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

My Reputation?

2052 Conventicle

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and become obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. – Philippians 2:5-8

All of us Christians will applaud this beautiful verse of the Bible, because the death of our Lord Jesus Christ means life for those that believe in Him. We are amazed by this incredible sacrifice that proves He conquered death once and for all. Because He lives, I can live, and so can you.

But I really want to focus on something here that really struck me this past week that I doubt very few Christians consider and certainly don’t apply to their lives.

“He made Himself of no reputation…”

The Lord Jesus Christ completely emptied Himself, made Himself hollow, or useless. This is what this means. It means vanity, or of no effect. Now we certainly know that He accomplished His tasks and He was “effective” in the way He needed to be effective, but not in the way that most view effectiveness.

Look how Isaiah describes Him.

He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him; He was despised, and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. – Isaiah 53:2b-3

I don’t think any self professing Christian would struggle to read these verses, or to even heartily agree with them, but here is my challenge today. Do you live like this? Do I live like this?

When is the last time you emptied yourself of your reputation?

This past week I had the wonderful privilege to standing on a stool in Hollywood California and publicly proclaiming the Word of God to all those that pass by. Before you start thinking that I’m getting proud of myself, I want to assure you this has nothing to do with me, because I’m going to be greatly challenged in this post as well.

But isn’t it a worthwhile discussion and an opportunity for us Christians to ask ourselves this question?

When is the last time you’ve been looked on with disdain because you boldly proclaimed the name of Christ as Lord and Savior? Do we expect that somehow the servant is above the master? That Christ never expects a thing from us?

As I walked up to the North Hollywood Metro I could hear the word of God clearly coming from one of the men, and I had the joy of meeting Tony Miano for the first time. Tony is a man that publicly proclaims the truth consistently and up to 5 or 6 times per week. He is either open air preaching, passing out bibles and tracts, or standing in front of the abortion clinic pleading for young women not to murder their babies, telling them there is hope in Christ. I’m humbled and ashamed at my pathetic attempts at evangelism when I compare myself to Tony.

But yet when I now return home and consider that if I begin doing this in my town, it won’t take long for me to empty myself of my reputation. How long before I see people in public that I know through my business or I know from high school, or someplace else? It’s not a big town that I live in, so I don’t imagine it takes that long.

What will they say? What will they think?

“Wow, I mean, what happened to Kevin?” “He was a nice guy, a “normal” guy.” “Was he seriously standing there hollering about God? That’s really weird, what a freak…”

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:12

Certainly, Paul didn’t mean that did he?

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10

This is a big challenge for me, and I hope it will be a challenge for you to consider this article. You see in 10 minutes of open air preaching, more people heard the gospel out of my mouth than heard it from me in my whole 49 years of life. Just think about that for a moment.

Over 1000 bibles were given out in four days of evangelism.

And people say this is ineffective… by whose standard?

Please consider your testimony and your witness today. Please consider how bold you will be for Jesus Christ if you call Him Lord? I’m very challenged by this, and I hope you will be as well, because as my brother Tony challenged me about my fear and nervousness, he asked me to dig deeper as to the reason for the fear. “Kevin, I’d say it’s your love of self that has you be fearful.” Ouch…

I would say brother Tony hit the nail right on the head and it’s the reason most would never consider preaching the word publicly, and I hope that today we will consider speaking to someone when it’s inconvenient or embarrassing, or we risk rejection. Wasn’t Christ rejected? Are you above your master?

Are you a Pastor or a church leader, and do you have men that you are training for the work of ministry, to publicly proclaim His name? If you don’t you should, because very few will enter your church building, in comparison to those you can reach out on the streets. Or maybe Noah, Jonah, Jesus, Paul, Whitfield and countless others were wrong? I don’t know…but I suspect not…

Go out and preach, go out and fulfill the Great Commission, this is why you were saved.

 

Kevin