"2nd Timothy: Living a Life of Faithfulness"
As we continue to work our way through the New Testament part of the Bible, our study today takes us to the letter of 2nd Timothy. Believed to be the last letter written by the apostle Paul, he offers his last words to his dear friend. Living in a Roman prison and chained to a guard, Paul realizes he will not live much longer. The time to pass on the torch of being an effective witness for Jesus Christ is now and so he shares some final words of encouragement and help. Paul is lonely as he writes these words. Many of his friends have deserted him when he needed them the most. He is concerned about the well-being of the churches he helped establish. And yet, Paul is ready for whatever lies in the future. He is not concerned about where he will spend eternity. Thus, his words are filled with trust and confidence in the Lord. As we focus on these famous last words, I would encourage us to consider if we could write something similar when it comes to our final days. Paul’s message causes us to think about the life we are living, the people who are most important to us, and our relationship with God. My prayer is that as we receive Paul’s message we will do some personal evaluation. None of us know when we will live our last day, and this letter inspires us to live each one to the fullest. Join us now as we study this most important message.
Several years ago, my father-in-law passed away at the age of 94. During the last eight to ten years of his life, he was blind, he could not see. Oftentimes when I or other people would go to visit with him, he would share some very enlightening words. On one occasion he would say, “Even though I cannot see the world with my eyes, I have learned to see it with my heart.” And no doubt, he did. But there were some words that he shared with me, which I considered his last words. He would share with me these thoughts, “I can’t get out and do much anymore; but, I have found one thing that I can do. I can pray for and encourage everybody.” Yes my father-in-law was a man of God and I believe that is exactly what he did; and, those words are what I consider to be his last words. Have you ever given any thought to your last words, whenever that time might come? Well, we have, in the letter called 2nd Timothy, Paul’s last words. The apostle Paul shares some things in this letter which I believe to be his famous last words, and are worthy of our attention. For at least the second time, Paul has landed in a Roman prison. He does not know for sure how much longer he will live, but he senses that his time is quickly coming to an end. Only his dear friend Luke is with him. Everyone else seems to be afraid to associate themselves with the Apostle. They fear persecution or imprisonment, themselves. In fact, it was dangerous even to be identified as a believer of Jesus. Well, the time has now come for Paul to pass on his leadership role to someone else who can carry on. And the logical choice is this young man named Timothy. Timothy is in the city of Ephesus. He is working with the church there. He is sharing the gospel with many people. And now Paul writes this letter to Timothy and hopes that he will receive it, not knowing for sure whether or not he will. He also writes and hopes that Timothy would be able to make one more visit to him while he is in prison, before he is put to death. Paul doesn’t know for sure what’s going to happen, but he writes down some of his last words here in this particular letter. He sends it to Timothy and hopes that these words will inspire and encourage him as he continues to carry on the work which Paul established, as he continues to fulfill his responsibilities and role in being an evangelist and a minister of the Word. Paul wants him to stand fast in the truth and not be led astray by false teachers. He encourages him to withstand the persecution and hardship that will come. He also wants him to never be ashamed to tell the story of Jesus and His salvation. Well, with great passion and prayer for his son-in-the-faith, Paul offers some great words of wisdom. These words not only apply to Timothy, they also apply to a minister of the Word today, or even to anyone who seeks to be a faithful follower of the Lord. As Paul reflects on the past three decades of his life, he shares with him some things that are important and worth consideration. At the very end of Paul’s letter we find some of his personal remarks. He thanks those, or he thinks about those, who have left the Lord and who are now following the ways of the world. He is mindful of those who have hurt him and have persecuted him and brought about great harm; and he knows that God will deal with them in just the right way and at the right time. More importantly, he remembers those who have been an encouragement and a blessing to him and he writes this letter remembering the influence they had on his life. He mentions some close friends and co-workers. He identifies those who stood by him in times of great trial and even while he was in prison. And certainly there would be some people in Timothy’s life who would do the same thing, who would be a blessing and encouragement to him, and Paul wants Timothy to reflect upon them often and to remember how they can be a supportive influence in his life. He is to cherish those friendships. He is to work together with them in advancing the Kingdom of God. Now having said all of that by way of his personal remarks at the very end of chapter 4, prior to that, Paul has three things in particular he wants to share with Timothy. Number one, Paul prepares Timothy for persecution. Oh, hard times will come for him, just like they had come for the Apostle. Paul wants Timothy to be aware. We notice these words in the 3rd chapter, which begin in verse 10. “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings, what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. And yet, the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted.” Yes, Paul wants Timothy to be aware that hard times are coming. He is going to be persecuted. He will have difficult situations just like Paul himself had. And yet, Paul wants Timothy to remember God never left Paul. God never rejected Paul. And he was able to overcome those sufferings and those trials through his persecution and faith and his endurance, and God gave him the ability to do that. And no doubt, he offers these words by way of an example so that Timothy would do the very same thing. Paul then offers three illustrations of what it looks like to remain faithful to God even in the midst of that great persecution. We find those things here in the 2nd chapter, beginning with verse 3. “Endure hardship with us like a good solider of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a solider gets involved in civilian affairs. He wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all of this.” Timothy is to stay focused on the task that is before him, just as a good solider does not get entangled with the ways of the world. A good solider knows that he has an allegiance to his commanding officer and to the nation he serves and he is not to allow any of the things of the world to distract him from his goal and from fulfilling his mission. And Paul tells Timothy to basically do the very same thing. Do not get wrapped up in what the world offers but rather keep your eyes focused on the Lord. Timothy is also to compete like a dedicated athlete. No doubt, athletes train their bodies and are physically fit to run the race and to pursue the victory. Yet, there is one thing in particular Paul mentions here. An athlete competes according to the rules. Likewise, Timothy is to fulfill his mission upon this earth according to the commandments of the Lord. He is to be in tune with God’s will for his life and he is to remain faithful in pursing the goal that is set before him. And finally, we notice he is to be disciplined as a hard-working farmer. Certain things are to be done in a farmer’s life if he wants to receive a bountiful harvest. He prepares the soil and plants the seed and fertilizes. He then depends upon the Lord to provide just the right amount of sunshine and rain. And when all of that comes together, he can then enjoy a bountiful harvest. And no doubt, the image there is for Timothy to do the same thing, to work hard, to prepare and to be ready to do everything he can so that God can bless him and bring about a bountiful harvest in His kingdom. Yes, in spite of all of the persecution, in spite of all of the problems and hardships that will come, Timothy is to remain focused on the Lord. He is not to get distracted, but rather, he is to endure those hardships and difficulties so that the Kingdom of God will be advanced. Most importantly, Timothy is to remember the gift of salvation he received from Jesus. And no matter what happens, no matter what kind of problems or difficulties or hardships he might experience, he is to know that he can always rely upon the Lord. The Lord provided that salvation for him, and Timothy gratefully received it; and now Timothy is to be humble in the sight of God, knowing that his blessing and his salvation is already being taken care of by God. He is also to share that salvation with others. He is to be willing to go out and share with others what God has done for them, as well. We find these words to that effect in the 4th chapter, beginning with verse 1. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” Well, there it is. Paul says even if you are persecuted, even if you experience all kinds of pain and difficulty and hardship in your life, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to preach the Word all the time. Be ready to do that on every occasion, just like the apostle Paul did. Timothy was to be willing to share that Good News of Jesus with both the Jews and the Gentiles, alike. And so the first thing we notice is Paul prepares Timothy for persecution. Secondly, Paul reminds Timothy to leave a legacy; and the legacy began with Timothy’s family members. Paul calls to mind that very thing in the 1st chapter, beginning with verse 5. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” Paul reminds Timothy that he has a great foundation laid for him, and it came from his grandmother and from his mother. They taught him at a very early age the way he was to live. No doubt, they taught him about the love of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ. And then Paul comes along and lays his hands upon Timothy and he is inspired and motivated to live with that spirit of power and love, and self-discipline. Yes, Timothy has been prepared and well-trained to fulfill his role. Timothy is then to pass on that faith to others, who will be able to teach others also, according to chapter 2, verses 1 and 2. Oh, faithful ministers and workers will someday be able to follow Timothy’s example, just as he was following the example of Paul. In chapter 1, Paul then reminds him of his own example that he left for Timothy to consider. Notice these words in the 1st chapter that begin in verse 13. “What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you. Guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.” Oh, it is important for Timothy to stay true to the Gospel message. Paul had provided a great example, and now Paul says I want you to guard that very carefully. The Good News message of Jesus Christ that you have heard me share, that I have taught to you, guard it and protect it and then share it with others, also. But, Timothy was not to do that on his own. Paul reminds him that the Holy Spirit lives in him and the Holy Spirit will empower and enable him to do just that. As we think about what Paul is saying in these last words, it is important for Timothy to remember Paul has paved the way. Timothy has been well prepared by Paul and by some of his family members, and now it is up to him to carry the ball and to leave that legacy. Thirdly, then, Paul warns Timothy to be faithful to the finish. There were many times when Paul could have quit walking with the Lord. There were many times when he could have given up and thrown in the towel and said, “I don’t want this any more and I want to go back to my former way of life.” Yet Paul never did that. In the midst of all of the persecutions and hardships and imprisonments, he kept walking with God. We read in Scripture that Paul was beaten and rejected, he was turned away by his own people, he was shipwrecked, he was cold, he was hungry. Yes time and time again, Paul met with opposition from those who did not like him or who did not like his message. Then, on top of all of that, he felt the daily pressure of the churches that he was working with on a regular basis. Yes, time and time again, Paul had the opportunity to not finish the race. He had the opportunity to say, “I don’t want to do this any more,” and to turn back. And yet Paul never did that. He never turned away. He never gave up, because he knew God had entrusted him with a very important responsibility. Now Paul reminds Timothy of that responsibility, knowing that Timothy has the same responsibility himself. Listen to verses 11 and 12 in the 1st chapter. “And of this gospel, I was appointed a herald and an apostle, and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” Yes, Paul knows that God had called him for a very special task and responsibility. He was a proclaimer of the Good News. He was an evangelist. He was a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he was happy to be that. He was proud of the opportunity that God gave to him. And he wasn’t ashamed to share the Good News story of Jesus. And no doubt Paul includes these thoughts in his letter to inspire Timothy to follow in his footsteps, to also be a proclaimer of Jesus Christ and never be ashamed of Him. Yes, Paul fulfilled the purpose for which God called him. He endured persecution, and by God’s grace, he was able to overcome time and time again. Paul was faithful to diligently love the people whom God put before him. Yes, Paul is an outstanding example of one who served the Lord and who served Him very well. And then finally, with an eye on the past and with his heart set upon the future, he looks forward to seeing the Lord. And these are the last words that we find here in the 4th chapter of Paul’s letter to Timothy, the last words just prior to his personal remarks. He writes this, beginning in chapter 4 in verse 6, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” Perhaps we have heard those words before, maybe at a memorial service for a loved one or a friend. And that’s where they come from, from the apostle Paul. Yes, Paul did the best he could with the time and the opportunities God presented to him. He was faithful to the call of the Lord. He proclaimed the Gospel message wherever he went and to whomever would listen. He established the churches and he gave his service and love to many people. Because he did that, he could now write with full confidence there was a crown of righteousness, a reward, waiting for him in heaven. Not only was that crown waiting for him, but it would be waiting for Timothy as well. It would be waiting for everyone who was faithful to the Lord, even until the very end. As Paul now concludes this letter, it is left up to Timothy to follow in Paul’s example, to follow in his footsteps. He, too, is to do the same, to persevere through the persecution, to leave a legacy, and then be faithful to the finish so he also can receive that eternal crown. Several years ago, my father-in-law found something to do when he could not see. He fought the good fight and he kept the faith. He ran the good race and he finished it well. And he inspired me to do the very same thing. He inspired me to be faithful to the Lord until the very end. And that is what the apostle Paul does, not only for Timothy, but for you and for me today. It really does not matter what our financial or physical condition might be here upon this earth. It makes no difference the color of our skin or where we live. It really doesn’t matter how old or young we might be, if we are male or female. What matters more than anything else is that we are faithful and obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ so that we, too, can receive that eternal crown of righteousness that is waiting for us. The apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy, called 2nd Timothy, allows us to ask ourselves some various questions about our life and about our ministry and our service in God’s kingdom today. There are two questions however, that I believe, come to the forefront. And I want to end today by presenting those to us. The first one is this, what will others remember about our life upon this earth? And then number two, will that be worth sharing with others, and will it be something to pass on to other people? My encouragement and my prayer for you today is that you will continue to read and study Paul’s famous last words, the letter of 2nd Timothy, to consider how you can apply these words into your life; that you can persevere through the hard and difficult times; that you also can leave a legacy behind for others to follow; and, that on that last and great day, you, with great confidence, know that you have finished the race and you have run it well. I pray for blessing to come upon you as you read and study 2nd Timothy.
As the apostle Paul came to the end of his life, he wrote his famous last words. He closes out his ministry by expressing love for his son-in-the-faith, and fellow worker for the Lord, inspiring Timothy to faithfully continue on with the work that is before him. Paul calls on him to endure hardship and suffering. He encourages him to preserve the Gospel message and to keep on preaching it. Paul has served well and has left a good example for Timothy to follow. This final letter from the great Apostle offers some final and important thoughts for us to consider, as well. It causes us to think about what we might share at the end of our life and what might be said about us. 2nd Timothy is one letter that deserves our careful thought and attention.
Thank you for spending time watching "Key to the Kingdom". I trust Paul’s final recorded message inspired you to walk closer to the Lord. A letter like this causes us to carefully consider our spiritual life and our most important relationships. At "Key to the Kingdom", we offer a free Bible study that might assist you in the study of God’s Word. By calling the number on the screen and leaving your name and address, you can receive the lesson by mail. It contains a series of six lessons and does not require a commitment of any kind. The same free Bible study can also be downloaded through our website, keytothekingdom.com. This message from 2nd Timothy, along with previous ones, can be easily accessed from your personal computer. I hope you will also take time to look at some of the other information that might be helpful. Short video clips about practical Christian living, one-minute devotional thoughts, and our statement of belief are all found on the website. The latest newsletter is also there and it will give you an up-to-date report concerning all aspects of our ministry. Thank you for taking a few minutes to view today’s program. I invite you to join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."