BE PERSISTENT TO THE END
(Finishing well as a Christian)
2 Timothy 4
In 2 Timothy 4:2, as it is expressed in the original Greek, the word Paul uses for “longsuffering” (KJV) is “makrothumia” (mak-roth-oo-mee-ah). It describes a spirit that never grows irritated, never despairs, and never regards anyone as being beyond salvation. Here, in this passage (2 Timothy 4:1-8), Paul is seeking to encourage young Timothy to keep himself equipped to live out his faith, in a world where he will be perpetually surrounded by faithless people. Such people will have no intentions of seeking GOD, and, are much less intent on following GOD’s prescription on how to live this human life here on earth.
In this passage, Paul also gives Timothy further charge that he preach the word of GOD, and be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. A good teacher cannot afford to be afraid or timid in his speaking to others about the Word of GOD. He urges him to “rebuke”, as well as, “encourage” people with good teaching. And, even though he will be faced with increasing hostility to “sound doctrine”, and the time may often seem inopportune, he must still continue to do the work of a GODly evangelist by holding fast to the doctrine of CHRIST.
Paul says that a good teacher must have a sense of urgency about them, and be able to convict and make a person aware of where they are going wrong in their lives, according to the Word of GOD. The time is coming, and indeed is already here, when people will no longer listen to “right teaching”, but rather, will follow their own wishes and desires. They will even seek out teachers who will tell them what they want to hear, and they will reject the truth of the Holy Bible, and instead, follow strange myths and doctrines that agree more readily with their chosen lifestyles (Vs.3-4). But still, the good teacher must stick to his guns, keep a clear mind, and not be afraid of suffering for righteousness sake. Our mission, as workers in the body of CHRIST, is to help bring others to CHRIST, and to complete the work that GOD has given us to do (v.5).
In verse 7 we find Paul’s, now famous, “declaration of self-satisfaction”, where he states, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (KJV). The “true Christian” should rightly have only one “true ambition”, and that ambition is to be useful to the Christian Church, and thereby, be useful to the society in which he or she lives. The only way that one can carry out, and satisfy that ambition is by equipping themselves with the Word, and the ways, of the ONLY WISE GOD. We, as Christians, should always aspire to stay within the service of GOD, while leading our fellowman also, into the service of GOD.
Paul knew that there awaited him from GOD, a crown, that would never fade away. He knew that in a very short while he would have to stand before the judgment seat of the Emperor Nero, and, he had a pretty good idea of what Nero’s verdict would likely be. However, on the other hand, because he had done “GOD’s work” according to “GOD’s rules”, he also knew just what “GOD’s verdict” would surely be. He knew that, more importantly, in the end, GOD’s verdict would be the only verdict that really mattered.
According to Jewish tradition, Paul was sentenced to death, and was beheaded, by order of the Emperor Nero near the end of his reign in Rome. He was condemned by the emperor simply because of the Christian work that he had done within the Roman Empire. Ironically, after all was said and done, Paul was eternally crowned by GOD, for precisely the same reason.
When we choose the “Christian Walk”, we automatically have to become strangers to “Worldly Behavior”. We are no longer considered by GOD to be just “residents of this earth”, but rather, we become “citizens of Heaven, and therefore, the Laws of GOD must become paramount to us. An experiential relationship with GOD is a Christian’s greatest asset, and the person who loses his or her heart to the things of this world is the person most vulnerable to satan.
The end of all things is near, for each of us, personally. For, that is the warning in the messages that the Old Testament prophets, and New Testament writers and thinkers, all leave us with. And those warnings are just as valid today as they ever were. If we really long for JESUS’ return, we can’t afford to become too concerned about the temporal things of this world. We must keep our focus on CHRIST, the LIVING SAVIOR of those who choose to come out of the world, and be governed by GOD in earnest. This focus will help us to fulfill our promise to JESUS, and, HIS charge to us, that we live for HIM, because HE died for us. And no matter what happens to us in this world, as we perform the “Great Commission of CHRIST”, it will not threaten, affect, nor change, our ultimate security in Heaven.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website
GUIDED BY GOD’S WORD
(The Scriptures are most important for living well as a believer)
2 Timothy 3
In 2 Timothy 3, verses 1-9, Paul outlines for Timothy some of the challenges he would have to face while living in these, the “last days”. Often times we look at the term “last days” as being of an eschatological era that is yet to come, however, in reality, the last days really defines every day since JESUS CHRIST first ascended back into Heaven. This term actually views our present age as the final stage in history before the much anticipated “Day of the LORD” that is mentioned so frequently by the Old Testament prophets.
In this passage Paul anticipates a time of increased evil with moral and social decline, not unlike the days described by the prophet Malachi and others in earlier years. It was Peter C. Craigie who wrote, “When people cease to care, then, religion, morality, social customs, and values, all cease to function as mortar, that holds together a society, and maintains ancient Faith”.
The Christian’s challenge, in any age since the first century, is not to usher in universal peace, but rather, it is to remain loyal to GOD in times of trouble and despair. We are to aggressively promote the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST, even while under duress, despite the corruption of the Church from within, and, despite the persecutions from the world from without.
In verses 1-9 Paul tells Timothy that he needs to know that in these last days, for the most part, people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud of themselves to the point where they will actually thumb their noses up at GOD, and show disobedience and disrespect to their parents, and in fact, they will no longer hold anything sacred at all (Vs.1-2).
Paul also says that in those days people will be “unloving” and “unforgiving”, “slanderous” and “lack self-control”. They will be “cruel” and “have absolutely no interest in doing what is good by GOD’s standards”. In addition they will betray their own friends, live reckless lives, and proudly love their sinful escapades more than they love GOD (Vs.3-4). In fact, some will even act as though they are religious, and all the while, they will continue rejecting the power of GOD that can make them whole (V.5).
Here Paul paints a picture of “unprecedented selfishness” that is unparalleled by generations past. “Religious Charlatans” who prey on the weaknesses of others, will increasingly place their own desires ahead of everything else, and everyone else’s. Some will work their way into the churches, homes, and confidence of spiritually vulnerable women who are heavily ladened down with guilt from sin, and are confused and controlled by many desires. Such women will be picked apart by these depraved false teachers who peddle a counterfeit Faith, and, who fight against the truth of GOD’s Word (Vs.6-9).
In verses 10-17 Paul gives Timothy wise instructions as to how he should proceed through those trying times. After reminding young Timothy of how he himself, had suffered as a Christian, and how the LORD had delivered him time and time again, he sought to outline for him, some of the other challenges that he would have to face, in the very near future, as heir of the “leadership role” he was about to pass on to him.
The first challenge would be the superficiality of many people within the faith, those who publically profess Christianity, but privately live insidiously corrupt lives. Secondly, there will also be those who will strive to live godly lives, but unfortunately will have to face increasing persecution from those who wish to perpetrate their deceitful behavior and lifestyle upon them.
Paul goes on, to remind Timothy of his unique source of strength in CHRIST JESUS, the good teaching he has received, and, of the character of the people who taught him. He reminds him also, that, the Scriptures which were given to him are most useful in his teaching to others, because those writings are totally inspired by GOD, and contains everything necessary to equip HIS people for every good work.
The Word of GOD is all that we need to protect us from the peddlers of false doctrines, and to fortify ourselves against Luciferic persecutions. In verses 16-17 Paul gives us four specific advantages, or values in the use of GOD’s Word in the lives of those who choose to be guided by it. Within the Word of GOD we find;
· Wisdom (sophia) – It is wisdom that will bring ultimate salvation, and open up the way to GOD. There is a saving wisdom contained in the Holy Scriptures that is not available in any other book.
· Teaching (didaskalos) – It is the only place where we can find a firsthand account of JESUS and HIS teaching. And so the church that has no Bible studies is a church that has its most essential element missing. That church might as well close its doors and go home.
· Rebuking (elegmos) – Reproofing is a valuable tool that can be used to convince a person of the error of his or her ways, and then, point them in the right direction. But rebuke must always be followed up by encouragement, lest we be in danger of causing a person to fall away from GOD altogether, instead of helping them.
· Correcting (epanorthosin) _ All theories, theologies, and ethics must be tested against the Word of GOD to show their fallacies and contradictions to the truth of the CREATOR. And when they are exposed, they must be rejected. The FATHER of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST is the only wise, sovereign GOD, period.
· Training (paideia) – The Word of GOD trains a person in righteousness until he is fully equipped for every good work.
Remember GOD didn’t save us to sit back and do nothing. No Christian can afford to take a “balcony view” to life, and the true Christian can never be, just a “spectator”. To “Do Not”, to others is to have an anti- CHRIST attitude, however, to “Do unto others” what you would have them to do to you, can only be done by a person with the love of JESUS in his heart. And so the Bible teaches how to live in ways that are pleasing to GOD, and helps us to allow “self” to wither away, and die from our hearts.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website