"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Friday, July 22, 2022

CROSSING The T’s STUDY: 2 TIMOTHY – Biblical Precepts & Principles for Pastoral ministry: CHAPTER TWO – PART 1 of 2

INTRODUCTION: The LORD seldom works quickly in spiritual matters unless it serves His purpose to do so. He prefers to use the slow, steady process in our spiritual development which requires patience on our part.
We’ll learn about this in this chapter.

We’ll also examine the supposed contrast between Christ’s Gospel and Paul’s – there are those who would argue that the apostle altered the Gospel from the original message as preached by the LORD Jesus, but as we shall see, this is not the case.

Among other topics we’ll address discipleship and our relationship with the Scriptures.

Let’s begin then with the study!

1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus

Here the apostle admonishes Timothy regarding grace in the same way that he encouraged the church of Ephesus regarding the LORD (which Timothy pastored by the way!): “be strong”! But this is more than mere admonition, more than encouragement – it’s a command from the LORD, just as He issued to general Joshua before the battle of Jericho!

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

JOSHUA 1:5-9
5 "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

This admonition to “be strong in grace that is in Christ Jesus” – how can one appropriate something that is unmerited like the very grace of GOD? The LORD Jesus Christ gave Himself unreservedly to us His bride, and all spiritual blessings that we claim are found already in Christ.

This is why the apostle could tell Timothy to be strong in grace and the church at Ephesus to be strong in the LORD, because we find all the grace of GOD in the Person of Jesus Christ. Essentially, to be strong in grace is to be strong in the LORD.

This begs the question then, How does one become strong in the LORD?

Firstly by recognizing that this strength is not in ourselves but solely in Christ, and that we confess our weakness to GOD (2 COR 12:10).

Secondly, by giving ourselves unreservedly to JESUS in the exact same way as He has given Himself to us!
The more we yield to Christ and allow Him to live His life through us, the more we die to self and to sin (ROM 6), the more ably the Spirit of GOD can work through us – and for us – enabling us to be strong (EPH 3:16-17).

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also

The authentic spiritual authority of the apostle Paul testifies of that which is GOD given to all of His apostles – that when they were moved by the Holy Spirit and prophesied (1 PET 1:21; in the specific sense of declaring the Word of GOD) – their word is as binding as the very words that issued from the lips of the LORD Jesus Christ, because any who truly prophesies does so by the Spirit of the LORD (JOEL 2:28; ACTS 2:18).

These things that Timothy heard from Paul were to be committed to faithful men who will be able to teach (these things) to others.
The apostle Peter stated that Paul’s writings are inspired Scripture, equal to “…the other Scriptures…” of the Old Testament (2 PET 3:16).

Teaching the Word has never been as important as it is today, as we are living in the darkest time in centuries – and they’ll be getting darker; yet we see that as never before the teaching of the Word is being abandoned for feel-good, pop psychology and worldly philosophy that are all opposed to and intolerant of biblically doctrine (2 TIM 4:3). Many are falling away from “the faith” that is, the body of doctrinal truth that are Holy Scripture (1 TIM 4:1) and attending to doctrines of demons, being seduced by evil spirits.

Yet teaching the Word is not enough; there must be a practice of the Word as well; but even this is not enough!
The Word tells us to love others more than ourselves, to self-sacrificing ministry, to give to the poor as they have need, to grow in the faith and knowledge and wisdom of the Word. Yet if we do all of these things and have no love – then it’s useless!
1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
On the day of the Bema Seat judgment, we will be judged not so much for what we do, but for why we do it – what motivated us to serve GOD? To gain a place of prominence in the church? To make a name for ourselves? To display our eloquence and intelligent exposition to be admired by others?

Or is it simply a humble love that motivates us to serve GOD? A sense of deep, lasting, profound gratitude to the LORD Jesus for what He has done for us? So, may we read the Word, study it, obey it, and love it as we love the WORD made flesh, the LORD Jesus Christ! In everything we do, let us glorify GOD Who alone is worthy, and declare of ourselves, “we are unprofitable servants who have only done our duty [with a heart of love for our LORD]”.

Next, Paul the apostle presents three analogies: that of the soldier, and the athlete, and the farmer:

2 TIMOTHY 2:3-4
3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier

I remember the TV show M*A*S*H* - and the characters of Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce and BJ Hunnicutt – army surgeons that were anything but Army! No discipline whatsoever, and their bunk tent showed it!
They routinely lay in lawn chairs under umbrellas, with glasses of iced tea in their hands, donning straw hats and sunglasses.

Though they had to deal with the harsh realities of war in Korea, they strove to obtain all the comforts of home. Yet true soldiers rid themselves of everything that will obstruct them in carrying out their military duties.

True soldiers aren’t interested in comfort, but combat; nor are they motivated by personal gain, but in commendation their commanding officer!

Check out Paul Washer’s 4 minute admonition, 

Soldiers are trained with the ingrained ability to endure horrific circumstances that they encounter on the battlefield; and yet even here, there are such horrors that no training will prepare a human being for.
But endurance in training, in combat duty, in following orders that are undesirable is an essential quality for soldiers.

In my youth I wanted to join the military (the Marines – I heard that’s where the psychos go! And I resemble that remark… j/k), but I was classified as 4-F, incapable of military duty.
But when I came to Jesus Christ for salvation, I learned sometime thereafter that I am not just a member of the church, the body of Christ, but also enlisted in the LORD’s army to engage in spiritual warfare against the kingdom of darkness!

The Christian warrior, being recruited by our GOD is trained, prepared, conditioned – stripping him of anything extraneous or superficial so that he isn’t entangled “with the affairs of this life”.

As soldiers, our orders from our heavenly headquarters are not an option – we don’t pick and choose the orders we like and dismiss those we don’t. We follow the chain of command that comes down to us from the Captain of our Salvation!

No saint can hear the command of their LORD and reply with, “No, LORD”. This is at least in part, what it means to “lay down our lives for the brethren”. If I can promote the kingdom of GOD, if I can provide for my brothers and sisters in Christ, if I can glorify the Name of JESUS by denying and dying to self, I am obligated as a soldier of Jesus Christ to do so, and without question.

We march resolutely in the charge, led by our LORD Who Himself died for our sins, even if it means our own deaths in doing so. This thought reminds me of the old poem, Charge of the Light Brigade.

We have the greatest of armor, the most powerful of weapons, the best weapons master to train us, the wisest and cunning General, the assured promise that we are “more than conquerors” (ROM 8:37); we are indeed KNYHTS In His Majesty’s Sacred Service! Now we move to the next analogy:

2 TIMOTHY 2:5-7
5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

Athletes are disciplined much in the way that soldiers are: they want to hone their physical strength and skills to a level of supremacy that will ensure them victory, whether in the games or in battle.
Athletes are committed to their training and will often have to turn down social engagements and fun times so that they may increase their athletic abilities. They are careful about what they put into their bodies: they want the highest quality of food in order to build up their bodies and careful to exclude anything that will harm their bodies or diminish their abilities.

In the same way, we are to “agonize” that is “strive for masteries” in attaining to all the spiritual power (and life which is preceded by death) that GOD wants for us, just as athletes strive for power and ability:
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
A lot of the practices of athletes are repetitious; so much so, that they become monotonous, even boring. But they are willing to endure such things because they have their “eyes on the prize”. They are willing to go through whatever is necessary in order to obtain the reward that’s set before them:
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
As spiritual athletes we want to consume the Word of GOD, the best spiritual nutrition that there is!
We want to exercise ourselves in godliness (1 TIM 4:7). Just as an athlete will engage in resistance training, we are to resist the god of this world (2 COR 4:4; 1 PET 5:9) ungodliness, resist the appetites of sinful flesh (ROM 6:6-11). Lifting weights is a stress against the law of gravity that wants to pull that iron down. Likewise we resist the pull of this world system of sin and instead, lift upwards – our hearts, our very lives to the LORD and seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 PET 3:18).

Lastly, no athlete can expect to win the prize if they don’t follow the rules.
In the same sense, we saints are committed to doing things GOD’s Way, according to His Word. Anything else would receive a disqualification, and no award at the conclusion of the event. The Bema Seat Judgment is not a judgment against sin like the Great White Throne will be – where people whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are condemned – but rather, a judgment seat for rewards (1 COR 3:11-15):
9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Then there is the farmer analogy that Paul employs:

“The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops.”

Farming is grueling, laborious, work that requires constant vigilance and maintenance; for all of their hard work, it’s only fitting that they should partake of the fruits of their labors first.
So much goes into farming, even before one sows the seed. There is the preparation of the land itself, which is actually quite the long process that includes fertilization. Then the seed and proper irrigation must be utilized; ensuring the protection of the crops from wildlife as well as various kinds of weeds.

Any number of factors will reduce the crop yield, but it’s always the desire for the farmer to reap the best crop that he can, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

In the same way, the Father is glorified when we bear much fruit (JN 15:8), while the enemy seeks to steal the seed of the Word from our lives; then there is our own heart to consider that can readily impede the progressive of production or even halt it altogether.
In such a fruitless state, the LORD must step in and make corrections (JN 15:2) so that we are once again enabled in fruit-bearing.

There are no exceptions to those that bear no fruit at all; they are thrown into the fire and burned. What qualifies as fruit?
There is the fruit acceptable in repentance (from sin; MT 3:8).
There is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (GAL 5:22-23).
Fruit can also be seen as the propagation of the same kind (apple trees produce more apples, whose seeds produce more apples), or in other words, bringing others to salvation (PS 126:6; DAN 12:3; MT 13:23).

An old term for farmer is husbandman, who is involved in the husbandry of the land. In this sense, our husband Who is Christ is intent on making our hearts prepared in goodly fashion for the reception of His seed that blossoms in us new life, bringing forth fruit that is “of a kind” with the nature of Christ. We can’t ask for a better husband Who tends to our cultivation to bring about the maximum blessing and fruitfulness!

In all three instances: the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer, there is a required patience and preparation that is absolutely necessary if they are to ever achieve their goals! The soldier understands upon enlisting and entering into boot camp that he won’t be ready the next day to enter the battlefield!
The athlete likewise takes it as granted that after their first work out, they still aren’t ready to enter into the Olympics!
The farmer realizes he’s not going to be harvesting immediately after sowing the seed in his fields!

All of them have the understanding that their endeavors are going to take time, and that such time is well spent because their goals are worthy ones!

How much more so are we as saints in need of patience:
HEBREWS 10:35-36
35 So do not give up your hope which will be greatly rewarded. 36 For, having done what was right in God's eyes, you have need of waiting before his word has effect for you (1 THESS 2:13).
And preparation for the time ahead in abundant fruit-bearing:
HOSEA 10:12
Put in the seed of righteousness, get in your grain in mercy, let your unplowed earth be turned up: for it is time to make search for the Lord, till he comes and sends righteousness on you like rain.
8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel

The validation of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel begins with His being a descendent of Abraham and also of David, but it doesn’t stop there! There are over three hundred prophecies regarding the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled precisely, including His resurrection!

I don’t think I’ve overlooked any other candidates for the Messiah who have also risen from the dead (?). Sarcasm isn’t a natural gift for me, but I work at it!
The fact that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem with hails of “Hosanna to the Son of David” to the exact day that it was prophesied that the Messiah would ride into the holy city, riding on a donkey and her colt is one that none other fulfilled or could have! The Messiah’s arrival had to occur 173,880 days after the edict went forth from Artaxerxes to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.

Paul said that the resurrection of Jesus the Christ happened according to “his gospel”.

That particular phrase feeds into the notion of some who believe that Paul essentially ‘hijacked’ the gospel from the LORD’s original intent and made it his own. Many believe that Paul originated Christianity and not Christ Himself.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ specifically chose Paul who was at that time, Saul of Tarsus (ACTS 9); the LORD was the One Who taught him directly, as Paul witnessed the resurrected Christ (GAL 1:11-17); the apostle Peter verified that Paul’s apostleship was authentic (2 PET 3:15-16). For more on this, see the following brief article by Don Stewart.

When the LORD came, He came first to the House of Israel, to declare “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (MATT 10:6; 4:23; 9:35) – which kingdom would that be? We this learn later in:
ACTS 1:6
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
Note what they said, “…at this time…”.

They had every reason to believe that with the arrival of the Messiah-King of Israel, that the kingdom itself would be inaugurated, but it didn’t happen for the three and a half years of the LORD’s earthly ministry; then He was crucified, and the hopes of the apostles to witness the arrival of the kingdom were buried with Him.

Yet after the resurrection, they ask Him, “Is it now?”

The teachings of Christ measured up to this expectation in many respects. The kingdom of Israel would be governed by the Law of GOD, and to this, the LORD testified (MATT 5:18). So the Gospel during the ministry of Christ was focused on Israel and the Jewish people.

Then ACTS 10 happened, when the LORD directed Peter to go see Cornelius the Roman Centurion and suddenly Gentiles were saved and filled with the Spirit! All without any involvement with Judaism or the Law.

The baton gets passed from Peter to Paul, who then becomes the minister to the uncircumcised just as Peter ministered to the circumcised (GAL 2:7). Paul identified himself as the apostle and teacher to the Gentiles (ROM 11:13; 1 TIM 2:7; 2 TIM 1:11).

It was determined at the Council of Jerusalem (ACTS 15) that the Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised or follow the Law of Moses, and this decision was one that the Holy Spirit Himself ratified (ACTS 15:28). I love how Peter inverses the relationship of the Jews and Gentiles towards GOD!
It was always assumed that if a Gentile wanted to be saved, he would be converted to Judaism and follow the Law of Moses. Yet Peter states emphatically something of the reverse!
ACTS 15:11
But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we [Jews] shall be saved in the same manner as they [Gentiles].
Paul’s ownership of the Gospel is in the sense that he was firstly a recipient of the Gospel of which he was never ashamed (ROM 1:16); that he was commissioned to preach this Gospel by no other apostle, but by The Apostle, the LORD Jesus Christ (1 COR 9:17)! Also that the Gospel of grace, rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom (of Israel) was placed in his stewardship with the intent of preaching among the Gentiles (GAL 2:2; EPH 3:8; ACTS 22:21).

2 TIMOTHY 2:9-10
9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

What a world of darkness we live in, when a preacher of righteousness, heralder of the coming King, an apostle of the grace of GOD, an evangelist of the Gospel should be called “an evildoer” – only the evil could make such a statement! Yet while they bound Paul in chains, that didn’t, nor could it stop the Gospel!

And besides the which, it was during Paul’s imprisonment that he wrote all of what we call “the prison epistles” – those being Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. And of course, we have the very last epistle that Paul wrote before his execution, the very one we have before us now.

Again, the idea of endurance is brought up; as with the soldier, the athlete, the farmer, so too with the apostle, or pastor, teacher, evangelist. We do indeed, Count Them Happy Who Endure! For they shall see the eternal glory in Christ Jesus! Paul calls on all the saints to likewise endure:

2 TIMOTHY 2:11-13
11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

All saints have indeed died to self, to sin, to Satan’s wicked world if we have bowed before the LORD Jesus Christ and received Him as LORD and Savior. Why then do we still feel temptation towards sin?

We are being trained to walk in truth by faith, not walk according to feelings (2 COR 5:7). Though we may feel the lure of temptation in our flesh, we disregard those compulsions and consider ourselves dead to them (ROM 6) and let the Spirit of GOD dominate us in sweet surrender, that through the grace of GOD we procure the help we need in such times of temptation (HEB 4:16).

Anyone foolish enough to deny Jesus as LORD and Savior will themselves be denied by the Author of Life, the eternal LORD of glory, and honor and power, and wisdom and strength (MK 8:38)!

There are times when even we saints fall into sin and are proven faithless in any given and particular situation. However, He remains faithful and just to forgive us as we confess our sins, cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 JOHN 1:9) and also to complete His work that He Himself began in us (PHIL 1:6)!

So ends Part One of Chapter Two – we’ll pick up in vs. 14 in Part Two!

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