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Faithful Until the End / Fieles Hasta el Final

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What will the end be like?
By this, I am not referring to how will we die but rather what will our state be when we are about to leave this life.
For example, many people give much though to how they will begin a new job but do not consider what it will be like on their last day.
We prepare ourselves for the beginning of life (i.e., a new baby) but very few of us consider making preparation for the end of our existence in this life.
As we get close to Christmas and the New Year it is good for us to consider the end - not simply the end of 2020 but our final end - the end of our life.
We know we are not eternal.
We will have to die some day.
We will not go on living forever.
We are mortal beings and have to face the reality of our mortality; even though it may be difficult.
In Paul’s last letter - 2 Timothy - he invites us to consider that for those who once believed; we will end up in one of two states:
We will finish well
We will not finish well
…it’s really as simple as that.
Either we finish our lives well and enjoy the blessing of eternal life.
…or we do not finish well and will be eternally condemned.

I. Finishing well / Terminando en Bendición

Paul is at the end of his life while writing to his beloved disciple - Timothy.
2 Timothy 1:3 NIV
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
2 tim 1
2 Timothy 1:3 RVR60
Doy gracias a Dios, al cual sirvo desde mis mayores con limpia conciencia, de que sin cesar me acuerdo de ti en mis oraciones noche y día;
Paul remembers his beloved disciple even though he finds himself in chains.
Paul remembers Timothy’s faith and how it was nurtured since early childhood by his mother and grandmother.
2 Timothy 1:5 NIV
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Timothy 1:5 RVR60
trayendo a la memoria la fe no fingida que hay en ti, la cual habitó primero en tu abuela Loida, y en tu madre Eunice, y estoy seguro que en ti también.
2 Tim 1.
For this reason, he writes this last letter to Timothy so that he may be faithful and continue on with the work that Paul leaves behind.
2 Timothy 4:1–2 NIV
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: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 4:1–2 RVR60
Te encarezco delante de Dios y del Señor Jesucristo, que juzgará a los vivos y a los muertos en su manifestación y en su reino,que prediques la palabra; que instes a tiempo y fuera de tiempo; redarguye, reprende, exhorta con toda paciencia y doctrina.
How do we know that Paul thinks the end is near?
Paul seems to be writing 2 Timothy as a goodbye letter to his beloved disciple.
At the end of the letter we see a most serious statement:
2 Timothy 4:6 NIV
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
2 Timothy 4:6 RVR60
Porque yo ya estoy para ser sacrificado, y el tiempo de mi partida está cercano.
Paul finds himself in a Roman prison and feels that the end is near.
He sees his life as the wine in a cup that is about to be spilled upon the ground.
Paul knows that his life will be taken because of the cause of Christ.
Nero has been persecuting believers for some time and Paul knows that he too will have to give up his life for the sake of Christ.
Paul began following the Lord Jesus Christ when the Lord stopped him in his tracks as he was on his way to Damascus to arrest believers.
It was on that day that the Lord changed his heart and granted him faith and repentance.
Paul from then on has been preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaiming that Jesus Christ is indeed the Messiah and Lord.
Paul has refused to remain quiet as he continued to defy the authorities by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord over all earthly rulers.
But now, Paul is about to leave this life and must commend the work of gospel preaching to Timothy.
As Paul considers the end of his life he shows a remarkable attitude and optimism.
2 Timothy 4:7 NIV
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7 RVR60
He peleado la buena batalla, he acabado la carrera, he guardado la fe.
He sees himself as a soldier of Jesus Christ who has been enlisted in the army of the Lord to proclaim his gospel no matter the cost.
He has not been a coward.
He has simply carried out the orders given to him by his commander in chief.
He sees himself as having finished the race.
Notice that he does not say he has come in as #1 in this race.
That really is not the point. The point is not to be the first one to reach the finish line but rather to finish the race itself; no matter what position you come in.
Believer, do not forget that we are in a race having left the city of destruction and running towards the celestial city.
This race is full of obstacles.
This race is full of traps that the enemy has placed in order to guide us off course.
Nevertheless, we continue running knowing that the Lord will grant us strength to endure.
It is not a sprint! Is more like a marathon that we must continue running until we arrive.
He sees himself as having run faithfully.
This means he has kept the rules of the race.
He has not cheated on his way to the end but rather has abided by all the rules set forth.
We should not pretend to run the race according to our own thoughts and desires but according to what God has commanded in his word.
There are many people running a race of religious practice according to what has commanded.
It is not sufficient to be a good Catholic, a good baptist, a good jew, a good muslim; we must run according to the way that God has revealed in his word which means:
Believing in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins; for we are saved by grace by faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul could have been bitter towards the end of his life.
After all, he has been preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and now finds himself in a Roman prison.
He had been stoned many times, whipped, chased out of cities, left for dead on more than one occasion, and now he finds himself in chains in a Roman prison.
What is it that fuels his optimism? Why can he have such a positive outlook of having fought the good fight, of having finished the race, of having been faithful?
2 Timothy 4:8 NIV
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.
2 Timothy 4:8 RVR60
Por lo demás, me está guardada la corona de justicia, la cual me dará el Señor, juez justo, en aquel día; y no sólo a mí, sino también a todos los que aman su venida.
Paul’s sole motivating factor is that he has put his eyes on the prize that the Lord Jesus himself will grant him.
Notice that because Paul has finished the race well; hewill be crowned with the righteousness of Christ by the judge himself!
In other words, he will not be known, throughout eternity, as an ex-murder, as an ex-persecutor of the church of Christ; but rather will be known as a forgiven saint, covered with the righteousness of Christ.
Now, this crown is not reserved for Paul. Paul invites us to join in his hope for this crown is not only for him - but also for all those who long for his appearing.
All of the people of God throughout history will be crowned with the righteousness of Jesus Christo.
All of God’s people will receive this reward.
Paul’s optimism stems from the fact that one day he will be with his redeemer.
One day he will be face to face with him who died upon the cross for the forgiveness of his sins.
This is what drives him to face the certainty of his death.
This is what prevents him from crying out in despair and not feeling like his life has been a completely failure.
He knows that this life is not all that there is; but there is a life of joy and everlasting blessing beyond the grave.
Paul, can as it where, taste the goodness of heavenly blessings and realize that all this suffering, pain, trials, and tribulations have been worth it for there is an eternal reward for the people of God.
This is what fueled of all those believers who died in the roman prisons during Nero’s persecution, or at the hands of the Catholic church during the Reformation of the Church, or who gave their life from being shot or hung by atheistic communist governments - they knew that once they closed their eyes this side of heaven; they would open them in the blessing of eternal life in the presence of Jesus Christ.

II. A Disastrous End / Un Final Desastroso

Sadly, not all those who “believe” from a human perspective finish well.
2 Timothy 4:10 NIV
for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
2 Timothy 4:10 RVR60
porque Demas me ha desamparado, amando este mundo, y se ha ido a Tesalónica. Crescente fue a Galacia, y Tito a Dalmacia.
Paul’s faithful life is contrasted with Demas.
We first encounter Demas in .
Colossians 4:14 NIV
Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
Colossians 4:14 RVR60
Os saluda Lucas el médico amado, y Demas.
At that point it seems that Demas is walking with Christ.
All who saw Demas would have assumed that he was just another faithful follower of Jesus Christ.
He was not only a disciple but was with Paul assisting him in his missionary journeys.
He seemed to have shared a common faith with Paul and the rest of the Christian believers.
We do not know every detail in the life of Demas; but we do see very sad news.
We are told that loved this world.
Demas seems to have gotten entangled in the pleasures and affairs of this world that he abandoned Paul, and very possibly abandoned the faith.
Demas at some point decided that he was no longer a believer.
At some point in his life, Demas was attracted more to this world than to the eternal and heavenly reward.
If Demas, who was a companion of the apostle Paul, abandoned the faith; how can we be sure that we will be faithful to the end?
This is a very serious thought that we must all consider.
It is possible that many in this place at some point in their Christian race have considered the thought of no longer being associated with the Church of God.
It is possible many of us have stumbled in our Christian walk and have felt that we had walked away from the Lord. I say we walked away because it is never the Lord who walks away from us. It is always us…the ones that cease to be faithful.
How can we guarantee that he will be found faithful until the end of our lives?
The key to faithfulness is found in verse 8.
2 Timothy 4:8 NIV
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.
2 Timothy 4:8 RVR60
Por lo demás, me está guardada la corona de justicia, la cual me dará el Señor, juez justo, en aquel día; y no sólo a mí, sino también a todos los que aman su venida.
Who will receive the crown of righteousness?
It is those who long, who love, who desire the Lord’s coming.
In other words, those who love the Lord, those who long to be with the Lord, those who long to be with him, those who constantly desire to close to Jesus will be crowned with righteousness.
We cannot have a lukewarm attitude towards Jesus Christ. We must truly value our faith in Jesus Christ above all things.
We cannot see our relationship with Christ and duty to worship him as secondary to anything.
He is our utmost priority.
Do we truly desire to be with those who gather to worship him? Do we gather with the people of God and express our love for him in praise and adoration?
Do we long to be in his presence? …or do other wordly things seem more attractive than the worship of our Lord?
There came a point in Demas’ life where he valued other things more than he valued the Lord; which in the end made it very easy to love the world more than he loved God.
Demas understood that he could not love two masters - and he left to worship that which he loved more.
Demas gave his allegiance to that which he valued more than the other.
I fear that many congregations will continue to loose members because those who value the world more than they value the Lord will be revealed for who they really are.
May Jesus seem more lovely, more wonderful, more worthy of our worship and faithfulness.
May the longing for his appearance and reward capture our hearts and give us the strength to endure to the end - no matter the cost.
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