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In this passage we see Paul take three pictures from everyday life and he communicates to Timothy from within his world and he encourages him to endure. He encourages him through these vivid images of devotion, discipline, and diligence. There's nothing easy about being a soldier. There's nothing easy about being an athlete. There's nothing easy about being a farmer. The soldier must stay on mission. The athlete must be disciplined. The farmer must put in long and laborious hours.The soldier speaks of singular devotion. The athlete speaks of strenuous discipline. The farmer speaks of steadfast diligence. Paul is firing up Timothy's imagination, so that he can indeed give himself with white hot commitment to Jesus Christ, the message of Jesus Christ and the mission that Jesus gave to His followers. Ministry is not a playground. It's a battleground. Prayer is wrestling. It’s a fight. Spiritual health and spiritual holiness requires holy sweat. The moment we got redeemed, we got recruited. We crossed over the line and joined Jesus side. We went from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's dear Son. We swapped sides. We became enlisted. Paul is driving that priority. He's driving that understanding the war is on. The man of God, the minister of the Gospel commits himself, not to get drawn down into the passing affairs of this world.
More From This Series
Philip De Courcy (00:00):
Well, let’s take our Bibles. Go to two Timothy chapter two. If you’re visiting with us, we’re in a series of expositions on two Timothy. This is Paul’s sworn song. Paul’s last letter before he graduates to heaven. He’s writing to a young man he schooled in Christ. I think one of the themes of this book is unashamed. Several times Paul will tell Timothy not to be ashamed of him as a prisoner of the gospel, not to be ashamed of the master and his message. So, we have entitled this series Without Apology. I pray for myself and for you that we will be a company of Christians who live for Christ without apology.
Philip De Courcy (00:43):
This culture wants to bludgeon us into silence. Wants to push us to decide as an irrelevancy. It wants us to keep our faith private behind the walls of our churches, and so we encourage you to break down those walls. We encourage you to fight back, and be a man who lives for Christ without apology. And so Paul’s going to help us to do that by encouraging us with three wonderful images of the Christian man and the Christian ministry. Read God’s word with me. Follow along, you may remain seated. 2 Timothy two verse three,”You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also, if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.”
Philip De Courcy (01:58):
Reads God’s word. I want to speak this morning on the subject picture perfect, because here’s three wonderful pictures of Christian ministry and Christian ministers. These are picture perfect then you and I want to live up to these images. During the days when man didn’t push strollers or changed diapers, a husband was out with his wife and child for dinner, and the child began to cry. And having spent the day taking care of the child, his wife was exhausted and wanted a break, and so she asked her husband to change the son’s diaper. He said, “Well, I don’t know how to change a baby. And you know what? I really don’t think I could do it. Well, she looked at him with a withering look, realizing that he was a baseball fan. She said this, “Look, Buster, you lay the diaper out like a diamond. You put a second piece on home pleat, put the baby’s bottom on the pitcher’s mind, hook up first and third and slide home underneath. And if it starts to lean the game, isn’t called you start all over again.
Philip De Courcy (03:11):
Now the moral of the story is what? The moral of the story is, if you’re going to get your message across you better learn to speak the person’s language. You better learn to communicate within their world. And I would suggest to you that the biblical writers were good at that. They drew images from everyday life. They understood that the mind is not a filing cabinet, as much as it is a picture gallery. And they understood that an effective teacher turns ears into eyes by the use of metaphor and simile and illustration. And as we turn to second Timothy chapter two in verses three to seven, we find the apostle Paul doing just that. He kicks every day images and he turns them in the ministry metaphors.
Philip De Courcy (04:01):
Like the other biblical writers, Paul sought to draw a word picture that would connect with Timothy and communicate the need for Timothy to make an enduring commitment to the gospel. That’s what Paul is doing here. This is a call to commitment. It’s rooted in chapter one in verse [inaudible 00:04:21]. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, not of me his prisoner, but share with me in the suffering, sufferings for the gospel, according to the power of God. Paul picks that theme up again in chapter two verse one, “You therefore, my son be strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Before he is done, he will challenge Timothy again towards the end of the latter chapter four, verse five, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions. Do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your ministry.” Suffer, be strong endure.
Philip De Courcy (05:02):
And to underscore that message. Paul takes three pictures from everyday life and he communicates to Timothy from within his world and he encourages him to endure. He encourages him through these vivid images of devotion, discipline, and diligence. There’s nothing easy about being a soldier. There’s nothing easy about being an athlete. There’s nothing easy about being a farmer. The soldier must stay on mission. The athlete must ever be disciplined. The farmer must put in long and laborious hours. And that’s the point of these pictures with these three metaphors. Paul is faring up Timothy’s imagination so that he can indeed give himself with white hot commitment to Jesus Christ, the message of Jesus Christ and the mission that Jesus gave to his followers.
Philip De Courcy (06:03):
So let’s look at these pictures and see a wonderful outline of Christian ministry and service. In fact, just if you’re taking notes of you, want to later on, you can go to first Corinthians chapter nine, verse seven and 24, and you’ll find these three images used by Paul, once again, the athlete, the soldier and the farmer. Here’s an outline. The soldier speaks of singular devotion. The athlete speaks of strenuous discipline. The farmer speaks of steadfast diligence. So let’s jump right in with these three wonderful images, metaphors for ministry. Number one, devotion. The first of the three images points to the devotion of the soldier. Look at verse three. ‘You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare, entangles himself with the affairs of this world, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” This was one of Paul’s favorite images. Back in chapter, one of the first letter to Timothy, he tells him in chapter one in verse 18 team to wage warfare.
Philip De Courcy (07:21):
In chapter six, in verse 12 of that first letter, he tells him to fight a good fight of faith. And here we are again, in the second letter drawing upon this image of soldiering. You know, Paul’s most famous use of this image and Ephesians six verse 10 through 18, where we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers. And Paul calls the church at Ephesus to put on the whole armor of God and stand in the evil day, having all they can do to stand. So Paul loves this image and it shouldn’t surprise us that he would draw a picture from the military world because the world in which Paul lived was basically a military state.
Philip De Courcy (08:07):
Don’t forget that he endured two imprisonments and find himself in the company of Roman soldiers. Often, in fact, there may have been a time during which he himself was chained to a Roman soldier. This is a very familiar picture to Paul and Timothy. And it’s a wonderful picture because Paul is trying to encourage Timothy to suffer, to stand strong, to endure for the gospel sake. Because you see Timothy had the fight against his natural timidity.
Philip De Courcy (08:39):
Timothy looked at Paul and saw him in prison for the gospel and must have asked himself, “Do I want that for myself?” Paul tells us that there was no home feel advantage because the culture in which Timothy lived was one that was Christ-less and opposed to the gospel. And so Timothy would have to indeed show some strength and courage and faithfulness, all words that are in the vocabulary of the soldier. And that’s why Paul draws upon this image because what’s an army? It’s a company of the committed. That’s what an army is. And military life was a hard life by matter of course. So if Paul wants to encourage Timothy to endure, to be courageous, to stand up against all that’s opposing him, well then the image of the soldier is a good one. And what Paul is really saying here, if I was to summarize it, Timothy, the soldier will take his first share of rough treatment. And so must you as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Philip De Courcy (09:49):
I’ve told you before that, when June and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary, I took her down to San Diego for the weekend, and we were enjoying a cup of tea on Caranary Island on a beautiful sunny California afternoon, when I reminded myself that one of my friends may be on the Navy seal BS, and I decided to give him a call and see if we could drop in and see all that was going on. I thought June would enjoy that on our 25th anniversary. But she, as a good obedient and loving wife, she tagged along. And actually as the day unfolded, she enjoyed it thoroughly. We did get on the BS and we did get to see a little bit of the training and was going on with a new batch of Navy seals.
Philip De Courcy (10:31):
And you saw the rigor, the discipline that these guys had to endure, and our friend showed us around. And one of the lasting memories for June and myself was standing on the parade grind. And we noticed that there were two signs, not far from us. One of them said, “The enemy thanks you today for not giving a 100%.” And the other one said, and this is one of the Navy seals mantras, “Yesterday was your easiest day.” Known bedtime stories on the Navy seal BS. “Yesterday was your easiest day.” Because you see rough treatment is a matter of course for the Roman soldier, the army ranger, the Navy seal. And that’s what Paul is getting out here. Ministry is not a play grind. It’s a battle grind. Prayer is wrestling. That’s the image Paul uses. Taking up the word of God is taking up a sword. Establishing holiness is a fight. It’s a fight to the death. Put your flesh to death.
Philip De Courcy (11:40):
You look at all these images. Evangelism is an arduous campaign, weeds against the enemy who holds our family and friends captive out as well. It’s a rescue mission. All the images of ministry are military, and they convey this idea of arduous commitment and courage. Now there’s two things that jump by quickly as we look at the devotion of the soldier. And also notice this, the focus in this passage is not on the enemy, it’s on the soldier. And there’s two things that kind of stand out, if you’re taking notes. Number one, Paul talks about enlistment, and then Paul talks about entanglement. Look at what he says in verse four. Now, “No one engaged in warfare, entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”
Philip De Courcy (12:35):
You need to underscore that you’re an enlisted man. Several of you have served our country violently and admirably in the armed forces. And we thank you for your service. You’re an enlisted man in that sense, but all of us are enlisted men in this sense that the moment we got saved, the moment we got redeemed, we got recruited. We crossed over the line and joined Jesus side. We went from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear son. We swapped sides. We became enlisted. In fact, Jesus is described in Hebrews two, verse 10 is what the captain of our salvation. The moment we put our faith in Christ, we were immediately grafted into God’s army and we came under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And if you’re an enlisted man, what’s life about? It’s about obeying orders. That’s what it’s about. It’s shutting up and doing what you’re told. No belly icking, no excuses, no cowardice. Just straighten up and listen to the captain of our salvation. Nobody calls every one of us to do. No neutrality. We’re always on active service. We’re always ready to come to attention and follow orders.
Philip De Courcy (14:00):
In fact, metaphorically, maybe it’s not a bad thing even to do it, literally get up in the morning and just come to attention salute and say, “Lord, what do you want me to do today? What is it, that is your will for my life today.” We’re enlisted, man. And I think sometimes we forget that. I don’t know if you knew this, but D L Moody traveled this country preaching the gospel. And at aside he had a music minister called Ira Sanky. Back when I was growing up in Northern Ireland, we used to hymn known Sunday nights called, Sacred Songs. It was the songs of Ira Sanky. And I was interested to learn a while ago, reading a sermon by Warren Wiersbe that D L Moody forbid Sanky to sing onward Christian soldiers during his campaigns. You may ask why? Because Moody believed that God’s people were less like an army than anybody else.
Philip De Courcy (14:56):
You know we sing it, but we don’t live it. And if you’re to tick Moody’s kind of thought he’s right. I mean, imagine rule call on the average Sunday morning in an evangelical church in Oranges County. Private Smith. Well, he is not here, Sarge. You know, he got the sniffles, couldn’t come to church this morning. What about Private Jones? Well, he’s not here, Sarge either. He’s like playing golf. What about Private Schmo? Well, Sarge, he’s not here. He’s down at the beach with his girlfriend. Does that sign anything like an army to you?
Speaker 3 (15:32):
Philip De Courcy (15:33):
No. You’re right, son. Kid gets it. Hey, it’s simple. This is the image. If you are enlisted, you do what the commander says. You shoe up on the parade grind. You listen for what the commands are. You kick your heels and off you go. Well, I see the Germans collect their heels. So what do we do? We are salute and off we go, all right. That’s the enlistment that Paul’s driving out here. But he not only talks about enlistment, he talks about entanglement. This is real at the heart of what he wants to say. This is kind of the edge of this particular image. Verse four, no one engaged in warfare. Any enlisted man, any soldier, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself in the affairs of this life.” That’s one of the marks of a soldier. The sealer and arm man. They’re single minded. They’re man on a mission. The mission dominates. There’s a devotion there.
Philip De Courcy (16:46):
In fact, this word entangled can speak of a sheep, caught in a thicket. And so the soldier then is someone who has not caught up in the everyday affairs of life and living. He’s a man under orders. He’s a man on a mission. His mentality is, the war is on. You know what? My mother and my father and June’s mom and dad are children of the World War II. My girls used to thrill at stories, they would tell. The sirens would go off and Belfast as the Germans came over ahead, the bomb, the shipyards of Belfast, which served the British Navy. And they would scoot down to the bomb shelters at the end of their streets. June’s dad, as a little boy, took a tree out under the Scottish countryside to live with the farming community for a while, as many kids did during the World War II, there was separation from parents. There was food rationing, but no one barely act. Fact you’d find them under the subways of London, singing together.
Philip De Courcy (17:49):
Because you know why? The war was on. And when the war’s on, then you take the Russians as they come. You embrace the separations and the hardship as they are. There’s that mentality. And that’s what Paul’s getting out here. The soldier, the enlisted man who meets at his him to please the commander is a man indeed who concentrates his energies, determines his choices, and justifies his self-denial in the light of the fact that the war is on. Now, listen, I don’t think Paul’s saying to any Christian man and especially a Christian minister, don’t forget, this is a letter to a pastor. I don’t think Paul’s saying to Timothy, neglect your family becomes so impractical that you’ve no concern about life around you. That would go against other passages.
Philip De Courcy (18:43):
But what he’s saying by this image is, look, you know what? In the middle of all your responsibilities and a soldier has still responsibilities. Doesn’t he? He’s got a wife, he’s got children, he’s got bills to pay. He’s got retirement to look to. All of that’s true about a soldier, but you know what? On mission that cannot become secondary. He’s willing to lose his life, which will leave his wife, a widow and his children, orphans. That’s what Paul’s driving out here. He’s driving that priority. He’s driving that understanding the war is on. The man of God, the minister of the gospel commits himself, not to get drawn down into the passing affairs of this world. I think that carries the idea of not looking back for ease. We see that in Luke nine 61 to 62. And I think it also has this idea of forsaking the good for the best.
Philip De Courcy (19:43):
Remember when we were looking at Hebrews 11 and 12, we saw in Hebrews 12 versus one to two that we’re not only to lay aside sin, we’re to lay aside wheat. And we made the determination that sin is bad. The wheat can be good, but it is set aside for that, which is best. And we realize in life, guys, the choices we make are not always between what’s bad and what’s good, what’s forbidden and what’s allowed. The choices are often between what’s good and what’s best. Seek first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then all these things will be added to you. So there’s this single mindedness. I hope you’ve got that. I’m not in any way, neither as Paul, encouraging you to be irresponsible, to neglect your work, to neglect your family. But Paul is saying, Hey, we wrestle not against flesh and blood. There’s a war on. Souls are at stake. The glory of Jesus Christ on planet earth is at the center of this conflict. Where are you?
Philip De Courcy (20:45):
Have you got your camouflage on and your boots list up. Are you sitting on the easy chair with your feet up? Are you entangled in the affairs of this world where life is all about making money, sports, vacations? That’s not the lifestyle of the military man. We won’t go there, but right at down Judges seven. Remember the story about Gideon’s army? 32,000 men volunteered to fight the Medianites. God said the army’s too big. We’re going to thin the ranks a little bit. Tell the guys that, “You know fearful and want to go home. They can go home.” And 10,000 go home. They’re left for 22,000. God says still too many. So take them down to the water’s edge and we’re going to put them to a test, a secret test, but a significant test.
Philip De Courcy (21:32):
I want you to watch how they drink the water. And the assumption is they’re drinking water in full view of the enemy. And there’s two responses. There’s the man who seems to hold his weapon in one hand. He kneels down, he brings some water up in his hand and laps it like a dog. Then there’s others that seem to lay their swords and spears down full belly, packen a trough, head in the water. Boom, tell her hoppy. And it seems that at least by inference, the test says, Hey, we’ll keep the 300 that have kept their eye on the enemy. Who certainly you know not an army drinking water, an army has to be hydrated and strong. But you know what? The guys that kept themselves ready, kept themselves vigilant, never lost sight of what this is a bite, even though they were satisfying a physical need. Will take those guys.
Philip De Courcy (22:26):
And I think that’s, what’s been driven out here. Here’s an illustration and we’ll move on. I don’t you know this, I didn’t tell, a while ago when I was reading a fascinating book called, Stories That You’ve Never Read. This is to do with the fact that in British history, several monarchs banned the playing of soccer and the playing of golf. You go back to 1314, Edward, the second England’s king issued a Royal edict banning the game of soccer. Now back then soccer was a whole different kind of game. It was really two villages that would compete against each other, kicking a ball and chasing it all across the countryside, and some kind of a mix of rugby wrestling soccer. It was, but it was very popular. And so king said enough of that. Again, if you study British history, you go to 1457 King James’s the second of Scotland ban soccer and golf. 1491 King James, the fourth issues this decree, “It is a statute and ordain that in no place of the realm there shall be used football or golf or any other unprofitable sport.” Now you’re going to yourself.
Philip De Courcy (23:35):
What was their angst against soccer and golf? What was the evil involved that you have a Royal edict, that actually, if someone is to indeed disobey, they could fear imprisonment? Here’s what the story tells us is that, these sports became so popular that can archery fell in its popularity and the Kings are going, Hey, you can’t win wars with soldiers are good at soccer, or golf, but you can win wars with soldiers who are good at archery. And so two sports were banned. So the one sport that played into the realms, defense would indeed exceed. I think there’s an illustration in that.
Philip De Courcy (24:20):
We might conclude these kings are nothing but kill joys. And for the most part, people did ignore their edicts. But the point is guys, while we’re having a gay old time here playing golf and soccer, the armies of France and the armies of Spain and the armies of Europe are getting ready. And we need to get back to a bit of archery because a soldier who’s engaged in warfare doesn’t get drawn down into the silly games of life.
Philip De Courcy (24:52):
Here’s the second thought, not only devotion, the devotion of the soldier, secondly, the discipline of the athlete, verse five. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he has not crowned the nacy competes according to the rules. This is the second of the three images, metaphors for ministry, Paul speaking, within Timothy’s world and connecting with him. And again, this is an image you know Paul used repeatedly. First Timothy four verse seven, exercise yourself on the godliness, bodily exercise profits for a while, but actually exercising yourself to godliness has eternal benefits.
Philip De Courcy (25:33):
You’ve got first Corinthians 9 24 to 27. Hey, let’s run so as to win. Let’s not throw any herbals here. We want to be those who are competitive. Second Corinthians five, nine to 10. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. The Greek is Bema seat. The Bema was a raised platform upon which judges sat and then deed administered the games. Paul used as this image a lot when he writes to the Galatians who have kind of got sidetracked by a false gospel. He said, “You did run well, but who hindered you?” This is an image that Paul plasters all over his letters. There was a familiar one to Timothy because like our world, the ancient world loves sports. You can study it on your own time and read about the Erthiam games and Corinth and the Olympian games and Athens. Paul was very much aware of those arenas and the competition that went on there.
Philip De Courcy (26:34):
And so here’s Paul’s point. If anyone competes in athletics, he’s not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. Paul draws down on the prescribed conditions for athletic competition. There’s rules. There’s prescribed conditions. Number one, you had to be a citizen of the country in which you competed. Number two, you had to commit to 10 months of rigorous training, 10 months. And that training was monitored and measured. For the Olympic games you did that under oath before the Godzes. And thirdly, within the games itself, if you didn’t abide by the rules, you earned a stiff fine, or even a beating because there were the judges on the Bema seat, making sure you competed according to the rules and the prescribed conditions. In fact, there was a saying that went something like, ‘No rules, no wreath.” And Paul ticks that. You know, just reps the pH out of sports illustrated and applies it to a gospel minister.
Philip De Courcy (27:45):
And he says, “Timothy, you need to show the same kind, discipline. The same kind of commitment to the prescribed conditions of Christian ministry. And growing in grace.” I was watching the other night, a love fair hoody on the golf channel because one it’s entertaining and two he’s a fellow old Sterman. And in this particular episode, he was interviewing Chris Carter, who was an Ohio’s dear Buckeye, and then played for many years with the Minnesota Vikings. Fascinating interview. Quite an impressive man, also to be quite honest about it, Chris Carter. David Fury asked him during the interview, you know what? I mean, you’d some of the safest pair of hands in the league. How did you get so good at handling the ball? Here’s a kind of paraphrase of what Chris Carter said, “Repetition, repetition, repetition.” Showing up and going beyond what was required. Then he said this, this is an exact quote, “Because I run into my study and wrote a dime. It just jumped out.”
Philip De Courcy (28:44):
And I said, this is second Timothy two versus three through seven. He said this and you had to learn to love the ugly parts of the game. And what he was talking about was, practice, discipline. What a wonderful little statement. You had to learn to love the ugly parts of the game. Because it was the prescribed conditions, it was the limits, it was the rules. It was the discipline. It was the self-sacrifice that made you the kind of NFL player that got you into the Hall of Fame. And quite frankly, I believe that Paul’s kind driving at that thought here, because the Christian man and the Christian minister must be man of discipline. And frankly, there’s not a lot of discipline in the evangelical church. We use words like creativity and spontaneity. Let’s get back to using words like self sacrifice, self denial, self discipline.
Philip De Courcy (29:47):
Because if you’re going to compete in spiritual Olympics for a crime that doesn’t feed you better get up as a discipline man and give yourself to prayer. Give yourself to fasting. Give yourself to the Bible, give yourself to Christian community, give yourself to journaling. Give yourself to inventory of your personal walk with God where you’re constantly reigning yourself and constantly re-defining your life in the light of God’s glory and God’s will. That’s hard work. That’s discipline. That’s the prescribed conditions of sanctification and service in the kingdom of God. There’s nothing easy about being a godly man or a godly minister. There’s no easy way to sanctification or service that pleases God. That’s why Paul says in first Timothy four verse seven exercise yourself to godliness. Don’t dream your way to it. Don’t imagine your way to it. Discipline yourself towards it. That’s why Peter will say won’t be, in second Peter, one verse five through 11, give all diligence an add to your faith.
Philip De Courcy (31:05):
Spiritual health and spiritual holiness requires holy sweat. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Spontaneity is overrated in the church. Feeling your way to Jesus, imagining your way to a deeper walk with God. No, you wrestle your way to it in prayer. And you work your way to it by submitting to the arduous study of God’s word, where you bring your best thinking to the text, where you sit dine and you discipline yourself like Paul says in first Corinthians nine 24 to 27, where he says, “I buffet my body.” Not buffet my body, buffet my body. Buffet my body. It’s the same thought guys. I’m telling you, this is a word to me. You see some kid in a boxing ring, sweating like a pig, getting hammered. So does body strengthens and his stomach muscles become like a wall. Chris Carter and the rest of the footballers that he kind of represents embracing the ugly parts of the game. Because it’s about discipline, self-sacrifice giving up.
Philip De Courcy (32:16):
Holiness requires training. Holiness requires holy sweat. In fact, that word actually says just for your interests when we move on. In first Timothy four verse seven, that word actually says, is the Greek word that gives an English word gymnasium. That’s exactly it. Every day, you’ve got to put yourself through a spiritual workout. You cannot afford to miss time with God and prayer time and the word time, reflecting on your walk with God, time worshiping. You must make a secret commitment to be with God’s people on the Lord’s day. It’s a day that was sat aside for the sanctifying of our souls as we sit under the preaching of God’s word and in the company of God’s people who will stir us up on the love and good work. So all those things are non-negotiable. They’re hard work sometimes, but that’s the point.
Philip De Courcy (33:07):
In fact, I’ve mentioned this book before, about a year or two ago, I read a book called, Leading by Alex Ferguson, who was the manager of Manchester United for almost two decades. Led the team to English Premier League Championships, the FA Cup, European Championship. And in his book, he says this, “On our own team, the best players tended to be sticklers for preparation.” That’s part of the reason why they were good or great. David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney would all stay after training to full fact their free kicks.
Philip De Courcy (33:40):
They would not disappear for a long bath, a massage or straight out the door and are running down to the car dealership. They would be religious. Isn’t that interesting? They would be religious about spending an extra 30 minutes trying to ban balls around a row of mannequins and past the goalkeeper. That’s why Beckham became a master of taking free kicks from 25 to 30 yards. That’s why Ronaldo was able to score from free kicks if he took them from behind the moon. These guys were disciplined.
Philip De Courcy (34:13):
In fact, he goes on to give an illustration. Something, I remember in 1996, David Beckham was on the halfway line of a soccer pitch in London when Manchester United was playing Wimbledon and he saw that the goalkeeper was off his line. And from the halfway line, he chipped the ball into the nap. People went ballistic. It was all over the BBC in the sports world, talked about it. But I didn’t realize this because I don’t remember seeing that and going wow. But Ferguson says, “People thought.” You know what? That was just a moment of brilliance. And in some sense it was, but here’s the story behind the moment of magic. He said, “I watched David Beckham do that shot a hundred times in the practice field.” That wasn’t spontaneous. That was the fruit of a disciplined life. And Paul is reminding us, it takes that to make any kind of impact for Jesus Christ.
Philip De Courcy (35:10):
You can’t be a spiritual slouch and be a good servant of God. No, it’s going to take devotion, single mindedness where some things are relegated and some things are promoted in our life because everything can’t have equal value. That’s not the world of the soldier. And we must be man who give ourselves to the Bible, prayer, fasting, solitude, inventory, community, serving journaling. Because as we discipline ourselves in those arenas, God’s power is released and you and I make an impact for Christ. Well here finally, here’s the last image on this one, a little quicker diligence. The devotion of the soldier, the discipline of the athlete, the diligence of the farmer. This is the third of the three images. And again, very much one that Timothy would understand and connect with, because Paul’s world like Timothy’s world was an agrarian culture and that’s why you’ll find agricultural images plastered all over the Bible.
Philip De Courcy (36:20):
In fact, when it comes to the New Testament, it comes to Paul, when it comes to the church, what does Paul say? The church is God’s field, one Corinthians three, verse nine. He talks about sewing and planting and watering and harvesting God’s word. In first Corinthians three verse six to seven, he talks about going to Rome, preaching the gospel, seeing people get saved and he calls that fruit or a harvest. In Romans one verse 13, and as you and I discipline ourselves, spend time in communion with God in prayer and then study of the word in the company of God’s people, the spirit of God begins to develop Christian character in our lives. And how does Paul describe it? The fruit of the spirit, love and joy and faithfulness, Galatians five 22 to 23. This is a very familiar picture. And what’s the point of the picture?
Philip De Courcy (37:16):
The soldier must stay focused. The athlete must keep the rules and the farmer must work hard and he ought to be the first to enjoy the benefits of the harvest. Verse six, the hard working farmer. My first church in Northern Ireland was in a farming community. I can attest to the fact the farmers are hardworking man, and their wives and their family. Fact, it was sad to see a trend and the farmers would admit it that very few of their sons wanted to take the farm over just way too hard to work. Long hours, mundaneness, patience at the mercy of the weather. Tough life. There were many benefits to it when the harvests come in, but a tough life, a hard life. And I would remind you that God calls busy people. If you’re not up for some hard work, if you can’t roll your sleeves up and spell some sweat for the kingdom of God, you’re absolutely useless and maybe not even saved.
Philip De Courcy (38:26):
But that’s another discussion for another day. The minister, the man of God is a hardworking farmer. In fact, Warren Weirsbe says this, “It is significant that in the Bible, God preferred to call people who were busy. Gideon was thrashing wheat. Moses was tending cheap. David was with his father’s flock. Peter and Andrew were fishing.” That’s an interesting little insight. In fact, he goes on, “It’s difficult to steer a car that is in neutral. God usually does not steer a believer, who’s ticking it easy.” And so you’ve got this image, in fact, the word hardworking is a word in the Greek that means to work to the point of exhaustion. Work to the point of exhaustion. I remember Kenneth Bristle one day in the Irish Baptist College in Belfast, when a principal, an Oxford man, Dr. Oakley forbid us to ever answer the door in our homes and they called him Mans is the minister’s home. He said, “I forbid you man, to ever answer your door in your slippers.” And go on, “Dad chapter and verse, please for that one.” And there was no chapter and verse. You could take it or leave it.
Philip De Courcy (39:33):
And in my arrogance and in my immature, I can’t afford it that, that’s just baloney, what I mean here, it’s the heart. Right, God looks at the heart, not your slippers.
Philip De Courcy (39:43):
But as time has gone by, I knew what that old man was saying. Whether you like it or not, the point was a good one. Hey, you’re a minister of the gospel. You’re an enlisted man. You’re a disciplined athlete and you’re a hardworking farmer.
Philip De Courcy (40:00):
Come to your door in Wally, but it’s not slippers. Tell your people, you’re working hard. Because the ministry’s hard work. The Christian life is a battlefield. It’s an arena and it’s a farmer’s field. That’s a good challenge. And as we close, Paul says something here that has kind of teased the thinking of common theaters. What does he mean here? The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Well, there are several arguments, one renumeration and several the common theaters run with this said, Hey, Galatians six, verse six. That Paul says those who share the word of God with you should share in what you have to share with them. You know what?
Philip De Courcy (40:46):
So that man can give themselves to the study of God’s word in full-time ministry. The church ought to underwrite their needs. You can read about that in first Corinthians nine verse seven to 11 and in First Timothy five verse 17, 18, I’ll just read that. “Let the elders who rule well be kind to double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” Then listen to this for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. And the labor is worthy of his wages.” So if you were to tick an agrarian picture, harvest, an oxen working, you could say, Hey, maybe Paul’s saying, you know what?
Philip De Courcy (41:20):
The pastor who preaches the word, the minister like Timothy who shares the gospel, they ought to be first to enjoy a material harvest from that, where the church supports them. I think that’s not a bad thought. Others argue, it’s not remuneration, it’s reward. They’d say that’s foreign to the text. The real harvest that’s really mentioned more in second Timothy is an eternal harvest. It’s eschatological. It’s when life is done, the minister of the gospel will be the first to be rewarded, will be first to enter into the joy of his labors.
Philip De Courcy (41:54):
And there may be some merit to that. Maybe some merit to that. I mean Paul says in chapter one, verse 12, “I’m not ashamed for, I know him. I believed and I’m persuaded. He’s able to keep that, which you have committed onto him against that day.” When you get to chapter four, verse six through eight, Paul talks about, Hey, the time of my departures is at hand, I fought the good fight. I finished the race. Look at verse, it laid up for me, the kind of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judged will give me in that day, not to me only, but all those who love his appearing. Other commentors argue, “Hey, it’s not financial harvest. It’s eternal harvest.” Could well be. I think both of those are fair arguments and there’s one final position. And I kind of like this one. It’s what I call renewal.
Philip De Courcy (42:37):
Not remuneration, not reward renewal. Because look at the wording of the text, the hard working farmer must, it’s almost like a moral necessity. He must be the first to partake of the crops. And I think that this is the thought that the minister of the gospel who shares the gospel, lives the gospel, preaches the gospel, he’s the first to benefit from the gospel. I think that’s where that text is at. The preacher and the pastor, remember while I’m spreading it wider to you as a body of man, this letter and this passage in its context is written to a singular minister of the gospel, a young pastor. And I think Paul is saying the preacher and the pastor is the first to be blessed by their work. I can assure you as one who is blessed by this church to give hours and hours of my week to the study of God’s work.
Philip De Courcy (43:34):
The sermon blesses me first before it blesses you. In fact, if it doesn’t bless me first, it’ll never bless you second. You know, word’s be said at a Moody Bible Conference, a minister must preach from the overflow, not the undertow. And the best ministry comes from a minister who’s prayed up, walking in the spirit, who’s studied the word, who’s determined what the word of God is. A thus sayeth the Lord message and gets up in the par of the spirit, in the joy of it, in the fullness of it and preaches it. He’s the first to enter into the harvest. And then after that, he gets to see the impact at mix on men’s lives and women’s lives and children’s lives.
Philip De Courcy (44:19):
I think that’s the meaning of it. That’s why, what do we read in first Timothy four, as we close verse 12, “Let no one despise your youth, Timothy. Be an example to the believers in word and conduct and love in spirit and faith and purity. Till I come give attention to reading to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by the prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things, give yourself entirely to them that your progress may be evident to all.”
Philip De Courcy (44:49):
Who’s the first person to grow through the pastor’s sermon? The pastor. That’s why, by the way, if you take a step back and you read Spurgeon on this text in second Timothy two verse four, he says this text assumes that the minister is a sea of demand. He indeed is one who’s come to know the joy of knowing Christ. He’s feeding on that reality. And he then moves on to feed others. But again, if I was to make a general application guys, if you’re going to sanctify your wife, if you’re going to disciple your children, if you’re going to be a witness for Christ, then in the community, it has to be the out working in the overflowing of what’s going on in your heart.
Philip De Courcy (45:33):
You must love Christ. You must be in the word. You must be what you’re calling them to be. But if I finish with this story to kind of underscore Paul’s point to Timothy, and when I graduated from the master seminary in 1999 and was handed my diploma by my friend and mentor Dr. John MacArthur, the speaker that night was a Scott’s Presbyterian, Eric Alexander. And I remember he said something that night that I’ve never forgot. I think I’ve shared it once or twice. He said, I have a little study at the back of my garden in Glasgow. And he says around about 10 o’clock like clockwork, my wife will bring me at a cup of tea. See the British pastor didn’t have secretaries and office staff for the most part. Tended to be smaller churches tended to be a single pastor. And so he had this little, basically a garden shed out his backyard.
Philip De Courcy (46:24):
That’s where he went and became this kind of holy of Holies for him, where he got along with God, opened a text study, pray and get ready for his people. And at 10 o’clock almost every morning his wife would come because I think his model was, “I give the morning to God and I give the afternoon to my people.” And so in the morning his wife would come and one morning she brings him out a nice cup of British tea and he sets it on the desk. And before she leaves, he says something that morning. And he doesn’t normally say, and he just turns to his wife. And he says, “To think that I get paid to do this?” And every young man at the master sent me that day caught that. We just ended four years of exhausting study and given ourselves arduously to the handling of God’s word.
Philip De Courcy (47:05):
Now we were like our rights of soldiers, ready to fight, like athletes ready to compete, like farmers ready to work. But the thing that struck us then struck me that night. And I wrote it down when I went home was that, “Man you’ve called me to be a minister of the gospel. I get paid to do this. You mean I get paid to be at home while the man of my congregation are out in dirty factories and put in a hard day’s work.” Well, I’m back to Dr. Oakley. You know what? I got to put in as much work, mental work or whatever. And I study the word I get paid to do it. What a joy. The sermon lives with me for several days before it’s ever delivered for one hour on a particular day, on a Sunday morning. That’s the joy of it. That’s the blessing of it.
Philip De Courcy (47:59):
And that indeed is the effectiveness of ministry. If a man enjoys a spiritual harvest, first of all, himself, he will be a blessing to other men. Secondly, let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for our time and the word this morning for these perfect pictures of Christian ministers and Christian ministry. Lord, we thank you that Paul ticks his pen and draws these word pictures that catch our imagination and fire us up to a greater commitment to Jesus Christ. Oh God, as men of God, we come to attention this morning. And we simply say, as the captain of our salvation Lord command, what you will. Oh, God, help us to understand that freedom in Christ comes as the fruit of self discipline, not spontaneity, but discipline fulfilling the prescribed conditions of Christian service. Lord, we realize that it is the hidden life that will determine the effectiveness of the public life.
Philip De Courcy (49:13):
And though God, as we seek a harvest for you, may we enter into it ourselves? May we find our joy in you. May we love to study the scriptures and may our children see it at family devotions. May our friends see it. May we be man on fire because indeed what we’re calling them to, we have fully enjoyed ourself and we want to be that kind of advertisement for Christ. Thank you for these men, for these new men today. Maybe we see them back next month. Maybe continue this journey towards heaven together and may we live for Christ without apology. And everybody said, amen.