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No Regrets

No Regrets (2 Timothy 4:5-6)

No Regrets (2 Timothy 4:5-6)
By Dr. Andy Woods

Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 4, maybe today as time permits looking at through verses 5-7, maybe verse 8; probably not verse 8. So for the sake of time, you guys in the sound booth I’m just going to go ahead and bypass my lengthy introduction. I can do the Reader’s Digest version of the introduction. The Reader’s Digest version is don’t quit. All right, let’s close in prayer. [Laughter]

The book of 2 Timothy is not really a book about is Timothy a Christian, is he not a Christian, Paul is very clear that he is a believer. In fact, back in verse 5 of chapter 1 he mentions Lois and Eunice, his grandmother and his mother and he talks about their faith. And then he says of Timothy I’m sure that it is in you as well, this faith. So there isn’t, going back to chapter 4 now, there isn’t really any ambiguity about whether Timothy is going to heaven; the doubt is, is he going to finish his job that God gave him while he’s here on the earth.

And that really is the great choice of our lives; God has placed us all in different positions; He’s called us to do different things. We all have unique callings from Him. The issue is are we going to press into His design for our lives and become what He’s called us to become “in Him” this side of the grave, this side of eternity.

And so this is really a lengthy section that we find ourselves in which is an explanation of what Timothy is to focus on in difficult times, perilous times. It’s the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Paul has laid out eight reasons why he is to continue on with his ministry of studying and proclaim the Scripture as the pastor over the church at Ephesus. And we now arrive at the ninth reason. It is necessary for Timothy to continue to preach and teach the Word of God in order for Timothy to complete his ministry. And that’s the tenor there of verses 5-8.

So we have a charge, verse 5; a reason for the charge, verse 6, and then he begins to talk about a reward; Timothy, there’s a reward in it for your faithfulness. God doesn’t grant rewards to be saved, which is by faith alone by grace alone, but there are rewards given or not given to believers in the next life for those believers that endure in their calling in spite of great difficulty.

Notice, first of all the charge that Paul gives to Timothy. He says there in verse 5, “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Notice this explanation here, “But you.” “But you” is a contrast at the beginning of verse 5 in comparison to what preceded it in verse 4 and in verse 3. Do you remember what verses 4 and 3 were about? Maybe not, I haven’t been here for a week or so, thank you to Gabe; by the way, that did such a great job last week filling in. But if you dial back in your memory, a couple of Sundays ago we talked about these verses here, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, [4] and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

It’s a frightening prediction about the state of the church just as the age of the church is ready to end. The church itself, God’s blood-bought saints themselves, will begin to lose their appetite for sound doctrine. Instead they will be interested in teachers that tell them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear, and they’ll become infatuated, not with biblical truth, but with speculative myths. So Timothy, in contrast to those who are rejecting sound doctrine as all of this is going on you are to continue on in sound doctrine. So the “But you” there is a contrast with Timothy’s life and how it’s to be in comparison to the masses and what they are interested in.

And then you’ll notice in this charge he gives here four imperatives. An imperative is a mood in Greek and it basically refers to a command. And what you’ll discover there in verse 5 are four commands. These are not suggestions, it’s not try this on and see if it works, these are direct commands from the apostle to Timothy related to what he is to focus on in the ministry.

You have the command “be,” the command “endure,” the command “do,” and the command “fulfill.” Let’s take a look at these one by one. Notice first of all this command “be.” There it is in verse 5, “But you, be,” that’s the verb, “sober in all things,” sobriety. What does that mean? Well, it means cool headed, wide awake, under self-control, because you’re living in the mass of a group of people that will not have those characteristics and those tendencies.

In fact, going back to 2 Timothy 3 the characteristics of people in the last days, they would be “lovers of self,” they would become “brutal” and they would be people lacking in self-control. (2 Timothy 3:2, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, [3] unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good.”)

It’s amazing some of the things that are being triggered today in our society related to mob violence and people just willing to riot so fast over disagreements about this, that or the other. That’s the characteristic of the last days. We, as God’s people, are not rioters, we are people that function under sobriety, functioning under self-control. It’s interesting here, he says, be sober in some things…. Oh, I’m sorry, it doesn’t say that. It says “be sober in all things.” Think of all of the things that challenge us and get us away from a clear God-filled mind: materialism, where we spend our lives pursuing things thinking that that is somehow going to make us happy. Out of control emotions, allowing our emotional moods to dictate to us rather than reigning and governing our emotions under God. Sexual impulses, wanting to cast aside God’s standard for sexuality and instead gratify ourselves in any number of ways.

I think one of the things that is a struggle for a young person, like Timothy, was the desire that he had to be popular. It would be so easy for Timothy, backing up just a minute here, accommodating this crowd, verses 3-4, telling people what they wanted to hear rather than what they needed to hear just for the sake of fitting in; just for the sake of being liked, just for the sake of being popular.

And yet the Bible never calls us to be popular, it calls us to be faithful. And it’s almost as if in these last days we’re having to make a choice, do I want to be popular or do I want to be faithful? Do I want to hear the accolades of man or do I want to hear the accolades of God? He’s putting this right into Timothy’s lap and he’s saying you make the call.

So “be sober in all things.” I have to admit I was up a little late last night working on this and kind of grumbling that I wasn’t getting the sleep that I thought I needed until I read these words here, verse 5, “endure hardship.” Wow, talk about being slapped in the face there. Whoever told us that this job of living for Christ, doing the work of ministry, was somehow going to be easy? Certainly God provides His grace and His strength to help us but nowhere is it ever told that the Christian life or the Christian walk is somehow a stroll through the roses, or the rose garden. In fact, we learned back in 2 Timothy 3:12, “all who desire” is that your desire, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” It’s a promise from God.

And I like how our Lord sort of concludes towards the end there of His Upper Room Discourse. It’s just a wonderful section of the Bible, chapters 13-17, where He is ministering to these eleven, knowing what they are going to endure on his account, shaping them and molding them with seed truths because they are going to become the writers of Scripture and the foundations of the early church. How does he wrap up that discourse? He says at the very end of chapter 16, these [16:33] “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.” Do you have peace today? Do you have peace with God? Is there an inner tranquility inside of you despite what you may be going through? I write these things to you so that “you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation,” I love how the Bible is not a cheap salesman that never tells us about the down side of something until we’ve already bought into it. The Bible just tells us right out of the gate, “in the world,” it’s a promise, “you will have tribulation,” but I love how the verse doesn’t end there, Jesus says, “but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Translation: you’re on the winning side of history.

You’re a victor. You say I don’t look like a victor, I don’t feel like a victor. Feelings really have very little to do with it because you are connected to the One who overcomes you, by definition, become an overcomer, or on the winning side of history. I’m teaching a Sunday School class, if you come to the first hour you can catch some of that, on eternal security and one of the illustrations I used this morning was my favorite athletic team in the 80’s, I would sit on the edge of my seat fearful and worried, is my team going to pull it out, watching the see-saw of a basketball game. And then I remember leaving the arena and watching the same game, by the way, my team did win, watching the same game on television through tape delay and this time I was no longer sitting on the edge of my seat, I was no longer worrying because I knew who was going to win.

And you see, the Bible tells us already that we’re winners. Read the last book, you’ll see it. How do you sum up the book of Revelation? Two words: we win! First of all He wins and because we’re connected to Him we win. So therefore we don’t have to sit on the edge of our seat fearful, worried, is God somehow going to pull this off, what’s going to happen here, what’s going to happen there? These are just details that God is working out.

So “In the world you will have tribulation,” yes, but take heart, here’s your divine perspective on tribulation, Jesus says, “I have overcome the world.” So “be sober” and “endure hardship.” Notice this third imperative, “do,” do something, notice what he says here, “be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist.”

My professor in soteriology, called the doctrine of salvation, Dr. Robert Lightner, told us one time in class, he said the weakness of Dallas Seminary graduates, and I am a Dallas Seminary graduate, I graduated twice from there, they let me in twice and then more importantly they let me out twice so I’m happy about that. But he said the weakness of this school is we train people to be expository preachers and teachers, which we have a tendency to excel at but we focus on expositional teaching so much that we leave out the gospel. We, for whatever reason, don’t share the gospel with people that come to our churches to listen to the Bible be taught. We aim all of our messages at the believer. And there’s, of course, a good place to aim our message at the believer since the job of the pastor is to equip the believer, but what about the lost person? What about the person that has never come to Christ, doesn’t know the path to God or the way of salvation?

And the thing that Dr. Lightner was trying to get across to us, he says don’t become so focused on expositional teaching that you forget that there might be people in your midst that don’t know how to get saved. So that raised the question, Dr. Lightner, how do you share the gospel? And he just said three simple things and these are things which have always stuck with me, these are things that you could use, these all begin with the letter “S.”

Number 1, say something about sin. Say something about the fact that we are alienated from God because of sin. We are under the judgment of God because of sin. Number 2, the second “S,” say something about the Savior. Get across to people that when Jesus died on the cross He died on that cross with them in mind. It wasn’t just a generic death for the world, although that is true, but communicate to people that when Jesus died on that cross and then rose from the dead He was thinking about them as an individual; the work of the Savior. And then number 3, the third “S,” say something about salvation. Say something about how a person who is lost and dead in their trespasses and sins can have that relationship with God brought to their doorstep, how they can be brought into a relationship with God who both created and redeemed them, by faith alone in Christ alone. Faith meaning belief, trust, confidence, reliance, dependence, communicate to people that it’s not themselves and their denominationalism and their ritualism and their religiosity which saves them, it is the work of the Savior and they have exercised volition in trusting in that.

It’s pretty simple, isn’t it. Something about sin, something about the Savior, something about salvation. Try that this week as the Lord brings conversations along your way and you’re not quite sure how to get across the gospel to people, just focus on those three “s-s-s” and watch what the Lord can do with something as simple as that.

Don’t, in other words, Timothy, become so preoccupied with the teaching of the Word of God, which by the way Paul tells Timothy to focus on, we saw in chapter 3 and chapter 4, that you forget to do the work of an evangelist. An evangelist is something that I would analogize to as an obstetrician; you know being an obstetrician and being a pediatrician are two different disciplines. As a matter of fact I’ve never met a pediatrician that’s also an obstetrician, and vice versa. An obstetrician helps with the birthing process; that’s evangelism. A pediatrician helps the newborn child to mature correctly, to grow correctly, to make sure that child is having the proper nutrients, vitamins, enough sleep at night, those types of issues.

Timothy, you need to be an obstetrician, you need to lead people to Christ; a pediatrician, you need to help them grow. It’s so interesting how we’re either in our churches doing one or the other. I ran into some people when I was there on the East Coast this last weekend in Connecticut that said you know, every sermon we hear in our church is the gospel, I’ve been saved for 20 years, I don’t know how to grow, I don’t know how to develop, I don’t know how to mature.

But on the other end of the stick you have churches, and Sugar Land Bible Church probably runs the risk of being more in this latter category, that we become so focused on the Word of God and training the saints we become sort of like a holy huddle, an “us four and no more” mentality that we forget the fact that the world out there, your next door neighbor, the person sitting in the cubicle or office next to you is on their way to hell. So let’s lead people to Christ, let’s help them grow in Christ, but let’s not forget to do the work of an evangelist, to bring forth that gospel to people. Doing the work of a pastor-teacher is far easier for me than doing the work of an evangelist. The reason is because I’m really not gifted as an evangelist. It’s one of the spiritual gifts I wish I had but God, according to the book of Hebrews gives the spiritual gifts according to His will.

There are people in this world that can lead people to Christ just like that; I would put the former Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade, in that category. How he could get into an elevator with somebody on the first floor and by the time he hit the second floor the gospel was shared, the person was saved. I mean, not everybody can do that, that’s a gift. We would think of people like Greg Laurie, Billy Graham, these types of people that have a tremendous spiritual gift of evangelism. And so many times I say to myself, well, I don’t need to do the work of an evangelist because God hasn’t made me an evangelist. But you’ll notice here he never says you don’t have to do it because you don’t have the gift, or you have to do it if you do have the gift. He just says do it! The gospel is true regardless of whether you’re gifted at it or not.

So this is a tremendous balancing statement here. You’ll notice that the evangelist’s work is just that, work; ergon is the Greek word for work, “do the work of an evangelist.” Isn’t it interesting that we are not saved by works but getting the gospel to people is work. Why is it work? Well, to a very large extent a lot of people don’t want to hear the gospel because they know that if they hear the gospel and respond to it that they’ve been thinking wrong about their relationship with God, maybe their whole lives.

The gospel, communicating it clearly is work; keeping it clear, keeping it uncluttered with a bunch of excess verbiage that’s handed down to us through human tradition, instead of focusing on the single condition the lost sinner must satisfy to enter into a relationship with God, faith alone! Keeping all that jargon out of the gospel, so that it stays the gospel is a perpetual uphill fight, partly because humans in their pride, we in our pride want, to insert conditions because that gives us, we think, some kind of bragging rights, forgetting Ephesians 2:8-9, which says no man who receives the gospel shall boast. Romans 3:27 talks about how the gospel itself excludes the principle of boasting, or bragging. (Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; [9] not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Romans 3:27, “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.”)

So communicating the gospel, keeping the gospel clear is nothing short of perpetual labor and work, as someone has said the gospel is free but somebody has to put in the plumbing. Someone has to put the effort and energy out there to study it and communicate it correctly. And what an opportunity we’re going to have just this week, at Vacation Bible School, as children, some coming to our church, some that don’t come to our church are going to hear over and over again the clear gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’d encourage you to pray this week for vacation Bible school. I don’t know what it is about vacation Bible school but God uses vacation Bible school in a special way. There are countless people I know that got saved through DVBS, maybe they’re not hearing the gospel at all in their family, maybe they’re not hearing the it at all amongst their friends, they’re probably not getting it at the public schools, I would guess, but they’re coming here to hear it this week.

And there are different creative ways to communicate the gospel to these young minds. And beyond that, I would encourage you to think about, very carefully, children’s ministry in this church. One of the perpetual problems we have, and most churches have is there’s a constant shortage of workers to really get behind the children’s ministry and teach children for a quarter. You say well, wait a minute, I don’t know how those kids are going to act. Well let me let you in on something, they’re going to act just the way you acted when you were their age.

And a lot of people are kind of waiting for a voice from God to speak to them. So are you ready…CHILDREN’S MINISTRIES, SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH. Did you guys hear that? The voice of God. But it’s just a neat thing to do, to give yourself to, to transfer truth to somebody that many have never heard it and needs to hear it from you. “Do the work of an evangelist.” Don’t be like the Dead Sea but be like the Sea of Galilee. Why is the Dead Sea dead? Because everything in it is dead, right? Because of its high salt and mineral content, because water comes in but it never flows out so everything in the Dead Sea dies.

How different the Sea of Galilee, which is alive, teaming with life and fish. Why is the Dead Sea dead and the Sea of Galilee alive? Because if you study the Sea of Galilee you’ll see that water comes in and water goes out. What are we like when we just horde and gorge and yet there’s no output or outflow? We die spiritually. And many times we’re dead spiritually because we don’t have an outflow for the things that God is showing us through sermons and Bible studies and listening and reading and things like that. Pray about this, pray about becoming that “Sea of Galilee” so that there may be life to our souls.

Be, endure, do, and notice this fourth imperative here, “fulfill.” Looking again at verse 5, “…fulfill your ministry.” That’s the Greek word plēroō, it means to complete your task, to complete, in this case your assignment. And you’ll notice the word “service,” which is a translation of the word ministry, it’s the word diakonia, where we get the word deacon. And you just saw this morning at the communion table some of our deacons. What are deacons? They are servants, and yet we’re all called to be servants. Timothy, you’re a servant and you need to fulfill your service. You need to fulfill what God has called you to do.

One of the verses that jumped out to me this week is Acts 13:36, Paul there in the synagogue in Antioch, Pisidian Antioch, is reviewing Israel’s history and he says this in Acts 13:36, it just kind of jumped off the page at me this week, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay.” When did David die? After he had fulfilled his purpose the Bible says. After he had fulfilled his assignment. You say well, wait a minute pastor, I’m not perfect, I’ve made some mistakes, there’s no way I could fulfill my purpose. Well, did you catch who this was written about? David. Was David perfect? Study his life; you’ll find David in his life violated three of the Ten Commandments of God, not the little ones, if there are little ones, but the big ones, like murder, adultery and then lying to cover it up. And yet David came clean with God; it was a process that lasted several months; he was confronted and rebuked by Nathan, a spokesman for God, but David came back to God and what did God do with the rest of David’s life? It’s like the book of Job, he prospered the latter end of his life more than the front end.

So this mentality that we have that we can never fulfill our assignments in God because there’s some kind of nagging pattern or sin or disobedience in our past, nothing could be further from the truth. And I’m not marginalizing sin, there’s always consequences we pay for sin. But God is so great that he can get you back on track and fulfill His calling in our lives, just like He did David.

But isn’t it a guarantee that we will all fulfill our purpose? If that were true why write this book? It is a guarantee that if you’re in Christ you will arrive in heaven. But is it a guarantee that you will fulfill your purpose? No it is not a guarantee. This is what Jesus said to the church at Sardis, the dead church, “The Dead Sea Church” as I like to call it. “Wake up and strengthen the things that remain, which are about to die,” then he says this, end of verse 2 of chapter 3 of the book of Revelation, “for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.” He’s not saying your salvation is in jeopardy, he’s saying your earthly life never, and up to this point in time has never become my vision for it.

You know, there’s an interesting scene there in the eternal state, in the book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22 where it says that He will wipe every tear away from their eyes. (Revelation 21:4, “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”) Have you ever asked yourself the question, why would there be tears to begin with in heaven? Why would tears need to be wiped away to begin with, aren’t they in heaven where tears are gone? What are the tears doing there? Why would there be tears amongst the people of God?

The Bible doesn’t say but I can give a guess. My guess is this: there’s regrets, I don’t think that regret is eternal or lasting because those tears are ultimately wiped away but there is some form of regret in people as they arrive in glory and they look back and God shows them what could have been. This is what could have been! This is what I could have and would have done had you submitted under My power to My purposes. And yet arriving in that place of glory, thinking about, perhaps through an eternal perspective that God suddenly gives what could have been, what should have been but wasn’t, you can see why tears would well up in people. And why those tears themselves, even in glory, would need to be dried.

Study the Bible for yourself and you’ll discover that not everybody finishes well. Samson is in the hall of faith, Hebrews 11. (Hebrews 11:32, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.”) Study the life of Samson in the book of Judges you’ll see a man that didn’t finish well; he went to heaven just never became what he could have become in God.

In the Bible you read about a man named Moses who served God faithfully and yet never entered the Promised Land, died seeing the land of Canaan from a distance. Whereas he could have entered but he didn’t finish well in spite of many faithful things that Moses did. You’ll read in the Bible about a man named Lot, I like to ask this question: Are you a lot like Lot? Who was a believer, I know he was a believer because 2 Peter 2:7-8 tells us three times the man was saved or regenerated. (2 Peter 2:7-8, “and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men [8] for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds.”)

And yet read the story of Lot, the man did not finish well. In fact, the story of Lot ends, Genesis 19:30-38, with Lot in a state of intoxication, getting drunk with his daughters, having an incestuous relationship with them and from those unholy unions came forth the Ammonites and the Moabites, perennial enemies of Israel. Lot was saved, I am convinced of it but he did not finish well.

(Genesis 19:30-38, “Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. [31] Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. [32] ‘Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.’ [33]So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. [34] On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.’ [35]So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. [36] Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. [38] The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. [38] As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.”)

Think of the Corinthian church where in 1 Corinthians 3:15 it talks about a man there who, it says, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” He’s in heaven, praise the Lord for that, yet he smells the smoke on his garments because his life in Christ, not him, but his works were put under some kind of divine microscope and they were shown for fleshly behavior and motives that beset such a man.

And the Bible is very clear that that man suffers “loss.” That’s the word that’s used here as it’s translated in English. What does it mean to suffer loss? We have all suffered loss. You hit the delete button on your term paper at school and you suffer loss; all of that energy you put into it is gone. Or a business fails and you suffer loss. Or God forbid, you lose somebody, a daughter, a son, a father, mother, brother, sister, there’s that loss that we experience, that ache in the human heart. And in heaven there’s this loss that people have. I don’t think the loss continues on and on and on and on, I think somehow in the providence of God even those tears are dried and you, in a sense, forget the whole thing. But there is that temporal lust. And Timothy, you can avoid it by simply becoming what God has called you to become, that is the significance of the word plēroō, fulfill your ministry; complete your task, complete your assignment, complete your service unto God.

It is interesting, we won’t be getting there this week, maybe down the road a couple of weeks, we run into verse 10 of 2 Timothy 4, a man named Demas. Unlike Paul who we will see had fought the good fight, what happened to Demas, a little hint there, verse 10, “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica, has gone to Galatia.” People say well, Demas obviously wasn’t saved. I beg to differ; you study Colossians 4:14 and the book of Philemon, verse 24 you’ll run into this man named Demas, that Paul wrote about seven years earlier. A man who stood toe to toe with Paul in the work of the gospel. And yet within the seven years between those prison letters the world system had so worked on the mind of Demas that he left Paul. (2 Timothy 4:10, “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” Colossians 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.”)

Which is how the world system works on all of us, through its lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”) It works overtime on the believer’s life, seeking to alienate our affections from God and draw us away and back to the former lifestyle that we once indulged in. That’s what happened to Demas. Paul is saying to Timothy who do you want to be like, Timothy? Do you want to be like me, who can get to the end and say I fulfilled my ministry, or are you going to be like Demas? I so appreciate how the Bible does not try to whitewash some of our heroes. You know, I’ve got heroes that I look up to, you’ve got heroes you look up to and when our heroes do something wrong we have a tendency to sort of ignore that defect, pretend like that defect never happened.

Not so the Bible; it tells you the good, the bad and the ugly. Why does it do that? It’s a learning device for God’s people. These are real people in real life that simply never fulfilled their calling: be, endure, do, fulfill. What should your week be like this week? Be, endure, do, fulfill. If you make that list your priority this week you’re going to have an incredible week. If you’re tempted to lapse because of fatigue; tempted to lapse because of temptation, just remember these words: be, endure, do, fulfill.

Let me sneak in one more verse, can I do that? Verse 6, you guys don’t have any choice in the matter. Verse 6, Paul gives the reason why Timothy is to fulfill. Actually you do have a choice, you could get up and leave I guess. He says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” Why is Paul so concerned about Timothy taking the baton of truth and running with it? For the simple reason that Paul is about to die. Paul is not going to be around forever.

And this is what makes the second imprisonment so different than the first Roman imprisonment. The first Roman imprisonment is described in Acts 28:16-31, it occurs about A.D. 60-62. The second imprisonment is recorded seven years later, written in 2 Timothy, the book we’re studying. In the first imprisonment he wrote the prison letters, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians. In the second imprisonment he write the book of 2 Timothy. The first imprisonment he’s up on religious charges; one of the things Rome did not want to get into is what we would denominational hairsplitting. Judaism and Christianity were a mystery to them; they did not want to get into religious controversies, they didn’t understand religious controversies and so there’s this great optimism of Paul’s soon release for the simple reason that Rome does not want to get involved.

In the second imprisonment it’s a whole different ball of wax. Paul now is being charged politically, something Rome did understand. He’s being charged for insurrection, most likely. Why is he being charged with insurrection? Because he kept talking about the coming kingdom of God. And Rome said shut up with all of that stuff. We don’t want to hear about another kingdom, we’re Rome, we’re the kingdom. And they, through their pagan minds, misinterpreted what Paul was saying about this kingdom. So in the second imprisonment it’s a political charge; in the first imprisonment the persecution is local and sporadic; once you get to the second imprisonment it’s a whole different game now. Nero is on the throne; Nero, the madman, launched the first empire wide persecution against Christianity. Christianity had never known anything like this before.

The only persecution that Christianity had been experiencing was from unbelieving Israel, or Jews, and sporadic and local persecutions. This is different. Nero has no a formal decree against the cause of Christ. In the first imprisonment Paul was living in rented conditions, house arrest. Not so in the second imprisonment; he’s in a dungeon. First imprisonment you can read about it at the end of the book of Acts, he has many visitors and evangelistic opportunities. You get here to the end of his life, he’s all by himself, virtually alone, opportunities restricted. First imprisonment he had an optimism for soon release. Does this sound like he’s going to be getting out soon, in verse 6, “the time of my departure is at hand.”

This is why Paul is concerned about the next generation. If Timothy will not fulfill his assignment in God, Christianity stops dead in its tracks. A great ministry that impacted one generation never makes it through to the next generation. This week at DVBS we’re going to have a chance to reach the next generation. That is a unique opportunity. We’re not going to be preaching to the choir, we’re going to be talking to the next generation. We’re going to be talking to the soon men and women who will become the leaders of Christianity in America, if Christianity is to survive, which is not guaranteed. This is the mindset of Paul.

So on his departure and to describe his departure he uses two images, the first is the drink offering. He says in verse 6, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering,” what is “a drink offering”? You can read it for yourself in Leviticus 23:10-14, Numbers 15:1-10; Numbers 28:4-7.

(Leviticus 23:9, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [10] ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. [11]‘He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. [12]‘Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD. [13]‘Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. [14]‘Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.”

Numbers 15: 1-10, “The Lord said to Moses, [2] ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘After you enter the land I am giving you as a home [3] and you present to the Lord food offerings from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the Lord—whether burnt offerings or sacrifices, for special vows or freewill offerings or festival offerings—[4] then the person who brings an offering shall present to the Lord a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of olive oil. [5] With each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice, prepare a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering. [6] ‘With a ram prepare a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a third of a hin of olive oil, [7] and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Offer it as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. [8] When you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, for a special vow or a fellowship offering to the Lord, [9] bring with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with half a hin of olive oil, [10] and also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering. This will be a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. [11] Each bull or ram, each lamb or young goat, is to be prepared in this manner. [12] Do this for each one, for as many as you prepare.”

Numbers 28:4-7, “You shall offer the one lamb in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; [5] also a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil. [6] ‘It is a continual burnt offering which was ordained in Mount Sinai as a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD. [7]‘Then the drink offering with it shall be a fourth of a hin for each lamb, in the holy place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the LORD.”)

Thomas Constable describes the drink offering in Judaism, remember Paul is Jewish, as follows: “After the Jewish priest offered the lamb, the ram or the bull in his ritual he poured wine beside the altar. This was the last act in the sacrificial ceremony, all of which symbolized the dedication of the believer to God in worship. The pouring out of the wine pictured the gradual ebbing away of Paul’s life that had been a living sacrifice to God since Paul’s conversion.”

Paul uses the imagery of the drink offering one other place that I know of, Philippians 2:17, there he says, “But even if I am poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” Timothy, the ball is not in my court any more, it’s in yours. I am already being poured out as a drink offering, the final sacrifice, the ebbing away of my life is happening. My departure is imminent, it is at hand; I won’t be getting out of jail this time, so I’m building into you so that subsequent generations can hear what you have heard.

He uses a second imagery here, the departure. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come.” What is a “departure”? It is a transfer. And I don’t even like how we, as Christians, refer to the death of fellow Christians as death. We ought to say they moved. One of these days you’ll pick up the newspaper and you’ll read one of your loved ones in this church has died. Don’t believe it, they have not died, they’ve moved. “…the time of my departure has come.” (2 Timothy 4:6) You see, death for the Christian is not the end, it’s the beginning. Paul could live his whole life in Christ with having no fear of death. Beloved, if you’re afraid of death you’re living beneath your privileges. 2 Corinthians 5:8, Paul says absent from the body is to be what? At home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8, “Now we are confident and are pleased rather to be absent out of the body, and to be at home with the Lord.”)

Philippians 1:21-23, Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. [22] But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. [23] But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better.” Paul says I don’t even know what to pick, I guess if I continue on living in the body God will use me as his apostle to write Scripture and found the church and edify the church and build the church up and win people to Christ and be fruitful but you know what, Paul says, that’s a great thing but if I really had my preference in the whole thing I’d rather just check out because I don’t die, I move. I move into a place that Paul very clearly says “is very much better.”

You see as a Christian it’s a win-win. You can’t lose this one. If you’re alive God is using you, praise the Lord. If you die you move to a better place. Those are powerful images there, the drink offering, the departure. So Timothy, I want you to take your baton of truth and I want you to run your lap. And what is the Holy Spirit saying to us in the year 2016. He’s saying the exact same thing, take the baton, maybe it did not get to you in the most comfortable of circumstances but praise God, you have it in your hand, and run your lap, do your thing, complete your ministry, fulfill your calling.

I’ll close with this, one of the things my dad used to always say, he would say “Andrew,” now when he said “Andrew” I was either busted or something important was about to happen, “Christianity” he would say “is one generation away from extinction.” Think about that! If you want a biblical example look at the difference between the Joshua generation and the Judges generation. The Joshua generation, it’s innumerable the victories they had. And yet that generation was followed by the Judges generation, chronologically in the Bible, where there arose a generation that did not know the things of God nor the things that God had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10, “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.”)

If you want a real world example of it take a trip to Europe. Europe, the cradle of the Protestant Reformation, Europe, the home of beautiful Christian architecture, beautiful Christian art, massive cathedrals that once were the worship home of thousands of worshippers, and today 1% or less of Europe is Christian. In fact, the fastest growing religion in Europe today, as we all know, is not Christianity which is on the way out, it is Islam. And if you were alive during the days of Luther and Calvin and all of the things God did you would never suspect that the day would come when Europe would become a post-Christian society. And I just say that with heaviness in my heart and warning, I don’t really care what the secularists are teaching you at the public schools.

There has never been a country in the history of mankind, other than the nation of Israel itself, that has started on such a firm biblical base as the United States of America. That’s just a fact. A perfect country — no, but a biblically based country. And you look at today, you look at the youth and how little they know or understand and sometimes even care about the things of God. It’s shocking. It’s frightening the things that are happening. And yet we, here at this church have the ability in some minor way to possibly be used in the providence of God to reverse an unsettling trend. You don’t think your life matters, you don’t think you’re significant? The fact of the matter, beloved, is God wants to use us more than most of us want to be used. God wants to bless us more than most of us even want to be blessed. And let’s fulfill our purpose as we press into our design and complete our assignment in God.

If you’re here today and you don’t know Christ personally our exhortation to you is the gospel, which is good news, it’s good because Jesus did it all. He did the hard part, we’ve got the easy part, we receive it as a gift by faith alone. If it’s something you’ve never done or you’re unclear about it you can do it right now, it’s not something you have to raise a hand to do, join a church to do, walk an aisle to do, give money to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you respond by way of volition and faith to what Jesus has done. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk but it’s really a matter of privacy between you and the Lord, when you say yes to the Lord by way of faith, you stop trusting in self and you trust completely in Him and what He has done. And that, in and of itself is the only condition that’s necessary to become a child of God. I pray you’ll do that right now, even as I’m talking. If it’s something you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word of God you’ve altered your eternal destiny. Shall we pray.

Father, I ask that You would help us to be mindful of this need and warning that we have to fulfill our assignment. Give our lives vision and meaning and purpose as we seek to live for you today, this week, and even as we minister to the youth at vacation Bible School. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said…Amen.

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