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It is easier to fit in, it's better for all concerned to go with the flow because who wants to be rejected when one can be accepted? Nobody likes to be the odd man out. Nobody likes to be on the outside looking in. Peer pressure is real. Melting into the crowd is a great and a grave temptation. We see it in school, at work, in the arts, in the military or even in government. The clear and present danger of peer pressure of conforming to the crowd or to the culture. And that is a temptation that the Christian must confront and conquer. The Christian must dare to be different, because we have been called in Christ to be different, to be a moral misfit, to march to the beat of another drummer. In this passage we see Paul urge Timothy, his son in the faith, to greater faithfulness in the Gospel. He is asked to commit himself to that in the face of growing worldliness in the church and culture that is increasingly Christless. Paul presents us with the contrast in the life of a believer, the conflict of persecution in the life of the believer and the continuance in the life of the believer. Paul reminds Timothy that he is a follower of Jesus Christ, that he needs to live a godly life in Christ Jesus and that he is going to suffer persecution. That ultimately, God is working out everything across history that stretches out into eternity. What a glorious, beautiful and wonderful reality that is. Like Paul and Timothy, we must dare to be different.
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Philip De Courcy (00:00):
Well we’re in 2nd Timothy, if you’re visiting with us. We’ve been in a series on 2nd Timothy for all of 2017, a series we have called Without Apology because one of the key of 2nd Timothy is the word ashamed because Paul writes to his young protegee in Ephesus and tells him not to be ashamed of the messenger who’s in prison or the message he preaches. So we are in 2nd Timothy 3, versed 10 through 15. A message I’ve called Dare to be Different. That’s going to be the challenge of the text this morning. Would you by God’s grace, for God’s glory, dare to be different?
So listen, as Paul encourages Timothy, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, affliction which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra what persecutions I endured and out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution, but evil man and imposters will grow worse and worse deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of knowing from whom you have learned them and that from childhood you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.”
So reads God’s word. Dare to be different. Some years ago researchers wanted to delve into the whole idea of peer pressure. And so they set up a test that involved groups of young people numbering ten and these young people would be brought in and three cards labeled A, B and C would be held up. On each card there would be a different sized line. One line would be short, one line would be long and another line would be just short of long.
What was interesting about this test, was that nine of the 10 young people had been prepped to always pick the line that’s just short of long. And so the 10 would be brought in and they would go through, we’re looking for the longest line. Is it a B or is it C? And so you can imagine what happened when they come to that line, which is just short of long, nine hands went up. And the one person who wasn’t in on this would stare for a minute, look along in the room, going, “That’s wrong. That’s not the longest line.” But then they’d look around the room and go, “Well nine people got to be right, I got to be wrong.” And they would normally cave in. In fact, the researchers determined, as they went through a group after group, that 75% of the young people who were not in on the research would indeed go against their better judgment and go with the crowd.
And so the outcome of this experiment or this test or this research, was to prove the reality of peer pressure. It is easier to fit in, it’s better for all concerned to go with the flow because who wants to be rejected when one can be accepted? Nobody likes to be the odd man out. Nobody likes to be on the outside looking in. Peer pressure is real. Melting into the crowd is a great and a grave temptation. We see it in school, at work, in the arts, in the military or even in government. The clear and present danger of peer pressure of conforming to the crowd or to the culture. And that is a temptation that the Christian must confront and conquer. The Christian must dare to be different because we have been called in Christ to be different, to be a moral misfit, to march to the beat of another drummer.
In fact, you see it in the picture of repentance. Every man everywhere ought to repent. That’s the gospel call. And the idea behind repentance is an about turn. You’re going in one direction in life, you’re committed to a certain lifestyle outside of Jesus Christ. God gets a hold of you, grace turns you around and in repentance you do an about turn. And if you do it an about turn, it means that you’re going in a direction that’s opposite to the direction you once were going in. It also, has you going against the crowd. It has you turning into traffic. You see it in the idea of saintliness. One of the great words in the New Testament for the Christian is the saint, the saint at Colossus, the saints at Ephesus, you get to the root of the word saint that’s tied into the word holy, which is explained by the thought, to separate.
Now saint is someone who is separated from the world unto God. Transformation has taken place. They’re now the odd man out. They’re separate from the crowd, they’re separate from the world. They’re in it but not of it. Which would again, take us to the fact that this idea of being different is indeed the whole genesis of Jesus’ prayer in John 17. “Father, I don’t pray you’ll take them out of the world, but you’ll keep them from the evil that’s in the world because while they’re in it, they’re not of it.” They’re now new creatures with new natures and new appetites and they’re going into new direction that often has them, you know what? Turning into traffic, and famously you’ve got Paul’s words, don’t you? In Romans 12 verses one to two, “Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed.” We’re not to be conformers, we’re to be transformers. Or, as JP Phillips famously translated, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.”
Don’t cave into peer pressure. Dare to be different. March to a different drum beat, walk in step with the spirit that will put you out of step with the world. And so that’s why I want to come to 2nd Timothy chapter three and verses 10 through 15, our next section in our study of 2nd Timothy because here will be helped to be different. Because here the apostle Paul urges Timothy, his son int he faith to greater faithfulness in the gospel. And he’s asked him to commit himself to that in the face of growing worldliness in the church and a culture that is increasingly Christless.
In the last days, you won’t be able to tell the church from the world. And Timothy has commended an urge to be different. You see it in verse hand and you see it in verse 14 with the two differentiating words, but you. In contrast to verses one through nine, where we read about the last days as perilous as they will be, marked by a form of godliness and empty religion. Marked by worldliness in the church, marked by false teachers such as Janus and Jambres, of that kind. Timothy is to be different. “But you have carefully followed my doctrine.” Verse 14. “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of.” Paul is calling Timothy to be an island of gospel commitment in a sea of gospel compromise. So there’s several things we can learn. If you want an outline, I think we can, from the text, look at the contrast, the conformity, the conflict, the continuance.
Number one, the contrast. I’m just picking up the point I’ve already made. This section begins with a contrast being drawn between Timothy and the false teachers and their empty religion. Notice the words as I said in verse 10, but you. Guy King, an old English commenter, says the word, but, is the corner word of scripture. And what he means by that is every time you read the word, but, you’re about to turn a corner, the direction of the taxes about to change. He gives a couple of examples about Naaman back in 2nd Kings, the mighty man, but Naaman was a leper. That’s quite a turn. You go to Ephesians 2, we’re dead in our sin, we’re without Christ in the world, without hope. But God has made us alive in Jesus Christ because of his great love. That’s quite a turning of the corner.
And here you have this list that will mark the last days where man will be lovers of themselves and lovers of pleasure and not lovers of God. And that will infect the church. But Timothy is to dare to be different. He’s to march to the drum beat of another drummer. He’s to follow Christ. In fact, he’s to follow Paul, as Paul has followed Christ. And so that’s what I call the contrast. A line of demarcation is being drawn. The list of virtues that Timothy has followed from the life of Paul. Contrast the list of vices in verses two through five. Timothy is to be different in doctrine, conduct, purpose. He was to be orthodox, saintly and God centered.
Now let’s say this, this wouldn’t be easy for Timothy. Let’s remind ourselves of his timidity and temerity. He realized that this would come at a cost. Back in chapter one and verse eight, Timothy has been encouraged to join Paul in his sufferings, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share with me or join in with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.” And you can read throughout this letter what Paul fiercely faced abandonment by the church in Asia. Chapter one, verse 15, “This you know that all those in Asia have turned away from me among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.”
You can go to the end of the book and Paul will tell us about what he has faced in terms of again, people betraying him. And then in verse 17, “But the Lord stood with me, strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me and that all the gentile might hear. Also, I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion and the Lord delivered me from every evil work and preserved me for his heavenly kingdom.” Paul is imprisoned, Paul is alone. Paul is facing threats on every side and Timothy is being encouraged to follow his example.
So this standing out and this standing up will come at at cost, but there’s plenty of encouragement. We don’t have time, I just actually want to pause and realize, hey, this has got to be a tough call for Timothy. I did remind myself of all that is being encouraged about up until this point. He has Paul’s prayers in chapter one. He has the encouragement of his family. He’s got the affirmation of the presbytery who laid their hands on him. He’s got God’s call and purpose in his life. In chapter one, verse 14, Paul talks about the spirit of God that indwells us. Chapter two, verse one, he talks about standing strong in the greatest of our Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter two, verse eight, he’s told, remember Jesus Christ, the seed of David, risen from the dead. In chapter two, verse nine, he’s talked about the word that is not bind. In chapter two, 10 to 12, he’s talked by eternal glory. In chapter two, the foundation of the Lord stands sure, the unshakable nature of the church.
So there’s plenty of encouragement standing behind Timothy. So while this call is not easy, it is underwritten with encouragement after encouragement. So Timothy must not exhibit a spirit of fear, but continue in gospel commitment even in perilous times with perilous men. He was to standout and stand up in the of the decline in morality, powerless religion and the spread of false teaching. He was to wear his colors. He was not to hide his loyalty. Same with us.
I think I told you about a trip I made to watch Ohio state play Berkeley a couple years back. And it all started with a trip to [inaudible 00:13:50]. And I’m sitting having lunch with a businessman, who was an alumni of the University of California Berkeley. And he told me a little bit about his life and somehow football come up and he realized I was a Buckeye. And he said, “You know what, are you going to the game?” And I said, “I don’t think so.” He says, “Well I want to give you an invitation.” He says, “I’m a booster up there.” He says, “I’ve several tickets I probably can throw one your way.” And so I started to get interested, started negotiating the price. Eventually Stan Longneck and myself decided to go up to the game.
Here’s a little bit of the conversation, getting closer to it. He called me up one day, when we were pretty much committed to going and he said, “Philip, I just need to mind you, where you’re going to be. You’re going to be in the Boosters club. I mean this is on the [inaudible 00:14:37] side of the fence. And these people are committed to this program. They pay the big bucks.” And he said, “Can I ask you this? You can’t wear your colors.” Now you know by your laughter, he didn’t know me. I’m telling you, this is what I said straight out the gate, I didn’t mince words, I didn’t fudge, I didn’t budge. I just said, “Then I’m not coming.” That’s what I said, “I’m not coming. You think I’m going to hide my loyalty? If I can’t wear my Buckeye colors, I’m not coming.” Well, I think he was so taken back, he kind of backtracked a little bit and he said, “Oh well, okay.” He says, “But you know what do you promise you’ll behave yourself?” All I can say is I tried.
But the point is this, I mean you can come, but you can’t wear your colors? What do you mean hide my loyalty? Come on. And you know what, that’s Paul’s point here. But you keep following my example. But you keep continuing in the path of cross bearing discipleship, Christ honoring leadership. This is no time to hide your colors, Timothy. No time for us either, guys. So that’s the contrast.
Secondly, the conformity. Knowing that Timothy would need a leg up to help him endure to be different, Paul reminds him of the encouragement and the example he has derived from his spiritual father in the faith. This is verses 10 and 11, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, affliction, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and Lystra. What persecutions I endured and out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
In following Paul’s example, Timothy was able to pursue gospel, faithfulness and fruitfulness. And so before Paul turns to the future, verse 14, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned.” He turns to the past and basically, hey Timothy, you need to keep doing what you’ve been doing. And you know what? My example has been an encouragement to you and you’ve conformed to that. And if you keep conforming to that, you keep submitting to that godly influence in your life, you will dare to be different. You have, you must, you will. In fact, guys, the little phrase here, “Carefully followed”, is an interesting phrase. It was used in religious circles of teachers and their students, almost like an apprenticeship or in an internship. And wherever the teacher went, the student went. Wherever the mentor went, the mentee went. And so that’s what we’ve got here.
In fact, it carries the idea of studying something, in this case someone, studying someone at close quarters. When I got to see that, for the four years I spent as an apprentice in Short Brothers in Belfast an aerospace company and my journeyman was a man called Jimmy Bleen, who I continue to love to this day. And I would go to my technical classes on a Tuesday night and a lot of the time it didn’t make sense until Wednesday morning on the line with Jimmy explaining to me how it’s done. Up close and personal. And that’s what’s going on here. Mentoring involves modeling. This was discipleship up close and personal. There was, not just a transference of knowledge, there was a transference of life.
Remember what Steve Ferard told us two years ago that the most important word in discipleship is with? And Timothy probably had the closest relationship with Paul of all of Paul’s colleagues. And so he got to see him in all kinds of situations. He spent a lot of time with him, he followed closely Paul’s doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, so on and so forth. And we have a list here of some of the virtues that Paul exhibited and remember, these are virtues in contrast to vices, okay? You’ve got Paul’s virtues that Timothy was to follow, and has been following in verses 10 through 11. And they are set in contrast to the vices that will mark the behavior of man in the last days, verses two through five.
I’m just going to go down the list. It would be a sermon in itself, to expand them. But I think they’re almost self-explanatory. You know, have carefully followed my doctrine, you know my theology. I’ve explained the gospel to you. You’ve followed my manner of life. You’ve seen that my behavior has been informed by my belief. There’s not a disconnect between what I say and what I do. You’ve followed my purpose. You know I’m devoted to the gospel. You have seen that I have a singular focus in life. My life is headed in one direction.
You followed my fear. I don’t think that’s a body of truth here. I think that you’ve seen my personal trust in God and his word. You’ve seen me in all kinds of trying circumstances. Trust the Lord in the place of his sufficiency and his sovereignty. Amen. Long suffering. You’ve followed that. You’ve seen me be patient in dealing with people and persecutors. You followed my love. You have seen my love as more than a sentiment or an emotion. It’s a cross centered love for friend and foe, modeled after the cross. You’ve seen my perseverance, my steadfastness in trying circumstances. You’ve seen my persecutions, how I have stood up to the hatred of the world that hates Christ and therefore hits hates followers. You’ve seen my afflictions, my suffering associated with ministry.
In fact, guys, just to pick up, the fact that Paul in this passage mentions something of his persecutions and afflictions, which happened at Antioch and Iconium and Lystra, which persecutions I endured. That underscores the fact that Timothy got to see what we’re talking about because most commentators would argue, if you go back to Acts 13 and 14, where these places are mentioned and Paul’s persecutions are recorded during his first journey, you’ll realize that Timothy’s time was what? Lystra. And there’s every possibility that Timothy saw the stoning of the apostle Paul, where he was left for a dead man outside the city. In fact, John Stott argues that the very witnessing of Paul’s stoning may have been the trigger to bring him to faith. Just like the stoning of Stephen was the trigger to bring Paul to faith. How interesting.
But the point is, hey Timothy, you’ve carefully followed my example. You’ve seen my manner of life, my purpose, my faith. In fact, you’ve witnessed me getting stoned in Lystra. You know I’m the real deal. And what you’ve seen in me, I need to see in you. This is not exhibitionism, by the way guys, this list of virtues. So it’s not Paul going, “Take a look at me.” It’s Paul recording an exemplary life for the purposes of bringing the best out in another. Wasn’t about him, it was about Timothy. It wasn’t about him. It was about the glory of Christ in his young servant.
So here’s the point as we apply this and move on, this is one of the strands of the man’s ministry here at Kindrid. We need to find models of gospel continuance. Really, you want to be different, you want to stay the course, you want to be found standing for Jesus Christ at the end of your life and then the end of life? Find yourself a model of gospel continuance, it’s a real help. The influence, the inspiration, the modeling. It’s critical for our productivity and for our perseverance. Just like Timothy, but you, that’s the contrast, have carefully followed my doctrine and manner of life, that’s the conformity. People who will act as hand rails for you. To help steady you when it’s tough. To help guide you when it’s confusing as you pursue Christ.
Here’s a little statement, write it down. We need people who follow Christ to follow. That’s one of the musts of the Christian life. We need to find people who follow Christ to follow. Timothy found it in Paul, you can find them. It starts at home with godly parents, in the best of circumstances. What a treasure to have a godly father, a godly mother. It’s a treasure that I treasure. So thankful for the memory, both past and present, as my parents are still alive of godly parents. Faithfulness to the local church, faithfulness to each other. Love for Jesus Christ. Knowing that my dad gets up every morning and reads his Bible, can engage in gospel conversation, is a witness in his community. It’s a great legacy and it’s wind in your sail.
Well, here’s an interesting thing, but we cannot choose our parents. And so some of us haven’t enjoyed the privilege of godly parents. Well, you may not be able to choose your parents, but you can choose your friends. So go and find some models of gospel continuance in your friends. Choose your friends carefully. He that would be wise walks with the wise, according to the book of Proverbs. Besides our physical fathers, we can also find spiritual fathers. You know those Pauls that Mark was talking about in the announcement time. We have got a Paul in our church that wants to find himself a Timothy. It’s wonderful and we’ve got dozens of those relationships going on in our man’s ministry. Paul’s with the Timothy’s. How important to find a spiritual father. And you know, that spiritual father needs to be a lot wiser and a lot older than you. His odometer shows quite a few miles. He’s turned quite a few corners, he’s climbed quite a few hills. He knows what it is to be broken down at the side of the road. He’ll help you get there.
And here’s one other thing, just in closing. While in the best of circumstances, that spiritual mentor needs to be up close and personal, as we see here in the relationship with Paul and Timothy, you can find heroes at a distance. In my life I’ve enjoyed all of these things. I’ve had godly parents, I’ve chosen good friends, I’ve spiritual fathers in the faith, like Pastor McLaughlin and John McArthur, but I’ve also got heroes at a distance. You’ll find them in books. You can find your mentor among the living. But listen guys, you can find your mentor among the dead. Pick some hero of Christian history and get to know him. Spurgeon’s one of my favorites. I’ve read several biographies. It’s inspiring, it’s stirring. And you can find yourself a mentor in all of these areas and that’s what Paul was to Timothy.
In fact, when I was living in the United Kingdom, watching the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Alan Wells from my wife’s unit of Scotland won the 100 meter dash. It made big news because a British athlete hadn’t won the 100 meter dash in quite a while. And the striking thing about the interview with Alan Wells was, when he was interviewed after his win and after his gaining of the gold medal, he said this live on television, “That’s for Eric Little.” Most BBC watchers are going, “Who?” Well, you know 1924, his fellow Scotsman, Eric Little refused to run the 100 meter dash at the Paris Olympics because he was a Sabbatarian and it was against his convictions to play sports on a Sunday. And so in front of the British Olympic Committee he refused to run and he got ha [inaudible 00:28:00].
A few days later he was willing to run in the 400 meter race, which was outside his kind of discipline. But either in God’s goodness or grace, he actually ended up winning that thing. But you’ve seen his story in the movie Chariots of Fire, that’s for Eric Little. And I don’t know where Alan Wells was spiritually, but somehow the life and the behavior and the conviction and the excellence and the courage of Eric Little inspired this Scotsman to run his race. And guys, we need to find models of gospel continuance. We need people to influence us as the world constantly tries to influence us in the wrong direction.
Thirdly, the conflict. The conflict. Having talked about his own skirmishes with a Christ hating world, right? That’s verse 11, “Persecutions, afflictions which have happened to me.” Having talked about that, Paul pivots to remind Timothy that Christians, at large, will face the same kind of persecution. Look at verse 12, “Yes and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” That’s the Christians lot, isn’t it? What is Paul say in Acts 14, 22, “It’s through much tribulation you enter the kingdom.” There’s no avoiding it, there’s no ring road or bypass that’ll get you round cross bearing, the suffering for the gospel. Not if you’re living godly. You’ve got Philippines 1, 29 right? “Being your privilege not only to believe on Jesus Christ but to suffer for him.”
Listen guys, I like this phrase and I’ve gone to it many times. God has not promised us a smooth crossing, simply a safe landing and that’s just where it’s at. You got to get that done. You got to shut the Joel Osteens out. You got to turn three quarters of TBN off because that’s the kind message you’re going to get. He’s not only promised you a safe landing, he’s promised you a cruise with full benefits. No, it’s the lot of the Christian to suffer. In fact, think about this, the two symbols of Christianity are the yoke and the cross. Matthew 11, 29, 30, “Take my yoke.” It’s easy. Well, in one sense it’s hard because you know there’s work to be done. There’s toil to be given, but it’s easy because the grace of God abounds. But getting off message, a little. The symbol is the yoke and the other symbol is the cross. Matthew 16, 24 to 26, “Pick up your cross and follow me.” The cross is an instrument of death and suffering. The yoke is an instrument of service and toil. One speaks of sweat and the other speaks of blood.
That’s what’s being brought to the surface here again, “Yes and all who desire to live godly in Christ, well suffer persecution.” Listen guys, Christ was hated by the world and if they hated Him they will hit those who look like Him and remind the world of Him, or teach the world what He taught. That’s what Jesus teaches in John 15, 18 to 25, if they hated me, they’re going to hate you. Is the servant greater than the master? No, that’s why we, in a very interesting little phrase in Colossians 1, 24. That’s why we, according to Paul, continue to fill up the afflictions of Christ.
Well, what does that mean? You mean Jesus is still suffering? Well not in an atoning manner. His suffering on the cross and the purpose for which He died has been accomplished finally and forever. It is finished. No, no, no, we don’t have to add anything to Christ’s work. He did enough. He did it perfectly for you and me. But in another sense, He continues to suffer because the world’s hatred for Christ and the lust to hurt him, didn’t stop at his death. And so while He’s not here physically to beat His body, the church is here. And that’s why the body, the church continues to fill up afflictions of Christ.
That’s why in Acts 9, Paul who wrote Colossians 1, 24, is confronted by Christ in his [inaudible 00:33:10] and Jesus says, “Paul, why do you persecute me?” Now he was carding Christians off to prison, persecuting the church because there’s this link between Christ and his people. And the point is, guys, just understand this. We will continue to fill up the afflictions of Christ. It’s the lot of the Christian to be persecuted. There’s hard persecution and there’s soft persecution. At this point in our history, in the United States, we mostly face soft persecution, mockery in the media, isolation by the culture, disassociation from family and friends, pushed to the side in the office, picked on in the school. That’s what we are up against. Our brothers and sisters across the world, hard persecution, death, beatings, hangings, beheadings, losing everything financially, being disinherited in their families. But that’s the lot of the Christian. Know this, that all who would live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
But here’s the encouragement because that’s pretty discouraging in some sense. Although you, you’d have to be careful, even with that statement because I got to remind myself while it’s discouraging and nobody wishes that, somehow my heart orientation’s got to get somewhere closer to Acts 5, where when the disciples fierce this, they rejoiced because they were [inaudible 00:34:4650] worthy to suffer for Him. And so while we don’t wish it, there’s something honorable about it, there’s something glorious about joining Christ in his suffering and standing with the master, wounded and bruised as he was.
But here’s the encouragement, if we back up, it kind of slips out of Paul, but it’s encouragement for us all. And as Paul talks about his persecutions and his afflictions and that causes him to go on to talk about our suffering, he does say this, “But out of them all the Lord delivered me.” Beautiful. “Out them all the Lord delivered me.” And that’s an echo of Psalm 34 and verse 19. Psalm 34 and verse 19 is the words of David. And here’s what we read, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
Now, it’s important that we make a distinction here. Paul says, “The Lord didn’t deliver me from them all but out of them all.” The distinction there in the preposition’s very important, out of, not from. Could I translate it like this? I think it leans more towards the meaning. The Lord delivered me through them all. I came out of it with my faith intact, with my love for Jesus Christ healthy, with my passion for God in its same place. He didn’t escape them totally, but he did endure them triumphantly.
In fact, we’ll get to this when we get the chapter four, verse 17, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me so that the message might be preached fully through me and that all the Gentile might hear.” Also, “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” That could be a literal experience or it could be a description of just adversity. In verse 18, “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me.” See the deliverance is preservation, not from but through where grace is given to endure. And that’s just a wonderful thing and it’s an important thing. God didn’t save Daniel from the lion’s den, he saved him in the lion’s den. Put those old cats to sleep and Daniel fluffed up the mane and put his head on like a pillow.
Not from, but out of. God didn’t save the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He saved them in it. There was a fourth man, one like the son of God, who stood with them in the fire and brought them through it. “Yea though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear new evil, for you are with me.” Not from but through. I went through that valley, not round, not over it, not under it, through it, but he went through it with me. This is the promise guys.
As Paul Powell says, there is no promise from the Lord and scripture that we as his people, will be exempt from many of life’s trials. Christians get cancer. Christians suffer heart attacks. Christians get involved in automobile accidents. Christians lose their jobs, Christians get broke, Christians die young, Christians experience every heartache imaginable. Health and wealth are not our automatic birthright. Strength and success are not fringe benefits that come with salvation. We are promised no exceptions from and no explanations for the trials of life.
What we are promised is that the Lord will be with us and see us through. It’s a good word. In fact, that was the word that sustained David Livingstone for 23 years of his life in Africa. As he gave himself, in fact 32 years, where he planted his life in Africa. And what sustained him, and he often said this publicly, was the promise of Matthew 28, “Lo, I am with you always.” He was mauled by a lion which kind disabled one of his arms. He faced disease, dodged death. He encountered disappointment. But listen to what sustained him. I’ll just read his own words out of his journal of January 14, 1856. “Evening. Felt much turmoil of spirit in prospect of having all my plans for the welfare of this great region and this teaming population knocked on the head by savages tomorrow. But I read that Jesus said, all powers given to me in heaven and earth. Go you therefore and teach all nations. And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
It is the word of a gentleman, of the most strict and sacred honor. And so there’s an end of it. “I will not cross fortuitously tonight as I intended should such a man, as I flee. Nay, burly I shall take observation for latitude and longitude tonight, though they may be the last, I feel quite calm now. Thank God.” He was thinking about hightailing it out of there. The savages were gathering, the clouds were getting darker, so to speak. But no, I’ve got the word of a gentleman of the strictest and most sacred honor. That puts an end of that. He’s going to deliver me through.
Okay, a couple of minutes, last thought. The continuance. The continuance. Having talked about the past, Paul now talks about the future. Verse 10, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine.” That’s the past, bringing us up to the present. But look at verse 14, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of.” You have, you must. Having talked about evil man and their continuance in sin, look at verse 13, “But evil man and imposters will grow worse and worse. Deceiving and being deceived.” If you ever want a description of a godless culture, godless cultures advance backwards. They just grow worse and worse. They think they’re growing better and better, but they’re just growing worse and worse. And they’re the own victims of their own deceptions.
I mean, we are meant to be becoming a more progressive society, a more enlightened country. Really? Not really. We sacrifice millions of our children on the altar of convenience and abortion. That’s taken us back to the days of Moloch, when children were sacrificed on the altar. We’re not going forward. We’re going back. Gay rights. I think that’s taken us back to Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s way back. Men are just getting worse and worse. Increasing in knowledge but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. But Timothy, what you have done continue to do. And while men get worse, while men continue to sin, going from bad to worse, you continue in your gospel commitment, men will continue and progress in their folly. You must continue and progress in your faith. That’s the continuance. And it’s kind of the thought that we have been tracking the whole way through this sermon. Timothy, you need to dare to be different. You need to be out of step with the apostasy in the church and the anarchy in the culture.
Notice Timothy had witnessed Paul’s perseverance, right? Chapter three, verse 10, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, love, perseverance.” Timothy has witnessed Paul’s perseverance and the ministry, Timothy is witnessing evil men’s perseverance in their disobedience. Verse 13, now Timothy must prove his own perseverance. We’re not going to spend a lot of time developing this. I might pick a little bit of this up when we get into verses 16 and 17 in January.
But there are two reasons to continue. Human sources is one, and divine scriptures another. Verse 14, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of.” Notice, here’s the reason, “Knowing from whom you have learned them.” Timothy, you need to continue. And standing behind you is my life, my testimony, my instruction. You’ve seen it up close and personal. It’s real, it’s authentic. It’s from God, it’s satisfying, it’s worth doing. And Timothy, what about your mother and your grandmother? From a child you’ve known the scriptures, which are able to make you wise under salvation in Jesus Christ. And you go back to chapter one and verse five. And Paul acknowledges the influence these two godly women have had. And that’s reason to continue. Reason to continue. Human sources. Secondly, divine scriptures, “And that from childhood you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make your wise under salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.
Timothy, you’re a follower of Jesus Christ. Timothy, you live godly in Christ Jesus, you’re going to suffer persecution. But Timothy, know that the Jesus you followed has been taught in the Old Testament. And Timothy, you are part of something that God’s doing across history, that stretches out into eternity. It’s a glorious thing. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a wonderful thing. So don’t linger on your way to heaven because that was the prayer of David Brenard many years later. And that’s Paul’s prayer for Timothy. You’ve got human sources and you’ve got divine scriptures. Don’t loiter on your way to heaven. Continue in long obedience in the same direction.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for the reminder this morning to dare to be different. Lord, help us to be that counterculture. Help us, as the church, to be that alternative society, community. May our ethics be different, may our marriages be different. May the character of our love be different. May our willingness to forgive be different. Just help us to shine. Help us to stand out. Help us to give a standout performance for Jesus Christ. We thank you for these encouragements. Help us to find models of gospel continuance.
Help us to recognize that suffering is our lot, that the Lord will bring us through to eternal glory. Help us to realize that there are those who stand behind us and around us who have influenced us. We thank you for our Christian heritage in the home and in the church. And we thank you for the holy scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation speak of your son. And they take us from the beginning to the end. And in the end we win. So help us to continue in the things which we have learned and we know of, having been taught them from godly saints and being taught them from ancient scripture.
Lord, we ask for continuing, persevering grace. Help us not to melt into the crowd. May we indeed follow the one who is a gentleman of the strictest and most sacred honor. For we ask in prayer, in Jesus name.