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Step Up!, Part 2

From the series The Book of 1 Timothy

Is it difficult for you to be a bold, loving, public Christian in today’s world? In this program, Chip says: You’re not alone. As he picks up in his series - “The Book of 1st Timothy: Life Coaching from the Apostle Paul” - he’ll share some challenging words for how we should respond to the unpredictable world around us. You’re not gonna wanna miss what he has to say!

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Message Transcript

Verse 12 he says, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me because He considered me faithful, putting me into His service, even though previously a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.” How is that for, “I’ve got some issues of my own, Timothy”? “Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant with the,” put a little box around it again, “the faith and the love which are found in Christ Jesus.” “This is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance,” and you might underline this in your Bible, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Notice he goes, “Among whom I am foremost.” Did you get the tense of the verb? Did you hear what the apostle Paul said? He didn’t say, “Among whom I was.” He said, “Man, you don’t understand, I killed a lot of people.” “Yet for this reason I found mercy,” purpose clause, “so that in me as the foremost sinner, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”

And then notice he ends with a charge. “Okay, Timothy, I reminded you what you need to do. We addressed what the problem is. I’ve told you I love you and I’m for you and I have talked about where I’ve messed up in the past and what God has done for me.”

Now, get this, this is the fourth quarter, time out speech when you’re down two. “This command I entrust to you, Timothy my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight.”

Well, how? “Keeping,” you might put a box around this again, “faith and a good conscience.” And then notice the bookends, “Which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

And so, what Paul is actually coaching Timothy to do is the very thing that God wants to coach us to do. And so, I hope you have a general understanding of the chapter and then you’ll notice each time I’m going to give you what I call “coaching nuggets”. So, what I want to do is I want to pull out what I think is the most important truth and then our response.

The most important truth – i.e., if you don’t remember anything else – but the goal of our instruction, the reason you read the Scriptures, the reason you go to a Bible study, the reason you have fellowship, the reason you go to a men’s retreat, a women’s retreat, the reason that you have a mentor, the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

It’s not that you’re religious, it’s not that you’re a little bit nicer than most people, it’s not so people think you’re a nice person. The goal is that you love God and you love people and that’s not a feeling. It’s sacrificial, others centered relationships where the life of Christ in you gets poured out to demonstrate His love for other people.

Let me give you my definition for love. I’m sure I stole it from multiple different places, but I’m claiming it as my own now. Love is giving another person what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great personal cost. Roll that out and see if it works for the cross.

Love – a choice, not a feeling – is giving another person what they need the most. Your wife might need acceptance, your son might need forgiven, your boss might need understanding. When they deserve it the least! After the way she is treating me? After what he went and did after I told him this is the third time? After my boss has ripped me off? Love is giving another person what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great personal cost.

And if you follow it what you realize is you can’t do that and I can’t do that, but God, by His Spirit working in you, through His Word and the community of God’s people, can supernaturally do that through you. That’s what the Christian life is all about.

The second truth is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I don’t know your background, I don’t know if you’re a masker or a non-masker, I don’t know if you’re a vaccine-er or a non-vaccine-er, a blue state or a red state, I don’t know any of that stuff. But I’ll tell you what, whoever “they” are in your mind, God loves them. And He wants you to love them. We can disagree with people, we can even be passionate in how we see things, but we are called to love everyone.

Our response is to fight the good fight. Can we just start off saying it’s really, really hard to be a follower of Jesus? It takes a real man. Fight the good fight. Keep the faith in a good conscience. And then notice, some have suffered shipwreck, regards to their – what? Their faith. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. You need to understand that you’ve got to be really careful who you listen to, what you allow into your mind.

Some of the words we are going to find is they get shipwrecked. They drifted, they turned away. A lot of these aren’t like someone woke up and said, “You know, I’ve been really following Christ for the last seven years, the last thirty years, I think today I’ll just blow it all off.” It doesn’t happen like that. It’s incremental.

Most of the men that I have sat in tears as they have lost their families, often lost their job, lost their reputation after a sexual addiction or an affair, and some that I have worked with recently – they didn’t get up one day and go, “Hey, I think I’ll just mess my whole life up. It’s a harmless flirting. Just a casual wonder-what-she’s-doing-after-twenty-years-from-high-school, it was just a little pop-up thing.” Don’t you, do you guys get these all the time? Even from foreign countries, you know, “Click on this text” or something like that. If you don’t know who it is, delete. At every level we are bombarded.

So, what I tried to do is basically say, okay, I did my best to study this passage and say, “In the first century, this person called the apostle Paul, with his dramatic conversion and his writing of thirteen books of the New Testament, had a personal relationship with one guy named Timothy that he loved deeply, who he left in a very volatile situation in a metropolitan area in Ephesus. And he said, ‘This is what you need to do.’” And then what I tried to do is say, okay, there’s a map there. That what was true in the first century, what are the takeaways for us? Where’s the application?

So, Paul’s coaching for us? First of all, the subject is false teachers and teaching. Is that fair enough in this chapter?

The underlying issue is truth. I mean, the underlying issue is they have drifted, they are confident, they say this, they are saying that. And the issue is truth, “according to the glorious gospel of our blessed God.” That’s the underlying issue.

Here’s the underlying question: Am I willing to defend the truth of God’s Word in a hostile environment? That’s what I’m asking me. I put it in first person. Are you? Are you willing to defend the truth of God’s Word in a hostile environment? Truth about what is right and what’s wrong? Truth about marriage, truth about the value of life, truth about false teaching, truth inside and outside the Church.

Now, by the way, what we’re going to learn is the apostle Paul is going to say, “You really have to stand for truth,” but don’t jump to maybe how you think you do it. He’s going to say, “If the vise of truth doesn’t have velvet bumpers around it, then you don’t understand what you’re doing.” But it kind of presumes that in order to stand for truth you would know the truth and you’d believe the truth.

In a cancel-culture world, when you say one thing like – it’s not – you don’t even have to be mad. I just don’t agree with you. And you can get canceled. What I’m watching a lot of Christians do is: Here’s how not to get canceled.

You’re in conversations at work, you’re in conversations here, in our day you’re in conversations in church, and it kind of comes up, you’re in conversations around the table. We are going to learn how to point things out.

“I don’t want to be disagreeable; I certainly understand where you’re coming from, and you have every right to hold that position. Could I ask you a few questions about why you believe that, because I’d love to share if you give me the opportunity, with your permission, why I don’t think that’s correct.”

And instead what we are having is people just, “You know what? I don’t want one more argument. I don’t want people to cancel me. I don’t want to be viewed as…” Are you willing?

And, by the way, I’m not talking about “out there,” I’m talking about in your churches. There is a drift in the churches today like never before. There is a drift in some, I mean, bellwether institutions and universities that have drifted from what is very, very obvious and very, very true. Not on minor things, on big things. And I wonder, am I willing to take a stand for the truth?

Here’s the action: Step up. I mean, we all hear that, right?

Every NFL season, “Well, coach, what are you going to do? You lost your quarterback last week and…” “Well, we’re just going to have someone step up. They’ve just got to step up.”

I mean, we so understand that in sports. Do you understand, basically, if there were two words, you know what Paul was saying to Timothy? “Step up, man! Yeah, I love you, I’m for you, I have been there. But at the end of the day, I command you in the presence of the living God who lives in unapproachable light, invisible, immortal, fight the good fight! Keep the faith! Step up.” That’s a word for me.

If I had a really good day I think I could get us in a frenzy: Who is going to step up?” “We will! We will!” “Who is going to step up?” “We will!” I’ll get you! Okay! “Hey, everybody’s going to stand up! Stand up! Stand up!” Right? I could get you all pumped up. And you’d leave out of here, you know what? It doesn’t mean you step up. It means we had a rally. Anybody can have a rally.

There’s a world of difference between believing something, even believing something sincerely, and convictions. You believe something until it’s tested. And by the way, can I tell you, for all of us, you don’t know what you believe. I know you think you know what you believe, but you don’t know what you believe until it costs you something big and precious and are you willing to stand on that belief if it means rejection or a loss or alienation or even a job or money.

The unspoken need is to develop – write the word – convictions.

I can’t tell you over the years, I have pastored for, gosh, almost forty years. And I have had all kind of families, “Do you belief in life at conception?” “Absolutely.” And it’s interesting how people’s theology changes when their daughter, who has a full ride gets pregnant. And they urge their daughter to have an abortion, so she doesn’t lose her scholarship.

And I could give you a dozen examples and if all of us were honest, beginning with me, I really thought I believed certain things and I found myself in sort of a situation where, wow, if I step up and out on this one, I think I’m going to be the only one in the room. I just kept my mouth shut.

See, it’s one thing to, okay, how many of us believe we should be generous? There’s a good one. Right? Jesus is generous, right? Although He was rich He became poor, that we, by His poverty might become rich. Right? It’s better to, more blessed even, God’s favor rests upon you. Better to give than to receive. So, how many believe that?

Some of you are so smart. I ain’t putting up my hand, because I know where that next question is coming. So, then my next question would be: Well, how many of you, off the top, give the first portion of your income to God’s work? And are looking for graduated ways to keep increasing that percentage, realizing it’s all God’s and you long to help other people.

I was doing a series on generosity so I took a clipboard and I just hoped no one would ever recognize me from our church. And I just said, “I have a survey. Excuse me.” And people are walking away like this, like, but I had a clipboard. I said, “Please. It’s just one question, just yes or no. Would you consider yourself a generous person?” I just, random people.

Ninety percent of everyone I surveyed said yes. And so, I asked all the people of our church. But what they didn’t know over half of them don’t give anything. Zero. Nada. What they didn’t know that only two-point seven percent of Bible-believing Christians even tithe.

There’s not a conviction. But what the people that do have experienced this, how does it work that I give? And, by the way, don’t just think, if you think money is – generosity is just about money, money is the training wheels of generosity. You start with your money, then your time, then your reputation, then…

And then the more generous you become, “Give and it will be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over back into your lap.” God does amazing things. But just my point is convictions.

So, let me give you a head, heart, and hands to develop convictions. Number one, know the truth. John 17:17, Jesus’ last prayer. Here’s what He prayed, “Father, set them apart,” or, “sanctify them by Your truth; Your Word is truth.” So, first of all, you’ve got to know the truth. The 2 Timothy passage talks about study to show yourself approved to handle God’s Word. Learning the Scriptures.

Secondly, living the truth. He would say to a group who had believed on Him, living the truth, John 8:31 and 32, “To those Jews who have believed on Him, He says, ‘If you continue in My Word,’” in other words, put into practice or abide in it, “you’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Hebrews 3:13. This is why we are here. “But encourage one another day after day lest anyone of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Left to myself, unless I hang out with other guys and have times to be honest and share, I just get thinking I’m doing way better than I am. And then I get, I find myself in the ditch.

So, you know the truth. You live the truth. And notice, the first has to do with God’s Word. And the second, I think you’ve got to have a coach or a mentor. I think you need someone – who am I doing life with? Who can I be honest with?

And then finally, the hands is: Share the truth. Jesus didn’t tell His group, “Well, you’ve been to this three-year seminar. I’m checking out. I’ll see you later. Make sure you have all your green, yellow, and purple notebooks in order when I get back.”

He said, “I want you to go and make disciples of every people group, every ethnos.” And as you go and it’s not like you don’t need to go to China, you don’t need to go to LA, you don’t need to go to West Virginia, you don’t need to go to Afghanistan. Verbally, grammatically, it’s, “As you go,” verb, “make followers.

And the way you make them is you baptize them, you help them come to the point of this used to be my identity as a sinner and now Christ has come into my life and now I have a new identity as a saint. And I’m going to just physically be baptized to die to my old way of life because I have been resurrected with Christ and it’s in His power I live. And then it’s not just this big event, but then, I want you to teach them to actually live out and obey everything I taught you. And when that happens, man, it just gets so rich. And is it easy? Absolutely not. Is it awesome? Absolutely, yes.