What last words does Paul have for the church today? In the first week of our series on 2 Timothy, David Leventhal introduces the book at a high-level and then dives into verses 1-7 of chapter 1. In them, we will see that this is a letter for us today as much as it is a book for Timothy in 60 AD.
Finishing Well | 2 Timothy 4
Inspect, Expect, and Respect | 2 Timothy 3
The Lost Art of Argument | 2 Timothy 2:23-26
Being Useful for the Kingdom | 2 Timothy 2:20-22
Dealing with False Teachers | 2 Timothy 2:14-19
Remembering Christ | 2 Timothy 2:7-13
Enduring Hardship | 2 Timothy 2:3-7
Defining Discipleship | 2 Timothy 2:1-2
The Last Word: 2 Timothy 1:8-18
The Last Word: Courage in the Cold
2 Timothy 1:1-7
What last words does Paul have for the church today? In the first week of our series on 2 Timothy, David Leventhal introduces the book at a high-level, and then dives in to verses 1-7 of chapter 1. In them, we will see that this is a letter for us today as much as it is a book for Timothy in 60 AD.
Timothy was called to “fan into flame” the spiritual gift God had given him, using it to impact others more and more. If you’re a Christian, you also have one or more spiritual gifts. These aren’t the same as natural talents or learned skills. Spiritual gifts are special ways God works directly through believers to impact others.
But if you’re not sure what your spiritual gifts are, how can you use them? Here’s some good news about discovering your spiritual gifts:
As we steward our lives for God’s Kingdom and the good of others, we should also consider the other kinds of gifts God has given us. These include our experiences, our natural abilities, skills we have learned, and even our interests or passions. As we let God direct our lives, our gifts will likely play a big part in the “good works” He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).
We would love to let you know when opportunities arise to use your specific abilities, experiences, and passions. If you haven’t already, please fill out our brand new Shape Survey. This lets us know more about you and how you’d like to use your many gifts if opportunities arise!
Good morning, Watermark! How are we doing? Well, a new series. I'm excited. I love a new series, and I especially love the first week of a new series. Firsts are fun. Firsts are really memorable. I think about some of the firsts in my life…the first time I laid eyes on my sweet wife of 22 years. She was a college student. I can close my eyes and be right back in that old coffee shop. The first kiss we had, in her mother's house.
The first truck I bought myself, a 1993 Ford Ranger, 4x4. I loved that thing until we dropped the transmission on the side of I-35 by Cracker Barrel in Lewisville. I love firsts. What I love about this 2 Timothy series is it's a first for me. This little letter, 2 Timothy, changed my life. I'm not kidding. In the summer of 1993, this was the first book of the Bible I ever fell in love with.
The Lord got ahold of me as a college freshman at James Madison University in Virginia. Go Dukes! I was halfway through my freshman year. I came out of high school an arrogant, prideful, self-seeking individual, and God came crashing into my life. That was in January/February of '93. I had an opportunity that summer to go spend about 12 weeks in Virginia Beach on a Campus Crusade for Christ summer project where you got discipled and did evangelism and learned.
We studied that summer the book of 2 Timothy, and it was the first book of the Bible I really invested my heart in. They challenged us at the beginning of that summer. "Hey, we're challenging you (all of these college students from around the country) to read the little letter of 2 Timothy every single day for the 12 or so weeks we're going to be together." So I took them up on that challenge, and I read this letter every single day for about 12 weeks, and it changed my life.
As I read it and became more familiar with it, God began to use the words of this letter, what Paul had said to his dear friend Timothy, and I began to think, "All Scripture is God breathed." I began to think I could endure. I began to set a vision for my life even at 19 that "I want to finish well." I love this letter because it was the first book of the Bible God used to capture my heart. I want God to use this letter in your lives the way he has done in my life now for 20-something years. Firsts are really fun.
Do you know what are also important? Lasts. Lasts are important. We're calling this series The Last Word because these are our last recorded words of the apostle Paul. This is his last thing we have recorded. Paul had served for over three decades. He had bled for the gospel. He had defended the gospel. He had traveled the entire known world planting churches, and he was about to die. He wanted to say some things to his dear friend Timothy, so he sat down, and over the series of days and weeks, he put this letter together.
It was his last words we have. Last words are lasting words, and we do well to pay attention to these last words. I'm excited about this series. What we're going to do today… I want to help set the table so you know where we're headed. We're going to spend a lot of our time today… I want to give you guys an overview of this amazing little letter. I want to set us up for the next five weeks that follow this morning so that you know exactly what Paul was doing. Context is so important to this.
We're going to read the letter of 2 Timothy, all four chapters. It's going to take us about nine minutes. Then we're going to jump into the first seven verses of this amazing, transformational letter. Let's first do…you remember from your English in high school…the who, what, when, where. I want to save the why. I'm going to do it right after. I want to spend more time on the why, but let's run through the who, what, when, where.
The who. This letter was written by the apostle Paul. As I mentioned, Paul served for 30 years. He spent the first half of his life, the first 30 or so years, as a faithful Jew. He was an opponent of the church. When Jesus came, died, was raised from the dead, and ascended and the church was born, Paul became an enemy of the church. We see in Acts, chapters 7 and 8, that Paul signed off on the murder of the first Christian.
But Acts, chapter 8, is followed by Acts, chapter 9. Paul, on a road to Damascus, meets the risen Savior, and everything about his everything changed from that moment on. Paul realized he was fighting the wrong battle, so Paul became a believer in this Jesus Christ who lived, who bled, who died, and was raised from the dead. He went on to spend the next 30 years developing relationships all over the known world, and there was no relationship to Paul more significant than the one he had with Timothy. Paul would go on to write 13 of our 27 New Testament books.
Let me just interject really quickly by way of application… I don't know what your story is. We have folks in the room and folks who are watching us on the stream. I have no idea what you're coming this morning to. I suspect there are folks who are coming who have made a mess of their lives or who have had others drop hand grenades into their living room and are dealing with pain and the consequences of their bad decisions or somebody else's bad decisions. Here's what I want you to know: your life is not finished yet. There are chapters that can still be written.
The first half of Paul's life was completely different than the second half of Paul's life. The thing that made the difference was Acts, chapter 9. Paul ran into Jesus. So, I don't know where you're coming from, but I want you to know that you can be transformed…not because of anything you're going to do, not because of any good works you're going to try to muster, not because of any amount of money you're going to give away, not because of any number of old ladies you're going to help across the street. You cannot earn your way into heaven.
You can't bridge the gap that separates you from an eternal, holy, and just God, but the good news is you don't have to, because God in his love for us sent his Son to live, to die, to be raised from the dead. The death we deserve as sinners has been passed on to Jesus, and we can by faith, not as a result of works, trust in the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. So, if you don't know Jesus, today could be the day. Today could be your Acts, chapter 9, and the rest of your life could look different.
Paul is writing this letter to Timothy. As I mentioned, Timothy was his dear friend. Timothy is mentioned by Paul over 18 times in this letter. We studied 1 Timothy to close out 2020, and as you will recall, Timothy was the leader at the church in Ephesus. Paul had sent Timothy to the church in Ephesus to be his representative. We studied all of 1 Timothy about how Paul was trying to encourage Timothy.
This relationship between Paul and Timothy was a special relationship. Paul calls Timothy his beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He calls Timothy his fellow worker. He calls Timothy his brother and coworker. Paul told the church in Philippi that he had no one else like Timothy. Timothy was like a son. In fact, Timothy is listed as a coauthor on six of Paul's letters…2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.
So, I would interject right now: Paul spent his life investing in people, and maybe nobody more than Timothy. My question is…Who are you investing in? If you know Jesus, you only need to be one step in front of the hounds to be able to take what you're learning and pass it on to other people. We just talked about how we had DTown this weekend, and 350 or so young adults are leading our students and pouring into them, sharing not just the gospel but their very lives with them.
If you know Jesus, you can take what you're learning today, and you can share it with somebody else. You can begin to be a Paul to somebody else, to a Timothy, in your life. So, we have who: Paul to Timothy. What. This is a letter. We're going to read somebody's mail. This was written, we think, in the mid- to late AD 60s. And the where. Paul on one hand is sitting in a Roman dungeon. He's in prison. He's writing to his friend Timothy who's a long, long, long way away in Ephesus.
So, that's the who, what, when, and where. Now for the why. The why is really important, because after today, we're going to spend the next five weeks… We have to understand the context that was happening that led Paul to write this letter to Timothy, because if we don't understand the context, we will miss out on what it meant to Timothy and, therefore, what it can mean for us today.
Again, Paul has a very clear sense that he is about to die. Let me say that again. Paul knows he's about to die. He's sitting in a Roman dungeon in chains like a criminal, he's going to say in this letter. He feels deserted. He feels lonely, and he deeply misses his friend. I want you to think about what that would have been like for Paul…in a jail, alone, feeling abandoned. Winter is coming, and you just want to see your friend.
So, Paul gathers his thoughts. He gets his pen and his quill, and over a series of days, he puts this letter together for Timothy. He's going to pass the spiritual leadership on to Timothy. He's passing the baton. Paul knows Timothy needs this, because Paul understands the world Timothy is living in. What world is that? Well, let me help fill in the gaps. Timothy, we know, felt ill-equipped. He was young. He had health issues. He felt fearful and timid at the things he knew were going to come his way if he continued to lead.
Timothy was having to defend his faith at every turn from false teachers in the church at Ephesus. Timothy was wrestling against those who were intolerant to his beliefs about the gospel. Timothy was facing a future that would include times of difficulty where people were going to go from bad to worse and would not tolerate his sound teaching. Timothy was facing a future that almost certainly was going to include suffering and persecution.
So Paul knew Timothy needed some encouragement. Could I just step out on a limb here, which isn't that much of a limb, and suggest that many of us today might feel like Timothy felt? Many of us are feeling ill-equipped. We look around at the world, and we see the hostility that seems to be swelling toward our faith that is beginning to gain momentum, and we feel ill-equipped. Many of us feel timid.
We feel afraid of what might happen if we actually stand up for our faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that may come with some consequences. We're surrounded by false teaching every single day. We have folks who want to lead us to believe Jesus wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous, that somehow our pocketbook is the thing Jesus is most concerned about. We're going to see very clearly in this letter that Jesus' mission is not that we would be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous.
We have those around us screaming that "There is no absolute truth. You can do whatever you want to do. Do you want to be a man? Be a man. Do you want to be a woman? Be a woman. Do you want to terminate life in the womb? You do your own thing. You're your own god." It's all around us. We live in a culture that is growing in its intolerance toward our faith, and it seems to be going from bad to worse.
We live in a world that has no desire to hear about sin and judgment and death. They don't want to talk about repentance. We are moving to a place in this country where, for the first time, it's going to cost us to follow Jesus. That's where we're headed. I know that, for some of us, even talking about that can bring about a sense of anxiety and fear. If you have kids, you're like, "What are my kids going to grow up in?" If you don't have kids, you're like, "Why would I bring kids into this world?"
I want you to know Paul wrote 2 Timothy to Timothy to help him, and this letter survived to this day to help us. We don't have to be afraid or fearful or shrink back. We can know how God wants us to behave because of this amazing little four-chapter letter. We don't have to fear. Out of this context comes our big idea. If you want to know what 2 Timothy is about, here it is. Second Timothy is about maintaining the gospel.
It's about preaching it, defending it. It's about not being ashamed of it. It's about ensuring that we do our part to pass it along to future generations and ultimately, if necessary, to suffer for it. Maintain the gospel…that's what the letter of 2 Timothy is all about. In Acts 9, Jesus commissioned Paul to do this toward the gospel. Paul commissioned Timothy to do this. For 2,000 years, it has been passed down from generation to generation, from church to church, and it lands at our feet this morning, friends.
Church, 2 Timothy is as much for us as it was for Timothy. We're going to see some significant themes in this letter. Let me point out three of them to you that you're going to see come up over the next five weeks. We're going to see an emphasis on suffering for the gospel and enduring faithfully. You're going to see those words pop up about 12 times collectively. "Share in suffering for the gospel. Share in suffering as a good soldier. Endure in suffering."
We're going to see an emphasis on not being ashamed of Jesus or of those who suffer for Jesus. Paul wasn't ashamed. We're going to read about a guy named Onesiphorus who wasn't ashamed. "Timothy, you are not to be ashamed of Jesus or of the men and women who suffer for him." We're going to see an emphasis on truth…teaching it, protecting it, and passing it along. We're going to learn how to rightly handle the Word of truth. We're going to learn how to correct folks with gentleness so they can come into a knowledge of the truth.
We're going to learn about the fact that folks are going to turn away from the truth and wander off into myths. I hope, I pray, I believe that the Lord Jesus wants to use this little letter in our lives in five distinct ways. I believe the Lord wants to use 2 Timothy to hep us commit to something much larger than ourselves, like Jesus did, like Paul did, like Timothy did, like Onesiphorus did, and like so many millions of others have coming into this morning.
I believe Jesus wants to use this letter to help us come to terms with what has been the reality for most Christians in most places for 2,000 years: hardship and sacrifice are foundational parts of the Christian life. I believe Jesus wants to use this letter to help us embrace the fact that faithfulness comes with a cost.
I believe the Lord Jesus wants to remind us of the importance of maintaining the gospel and holding on tightly to those core tenets of our faith and refusing to let the culture, to let false teachers take us off base; refusing to let them convince us that we don't need Jesus. We are broken and lost. We are enemies of Jesus, and apart from Christ, apart from the Spirit doing a work in our hearts, we will never come to faith. You can't earn it. I can't do anything that will cross the chasm that separates me from a holy God if it weren't for Jesus Christ and the gospel. We want to maintain it.
Fifthly, I think Jesus wants to help us radically commit to raising up future generations of faithful leaders. That's why I'm so excited about this little letter. Paul's last words to his closest companion are lasting words for the church today. So, with that as a backdrop, I would like for us to do what Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4, which was to pay attention to the public reading of Scripture.
I'm going to read the whole letter to you, because that's how Timothy would have done. When he got the letter, he would have sat down and read it in one sitting, probably a bunch of times. He would have read it to the church in Ephesus. Even though it was addressed to him, it contained truth for the church in Ephesus, so Timothy would have read this letter to the church in Ephesus.
As I read it, I want you to get your Bible and your pen out, and I want you to look for some key words. If you're using your app, you could do your magic highlighter thing. Listen for some of these words: suffer, endure, teach, truth, ashamed, guard. When you see those key words, circle or underline those bad boys. It's okay to write in your Bible. Mark it up. Make notes. Circle. Highlight. Let the Lord use the words of this letter to transform your life. Note what you're learning. Okay? Are we ready? All right. Second Timothy, chapter 1.
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do.
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.
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 in 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 ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in 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 also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.' Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.
At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers. The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you."
The letter of 2 Timothy. Man, it's good! That took me about nine minutes to read. We're going to spend the next 13 minutes and 5 weeks on this letter, so here's my challenge to you: 35 days. Take nine minutes once a day for the next 35 days and read this little letter. I believe Jesus wants you to fall in love with this letter the way he helped me fall in love with this letter. The more you read it…I promise you…the more you will fall in love with it. You can do it. I believe in you. Thirty-five days, nine minutes a day, 2 Timothy. Let's get after it.
We're going to spend the rest of our time this morning… Let's start looking at this letter. We're going to look at the first seven verses of this letter. Remember the context. The church in Ephesus, which is where Timothy is leading, is in turbulent waters. There's opposition to the gospel. There's rejection of Timothy's authority by some of the members of the church. You have some folks in the church who are hurting and being led astray, and now Timothy reads that his beloved mentor is on his way out. He's about to die.
It's not hard to imagine Timothy feeling outnumbered, intimidated, and maybe wanting to cower back. In light of that reality, Paul opens this letter in an intensely personal way. I want you to sense the deep emotion that exists between Paul and Timothy. The first thing Paul does is to let Timothy know, after he introduces… "Hey, this is from Paul to Timothy." He lets Timothy know, "Hey, Timothy, you are not forgotten."
Verse 3: "I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy." "Timothy, you are not forgotten. I thank God when I think about you. I remember you constantly in my prayers. I remember the tears we had the last time we were together. I long to see you."
Paul starts by saying, "Bro, you're in a hard situation, and I have not forgotten you. I still love you. I'm still praying for you." I found out earlier this week that a gal I've known since I was in junior high, about 12, just a dear sister in the Lord… I found out she's in the midst of this cancer struggle, and it has been costly to her, spiritually, emotionally, physically. I found out about it this week, so I was just grieved. You hate seeing people you love hurting.
So I called her, and I just wanted her to know that I remember her. I prayed with her. I wept with her. I wanted her to know in the midst of her storm, "You are not forgotten." One of the ways we know God remembers us is when we remember each other. You and I, if you know Jesus, are the hands and feet of Christ, and it is our job to bear one another's burdens.
I want you to think of somebody right now who you know who is in the midst of a storm, and I want you to commit, when you leave today, to send them a text, to call them on the phone, to write them a letter to let them know, "I haven't forgotten about you. I'm praying for you. I believe God wants to do a great thing in your life in spite of this hard storm." One of the ways I know God remembers me is when you remember me. Let's be the hands and feet of Christ.
So, Paul starts by reminding Timothy, "Hey, buddy, I know you're in a tough spot, and I remember you. I'm praying for you. When I think of you, you bring joy to my heart." The second thing Paul does is to remind Timothy of two things. "Timothy, let me remind you: you have a deep, rich, sincere faith." Paul says, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well."
A sincere faith is a visible faith. How did Paul know Timothy had a sincere faith? Because Paul had served with Timothy. He knew Timothy wasn't just making a declaration about who Jesus was, that Timothy's life reflected that declaration. If you say you know Jesus and your life doesn't reflect that, you do not have a sincere faith.
This word sincere in the Greek is a broad word. It's used a lot of different ways. When it's used in a moral sense, like it is here, it is the idea of without hypocrisy. Sincere faith is one that is a faith without hypocrisy. You don't come to know Jesus by anything you're going to do. There is no amount of good works you can do to earn God's favor.
But Scripture is clear. When we have been transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of light, when we've moved from enemies to sons and daughters of the King, our lives should reflect that transformation. So, if you look at your life and there is no visible fruit of a transformation, then you should ask yourself, "Is my faith a sincere faith or am I just saying I follow Jesus?" James would say that faith without works is dead. You're not saved by your works, but if you know Jesus, your life will be a transformed life over time as you grow in Jesus.
The second thing is that generations of faithfulness start with being faithful today. Timothy had his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, and these were women of deep faith. Timothy's father was a Greek. We don't know much about him, but we know Timothy's mother was a Jew and his grandmother was a Jew, and these women were of deep faith. So Timothy came from good stock.
But here's what you need to know: your children, my children, are not making it into the kingdom of God on our coattails. My kids have to decide for themselves if they want to evaluate the claims of Christ and if they want to place their faith in him personally, but I can sure make it difficult for them to believe that Jesus is who he says he is. If my life is filled with hypocrisy, if my faith is uninspiring… If they don't ever see me open up the Word of God, then how important could it be to me?
So, generations of faithfulness start with me being faithful today. That's why I'm so encouraged about DTown, how we had 300 people, leaders, pouring into our students, five of whom were from Team Leventhal. They're getting to see men and women who are passionate for Jesus getting after it and saying, "Listen. God can change everything about your everything, and when he does, you're going to want to be salt and light to the world because you've been rescued from all the nonsense that filled your life before." Generations of faithfulness start by being faithful today.
Then Paul reminds Timothy of the second thing. Paul says, "Let me remind you, Timothy. God has given you what you need." Verse 6: "For this reason…" What reason? Because of Paul's confidence in the sincerity and depth and authenticity of Timothy's faith. "…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
Paul reminds Timothy of something, and then he's going to give the reason he can remind him of that. The reminder is, "Hey, Timothy, I want to remind you: grow in the gift you've been given." Every believer has a spiritual gift. When Paul says, "…fan into flame the gift of God…" Paul uses that term elsewhere to refer to spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4). Spiritual gifts are ministries or abilities the Holy Spirit gives to Christians for the building up of the church.
Listen to what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12. "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone." Why? "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." We have all been given a gift we are to use to build up the body, and a gift that is not used is a wasted gift.
"Timothy, fan into flame the gift that has been given to you, buddy. Lead. Teach. Shepherd people." That's what Timothy had. Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Do you know how God has uniquely gifted you and wired you to be a blessing to the body of Christ? See, we're a body. When my hand is not functioning at full capacity, everything suffers. Scripture says you've been given a gift, and we want to help you use your hand to the maximum of its "handness."
So, if you don't know your spiritual gifts, we want to help you figure out what they are and deploy you and release you to be a blessing. We're going to put in the sermon guide that gets pushed out… We'll put some links on how you can figure out how God has wired you. You may say, "I know what my spiritual gifts are, but I, frankly, feel not deployed. I feel underused. I feel like I could be doing more to serve and love this church." We want to help you.
Write in your Watermark News. Send us a note. We'll follow up this week to help you figure out where we can deploy you to be a blessing to the body. The body of Christ… We are a family. This isn't a membership like a Costco club. It's a membership like a leg. If I lose my leg, I suffer. I need you. You need me. That's how we were designed to work. When we all use our gifts together, God transforms cultures and societies and individual lives within them. A gift that's not used is a wasted gift.
Now Paul gives the why for that command. "…God gave us a spirit not of fear…" Some of your translations might say timidity. "…but of power and love and self-control." Why should Timothy focus on growing and using his teachings when he knows that as he does that it's going to put him in the crosshairs of the culture? Paul says, "You should do that because the Spirit of God has given you everything you need. Timothy, you don't need to shrink back in fear, because God has given you a spirit of power and love and self-control."
When you're out in the world and you feel like the Holy Spirit is saying you should go have a conversation with your neighbor or your coworker or "That waitress or waiter sure seems discouraged; maybe you should engage them," and you feel in your spirit, "Oh, that feels risky," or maybe there's a situation at work and you know, "I can't with a clear conscience do what they want me to do," and you feel like you want to shrink back, that is not from God, because God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-control.
This is the New Testament equivalent of Joshua 1:8-9, which is essentially saying, "Hey, guys, timidity is not in God's playbook." You might remember, if you know your Bible, Moses was passing the baton to Joshua, just like Paul is passing the baton to Timothy. Joshua is going into the land, and God is saying, "Hey, buddy, when you go into this land, you're going to face some opposition." Just like Paul was telling Timothy, "Hey, Timothy, as you lead in Ephesus, you will face some opposition."
What did God say to Joshua? "Hey, buddy, stay in the Law. Don't let the book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it. Do all that's in there." "Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Timidity is not in God's playbook for our lives.
"Timothy, when you get out there and you feel like you want to cower…" Church, when you feel like the Spirit is leading you to do something and you want to shrink back into the darkness, that is not of God. God has given us the Spirit in us, a spirit of power and of love and of self-control. So, church, week one, 2 Timothy. It's awesome. Last words are lasting words.
My wife's father, my father-in-law, passed away in the summer of 2015. My wife has on her phone a voicemail from her dad. It wasn't the last thing Mel ever said, but it was the last recorded words Missy has of her dad. So, every now and again, she'll play that voicemail so she can hear her daddy's voice; she can be reminded of his very quirky sense of humor; she can be reminded that her daddy loved her. Even though he's not here anymore, she has these last recorded words, and last words are lasting words.
What I want you to know is Paul said things after this letter was written, but these are the last recorded words we have from this great man who suffered and bled for the gospel, and we would do well to replay those words in our minds, not just over the next 35 days but for the rest of our lives, because last words are lasting words. I'm so excited to get to walk through this book together over the coming weeks, because I know Jesus wants us, as a church, to be more of his people, to be salt and light into the community. I'm so thankful for these last words from the apostle Paul, because last words are lasting words.
Father, thank you for this amazing little epistle that you have recorded and preserved for thousands of years, that we might benefit from the truth contained in it. I pray that as we study this book over the next five weeks, we would be transformed. You tell us in this letter that all Scripture is breathed out by God and is useful, so I pray you would use these words in a way that is useful to our hearts. For those of us who need to be convicted, I pray you would convict us.
For those of us who just need to have an arm around our shoulder and hear, "It's going to be okay. Keep going. You have what it takes because of the Spirit of Christ within you," I pray you would encourage us. For those in this room who may not know you, would you reveal yourself to them, that they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the Devil, having been captured by him to do his will. O God, thank you for Paul, for his faithfulness. Thank you for Timothy and his frailty and his need that led to this incredible letter that challenges my heart to this day. Would you use it to bless your people? In Jesus' name, amen.