Forever Faithful – 2 Timothy 2 Sermon

INTRODUCTION

Scripture leaves no doubt about what is to come—perilous times. The wise man will heed the warning and make the necessary corrections in the course of his life. For years, the opening of “The Wide World of Sports” television program illustrated “the agony of defeat” with a painful ending to an attempted ski jump. The skier appeared in good form as he headed down the jump, but then, for no apparent reason, he tumbled head over heels off the side of the jump, bouncing off the supporting structure. What viewers didn’t know was that he chose to fall rather than finish the jump. Why? As he explained later, the jump surface had become too fast, and midway down the ramp, he realized if he completed the jump, he would land on the level ground, beyond the safe sloping landing area, which could have been fatal. As it was, the skier suffered no more than a headache from the tumble. To change one’s course in life can be a dramatic and sometimes painful undertaking, but change is better than a fatal landing at the end. 

As a believer, you must constantly be looking for the dangerous roadblocks and signs that the Lord has told you will surely come. Are you looking ahead or getting caught unaware?

We must be vigilant+. It’s no coincidence that Paul alludes to military life and athletic competitions as metaphors for the Christian life. Honestly, it’s a tough life, even with the promises we have and the destiny in heaven that we know we have. I mean, we’re just not there, yet.  We’re here, in this filth, and muck and mire and sin. We’re being assaulted on three fronts – our sin, a broken planet, and demonic spirits.  And yet instead of snatching us out of the world when we are reborn, God saw fit to let us stay here and proclaim the good news to a decaying world. Things aren’t always easy, but Christ sustains us. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is Forever Faithful. 

Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Practical Illustrations: 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2003), 18.

Paul writes in order to offer consolation in the midst of the practical cares of Timothy’s ministry and as a consolation for their separation from one another. Timothy is in need of continuing support in the struggle with heresy. Paul knows that his own death is approaching (Chrysostom). Paul’s purpose is to refresh Timothy for faithful witness to the hope contained in the gospel (Ambrosiaster).

Peter Gorday, ed., Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 229.

2 Timothy 2:1-13  English Standard Version 2 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 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 tells Timothy to be strengthened by the grace of Christ. He then tells Timothy to entrust the message that he heard from Paul in the midst of many witnesses to men that Timothy could trust. And Paul tells Timothy to entrust this gospel to men who themselves were capable of teaching others.

First, Paul tells Timothy to be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  Strengthened by grace, the grace that is in Christ Jesus. ἐνδυναμόω endynamóō, en-doo-nam-o’-o; from G1722 and G1412; to empower:—enable, (increase in) strength(-en), be (make) strong. So through grace, we are empowered, and we are enabled to do the will of God.  What is grace? grace (charis)

  1. of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

Grace is what keeps and sustains us. Grace is what has saved us. 

Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – 

That part about entrusting the Word to faithful men who can teach is so profound. There is so much of the church that has violated this today. But Christ is forever faithful. Even when he is preached for ulterior motives today, we can rejoice because the Gospel of Christ is still being preached, as Paul said in Philippians. Therefore, we must show grace to our brothers and sisters in the Lord as well as unbelievers.

Grace is what gives us the power to love our neighbor and our enemy. When we behold the cross, we should see ourselves hanging there. 

And yet, by His grace, mercy and love, we are off the cross, and our Savior is upon it. 

. The ESV specifically says men. You know, in today’s church, if you are a part of a church that doesn’t ordain women to pastoral, or Word & Sacrament ministry, you have committed an unforgivable sin (deaconesses in the LCMS). But women, please, please do not associate your identity or your worth in God’s sight with a particular position. It’s not the position that wins souls; it’s the influence of the Spirit of God in your life that influences others for Christ’s sake. And, not every man is called to Word and Sacrament ministry.  But every human being who is called by Christ, is a priest unto God. AND every human being who is called by Christ will carry some type of cross. 

But in whatever ministry or vocation we are called, let us serve, and serve well. Even if that means we have to suffer. 

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ – the theologian of glory only wants to know Christ in the power of his resurrection. The theologian of the cross wants to know Christ and the fellowship of his sufferings. 

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 –

The farmer should have the first fruits of the crop –

Think over what the apostle says ; the Lord will give us understanding in all things. 

See, we are called to suffer. We are expected to suffer. That often seems radical in American Christianity, but Christians in many parts of the world are being tortured and murdered for their faith today. They are faithful soldiers. No soldier gets caught up in what’s going on around them; they focus on their commander’s orders and desires. In the same way, a dedicated athlete must stick to the script, so to speak. Farmers who work hard to sew into the land should be the first to eat from the crops. The triad of comparisons—soldier, athlete, farmer—was also employed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:7, 24–27 and was used similarly by other writers in the Greco-Roman world. For the present purposes a mere mention of each suffices. Each of the three comparisons in its own way represents a life that requires discipline, resolve, well-defined commitments, application, sacrifice, and endurance; and when so done, that yields a proper reward.

Jon C. Laansma, “Commentary on 2 Timothy,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, vol. 17 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009), 160.

A lot has been said. But the beautiful thing is that as we think all of this over, the Lord will grant us understanding in all things. Does that give you comfort today? God won’t leave you alone. When you go through things, ask the Lord, “how should I interpret these events? how should I interpret my life?”

Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Practical Illustrations: 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2003), 43.

10-161 Spiritual Fitness Faith 2 Timothy 2:1–7 (POSB: Introduction) Do you look good when you exercise? A marketing survey on the use of exercise clothing stated that less than 10% of the people bought the clothes for the sole purpose of exercising. This same survey noted that 35% bought exercise clothes for comfort and appearance only. Over half of those surveyed combined the use of the clothing for casual wear and exercise. In reality, a jogging suit is more comfortable than a lot of the clothes we wear. But just wearing a comfortable and attractive exercise outfit will not make you stronger. Physical fitness comes to those who actually exercise. This principle is also true for the spiritual fitness of the Christian believer. Outside appearances will not make you spiritually strong. You must exercise faith internally to be strong in the Lord.

Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Practical Illustrations: 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2003), 47.

The Bible is a book of Commands. But with every command, there is a promise. We also know these commands and promises as Law and Gospel, and they are interwoven through all of scripture.

What Paul doesn’t explicitly lay out is still implied in these passages. We cannot endure suffering in our own strength. We cannot attain the discipline of soldiers and professional athletes in our own strength. In terms of farming, spiritual farming, or spiritual seed planting, is still exhausting, backbreaking work.  You might have a conversation with someone about Jesus Christ, and then they may not ever receive the Word of God, at least from your sharing. You know the passage, right? Some plant, some water, but God gives the increase.  But God has promised to give us understanding. We just need to be sensitive to God’s Spirit as he leads and calls us out of our comfort zones.  But he truly is our Comforter when we go through things. He truly is, Forever Faithful. 

He is, and will be, faithful from eternity to eternity. Scripture is full of teachings about God’s infinite faithfulness to us and to this world he has created. Psalm 90:2 English Standard Version 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  He is from forever, to forever, Faithful. Paul then points the people in the right direction by telling them to remember and meditate upon Jesus.      

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 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.

Remember Christ, David’s descendant. Paul is bound in chains, but the Word of God is not bound! Paul said that he endures everything for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain salvation that is in Christ. If we’ve died with him, we will also live with Christ. If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who He is. 

God means what He says and His Word is true. Some people will respond to the invitation of Christ and say yes; sadly, others will respond and reject His invitation. This situation is graphically described in the following story. During the blitz in London a woman stood in an open window in the top story of a blazing building. An escape ladder was quickly run up. A brave fireman made his way to the top. He leaned into the window with outstretched arms to take the woman to safety. The more he pleaded with her, the more she retreated in terror. The flames enveloped her. The noble fireman had to return without her! Weeping, he said, “I tried to save her, but she wouldn’t let me!” Everyone will make an eternal choice. Will you choose eternal life or eternal condemnation?

     What we have to understand is that we cannot begin to understand God’s faithfulness. It also seems as though scripture makes a distinction between being faithless, and denying Christ. What does this mean? Well, you cannot deny someone you don’t know. It’s like saying,” I hear the Gospel, the message sounds good, but I’m straight.” The scripture says Christ will deny us in kind. However, if we are faithless he remains faithful. He is Forever Faithful

Our faith and our emotions are never consistent. Our Savior Jesus Christ is always consistent.  No matter what. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  And what about the Great Commission? Matthew 28:19-20 English Standard Version 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Everyone remembers the part about making disciples of all nations.  We remember the part about baptizing everyone in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. But do we tend to forget that Christ is Forever Faithful? Do we forget the part at the end here where he says he will be with us always, even to the end of the age? John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.      Acts 1:10-11 English Standard Version 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Forever Faithful. This doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever go through hard times. Christ experienced loneliness, unjust torture, murder, depression, isolation, ridicule.  We just pray it doesn’t happen here. But the key is that Christ will be with us no matter what we go through. He is Forever Faithful.

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