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Be Faithful - Don't Shrink Back (2 Timothy 4), Part 2

From the series Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker

Do you wish you were spiritually stronger? Or that you had more courage to talk about God? In this program, Chip addresses these deep-seated insecurities, as he wraps up his series Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker. Learn how the Apostle Paul’s final words on Earth can give us the hope and direction we need.

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Message Transcript

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 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? 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.

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 tried to come in the side door. I said, “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, they are renting movies that I’m sure you would never let them watch. And I just felt like I should make you aware of that.”

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.

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. And 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.