For the week commencing 9 June 2019
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on 2 Timothy 4:1-8 – Dear Timothy… all scripture is God-breathed
Our Term 2 series takes us through Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Here is the outline:
05 May … Do not be ashamed of Jesus 2 Tim 1:1-8
12 May … Jesus has destroyed death 2 Tim 1:9-18
19 May … be strong in Jesus’ grace 2 Tim 2:1-13
26 May … God approves 2 Tim 2:14-26
02 June … there will be terrible times 2 Tim 3:1-9
09 June … all Scripture is God-breathed 2 Tim 3:10-17
16 June … preach the word 2 Tim 4:1-8
23 June … the Lord stood at my side 2 Tim 4:9-22
DAY 1: Read 2 Timothy 4:1-2
(You may like to read this week’s passage – 2 Timothy 4:1-8 – in its entirety each day this week).
In this week’s passage, the Apostle Paul gives us an important charge – to be faithful proclaimer of God’s message of salvation to a world that desperately needs it. We are charged with the responsibility to be God’s message bearers; to proclaim the message of grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ to all who will repent and follow him.
But notice how Paul prefaces this whole passage. He begins, in verse one, by reminding us of the big picture. He paints the eternal perspective. He reminds us that this world is a fleeting thing, and that, ultimately, all of us will leave it behind and will one day stand in the presence “of God and of Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead” (v.1). He is asking us to have an eternal perspective in two senses.
Firstly, I must live my life in the awareness that my service to God will one day be evaluated. The great missionary, C.T. Studd once wrote, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” Your life’s purpose is not to seek happiness and comfort, but to serve God by being an active participant in His mission on earth. Having an eternal perspective will help you to do that.
Secondly, an eternal perspective enables me to understand that those outside of Christ will one day stand in his presence to be judged. This should motivate me with compassion, to do all I can to help them find the grace and forgiveness that Christ offers. Do you go into each day with an eternal perspective?
DAY 2: Read 2 Timothy 4:1-2 again
Today we focus on verse 2. What does it mean when Paul says we are to “preach the word in season and out of season”? He means that it is not always convenient to preach the gospel, to share the message of Jesus, but this does not diminish our responsibility to do so. Even when it is “out of season” our duty remains clear.
I do not always feel like being God’s witness. I don’t always feel like sharing his message. I don’t always leap out of bed in the morning looking for opportunities to speak with others about Jesus. But God requires that I be ready, willing and able to be his spokesperson, even when I don’t feel like it. Even when it is “out of season” for me. Of course, the question has to be asked, “Why don’t I always feel like sharing my faith with others?” Feelings can be deceptive, but my own experience is that the more time I spend reading God’s Word, and the more time I spend praying, the more enthusiastic I am about speaking up and sharing my faith. It’s not rocket science! The closer I am to God, the more I have his heart for the world and his compassion for the lost.
Another sense in which the gospel may be “out of season” is that the people I encounter may not be enthusiastic about hearing the gospel. The world may be completely hostile to God’s message. The gospel may be “out of season” in our society. But that does not diminish our need to share it. In fact, the need for us to speak up is even greater as the world moves further away from God.
Of course, this can be very challenging and even daunting, particularly if political correctness and formal legislation seek to place restrictions on our freedom to openly share our beliefs and values. It may well be that we are entering a period of time when the gospel will be increasingly “out of season” and out of favour within our society. This will call for great wisdom and courage as we seek to be God’s mouthpiece to a world that increasingly does not want to hear from him.
DAY 3: Read 2 Timothy 4:3-4
This prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. In fact you would have to be living under a rock not to be aware of it. These are unprecedented times. Never before, in the Western world, have we seen such a deliberate, wholesale rejection of Christian beliefs and values by mainstream society. Sin is no longer sin. In fact many sins are now openly promoted as wholesome lifestyle choices. The biblical narrative has been relegated to the realm of myth. The creation story has been replaced by the theory of evolution. God has been dethroned (in people’s hearts and minds), and the new god of science is now the ultimate authority, along with the god of hedonism – the all-consuming pursuit of pleasure.
In fact, the transformation of Australian society in just a few short decades is extraordinary. In 1947, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics first started collecting data, 85% of all Australians attended church at least once per month. Today, in 2019, an estimated 85% of Australians will not darken the doorway of a church all year long.
This is the Australia in which we now live. You don’t have to go overseas to be a missionary; you just need to walk out of your front door! I now regularly encounter people who have never heard the story of Jesus. The ignorance of the gospel within our own nation is extraordinary, and there is an urgent need for God’s people to share the good news of Jesus.
The challenge for us, as Christians, is to remain strong in the truth ourselves, and to be faithful proclaimers of God’s truth to the world around us. And we can only do this if we are immersing ourselves in God’s Word. As the world increasingly turns aside from the truth, we need to continue to read God’s Word, to study it, to store it away in our hearts, so that we will not be led astray ourselves, and so that we can continue to faithfully proclaim the gospel.
DAY 4: Read 2 Timothy 4:5-8
Paul is not unrealistic. He knows that what he is asking us to do is not easy. He knows that what God is demanding of us will, at times, be very difficult. We will meet resistance. Our message will be unpopular. We will be mocked and ridiculed. We may even lose friendships. We may lose jobs or positions. We may lose respect.
But in the midst of all that, God’s Word says very clearly to us, “endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (v.5)
This is not just a verse for pastors and ministers. This is a verse for all Christians. Because we have ALL been given the great commission by Jesus himself – “Go into all the world and make disciples … and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
In recent years there has been a dramatic escalation of cases where Christians have been sacked or ill-treated because they have simply voiced their Christian views in the workplace: Doctors, dentists, scientists, financial advisors, counsellors, construction workers, council employees, academics, university students. They have been disbarred, sacked, removed from courses – all because they expressed their Christian faith. They didn’t steal from the office petty cash. They didn’t abuse fellow workers. They didn’t engage in sexual harassment. They weren’t violent. They weren’t ineffective in their jobs or studies. They simply shared their faith. To those people, and to us, God’s word says, “endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” Not that God abandons us to this. We can take great comfort in the promise of Jesus, as he gave the great commission: “And I will be with you always, to very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
Resources: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Christ-centered Exposition Commentary) by David Platt
Commentary on 1-2 Timothy by Andreas J.Kostenberger, in the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series