Sunday, January 29, 2012

FINAL INSTRUCTIONS
2 TIMOTHY 2

Carry On The Ministry
2:1-7

In chapter 1, Paul exhorted Timothy to be strong and to avoid being ashamed of the gospel or of Paul. He urged him to guard the gospel. He gave examples of those who were ashamed and abandoned him. But he concluded with the example of Onesiphorus, who was not ashamed of Paul, but rather came to Rome and searched until he found Paul and helped him. So, when Paul says “you then”, he refers to these examples.

Paul told Timothy several things to do in ministry. They are part of not being ashamed of the gospel. He told him to:

1. teach the gospel to others who will be able to teach;
2. share in suffering; and
3. avoid entanglements in the world.

First, Paul instructed Timothy to teach others who would be able to teach. The heart of the gospel ministry is to teach and preach the gospel message. Jesus commissioned the apostles to do it. He told them to teach their disciples to observe all things that Jesus commanded them. (Matthew 28:20) They were to take what they were taught by Christ and teach it to others. Jesus specifically instructed Peter to do this. He said three times “feed my sheep”. (John 21:15-17)

The apostles understood their mandate. They immediately began to teach and preach. The Jews arrested them. (Acts 5:18) The high priest said “you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching”. (Acts 5:28)

The apostles protected their teaching time by appointing deacons to accomplish the ministry to widows. They said “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” Acts 6:2.

Paul continued the work of the apostles, preaching and teaching all over Europe and Asia. He found younger men who could preach and teach and trained them, then sent them out to churches. Now he wants Timothy to do the same. This is the pattern of ministry that built the church and the pattern that should continue today.

Second, Paul told Timothy to share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3) This is somewhat like his instruction in 1 Timothy 1:18 to wage the good warfare. He wanted Timothy to take the fight to the enemy even though it resulted in suffering. He wanted him to be aggressive for the gospel, out there preaching and teaching the gospel without reservation and without corruption. Both the Romans and the Jews would come to persecute those who did so. But it was God’s calling.

Third, Paul told Timothy to avoid entanglements in the world that would sidetrack his ministry. He said no soldier gets involved in civilian pursuits. Rather he fights to please his commander. (2:4). This applies to preachers and teachers first of all. They are to be devoted to teaching the gospel, teaching the Bible, not involved to distraction in other things, such as politics or sports or the accumulation of wealth. The Word comes first.

But it also applies to all of us in a way. There is not really a secular world and a religious world. We believe all the world comes under the domain of Christ. Abraham Kuyper said “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, That is mine!"

We have the duty to live for Christ and speak for Christ at all times. There is no time off and no secular space. We live first to please God.

Paul gave two examples. First, the athlete only wins the prize if he competes according to the rules. Those who try to jump in at the end of a marathon and claim to win are disqualified. Jesus made the rules for us. He often called them commandments. To please him, we must follow his instructions. We must obey his commandments. We must want to do this. Jesus said “if you love me, you will keep my commandments”. (John 14:15) It is we who have created exceptions to living totally to please him. He calls us to it full time.

The second example Paul used is that of a farmer. The hard working farmer gets the first share. (6) Paul again encouraged Timothy to be strong in the task, to get out there and engage the world for Christ.

Now, drop back to verse one of this chapter. Paul told Timothy to “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus”. This faithful, hard work of the ministry can be done despite Timothy’s human nature and ours. We draw our strength from grace. God knows we are weak. Some are weak because they have timid natures. Some are weak because they are prone to pride. He does not expect us to rely on our own strength. We should not expect it either. Rather we constantly seek and receive his strength, then move out in faith to rely upon it.

Notice here that Paul does not ask Timothy to remove his mind from the process. Too many in our day stress emotion and minimize the mind. Paul told Timothy to think over these things and God would give him understanding. (7) God would provide the understanding as Timothy used his mind on the problem. That is why God renews our minds when he regenerates us. So we can know and understand more of his mind and behave accordingly.

Romans 12:1-2 tells us that it is this renewal of the mind that transforms us from understanding the world to discerning the will of God. Paul prayed that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in spiritual wisdom and understanding so that they could live in a way that fully pleased God. And in doing so they would even increase more in knowledge. (Colossians 1:9-11)

I love the fact that Ravi Zacharias calls his radio show “Let My People Think”. He challenges the church to think about everything in Biblical terms. Then he goes to non-believers and challenges their thinking also.

To further strengthen Timothy, Paul even preached the gospel to him. He said “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel…” (8) Certainly Timothy had not forgotten the facts of Christ and his resurrection. But they needed to be a present reality for him. Paul continually burned with passion because he experienced the risen Christ and longed to please him. His divinity (his being God) was proven by his rising from the dead.

Your religion can get really abstract. You can go through the motions. You can look good, but be rotten on the inside. You can be intimidated by atheists and liberals. Eventually you will come to doubt.

But consider this if you believe Christ rose from the dead. It is the most revolutionary fact in history. It means he defeated death and reigns in heaven. It means all will stand before him in judgment. It means he is the only thing that ultimately matter.

For example, Jesus does not exist to make your marriage better. Your marriage exists to glorify Christ. Jesus does not exist to make your job better. Your work exists to bring glory to Christ.

That is why those early church members were so crazy about Christ and about each other. They believed in the resurrection and it was the most exciting thought they had and it consumed them. It consumed them so much, awe came upon them. (Acts 2:43). They devoted themselves to the study of the word as taught by the apostles, to fellowship with each other, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42) They went to the Temple every day, then went home and had meals together.

They shared everything they had together. They did this because possessions were not near as important as having fellowship with everyone who believed in Christ and his resurrection. They were grateful for what they had. They were so radical and excited and good that people came and joined them every day.

Have you seen the video on YouTube of the kids reading John 3:16? It was made by Focus on the Family and they played it during a football game. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1fdAHbUM9o&feature=endscreen&NR=1.
At the end, a kid says “wow!”. And it is “wow”!

What happened to us? What happened that we hear the gospel preached and we do not say “wow”. What happened to make it so people do not come to worship for a year at a time, do not read God’s word (I mean, it is God’s Word!), we do not talk to God, we do not live for him or talk about him or worship him?

Let’s repent and get our “wow” back!
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