The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Kevin DeYoung: My task is to preach from Second Timothy chapter two verses one through 13. If you turn there, let me ask you a question. Which set of words better describes a Christian wounded, weak, broken strugglers Oh or strong, courageous, steadfast overcomers? wounded, weak broken strugglers or strong, courageous, steadfast? overcomers? Which set of words better describes what the Christian is and ought to be? Hopefully, you’re not too quick to answer that trick question. Because if you know your Bibles, you should know that all of those words properly defined can find implicit and in most cases, explicit warrant in Scripture. And yet I imagined that given our personality, given the church background we grew up in, or oftentimes the family background or church environment we’re reacting against, we may gravitate toward one or the other of those descriptions. And there are I find many, many people today, who would almost exclusively emphasize that first set of characteristics and they would describe the Christian life and the Christian virtues, and the Christian motif for ministry as one that is solely to be weak and wounded and broken and struggling, all of which can be supported from scripture, and yet by themselves, without the rest of Scripture to also fill up what those words mean and don’t mean can be lopsided, for we are in many passages like this one, which I’m about to read, exhorted to be in the midst of weakness and suffering, strengthened to endure. And so we want neither an exaggerated triumphalism nor an emotive failure ism. Can you find both of those in the church today for some and exaggerated triumphalism, whether that’s a personal triumphalism just from glory to glory, no place for weakness, no place for doubting, no place for pain or perhaps triumphalism on a church or a national scale. And then on the other hand, don’t we find some whose Christianity has become little more than a motive failure RISM you’re miserable, I’m miserable. You’re not good at anything. I’m not good at anything. You just fail. You’re not sanctified, you’re not holy, we’re all just wonderfully miserable. And that’s not quite the tenor of new New Testament Christianity is it? What we see in this passage is that we are to be strengthened, but it is a strength that comes not from ourselves, but by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Follow along, as I read from Second Timothy chapter to you, then my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also share and suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard working farmer who wants to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say for the Lord will give you a Understanding and everything. Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead, the offspring of David as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering bound with chains as a criminal, but the Word of God is not bound. Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy for, if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure, we will also reign with Him, if we deny Him, He will also deny us if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. The two big ideas in this passage are given to us in verse one, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, or you can put it this way, be strong, God is stronger. So be strengthened. That’s the first paragraph. And then the second paragraph is to explain how in fact, we are strengthened. Because the apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Spirit is kind enough not to simply tell us to be strengthened, and to endure, but then to give us theological reasons for doing so. He doesn’t just say it and it happens. He wants to know how does this happen? Reminds me of just a few weeks ago, my 13 year old son came up to me, he said, Dad, how do I get a six pack? Not? Not six pack, but a six pack? My first thought was, well, I can, I can see why you’re asking that question. So I’m, your mother asked that often, you know, I get a six pack. No, I said, you’re 13. What do you need a six pack for? He said, Well, why don’t I just want one? I said, don’t worry about it yet. In fact, don’t worry about it ever. Because I want to know, when he’s doing push ups, and he’s doing crunches, and he’s doing things he wants to know, how do you get from here to there wants to be strong? How do you get strength? We all to ask that same question. As Christians. Paul has in his mind, you see verse two, the passing on of this deposit and the passing on of this strength which you’ve heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men, and we could if we had time, camp out there and just speak of discipleship from generation to generation and training in your churches, among your elders and leaders and women to women. But we are going to move on and look at what Paul means by strength, what what is the strength that he wants Timothy to have, and by extension pastors to have, and I think we can by implication, look at ministry leaders or anyone here as you walk the Christian walk and as you seek to influence others for Christ, what does it look like to be strengthened? Well helpfully in this first paragraph under this first banner of be strengthened Paul gives three analogies as a great sermon here because it just the three points is fall down from heaven for you three pictures first, he says, You’re to be like a soldier. Verse three soldiers share in suffering. You cannot choose whether or not to suffer you may be able to choose some extent of it, but all of us you live long enough, you suffer. And so you can then choose how to suffer. He says don’t suffer as a whiny child as a disappointed husband as a leaky love tank has an evangelical who everyone is always picking on me. But as a soldier, now listen, Paul is not calling for some kind of emotionless stoicism. You know, soldier, some of you may have served in the armed forces, and I’ve known them in my family and certainly, among friends and churches, soldiers get sad. Soldiers share grief, he isn’t saying pretend like nothing bad happens and run away from it. What he’s saying is Do not be surprised by it. Understand that as a soldier, there will be hardships. I remember a pastor telling me one time even before I was in ministry, giving me this good advice. He said, If you’re fighting in a war, and you’re in a foxhole, and someone else across the way pops up and begins shooting at you don’t say wasn’t something I said.
You understand that you’re in a battle and you get hurt and you get shot at and sometimes sadly, it’s friendly fire or understand to endure Sharon suffering as a soldier. And then he says to please the one who enlisted him verse four. This is an encouragement first of all for pastors, that your interest not be divided, and we have hobbies. That’s good. We have families, we need to love them well. But we are, first of all, to please our commanding officer. And it’s true for pastors and ministry leaders is true for all of us who want to follow Christ with a single minded devotion. Not less than this is not the only analogy for the Christian life. The only analogy for a relationship with God, you could go to Scripture and say our relationship with God is collectively as a as a wife to a husband. It’s like a child to his father. But don’t miss this. It is also like a soldier with his commanding officer. And I dare say that not many of us think of our relationship with God in that way. In fact, some of us would probably say, oh, no, no, don’t do that. That’s a little bit cold. That’s a little bit authoritarian. But here it is in the scriptures to please, you’re in your commanding officer. Several years ago, I found this on a church website. Thankfully, I can’t remember what church it was from. But I found these these points. This is just these are all quotes from the website what you will find a casual atmosphere, friendly people who will help you find your way around today’s music, powerful dramas, high impact media presentations, messages relevant to your daily life, and amazing children’s space, a Starbucks esque cafe, where you can relax, recharge and relate and your comfort zone with a coffee in your hand. Saturday night extras including more music, more food, cafe tables, and a Wi Fi zone to soothe your inner geek. And you will find that you matter to God. Whether you’re single married single again, with or without children, no matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, we invite you to experience the difference here. Just by way of comparison, here’s the seal coat. Loyalty to country team and teammates serve with honor and integrity on and off the battlefield ready to lead ready to follow never quit. Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates excel as warriors through discipline and innovation, train for war, fight to win, defeat our enemies, earn your Trident every day
and soothe your inner geek. Now to be fair, we can find Scriptural support for emphases in both of those descriptions. But with the exception of perhaps the notion of earning your Trident every day, I submit to you that the seal code has a whole lot more by way of biblical language and imagery then does this very hip church website which says come everything will be comfortable. Everything will be easy. It will be just like everything you want in your life with a Starbucks in your hand and Wi Fi and nice music it will be for you just try it please please please. I know I know that instinct as a pastor. I know that instinct. There’s a new couple here. Look at them and they have children. Somebody get them offering envelopes quack quack quack quack quack Do you want the new members class Don’t skip the new members cuz you want to be a member you want to get baptized. You’ve been baptized all we do it better here. Oh, come on. Just go. Doesn’t doesn’t hit amaze you when you study Jesus in the gospels. He’s constantly trying to get rid of people. He’s got a crowd. He’s got 1000s of people. They want to make him king and I’m not the one you want. I’m not that sort of King. Let the dead bury their dead. You can’t follow me. Unless you hate your mother or father. Really Endure hardship as a soldier. The second analogy the second word picture then is as an athlete, says the athlete. Verse six verse five is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. Now here he means the rules of the Christian game so called involves suffering and hardship. Hey, Romans 817. Now if we are children, then we are heirs heirs of God, co heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. In First Timothy 416, he tells Timothy there watch your life and your doctrine closely. Why? Because you might be disqualified for the prize. In other words, he says, there’s two great lessons from sports. Now I know sports can be a great source of idolatry and pain and push people away from Sunday. There all sorts of problems with it in our culture, but done rightly. Paul sees that there are important lessons, sports reminds us of two important lessons. Number one, there is right and wrong. And number two, there are winners and losers. Now even sports today is questioning both of those. Are there really rights and wrongs? And are there really winners and losers, I I would not fancy myself a great athlete, but I like to stay active. I like to run and you know, do weekend races and five K’s or work my way up to something longer. And I’m not expecting to win. I tell my wife, I’m not turning pro quite yet. But I find that as and I’ve done these for years that now with most races, everybody gets a medal. Now on the rare occasion that I actually placed high enough to win a medal, I don’t want any of you ever to get medals. I would trade in a shoebox of 25 PARTICIPANT medals. For one metal that I’ve felt like I really did it. But you know, that’s the way you get trophies and ribbons and metals for participating. We can understand why and certain ages that may be helpful for children. But listen, sports ought to teach us and Paul is getting at this here that when it comes to living your life, talking about an eternal destiny. Not everyone’s getting first place. In fact, if you think you’re first place, you may just begin last place. If you think you’re in last place, you may just be the sort of person who’s gonna get first place Jesus said. He said, Are you sure Paul said that? Well, here’s what he said in First Corinthians nine Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? No participation medals for Paul Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training, they do it to get a crown that will not last but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore do not run like a man aimlessly do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body making my slave so that after I preach to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize is a soldier. He’s an athlete, knowing that some in this eternal destiny will win. Some will lose. Now, we must quickly insert that it’s not the same as training to say I am the fastest and I’ve run the farthest. And I have proved myself to be the best. He’s not saying how you win the prize, we know you win the prize through Christ. But nevertheless, it is true. And one of the things that hopefully we reinforced to our children we reinforced to people under our care in school or in Ministries is that there’s there are consequences for not doing things God’s way. And one of the things I hope we reinforce is that not everyone does get an A, not everyone does get first place. Because in life and especially in eternal life, not everyone makes it to heaven. He gives a third word picture soldier, an athlete and then a farmer, the same idea here. Ministry in particular in Christian life in general requires hard work. So if the soldier was to point to endurance and the athlete to work according to the rules for the prize, then the image of the farmer is that we ought to be hard working, that we might have the first share of the crops. Now again, you must hear Paul is dealing with images here. He’s not trying to undermine justification by grace through faith alone by talking about hard work. He’s simply saying as Jesus himself would say, we must strive we make must make an effort. My wife and I know about farmers from both sides of our families and the first church that I served in as an associate pastor was in Iowa and there were dozens and dozens of farmers in that church and learned all sorts of things and learn to ask what the price of corn was and how the soybean crop was doing and how the rainfall old patterns and ask questions about combine like I knew what I was talking about. I’ve been around farmers and I’ve seen my share of rude farmers, disagreeable farmers, sometimes cantankerous farmers. I have never met a lazy farmer. Lazy farmers are called suburbanites. Like me. You’re lazy farmers don’t make it and farming very long. All the farmers I have known had been hard working. I remember my first church going to visit a man in the hospital was who was in his mid 80s. And his wife was their chagrin. Why is your husband in the hospital, he said he was standing up on his tractor trying to fix something and he fell off. Not a good idea to do at any age. More seriously, I’ll never forget when I was in, maybe Middle School, and hearing my parents get an urgent phone call from far away that my grandfather had had an accident in a combine and got his leg stuck in a moving combine and pulled himself out somehow survived lost his leg lived the rest of his life with a prosthetic metal leg from the knee down. And all sorts of fun stories about flying. He can be one of those sort of cantankerous hard working farmers. If you ask me to take off this leg one more time, I’m gonna hit you over the head with it. That sort of thing. I’ve known a lot of farmers. All the farmers I’ve ever known have been hard working. Some of us could stand to have a little more farmer in us. And so could our churches. I’m so thankful for my parents, who never entertained the idea that we weren’t going to church on Sunday. How many people do you have in your churches? Whether you’re the leaders or you’re the one in the pews? How many people do we find increasingly in our churches? It becomes just the thing. Maybe it works this Sunday? What time are the games on? Who’s playing? How nice is the weather? Do the kids have any soccer games? I mean, my parents were to the hill. I mean, we I’m sure we got people, the influenza multiple times, you’re sick doesn’t matter, church. Jesus can heal you church just so all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve already had this conversation with my kids is they ask on Saturday night. Are we going to Sunday school tomorrow?
Are we going to church? Are we going to evening church? I’ve had to say just listen. I want to give you several, several questions the answer to which will always be yes. Okay, I just want to set you up with you. You don’t need to ask this anymore on Saturday night, or Sunday morning. The answer is yes. We go into Sunday school or going to church. We’re going to evening church. Hard work how many of us live the Christian life that way? How many of us are reinforcing those sorts of values in our people in our children? I I remember one summer when the first jobs I had and I had to mow the lawn was one of my my middle school teachers said I’m going to be gone for several weeks. And could you mow the lawn I never mowed a lawn before and I was just a weak little kid and it’s kind of had a hilly terrain. And I showed my parents later they drove by and and here it is. And the thing was just undulating. It was no straight lines anywhere. So well. It was a hilly place. Mom said I’d done such a bad job that my older brother had to do it and had to fix it. I couldn’t accept any money for my teacher for doing it. Because I had done a poor job. Probably a good lesson. You say well, this is works righteousness. Well, no. Paul, First Corinthians 1510 I worked harder than all of them. You’re not I but the grace of God that is within me. It’s works righteousness, it Paul means I worked harder than all of them to make my way up to God so that he would love me, which of course is not what he means he means as one untimely born as an apostle saved by grace through faith alone. I worked hard. How many Christians whether your Baby Boomers, Gen X, millennials, whatever, know the value of hard work, you work hard at all sorts of things for your test scores for your school for your instruments for your athletics. Remember, one of my professors in college, told me it was a Christian college he told me the worst answers he got were the pious sounding lazy answers. So he’d have on the test. Give me a paragraph about Augustine, identify Augustine. And he said the answers that he just could Stan and he would just fail were the people who wrote Augustine was a man of God who loved the Lord. He studied the scriptures and works so, so marvelously on behalf of God’s people his life is an example of Christ’s likeness that inspires me and his writing continues to influence the church to this present day. F. No, you need to save he’s born in 354 died in 430. He was the Bishop of Hippo, he wrote the confessions in the city of God he debated Palladius who is converted into the garden after hearing Ambrose preach, give me some facts work hard at this. People are at all different points on the journey. People have different gifts we understand there’s there’s room for doubters. There’s room for failing, we know that there’s grace for mistakes, that’s what following Christ entails. But there’s also hard work as a soldier, as a farmer, as an athlete, be strong. It’s not just emotive failure ism, to be a Christian. Sometimes we use that language. I’m just sort of a failure and we use it to describe egregious sins. You know, as if, you know, Grandpa just sort of tussled our hair as an argument, silly little rascal. What does it say at the end of the Second Samuel 11. After David’s sin with Bathsheba. This is saying the Lord looked down and David was a real screw up. It says in the thing David had done displeased, the Lord. be strengthened. Paul says endure suffering and hardship. He then finishes off the paragraph in verse seven. Think over what I say. The Lord will give you understanding and everything. Before we leave this paragraph, it would be good perhaps some time later tonight or this weekend with a friend or a family member? Or even thinking about your church with other ministry leaders. What which of these do you need to hear soldier athlete farmer? Which of these images have you been neglecting in your life or in your church’s ministry? Have you in appropriately listening to biblical images have other sorts of relational descriptors of God and His people neglected these important descriptions? Think over what I’m saying. Paul says, The Lord will give you understanding. Now he moves to the second paragraph. And here with him, we move to the second heading. So verse one says, be strengthened, and he gives those three examples of what strength looks like in the Christian life. But importantly, it’s not just a message that says, Get your act together, be strong, it’s strengthened by grace we must always get that together. Not failure by grace, not strength, just by the our own dint of personality, strengthened by grace that is in Christ Jesus. And so in the second paragraph, he highlights Christ’s work, which gives us grace, Christ’s word, and Christ’s character. All three, enable us to be strong to endure to press on. So first, then we can look at Christ’s work in verse eight, remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead, he’s just told Timothy to be strong to be a soldier to be an athlete to be a hard working farmer. Now he gives the most important word of all. Alright, Timothy, I want you to remember not just those pictures, but I want you to remember first of all, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Simply Jesus, the teacher of justice and compassion, or Jesus, The gentle Healer, or even even Jesus, the lover of your soul, but Jesus, the conqueror of the grave. He goes on the offspring of David that is the one hoped for, as preached in my gospel, that is the good deposit that I had passed on to you, I want you to remember Christ finish work on the cross for sins raised to live three days later. Remember, this is not just wishful thinking, this is not just the power of, of good to come out of evil or light to shine in the midst of darkness. I want you to remember historical fact. Remember what J. Gresham mentioned called the gospel, he said, it’s a historical fact plus a theological interpretation, both of those things, not just wishful thinking, such as a story about human potential. And we’re having a debate with another pastor one time about the virgin birth. And he was saying, Well, to me, the part where it says in the Gospel, any everything is, all things are possible with God. If that’s more important to my face, then the version shall conceive and give birth. And I said, Well, if it’s really important to your faith at all things are possible with God, you might want to consider that this is possible to see, it’s not just a metaphor that we’re basing our hope on its history. This happened, a man named Jesus, he really lived and breathed and he died. And he rose again. That’s history. He died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, theological interpretation. That’s the gospel. Remember it? Paul says, the finished work of Christ. And then he moves from Christ’s work to Christ’s word, he says, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal, but the Word of God is not bound. Do you see what he’s doing? You can be strong in the midst of difficulty in the midst of disappointment, betrayal, hardship, suffering. Why? Because we believe in our intrinsic power, no, because we believe in the inherent power of words. Gospel words, he says, I may be I may be in chains, I may not be able to go anywhere. The Word of God is not bound. Some of you facing opposition in your church. Maybe you got a zoning committee won’t let you buy a piece of land or build something. Or maybe you have a local government that’s bearing down in some way. Or maybe you have been unfairly treated by others, and they look at you and they think, Well, those are just the bigots in our community. And you think you don’t have the opportunities. Maybe you’re not allowed to go on college campuses like you once were, and we ought to fight for religious liberty and all of these gifts. Nevertheless, no matter how many setbacks no matter who opposes you, no matter even if you are in chains, Paul says the Word of God is not in chains. The Word of God is not bound. Think about the imagery of the seed. The seed being sown. Just keep sowing. Just keep sowing, just keep sowing. Isn’t that what Dory said? You know, that story of the sower and the soils and some fell on the rocky path And some fell on the thorns and some fell on the shallow ground and we know it’s this the different hearts but have you ever thought about what a profligate solar what’s he doing?
Stones Okay. thorns that might work. Beach San Woo’s is sowing, sowing, sowing, because the power is in the germinating might have the seed you can bury a human being, you know, few feet underground. Don’t recommend it if they’re still alive. But you can do that and you can’t claw your way out. But you put a little a little teeny seed into that Earth. And it finds its way out it can grow and be 10 storeys tall and live for 100 years. Such is the germinating power inherent in the seed. The word is not bound. Evangelism does not guarantee results. Evangelism is to get the word right and to get the word out, to speak them to go out buy Bibles and radios and tapes if you have them in CDs and internet and podcasts and social media and books and magazines and pamphlets and tracks and preachers and by 10 million witnesses that the word would go forth. And so he can say in verse 10, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, they also may obtain the salvation and that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. Do you see here how the sovereignty and God of God in salvation is not a demotivator for evangelism? But it is a motivator to keep on pressing on I endure why. Well, if you’re if you’re, if you have a high view of God’s sovereignty, if you believe that God is the one who chooses if you believe that God’s will is prior to any of our willing, if you believe that regeneration must precede faith, if you believe that with this high view of God, then why are you busting your tail out there to share the gospel like God’s God is just going to do what he wants? He’s already chosen people. That is never ever the logic from Paul or any of the apostles. It’s just the opposite. Why would I keep pressing on in this backwards? Nothing town? Why would I keep sharing the good ospel in the 1040 window, why would I keep preaching to these upper middle class people who have everything and don’t think that they need Jesus? Why would I keep doing that, because you believe that there are elect that God has yet people here. And that you never know, as you lob some hand grenades every Sunday, whether from the pulpit or in your Bible study, or around the dinner table, you never know which one of those is going to blow. And lo and behold, someone gets born again, and someone gets saved, because of the word because God says that the sheep will hear my voice. And so you keep pressing on to be a faithful Sunday school teacher, and to share the gospel with your classmates and with your suitemates, and with your cubicle mates, to keep on sharing, because you believe in the power of the word, that that for everyone who has been chosen by God, there will be a moment in their life. It’s their husband and yours, whether you can remember it or not, or it happened when you were four or 40. Or at a moment, when you go from not just reading a verse or hearing a sermon or hearing your friend talk to you about the gospel. But all of a sudden, without even realizing what’s happening. You hear the very voice of Jesus speaking to you. And he says, Come and you come. He says, Believe and you believe, he says, Be born again and you are born again. Just as at the beginning, he said, Let there be light. And there was light. We press on, because of Christ’s work because of Christ’s word. And finally, because of Christ character. This brings us to this saying at the end of the passage, this trustworthy say there are five of these trustworthy or faithful sayings in the pastoral epistles. This one and you can tell by the way, most translations give a kind of poetic versification that it might have been an early hymn or a confession, you notice that the pronoun suddenly switch to we suggesting that it might be a call and response. It might be an early liturgical element and worship, there’s an obvious if then parallelism, if we have died with Him, we will also live with him. Speaking of the death that comes through conversion, the death to ourselves, the depth, depth to our own ideals, the the depth to our own ideas, the depth to our own plans, and hopes and dreams at times that Christ would reign in our mortal bodies. If we have died with him, we live with Him. Verse 12, if we endure, we reign with Him. And this is a major theme of Paul as he writes both of these letters to Timothy endure suffering, there’s persecution. Now, anyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, he says, will not may will be persecuted in some way you will be reviled. In some way you will be oppressed, may not be with chains may not be with scars. But in some way you will. This is this is a, a good way to track your Christian life. If everyone hates you, something’s probably wrong. If everyone loves you, something’s probably wrong. Because he says, If you desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, you will be persecuted so we must endure if we want to reign with Him. This is what we try to teach our children the benefit of delayed gratification. Not your best life now, but your best life later. And then he changes gears a bit in the second half of verse 12. If we deny Him, He will also deny us we’re really tracking with the first two if this we like those Yes, we die we live we endure refrain, but we can neglect this. He says if if we deny Him, He will deny us. Matthew 10 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, Jesus says, I will also acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven. Some do make shipwreck of the faith as an entirely different theological seminar to explain why this does not negate the perseverance of the preservation of the saints. The short explanation is what we find in first John to that some went out from you and they did not remain with you proving that they never really were of you. There are people who have covenant connections Who are not true Christians, just like Paul can say there are some who are children of Abraham. They’re not really children of Abraham. There are some who are of Israel who are not really of Israel, there are some who are circumcised were not really circumcised of the heart. In the same way. There are some on our church roles who are not really in the heavenly roles. And we have examples here. He says the Asians deserted me different than what we think of Asians, you can relax but the Asians here deserted him Hymenaeus and Philetus deserted him Alexander the Coppersmith left him. And so lines two and three are opposites some endure and some do not those who endure will rain those who deny Christ will be denied. This is one of many warning passages in the New Testament which are meant to cause the elect to persevere. I say this to preachers in the room and and I don’t mean it in a cheeky way I mean it with all sincerity, if we are preaching not only the meaning of the text, but the mood of the text, we will from time to time, want to scare the hell out of people. We will May it never be that someone in your churches could stand before God one day and say no one ever warned me of a judgement to come. No one ever warned me. If you’re the watchman on the walls, you sounding the trumpet. Because you know that a judgment is coming. That’s what these passages are meant to do. They are the means by which the elect are caused to endure.
And then he says in verse 13, if we are faithless he remains faithful. And this particular if then phrase has stumped many commentators and if you want to come to a different conclusion than I do, I can understand for the commentators are quite divided. There are at least three ways we can interpret verse 13. If we are faithless he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. It could mean even if we are faithless, we fail, we struggle, we wander, yet He will be faithful, He cannot deny himself, his name is upon us, and He will save us still, even if we have a period of wandering away. That’s one interpretation. A second. He can say, if we are faithless, he remains faithful, that is faithful to punish us because he cannot deny himself and his own character, and justice. And so there it’s a word of warning. Or a third explanation, which can in some ways go with either of the first two is to say, the faithful there is that God is faithful to His promises. And you could argue that even when we make shipwreck of the faith, he is nevertheless still faithful. So we do not nullify his faithfulness, if we prove to be faithless, you can find commentators for any of those interpretations. I would submit to you the third, He is faithful to His promises, even if we are faithless and do not remain with him. Not talking about Born Again Christians becoming unjustified. But talking about those, the seed that grows up and then withers those who have some covenant connections, and do not remain. Why do I say that? Because the context in the pastoral epistles is about deserters. We get to chapter four, we’ll see that all all sorts of people have left Paul. So he’s has in his his mindset, people who are with him who didn’t stay with him. And then also, it makes more sense to me. You have these four stanzas that you have stanza one and two are positive statements. We die and then we live we endure and then we rain. And then statements three and four are negative warning statements. If you deny him, he’ll deny you. If you’re faithless, he’ll be faith full to His promises, but you’re not going to remain. That makes more sense to go positive, positive, negative, negative, instead of positive, positive and oops, here’s the negative warning, then we’re back to the positive again. So I take verse 13, to be something along the lines of Romans three, three and four. Paul says, What if some were unfaithful? He’s talking about Israel, does their faith lessness nullify the faithfulness of God by no means? Let God be true, though everyone were a liar as it is written that you may be justified in your words and prevail when you are judged. So the point he was making there in Romans about Israel, for fitting their inheritance. And how that did not make a God a liar, I think is the same point here. Interestingly, in my study, I found that most of the newer commentaries take the positive view of this verse that it’s a promise that even if we’re faithless, God will overcome that and He will be faithful to save us. Whereas the older commentaries, I read, Jameson foster Brown, Matthew Henry, John Calvin, Chris Austin, they all took the harder negative view and made the same point that God is not maligned by our unbelief. The point, however, we take verse 13, remains substantially the same in that this stanza gives us both reason for encouragement and reason for warning, all of which are driving us to the conclusion that we must be strengthened, strengthened because of Christ’s work strengthened because of his word and then strengthened because of his character, his character that is with us and sufficient to reward us and to give us victory and his character that will not turn a blind eye to sin, and abandonment. Let me finish then in these last two minutes with four quick points of application, number one. As we are strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus number one, Let us count the cost of discipleship led us contrary to some methods and a relatively narrow door to get in, not narrower than the Word of God would have it. But there’s a process to get in. And it’s easy to get out. Some churches make it incredibly easy to get in. And it’s like the Hotel California you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave your your there’s Baptist churches and Presbyterian churches all across the south with 5000 members and 500 people on Sunday. We need to teach our people the cost of discipleship second apostasy is real. I believe in the preservation of the saints with all my heart. I also believe in taking the Scripture at face value that there are people who make some kind of profession and they later make shipwreck of the faith. No matter how many times they raise their hand or how many centers prayers they prayed or how many times they threw the pine cone into the fire at summer camp. The question isn’t simply how far along you are in the race or even how fast you are moving but are you still running and when you finish? See we need those warnings. The warnings are what caused the elect to persevere in those who are not truly born again. They hear warnings and they think I’m never gonna happen in the election here and you say, Oh, God, keep me faithful, keep me in the love of God. Third endurance as a team sport. This confession here in verse 1112, and 13. Notice it’s with a we it’s something they would have likely said or sung or recited. It’s not simply me and Jesus what I can do but we together. Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of sunbird encouraging one another in all the more as you see the day drawing near. And then finally, for fourth application is to bring us back full circle. We need both halves of verse one. We need grace. And we need strength. We need grace not simply because we’re all failures. And we need strength not because we’re also strong and mighty. But rather we can be strong because of grace and by grace we must be strong. The warnings in this passage are real, the work is real. And the Savior is real, to be strong. He says and know that God is stronger still. Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, you give thanks for your innumerable blessings in Christ, that we may be seated with Him in the heavenly places. Would you now by your Spirit preach to these people a better sermon than the one that I’ve just preached? That for some you might cause us to sit up straight and perhaps be alarmed at how lackadaisical and lazy we become and for others to give us a confidence and an assurance that may have been waning. Oh how we need your strength Oh Oh how we need your grace oh how we need Christ we pray in His name amen