You must stand in Christ and on His Word. No matter how much they say you’re wrong. Playing on the words of Cicero you must say, “I would rather be ‘wrong’ with Jesus than be “right” with those people”
Live Like This
2 Timothy 4:1-5
We like games at our house. You probably like games at yours too. Yahtzee, Operation, Scrabble, Go Fish, Dominoes, Phase 10, Monopoly. Many clutch victories erupting in cheers, many “no-way-you-just-rolled-that” moments, many bitter tears of losing, many arguments over the fine points of game rules, many new “house rules” invented and so on. Family games bring out the cheers, the tears, the best in you and the worst in you.
The other day the kids were sitting at the counter cracking up while playing a new game called “bean-boozled.” Its a game where you have to eat a jelly bean and you don’t know what its going to taste like. You spin a wheel and it tells you what color you have to eat. But its a surprise what its going to taste like. But it’s not going to be between two good tasting pleasant flavors like caramel macchiato and ice cream sunday. No. It’s between a yummy flavor and an absolutely disgusting flavor. It could be between blue cotton candy and dirty dish water. And worse things.
So the kids are dying laughing at each other while they take turns running to the trash spitting out icky tasting jelly beans. I said, “I wanna play.” They said, “Okay”. Then I said, “But from now on you have to eat the jelly bean no matter what. You can’t spit it out.” They looked nervous but took the challenge. It was awesome watching their little faces twist the moment they realized they got something really gross – and HAD to eat it.
Then it was my turn. I spin the wheel and I have to eat a jelly bean that either tastes like lemon candy or old band aid. Folks, do yourself a favor and never eat an old bandaid. I have never in my life tasted anything so disgusting as that. It was so bad I would have gladly washed my mouth out with dirty dishwater.
Where am I going with all this? Well, it got me thinking: maybe I look like a Christian outwardly, but, do I “taste” like one? On the one hand we’re told to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. But, how do we taste to Him? Appearances are one thing, but what is the actual flavor of our lives as believers? Once God “takes a bite” what’s He getting? Something pleasantly godly, or something disgustingly worldly?
Let’s make 2022 pleasantly godly. (See how I made this a New Year’s sermon right there? 😉 )
My text this morning is 2 Timothy 4:1-5. It is a text you want me as your pastor to pay attention to personally because primarily it speaks to pastors. However, by extension, it speaks to the Church that pastors lead. How the pastor goes so the church goes, and, the pastor is an example therefore these are things that not only he should exemplify, but, the church should imitate in him.
Second Timothy is probably Paul’s last letter before he’s martyred. He’s facing death and he knows it. And he’s not afraid. “I am ready not only to suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ, but also to die for Him.” he said in Acts 21. He meant it. This last letter is a dying man’s last words. His last words are to Timothy, his beloved, younger disciple and protege. Paul does not want Timothy to shrink back and stop preaching the Gospel in the face of fear. The theme of the letter could be stated as “Faithfulness over fear”.
- “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity” (1:7)
- “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord…But join with me in suffering for the Gospel” (1:8)
- “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1)
- “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier” (2:3)
- “Here is a trustworthy saying: ‘…..if we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.’”
- “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (3:12)
Paul was urging and commanding Timothy to follow his example: “What you heard from me keep as the pattern” (1:13). “You however, know all about my teaching, my way of life….” (3:10). Paul continued to carry out his duty to preach the Gospel no matter what. Paul refused to allow any opposition, any hostility to silence him. Now that his life was almost over, he wanted that same fearless preaching ministry to carry on in “his son”, Timothy. He wanted Timothy to keep doing what Paul was doing after Paul was gone.
When I say “Live Like This”, here are 4 things to do.
#1: Know God Keeps His Eye On You (1)
Live your life knowing God sees you. Notice what verse 1 says, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus”.
“In the presence of”. Live every day knowing that your life is lived in the presence of God. That God sees everything. Live everyday knowing that everything about your life is seen by God.
Paul lived like that. He said in 2 Corinthians 4:2, “We commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Paul lived every day knowing he was “in the sight of God”, that God saw him in everything. That’s why he spoke often of calling God as his “witness”, meaning he was confident that God saw how he acted and he was confident he acted right in God’s eyes and that was supposed to make his churches confident in him as their apostle.
Here’s my point: live knowing God sees you. One of our favorite Christmas movies is A Muppet Christmas Carol, which, as you know, is a muppet version of a Christmas Carol. The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are able to take Scrooge to various scenes of his life and he can watch them happen. But no one in those scenes can see or hear him. No one knows that what they are doing is being watched by an invisible audience.
Live every day knowing you have an invisible audience. Live every day like you are in the presence of God. Because you are.
#2: Keep Your Eyes On God (1)
The first point was God sees you. This point is You need to see God. Keep Your Eyes On God. Notice how verse 1 continues, “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.”
I love that part, “and in view of”. “In view of” means keeping in mind, always aware of, or having your eyes set on something. In this case Paul says “Since we have our eyes set on the appearing of Jesus and the kingdom He is bringing with Him….”
We Christians live with our eyes on Jesus. Colossians 3:1-2 say “Set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above…” It was the lesson Peter learned walking on the water: keep your eyes on Jesus. It was the lifestyle of Simeon the aged prophet in Luke 2 when it says, “Simeon was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel”. Waiting means his eyes were firmly fixed on God, knowing that no matter what was happening in Israel God was going to fulfill His promises. I love how 2 Chronicles 20:12 says it, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you O God”. This is the theme woven through the whole hymn, “The Solid Rock”:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus name.
You can’t have your hope, or trust or lean on Jesus unless your “eyes” are on him. One poem expresses it this way:
“Waiting, counting days gone by
Upward, eyes watching cloudy gates
Looking, longing, each word kept nigh
‘Til faith to sight His glory makes!”
What’s in your view? What are you focused on? Where are your eyes concentrating every day? What you “keep in view” is what you value most, what you hope in, what gives meaning to your life. What’s your view?
#3: Live On The Word (2)
“I give you this charge, Timothy: Preach the Word.” Timothy must preach it. That is the preacher’s job. That is my job.
However, God’s will is that on the other side of the pulpit is an audience whose appetite for the word matches that of the preachers! In the very next verse Paul is going to bring up the shameful congregations who turn away from the word.
However: there is honor, blessing, glory, beauty, power, joy awaiting the congregation that demands the word of God. You have to be like Job and say, “I have desired your word O God more than my daily bread.” You have to say like Jesus in Matthew 4: “I know I don’t live on bread alone, but on every word Lord that comes from your mouth” (Mt 4:4). You have to know it is the lamp for your feet and the light for your path. You have to know it alone washes, cleanses and purifies you and is the one thing your spirit will take. You have to say with the Psalmist, “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times” (119:20) and “Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long! How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (119:97, 103).
You have to mope around – deflated and agitated when deprived of it. You have to find yourself on clouds with joy and your soul getting satisfaction when you do get it. You have to be utterly intolerant of any substitute for the word. Like you won’t even hear anything else that is offered to you in its place. “Get it away from me!”
The charge to Timothy was: “Preach the Word”. Almost just as loudly implied is the charge to the congregation: “HEAR the word!” Live on God’s word.
Let me point out a couple things.
First: Always be ready for the word. Notice how Paul says, “be prepared in season and out of season. “Be prepared” means to be on standby. In baseball when a pitcher is struggling the coach will have another pitcher start “warming up”, meaning he will start throwing to get his arm warmed up. He’s gotta be ready to go if and when the coach calls on him.
Or think of special forces soldiers. I knew a guy who could get a call at any moment and within 30 minutes he would be picked up to be off somewhere in the world. His wife would have no idea where he was going or for how long – or if he’d come back alive. He and his wife lived every day “prepared”.
Another illustration of this “being prepared” is Car Jitsu. Car Jitsu is a new sport where people practice fighting with ju jitsu in a car. The idea came about when a guy said, “Hey, I have to be ready to use my fighting skills in the car”.
Be ready. Get it? “Hey Timothy, you have to be ready AT ALL TIMES to preach the word. It doesn’t matter WHERE you are or WHEN you are or WHAT is opposing you. You have to be ready to open your mouth and preach.
What does this mean for you as a church? It means you have to be ready to hear the word of God ALL THE TIME. I strongly believe the phrase “in season and out of season” implies more than just “when it is convenient or opportune to preach.” I think it means when the culture likes hearing it and when the culture doesn’t like hearing it, preach the Word.” That means you guys have to WANT the word even when everyone else DOES NOT. It means you guys have to stand on the word even when everyone else DEPARTS.
It means that when POSERS fall away you don’t. Read verses 3-4 with me [READ]. When OPPOSERS attack you stand firm. Read 4:14-18
A lot of passages in Scripture emphasize false teachers. This passage is emphasizing false churches. They will hate God’s word, reject it, and hire people who teach ungodly doctrines and myths, who push the spirit of the age and things that are “on the right side of history”. (Be careful that what is considered on the “right side of history” is not on the wrong side of God’s judgment).
They will get very hostile towards you for your firm stance on God’s Word (1 Peter 4:1-5). They will profess to be Christians (3:5), but they will have a different Jesus with a different Gospel and a different Spirit. They will gobble up all the false doctrines they hear because they have bought into the spirit of the age and the lies of the enemy.
You must stand in Christ and on His Word. No matter how much they say you’re wrong. Playing on the words of Cicero you must say, “I would rather be “wrong” with Jesus than be “right” with those people”
But being prepared in and out of season is even more invasive to you personally than all that – it means that you have to always be ready personally to hear the Word of God in how it challenges you. You can’t be the obstacle to God’s Word when it is aimed at your life. Notice how Paul says that Timothy is to “correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction”? You personally have to always be “in season” and ready to hear even tough, hard, convicting things from God’s Word. It isn’t always about how “they out there” have to be changed by God’s word. It’s just as much – more even – about how YOU have to be changed by it.
How might God’s word be correcting you? Rebuking you? Encouraging you? Instructing you? Live on the Word of God