Friday 19 October 2012

2 Timothy 2 v 3-13.

Paul is aware that he is facing the end of his life and wants to ensure he future of the gospel without it becoming modified and is writing urging Timothy to stand firm, never mind what other people are saying or doing, just be your own man, a man of conviction.

Timothy is about to take over Paul’s place and needs to inspire confidence. If you look at the great political leaders who got things done, they were people who knew what had to be achieved, how to do so, and they had conviction. Whatever may be thought of Margaret Thatcher, she was such a person of conviction who was the one to restore the country back from a period of misrule and chaos, and such was her reign that leaders succeeding her have sought her advice.

Such strength of character is often dismissed within the Church. Some years ago, when the post of Archbishop of Canterbury became vacant, the outstanding candidate of the time was the then Bishop of London, Graham Leonard, who had a reputation as traditional and a man of conviction. The man chosen was one who had a reputation for sitting on fences. History looks like being repeated.

Paul is telling Timothy to follow the teaching of the Apostles and not be led astray, still a good message for to-day when the pressure is constantly to avoid being positive in keeping to Scripture.

A woman Bishop in America once publicly stated that she supported the appointment of homosexual priests, same sex marriage, and said it was not necessary to believe in Jesus Christ to be accepted by God, for you cannot keep God in a box. I have no doubt there are others who would agree with her remarks in both America and Britain.

This is why we must guard the gospel so that it does not become completely changed or re-interpreted, and at a time when there are plenty of people who are prepared to corrupt Scripture. The lesson from the first chapter is that the gospel offers the good news of salvation, and our duty is to communicate it with as much energy and passion as those of other faiths promote their faith.

Paul must have felt saddened to see a falling away from Church after it had made much progress. It is sad when people fall away and once they do so find it hard to return, bit is so easy to succumb, often to outside pressure.

Paul’s call to Timothy is to find his resources for ministry in the grace of Jesus Christ, and to ensure the truth is passed on to the next generation, just as he had received it from Paul. He uses a set of images or metaphors to remind Timothy that hard work and suffering are inevitable.

First, he speaks of a soldier who is required to fight for his king and country, which often means much suffering and discipline and hard work in the face of an enemy whose attacks can be fearsome. The Christian must be a soldier fighting for the Kingdom of God and the King of all Kings. We are engaged in a fierce battle against the forces of secularism and evil, which use every kind of weapon against us.

Many years ago in the last war, there was a comedian who used the catchphrase, ‘don’t you know there is a war going on?’ There is a constant war going on against Christianity and just as today terrorists infiltrate society and use undercover methods, so do the enemies of the gospel. We Christians are to be Christ’s soldiers and be aware of insurgents within the Church.

The second image is that of an athlete. We have recently seen how hard and dedicated an athlete needs to be to compete in sports, and give hours in training and keeping fit. The Christian needs to keep in training by dedicated attendance at Church and study of Scripture to be able to compete with those who try to denounce both Church and Scripture.

Thirdly, says the apostle, the Christian also needs to be like a farmer: "It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops." The emphasis there is upon the word, hard-working.

Being a Christian is not just taking life easy; it is you working for God, enjoying the privilege of being his faithful servant through whom he does his work. There is no greater achievement than that. That is not accomplished easily. It requires getting to know the Bible until you understand life the way the Bible sets out. It means faithful attendance at Church, and this should be a Church where the Bible is faithfully taught, so that you will learn how to deal with the challenges you will surely come to face. If the Bible is not being taught you are in the wrong Church

People need material food to sustain them, to be strong and enabled to face life. They also need constant spiritual feeding to face the constant challenge from so many who would like to starve them to spiritual death. Even from within Church there can be a diet of junk food rather than strength filling. Jesus Christ has to be at the heart of all worship yet I have sat through services, including a sermon, when His Name was not mentioned once. This is not acceptable.

Be at Church on Sunday. Make sure it is where you will hear the pure Word of God. And may God bless you.

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