by Pastor Ron Thomas
RODGERS BAPTIST CHURCH
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Spurgeon, Locke, Flavel, and Others
II Timothy is one of three New Testament books or letters known as the Pastoral Epistles, which include I Timothy, II Timothy and Titus. II Timothy was written somewhere between two and four years after I Timothy. Most set the date for this letter to be A.D. 66 or 67.
II Timothy contains the last words of the apostle Paul, to Timothy written from a prison cell in Rome. II Timothy is in fact the last letter we have from Paul. At his trial in Caesarea, Paul had appealed to Caesar, which resulted in his being sent to Rome to personally present his case. As he writes this letter, there is a death sentence upon Paul's life, delivered by Nero. Knowing his days are few, Paul turns his heart and mind to write Timothy, who represents a new generation of Christian leaders. If there is one verse that best captures the theme of this letter, it is II Timothy 2:2 which reads, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."
Paul begins this second letter to Timothy with a brief greeting in verses 1-2. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." Paul begins by referring to his office as an "apostle," which basically describes someone who is authorized and sent as a special ambassador. Obviously he was not one of the twelve original apostles, nevertheless, Paul often defended his apostleship and referred to himself as "an apostle of Jesus Christ," as well as "an apostle to the Gentiles." Jesus had appeared to Paul personally, and commissioned him to be an apostle! Paul makes it clear that he filled this office by the "will of God," (he did not seek it himself), and for the purpose of reaching the world for Jesus Christ! This was Paul's place, his role in the kingdom of God.
What about your role, your place or office? Some of us could say, "I am a pastor by the will of God." Others could say, "I am a preacher by the will of God," or "I am a missionary by the will of God," or "I am a minister, a witness, a supporter, an encourager, a servant, a giver, an administrator, a teacher, by the will of God." We all have a role to play! What is yours?
This is equally true in the Lord's church. In I Corinthians 12, Paul teaches that we each have a role, a place, a function, in the church. He says in verse 12, "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him." When the Lord adds you, joins you, to this church body, it is for a purpose!
In verse 2, we observe that this letter is obviously addressed to Timothy, who was pastor of the church at Ephesus. The letter itself bears his name. Paul begins by wishing or granting pastor Timothy, "grace, mercy and peace." When the famous preacher and pastor C. H. Spurgeon read this verse, he would often make note that in all his other letters, Paul included only grace and peace. When Paul wrote to pastors, he added mercy. Spurgeon would then joke that pastors are such sinners, they obviously need more mercy than everyone else!
Sermon one: What A New Generation Of Christian Leaders Need To Hear
Text: II Timothy 1:3-7.
Introduction: As the apostle Paul sits in his prison cell, he turns his thoughts to Timothy, his greatly loved "son in the faith." Senator John McCain in a speech, recently recounted his time spent as a POW in Vietnam. He said the key to survival, was to keep his mind active and positive. Obviously, Paul is doing the same. Why reflect upon Timothy? Timothy represented a generation of Christian leaders who were willing and ready to advance the cause of Christ. This was his focus and concern. As Saul of Tarsus, he persecuted the churches of Jesus Christ, but as Paul the missionary, he planted, established, and nurtured them. In II Corinthians 11:28 he says, "Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." Who would care for the churches in his absence? Who would lead?
The churches around this land have no future, if there is no one to lead. Thank God for the older generation and seniors who have faithfully served, faithfully worked, faithfully given, faithfully taught, faithfully prayed, faithfully attended. It takes a generation of believers to provide ministry, and prepare another generation of believers to rise up, follow and serve! When Moses was ready to leave the scene, there in the wings stood Joshua. When Elijah was tired and worn, soon to take his chariot ride, Elisha was ready and willing to leave the comforts of home to pick up the mantle. As a church, what are we doing to prepare a new generation of servant leaders?
Paul could not be with Timothy. He was in prison by the will of God, yet there was something Paul could do for Timothy. He could continue to encourage and challenge Timothy to lead. In our text, we can identify:
Six Powerful Statements - For A New Generation Of Christian Leaders
Statement one: We are thankful for you. Verse 3a says, "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee." Paul begins this letter by expressing his gratitude and thanks for Timothy, as he sits in his prison cell. Timothy's commitment to the cause of Christ was invaluable to Paul, so he expressed his gratitude!
Someone said, "Silent gratitude isn't much use to any one." Everyday there are believers who touch our lives in a powerful and meaningful way. In this church, it takes a team to provide ministry, from the nursery to, children's church, to the Sunday School class and lessons. When we take the time to stop and say, "Thank you for all you do," or "Thank you for caring," it a great encouragement! Who wants to fill a position in the church, if it is obvious that that position is not appreciated? We by nature tend to be more critical than thankful, to register our complaint than to compliment!
Second: You are loved. In verse 2, Paul began this letter by addressing Timothy as, "...my dearly beloved son." Verse 4 reveals that this is going to be a very personal, intimate letter. Paul writes, "Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy." The past parting between Paul and Timothy had been tearful and painful. Here Paul vividly remembers Timothy's tears on that occasion. The scene Paul is calling to memory, is given in Acts 20:36-38. "And when he (Paul) had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, 38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship." God's purpose for their lives required that this spiritual father and son be separated, which saddened them. Paul expresses his reoccurring desire to see Timothy again. The prospect of a reunion brought joy to Paul's heart! As Paul's life and ministry drew to a close, he realized in a deeper way how dear Timothy was to him. Paul knew Timothy! He knew his strengths and his weaknesses, yet he loved him.
Do you love your fellow church members? People know when they are loved. People are drawn to churches who take the time to greet them and get to know them. People tend to remain in churches and offer themselves for ministry, when they know they are loved. A new generation of servants is a loved generation. Church, do we care for our children, pre-teens, teens and young adults? What about our new converts and new members? They need our teaching and doctrine, but they must first feel our love!
Third: We are praying for you. Verse 3 reads, "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day." Timothy was obviously on Paul's personal prayer list. We know that when Paul was in prison, he began a prison ministry, which included spending time in prayer. Paul prayed both night and day! What an encouragement it must have been to Timothy to know that the great apostle was praying for him twenty four seven! By the way, because Paul knew Timothy, his strengths and weaknesses, he knew how to pray for him.
As a church, pray for those who serve. Pray for God to raise up a new generation of servants and leaders. Jesus in Matthew 9:37-38 said, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into h\His harvest." Pray for your pastor, your deacons, your teachers, your church staff. Pray for our young people who face great temptations and struggles every day! Satan and his world system is out to grab them, to use their gifts and talents in his service!
Fourth: Remember your heritage. Verse 5 says, "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also." The apostle Paul recognizes Timothy's "unfeigned" or sincere faith. Timothy's mother and grandmother possessed the same sterling faith in Jesus Christ. He also recognized where that sincere faith originated. There was a faith connection made between Timothy and his home of origin. Our faith does not come directly from our family, but it certainly gives it every opportunity to grow and develop. Timothy's mother and grandmother were obviously more than nominal believers. Timothy's family lived their faith in way that was real, believable, and contagious! Their faith was not an act. There was no hypocrisy in this home! Paul is admonishing Timothy to remember his heritage!
One of the saddest, heartbreaking things to witness, is a second, third or fourth generation believer, abandoning the church and their faith. (Most of the time they say they have a problem with their family or their church or both, but time proves different. Once they walk away from the place of their heritage, they often walk away from their faith.) We see an example of this in Judges 2:10. It reads, "And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel." Remember your heritage! The body of Christian truth is the same from generation to generation! It is the "faith once delivered to the saints." Don't forsake it.
Fifth: You are gifted to serve. Verse 6 says, "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." The phrase "stir up" actually means to kindle up. If you have ever built and maintained a camp fire, you have seen this very thing. When a fire burns down, it helps to stir it up, introducing more fuel which revives it. The word "gift" speaks of the giving of a gift involving grace. Paul urges Timothy to fan his gift into an open flame! He is saying, "Stir it up, Timothy! Fan the flame!"
As this letter arrives, Timothy is serving as a pastor. His gift or gifts no doubt had to do with fulfilling that office. Whatever God calls us to do, He gifts us to do! It is obvious that gifts come with personal responsibility! The "putting on of hands" pictures the inauguration of office, such as ordination. Paul is advising Timothy to return in his mind and spirit to the freshness and inspiration of his ordination. The approval of Paul and others, was symbolic of God's call and approval.
Are you fired up? God want us, expects us to keep our gifts burning strong for Him! One of the ways to do this is to be involved, use your gifts. We can stir up our gifts by working at being a better servant, a better teacher, a better encourager, whatever!
Sixth: You are empowered to endure. Notice verse 7. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Timothy was known for his timidity. "Timid Timothy," they used call him! Just kidding. That would be better than "doubting Thomas!" In I Timothy 4:12, Paul challenged Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers." Someone pointed out that in I Timothy and II Timothy, there are no less than twenty five different places where Paul encourages and challenges Timothy to be bold, to stand up and be strong! Obviously this was something Timothy needed to hear! Leadership requires risk taking and the possibility of failure! Timothy might have been insecure, timid, lacking confidence. Perhaps he struggled with a feeling of inadequacy.
There was another "fear factor" in Timothy's life. It was called Nero. With the rise of Emperor Nero, Christians and churches throughout the empire were facing severe persecution and hardship. A fire in Rome began a fire of persecution that swept across the land. Every pastor was a target for social ostracism, torture and murder!
The seasoned apostle Paul tells pastor Timothy, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear." This "spirit of fear" is not of God. It rises from our sinful, fleshly nature. Paul is warning Timothy and he is warning us of this destructive, illogical fear that often visits our hearts. This unhealthy and unholy "spirit of fear" was standing in the way of Timothy realizing his purpose and fulfilling his call! What is Timothy to do about his fear factor? He is to factor in God's gifts.
God has given us the "spirit of power." The word "power" in the Greek is dunamis (doo'-nam-is), and speaks of strength and ability. We could use the word dynamite! This is not our strength and ability, but God's! This is God's dynamite, His presence and power in your life! In the time of fear, the voice of the "spirit of power" is the voice of faith. It speaks to our hearts in the heat of fear and says, "God can!" God can what? God can take care of the problem. God can transform the problem into a blessing! God can change and transform us, enabling and equipping us for the situation at hand! Because God can, ...you can! The way to overcome our fears, is to release the "spirit of power" within us by faith. We can be sure of God's power when we are doing His work, proclaiming His Word, representing His kingdom. Philippians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that He (God) which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
God has given us the "spirit of love." The word for "love" here is agape (ag-ah'-pay) and speaks of God's affection and good will toward us! For sure Paul could have given in to his fleshly fears as he was imprisoned alone in a dungeon, but instead he reminded himself of God's love and care for him. Salvation means we are indwelt by the "spirit of love," therefore we are never alone! As believers, we are never unloved. It was the apostle Paul himself who said, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." That's why Paul and Silas could sing at the midnight hour! The "spirit of fear" must flee from the presence of God's redeeming love! I John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
God has given us the "spirit of a sound mind." The phrase "sound mind" is one Greek word that comes from the root word sophronizo (so-fron-id'-zo). It means to restore one to his senses. We have seen someone in the movies get hysterical, and a friend shakes him or gives him a slap on the face to bring him to his senses. As the apostle Paul faced his execution at the hands of Nero in Rome, he was not threatened with a rising spirit of fear, but one of confidence and peace! Paul didn't let his thoughts run along the path of a fleshly fear! He brought every thought into captivity! A "sound mind" is a disciplined mind! Isaiah 26:3 reads, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee."
Timothy had every reason to be encouraged in his labor for the Lord. As a mentor and spiritual father, Paul's days on the earth were numbered. Soon, Paul would take his place in that heavenly grandstand, to cheer on a new generation as they run their race. Meanwhile, he would do all he could to encourage and equip those who one day would take his place! In the last month or so, I heard a political commentator make the observation that the Democrats or Republicans, (I can't remember which) were looking into their stable of up and coming leaders to nominate for Vice President. Every organization needs that stable of up and coming leaders! What about you? Will you be a leader? Will you take your place?
The next generation is counting on everyone of us!