Monday, October 25, 2021

Fight The Fear #3 Called To Faithfulness 2 Timothy 2:1-13

 Fight The Fear #3 Called To Faithfulness 2 Timothy 2:1-13


MS Document

Introduction: Consider this…

If you can start the day without caffeine, If you can get going without pep pills, If you can Always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, If you can resist complaining and boring People with your troubles, If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it, If You can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time, If you can Overlook it when those you love take it out on you when, though no fault of yours, Something goes wrong, If you can take criticism and blame without resentment, If you can Ignore a friends limited education and never correct him/her, If you can resist treating a Rich friend better than a poor friend, If you can face the world without lies and deceit, If You can conquer tension without medical help, If you can relax without liquor, If you can Sleep without the aid of drugs, If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no Prejudice against creed, color, religion, or politics, Then, my friend, You are may be ALMOST as good as your dog.

This is our third message in the series “Fight The Fear!” To be honest about it I really felt like I needed to gain some perspective, some Biblical perspective, some heavenly perspective in dealing with the fear that we’ve all been facing over the past couple of years. My mind went to a verse of scripture that I often used to turn to as a young boy and much more so as a young preacher, whenever I was caught up in fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. That verse gave us our theme for the series and the theme for the book of 2 Timothy.
Originally, I intended to do a series of character studies of men and women from the pages of God’s word that stood in the face of fear and fought for the Lord, but the more I read 2 Timothy, the more I heard how to face fear and the more I saw heaven’s perspective on the battles of earth and the reward of heaven so we have made camp here for awhile and it is a good a pleasant place, so here we stay for awhile.

The reason 2 Timothy is such an appropriate book to read, study and meditate on when dealing with fear is because of its context and background. We often talk about context when preaching and studying but in 2 Timothy context means everything to getting the most out of the book, and being able to fully apply it to the times we live in. The context of any book begins even before you read the first verse. Context is the who, what, where and why of the writing of the book. The last epistle of Paul deals with fear because Paul is writing from a prison under a death sentence from Nero. It deals with fear because Timothy needs to be encouraged and the church, he is pastoring needs a strong pastor and a message for the times of persecution in which they now are struggling. When we know that background, that setting, then the perspective we can gain to deal with lockdowns, pandemics, vaccine mandates, Christian hatred and all the catastrophes, pains and sufferings I’m going through personally. If I’m standing on death’s door, I want to remember “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.”

So we began our journey into Paul’s last epistle. Our first stop was No Fear, Know Power from verses 1-8 of chapter 1. Last week we spent time and listened as Paul gave a Challenge to Stand, to his son in the faith. 2 Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

You could place most of Chapter 1 under the heading of fearlessness and you would have a pretty good summary of Paul’s opening thoughts to Timothy.

Now this week we will listen as Paul brings up his second subject and it is the counterbalance to fearlessness. In chapter 2 Paul Calls Timothy to Faithfulness.

Many times, in the Christian life its not about daring but about devotion. Its not about courage, it’s about constancy. It’s not only about being fearless but also about being faithful.  

2 Timothy 2:1 Bridge from Chapter 1

1Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. This is our bridge from chapter 1, it is connected back to 1v13. Where Paul tells Timothy to “Hold Fast” and it gets us back to the main purpose of the book which is Fighting the Fear.  

We have a lot of ground to cover in this chapter so I just want you to notice here that it is grace that will give Timothy the strength he needs to be fearless and faithful It is not in himself but in the gift of God. If there is a lesson in perspective that we can all learn quickly it is contained in this one opening statement. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

It was not our strength, it will never be our strength, it must always be the strength that flows as a gift, a grace from our Lord Jesus Christ. What did the hymn author write in “Rock of Ages”

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;

After Paul crosses this bridge of grace with Timothy, he then begins his second subject which is faithfulness. First, he calls for Faithfulness in the Work

Faithful In The Work – 2 Timothy 2:2-7

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. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 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. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

Vs 2 Faithful Like A Steward

Paul throughout this chapter is going to use several metaphors, illustrations or simply examples of faithful people. Most of these vocations or callings he has used many times before. He has a great admiration for people who do their job well, who are faithful in their calling. He will talk about stewards, soldiers, athletes, farmers and craftsmen. He is going to remind Timothy and us that Christian faithfulness consists of the best values of each of these vocations, it should incorporate the best of all of them and then it must supersede all of them. For the greatest example of faithfulness in all the world must be a child of God.

He begins in verse 2 by telling Timothy to be faithful as steward, one who has been entrusted by the master with a task. That task is to pass on the truth he has learned from Paul to others faithful men, committing it to them with this command, “pass this truth on to others.”
Faithfulness here is accomplished by learning the truth, teaching that truth, committing that truth to others and giving to them the commitment of completing the cycle in others. To put it simply a steward of the Lord must, Learn the truth, teach the truth, commit the truth. 

This is not just truth in general, but it is the truth that God had given to Paul, that he might give it to Timothy and that Timothy would then pass on to other faithful one in God’s calling. This is the truth of the Gospel that Paul will soon come back to and it is the commission of Matthew 28:18-20 Go, ye therefore. Here is the gospel and the truth that must go with it, learn it, teach it, and then tell others to continue to be faithful in replicating the pattern.

1 Corinthians 4:2 - Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. The faithful stewardship of a pastor and of all God’s children and church is to replicate God’s saving, sanctifying truth in others. Be a faithful steward.

Next Paul gives one of his favorite examples of faithfulness. Ironically, he may have been looking out a cell door at a soldier guarding him until his execution, yet he write to Timothy. Be faithful like a soldier.

Vs 3-4 Faithful Like A Soldier

Paul distill the quality in a soldier that he wants Timothy to see as faithfulness. This element, Timothy is what will make you a faithful fighter against fear.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 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.

First, endurance in the face of hardship is being faithful. Faithfulness is most readily seen in the face of hardship. In God’s grace we as God’s people, must endure.

Secondly, Paul adds, faithfulness as a soldier mean being unentangled with the things of this life in order to please Jesus who has chosen us to be His soldiers of His truth.

It goes without saying that faithfulness require endurance and it requires dedication. You can’t be faithful if you quit, and you can’t be faithful if you don’t focus on your Captain, Jesus Christ, instead of getting caught up in the world.

Paul’s next example of faithfulness is also one of his favorites. He says Timothy be faithful in the things of God in the same way and athlete is faithful in competing for a victory crown.

Vs. 5 Faithful Like An Athlete

Paul tells Timothy he must see himself as an athlete, competing for the race of a lifetime, competing for the race whose finish line is eternity. 2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

The word strive is the Greek word ἀθλέω athleō, where we get our word athlete. The word means to contend in competitive games as an athlete.

He says that faithfulness in an athlete is qualified by striving or competing “lawfully”  There is no crown, no reward for those who strive unlawfully.

I hesitate to jump forward in the same book, but I can’t help but think that Paul is not only encouraging Timothy, but he is also encouraging himself in the Lord. Paul for all the world knew, had lost. The great cause that he had sacrificed everything for was being ground into the dust of the arenas, torn to pieces by wild beasts or nailed to crosses and being set on fire to light the path of pagans. That is what Nero saw, that is what the Roman world saw, but what Paul wanted Timothy to see was something greater, something higher, something beyond that world of fear and suffering.

Paul like a dedicated athlete running the race of his life, hadn’t lost. He had endured, he had been faithful, he had striven lawfully and now he wasn’t losing anything, he was winning that crown at the end of faithfully run race. At the end of this letter, almost the very end he writes. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Timothy, Paul is saying, “Timothy, you can’t lose this race if you just keep running. You can’t lose this fight against fear, if you just keep fighting.”

It doesn’t matter how many cross the finish line in front of us, million if not billion already have run all the way home. It doesn’t matter how many times we get knocked down or even knocked out. If we will just get back up and get back in the race, we will receive that crown!

Paul has one more example for Timothy. He tells him to be faithful like a farmer. You just have to love the way Paul loved workers. I imagine he and Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs would have had a lot to talk about.

Vs 6-7 Faithful like A Farmer

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.

He tells Timothy that like a farmer, a husbandman, faithfulness mean you first taste the fruit from the seed you have planted. It could be that Paul is reminding Timothy to make sure the church he pastors is taking care of him. Like Paul’s admonish for Timothy to take a little wine for his frequent illnesses. This may have been well meaning fault of Timothy. Not wanting to take anything from the church and labor without having his portion from the work that he was doing. Well meaning but mistaken. I’m only guessing, but this principle of partaking of the labor,  was something that Paul wanted to make sure Timothy understood about faithfulness in the work of the Lord’s vineyards. Just like an athlete must strive lawfully, a farmer must partake of his own fruit and a pastor or any child of God must understand that the seeds they plant will be the harvest they reap and then eat.

Transition: Paul gives his own transition verse here at vs. 7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. I think he is talking about all that he has said in this portion of his letter. Be as faithful as a steward, a soldier, an athlete, or a farmer. Be as faithful as they in their calling, but supersede them all in your calling because your calling does supersede all other callings.

Faithful In The Gospel - 2 Timothy 2:8-13

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Foundation of Faithfulness

Now Paul moves from the examples of faithfulness to the reason for faithfulness. It is important that we see the examples, but it is vital we understand the purpose. He comes right to the heart of why and he tells Timothy, “Remember” If you remember this then you will be faithful.

Here is what Timothy must remember and in this foundation of faith, he will find the faithfulness he will need to keep fighting, keep striving, and keep sowing.  Paul says, Remember this, “Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel”
This is the reason for it all. It is the reason Paul is suffering, it is the reason he is bound, but oh what a turn of a phrase and what a change of perspective, “but the word of God is not bound!” )You just have to supply an exclamation point right there even if it is in the KJV.) Paul turns it all around and says, you can’t bind the word of God, you can’t imprison the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Lock up all the Christians, sacrifice them to the beasts of the arena, burn their bodies as lampposts in Nero’s garden, but you can’t stop the eternal word of the almighty God! Exclamation Point again

Therefore, Paul says. Because of the gospel, I endure all things for the elects sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The glory of the Gospel gave Paul the power to be faithful and through that faithfulness, that endurance, that suffering He was able to bring others to eternal glory through that Gospel power.

The Faithful saying of Paul

Then Paul comes to the summit of this first half of chapter 2. We won’t reach the peak until chapter 4 but we can see that peak, from here in chapter 2. And Paul wants us to be aware of how important what he is going to say next is, He tells Timothy and us who are hearing this today, “It is a faithful saying.”  Pay close attention Paul grabs our ears and mind and tells us, “listen carefully to what I’m about to tell you. You can put your faith and your life on what comes next.”

Faithful sayings of Paul,  

In his last writings Paul uses this phrase several times and it is always a prequel to the same powerful truth.
In 1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

In 1 Timothy 4:8-9 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

Titus 3:5-8 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

And now the last time he uses that phrase in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

What is the faithful saying that Paul comes back to time and time again? It is eternal life, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with Him.”

These verses are written in the form of a  poem or a song.

If we died with him, we shall also live with him;
If we endure, we shall also reign with him;
If we deny him, he denies us;
But even if we are faithless, he abides faithful,
For he cannot deny himself.

To summarize this, Paul is saying, be faithful because the Lord is faithful, be faithful because the Lord’s promises are faithful, be faithful because if we don’t trust him but instead deny him, then His power will not be there when we so desperately need it, And yet, (isn’t this last phrase incredible?) And yet If we believe not, yet he abides faithful. He cannot deny himself. Even if we fail and don’t believe that Jesus will deliver us, even if we deny His name, even if we give into the fear in this particular battle, Yet still He remains ever faithful and will not let us fall from His grasp because He is Jesus, our savior, our God and He cannot deny himself.

Psalms 37:23-24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LO o RD upholdeth him with his hand.

John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

Just as Timothy was to be strong in the grace of Jesus Christ, we are to be assured in this faithful saying, “2 Timothy 2:11 ..if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. He cannot deny himself.”

It’s all about the Gospel, its all about Jesus and I can and I will be faithful to my calling because of Him.

Conclusion: Ignatius at his death in Rome

Ignatius who was a disciple of John was arrested and taken to Rome to be killed during the time of the Emperor Domitian’s rule. As he was being led out into the arena, he kept repeating one name, Jesus. With each step he took, he would call out that name. He was asked why do you keep repeating His name? He replied, ‘My dear Jesus, my Saviour, Is so deeply written in my heart, that I feel confident, that if my heart were to be cut open and chopped to pieces, the name of Jesus would be found written on every piece.” - Ignatius awaiting death in the amphitheater by wild beasts, when asked why he kept repeating the name Jesus.

Paul was faithful by the grace of the Gospel of Jesus, Timothy’s faithfulness rested on that same foundation. “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.” Ignatius and millions of others for over 200 years, were faithful because of that same gracious Gospel.

Today we stand facing fear in a different arena, under a different power but our call to faithfulness and the foundation upon which we stand is still the same. “Be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ. If we be dead with him, they we shall also live with him.”

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