been buffeted like a ship is a storm – at times with hurricane force.

 

Why will there be terrible times? Because of people – hostile and godless, selfish and arrogant, resistant to God’s love and God’s law.

 

 

We need to recognise that we live in the last Days – Christ inaugurated them.

During these times there will be period of danger / trouble / stress.

The cause of the difficulties will be self-seeking, godless people.

We need to understand this and be prepared for this.

  1. Profile of the troublemakers.

 

2 Timothy 3:2-4

  • People will be lovers of themselves – rather than …
  • lovers of money,
Proud – boastful / swashbuckling braggers / overbearing and concieted about their own abilities and importance. Arrogant – haughty and disdainful which leads to being abusive as natuurally those with an inflated opinion of themselves tend to look down their noses at others lesser creatures.

proud,

  • arrogant,
  • abusive,
Next 5 tend to refer to Family life – or rather breakdown thereof. Esp. the attitude of the young to their parents. Lack of respect and obedience – carries over into lack of respect for all authority – teachers / community leaders / the Law … Broken homes / relationship / lives – shown by resentment / bitterness / accusation and misunderstanding / lack of forgiveness – dysfunctional families and people – ILLUS. #2 – below.

disobedient to their parents

  • ungrateful
  • unholy
  • without love,
  • unforgiving,
This selfishness in not restricted to family relationships but it spills over into every area of these peoples lives.

Slanderous – lit diaboloi – diabolically devilish! – speak against others esp. behind their backs – backbiters! They are unrestrained in the lack of self-control / goodness is foreign to them / they are reckless and treacherous like Judas/ and they become puffed up with their own self-importance and conceit – oblivious to their real lowly position.

slanderous,

  • without self-control,
  • brutal,
  • haters/strangers of the good,
  • treacherous,
  • rash,
  • conceited,
  • lovers of pleasure
  • lovers of themselves ……rather than lovers of God — (NIV)

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#1 ILLUS. In his book “Gods that fail” Vinoth Ramachandra uses the following illustration. A £10 pound note. A piece of paper worth very little. Its value is given to it by human institutions – in this case the bank of England. We then use this thing – money – to judge the value of not only things, but people. Money becomes the thing that controls us – money becomes a god. And we laugh at people who worship idols!!

Lovers of money …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#2 – ILLUS.: Film Tea with Mussolini – Luca the young boy whose unmarried mother has died and whose father doesn’t really want him because his present wife doesn’t know. Father calls him illegitimate / bastard BUT Mary Wilson the older English lady who is caring for the boy retorts that “there are not illegitimate children only illegitimate parents”.

 

Children need to be obedient and respectful and loving and are accountable for their actions and attitudes BUT how will they learn such things from dysfunctional parents?

However lovers of self – tend to raise children who will be lovers of self!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

All this unsocial / antisocial behaviour is the inevitable consequence of a godless self-centredness.

Selfishness tarnishes everything it touches. Because selfishness is not only a sin but it is the root of all sin. Selfishness puts ME before all else – including God. This was Adam and Eve’s problem in the Garden – they put their desires and passions before God’s instructions!

When we are selfish our passions rule – and so we look for meaning in experience –I must feel // if I don’t feel it’s not real!!

So we see in our society obsession as we pursue experience – For some its pursuit of the erotic “Every time I feel the power of a sexual urge I feel alive!”

For some it’s jumping off a bridge with a piece of elastic tied around their ankles – For others it is in drugs – for others in eating binges – for other in power in business – For some it is in religious experience —ALL feeding selfish passions and appetites!!

Paul was right – lovers of self

 

Paul has described an extreme – enemies of the gospel – but there is an element of this self seeking in us all.

A W Tozer “So subtle is self that scarcely anyone is aware of it presence”.

Anon. – “Far too frequently we are interested in only three persons: I, myself and me!”

Anon. –“The man who lives only for himself runs a very small business.”

You know who causes me the most difficult in my life? Gray Robinson!!!

 

ILLUS.: At Amazon .com – searched for books with word “self” in title – 32000

Then for books with “others” in title – 1930.

A very inexact exercise but illustrates a point !!!

 

Anyone who is proud, arrogant and conceited is not going to sacrifice for others.

BUT God’s order of things is very clear –Love God first, neighbour next and self last!!

 

  1. Selfishness dressed up as godliness.

 

It may come as a shock to discover that these people Paul has described not only lack decent human qualities but can also be religious.

2 Timothy 3:5 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (NIV)

 

Religion and morality don’t always go hand in hand. Look around the world and throughout history and see what problems religion has caused.

The prophets of the OT had some very fierce words for immorality masquerading as religion.

Jesus had a similar complaint against the ultra-religious people of his day – the Pharisees. He called them whitewashed tombs – outwardly clean but inwardly corrupt!

Paul highlights the same problem – having a form of godliness but denying its power.

They attended worship services; they sang the hymns; they said “Amen” to the prayers; they put their money in the box. They look and sounded extremely pious BUT they lacked spiritual power.

There was outward show without inward reality..

 

“Timothy”, says Paul, “have nothing to do with these religious charlatans!”

 

What is their modus operandi?

2 Timothy 3:6-8 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men [PEOPLE] oppose the truth — men [PEOPLE] of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. (NIV)

 

They are devious, scheming, manipulative and prey on the weak an vulnerable.

weak-willed women – silly women – doesn’t suggest that all women are like this, or that men are not vulnerable to the wiles of false teachers. It is just that in Paul’s day women were susceptible to this as they had a low social status.

These religious charlatans preyed on those with problems and weaknesses.

 

Who are Jannes and Jambres? They tried to imitate Moses miracles [staff into a snake / plagues] – and succeed up to a point. BUT their power was limited and they were eventually found out.

 

  1. Folly is always found out.

 

We can easily become distress but those who for selfish reasons try to seduce the church with weasel words and immoral actions. And rightly we should oppose error.

BUT Jesus did warn that this would be so – The parable of the wheat and the weeds portrays the Devil seeking to corrupt the true church of Christ.

And yes within the visible earthly church of today there are people of immoral character and conduct who may appear very religious on the outside and may fool many. And they usually peddle the philosophies of the day. Individualism / materialism / do as you like as long as it feels good …. “Lovers of pleasure”. Our permissive society tolerates every conceivable deviation from the Biblical standards of righteousness and truth – and we will find these view within the church.

 

And like, Timothy, we need to be on our guard BUT not paralysed by helplessness!!

2 Timothy 3:9 9 But they will not get very far because, …, their folly will be clear to everyone. (NIV)

God always reveals error, in his time, so there in no need to be panic-stricken!

Timothy is to stand boldly against the prevailing fashion of selfishness. The Truth of God is never popular with those who are self-seeking – whether teachers or followers. False teachers prey on the weak and vulnerable while false followers run after teachers who saying what the want to hear.

 

The way we can spot false doctrine is by saturating our minds with the Word of God and submitting ourselves to Jesus as Lord.

The way we combat our natural selfishness is by saturating our lives with the Word of God and submitting ourselves to Jesus as Lord.

 

 

Beware of Self!

 

2 Timothy 3v1-9

 

  1. The “Last Days” – What does this mean? [v.1]

 

  1. Profile of the troublemakers [v.2-4]

 

People will be …

  • lovers of themselves – rather than …
  • lovers of money,
  • proud,
  • arrogant,
  • abusive,
  • disobedient to their parents
  • ungrateful
  • unholy
  • without love,
  • unforgiving,
  • slanderous,
  • without self-control,
  • brutal,
  • haters/strangers of the good,
  • treacherous,
  • rash,
  • conceited,
  • lovers of pleasure
  • – … rather than lovers of God

 

  1. Selfishness dressed up as godliness [v.5-8]

 

  1. Folly is always found out [v.9]

2 Timothy 2:23-26 – The Christian Teacher / Witness as a Slave

2 Timothy 2v23-26

 

The Christian Teacher / Witness as a Slave.

 

Introduction.

 

All through this chapter 2 Paul has been using different metaphors to highlight different characteristics needed by Timothy as the pastor / teacher at the church in Ephesus. To say however, that these apply only to Christian teachers / leaders would be to miss the point. In v2 Paul urges Timothy to pass on to all faithful believers what he himself has received, viz. the good news of the gospel. This is to be passed on in word and deed and attitude from one generation of Christians to another.

 

So far Paul has used five metaphors to illustrate his points – Soldier, athlete, farmer, worker, household vessel – now he likens the task of the Christian teacher to that of a slave. In a 1st C household it was often a slave who was the teacher. They were not all uneducated good only for menial tasks.

 

  1. The Lord’s Slave / Servant.

 

2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord’s servant …

The word is ‘doulos’ – lit. slave. Now the idea of being a servant let alone a slave doesn’t sit too well in our modern, stand-up-for-your-rights, western democracies! The thing about a slave is that he is not free to do as he pleases – he had to do what his master said. The sole purpose of a slave’s life was to please his master. We wouldn’t consider ourselves slaves, or even servants. BUT the Bible makes it quite clear that we are all slaves – we are all mastered by something – our appetites, our desires, our drives – whatever it is that motivates us to do whatever it is that we do / desire – that is our master. If we are driven by our own selfish desires then that is what we are slaves to.

 

The Bible makes it quite clear that we are all slaves –

Romans 6:16-17 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. (NIV)

 

Paul commends the Roman Christians for their wholehearted obedience to teaching of Christ as their master. In the days when slavery was an accepted part of life it wasn’t all bad – exploitation of slaves, yes! BUT not all slaves were exploited and some when offered their freedom chose rather to stay with their master who had been very good to them.

Exodus 21:2-6 2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3 ……5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the door-post and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. (NIV)

 

He would choose to be a love-slave. He trusted his master enough to know that he has his best interests at heart.

So called freedom was not always better – a freeman had to struggle to make a living and provide for his family BUT a slave working for a good master had all his needs provided! Security for him and his family, he had no worries about food, clothes, housing, health care, pensions etc — he had a good master to care for him.

In response it was not a chore to serve this master but a delight. He would know what the master’s wishes and commands were – in fact he would know his master so well that his own instincts, judgements and character would reflect that of his master.

 

This really is what we as Christians are called to- a free-slave of a Good Master. Called to believe and obey what our Good Master says and to reflect his character. What Paul is calling Timothy and us to do is to follow Christ and exhibit his characteristics in our attitudes and behaviour – in this verse esp. as regards passing on the gospel as reliable and faithful followers.

 

  1. Avoid Senseless and Foolish Speculation.

 

2 Timothy 2:23 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (NIV)

 

Some have translated this to mean – controversies / useless speculations / quarrelsome speculations.

 

Paul touches on this in 1 Timothy 1:3-4 3 … command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work ….. (NIV)

1 Timothy 6:4-5 4 … He [false teachers] has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, …

 

Strong words – here he tells Timothy not to get drawn into these senseless arguments.

What actually is Paul prohibiting? That Christians should not argue or debate? NO!

Paul himself was a great arguer and debater when it came to the truth of the gospel. He publicly opposed the apostle Peter to his face [Gal. 2]

 

What is forbidden however is “Stupid and senseless speculation and controversies” which lead to quarrels.

 

ILLUS.: I said a few weeks ago that one of the things that scholars in the Middle Ages argued about was “How many angels could sit on the head of a pin!”

 

We laugh and think it ridiculous – I have heard Christians get very heated about whether or not the preacher should wear a tie / or if we should do the ironing on a Sunday / or whether a church should have pews or chairs.

 

Not only are these things not worth arguing over IF we do argue over such trivial issues we are we are just like the Pharisees of Jesus day [straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel] – and we are neglecting to give time to the big issues of the Word of Truth.

 

Those, says Paul, who do get caught up in these senseless arguments are “stupid” [lit. uninstructed] – because they haven’t submitted themselves to the rigorous investigation into the revelation of God.

 

ILLUS.: We have a proverb in English – “Empty barrels make the most noise!”

 

That is no less truth in the church – those who talk the most are not always those who know the most.

It is bad enough when we do not know the Word of God as we should. BUT what is even more dangerous is when we don’t know that we don’t know.

 

ILLUS.: A few years ago at the Keswick Convention one of the main speaker had to deal with a passage of scripture in which there were a few very difficult and controversial verses the interpretation of which in uncertain, if not unknown. He had the humility and the honesty to admit that he didn’t know what it meant AND thus saved us all from his speculations as to what it could possibly mean.

 

I don’t say that so we should avoid the difficult parts or be slack in our investigative study BUT that we should avoid speculation. We accept that morally we are sinners and need repentance to come to Christ BUT we must remind ourselves that sin affect not only our moral character BUT also our ability to think

When we move away from God’s revelation into human speculation everything becomes subjective – My opinion is as valid as the next person’s and that is when egos get bruised and arguments start. THEN the body of Christ is damaged, God is not glorified and the witness of the church becomes ineffective / or even negative!

 

How as Christian Teachers / witnesses are we to deal with such people?

 

  1. Dealing with the Dissenters.

 

We have already seen that one of our tasks as teachers / witnesses is not only to promoted / teach the Word of Truth BUT also to opposed error.

Paul is urging Timothy not to shrink back from those who oppose him or his teaching. He must reach out to them with gentleness and forbearance, with courtesy and humility BUT that doesn’t mean that he must be tolerant of their foolishness and arguing.

 

2 Timothy 2:24-25 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, ….

 

Warren W Wiersbe points out that God’s slave doesn’t have an easy time teaching God’s Word, firstly, because Satan opposes him and tries to trap his listeners [look at this in a moment] BUT secondly, because some people are just difficult to teach. They enjoy foolish and stupid arguments just for the sake of it. They have no desire to feed on the nourishing Word of God. Or maybe just because they don’t really think that the Word of God is that important. Oh, they may give lip service to its important but the little time they dedicate to learning it gives the games away.

The thing is we can get along in the church – be active– and our fellow Christians may not know about our lack of submission to God’s Word. BUT God knows / God sees all, nothing, absolutely nothing, that we say or do or think escapes God’s attention.

 

If we are neglecting the Word of God we need to respond to its instruction and the first step is repentance. The purpose of Christian instruction is not to fill our heads with facts – the purpose is so that we will know God!

 

You see those who opposed Timothy at Ephesus were sinful and needed to repent AND they were in error and needed to come to a knowledge of the Truth.

2 Tim 2:25 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,

 

Further, coming to repentance and a knowledge of the truth sets them free from the devil’s snare!

 

God uses the teaching of His Word by his servant / slave to grant repentance to those who are quarrelsome, to illuminate their minds so that they acknowledge the truth and to liberate them from the power of Satan.

 

The teaching about repentance and coming to know the truth are NOT two unrelated events – on the contrary that are inextricably linked.

In order to acknowledge the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ we must come to repentance. We cannot acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Truth nor his revelation, the Word of Truth without repentance. It is generally accepted that our beliefs determine and condition our behaviour.

 

ILLUS.: Why do you take medication? Because it is enjoyable – you like the tasted of paracetamol? Do you enjoy having needles stuck into you? NO! Not unless you are a masochist. You do in the belief that it will make you better. Your belief determines your behaviour.

 

So in the spiritual realm as we come to believe that God is righteous and we are sinful we need to repent – our belief conditions our behaviour

BUT it I also true that our behaviour conditions our beliefs.

1 Timothy 1:19 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. (NIV)

What does Paul mean here? By the act [behaviour] of not obeying their faith and their conscience some have made a shipwreck of their beliefs.

BUT the opposite is also true – by repenting of our sin [an act / behaviour] we come to know the truth.

In Scripture the moral and the intellectual are always linked. Knowledge of the Truth is not some abstract entity divorce from our moral behaviour. It is as we come to God in repentance and faith that our knowledge and understanding of him and his word increases. And as our knowledge of God and his word increases it leads us again and again to repentance and faith. SO that we avoid senseless and stupid controversies and many other sins besides.

 

  1. Behind the Scene.

 

2 Timothy 2:26 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (NIV)

 

I don’t think as western Christians we are sufficiently aware of the constant spiritual struggle that we are involved in. This is esp. true when the Word of God is being taught. When we step forward as it were to teach the Word of Truth and to witness to Jesus Christ we put ourselves in the frontline and Satan is going to use all means [always foul] to stop the Word of God. And he most often uses other people to do that.

Paul likens him to a hunter who sets a trap for his prey.

So the people who were opposing Timothy and making his life difficult and the task of preaching and teaching difficult were being used as instruments of Satan to disrupt God’s work. The real enemy is not people but the devil himself – maybe if we realised that more, we would pray more. Satan is a liar [John 8 – Jesus called him the father of lies] He captures people by his lying promises as he did Eve in the Garden of Eden.

His victims need to escape his trap and “come to their sense” [lit. return to soberness], in other words they have been doped by the devil as well as trapped.

Until we come to Christ in repentance and faith we are all ensnared and intoxicated by the devil’s schemings.

 

It is only God who can deliver by granting repentance.

It is only God who can enlighten by bringing to a knowledge of the Truth.

 

Yet the amazing thing is that God uses the human ministry of his servants / slaves like Timothy / and George / and KT / and Roger / and Jean … who avoid stupid quarrelling and who teach and witness with kindness and forbearance and gentleness – the truth of God – those who in their beliefs and behaviour reflect Jesus. The purpose of God’s servants is not to win senseless and stupid argument but to win people for the kingdom of God. God’s greatest desire, which should be ours also, is to see people come to repentance and a knowledge of the truth – viz. Jesus.

 

 

The Christian Teacher / Witness as a Slave.

 

2 Timothy 2v23-26

 

  1. The Lord’s servant / slave

·      All are slaves…

     …BUT is the master served good or bad?

 

  1. Avoid senseless and foolish speculation

 

  • Not all argument or debate is foolish but it should be based on God’s revelation and not human speculation.

 

  1. Dealing with dissenters

 

·      They are sinful and need repentance

  • They are in error & need a knowledge of the Truth.

Show gentleness, forbearance, courtesy and humility.

 

  1. Behind the scene.

 

  • Satan is working to entrap and intoxicate.
  • It is only God who can…

      … deliver by granting repentance

      … enlighten by bringing to His Truth

  • The role of God’s slave is not to win stupid arguments but to win people for God’s kingdom

2 Timothy 2:20-22 – The Characteristics of a Christian Who is Useful to God

2 Timothy 2v20-22

 

The Characteristics of a Christian Who is Useful to God.

 

Introduction.

In every one of our homes we have a variety of utensils – pots / pans / bowls / dishes / cups / plates etc. Some are cheap and disposable while others are very valuable and are brought out on special occasions only with great care.

 

Two kinds of utensils.

 

Paul uses everyday household receptacles to describes two uses, special / menial, noble / ignoble.

2 Timothy 2:20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.

 

To what is Paul referring in all this? It is true that in other places he uses this imagery – 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (NIV)

In this verse he refers to himself and his fellow-workers as jars of clay – weak, physical, imperfect creatures carrying a message of infinite value – a treasure.

He is not suggesting that he is fit only for menial ignoble use BUT that he – as we – carry the treasure of the gospel just as a fragile clay oil lamp carries the light. Here referring to our imperfect, fragile mortality.

 

In this letter to Timothy Paul seems to be using the imagery in a different way. He is comparing two kinds of vessels – representing two kinds of teachers in the church – true and false teachers. In the previous few verses he talked about good and bad workers but here changes the metaphor to noble and ignoble vessels.

In the first he is emphasising their activities but in this his emphasis is on character.

 

In verse 21 Paul lays before Timothy the wonderful privilege of being useful to the master of the house – Jesus Christ. The conditions for usefulness are laid out in these verses.

He is talking primarily about those who teach the gospel – but the principles apply to all Christians. The thing he focuses on however is not their teaching ability or their knowledge but their character. 2 Timothy 2:21 21 .. a man cleanses / purifies himself …… an instrument for noble purposes, … holy, useful to the Master …. prepared to do any good work. (NIV)

 

The primary condition laid down by the Master of the House is that the vessel must be pure / clean. In the previous section about being a good worker the emphasis was on purity of belief / doctrine – viz. holding fast to the Word of Truth. In this section about the great household the emphasis is on purity of character.

 

This focus on purity of life is confirmed by the fact that this metaphor of household / vessels is sandwiched between two appeals to personal holiness.

2 Timothy 2:19 …, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, …

 

God, the master of the House wishes to uses clean vessels. It is true that God sometimes uses impure vessels to accomplish his purposes. On a number of occasions in the OT God used Pagan kings – Assyrians / Babylonians / Persians… BUT the overwhelming emphasis of the Bible is that God uses his people – those who are righteous before him Romans 6:13 13 … instruments of righteousness. – – to achieve his purposes.

 

In order for us to be useful to the master of the house we are to negatively avoid certain things and to positively pursue other things.

 

Negatively.

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee / Shun the evil desires of youth, ….

These youthful passions are not restricted to youthful lust – they include self-assertion / self-indulgence / selfish ambition / arrogance … all those things that often characterise youthful passions. Sadly some people never seem to grow up.

 

To flee / shun lit. means to “seek safety in flight” / to run away from danger to a safe place. It is used of Joseph and Mary when they took baby Jesus and fled from the murderous King Herod to Egypt. It is used here figuratively to flee from spiritual danger.

 

ALL Christians are commanded to flee from idolatry, from pride, from immorality, from the materialism and the love of money and here from youthful passions. All these areas of human life are temptation to us all. Or as John puts it in his letter – 1 John 2:16 16 For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. (NIV)

1 John 2:16 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (KJV)

 

There are times when we are called upon to withstand the onslaught of the Evil One – to stand against evil / wrong and see it flee in the face of right and Truth.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (NIV)

BUT there are times when the best course of action is to run / to have nothing to do with something /someone. To get as far away as possible.

 

ILLUS.: The story of Joseph in the OT. He was a slave in the house of Potiphar the King’s / Pharaoh’s Chief of Staff, Mrs Potiphar had roving eyes and Joe was a handsome young man. Joseph was a god-fearing man and so when Mrs. Potiphar try to seduce him he left his coat in her hands and ran for his life. He was falsely accused and put in prison – but he kept his integrity before God. A vessel useful in the hands of his master.

 

As Christians there are certain things we simply cannot get involved in – things that are dishonest, immoral, corrupt … big things and little things. Sometimes the big things are easier to deal with. It is easier to resist blatant fraud on our tax returns than it is to resist the temptation to gossip about someone even when we know that what we are saying is at best ½ true! It may be easier to resist an adulterous affair than it is to resist dwelling on immoral thoughts yet Jesus said the one made us just as guilty as the other.

 

Positively.

If the word to flee is a strong word then the word to ‘pursue’ is equally strong but opposite. It means to run after / chase / hunt – of a hunter pursuing game, at a time when hunting for food was often the difference between life and death!

 

Paul uses this word metaphorically when talking about pursuing the will of God.

Philippians 3:12-14       12 … I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 … straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal ….

 

The same strong word is used here to urge Timothy to passionately pursue moral righteousness. In different texts different aspects are emphasised.

Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord. (NIV)

1 Timothy 6:11 … pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love….

Romans 12:13 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. [AND MANY OTHERS>>]

And here in this text …2 Timothy 2:22 … and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (NIV)

 

To have a character that is useful in the Master hands we need to cleanse / purify ourselves by fleeing from those things that are displeasing to God and by pursuing those things that are pleasing to God. Get rid of one and replace with the other.

 

We don’t want our lives to simply be a vacuum – getting rid of the bad only – in fact that is not really feasible. Something must fill the vacuum

 

ILLUS.: On Friday evening I was watching Ground Force. The programme where Alan Titchmarsh and his team go in and revamp someone’s garden as a surprise. In this particular programme one of the things they constructed was a bamboo waterway / mini-aquaduct. Now they explained that for it to work as designed it need to be kept clear, not bunged up with leaves and junk, so the water could be kept clean and flow freely. BUT if the water was turned off the bamboo would dry out and crack and be of no use to anyone.

Negatively it needed to be kept clear of junk BUT positively it need something good to flow through it.

 

I am sure you can see the connection. In our lives we need to be rid of the bad while holding on to the good.

 

We need to run away from spiritual danger but run after spiritual good.

To flee form the one in order to escape but pursue the other in order to attain it.

 

As Christians we are to have a double duty – to deny ourselves and to follow Christ. To put off what belongs to the old life and put on what belongs to the new life. To constantly put aside out fleshly desires [the lust of the flesh / the lust of the eyes / the pride of life] and to walk in the Spirit. It is a combination of the ruthless rejection of the one and the relentless pursuit of the other.

 

By nature we pander to ourselves / our wants / our desires / our agenda.. BUT if we are going to be fit for the Master’s use we need to be pure and holy

 

The best example we have of this deny self and pursuing God’s will is Jesus himself – although he was perfect and didn’t need purifying – he was still human and had all the temptation we have.

 

He is our Lord and Master

“You call me Lord [teacher] and Master…” John 13:13

Paul is giving instructions to Timothy as one who is a teacher and leader

But in a sense, “Every Christian must be a LEADER.” If we define LEADERSHIP as follows: A LEADER is a believer who takes initiative in the use of his/her personal gifts for personal growth, for the blessing of the Body and for the Glory of God. In this sense we are all leaders in some form or other.

Where have we developed in church-life this attitude of spectatorism, this terrible spiritual psychosis which is totally contrary to what the Scripture teaches and the Lord expects. We pay the Pastor to preach, we pay for others to sing, we pay for technicians to keep the ecclesiastical structure running smoothly and we remain comfortable in our pews, enjoying what others have done to keep us coming. Not only is this a travesty of the Biblical pattern of Every Member Ministry, but it shackles the individual from ever discovering the reason why he is failing to be a Change-Agent in a world of catastrophic need.

 

Bearing in mind that we are all leaders in some way – all called to follow Christ our teacher and master

 

  1. LEADERSHIP is characterised by humility, eager to serve and not to be served, vss.4,5.

A leader never drives, he draws (John 12:32). He never yields to circumstances, he changes them (Romans 12:2). He never shrinks from menial, ignoble tasks, he uses them to fulfil his purpose (Matt.20;28).

 

  1. LEADERSHIP is characterised by authority, (John13:12,13) teaching because he has been taught. And it is when a person exercises the initiative of teaching that he possesses what he has learned. A leader not only talks, he teaches, he rouses response (2 Tim.2:2). He seeks instruction from the Word of God, which fills him, enables him, equips him for service and not for sitting comfortably letting others do the job (Ephesians 5:25,26; 2 Timothy 3:16).

 

  1. LEADERSHIP is characterised by dependability, (John 13:14,15) who can be consistently counted on because he is conscious of his mission. He wants to be an unashamed workman (2 Timothy 2:15). He has learned the value of instant obedience in studying and pondering the Word of God (1 Peter 1:22-25).

 

  1. LEADERSHIP is characterised by predictability, (vss.16,17) consciously eager to give God his human best, filled with the Holy Spirit. He accepts his place as a servant (vs.16). He accepts his mission as one sent (vs.16, John 4:34; 17:18). He accepts his instructions as one taught, rejoicing in the privilege (vs.17).

 

 

Two Kinds of Vessels

 

2 Timothy 2v20-22

 

Honourable /

                 Noble Use

 

Positively:

Pursue / Chase / Desire

… Holiness / Purity

–       peace

–       faith

–       love

–       endurance

–       gentleness

–       hospitality

–       forgiveness

–       generosity ….. etc.

 

Dishonourable /

               Ignoble Use

 

Negatively:

Shun / Flee / Resist

…Youthful passions

–       illicit sexual desires

–       self- assertion

–       self-indulgence

–       self-ambition

–       arrogance

–       revenge

–       bitterness

–       gossip ….. etc.

·      Run after spiritual good

·      Put on what belong to the new life

·      Relentlessly pursue

 

·      Run away from spiritual danger

·      Put off what belongs to the old life

·      Ruthlessly reject

Follow Christ – Master / Lord / Teacher.

…no amount of talent or activity can replace humble godly character.

…God wants to use clean, honourable, noble vessels.

v

2 Timothy 2v20-22

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A CHRISTIAN WHO IS USEFUL TO GOD.

Introduction.
In every one of our homes we have a variety of utensils – pots / pans / bowls / dishes / cups / plates etc. Some are cheap and disposable while others are very valuable and are brought out on special occasions only with great care.

Two kinds of utensils.

Paul uses everyday household receptacles to describes two uses, special / menial, noble / ignoble.
2 Timothy 2:20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.

To what is Paul referring in all this? It is true that in other places he uses this imagery – 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (NIV)
In this verse he refers to himself and his fellow-workers as jars of clay – weak, physical, imperfect creatures carrying a message of infinite value – a treasure.
He is not suggesting that he is fit only for menial ignoble use BUT that he – as we – carry the treasure of the gospel just as a fragile clay oil lamp carries the light. Here referring to our imperfect, fragile mortality.

In this letter to Timothy Paul seems to be using the imagery in a different way. He is comparing two kinds of vessels – representing two kinds of teachers in the church – true and false teachers. In the previous few verses he talked about good and bad workers but here changes the metaphor to noble and ignoble vessels.
In the first he is emphasising their activities but in this his emphasis is on character.

In verse 21 Paul lays before Timothy the wonderful privilege of being useful to the master of the house – Jesus Christ. The conditions for usefulness are laid out in these verses.
He is talking primarily about those who teach the gospel – but the principles apply to all Christians. The thing he focuses on however is not their teaching ability or their knowledge but their character. 2 Timothy 2:21 21 .. a man cleanses / purifies himself …… an instrument for noble purposes, … holy, useful to the Master …. prepared to do any good work. (NIV)

The primary condition laid down by the Master of the House is that the vessel must be pure / clean. In the previous section about being a good worker the emphasis was on purity of belief / doctrine – viz. holding fast to the Word of Truth. In this section about the great household the emphasis is on purity of character.

This focus on purity of life is confirmed by the fact that this metaphor of household / vessels is sandwiched between two appeals to personal holiness.
2 Timothy 2:19 …, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, …

God, the master of the House wishes to uses clean vessels. It is true that God sometimes uses impure vessels to accomplish his purposes. On a number of occasions in the OT God used Pagan kings – Assyrians / Babylonians / Persians… BUT the overwhelming emphasis of the Bible is that God uses his people – those who are righteous before him Romans 6:13 13 … instruments of righteousness. – – to achieve his purposes.

In order for us to be useful to the master of the house we are to negatively avoid certain things and to positively pursue other things.

Negatively.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee / Shun the evil desires of youth, ….
These youthful passions are not restricted to youthful lust – they include self-assertion / self-indulgence / selfish ambition / arrogance … all those things that often characterise youthful passions. Sadly some people never seem to grow up.

To flee / shun lit. means to “seek safety in flight” / to run away from danger to a safe place. It is used of Joseph and Mary when they took baby Jesus and fled from the murderous King Herod to Egypt. It is used here figuratively to flee from spiritual danger.

ALL Christians are commanded to flee from idolatry, from pride, from immorality, from the materialism and the love of money and here from youthful passions. All these areas of human life are temptation to us all. Or as John puts it in his letter – 1 John 2:16 16 For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. (NIV)
1 John 2:16 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (KJV)

There are times when we are called upon to withstand the onslaught of the Evil One – to stand against evil / wrong and see it flee in the face of right and Truth.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (NIV)
BUT there are times when the best course of action is to run / to have nothing to do with something /someone. To get as far away as possible.

ILLUS.: The story of Joseph in the OT. He was a slave in the house of Potiphar the King’s / Pharaoh’s Chief of Staff, Mrs Potiphar had roving eyes and Joe was a handsome young man. Joseph was a god-fearing man and so when Mrs. Potiphar try to seduce him he left his coat in her hands and ran for his life. He was falsely accused and put in prison – but he kept his integrity before God. A vessel useful in the hands of his master.

As Christians there are certain things we simply cannot get involved in – things that are dishonest, immoral, corrupt … big things and little things. Sometimes the big things are easier to deal with. It is easier to resist blatant fraud on our tax returns than it is to resist the temptation to gossip about someone even when we know that what we are saying is at best ½ true! It may be easier to resist an adulterous affair than it is to resist dwelling on immoral thoughts yet Jesus said the one made us just as guilty as the other.

Positively.
If the word to flee is a strong word then the word to ‘pursue’ is equally strong but opposite. It means to run after / chase / hunt – of a hunter pursuing game, at a time when hunting for food was often the difference between life and death!

Paul uses this word metaphorically when talking about pursuing the will of God.
Philippians 3:12-14 12 … I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 … straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal ….

The same strong word is used here to urge Timothy to passionately pursue moral righteousness. In different texts different aspects are emphasised.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord. (NIV)
1 Timothy 6:11 … pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love….
Romans 12:13 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. [AND MANY OTHERS>>]
And here in this text …2 Timothy 2:22 … and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (NIV)

To have a character that is useful in the Master hands we need to cleanse / purify ourselves by fleeing from those things that are displeasing to God and by pursuing those things that are pleasing to God. Get rid of one and replace with the other.

We don’t want our lives to simply be a vacuum – getting rid of the bad only – in fact that is not really feasible. Something must fill the vacuum

ILLUS.: On Friday evening I was watching Ground Force. The programme where Alan Titchmarsh and his team go in and revamp someone’s garden as a surprise. In this particular programme one of the things they constructed was a bamboo waterway / mini-aquaduct. Now they explained that for it to work as designed it need to be kept clear, not bunged up with leaves and junk, so the water could be kept clean and flow freely. BUT if the water was turned off the bamboo would dry out and crack and be of no use to anyone.
Negatively it needed to be kept clear of junk BUT positively it need something good to flow through it.

I am sure you can see the connection. In our lives we need to be rid of the bad while holding on to the good.

We need to run away from spiritual danger but run after spiritual good.
To flee form the one in order to escape but pursue the other in order to attain it.

As Christians we are to have a double duty – to deny ourselves and to follow Christ. To put off what belongs to the old life and put on what belongs to the new life. To constantly put aside out fleshly desires [the lust of the flesh / the lust of the eyes / the pride of life] and to walk in the Spirit. It is a combination of the ruthless rejection of the one and the relentless pursuit of the other.

By nature we pander to ourselves / our wants / our desires / our agenda.. BUT if we are going to be fit for the Master’s use we need to be pure and holy

The best example we have of this deny self and pursuing God’s will is Jesus himself – although he was perfect and didn’t need purifying – he was still human and had all the temptation we have.

He is our Lord and Master
“You call me Lord [teacher] and Master…” John 13:13
Paul is giving instructions to Timothy as one who is a teacher and leader
But in a sense, “Every Christian must be a LEADER.” If we define LEADERSHIP as follows: A LEADER is a believer who takes initiative in the use of his/her personal gifts for personal growth, for the blessing of the Body and for the Glory of God. In this sense we are all leaders in some form or other.
Where have we developed in church-life this attitude of spectatorism, this terrible spiritual psychosis which is totally contrary to what the Scripture teaches and the Lord expects. We pay the Pastor to preach, we pay for others to sing, we pay for technicians to keep the ecclesiastical structure running smoothly and we remain comfortable in our pews, enjoying what others have done to keep us coming. Not only is this a travesty of the Biblical pattern of Every Member Ministry, but it shackles the individual from ever discovering the reason why he is failing to be a Change-Agent in a world of catastrophic need.

Bearing in mind that we are all leaders in some way – all called to follow Christ our teacher and master

1. LEADERSHIP is characterised by humility, eager to serve and not to be served, vss.4,5.
A leader never drives, he draws (John 12:32). He never yields to circumstances, he changes them (Romans 12:2). He never shrinks from menial, ignoble tasks, he uses them to fulfil his purpose (Matt.20;28).

2. LEADERSHIP is characterised by authority, (John13:12,13) teaching because he has been taught. And it is when a person exercises the initiative of teaching that he possesses what he has learned. A leader not only talks, he teaches, he rouses response (2 Tim.2:2). He seeks instruction from the Word of God, which fills him, enables him, equips him for service and not for sitting comfortably letting others do the job (Ephesians 5:25,26; 2 Timothy 3:16).

3. LEADERSHIP is characterised by dependability, (John 13:14,15) who can be consistently counted on because he is conscious of his mission. He wants to be an unashamed workman (2 Timothy 2:15). He has learned the value of instant obedience in studying and pondering the Word of God (1 Peter 1:22-25).

4. LEADERSHIP is characterised by predictability, (vss.16,17) consciously eager to give God his human best, filled with the Holy Spirit. He accepts his place as a servant (vs.16). He accepts his mission as one sent (vs.16, John 4:34; 17:18). He accepts his instructions as one taught, rejoicing in the privilege (vs.17).
TWO KINDS OF VESSELS

2 Timothy 2v20-22

Honourable /
Noble Use

POSITIVELY:
Pursue / Chase / Desire
… Holiness / Purity
– peace
– faith
– love
– endurance
– gentleness
– hospitality
– forgiveness
– generosity ….. etc. Dishonourable /
Ignoble Use

NEGATIVELY:
Shun / Flee / Resist
…Youthful passions
– illicit sexual desires
– self- assertion
– self-indulgence
– self-ambition
– arrogance
– revenge
– bitterness
– gossip ….. etc.
• Run after spiritual good

• Put on what belong to the new life
• Relentlessly pursue • Run away from spiritual danger
• Put off what belongs to the old life
• Ruthlessly reject
Follow Christ – Master / Lord / Teacher.
…no amount of talent or activity can replace humble godly character.
…God wants to use clean, honourable, noble vessels.

2 Timothy 2v20-22

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A CHRISTIAN WHO IS USEFUL TO GOD.

Introduction.
In every one of our homes we have a variety of utensils – pots / pans / bowls / dishes / cups / plates etc. Some are cheap and disposable while others are very valuable and are brought out on special occasions only with great care.

Two kinds of utensils.

Paul uses everyday household receptacles to describes two uses, special / menial, noble / ignoble.
2 Timothy 2:20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.

To what is Paul referring in all this? It is true that in other places he uses this imagery – 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (NIV)
In this verse he refers to himself and his fellow-workers as jars of clay – weak, physical, imperfect creatures carrying a message of infinite value – a treasure.
He is not suggesting that he is fit only for menial ignoble use BUT that he – as we – carry the treasure of the gospel just as a fragile clay oil lamp carries the light. Here referring to our imperfect, fragile mortality.

In this letter to Timothy Paul seems to be using the imagery in a different way. He is comparing two kinds of vessels – representing two kinds of teachers in the church – true and false teachers. In the previous few verses he talked about good and bad workers but here changes the metaphor to noble and ignoble vessels.
In the first he is emphasising their activities but in this his emphasis is on character.

In verse 21 Paul lays before Timothy the wonderful privilege of being useful to the master of the house – Jesus Christ. The conditions for usefulness are laid out in these verses.
He is talking primarily about those who teach the gospel – but the principles apply to all Christians. The thing he focuses on however is not their teaching ability or their knowledge but their character. 2 Timothy 2:21 21 .. a man cleanses / purifies himself …… an instrument for noble purposes, … holy, useful to the Master …. prepared to do any good work. (NIV)

The primary condition laid down by the Master of the House is that the vessel must be pure / clean. In the previous section about being a good worker the emphasis was on purity of belief / doctrine – viz. holding fast to the Word of Truth. In this section about the great household the emphasis is on purity of character.

This focus on purity of life is confirmed by the fact that this metaphor of household / vessels is sandwiched between two appeals to personal holiness.
2 Timothy 2:19 …, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, …

God, the master of the House wishes to uses clean vessels. It is true that God sometimes uses impure vessels to accomplish his purposes. On a number of occasions in the OT God used Pagan kings – Assyrians / Babylonians / Persians… BUT the overwhelming emphasis of the Bible is that God uses his people – those who are righteous before him Romans 6:13 13 … instruments of righteousness. – – to achieve his purposes.

In order for us to be useful to the master of the house we are to negatively avoid certain things and to positively pursue other things.

Negatively.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee / Shun the evil desires of youth, ….
These youthful passions are not restricted to youthful lust – they include self-assertion / self-indulgence / selfish ambition / arrogance … all those things that often characterise youthful passions. Sadly some people never seem to grow up.

To flee / shun lit. means to “seek safety in flight” / to run away from danger to a safe place. It is used of Joseph and Mary when they took baby Jesus and fled from the murderous King Herod to Egypt. It is used here figuratively to flee from spiritual danger.

ALL Christians are commanded to flee from idolatry, from pride, from immorality, from the materialism and the love of money and here from youthful passions. All these areas of human life are temptation to us all. Or as John puts it in his letter – 1 John 2:16 16 For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. (NIV)
1 John 2:16 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (KJV)

There are times when we are called upon to withstand the onslaught of the Evil One – to stand against evil / wrong and see it flee in the face of right and Truth.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (NIV)
BUT there are times when the best course of action is to run / to have nothing to do with something /someone. To get as far away as possible.

ILLUS.: The story of Joseph in the OT. He was a slave in the house of Potiphar the King’s / Pharaoh’s Chief of Staff, Mrs Potiphar had roving eyes and Joe was a handsome young man. Joseph was a god-fearing man and so when Mrs. Potiphar try to seduce him he left his coat in her hands and ran for his life. He was falsely accused and put in prison – but he kept his integrity before God. A vessel useful in the hands of his master.

As Christians there are certain things we simply cannot get involved in – things that are dishonest, immoral, corrupt … big things and little things. Sometimes the big things are easier to deal with. It is easier to resist blatant fraud on our tax returns than it is to resist the temptation to gossip about someone even when we know that what we are saying is at best ½ true! It may be easier to resist an adulterous affair than it is to resist dwelling on immoral thoughts yet Jesus said the one made us just as guilty as the other.

Positively.
If the word to flee is a strong word then the word to ‘pursue’ is equally strong but opposite. It means to run after / chase / hunt – of a hunter pursuing game, at a time when hunting for food was often the difference between life and death!

Paul uses this word metaphorically when talking about pursuing the will of God.
Philippians 3:12-14 12 … I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 … straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal ….

The same strong word is used here to urge Timothy to passionately pursue moral righteousness. In different texts different aspects are emphasised.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord. (NIV)
1 Timothy 6:11 … pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love….
Romans 12:13 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. [AND MANY OTHERS>>]
And here in this text …2 Timothy 2:22 … and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (NIV)

To have a character that is useful in the Master hands we need to cleanse / purify ourselves by fleeing from those things that are displeasing to God and by pursuing those things that are pleasing to God. Get rid of one and replace with the other.

We don’t want our lives to simply be a vacuum – getting rid of the bad only – in fact that is not really feasible. Something must fill the vacuum

ILLUS.: On Friday evening I was watching Ground Force. The programme where Alan Titchmarsh and his team go in and revamp someone’s garden as a surprise. In this particular programme one of the things they constructed was a bamboo waterway / mini-aquaduct. Now they explained that for it to work as designed it need to be kept clear, not bunged up with leaves and junk, so the water could be kept clean and flow freely. BUT if the water was turned off the bamboo would dry out and crack and be of no use to anyone.
Negatively it needed to be kept clear of junk BUT positively it need something good to flow through it.

I am sure you can see the connection. In our lives we need to be rid of the bad while holding on to the good.

We need to run away from spiritual danger but run after spiritual good.
To flee form the one in order to escape but pursue the other in order to attain it.

As Christians we are to have a double duty – to deny ourselves and to follow Christ. To put off what belongs to the old life and put on what belongs to the new life. To constantly put aside out fleshly desires [the lust of the flesh / the lust of the eyes / the pride of life] and to walk in the Spirit. It is a combination of the ruthless rejection of the one and the relentless pursuit of the other.

By nature we pander to ourselves / our wants / our desires / our agenda.. BUT if we are going to be fit for the Master’s use we need to be pure and holy

The best example we have of this deny self and pursuing God’s will is Jesus himself – although he was perfect and didn’t need purifying – he was still human and had all the temptation we have.

He is our Lord and Master
“You call me Lord [teacher] and Master…” John 13:13
Paul is giving instructions to Timothy as one who is a teacher and leader
But in a sense, “Every Christian must be a LEADER.” If we define LEADERSHIP as follows: A LEADER is a believer who takes initiative in the use of his/her personal gifts for personal growth, for the blessing of the Body and for the Glory of God. In this sense we are all leaders in some form or other.
Where have we developed in church-life this attitude of spectatorism, this terrible spiritual psychosis which is totally contrary to what the Scripture teaches and the Lord expects. We pay the Pastor to preach, we pay for others to sing, we pay for technicians to keep the ecclesiastical structure running smoothly and we remain comfortable in our pews, enjoying what others have done to keep us coming. Not only is this a travesty of the Biblical pattern of Every Member Ministry, but it shackles the individual from ever discovering the reason why he is failing to be a Change-Agent in a world of catastrophic need.

Bearing in mind that we are all leaders in some way – all called to follow Christ our teacher and master

1. LEADERSHIP is characterised by humility, eager to serve and not to be served, vss.4,5.
A leader never drives, he draws (John 12:32). He never yields to circumstances, he changes them (Romans 12:2). He never shrinks from menial, ignoble tasks, he uses them to fulfil his purpose (Matt.20;28).

2. LEADERSHIP is characterised by authority, (John13:12,13) teaching because he has been taught. And it is when a person exercises the initiative of teaching that he possesses what he has learned. A leader not only talks, he teaches, he rouses response (2 Tim.2:2). He seeks instruction from the Word of God, which fills him, enables him, equips him for service and not for sitting comfortably letting others do the job (Ephesians 5:25,26; 2 Timothy 3:16).

3. LEADERSHIP is characterised by dependability, (John 13:14,15) who can be consistently counted on because he is conscious of his mission. He wants to be an unashamed workman (2 Timothy 2:15). He has learned the value of instant obedience in studying and pondering the Word of God (1 Peter 1:22-25).

4. LEADERSHIP is characterised by predictability, (vss.16,17) consciously eager to give God his human best, filled with the Holy Spirit. He accepts his place as a servant (vs.16). He accepts his mission as one sent (vs.16, John 4:34; 17:18). He accepts his instructions as one taught, rejoicing in the privilege (vs.17).
TWO KINDS OF VESSELS

2 Timothy 2v20-22

Honourable /
Noble Use

POSITIVELY:
Pursue / Chase / Desire
… Holiness / Purity
– peace
– faith
– love
– endurance
– gentleness
– hospitality
– forgiveness
– generosity ….. etc. Dishonourable /
Ignoble Use

NEGATIVELY:
Shun / Flee / Resist
…Youthful passions
– illicit sexual desires
– self- assertion
– self-indulgence
– self-ambition
– arrogance
– revenge
– bitterness
– gossip ….. etc.
• Run after spiritual good

• Put on what belong to the new life
• Relentlessly pursue • Run away from spiritual danger
• Put off what belongs to the old life
• Ruthlessly reject
Follow Christ – Master / Lord / Teacher.
…no amount of talent or activity can replace humble godly character.
…God wants to use clean, honourable, noble vessels.

2 Timothy 2:14-19 – Worker, approved or ashamed?

2 Timothy 2v14-19

WORKER! APPROVED OR ASHAMED?

Introduction.
The world in which we lived is complex, complicated and can be quite confusing. We live in a multicultural, multi-faith world. In the past people of other faiths and cultures tended to live “over there”. The majority of people we mixed with were of the same culture and same basic faith – Christianity – even if they didn’t practice it.
Today the fastest growing religion in the UK is Paganism – People have largely turned away from the church to embrace other faiths or no faith. People are generally less concerned about ‘Truth’ and more concerned about comfort and feeling happy and self-fulfilled.
This is reflected in the political correctness of our day where it is considered unacceptable to say what someone else does or believes is wrong unless it interferes with someone else’s lifestyle.
TV chat shows reflect this – there is generally an exchange of views but less often is there any conclusion reached as to what is actually right or wrong.
Pop music reflect this – a year or so back the group “Manic Street Preachers” had a song entitled [something like] “This is my truth tell me yours”

Many today believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth and basically we humans make our own truth – and they are generally happy as long as every one else’s truth agrees with my truth!!
Interesting that logically to claim there is no absolute truth is self-contradictory because that is an absolute statement!

From a purely human perspective it is probably true that every one’s opinion is equally valid BUT such a position leads to meaninglessness.
What the writer of Ecclesiastes, probably Solomon, wrote many centuries ago, “Form an under the sun point of view everything is meaningless!”

For the Christian, however, there is a strong belief in absolute truth – not a truth which we have concocted but as revealed from a God who is Truth.

The challenge and responsibility placed upon us therefore is to handle this revealed truth correctly so that God’s Word of Truth remains true and that we therefore will receive his approval and not be ashamed before Him because we have done a bad job by distorting / denying his revealed Truth.
Of course the supreme revelation / pinnacle of God’s Truth is Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. …
Paul in writing this letter to Timothy has commended him for faithfully receiving God’s Word of Truth and has instructed him to faithfully entrust it to others [2v2]

The primary task of the Christian worker is to convey the Word of Truth.
This applies esp. to those like pastor/teachers because it is how they earn their living, BUT this applies to every Christian – the task of passing on God’s message about Jesus Christ.

There are two kinds of workers Paul tells us – those who are approved – tried and tested and found to be true AND those who ought to be ashamed of themselves for corrupting the truth.

What are the criteria by which some are approved and some are ashamed?
It is how they handle / treat the Word of Truth / the good deposit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Is their handling of God’s revealed Word of Truth accurate and straight and true?

1. THE APPROVED WORKER.

2 Timothy 2:15 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (NIV)

correctly handles [rightly dividing –KJV]

Lit. means not to divide but to cut straight. This is the only time in the NT that this word is used. It is used twice in the Greek translation of the OT; viz.:-
Proverbs 3:6 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 11:5 5 The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, …..

So the picture is one of cutting a straight furrow through a field – cutting a straight road through the countryside. In our modern car-oriented world cutting a motorway that is straight and true so the traveller may follow the way to the destination.

Timothy has received from Paul the word of truth – the good deposit of apostolic teaching – in short the bible.
To ‘cut it straight’ or to ‘make it straight’ is quite simply to be accurate in the interpretation and explanation of the Bible so that those who hear can understand it.

It is essential that ALL believers, but esp. those with responsibility to teach the scriptures, devote time to bible study and prayer. That is why when I came to Binscombe I asked that unless it is an emergency, you do not disturb me in the mornings so that I can devote myself to the study of God’s Word. {I repeat the request} Why? Because I don’t want to talk to you? NO!! BUT because if I am going to teach the bible accurately and faithfully I need time to study and pray. Most mornings of the week Tue – Fri from 0845 – 1300 I am in my study [sometimes in the house for peace and quiet – Toddlers etc.].

Now I must give more time to this task because it is my job and I have more time …. BUT, and it is a BIG BUT, it is not ONLY the task of those whose job it is. ALL believers are require to study God’s Word / to meditate / to pray / to learn God’s Word of Truth.
Without this there will be no spiritual development – I have been thrilled to see how excited those doing the SEAN courses are about learning God’s Word of Truth. Learning to cut/make straight.

In our handling of the Word of Truth we must be scrupulously careful that we ourselves stay on the pathway / highway and avoid side roads and detours BUT also that we make it easy for others to follow. That we do not behave like the Pharisees of Jesus Day of whom he was fiercely critical. He condemned them because them put obstacles in the way and burden’s on people’s shoulders that hindered belief and trust in God.

2. THE ASHAMED WORKER.

Paul changes metaphor now from road building / ploughing straight to shooting a bow and arrow.

2 Timothy 2:17-18 17 … Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 .. have wandered away from the truth. … (NIV)

wandered away – comes from the word for target and lit. means to ‘miss the mark’ or to ‘deviate from’ something.

Paul accusation against these bad workers is that as far as the Word of Truth is concerned they have missed the mark / swerved from the Truth / shot wide of the Truth.

One of the subtleties of Satan is not that he tries to get us Christians to deny the Truth completely BUT simply to deviate sufficiently to miss the target. And as the saying goes “A miss is as good as a mile!”

ILLUS.: So to claim, for example, that Jesus was a good man, did miracles, and even died on a cross a martyr’s death BUT to deny he was Divine and rose from the dead is to miss the mark!
To believe that somehow we can earn God’s approval by good deeds when the Bible clearly teaches that salvation us by God’s gracious gift alone is to miss the target and deviate from Word of Truth.

Paul has used two metaphors to test whether or not a worker is good or bad.
 In respect of the Word of Truth being a Target – does he hit it or miss it?
 In respect of the Word of truth bring a road / furrow – does he cut straight or crooked?

What Timothy, and others including you and me, teach is bound to have an effect on others for better or worse.
If we cut straight others can keep to the way.
If we miss the target attention is bound to follow the arrow and focus will be drawn away from the target – in this case the Word of Truth.
Paul gives an illustration of this very point:-
2 Timothy 2:17-18 17 … Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 .. have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. (NIV)

Of course, in one sense the resurrection has taken place – Christ is raised and we are raised with him YET our bodily resurrection is still to come –what these two were teaching was that this resurrection had already happened. It was the begin of a heresy that developed fully later on known as Gnosticism – meaning knowledge. This basically taught that the body was an evil hindrance to the spiritual fulfilment therefore any thought of a bodily resurrection was undesirable. They believed that human could be realised from the evil body by attaining spiritual knowledge.
By spiritualising faith this way it became very mystical and intangible.

We find not dissimilar thinking and belief in Post-Modern New Age beliefs. Basically any mystical ethereal thoughts or beliefs you may have are find – so as long as I have a spiritual experience that’s find it is all very personal and individual and subjective. “This is my truth tell me yours!”

But the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the Word of Truth is not like that – it is rooted in history – in tangible events. It followers are called to live in the real world, dealing with real life issues looking forward to a real, bodily resurrection where we will physically be with Christ, albeit with a different kind of physical body, but no less real.

Activities of the worker who needs to be ashamed.

2 Timothy 2:14 … Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. (NIV)
2 Timothy 2:16 16 Avoid godless chatter, …

quarrelling about words – .. godless chatter – in other words, hair-splitting and empty talk. The kind of thing that scholars in the Middle Ages engaged in, viz. arguing about how many angels can sit on the head of a pin.
Now we may not even think much about angels but we too can get caught up in arguing about peripherals – style of music / times of meetings / translations of the Bible /…. And we might have passionate views about these things AND they may not be unimportant BUT when they push the important things like evangelism / prayer / encouraging one another / loving one another /… to a lower place THEN we too are guilty!

ILLUS.: The Church in which I grew up had a group of people who emerged who held a very strong reformed theological position. They would argue endlessly with anyone and everyone who held a different view. BUT they were ungracious, unloving and divisive and eventually split the church – they then left and the church was badly scarred.

That is exactly what Paul warned would happen if we stray from the Word of Truth. The Word of Truth is not just about neatly packaged, all correctly labelled Theology. Jesus embodies the Word of Truth and John describes him this way -John 1:14 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

Paul describes what happens when we deviated from the Word of God – full of grace and truth. 2 Timothy 2:16-17 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. …..

He describes the result of such activity both ‘godless’ and ‘ gangrenous’. – not only for themselves but also for others – [2:18].. they destroy the faith of some.
It is an inevitability that teaching that deviates from the Word of Truth will be dishonouring to God and damaging to people.

The opposite is equally true that the accurate teaching of the Word of Truth when done graciously and sincerely will honour God and promote godliness.

3. God’s Comforting reassurance.
While people’s faith can be upset God himself is a sure foundation – 2 Timothy 2:19 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (NIV)
A man misrepresenting the Word of Truth in no way diminishes the Truth of God’s Word.

The true church of true believers has her foundations in God:
The twofold inscription:-
 The first is secret and invisible to humans – “The Lord knows those who are his,”
BUT lives before the world…
 The second is public and visible – “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
The Lord knows who his people are – – the genuine from the spurious.
We cannot see the heart but we can see the outward actions / attitudes which is fairly reliable evidence of the condition of the heart. “By their fruits you will know them”

These two things together, the divine and human, the unseen and seen, bear witness to God’s firm foundation, – his true Church!

For Timothy and for us there is a responsibility to faithfully pass on the Word of Truth. This in the way we live as well as what we say. Not splitting hairs about minor theological points or godless chatter that damages the body of Christ. We are called to build each other up in the Lord / to encourage one another / to love one another / to work together for the good of the body and the honour of Christ even if it means putting aside our favoured views; viz. preferring one another / thinking of others more highly than ourselves.

It is easy to break down / to criticise / to be negative it is more difficult to build up / to help and encourage BUT it is much more valuable / rewarding and God glorifying.

WORKER! APPROVED OR ASHAMED?

2 Timothy 2v14-19

1. The Approved Worker

Cutting a straight furrow –
– handling God’s Word
accurately and faithfully
2. The Ashamed Worker.

Missing the mark – deviating from The Word of Truth
REASONS to be ashamed:-
• quarrelling about words
• godless chatter

Resulting in …
… becoming more and more ungodly themselves …
… and infecting other like gangrene.
3. God’s comforting reassurance.

twofold inscription:-
 1st secret & invisible – The Lord knows those who are his
 2nd public & visible – Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness
A good worker builds up / edifies …
– a bad worker breaks down / damages

2 Timothy 2:3-7 – Soldier, Athlete, Farmer

2 Timothy 2v3-7

 

Soldier, Athlete, Farmer.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUS.: Any Business or organisation needs two basic things to be successful.

  • 1st they need a good product – whether tangible or a service.
  • 2nd they need good, well trained, dedicated personnel run it.

 

In the second half of chapter 1 of this letter to Timothy Paul has outlined the gospel – the good news of God’s rescue through Jesus Christ. He describes it as a good deposit which was entrusted to him – which he passed on to Timothy – and he urges Timothy to pass it on to other who can pass it on to others…

 

He has given a very brief outline of what the gospel is – but it is quite evident that Paul does not simply have I mind a “gospel of sin management” i.e. come to Jesus, have your sins forgiven, get a ticket for heaven and then do as you please.

The gospel is about “making disciples” and according to Jesus we make disciples by teaching them to obey everything that he taught his disciples [Matt.28;20]

 

If teaching is going to take place there need to be teachers – Paul sees in Timothy this gift. Now while this letter is written to Timothy and to all trustworthy and reliable people qualified to teach others – the principles apply to all Christians because we all have a role in passing on to others what we have received from God.

 

Christian teaching is not just about passing on information – it is as much about the Christian character of the teacher / witness as it is about the content of the teaching. Teaching is not simply what happens in a Sunday Service or house /study group or classroom. Nor is teaching always verbal, teaching by example is very important.

Thus in the OT after God gives the Law to his people he says this:-

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe … 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God …. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you …. 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

In other words living for God in every aspect of life, including what you talk about / teach, is the best way to pass on what God has told you.

Having urged Timothy to train others in 2v2 Paul now in the remainder of the chapter gives 6 illustrations to explain the kind of people we, and Timothy, need to be, in order to be worthy of being entrusted with this “good deposit”.

 

The first three we will look at today – Soldier, athlete, farmer – all illustrate that the work is strenuous, involving both labour and suffering.

 

 

2 Timothy 2:3-4 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No-one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.

 

ILLUS.: When I was 18 I was drafted into the SA Army for national Service. I arrived at the barracks and reported. From that point on I was no longer free to do what I liked. For the next year I got up when told to – ate when told to – shower when told to – when told to run you run – to jump you never ask “why” just “How high?”

Was it tough – Yes! Getting up at 5:00 am for PT – Parade at 7:00 Drill ‘til 10;00 etc…. route marches all night with full kit and rifle was no joke YET a comradeship was developed. During that time I was under orders – hardship and risk and suffering were part of the deal! BUT it was only for a relatively short time.

 

Hardship, discipline, taking orders, removed from civilian life is part and parcel of being a soldier. No good soldier goes to war surrounded by luxuries and comfort – sleeping on the ground and eating out of Rat-Packs is part of the deal. Soldiers experience and see unpleasant things. It is not a safe activity.

 

Similarly Christians should not expect an easy time. If we are loyal to the gospel we will experience opposition / ridicule and “share in his sufferings”.

 

Being a soldier is not just about suffering and hardship, it is also about focussed dedication.

Not involved in civilian affairs / entangled.

ILLUS.: During the war years many activities were restricted / even forbidden not because they were necessarily wrong in themselves BUT because a certain amount of austerity and self-denial were needed given the situation.

 

The Bible is clear that as Christians we are involved in a spiritual battle. Maybe we are not sufficiently aware of that – maybe we are to busy with peace-time manoeuvres – maybe we are too content to play soldiers than to engage in battle.

If we fill our lives with all the things we want to do to meet our own desires and needs and leave little or no time for prayer / bible-study / building relationships for fellowship and witness THEN maybe we are guilty of entanglement is unnecessary civilian affairs.

 

Let us be clear about what Paul is saying.

As Christians we have to live in this world – we can’t opt out, unless you plan to live like a monk. We have duties at home / work / in the community and Christians should conscientiously do those things. We are also not forbidden to have fun – in fact look at what Paul says to timothy in his 1st letter – 1 Timothy 4:4 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, (NIV) 1 Timothy 6:17 … God, … richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (NIV)

So we should enjoy life to the full

BUT clearly the balance is that we do not become so entangled in pursuing our own desires and comforts that we neglect our duties.

I would suggest that in our modern world with its pursuit of self-fulfilling pleasures and entertainment that the temptation is to err in this direction.

 

What is our motivation for enduring hardship and focussed dedication wanting to please [our] commanding officer. – who is Jesus Christ!

 

 

If we are going to be those you pass on to other what God has entrusted to us then we need to not only be dedicated, like soldiers, but we also have to play by the rules.

2 Timothy 2:5 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. (NIV)

 

Just like a Roman soldier was a familiar sight in 1st C so too was the “Games”.

As in the modern Games so also in the ancient – every event had its rules and if the rules were broken disqualification was inevitable. In the ancient games they didn’t receive gold/ silver / bronze medals but evergreen wreaths.

No athlete, however brilliant, was crowned if the rules were broken!

 

ILLUS.: Remember Ben Johnson the Canadian sprinter – The 16 year old Romanian gymnast, the Aussie walker in the Ladies walking marathon….

 

The Christian life is often referred to as a race not that we are competing against each other. In 1Cor.9 self-discipline of training / in Heb.12 putting aside all things that hinder / and here keeping to the rules.

It is true that we are not under law as a way of salvation – i.e. we do not earn God’s approval by rule keeping. However, law abiding, living by God’s criteria is evidence that we do belong to him.

Paul is not in this context talking only about our moral conduct – which is important – but also about Christian service / ministry [here esp. teaching / passing on what we have rec’d]

 

In ch.4 Paul will say 2 Timothy 4:7-8 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, ….

So for Timothy and us, like Paul we need to pass on what God has given us – we need to persevere to the end, to fight the good fight, run the race, keep the faith then we too will receive the most coveted wreath of all – for more valuable than Olympic Gold – “the crown of righteousness” – God’s “well-done!”

 

  1. FARMER.

 

The soldier must be dedicated / the athlete play by the rules / the farmer must work hard.

The soldier gets the adrenaline rush of battle and comradeship / the athlete the applause of the crowd BUT what does the farmer get for his hard work. The day-in, day-out toil – the cows need milking twice a day every day – the seeds needs planting, the weeds pulling up, the crops brought in. He can’t say “Oh I think I’ll leave the cows today / or I’ll bring in the harvest next month!”

2 Timothy 2:6 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. (NIV)

He is the 1st to benefit from his hard labour.

What kind of spiritual harvest is Paul referring to?

  • Personal holiness
  • New converts

 

1st – Personal holiness.

It is true that holiness is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. We talk about the fruit / harvest of the Spirit Galatians 5:2222 .. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (NIV)

The Spirit of God is the chief farmer who produces this crop in the believer’s life.

BUT we have our part to play too. Galatians 5:16 .., live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (NIV)

Galatians 6:8 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Holiness is a harvest and if we fail to cultivate the field of our character we will have a poor reward. Galatians 6:7 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (NIV)

 

2nd – New converts. Winning others to Jesus Christ.

Jesus talked about many who were ready and willing to receive the gospel. Matthew 9:37 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. (NIV)

John 4:35 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. (NIV)

 

Now we can no more make people Christians than we can make plants grow. We can sow the seed of God’s Word but the bringing n of the harvest is hard work esp. when the labourers are few.

People do not come to Christ with slick marketing and gimmicky slogans – they come with tears and sweat and pain esp. in prayer and costly, sacrificial, personal, relationship.

Being a Christian is hard work – the kind of easy-going, “the-church-must-make me-feel-happy”, consumer Christianity is not what I find in my Bible. It can be weary and exhausting – described by words like toil / struggle / strive. BUT it is very rewarding and fulfilling when we see the harvest.

 

If we want Binscombe Church to grow then we need the kind of characteristics that Paul describes here:-

  • The whole-hearted dedication of a good soldier
  • The faithful obedience of a good athlete
  • The painstaking hard work of a farmer

… without these there will be no victory in battle / no prize for the race run / no harvest to enjoy.

 

  1. CONCLUDING THOUGHT!

 

2 Timothy 2:7 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. (NIV)

 

This verse teaches us a double-sided truth:

  • We are to use our minds to understand
  • Understanding is by divine illumination.

 

 

 

Bear in mind that Paul is an Apostle and therefore teaches with apostolic authority – which means that he his teaching what he has been entrusted with from God. Galatians 1:11-12 11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, …..; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (NIV)

What the apostles taught is now written down for us in the Bible – we are to carefully consider and reflect upon that. Paul sees no contradiction is saying that God gives understanding AND that we need to study carefully and diligently to gain understanding.

 

Some Christians never get down to the serious study of God’s word simply because they are too lazy

Some Christians don’t spend time in serious Bible Study because they think it is “spiritual” [pseudo-spiritual really] to claim that “The Holy Spirit will guides us”. So the superficially read verses, often out of context BUT fail to obey Paul’s instruction here to carefully consider / ponder / dig-deep.

 

We can of course, go to the other extreme and do in depth study but fail to recognise that God alone through his Holy Spirit gives understanding.

We must study the Bible with care and in prayer – trusting God to enlighten our understanding – not simply acquisition of information rather it is wisely using the information for practical living.

 

God has entrusted us – his people – with His gospel [broad grasp of ALL God’s teaching] and he requires that we be like dedicated, loyal soldiers/ self-disciplined, law-abiding athlete / and hard-working farmers – in BOTH tasks of understanding his gospel and passing it on to others!

 

 

 

 

2 Timothy 2v3-7

 

Christians Should Be Like …

 

  1. THE SOLDIER [v3-4]

 

  • willing to suffer hardship
  • not distracted by unnecessary pursuits
  • loyally dedicated to the CO

TO gain victory.

 

  1. THE ATHLETE [v5]

 

  • self-disciplined
  • obeys the rules

TO win a prize

 

  1. THE FARMER [v6]

 

  • devoted hard work

      TO reap a good harvest…

            … of personal holiness

                  … of new converts

 

 

 

CONCLUDING THOUGHT! [v7]

  • Understanding requires BOTH Human study and Divine enlightenment