2 Timothy 3.12-15 – Never Look Past The Word

After discussing his circumstances and example, Paul makes another strong contrast for Timothy.

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Contrary to prosperity teaching or word of faith teaching, Paul here writes that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. This may look different in all of our lives, but the objective truth remains, that those who make a stand for Jesus, His will, His words, and His ways will find push-back and persecution from the world at large. Paul writes that there are, basically, two kinds of places this will come from, evil people and impostors. This is those who are flat-out against Jesus, and those who think they are for Him, but there is no evidence of this. One group deceives, the other is being deceived

The contrast comes when Timothy, and we, are told but as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed…Interesting that learning comes first, we really do need to know what we are believing, so that when push-back and persecution come, we know on what we are relying, we know on what we are believing, and we know in Whom we are trusting.

Timothy has been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. This is what we would refer to as the Old Testament, and Paul says that it is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Friends, we must never look past the Word of God to make us wise for salvation. It all points us in the direction of Jesus, it all whispers His name, it all urges and encourages us to put hope, faith, and trust in Him for salvation

Maybe you have started the new year with a reading plan arranged in this way or that way, but the best reading plan you can start is one where you read the Word every day. So, let us continue in what we have learned and firmly believed, let us turn to the sacred writings, and let us look to Christ alone for salvation, as the Word of God urges us to do. 

2 Timothy 3.6-9 – Jesus Over All

Those with a focus on self are to be avoided, as Paul wrote, and here we see what they seek to do.

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Paul writes that they creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions. What is going on here is that the false teaching, self-centred, difficult people seek to influence the households of those they come across with a constant stream of new and exciting looking teachings (v.7), but these never actually hit the mark. We read that these false teachings never arrive at a knowledge of the truth, because new always seeks new, emotionalism always seeks greater feelings, and passionate self-centred teachers always seek more of themselves.

The spirit of the last days (v.1) was present in Jannes and Jambres (Exodus 7, 8) and it is very much present in our modern world. We don’t need to look very far to see those teaching things that don’t honour God, magnify the Lord Jesus, and align with the mission of the Holy Spirit. Our unshakeable hope, however, comes when we read that they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of [Jannes and Jambres]

The spirit of the last days well and truly meets its match in the person and work of Jesus, and that is where we must look to combat these ear-tickling but not Scripture-expositing teachings. Things may look wild and wonderful, may sound amazing and passionate, but never forget that miracles can be done by those posing as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11.15).

Believer, never forget though that He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world (1 John 4.4), and this is the standard against which we must judge the words of those who wander. Through His Word, His Son, and His Holy Spirit, God has equipped you to battle with and overcome this spirit of the last days.

We read that the people 2 Timothy 3.1-8 will not get very far, but by following Jesus over all, you will.

2 Timothy 2.20-21 – You Matter

Reasonably often nowadays we see a very fatalistic attitude come to the surface when people talk about religions or faith traditions. Things like, “Well, you know, it’s out of my hands because DEITY will do this or that.”

Whilst there is an element of that in our Christian faith (God is absolutely sovereign over His creation, see Psalm 135.6, Proverbs 21.1, Ephesians 1.11, Acts 2.23 for a couple of examples) we are also encouraged to play our part, to partner with the Lord in achieving His purposes and bringing to fruition His plans. In His great love for us, He actually wants you to be involved. Today Paul makes this clear to Timothy.

20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

Paul writes that in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay. The house is the house of God, built on the firm foundation we read about yesterday. Simply, in God’s house, in the church here on earth, there are those who make themselves available for honorable use, and those who do not.

When you go to church you probably end up looking at and listening to those who have made themselves available to the Lord for honorable use and have the wonderful privilege of praying for the church, leading the church in worship through music, or preaching and teaching the Word. 

Friends, we should all make ourselves available to the Lord for honorable use, He wants you to cleanse yourself from what is dishonorable and to become a vessel for honorable use. We should all want to be more and more set apart as holy (sanctified), and to be useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work

Maybe your good work is in the job you are working, maybe it’s in the family you are raising, maybe it’s in the Bible study you lead, maybe it’s in the witness you give your friends when playing football with them, but we will be given as much opportunity for good work as we make ourselves available to the master of the house, being cleansed from what is dishonorable.

Maybe you think, wait, I am cleansed by the blood of Jesus shed for me, I am justified by my faith in Him, being sanctified day by day and conformed into His image, and I will ultimately be glorified when I am forever in His presence. That’s true, you are. What Paul is teaching Timothy, and the attitude we need to have about serving in the house of God is this,

“…there is another aspect of cleansing which God looks for us to do with the participation of our own will and effort. Not that it is our work apart from God, but it is a work that awaits our will and effort…This aspect of cleansing is mostly connected with usefulness for service, and closeness to God.”

David Guzik

So, friends, you matter. Your character matters. Your conduct matters. Your will and effort matter.

Do you want to be useful to the master of the house? Are you ready for every good work

In this process you make the decision, because you matter.

Miraculous Faith

Do you have miraculous faith? Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we talked through Hebrews 11.23-31 and saw miraculous faith in action.

I would say that yes, you do, and that you don’t need to get lost in the search for signs and wonders because you are one, you are a sign of the miraculous, you are a miraculous wonder. 

Do you know the biggest and most miraculous example we can possibly see?

The most miraculous and wonderful and exceedingly surprising?

The Word of God taking on flesh and living, dieing, rising, and ascending, and promising to come again.

The person of Jesus, casting aside for a time His heavenly glory and location to take up temporary residence among us to demonstrate to us the way, and the truth, and the life, to show us how to be reconciled to God, to offer us the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit through being in Him in faith to become a new creation, to cast aside our old person and become a new creation in Him…that is exceedingly surprising and wonderful therefore it is miraculous!

If you believe that, if you believe Him, then your faith is absolutely miraculous.

The fact that you are not who you used to be is miraculous, it’s surprising and it’s wonderful.

The fact that you can think, reason, consider, conclude, and confess that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead is an example of your miraculous faith. 

The fact that you love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and that you love others as yourself is miraculous, that is exceedingly surprising and wonderful. It is so different to the culture at large, you are so different to the culture at large because you have miraculous faith.

So, take this knowledge, take this understanding, and let your miraculous faith be the engine that drives your life. 

Let your miraculous faith change everything about what you say, what you do, how you feel about yourself and the world. Let your miraculous faith be the central point that your entire life revolves around.

2 Timothy 2.8-13 – He Is Faithful

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

Paul continues with encouragement and reminders for Timothy the young pastor, and reminds him to continually remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…It could be said that without the resurrection, the Christian faith has nothing to set it apart from any other worldview or faith tradition that man can create (1 Corinthians 15.14). Paul is preaching this then first and foremost, and tells Timothy that he is bound with chains as a criminal for doing so (v.9).

Even though Paul is bound, even though throughout history Christian have been and are still persecuted and killed in staggering numbers, the word of God is not bound. This should give us all encouragement; that no matter what government, man, religious fanatic, heard-hearted atheist, or pseudo-believer can do the word of God is not bound and will endure forever (Isaiah 40.8).

Paul then bursts into an early Christian hymn and reminds Timothy of the promise of resurrection (v.11), of the eternal rewards of following Jesus (v.12a), and of the fact that our words and ways can actually lead to the truth of Matthew 10.33 being realised.

The overwhelming comfort here for Paul, for Timothy, and for you today is that even if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.

Your relationship with the living God does not rest on you, your salvation does not rest on you, the conversion of others does not rest on you, the forgiveness of your sins does not rest on you, it rests on Him alone and friends, He has promised this and He cannot deny Himself. He is so faithful and will walk with you as you live for Him today and every day.

2 Timothy 2.3-7 – Soldier, Athlete, Farmer

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Here Paul encourages Timothy to take the attitude of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer

The soldier willingly takes orders from his or her commander-in-chief. As a believer in Jesus, He is yours (Joshua 5.14). The soldier is brave, courageous, singularly focused on the task at hand, and gives all of himself or herself to the task right until the very end. A good soldier will not quit when things get tough, they will double-down and work even harder.

An athlete prepares rigorously for their chosen task. They take care of their bodies, they take care of their time, and they take care of their activities based on how they want to compete when the big day comes around. As a believer in Jesus, we ought to be doing the same; building our lives around the opportunity to compete for Him in a culture that seems to be detaching from objective truth faster and faster.

farmer is hard-working and doesn’t seek external recognition. Just think – do you know who the best farmer in the world is? Do you know or follow on Instagram the world champion farmer? Didn’t think so…The farmer is hard-working, unassuming, but unrelenting in his or her approach and application to the task at hand. They value their flock/herd/land highly, and will stop at nothing to do what is best for whatever it is that they are caring for. As a believer, the work ethic of a hard-working farmer must be present in our lives.

If we are to join with the Lord and His pastors in teaching others (see yesterday – 2 Timothy 2.1-2) then we simply must be dedicated to His task like soldiers, we must be building our lives around Him like an athlete preparing for an event, and we must have the work ethic of a hard-working farmer to ensure that we leave no stone unturned in our witness.

Are you a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer for our Lord?

2 Timothy 2.1-2 – Encourage Your Pastor

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.

Paul starts this passage by encouraging Timothy in his pastoral duties; be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. If you have ever known a pastor personally you will know that they need this encouragement to be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Their burdens will be plentiful and privately carried, they will work tirelessly yet be chronically misunderstood, and they will forever try to see the best in people despite being let down by many, often. For this reason, friends, encourage your pastor!

After this initial encouragement, Paul hits Timothy with a pastoral responsibility that we can all either put into action or receive; what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

This has got to be right up there on your pastor’s list – taking the core and right doctrines of the faith and entrusting them to faithful men and women (ἀνθρώποις can refer to men or women depending on the context) who can then teach others also

Here is a point with which you can encourage your pastor; we know that not everything in church is your job. We know that it is your job to teach with words, ways, actions, and reactions the right and proper doctrines of the faith. We know that the call on your life is a holy and sacred one and you are given to our church as a gift from from God (not sure about that? Read Ephesians 4.11 and notice who ‘he gave’ is referring back to…vv.8-10), and we know that we must join you as the many witnesses and the faithful men and women who [are] able to teach others also.

Take a moment today to encourage a faithful pastor in your life, perhaps someone who is rightly dividing and handling the Word of Truth, someone who is passing on the orthodox teachings that Timothy heard from Paul, and someone who you can partner with in ministry to teach others also.