Be Faithful

2 Timothy 3:10-15

Spiritual faithfulness not automatic – “There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries. I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” Sadly, stands in lengthy line of others who have failed to stay the course spiritually and morally.

Remember Jesus’ last bit of instruction to his disciples:

Matt. 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Go… and make disciples… teaching them to observe all things. Desperately need disciples, especially ones who are faithful. What is involved in making disciples? And what does it mean to be a disciple, a faithful one? Short answer – look at Paul and Timothy. Paul wasn’t out to take short-cuts, didn’t see it as his job to make converts. Timothy wasn’t interested only in the goodies of the Christian life, he desired God. Showed in Paul’s discipling methods, Timothy’s life choices.

Now put that in the context of “perilous times”. Times when the church, the people of God are under great pressure to conform or compromise. God’s people need strong and faithful leaders, who remain true to God and his word. Need also to be good and faithful followers who by God’s grace and the power of his Spirit make other faithful followers. To carry out Jesus’ directive to make disciples, must be leading people in a lifestyle, not taking them to an event. True conversion is not momentary trip down rabbit trail, it’s radically transformed life.

A. a disciple follows v.10-12

“you have carefully followed” – you remember the childhood game, follow the leader; presupposes there is a leader to follow. Making disciples means making followers; yes, we’re following Jesus, but we can’t see him, we can only get so much from the Bible, need people with skin on to follow. That’s why Jesus gave and gives leaders to his church – pastors and teachers and small-group leaders and others who have opportunities to make disciples.

Don’t forget, we’re all disciples; even though others may be following us we must be following the Lord Jesus. A good disciple who is faithful not only follows the right leader, he stays on course for the duration.

doctrine / teaching

Once again, have a list of pretty important things and order is important. Of these 9 things, what is of first importance? Doctrine! A faithful child of God must first and foremost be concerned with following right doctrine. Since “things lead to things”, what you believe determines how you respond in the other 8 areas. But, you say, doctrine divides. Yes, it does; divides truth from error, divides hope from despair, divides life from death. One who follows true doctrine will have genuine hope/confidence of eternal life.

Paul declared his readiness, his purpose to “preach the gospel” (Rom. 1:15) His doctrine started with Creation and covered all the good news between then and the Second Coming (see Acts 17:22-31). Timothy followed Paul’s doctrine, proclaimed it to his congregation in Ephesus; has continued to be the pattern down to present day. We must continue, faithfully following inspired authoritative teaching of God’s Word and leading others to do the same.

manner of life / conduct

Said it before, it’s in the text again: cannot expect people to listen to witness without credibility. Here’s what we’re saying: God’s Word applied by God’s Spirit results in a transformed life. Do you believe that? Do you want others to believe it? Then live it. Timothy could follow Paul’s way of life, his conduct, without contradicting principles Paul taught. Same should be true of us – when we give testimony of our faith to others, evidence of our faith should be obvious in way we think and live and act. Should be able by God’s grace to say to family member or neighbor or co-worker: “You want to live a Christian life? Follow me.”

purpose

Paul’s purpose: read Phil. 3:8-11 Not simply that nothing else matters, it’s that everything else must get out of the way so that he may know Christ, gain Christ, be found in Christ, have the righteousness of Christ, know the power of Christ’s resurrection, fellowship in Christ’s sufferings, be conformed to Christ’s death.

Timothy followed Paul’s purpose and ended up at the feet of Christ. Those who follow us and our example and purpose should end up at the same place – one with Christ, in fellowship with Christ, like Christ.

faith

Early on in his writing ministry Paul declared “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

Once again, brought to object of faith, Paul’s and Timothy’s: “faith in the Son of God”. See how we keep coming back to Christ! The Lord Jesus must be the only object of our faith; we must faithfully follow Christ and lead others to Christ that they may know him and live by faith in him.

longsuffering / patience

Here’s real test of faithfulness: need for patience, for being longsuffering. But when you’re involved in Gospel ministry public or private, will have many opportunities to develop patience. Paul demonstrated patience in dealing with believers and unbelievers, Timothy followed his example. Both showed in relationships with others that Holy Spirit was at work in their lives. If we are to lead unbelievers to Christ and lead believers to be more Christ-like, must be patient, must demonstrate evidence of Holy Spirit’s power.

love

There’s no either-or here: either a love for the truth or love for people. Paul loved both: truth as embodied in Lord Jesus, people as those in need of faith in Christ and relationship with him. Loving both showed in sacrifices Paul made for sake of truth, willingness to speak truth with firm compassion. He commended Timothy for carefully following that model.

It’s easy to love some folks, not so easy to love others, unwaveringly show love of Christ to all we encounter. Two examples: Paul, Silas beaten and thrown in jail, locked up in the stocks. Earthquake, everyone free, jailer ready for suicide, Paul shares the Gospel with him and baptizes him same night. That’s love of Christ in action. On first missionary journey.

More than a decade later: Phil. 1:12-13I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.”

perseverance / endurance

That Paul persevered is obvious in his writing: think about names we’ve given to his letters. First and Second: Corinthians, Thessalonians, Timothy. Didn’t give up on situations or churches. Didn’t chuck it all when looked like all the world was against him – how many times would you endure court administered beating? Paul did 8 times. How many times at risk of shipwreck? 3 times. List goes on. Many of those things Timothy endured with Paul. Whether easy or hard, faithful follower perseveres, enduring whatever comes, all for sake of Christ and his Gospel.

persecution and suffering (afflictions)

Satan is clever foe, the form persecution takes not always kind Paul describes in 2 Cor. 11:22-29. What Timothy suffered was different in Ephesus from what Paul endured in Roman prison. What you and I experience will be different still. Take a Bible to school or workplace, see what happens. Stand up for Biblical definition of marriage. Refuse to listen to gossip, declare there is only one way to heaven, honor the Lord’s Day (all of it) – just a few ways to become lightning rod.

But that’s what a faithful disciple does. And is prepared to take the heat that will inevitably come. If not today, then tomorrow. But as faithful as disciple is to follow Paul’s example and teaching and truth of God’s Word, God is even more faithful – to deliver us when it suits his purpose, to strengthen us in suffering when that brings glory to him.

B. a disciple continues v.13-15

on course (13-14a)

Faithful disciple stays the course in spite of purposeful deception – evil people, charlatans / impostors whose sole purpose is to sell a lie, end up falling into own lies. Remember who it is who set the course, who walked it first – our sympathetic High Priest, Lord Jesus himself. Charles Sheldon wrote book years ago, source of WWJD question; entitled his book “In His Steps“. Must be walking in his steps, following course of faithfulness to Lord Jesus. Requires constant course corrections, constant dependence on God’s grace, constant attention to God’s Word. More on our dependence on God’s Word next week.

confidently (14b)

Disciple, a follower of Lord Jesus continues faithful because has rock-solid confidence in what he believes. It is two-fold confidence: an assurance that the source of truth is reliable and the teacher is likewise faithful to the truth. For Timothy, source of truth same as ours but “slimmed down” didn’t have complete NT but had all the rest. We like Timothy have “full persuasion and assurance of its infallible truth and divine authority [that] comes from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.” LFBC 1.5 We also have confidence in teachers God supplies to his church as applied and corrected when necessary by the Holy Spirit.

correctly (15a)

We, too, must continue correctly in our following the Lord Jesus; only 100% correct source of guidance is the very Word of God. But… to follow the Scriptures, like Timothy we must know them, must be acquainted with them, know what they say and how the truths contained in them apply. Not just in our heads, in our hearts. Not just in our heads and hearts, in our actions – choices and decisions and priorities reflecting principles found in God’s Word. Someone asks WWJD? Should be able to look at us and say, “Oh, that’s what he would do”.

wisely (15b)

Much passes for wisdom these days. Only one place we’ll find God’s wisdom, wisdom that makes man’s attempts look pretty foolish. That place: Christ, the one “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”. (Col. 2:3) Christ and his wisdom are revealed to us in the pages of Scripture, Old and New Testament. We must have Christ and his wisdom if we are to be saved.

Important concept here: Christ does not offer salvation apart from himself. You can’t take the gift without the giver. Means we must be following Christ, reflecting Christ in our lives, leading people to Christ, that they may experience his transforming power as the Gospel takes root in their minds and hearts and lives. If we are to be effective in leading others to Christ and to be more like Christ, must be sure first we are following Christ. Faithfully. Like Paul and Timothy did. Must have credible life that comes from full dependence on God and his grace. Then,… must speak up; faith comes by what? Hearing, hearing the Word of God. May God by his Spirit enable us to speak often, faithful to his Word, bringing words of hope and life to people still in darkness.

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