Text – 2 Timothy 2:1-13
(This represented a new departure for me. Finally, I decided not to rely on full notes, but to preach from just an outline.)
1. Hold On
‘Be strong’, v1
This is the positive of ‘don’t be ashamed’ (chapter 1)
Why? Not because Timothy was timid (although he was young and did not enjoy A1 health)
But many had already given up, and there were times of testing ahead
But how? – What is God’s part in this, and what is ours? Three times in this passage human effort and divine enblement are perfectly entwined:-
V1 – ‘Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.’
V7 – ‘Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight.’
V10 – ‘I endure everything for the sake of the elect.’
2. Press On
‘Being strong’, v1, and ‘enduring hardship’, v3, in order to win the prize.
The soldier, v4 – singleminded service leads to approval of commanding officer
The athlete, v5 – self-discipline leads to victory
The farmer, v6 – hard work leads to a rich harvest
This is true of Jesus, v8 – He endured the cross in order to win the prize. In his resurrection he was vindicated as God’s Messiah. Heb 12:2.
It is also true of Paul, v9f – he is in chains, but knows that the gospel cannot be chained up. He is willing to endure everything for the sake of the elect, ‘that they may obtain salvation, with eternal glory.’
Many are the blessings and benefits of faith in this life. But the famous hymn, ‘For all the saints’ (William Walsham How) accurately depicts the Christian’s future rest, followed by our ultimate hope:-
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
3. Pass It On
V2 ‘What you have learned from me I want you to pass on to able and reliable men who will be able to pass it on to others.’
Paul does not despise books. But he stresses the importance not of book-to-person, or sermon-to-person, but person-to-person transmission of the gospel.
With ‘All Saints’ day in mind, we gives thank for all who have gone before us, passing the message on.
And, we must ask ourselves, What, who, where, and when is God calling us to in this matter of passing on the message?
In truth, this applies to all of us, vv11-13. A pair of promises, and a pair of warnings. God is faithful: he cannot be untrue to himself. He is a rock: either we dash ourselves against this rock, or we make it our refuge and strength.