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Vessels for Honor

2 Timothy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:07
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Today, we are in 2 Timothy 2:8-26 as we continue our study of this letter which the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to Timothy.
Let’s begin by reading the passage together.
2 Timothy 2:8–26 NIV
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 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.” In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 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.
In Chapter 1, we saw the encouragement that Paul sent to Timothy, and Rules for Life.
As we started chapter 2, we saw Paul sharing with Timothy what it is going to take to accomplish his mission of proclaiming Christ, and teaching to see everyone come to maturity.
He encouraged Timothy to look for reliable people to whom he could entrust the gospel. These would be people who would then pass that message on to others.
Paul then used three illustrations to show Timothy would it would take to accomplish his mission. He told Timothy to be like a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. The point of these three illustrations was to remind Timothy that he would need focus and discipline in order to accomplish the mission.
But what to focus on? What did he need to be disciplined about?
Paul used another illustration in the latter part of 2 Timothy 2 which we just read. Paul spoke of Vessels, some for common use, and others for special use.
2 Timothy 2:20 NIV
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.
Illustration
The point is:
2 Timothy 2:21 NIV
Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
We should desire to be those that are for special purposes. We should desire to be useful to our Master, prepared to do any good work.
What will it take to be a Vessel worthy of honor? Paul said cleansing ourselves. Cleansing from what? Paul says from the latter. The latter of what? Well, let’s begin digging into the passage to find...

Proper Focus and Discipline

That is where we are picking up in the passage this morning. Paul is reminding Timothy what he needs to focus on, and what he needs to be disciplined about in order to accomplish the mission.
It is good to have focus and discipline. But without the proper focus, we could get it all wrong. Have you ever studied for a test or exam, only to find that when you get to the class, that the material on the exam is different than what you focused on in your studies?
I remember showing up for a history final. We had covered a lot of ground in the class. I studied and tried to get the overview, but I spent a lot of time focusing on some specific names and dates I thought the teacher would include in the exam. However, when taking the exam, I found out that what I focused on was not on the test. Have you ever done that? If we focus on the wrong thing, it will be a lot of wasted effort. Who wants to waste their efforts? This is why I like study guides!! And, God has given us the study guide in His word. Specifically, in this passage, he gives us direction to know the proper focus and discipline.
So, let’s look at what Paul reminded Timothy to focus on. Let’s see what Paul told Timothy he needed to be disciplined about.

The Focus

Here is the focus...
2 Timothy 2:8 NIV
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel,
The focus needs to be on Jesus Christ. He is the only hope for this world, and the only savior. He is the core of the good news we proclaim. But what about Jesus, specifically?
We need to be sure that what we are proclaiming is the true gospel. In this day, in our culture, there is a lot of misproclaiming of the gospel. There are many that want to talk about Jesus, but they want to focus on Jesus as the God who loves. Jesus, the good example for us to follow. Jesus the social justice warrior who honored women, who stood up for the oppressed.
But when they do this, they move away from the scriptures, and speak mostly of what “I think...”
I believe this is what Paul says is the wrong focus. This is the godless chatter. This is the quarreling about words which is of no value and only ruins those who listen. These are the things Paul tells Timothy is the wrong focus.
We see that in these verses:
2 Timothy 2:14 NIV
Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
2 Timothy 2:16 NIV
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
2 Timothy 2:17 NIV
Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
2 Timothy 2:23 NIV
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
Do you see a theme here in this short passage? These teachings which are just quarrelling about words, and the teachers own thoughts are the wrong focus.
It is true that Jesus loves. It is true that Jesus honored those who were typically dishonored in the culture. It is true that Jesus worked to help the oppressed. But what is the real message of the gospel? What is the key that we need to proclaim?
Paul tells Timothy to remember two things. What is the first in verse 8?

The Resurrection

Jesus Christ raised from the dead. Why is this important? Isn’t the good news that Jesus died for our sins?
Yes, Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. But this is not good news if there is no resurrection.
The resurrection is key to the gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 NIV
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
The resurrection is always a part of the good news when it is presented in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. They knew the resurrection was key to the good news!
The resurrection shows that He really is the Son of God!
Romans 1:4 NASB95
who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,
For without the resurrection, we would not be justified!
Romans 4:25 NIV
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
If there is no resurrection, our faith is useless. What proof is there that Jesus’ death satisfied our debt?
1 Corinthians 15:13–14 NIV
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
1 Corinthians 15:17 NIV
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
If Christ is not raised we are in our sins. There was not acceptable sacrifice in our behalf. There is only the threat of coming judgement.
If Christ is not raised, that there is no hope that we will be raised, or have eternal life.
If Christ is not raised, than Jesus was a liar, because he claimed he would rise from the dead before His betrayal and death.
If Christ is not raised, He is not able to be our faithful High Priest who helps us in our weakness.
If Christ is not raised, than there is no chance for a new life for us.
The Resurrection is a focus of the gospel.
Example of Tony Campolo’s son.
Example of Jesus body being found.
Do you believe Jesus not only died, but that He rose again? That is our only chance for being declared righteous.
The second thing that Paul tells Timothy to remember is Jesus Christ, descended from David. Why this? What is so important about Jesus being a descendent of David?

The Messiah

This is key because it reminds us that the Old Testament is important and relevant. Jesus is the fulfillment of what God planned from the beginning, and foretold and foreshadowed in the Old Testamant time period. His coming was a fulfillment of what God said would happen.
Those who do not understand the gospel are the ones who dismiss the Old Testament.
Isaiah 53:4–6 NIV
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
It is because he is the Messiah, the descendant of David that we know that He will come and establish His Kingdom! He will conquer all, and His promises are sure! He is coming back to reign, and will have us join Him in His kindgom!
Jeremiah 23:5–6 NIV
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.
Daniel 7:14 NIV
He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Isaiah 9:6–7 NIV
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
The resurrection is our hope for righteousness now, and the Messiah is our hope for the future!
Paul claims this as “my gospel.” This was the good news that he received from Jesus on that road to Damascus when Jesus appeared to Him. (Which Jesus could not have done had He not risen from the dead. Paul was a direct witness of the resurrected Christ.)
This was the bedrock of what Paul preached, and for what he lived, even to the point of suffering.
2 Timothy 2:9–10 NIV
for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Why would Paul suffer like a criminal? The same word used here as the criminals on the cross. He was suffering as a hardened criminal, though his only crime was loving people enough to share the good news of Jesus with them.
Paul had, and wanted Timothy to have,

Focus to endure suffering

Because of this good news of the resurrected Messiah, Paul is willing to suffer the imprisonment as a criminal.
Why? Why is the focus on the good news so strong that he would endure suffering? Couldn’t he have believed, and just said what he needed to say to get out of suffering?
No. Paul was not willing to compromise his message for the sake of the elect. He wants to be sure that everyone He shared the truth with will know that Paul truly believed this. Paul truly believed in the resurrection, and that the resurrected Messiah would be with Him and giving Him what he needed today. He believed that there is a resurrection hope for him, even if he dies. He believed that the Messiah would come to conquer all, and that he realy would reign with Christ in the Kingdom.
If Paul renounced this to get out of prison, what would that do the faith of those with whom he had shared the gospel? What would that do to those who would hear of the gospel Paul taught?
Paul was not willing to harm the faith of anyone.
So, Paul had the focus to endure suffering for the gospel. This is what Paul has now shared with Timothy three times. 2 Timothy 1:8, 2 Timothy 2:3, and not 2 Timothy 2:10.
To further encourage Timothy, Paul reminds him of what must have been an early hymn.

Hymn to remember to stay focused:

Trustworthy statement:
2 Timothy 2:11–13 NIV
Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
2 Timothy 2:11 NIV
Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;
If we died with Him… this points to the truth in Romans 6, where Paul explained that when we believe, we are baptized, or identified with the death of Jesus. It is as if we were spiritually put to death on the cross with Jesus, to be raised to live with Him.
Romans 6:4–7 NIV
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
2 Timothy 2:12 NIV
if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
We will join with him in reigning in the new kingdom.
Matthew 19:28 NIV
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Revelation 3:21 NIV
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Revelation 20:4 NIV
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
2 Timothy 2:12 NIV
if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
Matthew 10:33 NIV
But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
1 John 2:19 NIV
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
2 Timothy 2:13 NIV
if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
Like Peter who was restored.
We need the proper focus. We need to remember that we will reign with the Messiah in His kingdom. We need to remember to be faithful to Him. If we make a mistake, He will restore.
Second, we need

The Discipline

What do we need to be disciplined about?
2 Timothy 2:14–19 NIV
Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 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.”

Be disciplined in handling the Word of God

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Handle it correctly. Do not remove or ignore the parts you do not like. Do not replace the truth of the Word with your thoughts and ideas.
Study it. Know it. Read it in context of the passage, and in the context of all of scripture.

Be disciplined in living the Word of God

2 Timothy 2:22–26 NIV
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 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.
This is pretty direct instruction. We need not only know the Word of God, we need to live it. As James said through the Spirit, do not be hearers of the word but doers. Do not look into the word, and then walk away forgetting what the Word told you about yourself.
We need the focus on the true gospel, and the discipline to properly handle the word of God and to live it out.
2 Timothy 2:21 NIV
Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
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