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LIVING FOR JESUS       2 TIMOTHY 2:8-13

            If you will take your copy of God’s Word and turn to the second chapter of the second book of Timothy. I want to read our passage this morning. We are continuing our theme for the month, which is living for Jesus. In order to live for Jesus successfully, we need to be equipped for the work that God has called us to in the faith.

            I want to remind you that the Christian life is not a short sprint, but a marathon. Many have started well, but after several miles the grueling pain of continuing wears and tears on them. As we have seen over the past several weeks, Paul is encouraging his young apprentice in the faith and one he would like to hand the baton to when he dies not to give up and quit. Paul, beginning in verse 1 of this chapter to verse 13, is not offering Timothy sympathy, but exhorting him to spiritual strength. Things were not going well at the time for this young man in the ministry and we know that maybe he was ready to quit, but Paul says depend on the grace of God. And then he gave him four pictures of how to continue on in the ministry: a discipling teacher, a dedicated soldier, a discipline athlete, and a diligent farmer.

            So Paul was urging Timothy on in the ministry. There are other such urgings located throughout the New Testament. Jesus affirmed to his disciples that they would face persecution in Matthew 10:24-25: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.  If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household."

            Three times in Matthew 10 Jesus exhorted His followers not to fear persecution (vv. 26, 28, 31).  We are not to fear because God knows about our circumstances, cares for us, oversees us, and will vindicate us in the end.  In light of such assurances we are called to sacrifice all that hinders our relationship to Christ (cf.  Matt.  10:34-37; Heb.  12:1-2). Christ promises that "whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt.  10:39). 

The writer of Hebrews describes heroes of the faith who endured hardships and said the world was not worthy of such individuals. They devoted themselves to God’s will because it was a higher agenda than what this world has to offer. If comfort, prosperity, success, and fame are what motivate you, you will not be able to endure persecution for Christ's sake.  The church has been built on those motivated by a Christ-like agenda.

So Paul encouraged Timothy with four motivations for living for Jesus, in spite of opposition and suffering hardship. The first motivation that Paul mentioned was the Savior’s preeminence. In other words, Timothy don’t give because Christ has overcome the enemy of Satan, sin and death. He is risen from the dead. Also, you need not fear because He is coming back again to rule and reign and set everything right that is wrong with the world.

The second motivation is the Scripture’s power. They may imprison the messenger for preaching and teaching the Word of God, but the message can never be imprisoned. God’s Word accomplishes what it was sent out to do in the lives of believers and unbelievers alike.         

This morning, I want us to look at two other methods for enduring hardship in the faith. They are salvation’s purpose and the steadfast promises of the Lord. Let us begin with salvation’s purpose.

SALVATION’S PURPOSE – 10

            Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

            Here Paul gives the third reason why Timothy needed to hang in there and not quit. What Paul was enduring was for the Savior and the Word and as a result it will have a benefit for those who are going to be saved. In other words, Paul had others on his mind during his time of trouble and hardship. It wasn’t a woe is me party that Paul was throwing for himself. He demonstrated care for others so that the church could be edified.

Paul was a man who practiced what he preached. In Philippians 2:4, Paul wrote, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” On one occasion Paul wrote to the Romans that he would be accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of the brothers (Rom. 9:3).

Something took place in the fall of 1944 that can explain a major reason many children are facing a losing battle in today's families. It was late October when an officer commanding a platoon of American soldiers received a call from headquarters. Over the radio, this captain learned his unit was being ordered to recapture a small French city from the Nazis-and he learned something else from headquarters as well. For weeks, French resistance fighters had risked their lives to gather information about the German fortifications in that city, and they had smuggled this information out to the Allies.

The French Underground's efforts had provided the Americans with something worth its weight in gold: a detailed map of the city. It wasn't just a map with the names of major streets and landmarks; it showed specific details of the enemy's defensive positions. Indeed, the map even identified shops and buildings where German soldiers bunked or where a machine-gun nest or a sniper had been stationed. Block by block, the Frenchmen gave an accounting of the German units and the gun emplacements they manned. For a captain who was already concerned about mounting casualty lists, receiving such information was an answer to prayer. Although the outcome of the war wouldn't depend on this one skirmish, to him it meant that he wouldn't have to write as many letters to his men's parents or wives telling them their loved one had been cut down in battle.

Before the soldiers moved out to take their objective, the captain gave each man a chance to study the map. And wanting to make sure his men read it carefully, he hurriedly gave them a test covering the major landmarks and enemy strongholds. Just before his platoon moved out, the officer graded the test, and with minor exceptions every man earned a perfect score. As a direct result of having that map to follow, the men captured the city with little loss of American lives.

Nearly thirty years after this military operation took place, an army researcher heard the story and decided to base a study on it. The project began in France, where instead of a platoon of soldiers, he arranged for a group of American tourists to help him with his research. For several hours, the men and women were allowed to study the same map the soldiers had, and then they were given the same test. You can guess the results. Most of the tourists failed miserably. The reason for the difference between these two groups was obvious-motivation. Knowing their lives were on the line, the soldiers were highly motivated to learn every detail of the map. For the tourists, being in a research study provided some motivation. But most of them had nothing to lose but a little pride if they failed the test.

So Paul knew much was at stake for his suffering for the gospel. Paul had a heart like God because he desired to see all come to everlasting life and no one perish. Also, he knew that there was no other name under heaven by which men could be saved. There must be salvation in Christ alone, which is clearly stated in Scripture alone. So Paul endured for the sake of the elect to obtain salvation.

The elect in Scripture are those chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:4-5). Scripture is clear that we do not choose God but he chooses us for salvation because salvation is a complete work of God.

Yet, there are some who would go so far to say if God saves sinners, then why should we evangelize the lost. Well, I think Scripture is also clear that God so loves the world and that we are to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world. In fact, in Romans we read, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching” (Rom. 10:14)?

Therefore, Paul was not only interested in his salvation, but the salvation of others. He knew that salvation was in Christ and was forever, never ends.

John Wesley traveled by foot or horseback some 250,000 miles, preaching more than 40,000 sermons, and he wrote, translated, or edited more than 200 books. He lived simply and gave away most of whatever income he received. Yet he was continually ridiculed and pelted with stones by ungodly mobs and was ostracized by fellow clergymen in the Church of England. When maligned, he answered, “I leave my reputation where I left my soul, in the hands of God.” He never lost his joy of service or his love for the Lord and for men, both saved and unsaved. One biographer commented, “To Wesley was granted the task which even an archangel might have envied.”

George Whitefield, a close friend and fellow worker with John and Charles Wesley during his early ministry, spent thirty-four years preaching the gospel in the British Isles and in America. He made thirteen transatlantic voyages, which were still perilous in those days, and preached at least 18,000 sermons on the two continents. The noted poet and hymn writer William Cowper—who wrote “Oh! For a Closer Walk with God” and “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood”—penned the following tribute to Whitefield: He loved the world that hated him. The tear that dropped upon his Bible was sincere. Assailed by scandal and the tongue of strife, His only answer was a blameless life.

THE STEADFAST PROMISES – 11-13

            The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. 

            Here Paul gives the final motivation for enduring hardship in the ministry. The final motivation is the steadfast promises made in the Word of God which will be fulfilled. This is one of five reliable or trustworthy statements made in the pastoral letters. They are no found in the rest of the New Testament. They are found in (1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9-10; 2 Timothy 2:11-13; Titus 3:4-8). These trustworthy statements were truths known and believed by the early church. This particular statement my have been a hymn sung by the early church. In this statement, you have a positive and negative reward mentioned in it.

            First, let us examine the positive reward mentioned in verses 11-12a. The first positive reward is life through death. If we died with Him may refer to the spiritual death of which Paul speaks in Romans. “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death,” he explains, “in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him” (Rom. 6:4–5, 7–8).

There Paul appeals to the Roman Christians’ remembrance of baptism, what it signified, and how that affected their current behavior. Believers died to sin, so they should not live in sin (Rom 6:2). In baptism believers were buried together with Christ into death so that they might walk in newness of life. Interpreted in light of this background, 2 Tim 2:11 calls Timothy to think back to his conversion/baptism experience and how it should affect his present life.

But the context of 2 Timothy 2:11 seems to suggest that Paul here has martyrdom in mind. In that case, if someone has sacrificed his life for Christ, that is, has died with Him, that martyrdom gives evidence that he had spiritual life in Him and will live with Him throughout eternity. The martyr’s hope is eternal life after death.

The second positive reward is for those who endure. As Christians we have to endure many things for the cause of Christ. The Bible says believers endure hatred by all for Christ’s sake (Matt. 10:22); they persevere in tribulation (Rom. 12:12); they endure great suffering (Heb. 10:32); and temptation (James 1:12); and they patiently endure suffering for doing good (1 Peter 2:20). The only life that can endure is an obedient life.

As a result, believers who endure will reign with him in his kingdom. A life that will not serve him will not reign with him. To endure, or persevere, with Christ does not protect salvation, which is eternally secured when a person trusts in Him as Savior and Lord. We can no more ensure salvation by our own efforts or power than we first gained it by our own efforts or power.

Evangelism that offers a Christ who does not need to be followed has produced a lot of still-births--people who think they are born again but who never understood the nature of a relationship to Christ and never show perseverance in the Christian faith.  Calling people to salvation in Christ is a call to correct doctrine and a living discipleship, not to a meaningless decision void of loyalty or faithfulness to Christ.  Only those who are loyal and faithful to Christ can rest in the promise of one day reigning with Him. (MacArthur)

The last two promises talk about negative rewards. If we deny him, he also will deny us. “If we ever deny Him” or “If in the future we deny Him.” It looks at some confrontation that makes the cost of confessing Christ very high and thereby tests one’s true faith. A person who fails to endure and hold onto his confession of Christ will deny Him, because he never belonged to Christ at all. Jesus Himself gave the sobering warning, “Whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33). There is a settled, final kind of denial that does not repent and thereby evidences an unregenerate heart.

The second negative condition and promise are: If we are faithless, Christ remains faithful. In this context, apisteō (are faithless) means lack of saving faith, not merely weak or unreliable faith. The unsaved ultimately deny Christ, because they never had faith in Him for salvation. But He remains faithful, not only to those who believe in Him but to those who do not, as here. God’s divine assurance to save “whoever believes in Him [Christ]” (John 3:16) is followed almost immediately by another divine assurance that “he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Just as Christ will never renege on His promise to save those who trust in Him, He also will never renege on His promise to condemn those who do not. To do otherwise would be to deny Himself, which His righteous and just nature cannot allow Him to do.

The American President Theodore Roosevelt declared, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deed could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who's face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. 

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checked by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows little victory nor defeat" (cf.  Hamilton Club Speech, Chicago, 10 Apr.  1899). 

                                                                                                           

           

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