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Gospel preservation is at the heart of 2 Timothy. Paul pleas with Timothy and the church to consider this reality. The times were tough, and he was called by Paul to preach the Word in season and out of season. So, given his timidity, given his times, given his task, he needed to show courage in the face of censorship, apostasy, and a lack of natural fortitude. One of Timothy’s many primary purposes was to protect the Gospel. Just like Timothy, we need to stand up in perilous times and preach the Word, without apology. We need to understand that where the Gospel is assumed in one generation, it can be neglected, ignored, and lost in the next generation. Are we setting up the next generation for Gospel faithfulness? That is our role as men, and that's our calling as ministers. In this passage we are going to see Paul as: the messenger, the mentor, and then we will see him as the minister. His calling as an apostle was a dive appointment and a directed appointment. Apostleship means, sourced in the will of God. This wasn’t a career choice. The Christian ministry is something God entrusts to a man and thrusts upon a man. It is not something he ever seizes or grasps. The call to the ministry that's irresistible and clear is one marked by dominating desires, one marked by sovereign gifting, and one marked by the recognition of the church, not some kind of self-will, self-appointed preacher doing his own thing. So it's a divine appointment, according to the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus. It's a directed appointment. This was a definite and a directed appointment to preach the Gospel. Life and ministry's a team sport. The Christian life is not a solitary affair. It's not you and God. That's not biblical. It's you; it's God; and it's the body of Christ: the church, elders, and members speaking into your life. One of the ways that plays out is through mentoring. Mentoring begins with some circumstance or connection between the discipler and the disciplee. It requires a servant’s heart. It takes time and patience. It involves deep individual feelings. It exudes exhortation. It requires response and responsibility. Ultimately, the goal of mentoring is Gospel faithfulness. Setting up the next generation to teach, protect, know, and live the Gospel.
More From This Series
Philip De Courcy (00:00):
I invite you to take your Bible to turn to 2 Timothy. We’re going to really build an entrance porch into the book today. We’re going to look at the first two verses. So open your Bible to 2 Timothy, 1:1-2, in a series I’ve called Without Apology. We want you living lives for Jesus Christ without apology, lives that are bold and courageous and upfront in their commitment for the Lord Jesus. And I think you’ll see that is the intent of Paul when he writes to his protege, Timothy.
2 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, a beloved son. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Want to speak this morning in the subject, some fatherly advice.
In his book, The Myth of the Greener Grass, J. Allan Petersen tells the story of a woman who’s at a lunch with 11 other women. They’re studying French together while their children are in nursery. One woman asked the group over lunch. “How many of you have been faithful to your husbands throughout your marriage?” Only one woman at the table raised her hand. The others went on to talk about divorces; they went on to talk about affairs, and internet conversations with other men.
That evening, a woman went home to her husband and told the story. And she added that she herself had failed to raise her hand. Her husband asked, “Why not? You’ve been faithful to me.” To which she replied, “Well, I was embarrassed and I was ashamed.” Isn’t that amazing? Ashamed of being faithful to your husband in marriage, ashamed of fidelity? How strange. How sad.
But guys, that’s the day. That’s the age in which we live. You and I live in a culture that wants to embarrass Christians and shame Christians with regards to their commitment to God, the gospel, and biblical morality. This is a culture that seeks to shame us into silence regarding our commitment to heterosexual, monogamous marriage, to male leadership in the home and the church, to a view of creation that sees it as seven literal days, to gender specificity, to the historicity of the gospels, to the doctrine of eternal conscious punishment, to the belief in the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only name under heaven given among man whereby we might be saved. This culture wants to make us ashamed of that kind of conviction, ashamed of that kind of commitment.
In America today, a restraining order is being put on public profession of Christian faith. Make no mistake about it. This culture is aggressively seeking to shut us down and to shut us up. That’s why I want to come to 2 Timothy, because in a day in which we are being shamed into silence and bullied into an apology, this is a book that challenges us to live bravely and boldly and unapologetically for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Paul’s swan song, his last letter. This is his will and testament to the early church, and it consists of a call to live life unapologetically.
Look at 1:8. Look at what Paul says to Timothy: “Therefore, to not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, his prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God who has saved us and called us with a holy calling.” Timothy, minister live without apology. Be unashamed of the gospel. Be committed to the tenets and the testimony of our Christian faith. Don’t run from Christian messengers. Don’t run from Christian message.
In fact, Paul himself was on unashamed. Scroll down to verse 12 of the same: “For this reason, I also suffered these things, nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know him I have believed, and I’m persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.” He mentions another servant of Christ, Onesiphorus, in 1:16. He tells us that he too was unashamed of Paul and his imprisonment. This is a letter about living life unapologetically for the Lord Jesus Christ. Timothy needed to hear that because he was given to a certain timidity. According to verse 7, he was given to a spirit of fear. Timothy needed to hear that because of the context in which he was living.
We read in 3:1, that indeed these were perilous times. The culture was imploding. Godlessness and Christlessness marked every aspect of life in Timothy’s world. He needed to hear this call to live without apology because he tended to be timid. The times were tough, and he was called by Paul in chapter four to preach the word in season and out of season. So given his timidity, given his times, given his task, he needed to show courage in the face of censorship, apostasy, and a lack of natural fortitude.
So, let’s come and look at this letter in just the opening two verses this morning. But before we even do that, let’s just do some housekeeping with regards to the letter. Let’s try and understand 2 Timothy before we get into the heart of the letter. There are several things I want to say. We’ll move through them pretty quickly.
But number one, 2 Timothy belongs to the pastoral epistles. Paul wrote several letters. During his first imprisonment, which is recorded for us in Acts 28, where he’s under house arrest. He seems to have quite a bit of freedom, and he preaches the kingdom of God unhindered. During that time, he will write the prison epistles, which will include letters like Ephesians and Colossians and Philippians.
But now we’re in his second imprisonment. We’ll get to that in a moment. He’s in Rome. He’s been arrested. He doesn’t have as much freedom. Doesn’t look like he will see the light of day ever again. So, he writes his pastoral epistles and they’re concentrated upon two men, Timothy and Titus. So First and 2 Timothy and Titus were written during this time. They’re known as the pastorals because these two young men had been trained by Paul, sent out by him, and now they were ministering to local congregations. Titus was in Crete; Timothy was Ephesus, and Paul writes to help them know how they ought to behave in the church and what biblical leadership looks like. So that’s the first thing. This letter belongs to the pastoral epistles.
Number two, it has several purposes. Paul has several goals in mind as he writes 2 Timothy. Although it’s directly and predominantly addressed to Timothy, it’s very personal. It is addressed to a wider audience, and that’s one of its purposes. While Timothy is being spoken to, Paul is speaking to the saints at Ephesus over Timothy’s shoulder. Because if you go to 4:22, Paul signs off, “The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” Ah, man, that’s written in the plural. He’s addressing more than Timothy. He’s addressing Timothy’s congregation. So that’s one of its purposes.
Another purpose is to protect the gospel. Paul’s concerned, we’ll get to this more fully in a moment, about legacy. So in 1:14 of 2 Timothy, we get another purpose here. Paul says to this young minister, that good thing, that’s the gospel. That’s the words of life found in Jesus Christ. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit. You’ve got to fight your fear. You’ve got to standup in perilous times and you’ve got to preach the word, Timothy, and do it without apology. This is a father speaking to a son in the faith.
Here’s another reason. He wants Timothy to come as soon as possible and visit him. If you go to 4:9, you’ll see this as another purpose in the letter: “Be diligent to come to me quickly.” And you’ll read throughout this letter about people who have forsaken and Paul and betrayed Paul. In fact, in this very next verse, we read, “For Demas has forsaken me.” You’ll read in verse 14: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm.” Read verse 16: “At my first defense, no one stood with me.”
There’s a loneliness about Paul in this letter. He’s an aged apostle, according to Philemon verse 9. He won’t live much past the writing of this letter. And he’s saying, “Timothy, if you can get here before winter, bring me my books, bring me a cloak. I’d love to see you. Bring John Mark. He’s now profitable for the ministry.” Remember how John Mark failed him? Paul kind of washed his hands of this ministerial failure and in the grace of God, gives him a rebound and a second shot. So, this is one of the reasons for this letter: “Timothy, come and see me. I’ve been abandoned. Demas has left me for this present world. Alexander has hurt me. And at my first hearing here in Rome, there wasn’t a Christian in the gallery shouting for me.” It’s kind of sad, isn’t it?
So, you’ve got this congregational purpose. You’ve got this gospel purpose. You’ve got this personal purpose. And then with regards to Timothy, this is the last point I’m going to make under the purposes of the letter, it’s to encourage this young minister. It’s to stir him up. It’s this fatherly talk to his son in the faith. It’s the coach speaking to the player, “You get back onto the field and play a little bit harder.” Because you read in 1:6, “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands.” So there’s many purposes to the letter. Belongs to the pastoral epistles. It’s got several purposes in its writing.
Number three, Paul wrote it from Rome. We believe he wrote it somewhere between A.D. 64 and A.D. 67. He has been arrested by Nero. We’re dealing with a time of great persecution. Paul wrote it from Rome around A.D. 64, 67. Because in the summer of 64, Rome suffers a terrible fire. You’ve heard the statement, you know how Nero fiddles while Rome burns. It lasted several days and it burned three quarters of the city. It was a tragedy. Rumors were flying that Nero, the mad emperor, had started the fire for his own amusement. It got out of hand, and now he needs a scapegoat. He found his scapegoat in the Christians in Rome and throughout the empire. In fact, Tacitus, the Roman historian, admits this in his book called the Annals.
Let me quote him: “Therefore, to stop the rumor that he had set Rome on fire, he, Emperor Nero, falsely charged with guilt and punished with the most fearful tortures the persons commonly known as Christians. In their very deaths, they were made the subjects of sport, for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts and worried to death by dogs or nailed to crosses or set to fire, and when the day would end, they burned to serve as evening lights.”
This is the time of 2 Timothy. This is what’s pushing Paul to put pen to paper and write to his young apprentice in the faith and tell him to live without apology, because Paul is about to die without apology because, “the time of my departure is at hand.” Chapter four. In fact, most historians and most biblical commentators believe that it wasn’t but a few weeks or a few months when Paul dies after writing this letter. The shadow of death was hanging thick over the apostle. He will die by beheading. We’re told that by Eusebius, a early Christian historian. He was beheaded and not crucified. Why? Because he was a Roman citizen. Roman citizens were not crucified. And so he was beheaded.
This is the background. This is Paul writing from Rome, somewhere around A.D. 64 to 67, probably more towards 67. This is his second imprisonment. He writes the prison epistles during his first imprisonment. You can read about his first imprisonment in Acts 28. You’ll see that he was accused more by the Jewish community than by the Roman community. Persecution of the church around that time was rather sporadic. He was living in a rented accommodation. He had a lot of freedom; friends found him and visited him, and he had plenty of opportunities to preach the gospel. When writing his prison epistle to the Philippians, he actually thinks he’s going to get released by their prayers. There was a hope that he would see the light a day.
Now, we’re some years on. He has been rearrested. Now, you’ve got Nero’s persecution. It’s all across the empire. It’s brutal. Christians are dying in the Colosseum. They’re being burned in Nero’s garden for lights at night. They’re being crucified by the side of the road. Paul doesn’t seem much chance of surviving this. So that’s where we’re at in trying to understand this letter.
Then the final thought would be, it belongs to the pastoral of epistles. It has several purposes. It was written around A.D. 67 written by Paul from Rome to Timothy in Ephesus. I meant to mention that. You can read 1 Timothy 1:3, and you’ll see that Timothy was told to stay at Ephesus. It’s during Paul second imprisonment. He will not be released. He will die a few weeks later.
I think there’s one other thing. It probably ties into the purpose of the letter, but what’s the role or what’s the place of 2 Timothy in the canon? I mean, there’s 66 books in the Bible, and they all have a purpose, and they all fit into a larger story. So, what’s the canonical or what’s the place of this letter in the canon. Here’s would be my argument. Given the fact that we’ve already established Paul’s thinking about legacy. He’s writing to his son in the faith. He realizes he’s going to die, and Timothy needs to carry on the work. So stir up your gift, young man preach the word, be in season and out of season. You do the work of evangelist. You take care of your ministry because the time of my departure is at hand. I think that’s the argument for its canonical purpose.
Ephesians 2:20 tells us that these apostles were in the foundation of the church. They founded the churches. They traveled. They founded the church by establishing the true gospel, the good thing that was to be kept by the next generation. I think that’s the purpose of 2 Timothy. Fundamentally. That’s its role within the scriptures because Paul says to Timothy, “Keep that which you’ve been given.” The good thing. The gospel. Preach the word in season and out of season, and you teach faithful men to be faithful.
That’s the role of 2 Timothy: legacy in the gospel, faithfulness to Jesus Christ in the next generation because Paul understood and Timothy grasped, and we need to understand that where the gospel is assumed in one generation, it can be neglected, ignored, and lost in the next generation. That’s why every father needs to step up and disciple his children. That’s why every pastor needs to step up and equip the saints. That’s why every seminary professor at the Master Seminary and at Dallas and at Southern Seminary need to train the next generation of ministers and missionaries according to the word of God. That’s why the Pauls need to help the Timothys in this congregation, through our men’s ministry, because that’s what it’s about, guys. Are we setting up the next generation for gospel faithfulness? And that’s our role as men, and that’s our calling as ministers.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “When the sun goes down below the horizon and sets, it doesn’t really set. The heavens glow for a full hour after its departure. And when a great and good man sets the sky of the world, his light lasts long after he’s out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes, he leaves behind him much of himself.” There is no more beautiful sight on a Southern California evening to see the sun go down, if you’re down at Newport Beach and the dip behind the horizon of the ocean. But the glow lingers and lasts for a while. And so it is with a life. It ought to be true about you and me. That’s what Paul has in mind as he writes.
So, we’ve now put some foundation under our feet for this whole series. Those are talking points I’ll come back to as we go into different sections of the letter, and we’ll look at what Paul is doing in writing this and the circumstance behind it and the goal that he has in front of it.
But there are three things here in the opening two verses. Number one, I want you to see Paul, the messenger. Paul, the messenger. Then, we’re going to see Paul the mentor, and then we’re going to look at Paul the minister. We’re going to move pretty quickly.
Paul, the messenger. Look at verse 1. “Paul, an apostle…” That’s a word that means one that’s sent or a messenger. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” Notice, guys, that Paul introduces himself as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, one who was sent and commissioned as an ambassador of the gospel.
Now, let’s understand, given what we already said, by this stage in redemptive history in the early church, Paul has been faithfully and fruitfully preaching for 30 years. He’s been an apostle for 30 years. This is his last letter. Here, he presents himself as the 13th apostle. Remember our study of the 12 apostles and how Jesus called them; Jesus commissioned them, and Jesus named them as his apostles. And he sent them out. They had a specific message. They had direct company with and communication from the Lord Jesus. Now, Paul will tell us he’s the last and he’s the least of the apostles. But he’s an apostle. He was arrested on the road to Damascus by the Lord Jesus Christ, who directly spoke into his life and who directly commissioned him to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul is the 13th disciple. Paul is the 13th apostle.
Now, let me say this quickly. Commentators have noted this. This seems a little heavy-handed because while he’s got a wider audience, we’ve noted that from chapter 4:22, in the plural, he’s addressing Timothy’s congregation at Ephesus. Primarily, he’s speaking to Timothy. In fact, four times in this letter, we’ll get to this before we’re done this morning, he’ll say, “but you Timothy.” Here’s what I want you to do now that I’m gone, given where the culture’s going, given the unfaithfulness of Demas and Alexander and others who have apostatized. So, it’s very personal.
Why does Paul seem heavy-handed, throwing his authority around here? I want to remind you, Timothy, I’m an apostle. Well, I think there are several reasons. Number one, remember, he’s establishing the future here. This is its canonical purpose. So, Paul has to write with some kind of official title at the beginning: “I’m an apostle and I’m reminding you, Timothy, that you’ve got to teach other men to be faithful because I’m in the foundation, and I need to know what’s going to be built on me, built on top of what I’ve done, is indeed faithful to what I’ve done and what Christ called us all to be.” Remember, he’s not only addressing to Timothy, but the whole church and therefore his authority as an apostle needs to be established. Remember, too, he’s probably authenticating Timothy by saying he’s an apostle and then concentrating on this young man because if you go back to the first letter, what do we read? “Timothy, don’t let anybody despise your youth.”
There were those who weren’t taking Timothy seriously, and then he himself had a tendency to be timid. So Paul does speak with the authority of an apostle, to say, “You’re my man. Step up and fulfill the ministry.” I think, too, Paul was aware of heretics. He’ll talk about a couple of men in this ladder who have denied the resurrection, saying it’s already happened. So Paul has to speak with authority to authenticate Timothy, to address the whole church with authority, to speak with authority to the future, to address the issues of heretics, and I think, finally, to underscore the cost of being an apostle.
In 2:9, he’ll say, “I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Paul’s going to remind Timothy in this letter that all those who live godly will suffer persecution. I think in saying, “Timothy, I speak to you as a friend, as a father in the faith, but I’m an apostle. If you step up and do apostolic ministry, you’re going to suffer.”
Now there’s two things we also notice about this: what I call the divine appointment and the directed appointment. Paul’s calling as an apostle was a divine appointment and a directed appointment. Let me move through this quickly. This is interesting for young men that sense a call to the ministry, because look at what Paul says about his apostleship. It was by means sourced in the will of God. This wasn’t a career choice. I didn’t go down to the job market one day and go, “Hey, what’s up? What’s available today?” “Well, you know what, Paul? You know what? They’re looking for an apostle over there. What, do you fancy it?” That’s not what Paul says. This isn’t a career choice. It wasn’t something he personally sought. This was a matter of divine selection and divine election.
He tells us here it’s by the will of God. We don’t have time to go to 1 Timothy 1:11 or Ephesians 1:1, but that’s repeated. In fact, scroll down to verse 11 of our chapter and look what Paul says about his call to preach the gospel, “to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” Paul was a man under orders. Listen, and young men listen especially. The Christian ministry is something God entrusts to a man and thrusts upon a man. It’s not something he ever seizes or grasps.
You know what? We talk about the irresistible call to salvation. There’s an irresistible call to Christian ministry. That’s why Spurgeon said, “If you can be anything else but a minister, be it,” because there ought to be an irresistibility to it. That’s why in Acts 20:28, we read of the elders there, that they were made elders by the Holy Spirit, who made them overseers. 1 Timothy 1:12 is Paul’s own account of his call to the ministry in his first letter: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord. who enabled me, counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” Pushing me into the ministry would be another way to put it. That’s why 1 Peter 5:3 tells us that the leader of the church ought not to do it by self will, by self will.
Guys, if you have got some stirring towards the ministry, I want to encourage that. But I’ll give you two or three things to think about, about this irresistible call to the ministry. It’ll be marked, number one, by dominating desires. Dominating desires. It will consume you. It will not leave you. It will be an itch you need to keep scratching because Paul says in 1 Timothy 3, “If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good thing.” Two different Greek words. The first one speaks about that which is external. It’s the direction of a man’s life. If a man is called to the ministry, his life will bend in that direction. He will love preachers. He will love preaching. He will be reading books on preaching. He will be going to conferences on preaching. He will step up to the plate if it’s teaching a class of 5-year-olds or 10-year-olds. He’ll get right into the open air and he’ll preach. He’ll do anything he can to get to preach because he desires that.
The second word is more internal. Speaks of passion within. This is what makes this guy tick. This is his heartbeat. If God’s calling you to the ministry, I’m telling you, you need to look for dominating desires.
Number two, there’ll be a sovereign gifting. Teaching is a gift according to 1 Corinthians 12. In fact, Paul acknowledges it here, doesn’t he? In 2 Timothy 1:6, “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God.” We’re not talking about natural eloquence. We’re not talking about a natural ability or a love to study. There’s a lot of guys love to study and have got certain natural abilities of leadership and communication. That doesn’t mean they’re called in the ministry. Now, I believe in God’s sovereignty. God can swallow that up into the calling, but the gifting will come sovereignly by a work of the Holy Spirit. Paul acknowledges that in Timothy, and it was associated with the church laying hands on Timothy, which would remind me of a third thing. The call to the ministry that’s irresistible and clear is one marked by dominating desires, one marked by sovereign gifting, and one marked by the recognition of the church, not some kind of self-will, self-appointed preacher doing his own thing.
Paul, in addressing his young ministerial friend, his beloved son in the faith recognizes that he was one set apart for the ministry by the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 2 Timothy 1:6, and 1 Timothy 5:22. If you go back to Acts 16:4, when Paul connects with Timothy in his second missionary journey, you’re going to see that Paul heard from the elders of that church, and they said, “Hey, can we talk to you about a young man we’re excited about?” It was Timothy. “We commend him to you. We’ve watched them grow here. We’ve watched his boldness in the faith. We’ve watched him drink it all in.”
One of the passions of our elders and our pastors is to see young men get into the ministry. These are going to be at least three benchmarks we’re going to look for: dominating desires, sovereign gifting of the Holy Spirit, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit in a young man’s ministry and recognition by the church. That’s why Spurgeon said, then we’ll move on, “If any student in this room can be content to be a newspaper editor, a grocer, a farmer, a doctor, a lawyer, a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven, let him go his way. He’s not the man in whom dwells the spirit of God in its fullness, for a man so filled with God would utterly weary at any pursuit but that which Christ has set before him.” That’s the divine appointment that’s involved here.
What about the directed appointment? Let’s go back to verse 1. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” So it’s a divine appointment. “… according to the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus.” It’s a directed appointment. This was a definite and a directed appointment to preach the gospel. Notice the word according to, could be translated in harmony with. This indicates the purpose. God has sovereignly saved Paul, and then God has sovereignly gifted Paul, and God has sovereignly equipped Paul and made him an apostle to the Gentiles. He’s the 13th apostle, last and least. He saved him for the purpose of having him be a preacher of the gospel, a gospel which is described in a wonderful way here: The promise of life. That’s the gospel.
I hope when you present the gospel, that’s how it comes across. I hope you don’t present morality. I hope you don’t present a set of rules. I hope you don’t talk about obedience. I hope you talk about the promise of life, that men in their natural state are born without God. They’re dead in their sin. But if they will repent of their sin, and if they will embrace Jesus Christ to his life himself, but subjected himself to death, but rose in life over death, they’ll embrace Jesus Christ. They’ll embrace the promise of life both now, abundantly, and then eternally. That’s the gospel. It’s the promise of life. While there are complementary elements to it, repentance and faith and obedience and following Jesus Christ, fundamentally, it’s a call to life, and that more abundantly.
I’m telling you, you know it guys, as you go into work, you go to the gym or wherever life’s take you. Men are thirsty because they have gone to the dry wells of worldly pleasure and materialism and relationships and significance in their jobs. They have climbed the ladder of success only to find it propped up against the wrong wall. And they’re thirsty for life. You and I, alongside the apostles of Jesus Christ, have been called to go into the world with the promise of life.
I love what Guy King, an old English expositor in his little commentary in 2 Timothy says, “You know what? Here’s what you’ve got.” In verse 1, you have, first of all, what we might call the water. The water is the promise of life. The well is Jesus Christ because the promise of life is found in Jesus Christ. So the water is the gospel. The water is the promise of life. The source, the well is Jesus Christ, the savior. The vessel for carrying the water is Paul, who was made a preacher and an apostle of the gospel.
Guys, that’s a wonderful analogy. The gospel is the water and Jesus Christ is the well, and you and I are the vessels, the buckets to carry the life-giving message of the gospel to people around us. I hope you’re doing that. Have you had a significant conversation with a man this week, unsaved, and shared with him the promise of life? Are you going to this week, intentionally, each day, get up and say, “Lord, I want,” like Jim Henry, an old friend of mine back in Northern Ireland, “would you make it possible today for me to have at least one meaningful conversation with somebody that’s not saved, where I sure with them clearly the gospel of the promise of life in Jesus Christ?” That’s our joy and that’s our job.
The wonderful thing is we leave this thought, when Jesus Christ find Paul, he was a messenger of death. Go to Acts 9:1: “He breathed out threatenings and murders against the church.” He gets wonderfully saved and now facing his own death, he seeks right up into the end to be a messenger of life. Wonderful.
In fact, if we might borrow the words of Richard Baxter, he preached as a dying man to dying men, never as to preach again. The messenger of death, right up against his own death, is now the promiser of life in the preaching of the gospel.
Let’s move on quickly. Paul, the mentor. Paul, the mentor. In verse 2, we get to the heart and crux of the letter. “To Timothy, a beloved son.” Paul was Timothy’s mentor in the faith, his father in the gospel. Among its many reasons for being written, this is its primary reason. You’ve got this canonical purpose of making sure that there’s a number of men who are true to apostolic doctrine, who are carrying on, in a sense, in apostolic succession with the gospel, to preach the gospel and train other men to preach the gospel. Paul is writing here to his young son in the faith. Paul is recognizing, “Hey, my demise isn’t far away.” 4:6-7. And he wants Timothy to carry on that ministry. That’s why you have this contrast.
If you go to 4:5, “But you be watchful in all things. Endure afflictions, do the work of evangelist, fulfill your ministry,” because my ministry’s done. Look at verse 6: “For I’m ready to be poured out as a drink offering. The time of my departure at hand.” All past tense. “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” Now the question is, Timothy, will you? Will you? Will you suffer for the elect’s sake? Will you preach the word in season and out of season? Will you stir up the gift of God, which was confirmed in you by the laying on of hands? Will you guard that good deposit?
So, Paul writes here to instruct and inspire. In fact, John Stadt correctly argues that this little phrase, sudei, in the Greek, “but you,” is found four times in the latter and really takes us to the heart of the latter. Go to 2:1: “But you therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Go to 3:10. You’ll get a phrase, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, and afflictions which happened to me.” Scroll down the verse 14: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” And then scroll over to 4:5. We just read it a moment ago. “But you be watchful in all things.”
Paul is mentoring this young man. He’s instructing him and he’s inspiring him. Now, this is a sermon in itself, and we’ve only got about five or six minutes left. I’m going to run down this in a kind of popcorn fashion. Maybe I’ll come back to this someday. But as I thought about Paul, the mentor, I was struck by elements of mentoring in 2 Timothy, or at least in the relationship between Paul and Timothy. Bear with me.
Here’s what I wrote down. Number one, mentoring begins with some circumstance or connection between the discipler and the disciplee. You’d have to go back to Acts 16:1-4. Paul’s on his second missionary journey. There’s belief that he may have led Timothy to faith back in Acts 14. But he’s sweeping through a second time in the Lystra, and the elders come in to Paul, this young man called Timothy, and Paul’s ears perk up. And what he hears about him makes him intrigued by this young man. No doubt, they talked, they interacted, and the Lord brought them together, a bit like David and Jonathan. Remember back in the Old Testament? How their hearts were knit together. I think the best mentoring relationships are those that circumstance and connection brings about, where there’s some affinity between the two men. There’s some circumstance presses them together. That’s the first thing I noticed.
Secondly, it requires a servant’s heart, especially on the part of the leader. Not all leaders are good mentors. Paul was a good mentor. Paul was very consummate in himself. He could have just carried on and spread his own giftedness to the widest degree. But he had a servant’s heart. He thought about the next generation, and he said, “You know what? I’ve got to bring up young men under me and after me.” That requires a servant’s heart, where it’s not about me; it’s about them.
Thirdly, it takes time and patience. When we get to this passage in 2 Timothy, they have been together 15 years. Not 15 days. Not 15 weeks. 15 years. This is a deep and abiding mentoring relationship. While some mentoring can take place over the course of a few weeks and a few months, the best mentoring will take years. It will be an ongoing relationship, father to son in the faith.
Number four, it involves deep individual feelings. This isn’t like just a classroom event where you sit down and you listen. It’s the sharing of life. It’s the sharing of love. Look at how Paul describes Timothy. “To Timothy, my beloved son.” There was feelings here. Mentoring must have feelings. There must be an affection between the two men. There must be shared passions that bring them together.
Number five, it exudes exhortation. It’s all about encouraging the young Timothy to move on, to become more, to stir up the gift, to embrace the calling. That’s why you’ve got those four phrases, “but you.”
Number six, it requires response and responsibility. If the leader, the equipping discipler, is to be a servant and needs to give time and show patience and embrace that person with love, that disciplee must respond; hear what is being said, obey, implement it, respond to it and take up responsibility and live it out, where you’re not just spinning wheels week in and week out and going nowhere.
Finally, it involves gospel faithfulness. That’s the goal. What is the goal of mentoring? Gospel faithfulness. Setting up the next generation to teach, protect, know, and live the gospel. That’s what’s going on in this letter. That’s why we read in verse 14, “Timothy, guard the good thing that was handed off to you.”
Guys, two’s better than one, isn’t it? Life and ministry’s a team sport. The Christian life is not a solitary affair. It’s not you and God. I hope you don’t think like that when it comes to your walk with God: “It’s me and it’s God.” That’s not biblical. It’s you; it’s God; and it’s the body of Christ: the church, elders, and members speaking into your life. That’s what we see here. That’s what we see in Acts 2: “3,000 souls added.” Verse 41 and 42. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in prayer…” Listen to the next word: “… and in fellowship.” They stayed in fellowship with the church that they had been added to. It’s not about you and God. It’s about you, God, and the body of Christ. Within the body of Christ, you need to find a Paul, and you need to find a Timothy. You need to find a Paul who will be a mentor to you, an encourager to you, an older man who will speak into your life. And then you need to find a Timothy that you’re bringing up in the faith.
Just ask yourself, as we wrap up this morning, who’s the Paul? If I was to ask you directly, can you just tell me right off the bat who the Paul is or who the Pauls are? And then can you tell me who the Timothy is? The young man that you’re meeting once a week or whenever for breakfast or for a Bible study and speaking into his life? If that’s not going on, make that a priority to sort it out before the end of 2016. We need that.
I may have told you the story before of General West Morland, goes back to the Vietnam campaign. He was reviewing a group of paratroopers one day. He asked the first paratrooper, “How do you like jumping out of those planes, son?” The guy said, “I love it. I was born to do this.” He goes to another soldier, and he says, “How do you like jumping?” He said, “It’s the greatest experience of my life.” Goes to a third trooper. He says, “Well, what do you think about jumping?” And the young man says, “I hate it. It scares the living daylights out of me,” to which the general asked, “Then why do you do it?” To which he replied, “I like to be around men that jump.” And you and I need to have that same kind of spirit and sentiment. We need to be around men that jump and who encourage us to jump a little higher in our commitment to Jesus Christ.
Okay. Paul, the minister. It’s verse 2: “grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” I’m not going to say much on this other than while it is in someways a customary greeting, which you’ll find in many of Paul’s letter, excluding the word mercy. Don’t see it simply as cold convention. There is a thought behind this, and I think a very important thought. In fact, if you go over to 4:22, as we wrap up, you’ll see that this whole letter is bracketed with the thought of grace. “The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be to you.” He begins with grace and he ends with grace, and I think that’s important.
Given Timothy’s timidity, given the fact that he’s prone to illness. If you go back to 1 Timothy 5:22, Timothy seemed to have reoccuring stomach issues. Given his timidity, given his proneness to illness, given the cold winds that are blowing within society, given the presence of false disciples, given this calling to pick up where Paul left off, to some degree, to be an apostle Paul to the next generation, all of that’s rather overwhelming, isn’t it? That could scare a young man who’s easily scared. In fact, Fairbairn, the great Scottish theologian, speaking on this very passage, said of Timothy that he was more prone to lean than to lead. Now, given that, do you not see that this isn’t just a customary conventional greeting? This is Paul saying, “Hey, Timothy,” and he’ll wrap up with grace, “I’m going to challenge you to a lot of stuff.
But remember what Paul said back in 1 Timothy 1:12 of his own calling to the ministry? “God who enabled me, counting me faithful, putting me into that ministry.” This is why Paul will say in chapter 2 of this letter, in verse 1, “Timothy, be strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The God who calls you to do this will enable you to do this. I’m not asking you to pull up your bootstraps or to pull up your socks or to bite on your upper lip and grind it out. The grace that saved you at first will continue to be given to you in sanctification and in service. And you need to know that.
Let me finish with Spurgeon. Listen to his words. “The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work. I felt very wearied and sore depressed. Then swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash, the text came to me: ‘My grace is sufficient.’ I reached home and looked it up in the original and at last, it came to me in this way: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ And I said, ‘I should think it is, Lord.’ And I burst out laughing. I had never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was until that evening.
It seemed to me utterly so absurd. It was as though some little fish, very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry, and Father Tim said, ‘Drink away little fish. My stream is sufficient.’ Or after seven years of plenty, a mice feared that it might die of famine. And Joseph said, ‘Cheer up, little mouse. My warehouses are sufficient.’ Imagine again, a man went away up yonder onto a lofty mountain and said to himself, ‘I breathe so many cubic feet of air every year. I fear I shall exhaust the oxygen in the atmosphere.’ To which the Earth replies, ‘Breathe away, oh, man. Fill your lungs forever. My atmosphere is sufficient for thee.'” What a great insight. And that’s Paul’s parting word to Timothy: “God’s grace is sufficient. God will give you what he asks you to do and what he asks from you. And so, Timothy, stir up the gift of God. Fight your natural timidity. Face the heretics in the church. Step out into a culture that hates Christ, and live without apology.”
Let’s pray. Lord, we have embraced much this morning in our opening study of 2 Timothy. Help us not to choke on the information. Help us to weed our way through our notes and what our mind brings back to our consciousness this week, and help us indeed to stir ourselves up, that indeed we might, with the apostle Paul, fight the good fight and keep the faith and run the race.
Lord, help us to live without apology. Help us to fight a culture that seeks to bully us into silence and scare us into paralysis. Lord, these may be perilous times, but these are the days in which we live. We thank you for the promise of life. Thank you for the grace of God. Thank you for the examples of Paul and Timothy and the early church. May you stir us up as man through this series in 2 Timothy, to say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel. It’s the power of God unto salvation.” May we be Paul and Timothy to each other, for we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.