Persevere O’ Man of God

paulwritinghisepistlesinprison

…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also… – 2 Timothy 1:5-7

Today I’m going to begin an exegetical journey through 2 Timothy 1:5-14. I believe it will take three posts to do this section any justice but I’m confident it will bless you and encourage you as we look at the life of Timothy and the Apostle Paul’s charge to his son in the faith. I’m hopeful it will show us a difference between those that hold to sound doctrine and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Background

The Apostle Paul has been imprisoned in Rome for the second time, and this time he is no longer in the same position he was under his first imprisonment. In the past he had some freedom, and Paul reports it actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (Philippians 1:12), this time it would appear he is in a cold and damp cell, with little hope for release. Paul seems to understand this as later in this letter he writes that he has finished his race (4:7) and his departure is at hand (4:6). He desires for Timothy to come to him and see him one last time. Paul has clearly been abandoned by most and in this letter he desires to strengthen and encourage Timothy. Perhaps young Timothy is weakening, as the daily duties of Pastoring a church have worn him down. He’s still a young man and he needs some fatherly wisdom to help him. Haven’t we all been there in our faith? That we need those men that have mentored us to build us up and encourage us?

We also see the important role that Paul has played in Timothy’s life. Paul had met Timothy as a very young man and had taken him under his wing, so to speak. He had identified that this young man had “potential”, he had been raised in a home that taught the Scriptures, and when the gospel was preached to Timothy, his mother and grandmother, they believed. How important and how obviously we see, that practically, as parents to feed our children the truth of God’s Word.

The Charge

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Was Paul bothered by what was going on in Timothy’s life and leadership? This seems to be the case, as he was calling him to action. This word anazōpyreō means to rekindle a flame, to stir up the coals, or to take a bellows and blow into the fire. One of my favorite things is to sit beside a campfire and I love just poking and prodding at the logs and the coals. This is the imagery that we have of Paul challenging Timothy, not to lose his fire for the Lord.

Paul was reminding Timothy of these things, it was important enough to challenge Timothy that something was starting to slip, and Paul had invested a lot of time and energy in building a team, if you will, to continue what the Lord Jesus had started. This was worthy of another letter. It is worthy for us today to be reminded of the solemn charge, that when God laid His Sovereign Hand upon us that we are to continue in faith, and in sound words that bring glory to His Name, whether we are in ministry in an official capacity or simply out in the world proclaiming Christ to those dead in their sins and trespasses.

We all need a little encouragement. In fact we need a lot of encouragement, because ministry is hard work. Satan attacks those that are on the front lines. He hates those that fight for the King, and if you are little under attack, I would ask are you doing little work?

Fear, Power, Love & Sound Mind

We will finish this section with a challenge to those of us that call ourselves Christians. The word “fear” in this verse actually means timid. Are you timid about your faith, if you are timid about your faith, who is that about? Do you really believe that the gospel must be preached for people to be saved? Do you really believe people will die in their sins and trespasses?

Then it’s time to get over your love of self! Your timidity…

Turn your love to those that need it the most, the lost. Those are the ones you need to love, and that type of love will be unpopular in many if not most instances. This love is “agapē” the kind that does not seek its own, it seeks the benefit of others; it is the sacrificial love that Christ displayed on the cross.

I really love what Charles Spurgeon said about the desire of men’s souls and I think it really helps us focus on the problem. The problem being we are self protectors, we don’t care much for conflict.

“If you really long to save men’s souls, you must tell them a great deal of disagreeable truth.” – C.H. Spurgeon

That really sums it up doesn’t it? Men must hear things about themselves they don’t want to hear, and that requires someone to tell them such things, an unpopular message at best. Have you been reviled for this message?

Finally a sound mind is required. This requires self control, sober thinking, lack of silliness, and an attitude of solemnity. We must not think too highly of ourselves, we must be gentle and under control, but we must tell men a great deal of disagreeable truth in order to save their souls. Of course we know God saves their souls, but we are like the mail man delivering an unpopular message. We didn’t write the mail, but we must place it in their hands. (This is a loose translation of a thought by Voddie Baucham).

Next time we will dig into the heart of the matter, and expose the missed opportunity and downright falsity of those claiming to be leaders in the modern day church. We will see just how challenging this bit of bad news really is, before one can understand and receive the good news. We will see that it requires men in leadership that are godly, not little boys standing behind pulpits delivering pep talks.

Kevin

Jesus wept

jesus-wept

The shortest verse in the Bible says “Jesus wept”.  Have you ever wondered why?  Was Jesus showing his humanness and His empathy for the human experience?  This is the common understanding and we know it’s true from scripture. (Hebrews 4:15)

If you are like me you have probably read this verse many times and just thought, “Jesus has compassion for those around Him, especially Martha and Mary because He loved them”.  The Jews that were there thought this also if we look at verse 36.  I agree, He certainly had compassion and loved them, but I believe there is so much more to this verse than most notice.

John 11:14-15 – Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe, Nevertheless let us go to him.”

Here we see the purpose of Lazarus’s death, also affirmed in verse 4; Jesus says it’s for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.  He did it so the disciples would believe and He would be glorified.

This seems hard for me to believe, yet this is what the Lord says.  We are already well into Christ’s ministry, how is it they don’t believe?

John Calvin commenting – He does not mean that this was the first feeble commencement of faith in them, but that it was a confirmation of faith already begun, though it was still exceedingly small and weak. Yet he indirectly suggests that, if the hand of God had not been openly displayed, they would not have believed.

John 11:21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

John 11:32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Watch what happens next, as I find this fascinating and where I think most people miss the point of this verse.

John 11:33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, (professionals hired to cry at a funeral); He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.

The word groaned here is – embrimaomai (to snort with anger); to have indignation on, that is, (transitively) to blame, (intransitively) to sigh with chagrin, (specifically) to sternly enjoin: – straitly charge, groan, murmur against.

Jesus was also troubled – tarassō – Of uncertain affinity; to stir or agitate (roil water): – trouble.

Jesus was clearly annoyed by the reaction of all of those around Him at the death of Lazarus and seems to be agitated to the point of anger.  He knew He was going to raise Lazarus, so it can’t be that He doubted what would happen.  Then it happens.

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

 

Why?  Let’s consider a few other verses that might give us some insight.

Matthew 9:36-38 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Luke 13:34  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stone those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

So why did Jesus weep?  He had compassion for sure, but His compassion and his groaning was over the hard heartedness of man that lives in a self-absorbed sin saturated world.  He wanted them to come in faith and repentance, but they refused.  They wouldn’t acknowledge Him as Lord and as their King; despite the irrefutable proofs of His miracles.  It was obvious wasn’t it?

Today we consistently see the same thing.  There is nothing new under the sun, and you can show the un-believer sin and his hatred of God, yet he can’t see it.  I can sometimes intellectually understand my own disbelief, yet I just can’t get out of my funk.

Does the Lord groan in His spirit over you or over me?  Is He troubled by our lack of belief or our compassion for the lost?  Does He groan when we live in willful rebellion to His Word?  I am struck by the depth of this chapter as it relates to me.  It’s easy for me to see the shortcomings of others yet fail to see my own sin.  It’s easy to be critical and see how much they need Jesus, and they do, but I need Jesus.

I need Him more today than the day I was saved because if He didn’t weep for me, I’m lost.  If He pulled His tears back from me I’d spiral into the depths of my own sin in moments.  The closer I draw to Him the bigger and more wretched my sin becomes.

Men have always been ungrateful to God in the same manner, and continue to be so. If he does not grant all our wishes, we immediately launch into complaints: “Since he has been accustomed to aid us hitherto, why does he now forsake and disappoint us?” There is here a twofold disease. First, though we rashly desire what is not expedient for us, yet we wish to subject God to the perverse desires of the flesh. Secondly, we are rude in our demands, and the ardor of impatience hurries us before the time. – John Calvin

How about you?

If you can’t see your sin then I beg you to repent.  Do you truly weep over your sin or are you merely a professional weeper hired to perform a service?

If you are a Believer do you weep and groan over the lost?  How much compassion do you have for those around you that are without a shepherd?

May the Lord be merciful to those who can see their sin!  It cost the One that paid the price dearly and that’s something we should weep about.

Kevin