by Pastor Ron Thomas
RODGERS BAPTIST CHURCH
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Text: II Timothy 2:1-13. "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 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.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer (malefactor or criminal), even unto bonds (the fetters or chains used to secure prisoners); but the word of God is not bound.
10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him:
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us:
13 If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself."
Introduction: II Timothy is one of three New Testament books known as the Pastoral Epistles. I and II Timothy are letters written from the apostle Paul, to his "son in the faith," Timothy, who at the time was the pastor of the church at Ephesus. This second letter is written from a prison cell in Rome. Basically, these are Paul's last words to Timothy, and his last contribution to the canon of Scripture.
Having finished his greeting as well as his words of encouragement and inspiration to Timothy, Paul moves forward in his letter to address the responsibilities and hardships that are associated with the living the Christian life, and with ministry. Life is sometimes hard and difficult, not just for believers, but for the unbeliever as well. Peter in I Peter 4, speaks of suffering for doing the wrong thing, the sinful thing, and suffering for doing the right thing, for righteousness. One thing is certain, doing the right thing, is almost always the harder thing to do, and involves paying a price. The apostle Paul writes this letter sitting in a prison cell, not for a crime he had committed, but for the cause of Christ! As Paul writes this letter to Timothy, he is addressing a new generation of Christian leaders, who will be called upon to suffer and endure trials.
Our nation is presently involved in selecting a new President. The two candidates are working day and night, fighting, and contending for that office. Quite frankly, I am amazed that anyone would want to be President! Presidential candidates are scrutinized, scandalized, and victimized even before they take the oath of office! Then comes the heavy responsibilities of the office! It takes a toll on anyone who serves in that capacity!
Leadership comes at a price. Christian leadership comes at a price. Loyalty to Jesus Christ comes at a price! There are many Christians today who want the label of Christian, but they want little to do with the life of a Christian. God is calling men and women into ministry, but they are refusing to surrender. Why? It involves yet a deeper level of commitment, suffering, and sacrifice!
Praise God for Timothy! He did not run away from God's call upon his life. Timothy embraced the ministry, volunteered for service, stepped up to the challenge, and entered the warfare! Here in the first thirteen verses of chapter 2, the experienced Paul who knows what it takes to serve and lead, tells Timothy how to be, as he represents a new generation of Christian servants and leaders. Here are five qualities that must be found in a new generation of Christian leaders. Paul's Christian Leader "How To Be" List
Quality one: Be strong! Verse 1 says, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." The word "strong" here means empowered or strengthened. It implies being helped by someone else. The word "grace" speaks of God's divine help, the unmerited gift of assistance, that comes from God. Timothy is encouraged and instructed to draw his strength to serve, ...from God! As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10, we are to be, "...strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." Timothy could be assured that as he followed Jesus Christ, no matter how difficult things became, he could rest in God's grace. God's grace is His provision for every need in the time of need!
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have this saving, sustaining, enabling grace available to us everyday! As we live in a close relationship with Jesus, we can draw upon His strength, and be strong. Don't waver or waffle! Be strong headed to persevere!
Quality two: Be faithful! Verse 2 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." Timothy was to be faithful to the task of training other men. Part of his job description was to teach and train leaders.
We are each called to be faithful to reproduce ourselves in others! This is called discipleship. Would it be a good thing to reproduce yourself? Would it be good for the cause of Christ? Would it be good for your church, to have another person like yourself around? What if everyone in the church was like you? What if they attended like you, gave like you, had your prayer life, read the Bible like you, assumed your attitude and your example? What kind of church would our church be?
This task of training others involved teaching them the Word of God. Paul instructs Timothy, "...the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men." Timothy was to take the apostolic teaching of Paul, and pass it on to others. Paul is not teaching apostolic succession here, but passing on the "faith once delivered to the saints." Paul's writings and teachings had the inspiration of Scripture. They provided the basic doctrine of the Christian faith.
Timothy was to teach all of this to "faithful men." Paul didn't say intelligent men, popular men, good looking men, talented men. A faithful person is someone who is reliable and loyal! He or she can be trusted to do the right thing, even when you are not present! Minus this quality of faithfulness, it is all in vain. This is what Timothy must require in the lives of those he committed himself to train and teach, otherwise it would be a big waste of time!
Before Timothy could require faithfulness, he must be faithful himself. You cannot require something from someone under your leadership, if it is not found in your own life! Leaders set the standard and the example for others to follow!
Can it be said that we are faithful or reliable? God's servants are judged for their faithfulness, not their achievements. Our reward is to one day hear the Heavenly Father say to us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Quality three: Be your best! Paul was not a lazy man. He burned with a passion for Jesus Christ. Whatever he did for Christ, it was his best effort. Paul said, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." His desire for Timothy is that he pursues excellence as a man of God, and excellence in ministry! Paul goes on to illustrate how to be your best, by giving three examples.
The soldier demonstrates a life of disciplined obedience. Verses 3-4 read, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." The first thing a soldier learns is to always say, "Yes sir." He or she is not to think for himself or herself. A soldier must carry out orders. It is all about obedience. It doesn't matter if it is easy or hard. It doesn't matter if it will cost his or her life. Private life and concerns are not to cloud a soldier's vision in carrying out his or her orders. A soldier must be single minded in purpose, self-disciplined and obedient.
The athlete demonstrates conformity to the rules. Verse 5 says, "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." An athlete must be willing to be self-disciplined, be willing to suffer and persevere, and be focused on the crown. All of this however is for naught, if he or she violates the rules of the game and is disqualified. We have heard it said, "It's not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game." Live and minister by the rules, God has prescribed.
The farmer demonstrates a willingness to work hard for a reward. Verse 6 says, "The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits." A farmer must be willing to work hard, to cultivate the soil, to sow the seed, and to water. Hard work however, has it's reward. It is called a harvest. The farmer is motivated to work hard, knowing that he will share in the fruits of his labors!
All three of these illustrate people or professions, who are willing to be disciplined, strive, work hard, live by the rules, endure hardship, for a worthy goal. This is how Timothy can be the best he can be! In verse 7, Paul asks Timothy to meditate upon these three illustrations, and consider the many spiritual applications to be made to his situation. "Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things."
The call to follow Jesus Christ is not a call to mediocrity. We are not to serve the Lord with a "just get by" mentality. As Christian leaders, we must be willing to live a disciplined, obedient life for Jesus Christ. We must live by the rules or code of conduct for Christian behavior known as the "law of Christ," and be willing to work hard! The Lord Jesus Christ deserves our very best!
Quality four: Be tough! In verse 8, Paul turns to Jesus as the greatest example of someone who was willing to suffer hardship, pain, suffering, and sorrow, for a worthy goal and purpose. "Remember (remember and keep on remembering) that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel." The phrase the "seed of David," speaks of Jesus as the culmination of a long succession of rulers, all of which were opposed and persecuted. There was a struggle between the "seed of the serpent" and the "seed of the woman," ever since the coming Redeemer was prophesied in Genesis 3:15. The resurrection of Jesus was a vindication of the lineage, as well as the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself endured shame and suffering, to fulfill His purpose on the earth as our Redeemer. Notice Hebrews 12:2-3. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
Verse 9-10 reveals that it was the example of Jesus that moved and motivated Paul to Be willing to suffer hardship for the sake of the gospel. His present incarceration under Nero, was evidence of this. Paul says, "Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer (malefactor or criminal), even unto bonds (the fetters or chains used to secure prisoners); but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." The phrase "obtain the salvation," does not violate grace. It speaks of gaining, experiencing or finding salvation. Paul himself said that he counted all things loss, that he might win or gain Christ! Salvation is not something we can earn, however it comes at a great price paid by the Savior to offer it, and often paid by the Christian to share it! Sometimes we suffer for no other benefit than what others will learn from our experience and pain. It requires a tough person to be willing to suffer for the benefit of others coming to know Jesus Christ!
My father-in-law once told me that to be a pastor, you must have a tender heart, and a tough hide. That is easier said than done. As Christian leaders, we must be willing to endure sorrow and suffering in our stand for God's Word and righteousness.
Quality five: Be serious! Verses 11 begins, "It is a faithful saying." or "This is trustworthy. You can bank your life upon what I am about to say." Five times in the Pastoral Epistles, we find this phrase, "It is a faithful saying." What follows in verses 11b-13, are four couplets that speak of our identity with Jesus Christ, both the positive and the negative. The Christian life and service is serious business. Serving the Lord is the most important thing we do on this earth. These four couplets reveal the serious nature of our call to follow Jesus Christ.
Couplet one: Death and life. Verse 11b continues, "For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him." Those who believe, have died with Jesus, are buried with Him, and are also risen with Him. This is pictured in our baptism! As believers, we are dead to sin. Paul in Romans 6:11 says, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." The old life is buried, so that we can be raised to walk in newness of life! We are to live and walk in the power of the resurrection! Colossians 3:1 reads, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." We ought to look, dress, and act, like we are dead to sin and the world, and alive to righteousness!
Couplet two: Endurance and rewards. Verse 12a says, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." Those who live and lead for Christ, will be called to suffer. Time and time again, Jesus made it clear to His disciples, that there will be a price to be paid for following Him. In the Beatitudes given in Matthew 5, Jesus included the prospect of suffering and persecution. Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-11, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." While all Christians will reign with Christ in the sense that we will be with Him when He reigns, those who have put it on the line for Jesus, and have been willing to suffer with Him, take a stand with Him, will reign to a greater degree. The Bible teaches that there are various degrees of reigning, all related to our stewardship and willingness to suffer hardship!
Couplet three: Denial and loss. Verse 12b continues, "...if we deny Him, He also will deny us." There is not one of us who in our Christian lives have not in some sense denied, been ashamed of Jesus. It is one thing to have moments of denial followed by repentance and confession, and another to willfully walk away from following Jesus, permanently. The Christian who denies the Lord Jesus in this manner, will not lose his or her salvation, but will suffer loss when it comes to the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Couplet four: Faithlessness and security. Verse 13 says, "If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself." F. B. Meyer once said, "Three things are impossible with God, to die, do lie, and to fail the soul that trusts in Him. Even when we cannot muster faith enough, His word of promise cannot be frustrated." When we are unfaithful to God, Jesus Christ will still abide faithful! Believers are secure in Christ's promises! Jesus Christ will not, He cannot, go back on His promise to save us and keep us! This does not give us a license for faithlessness or unbelief, but keeps the door open for our journey back to God.
Someone said, "They that deny themselves for Christ shall enjoy themselves in Christ." The first day in Heaven will repay the most difficult and bitter experience we are called to suffer for the sake of following Jesus. It is time to step up and serve Jesus, no matter the cost! How should you be? Be strong! Be faithful! Be your best! Be tough! Be serious! God will help you become all you need to be, if you will submit to Him.