************ Sermon on 2 Timothy 1:5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 8, 2013
2 Timothy 1
2 Timothy 1:5
"A Legacy of Faith"
In his last will and testament, Abraham stressed the importance of a godly wife for his son Isaac (Gen 24). In his last will and testament, Isaac passed on the covenant blessings and promises to Jacob (Gen 27). In his last will and testament David charged Solomon to walk in the ways and decrees and commands and laws and requirements of the Lord (1 Kings 2). An elder was dying; with his final breath he quoted to me from Paul's second letter to Timothy,
(2Tim 4:7-8) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (8) Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness ...
I think we all realize that final words have significance. Final words have weight. At such times, people talk of things that matter, things that are important to them.
What will be your final words to family and loved ones? What is the last thing you want them to remember about you? Are you going to talk about money, trophies, job, trips, things? Or, are you going to talk about something enduring and important?
In 2 Timothy we have Paul's final words for Timothy and for the church. So, Paul talks about things that are important to him.
I Paul's Last Words
A The book of Acts ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome. However, Paul was released in AD 62 and went on a fourth missionary journey. During this journey he wrote I Timothy and Titus. He also visited Troas, was arrested in the house of Carpus (2 Tim 4:13), was taken to Rome, and was imprisoned by Nero. It was during this time that Paul wrote 2 Timothy.
Many believe that Paul, and the other Christians of Rome, were made the chief scapegoat for Nero's burning of Rome. Nero set fire to Rome in order to rebuild it to his liking. To deflect attention away from himself, Nero blamed the fire on Christians and ordered them all to be arrested.
B Four words or thoughts describe Paul's situation during this time.
The first word is "suffering." Paul mentions suffering three times in this letter:
(2Tim 1:8) So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,
(2Tim 1:12) That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed ...
(2Tim 2:9) for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal ...
You need to realize that Paul is in prison. In prison. He is not under house arrest like the first time – as is described in the book of Acts. This time Paul is in a cold, dark, damp dungeon. This time Paul is chained as a criminal. It is a time of suffering.
The second word is "alone." Listen to how Paul describes his situation:
(2Tim 1:15) You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.Paul feels so alone, abandoned, neglected, lonely.
(2Tim 4:9-11) Do your best to come to me quickly, (10) for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. (11) Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you ...
(2Tim 4:16) At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me ...
The third word is "heresy." Paul sees false doctrine and false teachers and people deserting the faith:
(2Tim 2:17-18) Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, (18) who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.
(2Tim 4:3-4) For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (4) They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
The fourth word is "death." Paul knows he is not going to be released from prison and he expects death at any moment.
(2Tim 4:6) For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.
Paul was in prison, suffering, alone, deserted, the church was going astray, and death was imminent. Everything around him was falling apart.
C Have you ever felt like we have labored for the Lord in vain? I think about all the people that we as a church have worked with over the years. Over and over again we give them aid. Over and over again we present the Gospel. Dozens of visits and phone calls have been made. Thousands of prayers have been prayed. Yet too many times it seems in vain as people leave the church and leave the faith for no good reason.
We consider Paul to be a great success, but that is not how it appeared to him at the time. How many times do you think Paul said to himself the words of Isaiah?
(Is 49:4) "I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God."
D Now, with all this in mind, what do you think should be Paul's final words, his parting words, his last will and testament? It shouldn't surprise us that the theme of Paul's last words is faithfulness – faithfulness in passing on the deposit of truth that God has revealed to His people. Paul wants the Gospel to be handed down through the generations without corruption or distortion. Paul says, in verse 14, "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you" (2 Tim 1:14).
Paul is not the first one with this theme. Moses, for instance, exhorts parents to teach the law to their children as they come and go:
(Deut 6:4-9) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (5) Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (6) These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. (7) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (8) Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. (9) Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.Moses' concern: passing on the deposit of truth that God has revealed to His people.
Do you know why Jesus poured out the Spirit on the church? The ministry of the Spirit includes many things. He makes me share in Christ and all His blessings, He comforts me, He remains with me forever. Jesus mentions another aspect of the Spirit's ministry:
(Jn 14:26) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.Christ wants His servants to pass on His teaching. To do this accurately and precisely we need the ministry of the Spirit.
Today, this Sunday, Paul's theme and Jesus' theme is also our theme. What is our biggest concern as a church? We want Arie & Nikki – and their family – to pass on the truth of the Gospel to their three precious children. We want to pass on the truth of the Gospel to our children and youth and new members and longtime members.
We are in a new church year. Look at the back of the bulletin for all our programs and ministries – for young and old alike. Whether it is the missionaries we support or our children and youth programs or Sunday School for all ages or Bible Study – they all have one goal: to pass on the deposit of truth God has revealed to His people.
II Passing on the Faith
A In our Bible reading for this morning Paul mentions how thankful he is for his forefathers who served God (2 Tim 1:3). We know that these forefathers and mothers of Paul passed on to him the essentials of the faith.
It appears that what Paul had in his forefathers Timothy had in his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. Now, we know three things about these ladies. First, they were God-fearing Jews. Second, they both believed in Jesus Christ. Third, Eunice had a Greek husband (cf Acts 16:1). This husband wasn't a convert to the Jewish faith. He wasn't a convert to the Christian faith. He was a pagan Greek with two godly women in his life.
In this environment, what do you think was the number one concern of Eunice and Lois when it comes to Timothy? These were godly women, believing women. Their number one concern wasn't a good job for Timothy. Their number one concern wasn't an education that leads to position and riches. Their number one concern wasn't the learning of a trade by which Timothy could support a wife and family. Their number one concern was the same as Paul's: passing on the Gospel, passing on the deposit of truth that God has revealed to His people. Arie & Nikki, congregation, as we begin a new church year I hope and pray this is your number one concern as well – that we, as a congregation, want to pass on the faith to all the children and youth God has blessed us with.
B "I have been reminded," says Paul. The actual Greek word means remembrance, recalling, thinking about something again, refreshing one's memory. Paul met Timothy and family on his missionary journey. He met Grandma Lois. He met Mother Eunice. He met young Timothy. And he noticed something – that they were all believers. He noticed that the faith was passed on from generation to generation. He noticed that the next generation was taught the things of God and of Christ. Paul saw the truth of the words first said by the Psalmist:
(Ps 78:1-4) O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth ... (3) what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. (4) We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
(Cf Ps 145:4-5)
As Paul, from his prison cell, thought about young Timothy he thought of Timothy's Christian upbringing and Timothy's Christian training and the Christian education the two ladies gave to Timothy.
"I have been reminded ..." Isn't this remarkable? Paul was in prison. Many prisoners can think only about themselves and their own situation. Like them, Paul could have had a Pity Party. But, instead, Paul thinks about Timothy and family and the passing on of the Christian faith.
C Paul thinks of Timothy and family and he recognizes that theirs is a "sincere faith." You all know or have heard the Greek word for "insincere." An "insincere" faith is a "hypocritical" faith. Among the Greeks, an actor was a hypocrite. You see, it was the custom for Greek and Roman actors to wear large masks. They put on a different face – one that helps project their voice. But Timothy's faith was not an act; he didn't put on another face. The faith of his mother and grandmother was not an act. It was sincere, heartfelt, real, true.
Paul knew that their were many who simply played the part of being a disciple. Paul mentions some of these hypocrites by name: Phygelus and Hermogenes in Asia (2 Tim 1:15), Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim 2:17), Demas (2 Tim 4:9), Alexander the metalworker (2 Tim 4:14). These are all men who once stood beside Paul but have since deserted the faith. In contrast to them is Timothy and Lois and Eunice – their faith is sincere, real, heartfelt. Their faith is a source of encouragement, joy, and thanksgiving to Paul while in prison.
I have noticed a general rule or perhaps I can call it a proverb about life. Here is the rule: Parents whose faith is not sincere should not be surprised when their baptized children wander from the faith. Without denying election or grace or any other doctrine, I have noticed that insincere faith on the part of parents usually leads to no faith on the part of children. Many of you have told me you have seen this rule at work in nephews and nieces and other family members.
So, with this rule in mind, let me urge parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, elders, Cadet & GEMS counselors, and youth leaders to be sincere in their faith.
D I love the next Greek image. A sincere faith, says Paul, "lives" in Lois and Eunice and Timothy. Lives. That is, takes up residence, dwells, is at home. Faith is a vital and total part of their lives, an integral part, an important part.
Meaning what in this instance? Meaning that those with a sincere faith do not simply go through the motions. Those with a sincere faith are not in church for the wrong reasons. Those with a sincere faith love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Those with a sincere faith want the children and youth under them to love the Lord as much as they do. Those with a sincere faith are an example in the way they live and talk and work. Those with a sincere faith are in worship. Those with a sincere faith spend time in Bible reading and prayer. Those with a sincere faith are part of a Bible study.
Again, without denying grace and election and Divine Providence, we all have people in our lives who have been used of God to bring us to Christ. No one comes completely on his or her own. It pleases God to use godly parents and grandparents, teachers, counselors, pastors, leaders, and so on. We all have others who make their mark on us and help us come to the place where we put our trust in Christ alone.
Paul had his forefathers. Timothy had his mother and grandmother. Hailey Lynn has her parents and family. The children and youth of Trinity have teachers and counselors and leaders and pastors and elders.
My hope and prayer is that we all guard and pass on the good deposit.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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