Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, March 27, 2011
2 Timothy 2:1-26, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
This is a faithful saying:
For 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 also will deny us.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful;
If we are faithless, He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
Written inside the front cover of one of my Bibles are written these words: “Lord, help me to be the Gospel Minister and church leader You want me to be.”
That simple prayer, pertaining to the roles and responsibilities that God has laid out for me and for all who serve the Lord in His church, is one that I wish to commend to you, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. “Lord, help me to be the servant, the faithful steward, You want me to be, to build Your kingdom.”
As someone who does serve in a leadership capacity, and, as someone who has been graciously honored – my family and I – this month, by your generous expressions of appreciation and affection, I am – we as a family are – challenged to carry on, to continue to strive to be what our Master, our Savior wants us to be.
Though the specific way in which my family and I fulfill our calling may be different from the specific ways in which you attend to God’s cal on your life; nevertheless, the basics are the same. What God desires AND expects from you and us is the same.
Let’s open up this passage, the Word of the Lord to Timothy and to us, and allow God to teach us along these lines.
First of all, as we shall see from verses one and two of our text, God’s desire for all who are maturing in the direction of Christ-likeness, who are growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is that they begin to share that knowledge with those in their sphere of influence, as DISCIPLE-MAKING TEACHERS.
Now while many of us may not have – or may not think we have – the ‘gift of teaching’, all of us, if we have indeed been touched, and are being changed by the gracious hand of the Lord, have something from God to share with someone else. Paul put it like this in his words of instruction to Timothy: he said, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” A servant of the Lord, taking part in the marvelously meaningful ministry of making disciples, as a disciple-making teacher, he must never, she must never forget where the power to do the work comes from. “Remember your power source, Timothy.” “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus… And the things that you have heard from me, commit these to faithful men who will able to teach others also.”
Have you ever thought what would happen if God’s people – all of God’s people – suddenly stopped talking about God, about Christ, about the Word of God, about the Good News of Christ? What would happen if we al closed our mouths, locked our doors and left the world to go on about its merry way? I shudder to think what might happen, don’t you? We must be busy about the task of making disciples! We must never, ever stop committing to others, by way of our words and our lives - our visible witness - the truth that will set them free, so that they, in turn, can teach others!
“Lord, help me to be, help us to be disciple-making teachers…”
Secondly, the apostle Paul, in supplying these final instructions to his dear son in the faith, Timothy, he urges him to be – challenges us to be – single-minded soldier/athletes. Single-minded soldier/athletes.
I’ve told you the story before, but it’s worth telling again, of my one moment of glory as a baseball player, a long, long time ago. Unlike virtually every other time I went to the plate, this time I actually hit the ball. And, hit it well! Way, way out into right center field the ball flew, and I just knew I was heading for a double, a triple or maybe – just maybe – a home run. So like every other starry-eyed athlete I know, I kept my eyes trained on the ball… ‘Oh, my! Look how far it is going! Look! Look! It’s sailing past the outfielders. It’s rolling toward the outer edges of the field… Look! Look!” - - Thud! “What happened?! Oh, my leg, my knee. Ooh, that hurts…” You know what happened, don’t you? This starry-eyed slugger forgot about running the bases. And so, instead of carefully touching first and streaking on, full steam to second, third, maybe even home – thud! He tripped over first base and landed in a dusty heap! Starry-eyed slugger ended up with only a single! What’s the point of my little story? You see it don’t you? If you and I are to be what God wants ALL His servants to be, we must keep our eyes on the GOAL, not the ball! “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, you must! And don’t get entangled in things that trip you up and keep you from reaching the goal, pleasing the One who enlisted you, competing according to His rules!” I mean, the crown awaits you and me – at home plate! The commendation, the medals of honor are set to be pinned on our uniforms, my fellow soldiers. But, until such time that we get there, looking ahead to the crowning day, what must we do? We must run the bases!
“Lord, help me to be, help us to be single-minded, goal-focused, soldier/athletes!” That we might not trip over first base, and maybe never make it to home plate. That we might REACH the goal, and be privileged to wear the crown, to share in our King’s eternal reign!
One of the biggest needs, one of the most essential of all the essential requirements God expects of His servants – His people – is the essential requirement of endurance! Talking about receiving the crown, at the end of the race, the medals of honor at the conclusion of the war, utilizing the word pictures of a farmer, working hard to see to it that he reaps a good harvest, the apostle Paul urges Timothy and us to be husband-men [hard-working farmers] whose efforts in the direction of the future harvest are marked by endurance. “Be Thou faithful unto death, and I will give Thee the crown of life,” is the way Jesus explained it to the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, who stands firm through times of difficult testing, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him,” is the way James said it, in James chapter one, verse twelve. “Looking forward to the rewards ahead, be diligent to be found by the Lord in peace, without spot and blameless, and consider, keep in mind that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation,” is the way Peter described it in 2 Peter 3:14-15. If we want to be what our Master wants us to be, then we must strive to manifest this essential quality of endurance! Paul put it like this to Timothy: “The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops.” Not every farmer, and certainly not the lazy farmer, but the diligent, hard-working farmer, gets to participate in the benefits of the harvest. Why? Verse 10: because he endures all that it takes to get there. Verse 12: he reigns, she, the hard-working farmer, shares in Christ’s kingly glory, the benefits of the harvest – why? Because he, she endures!
“Lord help me to be, help us to be enduring farmers! Yes, help us never, ever to deny You!”
There’s a fourth quality, a fourth aspect to what God calls you and me to do and be, that Paul sets forth for us in verses 14-19. Take a look at that portion of the text with me now, will you, please?
2 Timothy 2:14-19, “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
Have you ever come around to the end of the day, a day perhaps that started so bright and so beautiful, full of a lot of possibilities, a day that you had looked forward to, maybe even made a one, two, three check-list about the night before, and you come around to the end of the day, and think about all that went on, all that you’ve done, you look again at the check list and exclaim, “Where did the time go? I didn’t get a single thing I had hoped and planned to do – done!” Ever had a day like that? A day full of striving about words, but to no profit, except to the ruin of the speakers, and the listeners? Ever had a day, where profane and idle babblings, maybe on the tube, maybe on the radio, maybe on the Internet or MP3 player, a day where cancerous messages seemed to multiply in your ears and before your eyes? Ever had a day, a week, a month, a year like that?
Paul knew the difficulty and frustration of days like that, and he knew that Timothy, his young son in the faith, would face temptations that could lead him into days and months and years like that. A life wasted in futile pursuits like that! So what does he urge Timothy to do? What does he challenge us to do, so that we don’t find ourselves disappointed, so that we don’t disappoint our ‘Boss’ at the end of the day? Verse 15: what a great verse this is, Paul says, “Be diligent,” the old King James uses the old English word ‘study’ (the idea is “give it all you’ve got”), “to present yourself at the end of the day – give it all you’ve got, so that at the end of the day – you can stand before the ‘Boss’ approved and unashamed because you did your job, and you did it well!
“Lord, help me to be, help us to be, diligent workmen.”
I know we’re running short on time, but before we close, allow me to point you in the direction of the final two qualities, the fifth and sixth requirements that God has in mind for all of His servants found in verses 20 through 23, and verses 24 through 26. A disciple-making teacher, a single-minded soldier/athlete, a hard-working farmer, a diligent workman; those are the first four requirements to which the apostle Paul adds these two. As a servant of the Lord, you are called to be, I am required to be, a sanctified vessel – verses 20-23; and secondly, as a servant of the Lord, you and I are called and commanded to be, gentle servants – verses 24-26.
I want to invite you to imagine with me Paul and Timothy sitting down in your living room, sipping on a cup of coffee of a glass of iced tea, and you’re listening in. The aged apostle, nearing the end of his race, before he dies he wants to make sure that all that the Lord had taught him about life, and about serving Christ in His church, is passed along to his successor, his dear son Timothy. What would Paul say to him? We don’t have to wonder what Paul might say, do we? We have it right here. And what does he say, in these, his final words to his son, what does he emphasize?
Two things; number one, “You must be a sanctified vessel.” Paul stands up, walks over into your kitchen, and brings back two different object lessons to get the point across. He says, “Timothy, in this house, when it comes to meal time, there are the paper plates, and then there is the fine china! Anybody can be a paper plate – anybody! But, listen my son, you’re not just anybody! No! God has called, placed His hand upon your life and called you, Timothy, to be a vessel for honor, the Master’s fine china, set apart and useful to Him! Prepared to do every good thing He wants you to do! So, run – my son – run away from anything and everything that will defile you. And race toward all that the pure in heart pursue as their goal!”
Yes, my son, be a sanctified vessel, God’s fine china. And, then one more: be a gentle servant. Timothy, undoubtedly, you will run into opposition just like I have. There will be people in the church AND outside the church who will want to withstand what God wants to do through you. Deal with them gently. I know, I know, that sledge hammer sure looks nice about now, but don’t use it! Treat your opponents like the Savior would treat them. Gently instruct them, humbly correct them, consistently speak to them and model from them the truth. And, then pray for them! Pray that God would grant them repentance!
“Lord, I want to be, Jesus help me to be, a disciple-making teacher, a single-minded soldier/athlete, a hard-working farmer, a diligent workman, a sanctified vessel, and, last of all, help me to be a gentle, humble servant.”
Would you pray that prayer with me? Let’s go the Lord at this time, shall we?
(prayer) “Father, this morning we have, in a sense, sat down in the living room with the apostle Paul, and through these words of Scripture that have been recorded and preserved by Your grace for us, he has spoken to us. You have communicated what we need to know through the apostle Paul. There’s no uncertainty about any of these words. No room for differences of understanding or opinion, it’s all very clear, Father. You’re calling us to a very high and holy calling, as Your people; to run the race, to fight the fight, to plant and water and cultivate the seed; to do the work, to maintain our precious purity and to gently minister in Your behalf. All of which is ultimately for the incredible purpose of bringing glory to You. O God, I pray that You will help us to be found faithful in doing all of these things; to do them in Your strength, to do them consistently, to do them cheerfully and willingly. What a marvelous challenge, Father, a bigger assignment than any of us can possibly attain to on our own. And yet You have also marvelously supplied with the assignment the strength of Your Spirit to get the job done. We praise You for that blessing. Help us to go to it now, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”