FINAL WORDS - ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18).
We never can predict what God will allow us to face for the sake of Jesus’ name and the gospel, but we can have the confidence Paul knew. Though he was facing execution under Nero, he still maintained that “the Lord will rescue me”. There was also a promised destination beyond this world that the Lord would bring Paul to, which could not be touched by man’s evil scheme.
In whom is your confidence? Is it absolutely resolute no matter what God allows you to face? Is your final destination beyond the limitations of this world and in the presence of our Lord and Savior? There HIS glory will shine without a single rival!!
There is a very instructive list of persons that Paul gives in 2 Timothy 4:9-17. You and I can easily relate to such persons in our own lives that are much like those in Paul’s list. The important thing to notice in this list is how Paul viewed each situation or resolved difficult ones by giving specific instructions to Timothy and at the same time turning these persons over to the care of the Lord.
SOME TO REMEMBER
“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 race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6–8).
Paul is not afraid to be “poured out as a drink offering” because he knew his life had been lived to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and nothing else mattered (see Acts 20:24). It was not easy. There were battles that had to be fought for the sake of the gospel of Jesus and the glory of God. He never gave up and never deviated from his call. The race was worth running, even with all the hardships, and they were many (2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 11:23-29). One more step and he would be over the finish line. “The faith” requires this ‘steel’ of commitment and devotion. Anything less is not worthy of our call.
There is a reward for all who press on and strive to maintain this path of devotion. As you examine your own life and ministry, how does it line up with Paul’s? Though in much weakness, I want to follow this example and model for the sake of Christ and the next generation, until the “Lord, the righteous judge” appears with His reward for “all who have loved His appearing”.
TIMOTHY'S CHARGE FROM PAUL
Just before Paul is about to lose his head under the rule of Nero in Rome during June of A.D. 67, he has some final words for Timothy that are in the form of a charge. This charge is compact and filled with critical instruction for anyone in ministry, particularly when their mentor or other persons of accountability are not present. Read again these vital instructions:
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1–5).
Notice that the charge is given “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus”. There is a divine witness who will oversee the person being charged. I fear that many in ministry forget they are always in the eyes of God, public and private, and Christ Jesus is also the judge of all we do and say. Without going into the details of the charge, I ask you to read this over several times and ask yourself whether you are being true to God’s charge in your calling. The reason this is so important is that people and false teachers in every age will seek to undermine the truth and principles that must govern the church for selfish reasons. Be careful to honor and glorify God who called you!
TRAINING FOR THE NEXT GENERATIONS
Paul had long-range vision. While many young men and women are encouraged to attend Bible Schools and Seminaries, very few are mentored in the church under the influence of godly leaders. As Paul mentored Timothy, he passed on this long-range vision in 2 Timothy 2:1-2.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
What type of men must Timothy look for to pass on what he received from Paul?
Why is this type of Character important?
What should these men be able to do?
How would these men learn this important skill unless they practice it ‘in the ministry or on the job’?
Are you involved in this type of training in some way? If not, why not? It requires being “strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Human effort or programs will never produce godly leaders who multiply themselves.
WHAT IS "SOUND DOCTRINE"?
Looking again at Paul’s letter to Titus which follows up conversations these two had (“as I directed you” - 1:5), it is important to grapple with this term, “sound doctrine”. Chapter two, verse one, is an introduction to what follows. In other words, what follows verse one is a description of “sound doctrine”. Let’s look at these elements in detail:
Older Men are to be:
IF OUR LIVES ARE NOT IN ORDER ACCORDING TO SOUND DOCTRINE, NEITHER WILL OUR MARRIAGES, FAMILIES OR CHURCH BE IN ORDER. THEY MUST ALL REFLECT A DIVINE PLAN AND PURPOSE.
In the same way that Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, he left Titus on the island of Crete on their way to Rome. When the church in Crete started, we are not sure. Yet, it was God’s plan that the Mediterranean storm would force their ship off course so they would “reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete…and spend the winter there” (Acts 27:12). Over these months, Paul sees a critical need and gives Titus specific instructions based on this need.
According to Titus 1:5, why did Paul leave Titus in Crete?
This verse also indicates that there was more than one town on the island of Crete, but the same problem existed in all of them (see also 1:12-14).
What did Paul mean by instructing Titus to “put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (1:5)? The whole letter is an answer to this question, but particularly chapter 1:6 to 2:10. The order was not just in leadership (elders), but in the family and in every relationship within the church. As to the elders, William Mac Donald says, “Elders in the New Testament sense are mature Christian men of sterling character who provide spiritual leadership in a local church…describing their function as undersheperds of God’s flock.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, page 950). This follows what we have said before about Acts 20:17-35.
An Elder is to have a right relationship with his wife and children. His character must be godly, “holding firm to the trustworthy Word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (1:9). We will dig deeper into “sound doctrine” tomorrow as it is vital to understand.
REPORT FROM SOUTHERN SUDAN (2)
In this blog we continue our report on the mission’s trip to Southern Sudan.
“Wednesday we had about 20 plus leaders present. I asked if there was a volunteer who was there Monday and willing to share an overview of GPHC. A young man stepped up and I was shocked at how beautifully he articulated the big picture of GPHC. Most of those who attended were young; actually, I did not see very many older people anywhere. I asked the pastor and he told me that many of the older people had been killed in the civil war and 75% of the population was under 23 years old. After this young man shared, I painted the big picture again and noticed how they grasped and understand God’s simple, practical and biblical plan and promise to build His Church.
On Thursday we reviewed and asked questions. They answered with very good feedback and motivation to forsake all and “Go” (Matthew 28:19-20). Many were ready but I explained to them the extensive work ahead in order to complete GPHC training. I told them if anyone wanted to start on the lessons, they could, but only if they had time. I knew that many of them worked and had no electricity. Friday, our last day, I asked if anyone had done any of the lessons; expecting there might be one or two out of the 20 plus attendees, but to my amazement, over half had done several lessons.
Obviously, they had devoted hours working through several of the lessons. I did not even have to explain how to do the lessons to most of them, although some will need guidance to understand and interpret the Scriptures. With this type of hunger, it will be a simple task. Before we finished for the day, heavy rains came again and we had to quickly disband or they would not be able to get home because of the flooded roads.
Our contact, Pastor G. is excited about this teaching which will enable them to plant and grow churches in their extremely adverse conditions of poverty and persecution. Let me give testimony to how God is using this material in other Islamic countries in North Africa and other similar places. For me, this is a high priority because I believe Muslims are the last frontier for the gospel before the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14. We have planned a follow-up trip in September to encourage and see their progress in completing the manual. The local pastor wants to use this as a key teaching tool in their Bible training. We will go back in January 2017 and have a graduation of those who finish, like we have done in other countries. Launching these church planters out into the Muslim world with the Light of Jesus and a strategy that is built solidly upon the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit is our priority. I am so thankful for Remember providing me this opportunity and privilege to minister God’s Word to these hungry and devoted leaders who have given all to follow our Savior. This has been a very humbling encounter to be in the presence of devoted men and women of God. To God be the Glory!”
If this report in any way inspires you to get involved as a “Timothy” or to learn how you can help spread this work to other people groups, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
REPORT FROM SOUTHERN SUDAN (1)
The following report gives a slice of what God is doing through this ministry in Southern Sudan, a relatively new country of 11.5 million people, of which 3.9 million are at risk of starvation, and 2.3 million who fled their homes. Pray that this ministry will bring the light of Christ and the gospel through our training indigenous pastors to those who have never heard the good news.
“On Sunday I was asked to bring the morning message at the New Testament Baptist Church in Juba. It was a great time of diverse worship and meeting new people who had a simple love and tremendous hunger for our Lord. Afterwards, we went to eat at a Turkish restaurant. I asked, “why Turkish?” I soon learned that most all the businesses are owned by Muslims not only from Sudan, but from other Islamic countries. I also learned that this is nothing new; they have been persecuting and killing Christians and taking their resources. However, what is most important is the impact the Lord is making there through the New Testament Baptist Church with the support of “Remember” in building just basic shelters that has enabled them not only to train church planters but to provide schooling where they teach English and the Bible to almost 700 children. Many of these children are from Muslim families and are coming to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. What a powerful work of God taking place in South Sudan.
On Monday afternoon we had our first training. Although many were not present due to the mechanical failure of the vehicle transporting them from the refugee camps, we still presented the ones there with the English manual, God’s Plan for His Church (GPHC). Everyone was hungry to learn and devoted themselves to grasping the big picture of God’s purpose (His Glory) and God’s plan (to build His church). The next day, Tuesday, we had to cancel our meetings because it rained and the roads were impassable.”
More will be shared tomorrow. Please be in prayer for these believers; for their protection, strengthening and the Holy Spirit to use this training to advance the work of God in Sudan.
In this final post on the character qualities Paul developed in Timothy, we will look at those listed in his second letter to his “beloved child” in the faith. Remember that this is the last letter Paul wrote. It contains some of Paul’s deepest emotions regarding Timothy and the ministry in general. It was as if Paul was entrusting to this young man his heart for God’s work and expecting Timothy to carry it forward with the same commitment and to “entrust it to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
My days are numbered, and so are yours. As you read through this list, as yourself; “what will I leave behind that will continue to multiply”?
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