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May 12, 2018
Finishing Well
Pastor Philip De Courcy
2 Timothy 4: 6-8

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Philip De Courcy (00:00):

We’re working through 2 Timothy, so grab your Bible. We’re almost at the end of our study, a study be called Without Apology because early on in the book, and yet you still get this flavor throughout the book, Paul tells Timothy not to be a ashamed of him as the prisoner of Jesus Christ or the gospel that he preaches. And so we want to live a life without apology. And so we call this series Without Apology. We’re now in chapter 4, verses 6 through 8 which is the passage that deals with Paul’s imminent departure, imminent death, and there’s much to be learned here. I’m going to call the sermon this morning Finishing Well.


Let’s read together 2 Timothy 4:6. Follow along. Paul says this, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering in the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is let up for me the crime of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me on that day. And not only to me, but also to all who love his appearing.” So reads God’s word.


Just recently I finished a wonderful book by David McCullough on the American spirit. I commend it to you. It’s a thrilling book that tells the story of who we are and what we stand for as a nation. In reading these several seminars that he gave throughout America about the story of this nation, you’re confronted with the providence of God, the inspiring love of freedom throughout our history, the emergence of a new and radical nation among the nations, the bravery of our citizens, the brilliance of our founders and the undyed devotion of many to the possibilities that America presents.


In fact, as I was reading the book, I find myself a new hero, John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, President John Adams. He’s an interesting man across his lifetime. He was an ambassador several times, a senator. He was [inaudible 00:02:16] He himself became president at one point. But what’s interesting, after he was president and stopped [inaudible 00:02:23] at the age of 63, he becomes a member of the House of Representatives. He’s the oldest to ever have been inaugurated and he was the first to have been president and then later to become a congressman. And he will serve there for some 17 years. From 1831 at the age of 63 to about 1848 when he dies around the age of 80. And the interesting thing is he dies in his seat in the House of Congress. He loved the place, he loved the theater, he loved the politics, he loved what it represented. There wasn’t an hour in the House he missed.


In fact, one congressman said of him, “Mr. Adams belongs to no local district, no political party, but to the nation and its people.” And when he dies in his seat doing his job, one of the papers describes it as he died in harness. And as I read that in David McCullough’s book, The American Spirit, I was struck by that phrase and I knew I was coming up to a study in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, and that word could describe the Apostle Paul. He’s about to die in harness.


You see, John Quincy Adams died at his post. He died with his boots on. He died as he lived serving and loving this nation. He gave the last drop of his life to the cause of American prosperity and progress. He died in harness. Paul here will die in harness. He has run his race. He has fought the fight, he has kept the faith. And guys, I love that kind of stuff. I want to be challenged by that kind of stuff. Any man worth his salt, wants to die in harness, die with his boots on, die at his post. He wants to die having loved his wife till death separates them. He wants to die having brought up his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.


He wants to die wise, having won souls. He wants to die having worked hard at his work, he wants to die having been fearful to God’s house. He wants to die having fought the good fight of faith, he wants to die having served his generation by the will of God. He wants to die loyal to his friends. He wants to die a patriot. He wants to die having loved Jesus first and foremost. He wants to die in harness. He wants to finish well. He wants to die with as few regrets as possible. Amen.


That’s why I want to come and look at this passage with you. 2 Timothy 4:6-8, a message I’m going to call Finishing Well. We all want to be ready when God calls or death comes. So we’re turning here to Paul’s last letter. It’s AD 67. This is Paul’s swan song. He’s written it about three to four years after his first letter to Timothy. It’s personal, it’s pastoral, it’s passionate. Paul is coming down the home straight and he’s about to cross the finishing line. And here in this passage he’s about to hand the baton off to Timothy. He wants to know there will be gospel continuity. That’s one of the themes of this letter. Gospel legacy, gospel continuity. In chapter 1, verse 13 to 14, “Hold fast the pattern of signed words, which you heard from me in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus, that good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in you.”


In chapter 2, verses 1 to 2, he tells them to find some faithful man and pour his life into them as Paul poured his life into Timothy. In fact, in the section just before chapter 4, verse 14 of chapter 3, we read, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of knowing from whom you have learned them.” And so in the wider and the immediate context, the whole context is gospel continuity. There are great transitions in the Bible. Joshua following Moses, Solomon following David, Elisha following Elijah and I, we have Timothy following Paul. In fact in the immediate contacts before we get into the verses themselves, this is the third reason that Paul gives for Timothy to preach the word faithfully. He shall charges him, doesn’t he, in chapter 4, verse 1, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word.”


And the first reason is Jesus is coming in judgment and you’re accountable, verse 1. The second reason is for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, verse three. And the third reason is for I’m ready to go. The time of my departure is in hand. I need to know that as I have preached the word faithfully, as I have discharged my charge, you will do the seam. So let’s come and look at this very tender and passionate and dramatic scene where Paul is addressing his young son in the faith for the last time and he passes on some words of encouragement. He has finished well and he wants Timothy to do the same. Four things, the resolve, the review, the reward, the response.


Let’s look at the resolve. Verse 6, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering in the time of my departure is at hand.” This is Paul’s resolve to give the last drop of his life to gospel endeavor and to gospel advancement. In one sense, Paul’s life is about to be taken from him. His head will be severed from his shoulders. He will die soon enough as a martyr. His blood will splatter the ground. The candle of his life will be extinguished.


But it’s clear from verse 6, in another very real sense, Paul is giving his life away. On the one hand, the Romans are taking it from him, but in another hand, Paul is willingly offering it to Christ and to the kingdom. Paul pictures his death as an offering. This phrase is poured out as a liturgical language, guys. If you go back to Numbers chapter 15 and other Old Testament passages, there’s what’s called the libation offering or the drink offering. And it was poured upon the burnt offering, the sacrifice for sin. After that offering had been consumed, a final and another offering would be added to it, the drink offering and wine would be poured on that and it would evaporate and would give off a beautiful sweet smelling savor.


And Paul is saying, “Hey,” and maybe he’s thinking about the fact that he won’t be crucified as a Roman citizen. He’s going to die by beheading and his blood will be spilled. And he’s really, I think in some ways imagining as the blood of his life splatters the ground, when his head is severed from his shoulder, he’s thinking, “Oh God, that’s an offering to you. It’s the drink offering. As the wine is poured out, my blood will be poured out in martyrdom.” It’s dramatic. It’s vivid. It pictures martyrdom, it pictures his impending death as his final offering to God. His final act of faith, his final example of leadership, his final witness to a pagan culture. Philippians 1:20, right? “Whether by life or by death, that Christ may be magnified in my body.”


There’s a couple of things here we don’t want to miss before we leave that thought. Number one, as we think about the resolve here. I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure is at hand. You and I would be reminded and it’s good to be reminded that death needs to be a crowning moment. We need to rise up as men when death comes and we need to embrace it valiantly and victoriously death should be our final statement of faith, our final act of worship, our final act of evangelism and witness to those who are watching, whether at home or in a hospital or wherever death seizes us.


You need to plan your death. You need to think about your death and where you are conscious and in charge of your faculties. You need to command the scene and give a confession of faith and leave a legacy to the family and challenge the next generation. That’s what Paul is doing here. Don’t passively embrace death. Make it an act of worship. Make it a statement of hospital. Our deaths need to be an exclamation mark, not a question mark.


But here’s the second thing. On the one hand, death needs to be a crowning moment. On the other hand, life needs to be a constant offering of ourselves to God and others. I want you to notice it’s inherent in the text. Paul dies all used up. There’s nothing left in the tank. I’m being poured out. Is this the first time, Paul? No, I’ve been doing this my whole life. This is the crowning moment. This is the final act. Poured out down to the last drop. That’s challenging, isn’t it? Paul refused to treat life as a miser does his money. That’s something to be hoarded. No, life is not something to be saved Life is something to be spent.


In 2 Corinthians 12:15, Paul says, I’m willing to be spent for you. That’s the way you and I ought to live. Are you being poured out into your wife and into your children and into this church and into global missions? Are you being poured out, constantly spending and being spent for the kingdom? There are two kinds of Christians. As one writer put it, there’s the sink Christian who sees themselves as a sink and everybody else as a faucet. And so they’re the sink. And so it’s everybody else is there to serve them. Everybody else is there to fill them. Everybody is there to please them. But then there’s the faucet Christian where they see themselves as the faucet and everybody else is the sink and they pour themselves out into their wives and their children and their community and into their work and into their church. Are you a sink Christian or a faucet Christian?


Jesus was a faucet. He didn’t come to be served, didn’t come to be a sink, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many, he poured out his life and when his life is coursing through our life, we’ll be the kind of Christian that pours out. We’ll die all used up, not be a lot left in the tank. So there’s the resolve. It’s challenging.


Now, before I leave this point, or certainly verse 6, I want you to notice that on one hand here, Paul pictures death as an offering. I am already being poured out. It’s the libation, it’s the drink offering from the Old Testament. But then he goes on to say, and the time, by the way, the word time there isn’t chronos, it’s kairos. The Greek word kairos means a season in time. Paul’s acknowledging here, Look, I don’t know if it’s tonight, I don’t know if it’s tomorrow. I don’t know if it’s two or three deaths from now, but I’m pretty sure unlike my first imprisonment where I had a sense that I was going to be delivered Philippians 1:19, not this time. I’m in a season where deaths coming. I just get a sense. I’m writing the final chapter of my life right now and probably Timothy, I’m writing my final letter to you. He says, “The time of my departure is at hand.” It already is standing by me.


But the word departure’s the one that interests us. Because if Paul pictures death as a pouring out, he also pictures it as a packing up because this is a military term. It spoke of the soldier who would break camp and join the march. That’s our Greek word to depart. It was a military term that spoke of the undoing of a tent. Moving on, and this actually is a very interesting word if you study it, I just want to do this for a moment or two just to help you understand how the Christian depicts death. Knowing how it’s an undoing of a tent. The battle is over. It’s the march home. It also was used of the unyoking of an animal, the unharnessing of an animal. And the implication would seem to be here that death brings to us in some sense the end of labor or at least strenuous labor. This word was used of the unlocking of a prison door. And that might indeed convey the idea that this life and these bodies of ours that have so much limitation and are subject to death will be free from that limitation.


It was used of the unraveling of a knot. Many believe that’s hinting at the fact that you know what? There are many things that happen in life that are mysterious to us. God’s providence is often inexplicable. Why Lord, why me? Why now? Why mine? And we need to be very much aware that as Jesus says through disciples, what I do now, I can’t tell you, but you’ll know hereafter. And when we get to heaven, God will explain. It’s also used of the unmooring of a ship where it wears anchor and heads out across the horizon and certainly again, journeying to another place. Very rich word, isn’t it? Very rich word.


And the beautiful thing of it is that death is depicted in such positive terms because you see the resurrection of Jesus Christ has changed our view of death. It doesn’t hold the same terror. In fact, Paul will say, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain. That’s a commercial term. To die is a paying proposition. It’s a profitable experience because when you die and go to heaven, life is explained perfectly. A new body is given, you rest from your labors and you enter into the joy of the Lord and it’s pleasures forever more. It’s a wonderful thing. That’s why by the way, death needs to be an ought to be a crowning moment in our life. Wasn’t it John Wesley, the Methodist leader who said of those early Methodists, my people die well.


Let’s move on. You’ve not only got the resolve, you’ve got the review. The review. Verse 7. “I have fought the good fight. I finished the race, I’ve kept the faith.” The shadow of death is casting itself over Paul’s life. It is already standing by. The shadow of death is already casting itself over Paul’s cell. He knows that he’s in a season where death could come at any moment. And so what he does, as is often the case when death approaches, he looks back, he reminisces. He revisits the past because, guys, death has a unique way of focusing us and it’s good for that. A brush with death can often be a very sanctifying experience because it pulls you up short and you realize, “You know what? I’ve got the wrong price tags on the wrong things. And if I had have died, I’m not sure I was in the best shape of my life to go and meet the Lord Jesus.” And so death sobers us.


Death challenges us. That’s why Psalm 90:12 says, what? “Lord, help me to number my days that I might apply my heart to wisdom.” That’s why Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 says “Better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting.” Better to sit in a funeral service than to go to a barbecue party. Because you know what? Barbecues are fun but not very life changing. But when you sit in a funeral parlor and there’s an open casket and you realize how frail life is and how quick our day has passed, like a weaver’s shuttle, you realize, “You know what? I got to do a better job at managing my time. I got to do a better job at making choices. I got to spend my money more wisely. I got to do more in the church. I’ve not got to wait any longer till I share the gospel with that friend of mine.” That’s what death does. It sobers us up and it’s doing it in Paul’s life.


There’s an old Irish proverb that says, “You know what? Live each day as if it were your last because someday it will be.” And Paul senses that. And so he reviews his life and he looks back without regret. And I don’t think verse seven is braggadocio. I think it’s a sober, authentic retelling of a life well lived. And the point of it is to inspire Timothy to fulfill the ministry.


So there’s three things here. I’m going to picture them as pictures. There’s the soldier, there’s the sportsman, and there’s the steward. Paul casts his life in three pictures. So number one, verse 7, As he reviews his life, he can say, I have fought the good fight. The soldier. Paul depicts the Christian life as a struggle, as a battlefield, as a fight for survival in the face of the world around him, the flesh within him and the devil nipping at his heels. His spiritual life is on the line each and every day. He’s a target for assassination. He’s living behind enemy lines, morally speaking, every day is a moral minefield and one wrong step and he blows his legs right from out under him and collapses spiritually. Dangerous stuff. That’s why actually in chapter 2 he’ll say what? Verse 3, “Therefore you must endure, Timothy, hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one entangled in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life that he may please him who is enlisted as a soldier.”


Paul may not have been physically impressive, but he was a spiritual warrior and he had the scars to prove it. The devil had fought against him. The world had pressed in on him. The good that he would do, he didn’t do because his flesh was making it difficult to progress in sanctification. Judaizers were among the Galatians, fanaticism among the Thessalonians, immorality and litigation among the Corinthians and insipid narcissism among the Colossians. There was all kinds of fights and all kinds of fronts, morally and theologically.


And Paul gets up every day with that attitude, “I’m going to have to endure hardship, I’m going to have to be courageous. I’m going to have to do it one more time under fire and I’m going to have to be single minded, because that’s the point, isn’t it?” No one engaged in warfare entangles themself with the affairs of this life. Men that are called to war leave their businesses behind. They hug their children, they kiss their wives, they put on a uniform and they don’t look back. They’re single minded. They don’t get engaged in other stuff when the war’s on. And that’s the picture.


Guys, each of us have battles to fight. You’re in battles right now for your moral purity, for the strengthening of your marriage, for the raising of your kids, for making a stand for Christ and the world. Those fights going all the time. Every time we see each other, we need to realize that brother of mine is in the battle. You can be sure of it at some front he’s in a fight And Paul says, “I fought the good fight,” and may God give us grace to be those kind of men.


I bought a book recently called Well Versed by Jim Garlow, whose pastor done at Skyline Church in San Diego. And in the book he tells about a member of his church who’s a retired college math professor, an elderly man, a former Marine. And one day talking to his pastor, this man said, “You know what Pastor? I was a good Marine but I never got a chance to prove it.” And the pastor said, “Well what are you talking about? You never got a chance to prove it?” He says, “Well, I signed up, I was on the other side of the Korean War and I was before the Vietnam War. Pastor, I was a good marine, but I never got a chance to prove it because you know what? I was a Marine between wars.”


And here’s what Jim Garlow says in his book, “Men of God, you are not born between wars. We are alive in a time of tumultuous ideas and concepts. We are in a war, a war for truth, a war for righteousness, a war for justice.” And I want to tell every man in this room, young and old, you can every day prove you’re a good Marine for Christ by the way you live and step up. So that’s the first picture.


Here’s another one, as he reviews his life, we need to be challenged by that. The sportsman. I’ve run the race I fought the fight and I’ve run the race back to 2 Timothy 4:7. I have finished the race. We’re off the battlefield and onto the athletic field. Paul imagines himself crossing the finishing line of life. I think he imagines himself falling over the line breathlessly. Remember, he’s being poured out. He’s holding nothing back, he’s not walking across. He’s running across running from the world and sin and a devil and failure. Running towards Christ, the author and finisher of his faith. What a great picture.


In fact, again, go back to chapter 2 verse 5. And he picks up the idea of athletics. The Christian man competes in athletics. He is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. This is one of Paul’s common metaphors. Remember in 1 Corinthians 9, he talks about I run so as to win. In Philippians 3:12-14 which we’ll be looking at soon enough on Sunday mornings, you know what? He’s forgetting those things which are behind and he’s pressing forward towards that finish line of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


Now on the one hand I think this speaks to staying the course. All right? Kind of the idea of endurance. This was one of Paul’s goals, wasn’t it? If you go back to Acts 20 when he’s addressing the Ephesian elders right at Acts 20:24. I’ll read it for you. He says this to them, speaking of the danger of going up to Jerusalem. “But none of these things move me nor do I count my life dear for myself so that I may finish my race with joy and the ministry which I receive from the Lord Jesus. Paul gets up every day with that in mind I want to finish the race with joy, so I’m not going to do anything today that will rob me of the joy that will put back the work of God in my life, days, months, weeks. And he comes to the end of his life, that’s early on. Now we’re at the end of his life and he can say, “I have run and finished the race and I’m doing it with joy. I’m already being poured out.”


So on the one hand it speaks of completing life’s race, steadfastness, endurance. But I think there’s something else here more important. On the other hand, it speaks about staying in your lane and running your race as opposed to what God calls others to do. I want you to notice that this is in the definite article in the Greek. Notice that it’s translated that way in your English Bible. Verse 7,” I have fought the good fight. I have finished” notice “the race.” I think most commentators agree with me or I actually agree with them that Paul is saying I have finished the race assigned to me, the race assigned to me because athletes run in lanes. If you go back to verse 5 of chapter 2, they keep the rules. And I think Paul’s acknowledging that, I have finished the race assigned to me.


That race was given the Paul, wasn’t it, in Acts 9 verses 15 to 16, when God says to Ananias, “You know what? Go to him. I know you think he’s a Trojan horse, but he’s not. Go to him. He’s a chosen vessel of mine who will speak the gospel to the Gentiles and suffer many things.” And you know what? When you read Acts 9:15-16, read the rest of the book of Acts and the A epistles, Paul exactly fulfills that.


In his letter to the Ephesians, what does he say? You know what? We are Christ’s workmanship and God has works for us to do. And in a sense there’s the general will of God we’re all committed to. But I think when it comes to each man in this room, God has a place, God has a space for each of us to fill. God has our work for each of us to do because in 1 Corinthians 12, verse 11, when it comes to the enablements of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which allows us to serve in areas of mercy, teaching leadership, whatever it says that the Spirit gives these gifts as he wills sovereignly. We don’t all get the same gift.


That’s why in that passage he’ll say, “Do all speaking tongues?” Implication, no. Do all prophesy? Implication, no. We’ve all got a lane to run in every part of the body is separate and necessary. You’ve got a lane to run in. You’ve got a life God has written down for you to live. That’s why Jesus rebukes Peter when he learns that he’s going to die crucified. And he looks over at John, he says, “I’m not liking when I’m hearing about myself.” What’s his assignment and what does Jesus say? What’s that to you? What’s that to you? Run in your lane. There’s grace for what I’ve called you to do. That’s why David had to learn that he couldn’t fight in Saul’s armor. That’s why we’ve got to find out according to Ephesians 5:15-17 what the will of God is and do it. And we know what the will of God is in general.


We’ve got to come to faith in Christ. We’ve got to be filled by the spirit. We’ve got to be holy and sanctified. We’ve got to love our wives. We’ve got to raise our children. We get all of that. That’s true of every man in this room. But you have a certain space and place in life. You have certain gifts, you have a certain calling on your life, you’ve got to discover that or you won’t be able to say on your death bed, I run the race assigned to me. People have been disqualified in race because they ran the wrong course. 1993 NCAA division two cross country championship was held in Riverside. Only five of the 128 runners ran in the correct course. 123 of the 128, missed the turn, ran the wrong course and were disqualified. They ran it well, they ran it real good but they run the wrong course.


Guys, it’s never too late for a mid-course correction to discover what has God still got me to do, unique to me, unique to my ability, financially, giftedness, time. In his book, The Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado tells about flying somewhere to speak and he goes to the baggage claim and he grabs what looks like his suitcase and he looks like his suitcase size, material, color and gets back to the hotel. He opens it up and realizes it’s not his. It’s the exact looking suitcase, but it’s not his suitcase. And in it he finds perfume, jewelry, and women’s clothing. And in the book he talks about that. He was set to preach, but he didn’t fancy preaching in a pleated skirt, a pleated skirt, and a pair stilettos.


When he talks about this, he talks about guys, you never want to live out of someone else’s suitcase. Are you living out of someone else’s suitcase? Are you living the life your mom and dad prescribed for you, or God, or the pressure of society? Are you living the American dream, which is often nothing to do with God’s kingdom? What life are you living? What suitcase are you living out off? Is it the one God packed for you from eternity past and the works that he’s got for you to do?


Here’s the last picture. The steward. The steward. This third image is that of the trustee or the steward. Look at Paul says, “I have kept the faith.” Now I want you to notice it’s my conviction, and I think the majority of biblical commentators that the fact that Paul talks about keeping the faith, he’s not talking about his personal belief in Jesus Christ. He’s not talking about his commitment to Jesus Christ. He’s talking about the fact that he has kept the faith, the body of truth, the gospel.


Remember back in 1 Timothy 6:20-21 Paul says to Timothy, “Keep the deposit.” The word deposit means the treasure. And in chapter 1, in verses 13 and 14 of this very letter, verse 14, “that good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit.” What’s the good thing? It’s the gospel. It’s Christology, it’s the person and work of Christ. It’s his deity, his virgin birth, his sinless life, his atoning substitutionary death, his physical resurrection, his ascension to the right hand of God, his continuing prayer on our behalf and his impending return in power and glory. That’s the deposit. And Paul has kept it. He’s kept it in the fierce of Judaizers, legalism, [inaudible 00:35:05] He’s kept it when pressured by the Romans. He’s kept it when mocked by the Jews.


In fact, in this very letter he’ll warn Timothy about those who have forsaken him all across Asia. He’ll talk about two men who say that the resurrections already happened. The truth is always under attack. It must be preserved, it must be guarded. And Paul says, “As I die, I can say truthfully, I have indeed defended the truth.” You want to be able to say that, guys. You want to be able to say, “I know the gospel. I can discern false doctrine from sound doctrine,” and the day’s going to come. It says here in this very letter then when in the church they will not endure sound doctrine. But you know what? I’m committed to guarding the deposit. I’m going to defend the gospel as we have understood it historically within the church.


A while ago, in fact, last year when we were celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I read a book by Urban Lutzer, former pastor at Moody Church in Chicago, has a book called Rescuing the Gospel. And it was a story about the Protestant affirmation in Martin Luther. And when you get to the end of the book, the last page on the book, he talks about the fact that the gospel just as it had to be rescued from the darkness of Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages, so the gospel needs to be rescued in every generation from distortion and apostasy and dilution. Here’s what he says. “Martin Luther had to rescue the gospel from the distortions of Catholicism. In some sense, our task is more difficult than his. We must rescue the gospel from Catholicism along with a host of other movements such as fraudulent so-called evangelicals whose entire television program is dedicated to health and wealth theology with special breakthroughs promised to those who send them money.

[NEW_PARAGRAPH]”We have to rescue it from theological liberals who deny the supernatural character of the Christian faith. We have to rescue it from false religions that compete for the allegiance of men and women. We must rescue it from the cults who come to our doorsteps. We must rescue it from all who think that it’s up to them to contribute to their salvation and that they must make themselves worthy to receive it. We must rescue the world that the gospel of the New Testament is for the spiritually needy, who have nothing to offer God. They come not to give but to receive. They come not just to be helped but to be rescued. Their contribution to salvation is their sin. God’s grace supplies everything else. This is our task in every age.” And that’s what Paul is saying to Timothy and he saying to the man of Kindred Community Church. Rescue the gospel from error.


At the Masters Seminary and University board meeting a week ago, we had a wonderful testimony from a young man from South Africa, just one of the many young men that come to our school from all across the world. And as he gave his testimony, he told the story right at the end about his commitment to the gospel. And he said he had just finished the book where he learned that the great reformer John Calvin was dying and around his deathbed, his colleagues in the ministry and some of his colleagues in the school where they taught and trained up the next generation of ministers. You know what Calvin said, close to the moment of his death to his pastor, friends and professor friends? He said this, “Change nothing. Avoid innovation, keep the faith.”


Okay, I’m not going to speak a lot on this next thought because I want to get to a final thought. The reward. The reward. Hey Paul, you’ve given a lot in verse 7. You’ve spent your life, you’re doing it now, at the end of your life, the way you’ve done it throughout your life, we realize you’re running to the finish line breathless. We realize that your sword is still held high, You haven’t surrendered to the enemy, you’ve fought the good fight. We see you’ve still got your Bible in your hand. You’re committed to the fear. That’s his past and that’s his present. And Paul gets his motivation in his future because he says, look in verse 8, “Finally there is let up for me the kind of righteousness which the Lord the righteous says will give to me on that day and not to me only, but all those who love his appearing.”


He looks around without fear. He looks back without regret and he looks ahead without doubt. Paul draws back the curtain on the future and previews what lies ahead for him and people like him. That’s people who are Christ-centered and eternity oriented. Those who love his appearing. And he talks about a crown, he talks about our reward. This is the Greek word stephanos. It’s the victor’s wreath. And since he has taken images from the battlefield and from the Atlantic field, that’s exactly what the stephanos says. The stephanos was a garland crown, a wreath that would be put on the head of a victorious soldier or on the head of a winning athlete.


There are five of these crown in the New Testament. There’s the incorruptible crown given to those who practice self-discipline, 1 Corinthians 9. There is the crown of life in James 1:12, given to those who suffer and endured the end. There’s the crown of rejoicing, which is the soul winners crown in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, the crown of glory, 1 Peter 5 given to fearful pastors who served their congregations with stellar commitment. And then here there’s the crown of righteousness which is given to those who love his appearing.


What do these crown signify? We’re not sure. Is it millennial blessing? Is it eternal joy? Could be elements of that. But one thing I’m pretty sure of, even when we get those crowns, get those rewards, get those well dones from Christ according to Revelation chapter 4, we’re going to take those crowns and cast them at Jesus’ feet. He’s going to say thank you and we’re going to say, “Oh Lord, it’s not about us, it’s about you. It was a joy to serve you.” So that’s the reward and that is motivation.


In fact, I think here there’s an element of vindication because he’s about to lose his life at the hands of an unjust judge called Nero, but in a future day he’s going to be vindicated by the righteous judge himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s going to be a day of vindication and victory for God’s people. That’s why Martin Luther said, “I live this day for that day.”


But here’s the point I want to get to and wrap it up, the response. We’ve talked a lot about Paul because Paul’s doing all the talking. But the last thought I want to get in for a couple of minutes is what I call the response. We’ve looked at the resolve, we’ve looked at the review, we’ve looked at the reward, the response and the responses to come from Timothy because I don’t want you to lose the train of thought. We’re looking at verses 6 through 8 this morning. But it really is tied to verses 1 through 5 because notice what he says in verse 6, “For.” He’s linking the comments that he’s about to make with the comments he’s just made. Timothy preach, the word Timothy fulfill the ministry. For. And he gives the third reason for doing that. Remember what we said first reason verse 1, the coming of Jesus and our accountability to him.


Verse 3, “For the time will come when men will not endure sign doctrine.” So we got to preach it and fulfill the ministry. Reason three, because I’m about to die Timothy and you need to stand in the gap. That’s the response, I’m looking. The completion of my ministry begs for the continuation of yours. That’s the important thing to get, guys. That’s the flow of the passage. That’s why you have this theme of gospel continuity as we wrap up here in 2 Timothy verse 1 of chapter 1 to Timothy, my beloved son.


Paul is training him up. Paul is sending him out. Chapter 1, verse 14. Keep that good thing. Chapter 2 verse 2, “Find man like you and you do in them. What I did in you teach them to be faithful that they may teach other men to be faithful.” And you’ve got this continuing links in a chain of gospel faithfulness. You get to chapter 3, verse 14. “Continue in these things.” And then when you get to chapter four, “Hey Timothy, bye-bye son. You need to tell me you’re going to preach the word and you’re going to fulfill the ministry. That’s the response I want in the light of the resolve and in the light of the review, in the light of the reward.”


This is kind of that scene. Remember when the mantle of Elijah falls off the chariot and Elisha picks it up and Paul’s kind of laying down the mantle. Are you going to pick it up Timothy? Now here’s one other thing guys, I got to squeeze in. We’re not going to take time to deliver it, but I’m going to give you a thought and some of you guys will chew on it. In 1 Timothy 6:11-12 and 2 Timothy 3:17, Paul describes Timothy as what? The man of God, The man of God flees unrighteousness. The man of God is equipped through the word. Guys, that’s a technical term and Paul is using it, I believe, very purposefully because it’s gone back to the Old Testament. And you’ll see that Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, Elisha were all called the man of God. You remember What the woman says about Elisha? I perceive that a man of God has passed by. This is a technical term for prophets, men of the word, voices for God, leaders in the community of faith. And I think Paul’s saying that to Timothy.


There’s this idea of continuity again. Timothy, we’re in a line of faithful men, the men of God. And I have kept the faith, and I’ve run the race, and I have fought the fight and I’m going, I’m gone. Moses is gone. Samuel’s gone. David’s gone. Elijah’s gone. Elisha’s gone. You’re here. Don’t let there be gospel slippage. Don’t let there be gospel shrinkage in your generation.


And guys, it’s kind Of back to where we started as we wrap up. John Quincy Adams died in harness. Harness. Like those early patriots of America read the book, The American Spirit up by David McCullough. They were faithful, sacrificial, courageous. Same here, Timothy. Make sure that the work of the gospel proceeds aggressively in your generation. Make sure there’s no break in gospel commission endeavors. And guys, the same to us. There is an army of faithful men that have lived across the centuries who got us to this point with the Bibles in hand, religious freedoms, gospel opportunities. And the issue is, will the work go forward or go back with this generation of man?


Will we, like Timothy, embrace a sense of historic duty, a sense of historic duty? Do you have that sense of historic duty, that you’re a gatekeeper for this generation? What does the words of that old hymn go something like? We cannot expect to be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while others fought the prize and sealed through bloody seas. The martyrs, the faithful men that speak to us.


Couple of weeks ago, some of us were at a lunch of the Tyndale Center of Translation at the Master Seminary. It’s a new initiative there where we’re hoping to get some translators that will be faithful to translating God’s word for many of our TMI centers across the world. And as we sat hearing that vision as a dinner, then the evening finished with an address by Dr. Steve Lawson on the life of William Tyndale. It was to say the least spell binding. Right out of his heart. No notes. Spoke for 25 minutes because he had just written a book on the man who put our Bibles into English.


It was stirring, it was emotional. You got that sense that the ages were crowding in that room at the Hyatt and Valencia, that a great cloud of witnesses were looking at us who had been faithful to the gospel, who had pushed the boundaries of gospel work. And now they were looking at us. What are you going to do in your generation? In fact, Steve told us that they had moved a couple of years ago to Dallas. He sold their home in Mobile, Alabama and they were in a little apartment in Dallas. Most of his books, some of his furniture is in storage. He’s got a small study, a bit of a loft area, I think in their apartment. No natural light, no windows.


He says. He goes in there every morning, sits at his desk, there are several portraits around him. To his left, there’s John Calvin. And to his right there’s Martin Luther. And behind him looking over him is a large picture of William Tyndale with his finger on the Bible. And Steve said that he studies every morning, he writes, he studies, he prays under the gaze of these great man calling him the fervor and calling him the fearfulness. And you know what? He ministers with a sense of historic duty. May God give us a love of history. May God allow us to read biography. May God help us to see the men of God have stood behind us one after another, spilling blood, spilling ink, spilling sweat and saying to us, “Rise up. Oh man of God and run the race and fight the fight and keep the faith, and finish well.” Let’s pray.


Lord, we thank you for this passage. It’s somewhat claustrophobic. It just closes in on you because it’s very dramatic. It’s a death bed scene. It’s the final hours of a man’s life. It’s life and focus. And to be honest, it’s how we want it to be. On our best day this is what we pray for. On our best day this is what we aspire. Lord, help us indeed to do those things that will allow us to pull this off. Help us to pour out our lives before we pack up and leave for heaven. Help us Lord to not give up in the fight. Some of us are tired but beaten up, bruised, bloody bleeding. But give us the resolve and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to stand strong. Help us to run the race that you’ve given for us. Help us not to look over to my brother, another brother. Help us just to find out what ought to be beneath our feet. And let’s get at it.


Help us, Lord, to keep this precious gospel. Help us not to stand by possibly as it’s ripped apart in the culture mocked in the church. Help us to defend it because tied in the gospel is the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. Lord, when it’s tough and hard, help us to keep our eye on that day when Jesus will come and it will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Help us not to get lost in the mood of the moment or that crisis of the hour. Help us to be man, with as Jonathan Edwards prayed with eternity blazed on our eyeballs. And Lord, we prayed that indeed we make me man of historic commitments.


Help us to look back, understand what’s behind us, the man that sacrificed and served to get us to this point. And it mustn’t die in our generation. It mustn’t go back. It mustn’t be less. Help us to be faithful. Help us to realize that the Bunyans and the Spurgeons and the Calvins and the Luthers and the Moodys and the Hudson Taylors and the Amy Carmichaels and the Florence Nightingales, that they’re looking over us. They need to see the commitment that they give and us. May it be so. May this be a bond of men who in sacred honor, die and harness for Jesus’ sake. Amen.