LIVING FOR JESUS 2 TIMOTHY 2:1-2
If you have your copy of God’s Word with you, this morning, I invite you to turn to the second letter of Timothy and the second chapter. Allow me to read to you the first two verses of this chapter. Let us pray.
Since the beginning of the year, we have been discovering the way in which we are going to fulfill our mission statement. I want to take a minute and remind what our mission statement is: Reaching Sylacauga to love God and to love others. In that statement, you have the fulfillment of the two great statements made by our Lord known as the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. The Great Commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. The Great Commission is to make disciples.
In order for us to accomplish this great feat, we must have a plan for doing this. Our plan is to help people exalt the Savior (worship), equip the saints (small groups/discipleship), and evangelize the lost (witness). Last month, we spent our Sunday mornings discussing how we ought to exalt the Savior (worship). This month, we are going to focus on equipping the saints (discipleship), and next month, we will examine the issue of evangelizing the lost (witnessing).
Now, let us return back to our text for the morning and talk about this second step in our process of fulfilling our mission statement. I believe our denomination has done a great work in reaching and teaching people about the gospel, but we have not done as well of job on discipling believers.
Some years ago, two teenagers were discovered in an attic room chained to their beds, where they had been confined since early childhood. They were totally disoriented and almost animalistic in behavior. They had been undernourished and unloved, and, as would be expected, were underdeveloped in every way—physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally. They were the product of child abuse at its most malevolent extreme.
Equally tragic is the condition of many children of God today who are undernourished spiritually and, consequently, are underdeveloped, confused, disoriented, and immature in the things of the Lord. There are more popular preachers today than at any time in church history, but few powerful ones. There also are more popular churches, but few powerful ones. There is much activity, but little spiritual fruit; much talk about Christianity, but little conviction; high moral proclamations, but little accountability; doctrinal creeds, but much compromise. (John MacArthur)
It is my prayer and desire to be a powerful church for the Kingdom of God rather than a popular church. It is my prayer and desire to produce powerful leaders rather than popular ones. And it is my prayer and desire for our members to live powerful lives rather than popular ones. After all, God is looking for people who are faithful.
So this morning, I am going to reveal to you the power for living the Christian life and the pictures for living the Christian life. I know that we will not have time to look at all the pictures that Paul illustrates, but we will discuss the first one today and come back next week to discuss the other three.
THE POWER FOR LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE – (1)
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Paul is writing to his young apprentice in the faith. Timothy was already saved when Paul was introduced to him on one of his missionary journeys. Timothy was well-spoken of in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to accompany him on his journeys. He became a spiritual son in the faith to Paul and this is why he is called my child. He was young in the faith when he began in the ministry, but he had been discipled by Paul.
Paul had founded the church at Ephesus, where Timothy was now during the writing of the letter. The church was well-grounded because of Paul’s presence and ministry there; but things began to deteriorate over time. The leaders of the church were characterized by doctrinal error and sinful behavior. So Timothy was sent there by Paul to help set the church back in order. This is the reason for the first letter, which focuses on church life. In this letter, Paul was encouraging Timothy to remain strong.
Obviously, Timothy’s age and timid disposition played a role in him being intimidated by the opposition. So Paul writes to encourage the young man to stick to the task and not give up. In verse 1, there is a connection to what was previously said in chapter 1. In fact, Paul gave Timothy four commands in that chapter. They were fan into the flame the gift of God, which is in you (6), do not be ashamed of the testimony about the Lord, nor of me his prisoner (8), follow the pattern of the sound words you heard from me (13), and guard the good deposit entrusted to you (14). Also, he was to perform the task, duty of a good minister of the gospel.
He was to be like Paul and Onesiphorus, who were unashamed of the gospel and the testimony of Christ. And he was not to be like Phygelus and Hermogenes, who turned away from the faith and deserted Paul when the going got tough. Today, we find those in both camps. There are those who are loyal till the end no matter the cost and those who cannot handle the pressure and leave the faith.
In verse 1, you then is emphatic. You are not to be like the latter, but the former. You are to keep the commands that I have given you and not desert the faith. You are to stand firm in the Lord and to be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might. This is true of all Christians. So you be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Now the command be strengthened literally means “keep on being empowered.” As Christians, we know by grace we have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8-9). So salvation is by grace and this grace begins our journey with the Lord because it is only this undeserved favor that we can even have a union with the Lord.
Yet, this grace is not a one time act by God at salvation, but is a present reality in the life of a believer. This means that grace sustains us through this life; otherwise we would be condemned for our sins. Instead grace is a blessing that keeps us saved.
So Paul was combating some of the philosophy of that day which was proclaiming that the grace comes from within. It is inside of you to live the life that is pleasing to God. Today, people believe it is in our strength that we are to serve the Lord. You have the power with inside of you to live a godly life. But Paul in this verb be strengthened by the grace tells us it is from without rather than from within.
Several years ago, engineers in New Jersey were building a bridge over the mouth of a river on the Atlantic coast. As they were putting down pilings, they came across the hull of an old ship that was buried in the sand. To keep the bridge on the planned route, the hull would have to be removed. After they tried every mechanical means they could think of, the ship remained in place. A young engineer suggested placing several large barges above the hull on either side, running cables underneath the hull, and attaching them tightly to the barges at low tide. When the tide rose, the hull was loosened some. At the next low tide the cables were tightened again, and at high tide the ship was loosened some more. After following that procedure for several cycles of tides, the ship eventually was freed. What humanly devised mechanical force could not accomplish, the immeasurably greater forces of nature accomplished easily.
Many Christians and churches are like that hull, embedded in spiritual immobility. They recognize the problem and try every human means to extricate themselves, but to no avail. But what His children cannot accomplish in their own strength, their heavenly Father can do by the power of His Spirit. So Paul says beware of your own inadequacies and draw upon a strength that can truly help.
Jesus said, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Paul told the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (2:20). In other words, we are to be totally dependent upon Christ. It is our union with Christ that makes this grace available. To be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, you must be weak in yourself, but strong in Christ’s sufficiency. Living for Jesus means understanding the power for living the Christian life.
THE PICTURES FOR LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE – (2-7)
Paul, in verses 2-7, gives four illustrations to show how we are to live a strong, obedient, spiritual life. They are a discipling teacher, dedicated soldier, disciplined athlete, and a diligent farmer. We are only going to have time to look at one of these and we will come back on the next Lord’s Day and examine the others.
DISCIPLING TEACHER – (2)
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
This verse is related to the one that goes before it. A believer is strengthened by the grace by sharing with others God’s Word. Now, in looking at the context of this verse, we would discover that Paul is speaking to a young pastor who can find trustworthy men to carry in the teaching of the gospel. But there is a broader application in that the text also applies to every Christian in every relationship with other Christians.
Christian husbands must hand off the truth that God teaches them to their wives. While the husband is responsible to shepherd his family, the communication is not just one way. Wives also must share with their husbands the truth that God teaches them. Parents are responsible to entrust the truth to their children. More mature believers must see their responsibility to impart biblical truth to younger believers. All of us who know Christ are responsible to share the gospel with those who are lost, so that they may be saved. The idea here is that the truths that God gives you are not to be kept and treasured for yourselves, but is to be taught to others. In other words, there are no secrets in the church like certain clubs or societies or fraternities. God gives truth to be passed on. William Barclay comments, “The teacher is a link in the living chain which stretches unbroken from this present moment back to Jesus Christ. The glory of teaching is that it links the present with the earthly life of Jesus Christ” (The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1957], 182).
Imagine for a moment running in a relay race, where you are one of four members on the team. Each of you has been assigned a leg of the race to run by the coach. There have be many weeks put into the training for that event and the day of the race arrived. Your team gets ready to compete. The gun sounds and the first member of the team does his job by providing a comfortable lead for your team. The next runner gets the baton and increases the lead so that you are in great shape to win. The third guy gets the baton and runs a little ways, but veers off the track and sits in the infield. You and your teammates go to check on him to see if he has an injury or a cramp. Yet, he says I decided I did not want to run anymore. I am tired of running. You and your teammates are furious because you had worked so hard in practice and this individual let you down.
In the church there have been many that have dropped out of the race for a number of reasons. In fact, Timothy had not dropped out but was definitely have a difficult time because of his timid personality. Paul did not want him to drop the baton, so he encourages him to stay in the race. John MacArthur wrote, “Don’t even consider dropping out or curtailing your work to suit your own desires. This isn’t your ministry but the Lord’s, and you have no right to quit or to slack until He ‘takes you out of the game,’ as it were, either by death or by rapture. I can’t let you become a broken link in God’s chain of faithful witnesses. You not only have to keep going yourself but you have to help others get going and keep going as well.” This is why we encourage you to be a part of a small group, so that you can be equipped with the truth of God’s Word.
Since I used the analogy of a race, earlier, let me continue with that same illustrations to show you the different stages of equipping the saints. In the first lap of the race Paul said what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses is what you are to communicate to others. In other words, these were not private conversations that Paul and Timothy had together. These were truths through sermons and lessons Paul taught over the years that Timothy was with him. In fact, there were many witnesses to these truths such as Silas and Barnabas and Luke, a companion of the disciples.
This verse clearly contradicts what the world believes about truth. There is a definite body of spiritual truth that is clearly to be passed from one generation to the next. But our culture believes in relative truth. In other words, it is like picking our favorite flavor of ice cream. We just choose what we like and dismiss what we don’t like.
As it often happens, the prevailing worldview seeps into the evangelical church. Studies have shown that one-third of America’s baby boomers identify themselves as born-again Christians, but half of those say that religions other than Christianity are equally good and true. One third of “born-again” baby boomers believe in reincarnation and astrology (Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion, Wade Clark Roof, as reported in “The Watchman Expositor,” Vol. 18, #1, 2001, p. 22).
For many, today, Christianity is about getting more stuff and being more prosperous rather than God forgiving people of their sins through the death of His Son Jesus Christ, bringing them to life from spiritual death, and conforming them into the image of Christ. No wonder, we have many weak churches and Christians because they are being tossed about by every wind of doctrine. We must be strengthened by God’s grace.
The second stage in the race is to take these truths and entrust to faithful men. The word entrust means “to deposit.” Believers believe in giving their lives to Christ that he is able to guard until the Day what has been entrusted to me (1:12). In turn, God has entrusted us with the valuable treasure of the gospel, in which we are to guard the good deposit entrusted to us (1:14). In other words, we cannot compromise the truth or be unfaithful to the truth. We must impart it to faithful men. Bill Yaeger, pastor of First Baptist Church in Modesto, Ca., called these men FAT (faithful, available, teachable).
Faithful means not that they had faith because all believers have faith. No, these men were loyal and would preserve the truth of God’s word. Paul had men desert him as he mentioned in the first chapter. These guys over time proved to be faithful.
Available means they had time to take to learn the truths of God’s Word. There are some who are not interested in hearing about the things of God. In fact, in the church got caught up in learning myths and genealogies. They were side-tracked.
Teachable is the attitude that I do not know it all and will always be willing to learn more. I don’t believe we ever reach a point where we can stop learning because we are finite creature meaning we are limited into what we can learn. So these people need to have teachable spirit.
The third lap is that of spiritual reproduction assuring that the next generation has the Word of God in its purity. These faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You play a vital part in this spiritual multiplication. We live in a world that has six billion souls in it, who need to hear the gospel. It seems like an impossible task, but nothing is impossible with God. God could have chosen another way of reaching the world with the gospel such as sending angels to shout from heaven the glorious good news. Yet, instead He in His wisdom chose you and me to be a witness to others. He has commissioned us to make disciples of all nations and teach them to observe all that He commanded.
This plan began with four generations: Paul, Timothy, faithful men, and others. If this plan stalls, it is because we have bottled up the truth for ourselves. Folks, reaching people for Christ is bigger than Marble City Baptist and what we have been charged with is global. We are not building our kingdom, but His kingdom.
Suppose that two boys had a very rich father. He made them an offer: they could choose to receive either $100,000 per day for 31 days, or one penny the first day, doubled each day for 31 days. If one boy chose the $100,000 per day, at the end of 31 days he would have $3,100,000. But the boy who chose the penny doubled each day would come out with $2,147,483,648!
In conclusion, I want to remind that you cannot live this Christian life alone. But there is someone inside of you that is put there at conversion to be your Counselor and friend and help. Depend completely on the Lord to help you. Augustine prayed, “Command what you will, but give what you command!”
So if you are a Christian don’t live below what this text says you are capable of living and then be a faithful in helping multiply the body of Christ and grow the family of God.
If you are not a Christian, then I encourage you to plug into the only source who can grant salvation. His name is Jesus. Go to him for salvation and the power to live a victorious life in Jesus.