Broadcast

Be Faithful – Don’t Shrink Back (2 Timothy 4)

From the series Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker

Have you ever thought about what it’ll be like to stand before God, and have every part of your life evaluated? Does that make you wish you were spiritually stronger or had more courage to talk about Jesus? In this message, Chip’ll help us get a new perspective, as he wraps up his series Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker. Learn how the Apostle Paul’s final words can give us the hope and direction we need.

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Message Transcript

Well, if you have your notes open, the command of Jesus hasn’t changed. “Go into all the world and make disciples.” Now we have this sacred document of the apostle Paul and his final writings at least that we have record of.

And he says to a young pastor, “You need to be bold; don’t be ashamed. You need to be strong in the grace of God; don’t get distracted. You need to be prepared; don’t be surprised.” And then finally he is going to say, “You need to be faithful; don’t shrink back.”

And in the introduction, I said the insidious power of wanting to be accepted by the crowd. One of the most powerful things that keep you and keep me from doing and fulfilling all God wants us to do is the insidious power of wanting to be accepted by the crowd.

So much so, as I was praying this morning, I thought of a number of personal illustrations, and they would have been okay. But I thought of this one. I’m in Galatians 2. You can just listen. “But when Peter,” or, “Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face,” Paul is writing, “because he stood condemned. For prior to coming some of the men of James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and separate himself, fearing those in the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like the Jews? We are Jews by nature and not sinners from the Gentiles; nevertheless, knowing that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by works of the Law no flesh will be justified.’”

And he gets a little theological toward the end, but here’s what happened. The apostle Paul comes to know Christ; He does some preaching, they lower him in a basket, he goes back to see the apostles, they wisely think he’s probably not for real.

Barnabas kind of says, “Hey, you know, for real.” This guy that was killing Christians. He was preaching, God is using him. And then he kind of disappears. We don’t know all, there are three years in Arabia, best we can tell he goes back to his hometown for about ten years. Who knows exactly what is going on.

And then the Church grows. And these Gentiles are coming to Christ and so, in Antioch, they are living so much in their sacrificial love for one another, that they just start making fun of them and call them little Christ-ones. Or Christians. And the name stuck.

And Barnabas, being the Son of Encouragement realized, You know, that young Pharisee who was a persecutor of the Church, God’s calling on his life was the Gentiles. I’ll tell you what, I’ve got to get some help around here. So, he gets Paul to come to Antioch.

And then the Church flourishes and, you know, the missionary journeys flowed out of Antioch. And so, Peter comes to visit and Peter is kind of overcoming his commitment to the Law and realizing that he is biased and he is prejudiced just like all the rest of us. And he finds himself with this new freedom and he’s eating with Gentiles - something forbidden all of his life as a young man.

And then some of the boys come down from headquarters. And they are converted Pharisees who, they love Jesus, they love Him, but you know what? Their context is a little different and they are ministering to Jews. And it’s kind of like, Peter goes, “Uh-oh.” And so, he starts, little by little, shrinking away.

And then he doesn’t, you know, like, I still remember this. I remember going to Bible studies on Thursday night and having these wonderful relationships. And then going into the cafeteria or the student union and, like, my basketball buddies and the guys who were really cool. And then one of my Christian friends, especially maybe one that was a little bit socially awkward. And I can remember, to my shame, sort of hoping they don’t see me, because I don’t want him to go, “Hey, Chip! How are you doing?” Because these are the cool guys.

Hypocrisy. Just hypocrisy. We all do that. Some of the biggest things that keep us from doing what God wants us to do, because if you take some of the steps we have talked about, some of your more conservative friends are saying, “You selling out? Selling out? Becoming friends with that person? That person prays for Biden, what are you thinking?” Well, the Bible says to pray for the president. Oh. Or it’s the other hand. “You hanging out with those radical Trumpites? You sharing Christ with them?”

See, when you start doing what God wants you to do, you’re going to find that you’re going to end up in the middle and the people won’t like you on the left and the people won’t like you on the right. You might want to take that as a compliment.

Isn’t it interesting that the apostle Paul wants Timothy to understand in the challenges, the suffering, the calling to be bold, to be prepared, to be strong in the grace of God, to make disciples, “Timothy, here’s the deal, from the time of Solomon to now it has been true. ‘The fear of man is a snare, but blessed is he who trusts in the Lord,’” Proverbs 29:25.

So, what is the antidote to peer pressure? The apostle Paul knows the greatest antidote to peer pressure is God pressure.

And so, as you open your Bibles to 2 Timothy chapter 4, notice how he opens, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is the judge of the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom.”

When I study the Bible, one of the things I like to do is some people call it a mechanical layout. I like to rewrite the text. So, if you were rewriting the text, “I solemnly charge you.” So, all of a sudden, those words, you know, you can do your little word study on them. What you realize is this is like coming before - a legal term - a court of appeals. This is a heavy, heavy moment.

And then there are three levels. He says, “I charge you in the presence of God Almighty and Jesus Christ,” who is what? Who is the Judge of the living and the dead. “So, Timothy, as I end this and I’m ready to check out and I’m ready to head to heaven, I want you to know that this final thing, I’m bringing you before Almighty God. And, second, I’m going to bring you before the Son of God. And then I want to remind you that you’re going to stand before Him and He is going to judge you. And you’re going to give an account of your life.

But I want you to know, on account of His appearing - He’s coming back! So, you better stay on you’re a-game every single moment of every single day, because you don’t know when He’s coming back. And, by the way, there’s a great reward. And I charge you because of His kingdom - because what you do now when there’s a reward and your whole life in the future - this is, like, heavy and then heavy and then heavy and then heavier.” And then, so what does he tell him to do? He is going to command him to be ready to communicate and to apply God’s Word in unpopular ways with great patience in a hostile environment. If I wanted to summarize verses 2 through 6, he’s going to command him to be ready to communicate and then to obey God’s Word in unpopular ways with great patience in a hostile environment.

There are actually five specific commands, but the first one is more overarching. He says, “Preach the Word.” Second command, “Be ready in season and out of season,” to do what? “To correct, to rebuke, the exhort.” That’s what you’re to do. Well, how do you do it? “Do it with great patience and instruction.”

Let’s do a little work together on this passage. So, he says, “I want you to,” the word for preach is to be a herald. “I want you to proclaim.” This is, “Timothy, I want you to tell people what the truth is.” In fact, as he’ll go on, he’ll talk a little bit later because people will wander from the truth. He’ll say, “I want you to give them sound doctrine.”

And then he’s going to tell him, “In your declaration of the truth of God,” it’s more than just Bible stories, it’s more than interesting illustrations, it’s more than keeping people’s attention, it’s more than helping them live better moral lives and being kinder neighbors.

“I want you to take the great doctrines of the Church and I want you to explain them and declare them and apply them. And here’s how it works. I want you to preach the Word of God, not your opinions. And then I want you to do it in such a way where it convicts, where it cuts to the heart, where it helps people to see who they are before God, where they see where this is the truth and this is where they don’t measure up.

And then I want you to go beyond that, because after you do that, you’re going to see that some people respond very positively, and some people don’t. And then I want you to rebuke.” It literally means to censure.

It’s like this is the truth and it’s a graceful, wonderful truth. But there are things that come with it in terms of obedience. And then I want you to help people see: this is the truth, but this is where they are living. And that delta is the grace of God and the gospel and the Spirit of God and the work in their life. And so, I want them to get to see that difference, because if they don’t, they can’t respond.

And then some will respond in obedience and some won’t. And the ones that won’t, I want you to go from correct or convict to rebuke. This is like to admonish. This is like shooting it straight. This is like saying: We are teaching, this is what your priorities are. This is what God says about our money and our possessions and our stewardship. This is what He says about our mental life and our sexuality.

And you teach that truth, because every command, listen carefully, every command of God in Scripture is for your good. There is no picture of, like, here’s a command and you’re on this side of the command and God is on that side of the command. The commands are like this and He’s on this side with His arm around you saying, “The wisdom of God, the Hebrew concept of wisdom, is God has created a way for life to work.”

And so, wisdom is, it’s not intellectual. Wisdom is the skill to understand: This is how God tells me to do relationships. They are very counterintuitive. Humility, others-centeredness, concern for others, caring, sacrificial. This is how you do your finances. It doesn’t belong to me. Generosity, stewardship, kindness, helping. This is how you deal with your enemies. Don’t respond with evil to evil, but good for evil. Pray for those who persecute you. I mean, this is like wacky stuff!

He is saying, “That’s the truth.” The point behind it is when you follow the pattern, as you read through the Proverbs, look at the path, the pattern, the way. There’s a path and that’s how you experience the very best from God. He came that you might have life, you might have it abundantly. But you don’t have abundant life unless you’re on the path with Jesus. Remember what He said? “Follow Me.” He didn’t say, “Preach what I did.” He says, “I want you to actually do what I did as well as preach and tell people about My life.”

I have this word picture that really helped me. I was a very, very slow learner as a new believer. I was thoroughly – God radically changed my life, but I, within three months, I went away to school and it was Bible study on Thursday night and hanging out in the bars and stuff with the basketball team on Friday and Saturday.

And desperately trying to get up to go to church and making it about once a month; feeling very, very guilty telling God, “I’ll never do that again,” only to do the same things over and over and over and over and over and being just totally frustrated, and living a double life.

I didn’t know much, so I just kept reading through the New Testament. I couldn’t understand the other part. But I got to the part at the end where it says, “His commandments are not grievous unto us,” in 1 John. And I thought, I don’t know about you, but they are really grievous to me. I just thought, I think this guy is on drugs. Or he knows a different Jesus than me.

Actually, you know, there are four girls to every guy and I’m to be sexually pure and I’m committed to doing that and that’s grievous. Everyone else is sleeping around. It says I’m supposed to – it was so hard to be a Christian. And I had this picture of, I’m on this side, there’s all these commands and I can’t keep them. And I’m in this tug-of-war with God.

And I’ll never forget, I can’t remember how it all – I think there was a – I memorized a passage somewhere about His obedience, obey in order that you might receive God’s best, out of the Old Testament. And I had this picture of this chalet up in the mountains, this beautiful overlooking and there was great food and great joy and great relationships.

And I was at the bottom of, you know, one of those mountains where, you know, you go the, you know, the hairpin turns and you get to the edge and you fall over a thousand feet. And I remember God gave me this picture of, you know what? This chalet, this is the life. This is where you have an accurate view of yourself where there’s deep and rich relationships, where your deepest desires are fulfilled with people and life and purpose and career. And this is, you’re on this journey, and it’s this winding road. And, Chip, if you go off the road, you can drop a thousand feet and it really hurts. So, what I did is I put guardrails all the way around that curvy road. And those guardrails are My commandments.

And the whole point of the guardrails are when you bump into them, you are aware and I convict you, not because I’m mad at you, but to stay on the road because I love you so much I want you to get My best. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32.

And I remember the transition that happened when it wasn’t like, it was always about rules and stop doing this, or start doing that, or you’re supposed to read your Bible more, or stop lusting, or stop doing this. And all of a sudden it was like, “Oh! So, there’s this way better life and these commandments…” That’s why they are not grievous.

And so, the teaching of God’s Word that you need to put yourself under is the teaching that is, not just making you feel good or not just nice stories. You know what? There’s nothing wrong with a sermon that makes you feel good. And I would hope there are some nice stories. And I have said this, I have studied how churches grow all over the world. It has been a hobby. And, I mean, different countries. If they have written a book on it, I’ve probably read about ninety percent of them. I am just fascinated by: How does God grow churches wide, grow deep, and impact their community? I called it the High Impact Church.

And I don’t mean this arrogantly. You give me a hot band and a motivational speaker, I can grow a church without God to five or ten thousand people. There are sociological issues, there are certain things that you do, there are ways that you change in terms of your leadership structure.

Now, there are churches of ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty thousand that are very godly, very deep, and really teach God’s Word. But I never evaluate healthy church or impactful church based on the size, large or small. A high impact church sees lost people coming to Christ regularly, systematically. It sees found people’s lives actually changing, maturing, and investing their lives in others. And it’s a church that sees the deepest needs in their community and realizes the gifts in this church were here in this community to help these people like never before.

So, if Jesus jerked your church out of that community, the city councilman would go, “What are we going to do about the poor? What are we going to do about helping out the schools? What in the world are we going to do with the teenagers that have run away? What do we do about the drug problem? Because that church, that church was engaged and involved. They were one of our right arms.”

All the social services, by the way, that we have today, all the things mostly the government does, you ought to read a book called Bullies and Saints by John Dickson. It’s really thick, I listened to it on Audible because really thick books put me to sleep.

But he does an overview of the Church, when the Church was most saintly and made the greatest impact; hospitals were started by the Church, the Dark Ages weren’t dark at all. We preserved Scriptures, we preserved the greatest writings of Philo, Socrates, Plato, the seasons of the Crusades and the Inquisition. He shows the ugliness and the beauty of the Church throughout the centuries.

And what I want you to know is that God always finds this remnant of people and the Church is constantly self-correcting. And I think people with the sincerest of motives said, “You know, most churches aren’t reaching lost people. Why don’t we figure out how to maybe change some of our services to make it more attractive to lost people?” Great intention.

We needed to be more sensitive to the culture. But over time, what happened is instead of the Church shaping the culture, the culture shaped the Church; we fell in. And we started using the same metrics. We weren’t measuring disciples, we were measuring how many people showed up.

I’ve been the pastor of a couple very, very big mega, mega churches. I had a hot band! I teach God’s Word and I’m inspiring and motivating. And I’ll never forget when Columbine happened. And it was a jolt to the country and I remember thinking, How in the world could something like that happen?

And I asked one of our most dynamic ministries was fifth and sixth graders. And I asked this couple, I mean, it was like, you know, the high school has three or four hundred people and this group has this and this. And we felt like we were being very successful.

And don’t get me wrong. I just wondered, What is the diet like in our church? I mean, I’m the pastor, at least one of them. And so, we did a little survey.

And, of course, fifth and sixth graders, they are, like, honest. And they listed the kind of movies and kind of things that our fifth and – these are Christian families – And, I mean, some of it was just vile. ] And I just thought, Oh my. We are measuring some of the wrong stuff. And so, sometimes when you really want to rebuke people, you kind of have to come in the side door, because when you come in the front door, they could get really upset.

So, I’ll never forget this. I got there the next week and people were concerned, “What are we doing with our kids? What is happening in the culture?” I mean, think of how long ago this was. And so, I often had what I called “family time.” Before I would preach, I would come out and sit on a stool and just talk about kind of where we’re at, here’s our vision, or here’s a struggle. And so, I had, I said, “We need to have a little family time, because something has happened.”

And so, I tried to come in the side door. I said, “Hey, I just need to talk with you all, because there is something that has occurred that is, I mean, crazy and it’s kind of scary.

We have done a recent survey and I just need to tell some of you parents, your fifth and sixth graders are getting up in the middle of the night and they are sneaking out of your house, I don’t know how they do it but they are getting in your car, they are driving,” old, remember, “they are driving to Blockbuster, they are actually, I mean, they are renting movies that I’m sure you would never let them watch. And then they are coming and they are watching them into the middle of the night and then they drive back and they put them at Blockbuster and they, their values and what is happening in their life right under your roof. And I just felt like I should make you aware of that.”

And I remember we pushed the pause button and we said, “You know, we are going to measure what kind of Christians are leaving our church, not how many people show up.” And it started us on a journey. And we had to repent. And we still did it very imperfectly. But for the last, at least, twenty-five years, my passion has been to help Christians live like Christians and pastors measure the quality and the health of the ministry by: Are you preaching the Word in a way that convicts, rebukes, and then don’t miss this, and exhorts.
The word means to encourage. It’s an interesting word that can be applied two ways. Sometimes it means to exhort like get with the program. And sometimes it means to comfort someone in their struggle. It’s parakaleo. Para – alongside. Kaleo – to call. So, he says, “Timothy, here’s what you need to do, man. It’s a crazy world, you’ve got to suffer, it’s evil now, you know? It’s not going to get any better. But here’s what you do. You, in the midst of this, you teach God’s Word, “This is true.” All have fallen short of the grace of God. Christ came and died in our place as our substitute. He has risen from the grave. There is a heaven, there is a hell, Jesus is coming back, He has paid the price for all mankind and whosoever would put their trust in Him can have eternal life and it begins right now.

That’s the message, Timothy, and then this is how you walk and are sanctified by the Spirit and the Word of God in the context of community so that we are lights. We hold forth the light of God’s Word in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Preach it, son!

You know why I read that first passage about – you know what we pastors are afraid of? We don’t like talking about things that we know we’re going to get rejected on. The fear of man is a snare. I can’t tell you how many sermons, it has been like, Oh, God, do You really want me to say this?

I remember one guy at the very first church too, he was very demonstrative. I remember I’d look at him and I’d think, you know, I’d want to change my sermon right in the middle of it. This young pastor and I care about what people think. And there was another older guy named Bill. And I don’t know where I would be, Bill was a layman and he spent three or four hours every night after his work in God’s Word.

He would come to me and ask a question and literally, I was a young pastor, I was really sure Bill knew the Bible way better than me. And Bill and I would go out on Thursday nights, you know, this is the old days and people would move into the area and so we would take them a pie and we would welcome them. And we would let them know kind of what is going on and looked for an opportunity to – “Has anyone ever shared with you how much God loves you and how you can have eternal life?”

And this is rural Texas. It’s not quite like today. “No.” “Well, would you like us to?” “Well, sure, well why don’t you come on in and sit down? We’ll cut that pie.” And every Thursday night I’m sitting around these tables with Bill and I’ll never forget, we would share Christ and I could tell it’s getting tension like, Oh man, this is not going well. We don’t really know these people. I think we should back off. And I’ll never forget, this huge man talking to this lady, tears streaming down his face as she has rejected Christ. And he just said, “I just want to make sure you understand that you are choosing a Christ-less eternity forever and ever and ever. You’re rejecting the love of the Son of God.”

And I remember other times where he was discipling me, I just didn’t know it. And there was a real bad situation of – we had a sexual predator who did something at a gas station and then he came and visited our church and volunteered to usher. And, you know, you’re like twenty-nine years old and, like, “You need to go confront that guy,” and I’m thinking, And say what?

And so, Bill and I meet him at the Pizza Hut and, you know, Bill is this very godly older guy and he really challenged me to speak into areas and so, we were sitting across the booth and Bill kind of lays out everything. And he gets to the end, he goes, “Chip has some important things he wants to say to you.” And it was like… That’s what Paul is saying to Timothy.

You know why I told you about Bill? Because you all are sitting here at some level thinking, You know what, Chip? You’re right. This is what these pastors ought to do. In fact, I’m going to give this message to my pastor. I think it’s going to really help him. Bill preached God’s Word verbally and by life. Bill was ready in season and out of season.

Bill, with those same tears, an issue came up in the church. “Chip,” he said, “I think this church is either going to go this way or this way. And you’re the pastor. And if you do what God wants you to do, you’re going to become very unpopular.” He said, “Now, I don’t know what God’s plan is for your life,” he goes, Bill always had this, you know, very Word-centered, but he had a little bit of this mystical, he goes, “You know, I’ve been conversing with the Lord. And I got a sense, Chip, I got a sense that He might have His hand on your life in a special way.” And he said, “These will be your tests. You will either have the courage to say what it says knowing what is going to happen, or you’ll compromise. And you’ve got some good gifts, so if you compromise, you’ll probably still, you know, have a nice little church that will do some good things.”

And, you know, I look back and I just realize when you’re a pastor, there’s, like, you know, some people that you can trust. There are people that are, like, on your team that you can really be vulnerable with. Or a lot of pastors, part of their big challenge is they don’t have that. And they are getting killed right now.

“You open the church, I’m leaving!” “You don’t open the church, I’m leaving!” “You make me wear that mask, I’m not coming!” “You tell those people to wear masks, if they don’t, I’m not coming.” “If you don’t preach on vaccines, if you don’t preach on Black Lives Matter, if you don’t preach on…”

And it doesn’t matter what they do right now. Can you imagine if the Church rose up and said, “We are going to help our pastors.”

You know? I don’t care what people think. We are not doing that here. We are going to disagree and we’re going to agree to disagree. We’re not having disunity in this church. We are one. And I’m one of the leaders. Or I’m one of the influencers.” And you are.

You are generous with your finances, your priorities in general are in order, and the favor of God has been on your life. But here’s the memo. It’s not so that you are happy and everything just going good with you. It’s so you’re positioned to make a difference in your church and in your neighborhood and in your community and where you work. That’s the why. How? With great patience and instruction. That word is in some of your translations will be longsuffering.

It’s that picture of it just, with patience, you have a very, very long fuse before you give up on something. You hang in there. It’s the bricklayer saying, “Everyone thinks we should give up on Chip because he’s a flake, because he’s a flake. But I’m not.” He long-suffered with me.

It’s not about: Do this and do this and why didn’t you do this? It’s: Here’s this God’s better-than plan. Here’s where you fall short. I’m going to encourage those who are making progress. I’m going to comfort those that are struggling. I’m going to admonish and come up pretty strong against the people who are willfully disobeying. And I’m going to do it with patience. And then when we correct, it’s that: Here’s the way to do it. Not you’re a bad person. Here’s the way to do it.

And so, he says, “Timothy, that’s the what and the how.” Then notice verse 3 and 4. He says there’s going to be a challenge. “For the time will come when they will not tolerate,” are you ready? Here it is again; underline it. “…sound doctrine.” It’s this theme of truth, of reality. “But wanting to have their ears tickled,” just the idea of, “Tell me something I like. They will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires.”

I can’t think of a better definition of the Prosperity Gospel than that line. I mean, who doesn’t want to go rah, rah, rah for a message that says, “Here’s how to get rich! Jesus is your self-help genie! You know, press A7, B4, C69. And send me ten thousand dollars and God will send you a hundred thousand.” The only people who get rich are prosperity teachers.

Verse 5, “But as for you,” contrast, I love this, “keep your head.” Wouldn’t that be a good word for all of us right now in the world we are living in? Hey, keep your head. The word means to use self-restraint, to be wide awake. The literal meaning of it is kind of to be sober and not overcome with wine. Just keep your head. Don’t get drunk with all that is happening and all the media and all the struggles and all the people and all the stuff.

In the midst of all of this, hey, “Use self-restraint in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Literally, discharge it. You do, Timothy, in your life and with your life everything God has called you to do just like I have done everything God has called me to do. Perfectly? Absolutely not.

We put these people in stained glass. Timothy hung out with Paul. I would go on record and I don’t know, but I’m going to go on record anyway. I think if you hang out with Paul, there were days that he really kind of lost it. This choleric, high-driving personality. I think there were times where I think he was a little harsh at times. “Mark can’t go. He’s done.” “Really?” “Yeah.” “Why?” “Because he flaked out once.” “He doesn’t get a second chance like you?” “No.” “You want to talk about this?” “No. You got any other questions? Remember, I’m the guy that sort of gave you the second chance with the disciples.” “Yeah, I get it.” “Good, go do that with him. I’m going to get back on mission.” God used him. But he wasn’t Jesus. He was just Paul. And neither are you and neither am I.

And then, we get the reason in verses 6 and 7. This is really, these are very encouraging, encouraging verses. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge,” unlike Nero, “will award to me on that day – and this isn’t just for me, but not only me but also those who love His appearing,” those that are looking forward, those that are living with an eternal perspective. Timothy, those that are doing what I told you. Be bold. Be strong. Be prepared. Be faithful.

And did you notice? Paul’s picture isn’t – Rome is not killing me and Nero is not killing me. This is an offering. This is my drink offering. I’m giving my life. This is just a great picture: “Time of departure.”

The word has two or three different meanings, but one is to sort of put up your sail to catch the wind. The word was also used for, like, you are at a dock and you take off the rope and so you depart, you leave your mooring. I am leaving the earth and death is not an end. I am going to somewhere. And, finally, the word was used for someone who’s chains are loosed. And so, he says, “I am loosing the chains of my mortality and all that I have been through. I am departing to receive the gift and the reward that the righteous Judge has promised for me.”

And then, like a military campaign, If they would say, “Okay, strike your tents, because we are going to move.” And Paul is saying, “I’m striking my tent, the tent of this body, and I’m going to move on.” And I love, he is so confident. “I’m moving on.” And then he uses this military term, “I have fought the good fight. I’ve been in a battle, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” And I think he is saying to us and saying to Timothy, “In the midst of evil, in the midst of chaos, in the midst of struggle, in the midst of suffering, in the midst of health issues and cancer and racism and division, and Christians that don’t live like Christians, and your failure and my failure and our repentance and getting back on, hey, fight the good fight. Finish the race.”

It would be interesting, you can do a little study, in 1 and 2 Timothy, the number of times, “And so-and-so drifted. So-and-so turned away. So-and-so departed from the truth.” There is this theme through these books of focus, soldier, athlete, discipline, finishing, and turning, drifting, departing.

And then, he says, “Make every effort to come to me soon.” What I love about this is he not only has in focus his reward, is that Paul, despite his great godliness, you never outgrow your need for others. He says, you know, “Come soon. Once winter comes, it’s too dangerous, the ships don’t sail. I need you, man. I need you. I can’t do this alone.”

“Make every effort.” I mean that, hurry up! Strong word. Why? “For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.” Did you catch the contrast? Those who love is appearing, Demas loves this world. “I am departing to be with God. Demas is deserting.” And it’s not without intention. The Holy Spirit sort of lays before us: Do you want to go the Paul way or the Demas way?

“Only Luke is with me. Take along Mark; bring him with you,” I guess Paul softened up after a while. “He is useful for me.” By the way, isn’t it great to remember the body? Paul was a lousy counselor, but a great apostle. Praise God for Barnabases. I’ll just tell you, your pastor and some of your friends need a Barnabas. Some of you, “Oh, I’m an introvert.” Great! You’ll go deeper with people than other people. “Oh, I have this mercy. I don’t strike up conversations.” Great, just look for people that are hurting, sit down next to them, start asking them questions. I mean, there’s a role in the body for each one of us.

He goes on and sort of basically going through why Timothy needs to come, “When you come bring the overcoat, which I left in Troas with Carpus and the books, especially the parchments.” Warning, “Alexander, that coppersmith, did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” There’s the Paul we know and love. “Be on your guard against him too, for he vigorously opposes our teaching.” Notice, did you get it? Preach the Word, sound doctrine, tickled ears, the teaching, the truth. It’s what we need today. It’s what they needed then.

“At my first defense, no one supported me but all deserted me.” I love this. “May it not be counted against them.”

Anybody, are you ready for this? Lean back for a second. This isn’t note time. I just want to be, this is a special moment.

Anybody during this COVID time feel like someone in your family or someone in your church has hurt you? Said hurtful things? Did hurtful things? How are you doing with forgiving them? Paul is in a dungeon, chained to a wall, rats running around, all by himself. His closest associates, out of fear, they are human. I mean, Peter did it to Jesus. We have all been cowards at times. We have all departed. And Paul’s attitude to the end is, “May the Lord not hold it against them.”

Don’t hold it against them. They are in the process, they are on the journey, they’re just like you, they are just like me. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me,” why? The guy never loses his focus, “…so that,” purpose clause, “through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.” I don’t think this is literal, maybe the lion was Nero, maybe it’s just a picture of at that defense not being executed.

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.” Confidence. Did you notice, did you notice the lack of the word “hope?” I wish, or I hope that someday, someway, somehow. No. “The Lord will rescue me from every evil and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever.” He had absolute assurance of salvation.

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, the house of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, but I left Trophimus sick at Miletus. Make every effort to come before winter.” And then he gives a few more names. He identifies twenty different people in this small book. Life really is about relationships.

The summary is faithfulness to endure whatever suffering, hardship, or persecution can only be accomplished by God’s supernatural enabling, His grace, and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit within us.

How often does this truth counterbalance our own human inclination to compromise under peer pressure? On what issues do you find yourself struggling to communicate God’s truth as it relates to life, marriage, gender, sexuality? And finally, what is God saying to you? Who and what do you need in your life to be bold, to be strong, to be prepared, and to be faithful in the days ahead?

You need to sit quietly and say, Lord, since You are so kind and so patient and know me better than I know myself, what is the one step You want me to take this week? Because if you respond to the light that God gives you, you get more light. If you don’t respond to the light that God gives you, even the light that you have will be taken away. Application and obedience are the organ of transformation, not knowledge.

This world is messed up and the Church is the only hope. And you can look around this room and wish there was someone better, smarter, more godly, more wonderful than you, but here’s the deal. It’s us and this is it.

In your world, in your network, in your family, in your neighborhood, in your church – you’re it! You’re the man! You’re the woman! You’re the…right? And this book is filled with ordinary, very struggling, inadequate people who something happened and they got tapped on the shoulder and they didn’t become superstars and they had lots of struggles. But they responded to the light that God gave them. And we see it all through Church history.
Well, if you have your notes open, the command of Jesus hasn’t changed. “Go into all the world and make disciples.” Now we have this sacred document of the apostle Paul and his final writings at least that we have record of.

And he says to a young pastor, “You need to be bold; don’t be ashamed. You need to be strong in the grace of God; don’t get distracted. You need to be prepared; don’t be surprised.” And then finally he is going to say, “You need to be faithful; don’t shrink back.”

And in the introduction, I said the insidious power of wanting to be accepted by the crowd. One of the most powerful things that keep you and keep me from doing and fulfilling all God wants us to do is the insidious power of wanting to be accepted by the crowd.

So much so, as I was praying this morning, I thought of a number of personal illustrations, and they would have been okay. But I thought of this one. I’m in Galatians 2. You can just listen. “But when Peter,” or, “Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face,” Paul is writing, “because he stood condemned. For prior to coming some of the men of James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and separate himself, fearing those in the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like the Jews? We are Jews by nature and not sinners from the Gentiles; nevertheless, knowing that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by works of the Law no flesh will be justified.’”

And he gets a little theological toward the end, but here’s what happened. The apostle Paul comes to know Christ; He does some preaching, they lower him in a basket, he goes back to see the apostles, they wisely think he’s probably not for real.

Barnabas kind of says, “Hey, you know, for real.” This guy that was killing Christians. He was preaching, God is using him. And then he kind of disappears. We don’t know all, there are three years in Arabia, best we can tell he goes back to his hometown for about ten years. Who knows exactly what is going on.

And then the Church grows. And these Gentiles are coming to Christ and so, in Antioch, they are living so much in their sacrificial love for one another, that they just start making fun of them and call them little Christ-ones. Or Christians. And the name stuck.

And Barnabas, being the Son of Encouragement realized, You know, that young Pharisee who was a persecutor of the Church, God’s calling on his life was the Gentiles. I’ll tell you what, I’ve got to get some help around here. So, he gets Paul to come to Antioch.

And then the Church flourishes and, you know, the missionary journeys flowed out of Antioch. And so, Peter comes to visit and Peter is kind of overcoming his commitment to the Law and realizing that he is biased and he is prejudiced just like all the rest of us. And he finds himself with this new freedom and he’s eating with Gentiles - something forbidden all of his life as a young man.

And then some of the boys come down from headquarters. And they are converted Pharisees who, they love Jesus, they love Him, but you know what? Their context is a little different and they are ministering to Jews. And it’s kind of like, Peter goes, “Uh-oh.” And so, he starts, little by little, shrinking away.

And then he doesn’t, you know, like, I still remember this. I remember going to Bible studies on Thursday night and having these wonderful relationships. And then going into the cafeteria or the student union and, like, my basketball buddies and the guys who were really cool. And then one of my Christian friends, especially maybe one that was a little bit socially awkward. And I can remember, to my shame, sort of hoping they don’t see me, because I don’t want him to go, “Hey, Chip! How are you doing?” Because these are the cool guys.

Hypocrisy. Just hypocrisy. We all do that. Some of the biggest things that keep us from doing what God wants us to do, because if you take some of the steps we have talked about, some of your more conservative friends are saying, “You selling out? Selling out? Becoming friends with that person? That person prays for Biden, what are you thinking?” Well, the Bible says to pray for the president. Oh. Or it’s the other hand. “You hanging out with those radical Trumpites? You sharing Christ with them?”

See, when you start doing what God wants you to do, you’re going to find that you’re going to end up in the middle and the people won’t like you on the left and the people won’t like you on the right. You might want to take that as a compliment.

Isn’t it interesting that the apostle Paul wants Timothy to understand in the challenges, the suffering, the calling to be bold, to be prepared, to be strong in the grace of God, to make disciples, “Timothy, here’s the deal, from the time of Solomon to now it has been true. ‘The fear of man is a snare, but blessed is he who trusts in the Lord,’” Proverbs 29:25.

So, what is the antidote to peer pressure? The apostle Paul knows the greatest antidote to peer pressure is God pressure.

And so, as you open your Bibles to 2 Timothy chapter 4, notice how he opens, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is the judge of the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom.”

When I study the Bible, one of the things I like to do is some people call it a mechanical layout. I like to rewrite the text. So, if you were rewriting the text, “I solemnly charge you.” So, all of a sudden, those words, you know, you can do your little word study on them. What you realize is this is like coming before - a legal term - a court of appeals. This is a heavy, heavy moment.

And then there are three levels. He says, “I charge you in the presence of God Almighty and Jesus Christ,” who is what? Who is the Judge of the living and the dead. “So, Timothy, as I end this and I’m ready to check out and I’m ready to head to heaven, I want you to know that this final thing, I’m bringing you before Almighty God. And, second, I’m going to bring you before the Son of God. And then I want to remind you that you’re going to stand before Him and He is going to judge you. And you’re going to give an account of your life.

But I want you to know, on account of His appearing - He’s coming back! So, you better stay on you’re a-game every single moment of every single day, because you don’t know when He’s coming back. And, by the way, there’s a great reward. And I charge you because of His kingdom - because what you do now when there’s a reward and your whole life in the future - this is, like, heavy and then heavy and then heavy and then heavier.” And then, so what does he tell him to do? He is going to command him to be ready to communicate and to apply God’s Word in unpopular ways with great patience in a hostile environment. If I wanted to summarize verses 2 through 6, he’s going to command him to be ready to communicate and then to obey God’s Word in unpopular ways with great patience in a hostile environment.

There are actually five specific commands, but the first one is more overarching. He says, “Preach the Word.” Second command, “Be ready in season and out of season,” to do what? “To correct, to rebuke, the exhort.” That’s what you’re to do. Well, how do you do it? “Do it with great patience and instruction.”

Let’s do a little work together on this passage. So, he says, “I want you to,” the word for preach is to be a herald. “I want you to proclaim.” This is, “Timothy, I want you to tell people what the truth is.” In fact, as he’ll go on, he’ll talk a little bit later because people will wander from the truth. He’ll say, “I want you to give them sound doctrine.”

And then he’s going to tell him, “In your declaration of the truth of God,” it’s more than just Bible stories, it’s more than interesting illustrations, it’s more than keeping people’s attention, it’s more than helping them live better moral lives and being kinder neighbors.

“I want you to take the great doctrines of the Church and I want you to explain them and declare them and apply them. And here’s how it works. I want you to preach the Word of God, not your opinions. And then I want you to do it in such a way where it convicts, where it cuts to the heart, where it helps people to see who they are before God, where they see where this is the truth and this is where they don’t measure up.

And then I want you to go beyond that, because after you do that, you’re going to see that some people respond very positively, and some people don’t. And then I want you to rebuke.” It literally means to censure.

It’s like this is the truth and it’s a graceful, wonderful truth. But there are things that come with it in terms of obedience. And then I want you to help people see: this is the truth, but this is where they are living. And that delta is the grace of God and the gospel and the Spirit of God and the work in their life. And so, I want them to get to see that difference, because if they don’t, they can’t respond.

And then some will respond in obedience and some won’t. And the ones that won’t, I want you to go from correct or convict to rebuke. This is like to admonish. This is like shooting it straight. This is like saying: We are teaching, this is what your priorities are. This is what God says about our money and our possessions and our stewardship. This is what He says about our mental life and our sexuality.

And you teach that truth, because every command, listen carefully, every command of God in Scripture is for your good. There is no picture of, like, here’s a command and you’re on this side of the command and God is on that side of the command. The commands are like this and He’s on this side with His arm around you saying, “The wisdom of God, the Hebrew concept of wisdom, is God has created a way for life to work.”

And so, wisdom is, it’s not intellectual. Wisdom is the skill to understand: This is how God tells me to do relationships. They are very counterintuitive. Humility, others-centeredness, concern for others, caring, sacrificial. This is how you do your finances. It doesn’t belong to me. Generosity, stewardship, kindness, helping. This is how you deal with your enemies. Don’t respond with evil to evil, but good for evil. Pray for those who persecute you. I mean, this is like wacky stuff!

He is saying, “That’s the truth.” The point behind it is when you follow the pattern, as you read through the Proverbs, look at the path, the pattern, the way. There’s a path and that’s how you experience the very best from God. He came that you might have life, you might have it abundantly. But you don’t have abundant life unless you’re on the path with Jesus. Remember what He said? “Follow Me.” He didn’t say, “Preach what I did.” He says, “I want you to actually do what I did as well as preach and tell people about My life.”

I have this word picture that really helped me. I was a very, very slow learner as a new believer. I was thoroughly – God radically changed my life, but I, within three months, I went away to school and it was Bible study on Thursday night and hanging out in the bars and stuff with the basketball team on Friday and Saturday.

And desperately trying to get up to go to church and making it about once a month; feeling very, very guilty telling God, “I’ll never do that again,” only to do the same things over and over and over and over and over and being just totally frustrated, and living a double life.

I didn’t know much, so I just kept reading through the New Testament. I couldn’t understand the other part. But I got to the part at the end where it says, “His commandments are not grievous unto us,” in 1 John. And I thought, I don’t know about you, but they are really grievous to me. I just thought, I think this guy is on drugs. Or he knows a different Jesus than me.

Actually, you know, there are four girls to every guy and I’m to be sexually pure and I’m committed to doing that and that’s grievous. Everyone else is sleeping around. It says I’m supposed to – it was so hard to be a Christian. And I had this picture of, I’m on this side, there’s all these commands and I can’t keep them. And I’m in this tug-of-war with God.

And I’ll never forget, I can’t remember how it all – I think there was a – I memorized a passage somewhere about His obedience, obey in order that you might receive God’s best, out of the Old Testament. And I had this picture of this chalet up in the mountains, this beautiful overlooking and there was great food and great joy and great relationships.

And I was at the bottom of, you know, one of those mountains where, you know, you go the, you know, the hairpin turns and you get to the edge and you fall over a thousand feet. And I remember God gave me this picture of, you know what? This chalet, this is the life. This is where you have an accurate view of yourself where there’s deep and rich relationships, where your deepest desires are fulfilled with people and life and purpose and career. And this is, you’re on this journey, and it’s this winding road. And, Chip, if you go off the road, you can drop a thousand feet and it really hurts. So, what I did is I put guardrails all the way around that curvy road. And those guardrails are My commandments.

And the whole point of the guardrails are when you bump into them, you are aware and I convict you, not because I’m mad at you, but to stay on the road because I love you so much I want you to get My best. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32.

And I remember the transition that happened when it wasn’t like, it was always about rules and stop doing this, or start doing that, or you’re supposed to read your Bible more, or stop lusting, or stop doing this. And all of a sudden it was like, “Oh! So, there’s this way better life and these commandments…” That’s why they are not grievous.

And so, the teaching of God’s Word that you need to put yourself under is the teaching that is, not just making you feel good or not just nice stories. You know what? There’s nothing wrong with a sermon that makes you feel good. And I would hope there are some nice stories. And I have said this, I have studied how churches grow all over the world. It has been a hobby. And, I mean, different countries. If they have written a book on it, I’ve probably read about ninety percent of them. I am just fascinated by: How does God grow churches wide, grow deep, and impact their community? I called it the High Impact Church.

And I don’t mean this arrogantly. You give me a hot band and a motivational speaker, I can grow a church without God to five or ten thousand people. There are sociological issues, there are certain things that you do, there are ways that you change in terms of your leadership structure.

Now, there are churches of ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty thousand that are very godly, very deep, and really teach God’s Word. But I never evaluate healthy church or impactful church based on the size, large or small. A high impact church sees lost people coming to Christ regularly, systematically. It sees found people’s lives actually changing, maturing, and investing their lives in others. And it’s a church that sees the deepest needs in their community and realizes the gifts in this church were here in this community to help these people like never before.

So, if Jesus jerked your church out of that community, the city councilman would go, “What are we going to do about the poor? What are we going to do about helping out the schools? What in the world are we going to do with the teenagers that have run away? What do we do about the drug problem? Because that church, that church was engaged and involved. They were one of our right arms.”

All the social services, by the way, that we have today, all the things mostly the government does, you ought to read a book called Bullies and Saints by John Dickson. It’s really thick, I listened to it on Audible because really thick books put me to sleep.

But he does an overview of the Church, when the Church was most saintly and made the greatest impact; hospitals were started by the Church, the Dark Ages weren’t dark at all. We preserved Scriptures, we preserved the greatest writings of Philo, Socrates, Plato, the seasons of the Crusades and the Inquisition. He shows the ugliness and the beauty of the Church throughout the centuries.

And what I want you to know is that God always finds this remnant of people and the Church is constantly self-correcting. And I think people with the sincerest of motives said, “You know, most churches aren’t reaching lost people. Why don’t we figure out how to maybe change some of our services to make it more attractive to lost people?” Great intention.

We needed to be more sensitive to the culture. But over time, what happened is instead of the Church shaping the culture, the culture shaped the Church; we fell in. And we started using the same metrics. We weren’t measuring disciples, we were measuring how many people showed up.

I’ve been the pastor of a couple very, very big mega, mega churches. I had a hot band! I teach God’s Word and I’m inspiring and motivating. And I’ll never forget when Columbine happened. And it was a jolt to the country and I remember thinking, How in the world could something like that happen?

And I asked one of our most dynamic ministries was fifth and sixth graders. And I asked this couple, I mean, it was like, you know, the high school has three or four hundred people and this group has this and this. And we felt like we were being very successful.

And don’t get me wrong. I just wondered, What is the diet like in our church? I mean, I’m the pastor, at least one of them. And so, we did a little survey.

And, of course, fifth and sixth graders, they are, like, honest. And they listed the kind of movies and kind of things that our fifth and – these are Christian families – And, I mean, some of it was just vile. ] And I just thought, Oh my. We are measuring some of the wrong stuff. And so, sometimes when you really want to rebuke people, you kind of have to come in the side door, because when you come in the front door, they could get really upset.

So, I’ll never forget this. I got there the next week and people were concerned, “What are we doing with our kids? What is happening in the culture?” I mean, think of how long ago this was. And so, I often had what I called “family time.” Before I would preach, I would come out and sit on a stool and just talk about kind of where we’re at, here’s our vision, or here’s a struggle. And so, I had, I said, “We need to have a little family time, because something has happened.”

And so, I tried to come in the side door. I said, “Hey, I just need to talk with you all, because there is something that has occurred that is, I mean, crazy and it’s kind of scary.

We have done a recent survey and I just need to tell some of you parents, your fifth and sixth graders are getting up in the middle of the night and they are sneaking out of your house, I don’t know how they do it but they are getting in your car, they are driving,” old, remember, “they are driving to Blockbuster, they are actually, I mean, they are renting movies that I’m sure you would never let them watch. And then they are coming and they are watching them into the middle of the night and then they drive back and they put them at Blockbuster and they, their values and what is happening in their life right under your roof. And I just felt like I should make you aware of that.”

And I remember we pushed the pause button and we said, “You know, we are going to measure what kind of Christians are leaving our church, not how many people show up.” And it started us on a journey. And we had to repent. And we still did it very imperfectly. But for the last, at least, twenty-five years, my passion has been to help Christians live like Christians and pastors measure the quality and the health of the ministry by: Are you preaching the Word in a way that convicts, rebukes, and then don’t miss this, and exhorts.
The word means to encourage. It’s an interesting word that can be applied two ways. Sometimes it means to exhort like get with the program. And sometimes it means to comfort someone in their struggle. It’s parakaleo. Para – alongside. Kaleo – to call. So, he says, “Timothy, here’s what you need to do, man. It’s a crazy world, you’ve got to suffer, it’s evil now, you know? It’s not going to get any better. But here’s what you do. You, in the midst of this, you teach God’s Word, “This is true.” All have fallen short of the grace of God. Christ came and died in our place as our substitute. He has risen from the grave. There is a heaven, there is a hell, Jesus is coming back, He has paid the price for all mankind and whosoever would put their trust in Him can have eternal life and it begins right now.

That’s the message, Timothy, and then this is how you walk and are sanctified by the Spirit and the Word of God in the context of community so that we are lights. We hold forth the light of God’s Word in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Preach it, son!

You know why I read that first passage about – you know what we pastors are afraid of? We don’t like talking about things that we know we’re going to get rejected on. The fear of man is a snare. I can’t tell you how many sermons, it has been like, Oh, God, do You really want me to say this?

I remember one guy at the very first church too, he was very demonstrative. I remember I’d look at him and I’d think, you know, I’d want to change my sermon right in the middle of it. This young pastor and I care about what people think. And there was another older guy named Bill. And I don’t know where I would be, Bill was a layman and he spent three or four hours every night after his work in God’s Word.

He would come to me and ask a question and literally, I was a young pastor, I was really sure Bill knew the Bible way better than me. And Bill and I would go out on Thursday nights, you know, this is the old days and people would move into the area and so we would take them a pie and we would welcome them. And we would let them know kind of what is going on and looked for an opportunity to – “Has anyone ever shared with you how much God loves you and how you can have eternal life?”

And this is rural Texas. It’s not quite like today. “No.” “Well, would you like us to?” “Well, sure, well why don’t you come on in and sit down? We’ll cut that pie.” And every Thursday night I’m sitting around these tables with Bill and I’ll never forget, we would share Christ and I could tell it’s getting tension like, Oh man, this is not going well. We don’t really know these people. I think we should back off. And I’ll never forget, this huge man talking to this lady, tears streaming down his face as she has rejected Christ. And he just said, “I just want to make sure you understand that you are choosing a Christ-less eternity forever and ever and ever. You’re rejecting the love of the Son of God.”

And I remember other times where he was discipling me, I just didn’t know it. And there was a real bad situation of – we had a sexual predator who did something at a gas station and then he came and visited our church and volunteered to usher. And, you know, you’re like twenty-nine years old and, like, “You need to go confront that guy,” and I’m thinking, And say what?

And so, Bill and I meet him at the Pizza Hut and, you know, Bill is this very godly older guy and he really challenged me to speak into areas and so, we were sitting across the booth and Bill kind of lays out everything. And he gets to the end, he goes, “Chip has some important things he wants to say to you.” And it was like… That’s what Paul is saying to Timothy.

You know why I told you about Bill? Because you all are sitting here at some level thinking, You know what, Chip? You’re right. This is what these pastors ought to do. In fact, I’m going to give this message to my pastor. I think it’s going to really help him. Bill preached God’s Word verbally and by life. Bill was ready in season and out of season.

Bill, with those same tears, an issue came up in the church. “Chip,” he said, “I think this church is either going to go this way or this way. And you’re the pastor. And if you do what God wants you to do, you’re going to become very unpopular.” He said, “Now, I don’t know what God’s plan is for your life,” he goes, Bill always had this, you know, very Word-centered, but he had a little bit of this mystical, he goes, “You know, I’ve been conversing with the Lord. And I got a sense, Chip, I got a sense that He might have His hand on your life in a special way.” And he said, “These will be your tests. You will either have the courage to say what it says knowing what is going to happen, or you’ll compromise. And you’ve got some good gifts, so if you compromise, you’ll probably still, you know, have a nice little church that will do some good things.”

And, you know, I look back and I just realize when you’re a pastor, there’s, like, you know, some people that you can trust. There are people that are, like, on your team that you can really be vulnerable with. Or a lot of pastors, part of their big challenge is they don’t have that. And they are getting killed right now.

“You open the church, I’m leaving!” “You don’t open the church, I’m leaving!” “You make me wear that mask, I’m not coming!” “You tell those people to wear masks, if they don’t, I’m not coming.” “If you don’t preach on vaccines, if you don’t preach on Black Lives Matter, if you don’t preach on…”

And it doesn’t matter what they do right now. Can you imagine if the Church rose up and said, “We are going to help our pastors.”

You know? I don’t care what people think. We are not doing that here. We are going to disagree and we’re going to agree to disagree. We’re not having disunity in this church. We are one. And I’m one of the leaders. Or I’m one of the influencers.” And you are.

You are generous with your finances, your priorities in general are in order, and the favor of God has been on your life. But here’s the memo. It’s not so that you are happy and everything just going good with you. It’s so you’re positioned to make a difference in your church and in your neighborhood and in your community and where you work. That’s the why. How? With great patience and instruction. That word is in some of your translations will be longsuffering.

It’s that picture of it just, with patience, you have a very, very long fuse before you give up on something. You hang in there. It’s the bricklayer saying, “Everyone thinks we should give up on Chip because he’s a flake, because he’s a flake. But I’m not.” He long-suffered with me.

It’s not about: Do this and do this and why didn’t you do this? It’s: Here’s this God’s better-than plan. Here’s where you fall short. I’m going to encourage those who are making progress. I’m going to comfort those that are struggling. I’m going to admonish and come up pretty strong against the people who are willfully disobeying. And I’m going to do it with patience. And then when we correct, it’s that: Here’s the way to do it. Not you’re a bad person. Here’s the way to do it.

And so, he says, “Timothy, that’s the what and the how.” Then notice verse 3 and 4. He says there’s going to be a challenge. “For the time will come when they will not tolerate,” are you ready? Here it is again; underline it. “…sound doctrine.” It’s this theme of truth, of reality. “But wanting to have their ears tickled,” just the idea of, “Tell me something I like. They will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires.”

I can’t think of a better definition of the Prosperity Gospel than that line. I mean, who doesn’t want to go rah, rah, rah for a message that says, “Here’s how to get rich! Jesus is your self-help genie! You know, press A7, B4, C69. And send me ten thousand dollars and God will send you a hundred thousand.” The only people who get rich are prosperity teachers.

Verse 5, “But as for you,” contrast, I love this, “keep your head.” Wouldn’t that be a good word for all of us right now in the world we are living in? Hey, keep your head. The word means to use self-restraint, to be wide awake. The literal meaning of it is kind of to be sober and not overcome with wine. Just keep your head. Don’t get drunk with all that is happening and all the media and all the struggles and all the people and all the stuff.

In the midst of all of this, hey, “Use self-restraint in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Literally, discharge it. You do, Timothy, in your life and with your life everything God has called you to do just like I have done everything God has called me to do. Perfectly? Absolutely not.

We put these people in stained glass. Timothy hung out with Paul. I would go on record and I don’t know, but I’m going to go on record anyway. I think if you hang out with Paul, there were days that he really kind of lost it. This choleric, high-driving personality. I think there were times where I think he was a little harsh at times. “Mark can’t go. He’s done.” “Really?” “Yeah.” “Why?” “Because he flaked out once.” “He doesn’t get a second chance like you?” “No.” “You want to talk about this?” “No. You got any other questions? Remember, I’m the guy that sort of gave you the second chance with the disciples.” “Yeah, I get it.” “Good, go do that with him. I’m going to get back on mission.” God used him. But he wasn’t Jesus. He was just Paul. And neither are you and neither am I.

And then, we get the reason in verses 6 and 7. This is really, these are very encouraging, encouraging verses. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge,” unlike Nero, “will award to me on that day – and this isn’t just for me, but not only me but also those who love His appearing,” those that are looking forward, those that are living with an eternal perspective. Timothy, those that are doing what I told you. Be bold. Be strong. Be prepared. Be faithful.

And did you notice? Paul’s picture isn’t – Rome is not killing me and Nero is not killing me. This is an offering. This is my drink offering. I’m giving my life. This is just a great picture: “Time of departure.”

The word has two or three different meanings, but one is to sort of put up your sail to catch the wind. The word was also used for, like, you are at a dock and you take off the rope and so you depart, you leave your mooring. I am leaving the earth and death is not an end. I am going to somewhere. And, finally, the word was used for someone who’s chains are loosed. And so, he says, “I am loosing the chains of my mortality and all that I have been through. I am departing to receive the gift and the reward that the righteous Judge has promised for me.”

And then, like a military campaign, If they would say, “Okay, strike your tents, because we are going to move.” And Paul is saying, “I’m striking my tent, the tent of this body, and I’m going to move on.” And I love, he is so confident. “I’m moving on.” And then he uses this military term, “I have fought the good fight. I’ve been in a battle, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” And I think he is saying to us and saying to Timothy, “In the midst of evil, in the midst of chaos, in the midst of struggle, in the midst of suffering, in the midst of health issues and cancer and racism and division, and Christians that don’t live like Christians, and your failure and my failure and our repentance and getting back on, hey, fight the good fight. Finish the race.”

It would be interesting, you can do a little study, in 1 and 2 Timothy, the number of times, “And so-and-so drifted. So-and-so turned away. So-and-so departed from the truth.” There is this theme through these books of focus, soldier, athlete, discipline, finishing, and turning, drifting, departing.

And then, he says, “Make every effort to come to me soon.” What I love about this is he not only has in focus his reward, is that Paul, despite his great godliness, you never outgrow your need for others. He says, you know, “Come soon. Once winter comes, it’s too dangerous, the ships don’t sail. I need you, man. I need you. I can’t do this alone.”

“Make every effort.” I mean that, hurry up! Strong word. Why? “For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.” Did you catch the contrast? Those who love is appearing, Demas loves this world. “I am departing to be with God. Demas is deserting.” And it’s not without intention. The Holy Spirit sort of lays before us: Do you want to go the Paul way or the Demas way?

“Only Luke is with me. Take along Mark; bring him with you,” I guess Paul softened up after a while. “He is useful for me.” By the way, isn’t it great to remember the body? Paul was a lousy counselor, but a great apostle. Praise God for Barnabases. I’ll just tell you, your pastor and some of your friends need a Barnabas. Some of you, “Oh, I’m an introvert.” Great! You’ll go deeper with people than other people. “Oh, I have this mercy. I don’t strike up conversations.” Great, just look for people that are hurting, sit down next to them, start asking them questions. I mean, there’s a role in the body for each one of us.

He goes on and sort of basically going through why Timothy needs to come, “When you come bring the overcoat, which I left in Troas with Carpus and the books, especially the parchments.” Warning, “Alexander, that coppersmith, did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” There’s the Paul we know and love. “Be on your guard against him too, for he vigorously opposes our teaching.” Notice, did you get it? Preach the Word, sound doctrine, tickled ears, the teaching, the truth. It’s what we need today. It’s what they needed then.

“At my first defense, no one supported me but all deserted me.” I love this. “May it not be counted against them.”

Anybody, are you ready for this? Lean back for a second. This isn’t note time. I just want to be, this is a special moment.

Anybody during this COVID time feel like someone in your family or someone in your church has hurt you? Said hurtful things? Did hurtful things? How are you doing with forgiving them? Paul is in a dungeon, chained to a wall, rats running around, all by himself. His closest associates, out of fear, they are human. I mean, Peter did it to Jesus. We have all been cowards at times. We have all departed. And Paul’s attitude to the end is, “May the Lord not hold it against them.”

Don’t hold it against them. They are in the process, they are on the journey, they’re just like you, they are just like me. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me,” why? The guy never loses his focus, “…so that,” purpose clause, “through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.” I don’t think this is literal, maybe the lion was Nero, maybe it’s just a picture of at that defense not being executed.

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.” Confidence. Did you notice, did you notice the lack of the word “hope?” I wish, or I hope that someday, someway, somehow. No. “The Lord will rescue me from every evil and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever.” He had absolute assurance of salvation.

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, the house of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, but I left Trophimus sick at Miletus. Make every effort to come before winter.” And then he gives a few more names. He identifies twenty different people in this small book. Life really is about relationships.

The summary is faithfulness to endure whatever suffering, hardship, or persecution can only be accomplished by God’s supernatural enabling, His grace, and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit within us.

How often does this truth counterbalance our own human inclination to compromise under peer pressure? On what issues do you find yourself struggling to communicate God’s truth as it relates to life, marriage, gender, sexuality? And finally, what is God saying to you? Who and what do you need in your life to be bold, to be strong, to be prepared, and to be faithful in the days ahead?

You need to sit quietly and say, Lord, since You are so kind and so patient and know me better than I know myself, what is the one step You want me to take this week? Because if you respond to the light that God gives you, you get more light. If you don’t respond to the light that God gives you, even the light that you have will be taken away. Application and obedience are the organ of transformation, not knowledge.

This world is messed up and the Church is the only hope. And you can look around this room and wish there was someone better, smarter, more godly, more wonderful than you, but here’s the deal. It’s us and this is it.

In your world, in your network, in your family, in your neighborhood, in your church – you’re it! You’re the man! You’re the woman! You’re the…right? And this book is filled with ordinary, very struggling, inadequate people who something happened and they got tapped on the shoulder and they didn’t become superstars and they had lots of struggles. But they responded to the light that God gave them. And we see it all through Church history.