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2 Timothy 2:1-13: Faithful to the Gospel Print E-mail
2 Timothy
Sunday, 17 July 2011

It is my hope and my prayer that each and every member of our Church would be radical followers of Jesus Christ.  In light of the gospel, in light of all that God has done for us in Christ, in light of our promised eternity with Him, I want us to give our all for the Savior.  Our goal should never be to Ďjust get by.í  No, we want to be radical.  Yet, what exactly does Ďradicalí look like?  This question seems to be floating around these days among evangelicals.  Books have been written to answer it.  Conferences have been organized to answer it.  People want to know what it means to be radical.  And rightly so.  We should want to be radical followers of Christ.  Although answering that question fully is outside the realm of this sermon, I do want to make one simply point about radical faith this morning: being faithful to the gospel is radical.  Now that doesnít sound very radical does it?  Perhaps you are thinking: ĎOf course we have to be faithful to the gospel, thatís a given.í  Yet, is it really?  In our Ďradicalí discussions we talk about things like giving all our money away to the poor, moving to Africa, etc.  But sometimes we get the cart before the horse.  Godís call on our lives as Christians (all of our lives) is to remain faithful to the gospel wherever we are or whatever our circumstances.  That is radical.  It is often said that the Christian life is not a sprint but a marathon, which is true.  In order to run the race radically, we must stay faithful to the gospel (whatever that might look like in our particular situation).  Be radical by being faithful to the gospel.

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Paul writes to encourage Timothy in radically following Christ.  In our passage this morning he instructs him to remain faithful to the gospel in his ministry.  Again, Timothy faced difficulties in Ephesus (as we will continue to see in the letter).  Likewise, if he goes to Rome as Paul is encouraging, he will face difficulties there as well.  Thus, Paul wants him to stay faithful.  Paul wants him to hold fast to the gospel.  In our passage this morning, he gives Timothy five commands that all center on Timothy being faithful to the gospel.  Letís look at these instructions for faithful ministry.  Before we dig in, let me just quickly address those who might feel that these instructions do not apply to them since they are not called to be a minister like Timothy.  First, we are all called to ministry as believers.  Granted, we will not serve like Timothy or even be Ďon staffí at the Church, but we are still called to minister to one another.  Second, I ask for your accountability for my own ministry and the ministries of our Church.  I want to be faithful to the gospel and I want our Church to be as well.  So then, with that in mind, letís look at Paulís instructions here for faithful ministry.

First, be strengthened by the gospel (v. 1).

When things get hard in our lives, when situations donít turn out like we planned, when we seem to be facing opposition on every side, where does our strength come from.  Paul tells Timothy to find strength in the gospel.  Look at verse 1.  Any time we are facing difficulties in ministry and in life, we should remember the grace that we have been given through the gospel of Christ.  All the commands that Paul gives Timothy (and us) are grounded in the grace of God.  Apart from Godís grace, we could never keep His commands.  Yet, through the gospel, through the gift of the Spirit, through the grace of God, we can find strength to obey.  As we go through life and face the various trials that we are promised, we must continually keep our eyes fixed on the gospel for strength.  If you feel drained this morning, then be strengthened by grace.

Second, entrust the gospel to others (v. 2).

What can we do for the next generation of Christians?  Do we have any responsibility towards them?  Look at Paulís command to Timothy in verse 2.  One of the ministersí duties is to invest in men who will serve the Church in the future.  For Timothy, this meant that he must find other men in Ephesus who will faithfully teach the gospel after he leaves for Rome.  For us, we must be committed to raising up the next generation of men to serve the Church.  We must invest in them.  We must teach them.  And we must teach them how to teach.  This may not be easy all of the time.  It is not always easy listening to men who are still learning to teach.  Yet, in love, we need to encourage them, even correcting them, at times.  For me, as a pastor here at this Church, I must take this command seriously.  It reminds me that my ministry here will not last forever because my life will not last forever.  Thus, even now, I must be looking for ways to encourage other men in gospel ministry.  I pray that the Lord would gift men in our Church to be teachers and ministers of the gospel.  And I believe that the Lord calls us as a community, and me as a pastor in particular, to invest in these men so that they will faithfully teach the gospel.  It is an investment for our grand-kids and great grand-kids.  And it is an investment for Christ.

Third, share in suffering for the gospel (v. 3-6).

Suffering has been and continues to be a theme in this letter.  Paul knows that Timothy will suffer if he remains faithful to the gospel, which is part of the reason why it is so radical.  He told him to share in suffering for the gospel in 1:8 and tells him again in 2:3.  Look at that with me.  Timothy is to suffer as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  What does Paul mean by this?  Well, he explains by using three metaphors in verses 4-6.  First, a good soldier of Christ stays focused on the mission and pleasing his Superior.  Look at verse 4.  A good soldier does not get distracted.  Imagine a soldier answering a cell-phone call in the middle of shoot-out.  We must stay focused.  We have to realize that we are at war.  We have to remember that people need the gospel more than they need anything else in this life.  We must please Christ at all costs.  Second, a good soldier is willing to embrace suffering.  Look at verse 5.  An athlete is only crowned if he competes by the rules (an idea that seems lost on our culture).  In context, Paul is telling Timothy that he must embrace the Ďruleí of suffering as a minister.  He cannot try to follow Christ and avoid suffering at the same time.  No, a good soldier embraces suffering as part of following Jesus.  Third, a good soldier is hard-working and keeps his eyes on the reward.  Look at verse 6.  It is the hard-working farmer that gets the first share of the crops.  When you put these metaphors together, you see that Paul is calling Timothy (and us) to be good soldiers by staying focused, embracing suffering, and working hard all the while looking to please Christ and receive the reward of eternal life.  A good soldier behaves in these ways knowing that suffering will come.  Yet, he is willing to share in suffering for the gospel.  May we be good soldiers.

Fourth, think over the gospel (v. 7).

Since these metaphors require some thoughtful attention, Paul gives Timothy a command concerning them in verse 7.  Look at that with me.  Of course, in one sense Paul is simply referring to what he has just written, but it nonetheless applies to all that he has written.  Timothy needed to spend time thinking over the gospel and what it means to live in obedience to it.  And so do we.  It is not enough to think about Christ on Sundays.  It is not enough to read the Bible here and there.  We must spend time thinking over the gospel.  We must invest.  I think this is particularly difficult for men.  We try to avoid thinking too hard about anything.  We donít want to think hard about the Bible.  We donít want to talk deep theology.  We donít want to wrestle with ideas.  But we must.  We must think hard.  And we do so with a promise: for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.  Once again, notice the tension between Godís sovereignty and manís responsibility.  As men we are to think over the gospel (manís responsibility).  And we do so knowing that God will grant us understanding (Godís sovereignty).  May we be faithful in thinking hard about the faith, looking to and trusting in Godís Spirit to guide us.

Fifth, remember the gospel (Jesus Christ) (v. 8-10).

Paul has encouraged Timothy to remember that he is praying for him (1:3ff).  He told him to remember the legacy of faith that he is a part of (1:5).  He told him to remember the Spirit that he has dwelling within (1:6-7).  Again, Paul calls him to remember in 2:8.  Look at that verse with me.  Who is this Jesus?  He is the One who has risen from the dead.  With this phrase we are reminded of the work of Christ, the content of the gospel.  Jesus Christ, Godís own Son, took on flesh and came to dwell among us.  He lived an absolutely perfect life and was crucified on a cross for our sins.  He was buried and in the grave for three days.  Yet, the grave could not hold Him and on that third day He came back from the dead.  He is risen.  And this risen One is none other than the offspring of David.  He is the fulfillment of Godís promises to Israel so long ago to send a Savior who would save His people from their sins. 

This is the grace that strengthens us.  This is the message that we must entrust to others.  This is what we must be willing to suffer and die for.  This is what we must dwell on.  We cannot forget the gospel.  We cannot forget what Jesus, the King, has done for us.  We cannot forget that He is risen.  He came and He suffered and He conquered.  Through faith in Him, we can do the same, which is exactly what Paul says he is doing.  Look at verse 9a.  Paul is willing to suffer because he knows what Christ has done for him.  He will gladly bear chains and be treated like a criminal for the One who was treated far worse in his stead.  Yet, even though he is in prison, he is not discouraged.  Look at 9b-10.  Rome cannot silence the gospel.  They will eventually silence Paul, but the Word of God marches on.  And this is Paulís great hope.  He can embrace suffering because he knows that Godís plans cannot be thwarted.  Notice again Godís sovereignty and manís responsibility in these verses.  God has an elect that will be saved.  Yet, that does not mean that Paul can sit around and do nothing.  Godís sovereignty does not discourage missions.  Rather, it ignites and sustains missions.  Paul is willing to endure everything for the sake of the elect.  Like him, we should fix our eyes on Christ and never forget the gospel.

Paul ends the section by reciting a trustworthy saying.  Look at verses 11-13.  In these verses, which were possibly taken from a hymn or statement of faith, Paul supports his instructions for faithful ministry.  Why should we be strengthened by the gospel and entrust it to others?  Because if we have died with him, we will also live with him.  Why should we share in suffering for the gospel?  Because if we endure, we will also reign with him.  Why should we think hard about the gospel and never forget it?  Because if we deny him, he also will deny us.  In the end, in our fight to remain faithful to the gospel, we must remember that even when we are faithless (or unfaithful), he remains faithfulófor he cannot deny himself.  What a glorious God we serve!  May we be committed to radically following after Christ by always remaining faithful to the gospel.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 July 2011 )

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