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
How can we remember the work of Jesus in our everyday lives? In the most recent week of The Last Word, Todd Wagner shows us the fruit and glory of remembrance, savoring the work of Christ to power us through life's challenges.
Good morning, family. How are we doing? It is a great Sunday to be together. We're in the middle of this book called 2 Timothy. Let me pray for us, because we are going to have a Bible study today. It is a great section. I think it's my favorite section of 2 Timothy. It's so good.
Father, thank you for your Word, how it's living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. It's able to pierce between soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and I pray it does; it would just be the spade that dives into the soil of our hearts and loosens it and plants the seed of truth that blossoms into a life of fruitfulness for you. We pray that this morning the Spirit would enter into the hearts of those who are nominal believers and are confused about who you are, that they would see your goodness and they would know you and it would change them the way it has changed me.
O Father, thank you for amazing grace. May that grace which let us see open our eyes further that we might love and serve you. Thank you for the privilege of being a part of this amazing body and the way they love one another and the way they love this city and the way they want to be faithful disciples who suffer so others may believe and experience the eternal glory you have for them. Sharpen us. Teach us. Grow us now. In Jesus' name, amen.
Well, you may not know. I was born in a little town called Reading, Pennsylvania. If you play Monopoly, the very first railroad is not the "read-ing" railroad. I will rebuke you if you say that. It is the "red-ding" railroad. That's where I was born. I lived there for about five years. Both sides of my family all the way back are Berks County Dutch. My dad left the steel business. He's the first Wagner or Reber to not really work in a steel factory.
He dragged us out to St. Louis. He wanted a different life for his immediate family, so off we went and ended up in St. Louis where he was in the steel business for a little bit, and then he left that and went on to hospital administration and other things. That's all ancillary information. What is not ancillary is that I was not raised to study Texas history. I'm one of those folks who wasn't born in Texas but moved here as fast as I could.
I can remember not knowing much about what happened down here, and I can remember the first time I was told to "Remember the Alamo." The odd thing about that… I was like, "All right. The Alamo." I married a woman from San Antonio, so when I went down there to spend some time with her, I said, "Let's go to this Alamo." This is embarrassing. I might have been deep into my 20s before I went to the Alamo, and I showed up there, and I realized we lost the Alamo. How disappointed I was. I'm like, "What?! Why are we remembering…?"
I went to Mizzou. I remember when I was there, or shortly after, we lost 73-0 to Texas A&M in football. I also remember when Texas A&M lost that. (I could go on. Enjoy your overpriced victory right now with Jimbo.) We didn't walk around and go, "Remember the time we got beat 73-0." We just didn't do it. I thought, "What kind of state is this that remembers the Alamo?" Then I walked through that little mission and heard the story.
My best friend when I grew up, the reason I actually heard about the Alamo the first time, was a gentleman by the last name of Travis whose great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was William Travis. I remember how proud they were of that, and I didn't really understand why until I got down and understood the story. The reason we remember the Alamo is not because we won but because the story wasn't over. The Alamo, to refer back to last week, was a Pyrrhic victory.
Santa Anna and his thousands of troops that were constantly being reinforced seized… In fact, March 6, just two weeks ago, was the 185th anniversary of that shellacking and that awful slaughter that ensued because certain guys survived the first siege, the second siege or attack, and then the third wave got them all, and the ones who were alive… Even though some of Santa Anna's officers said, "Don't kill them," they were merciless. Santa Anna actually played a song when they were attacking that means beheading.
He was so angry with the way those 185 to 200 men held them off that when he got in there, he just had bloodlust and wiped them out and a little bit later did the same thing at Goliad, and then Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto told his boys, "Remember the Alamo." Those men gave their lives so the spring rains could come and flood the Colorado so he couldn't cross. "Remember the Alamo, that those guys gave their sacred honor and lives."
It's interesting. About 75 percent of the folks who were fighting for Texas independence at that time were from the broader United States of America. Only about 25 percent of the Texans were involved in that militia. What happened with the Alamo is Texans realized, "This is a ruthless people who are coming to wipe us all out," and then it flipped, and about 75 percent of the army from there on out were Texans and about 25 percent were the Davy Crocketts of the world.
So, the reason we remember the Alamo is because the story flipped there. There was something that happened in that Pyrrhic victory that made the Texans go, "We are going to steal our spirit, and we are going to fight for the freedoms we want." So, remember the Alamo. You're going to find a phrase in our study today that says, "Remember Jesus Christ."
In a couple of weeks, we're about to come in here and celebrate Good Friday, and when we do and we say, "Remember the cross of Jesus Christ…" You're like, "Man! Friday was a tough day if you were a follower of Jesus," but the reason you remember Christ and his broken body is because his broken body wasn't the end of the story. That was a Pyrrhic victory by Satan. There was a resurrection Sunday.
There's a famous message given by a guy named Tony Campolo, saying, "It's Friday, baby, but hang on because Sunday is a-comin'." That is a pretty good summary of 2 Timothy 2:8-13. Remember what I do in my little brain to put 2 Timothy in a catalog of truth? I think of 2 Timothy this way: "Wait a second, Timidity. We're not going to lose heart at the Alamo. We're going to remember the Alamo.
Wait a second, Timidity. We're not going to lose heart at crosses and Mamertine jail cells and sufferings and persecution and beatings and scoffing, because there is a resurrection. So, remember those who have given their lives for the freedom of being delivered, not from some said, cruel leader Santa Anna but from Satan and the prison of sin and death itself. Remember the cross and remember the resurrection."
Can I give you one quote before I leave the Alamo? This is just too good. Remember I told you about Spartan mothers and then I had some fun talking about our own Texan up there who landed a plane on the Hudson? Well, let me just tell you, Texas has some Spartan mamas. Sam Houston's mother, Elizabeth Houston, wrote a little note to him. Remember, Spartan moms said, "Here's your shield, son. Come back on it or with it."
Listen to what Sam Houston's mom said. She apparently read some Spartan Plutarch truth. "My son, take this musket and never disgrace it, for remember, I'd rather all my sons should fill one honorable grave than that one of them should turn his back to save his life. Go and remember, too, that while the door of my cottage is open to brave men, it is eternally shut toward cowards." Come on, Mama! That's good. Kiss him on the cheek, hand him his musket, pat him on the back, and say, "Go. Die at the Alamo."
He wasn't there, and that's why he could be at the battle of San Jacinto. That's why when you drive up I-45 you see a tall statue of a man who should have even a taller statue of Mama. Way to go, Elizabeth. I'm going to "Elizabeth" you today. Are you ready? This cottage is always open to courageous Christians, and if you are not, I hope I can tell you enough stories that are true that you are motivated to live for him, our King.
It's so much better. You think Texas independence is good? Let me tell you about Christian independence and freedom when you learn to follow the King. Let's read some Bible. Are you ready? Let's start in verse 7. I'm going to read one verse. I mentioned it briefly last week. I'm going to spend some time here, and then I'll read you where we're going to spend the majority of our time this morning.
Verse 7 is the summary of verses 1-6. It's the key to you being who God wants you to be in general. "Consider…" Some of your Bibles, if you have the ESV, might say, "Think over…" Some of your Bibles might say, "Think about…" Some might say, _ "Reflect on…" "Be diligent. Consider what I say." The idea here is don't just blow through your Bible. We're going to slow down and study this book. The goal is not to get through the Bible; the goal is to get the Bible through you.
We are not here to take spiritual spit baths in Philippians or read verses pulled out of context on Instagram and Twitter. We are here to rightly divide the Word of truth and to study it and reflect on it. Do you remember how we were individuals who, last week, studied things that are familiar to us all, a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer, and we just spent some time, and I didn't even do the athlete and the farmer justice because we got kind of focused on the soldier?
But I'm telling you, when you read things like that, you stop and ask, "What's the author's intent? Why is that there? What does he want me to learn? What's the message?" What he wanted us to learn last week… Here's what I'm going to say. Let's just reflect on it. We remember that discipline and self-denial are part and parcel with greatness. We remember there's no such thing as amateur Christians. We remember it's just a law that the easy way is the attractive way but pleasure and indulgences kill champions.
Paul was telling Timothy, God was telling us, "Listen. You need to be about it." Paul is saying, "Stop. Reflect. Consider. Think upon." Psalm 1:2: "How blessed is the man who blows through his Bible reading program and tells everybody he read some Scripture today." No. "How blessed is the man who delights himself in the law of the Lord, and on that law he meditates day and night."
When I eat Blue Bell ice cream, I don't get a bowl and purpose to whip through it. I put my spoon in there, I put it in my mouth, and I let it sit, and I delight in it. My goal is not to finish it; my goal is to let that sweet sugar cream bless me. That should be your goal when you open up God's Word. You want to be somebody who says, "Consider it. What am I going to do with this truth? What's God saying? Why is it there?"
Watch this, because this is where I'm going to spend some time with you. "Consider it, and then God will…" This is a promise. "God will give you understanding in everything." There is right here this tension which runs all through your Bible. There is human responsibility and then there is divine enablement. Our job is to do the considering, and it's the Spirit of God who does the enlightening.
That is why when you work to study your Bible, you work. It is also why while you labor to build the house, you know you labor in vain unless you build it. So you pray, and you say, "God, will you show me what it is you have this here for? Will you teach me why you preserved this? Is there a problem here to understand, a riddle to solve? Is there a truth your Spirit wants to illumine in my heart?"
Joshua 1:8: "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it…" That's the call. The second part, though, is that he will give you understanding in all these things. You can go to 1 John 2:27. Look at this verse. "As for you…" John is writing to believers. "…the anointing which you received from Him abides in you…" The Holy Spirit is in you. He is the author.
Can you imagine reading The Bear by Faulkner, reading Moby-Dick, and can you imagine reading…? What's your favorite book? Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Oh man. I did a book report on that fourth through ninth grade. To sit there and to ask them, "What did you mean by that? Why is that allusion there?" and having the author explain it to you. When you sit down with the Word of God, if the Spirit of God is in you, you can say, "God, show me what is here. Teach me what you want me to know."
First John 2:27: "…the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." This doesn't say you go alone in your room and you're going to be the first person in the history of the church to make a verse mean something it doesn't mean.
What he's saying here, Christian, is you don't need philosophers. You don't need some dude under some tree in Upstate New York to hear from some supposed angel. You have the Word of God and the Spirit of God in you, and every single thing you need is right here. But you don't read in isolation. You sit down with other Christians and go, "What do we think this means? Why do we think it means that? What's the context?" And we go to work.
I have some people who sometimes come up to me, and they'll say, "Todd, I want to know my Bible like you know your Bible. What should I do?" As delicately as I can, I sometimes look at them and go, "Are you reading it? Do you meditate on it?" I can remember in ninth grade English lit I said something very similar to Wendy Weyand when we were given a test on Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I had no clue any of the questions, and I was so glad I sat next to Wendy Weyand. She helped me survive.
But I said to Wendy Weyand, "Wendy, I'd love to know Wuthering Heights like you," and she rightly looked at me and said, "Are you reading it?" "Nope. I'm just delighting that W-A is next to W-E, so teach me Wuthering Heights." Listen. You may not want to read Wuthering Heights. I didn't as a ninth grader. But here's the problem: some of you guys treat the Bible like I treated English lit in ninth grade.
You want somebody else's SparkNotes. You want somebody else to do the reading, and somebody else gets the delight of that insightful book. Don't make that mistake. You do the work, and you meditate on it day and night, and you don't just tear through your Bible reading plan; you pray that God lets it tear through you. I could spend the entire time on this verse, but I would be in trouble, so let me leave it there.
One thing. Janet Pope, member of our church, said something similar. Janet wrote a great book about Scripture memorization. Janet has memorized probably close to 20 books of the Bible right now. Did you hear what I said? She has memorized 20 books of the Bible. And I mean memorized. I'm not talking about Philemon and 1 John. I'm talking about Romans and Hosea and Revelation. There's a Real Truth. Real Quick. on how to memorize Scripture that I did with Janet. Go watch it.
This quote is not in there, but it's in Janet's book. Janet talks about how she was with a group of women, and she was talking about how to study your Bible, and some gal said this to her. See if this doesn't hearken back to last week when I talked about not being an amateur athlete and being the hardworking farmer and being an active soldier. This is from her book.
"One year [at one of these seminars] on our final night, one of the women said to me, 'I wish I had your discipline.' Having heard that comment so many times, I usually shrug my shoulders, shake my head, and sigh at their predicament. This time, out of love and boldness, I took a different approach. I said, 'What if I said to you, "You have so much discipline. It's just so incredible how you find time every single day to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You hardly ever miss. You are so disciplined."' The woman would have then said back to me, 'It's because I'm hungry.'"
She said, "So I turned to her and I said, 'Your problem is not a lack of discipline. Your problem is you're not hungry.'" "You ain't hungry, Rock!" Remember that? Did y'all watch the movie? There it is. It all comes together. All right. Let's read verses 8-13. I pray you're hungry. God, make us hungry. Proverbs says, "A sated man loathes honey, but to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet."
Do you know how desperate you are or are you happy with your understanding? Do you know why you don't read your Bible? Because you're arrogant and cocky, and you don't think you need the illumination of the Holy Spirit. That's not an editorial you; that is an umbrella you over us, including the guy on the stage. All right. Remember the Alamo.
"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory."
Then he's going to say this: "It is a trustworthy statement…" That shows up a number of different times. Whenever there is a phrase that is used around here… Like, Paul might say, "It is a trustworthy statement: full devotion is normal for a believer. It's a trustworthy statement: the Bible is our authority, conscience, and guide, and you should stand firm where it is firm and flexible where it is flexible."
Whenever there are phrases that a community uses a lot, you want to be somebody who says, "It's a trustworthy statement." I just looked out and caught my son's eye. It's a trustworthy statement: hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. In other words, "This proverb is true. This principle you can bet your life on." He's about to give you an early church… Whether it was a hymn or whether it was just a phrase that was repeated often within the early church, it goes like this:
"For if we 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." Okay. Bible study. Here we go. Verse 8: "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David…" When you read this… What are we doing? We have to consider. We have to stop, reflect, think upon. We have to be diligent.
The Scriptures tell us again and again… Let me just give you this idea. When Paul says, "Remember," he wants you to do what he just told you to do in verse 7. Listen to Proverbs 2. This is what you do when you read your Bible. This is how you get something out of it. "My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, [if you] make your ear attentive to wisdom…"
You don't listen to your Bible being read to yourself like you listen to Charlie Brown's teacher. You go, "I want to stop. What did you say? What was that word? I don't know what that word means." "…incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, [if you] lift your voice…" "God, show me. Give me understanding." "…if you seek her as silver…"
Guys, do you know how hard it is to make a buck? Do you know how you mine for silver? Are you seeking the Word of God like that? "… _[if you] _ search for her as for hidden treasures…" That's why you have to stop when it says, "Remember Jesus, risen from the dead, descendant of David." Who was David? Why would he tell me to reflect on the fact that he was risen and that he was born of a woman? What's the point?
If you stop, like we're about to, "…then you will discern the fear of the Lord …" Then, not if you just blow through it. Ask yourself why, when he says, "Remember Jesus," does he say, "Let me just start with you, Timidity: He was risen. Good Friday isn't everything. He is divine, and he's just like you, been tempted like you, born of a woman, suffered under Pontius Pilate."
"…although He existed in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
"But that ain't all, Timothy, because the cross wasn't cast upon him; he picked it up. Why? Because of his love for you, and he wants to redeem you. Therefore, God gave him the name above all names, because he is the faithful Son. He gave you salvation through him, and because he is the perfect man, because he's the God-man, he has been exalted, and you should love him, and you should follow him, and you should remember him."
"His love for you should constrain you," he wrote to the Corinthians. "You should remember that you are his and become a suffering servant just like him. Don't you dare coast through life looking for comfort and ease with your little fire insurance, because if you are faithless, if you deny him, he will deny you. So, Timothy, let's go. Here's your musket."
The cottage of grace always produces people of courage. If you don't have that spirit, if you have the spirit of timidity, it's because you have an unholy spirit. He's telling us to remember Christ risen from the dead. Never forget. We forget what Christ has done. There's a little flower. Myosotis is its Greek name, which means mouse ear.
Anybody here a florist? Anybody know what the colloquial name for a mouse-eared flower is that's wild and grows by brooks and streams? It's called a forget-me-not, and it has a sweet little smell. Christ gave us an everlasting forget-me-not. It's called Communion. He told us that every time we break bread, we are to remember the love of Christ.
Is there anything that smells better than fresh bread? When my wife and I got married, we returned all of your wire bread baskets and all of your nonsense gifts we were never going to use, and we got enough money that we had like $300 left, and we went, "What are we going to do?" I begged and pleaded to buy a bread maker with an automatic timer so that every morning I could wake up to a loaf of fresh bread and the smell would just fill the house.
Those of you guys who have lived in Texas for a short period of time, I mourned the day SMU bought that property south of Mockingbird and got rid of Mrs. Baird's bakery. Dallas was worth living in because Mrs. Baird's bakery was there. If you were upwind of Mrs. Baird's bakery, if you caught a south wind when you were down there, it was like, "Life is good, and the world is as it should be, because over the city is the smell of fresh bread."
That's what Communion is. Don't take it with a stale saltine or pureed… When we take Communion, you almost have to go like this and put your finger on a cracker just to get one out. Or we give you those little "Communionables." Do you know what I mean? It's like a Lunchable. It's all right there. Here's the wafer. You know, take that off. I understand why we do it. We have to do it just because we can't make fresh bread.
But how great would it be if every Sunday you came to church and it smelled like Mrs. Baird's? By the way, you know it's supposed to by the way you greet and love one another? The aroma of Christ should be on you. People should walk into this place and should go, "Man, there's something different here. There's a love, there's a warmth, there's a grace, there's a kindness, and it is a fresh aroma. It's not what I find in the world. There's something sweet here."
When you get good, fresh bread… I know, typically, the reason we use matzah bread is because it's unleavened, so it does hearken back to the original time that Christ broke the bread at the Passover seder, but Jesus said, "I want you to remember me." There is a time when Jesus was anticipating that he was going to give them Communion, give them this "forget-me-not," this sweet little aroma.
If you were in the ancient Middle East, you never had a meal without bread and wine. Ever! So, what I think Christ is telling you to do is not just go to a church and the first Sunday of the month has Communion or not even to a church that celebrates it once a week or not even a church that does it every day.
He's telling you, "Christian, every time you eat, remember Jesus, and remember that just like you're going to die if something outside of you doesn't come into you to give you physical life, something died outside of you that gives you spiritual life, and he is the Bread of Life, and his name is Jesus. Stop and thank him, and the better the meal is and the more aromatic and pleasant it is, the more you should remember Jesus."
I think it's appropriate anytime you're with believers… Every time I'm having a meal with believers, I go, "Let's remember Christ before I dive into that Hopdoddy cheeseburger." I'm not making fun or being flippant toward Communion. I want to stop, and I go, "First of all, before we eat this, are we okay?"
My family has eaten a lot of cold green beans, because when we sat down to eat and we got ready to pray, we didn't just go, "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. By his hands we must be fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread, amen," and did our little Christian duty and then dove in. We don't bless the food. "God, thank you for the food and the hands that made it." We're not blessing the kitchen; we're blessing God who is the Bread of Life.
He says, "Don't eat and drink in an unworthy manner." What's an unworthy manner? You say you know Jesus and you're hardened toward your wife. You say you love Jesus as a Christian family and there's no unity and reconciliation. Do you want to have a good marriage? Commune together. That's why couples that pray together stay together. You can't have real prayer with one another when you're not living a spiritual life, and you have to reconcile every single day before you just hold that sweet person's hand and say, "Let's do something spiritual."
A lot of times, they're going to look at you and go, "Why don't we do something spiritual and love each other the way the Bible says we should love each other and talk and commune and not just have a family devotional for five minutes and then go back to being pagans?" You're going to eat, and when you eat, you want to be somebody who says, "Hey, are we ready to take this or are we going to dive in as a Christian family in an unworthy manner and say we remember Christ, but we don't love one another, which is the first thing he tells us is what marks us as his disciples?"
So we repent. We have sat there, and the green beans have gotten cold, and the chicken needed to be microwaved, because we were working it out. That's why I'm about to celebrate my thirtieth anniversary, and that's why our family loves each other. It's not because we don't have conflict. It's because we pursue reconciliation, remembering Christ, who gave his life for us and forgave us. So let's forgive one another.
If you want an epitaph for Israel, if you want to sum up Israel's life, here might be a good way to do it. Go read Psalm 78. Just put down in your Bible next to remember "Psalm 78," because Psalm 78 is a psalm that basically says this: "Israel, though they saw all of these things, soon forgot." Do you know why we muster and then we lose our mission? Because we soon forget that Christ loved us and died for us.
By the way, when I read Psalm 78, I don't see Israel; I see me. I will preach my heart out. I will delight in God's Word, and then what happens is I go home, and I want to get lazy. I feel entitled. "I just worked hard. I just poured myself out. I just need some space. Don't talk to me." That's what runs over this flesh instead of "Now I'm going to go to my real ministry and really begin to love and serve…not preach but practice."
Look at 1 Corinthians 10 with me. Just watch this. I don't have time to do this all, but I would love to read 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. I'm not going to read all of it, but watch the context of why we say, "Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, born of David." Born, suffered, died, resurrected. By the way, in Romans 1:3, that's what Paul says. "I'm an apostle. I serve the descendant of David, Jesus Christ, who was risen from the grave and who, with authority, was declared to be the Son of God." Don't forget. He has been tested in every way as you have been, and he is King, and he is God. It's the gospel.
First Corinthians 10:1: "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea…" You read that and you go, "What is he talking about?" He's saying there was a physical manifestation of God every single day if you were an Israelite when they came out of Egypt. There was a pillar of cloud by day. There was a pillar of fire by night. It told them when to move and when to sit, where to go and how to get there.
They all passed through the sea. Pharaoh's army was coming down upon them, and God split the sea. These people saw the glory of God in works and in presence. "…and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…" Just like you're baptized by faith into Jesus. "…and all ate the same spiritual food [manna]; and all drank the same spiritual drink [water that came out of a rock in the desert]…"
Paul makes an allusion. That life-giving water, that Rock of Ages is Jesus, and he is the never-ending fountain of life that will supply you what you need. Verse 5: "Nevertheless…" They didn't remember. They didn't keep serving that God. You're like, "Are you kidding me?" "Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased…" And they paid a price for it. They denied him, so he denied the fact that he was going to be their God. He left them vulnerable and alone, and that doesn't work out well for you.
Jump down to verse 11. "Now these things happened to them as an example [for you and me], and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." Don't let Psalm 78 be our story. "Remember Jesus, Timothy. Don't be like them. I told you what God just did in Jerusalem. He took on the form of flesh.
God came, and his body was broken, and he told you his body was going to be broken, because he laid it down because he loves you, Timothy, to pay for your 'descendant of Adam' sin, and he raised himself up from the grave because he's God, and he will raise you if you follow him. Timothy, you think it was cool to be baptized into Moses? How about being baptized across the river Hades and set in glory by Jesus? That's what has happened." The River Styx in Hades, so we sing, "Carry on, my wayward son." That's the way my brain works.
Watch this. He says in verse 13, "No temptation has overtaken you…" "Timothy, I know it's hard. Corinthians, I know it's hard, but what you're going through is common. This is not an unusual commissioning. This is not an unusual campaign. It's the way of the soldier. The gym isn't harder for you than it is for anybody else. The soil doesn't need to be spaded more in your life than it does anybody else.
You do what you're supposed to do so you can get what you have to get. No temptation has overtaken you to love comfort and to be timid but is common to man. God has provided the way of escape." Do you want to know one of my favorite series we've ever done here? It's called Way of Escape. It is all taught right out of this verse. It was four weeks on how to face temptation. Go back and get it. It's back there in the Watermark archives.
"You can endure it." Watch what he's going to do. That's why he jumps then to chapter 11, verse 1. The reason I'm doing this is to show you Paul just keeps saying the same thing. In 2 Timothy 2:10, he says, "For this reason I endure all things…" In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he says, "Be imitators of me,just like I'm an imitator of Christ." In 2 Timothy, "Remember Christ. Join me." Same thing to the Corinthians. Guess what he does in 1 Corinthians 11:23. This whole thing flows.
"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed [when he was on earth as a descendant of David] took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'"
"Forget me not. Every time you eat, remember the fragrant aroma of my love for you." Do you see how it all works together? It's why I don't pray when I have lunches with nonbelievers. I mean, if they want to I will. I'll pray for them, but I don't feel any obligation to. It's weird and awkward. Sometimes somebody will ask, "Why didn't you pray?"
"Well, because when I pray, I'm not praying that God would bless the cow that died for me. When I pray I'm remembering Jesus. In fact, if you sit here and remember Jesus with me and you don't know him and follow him, it says it's going to get even worse for you. You do know the Jesus story. Right? You're my friend. We've had this conversation.
Christ died for you, and he's not going to make you love him. You get to choose, but you just need to know, the more you keep meditating on the fact that he is the broken body for you that you reject, you are going to starve for eternity. That's why I don't pray: because I love you, and you have enough judgment now." That always turns into a great lunch conversation. "But if you want to, I'd love for you to know what I know, and let's remember my Savior. Is he your Savior?"
"That's why we're not going to pray. How's your life going?"
"Well, I'm glad you asked. Things with the wife aren't so good."
"I know why: because you don't know how to love her like Jesus. Have I ever told you how Jesus loves you?" It's so easy.
Paul says here, "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David…" I have to leave everything there. I wish I could teach for six hours. He says, "It's my gospel," and then he says: "…I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal…" That word criminal means somebody who deliberately does evil. Paul says, "I'm not deliberately doing evil. I am suffering for people. I'm giving my life for people, and I'm in jail for the Word of God."
By the way, "My gospel" is the Word of God. Paul equates the two. Make sure that your good news is God's good news. Don't make up your own, Joseph Smith. Don't make up your own, Joseph Rutherford and Mary Baker Eddy. Don't make up your own, Todd Wagner. The gospel you preach had better be God's gospel, not some false gospel. (I just mentioned Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Scientists.)
Don't make up your own, Muhammad. Don't make up your own, progressive liberal church. Don't make up your own, Watermark. There is no Watermark way. It is the way, the truth, and the life. That's what he's saying. He says: "…but the word of God is not imprisoned." That word there means bound. Paul is saying, "I might be under Rome's jurisdiction, but God's Word is not, Timothy. So don't you worry about what they do to you in Ephesus. Just be faithful."
"For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen…" This is what is called the doctrine of election. The Bible doesn't say people who want to come to God can't because they weren't chosen. The Bible says none of us, none of you…I didn't…want God. I couldn't care less about God. I am happy, and I am a sated man, and I loathe honey of the gospel. For whatever reason, God changed my taste buds and made me, through some predetermined grace, love him.
Some people hear this… It's just there in Scripture. If you're out there right now saying, "How do I know if I'm chosen?" Answer: come. Just like in verse 7, "Consider, and God will give you understanding…" Human responsibility, divine enlightenment. The same thing is true with your salvation. You have a responsibility. Repent. Come. When you repent and come, you can thank God, because it was his work, and you ought to be the most humble people on the face of the earth.
That's just the Bible. But some people read that, and they go, "Well, then God is going to find who he's going to find." No. The Bible says, "You go suffer, because my people are out there." I don't have time to take you to Acts 18, but if I did, you would find Paul back in Corinth, and he is being rejected and beaten. God says, "Don't you leave Corinth, because I have many people in this city." Isn't that interesting? In a Greek city where the gospel hadn't come yet, God said, "My people are here, and I want you to reach them." How? "Through your gospel, which is from my Word. Stay."
I don't know who you are out there, elect, but that's why I'm teaching. I don't know who you are, sinner chosen by God, but it's why I order my life, and that's why we at Watermark order our lives to serve you, that you might see and smell the aroma of Christ and hear the preaching of his goodness and kindness and your eyes would be opened and you would come. When you come, you should be the most humble person on the face of the earth.
This is not an information problem; this is a problem of your will. You just need to pray, "God, change my will. Give me eyes to see." When you pray that prayer, the Lord God will give you understanding and you'll love this gospel. We should suffer for that. Don't be surprised when a bunch of folks with Stockholm syndrome don't want to hear that the one who holds them captive, Satan, who says, "Do whatever you will," is not a good captor.
I have a friend who rescues people from the sex trade, and sometimes when you rescue those girls from their pimps, they fight you, but he does it anyway because he knows they're just captive to do the will of somebody and they're deceived. That's our job: to get beaten, spit upon, and scratched that they might have life.
"It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him…" Here's what you need to see. There are two little statements here, and they go together. This is complex stuff. I want you to hear this. This is tender. The very first one, "If we died with him, we'll live with him…" What goes with that is "If we endure, we will reign." The idea here… You ought to circle the word died. "For if we died with him…" And circle the word endure and draw a line between them. They go together. He's saying the same thing twice.
"If we died with him, if we endure with him…" is the idea. Same thing. "…we will live with him…" Then also draw a line with the word live and the word reign. Live and reign go together. He's saying the same thing twice. This is important when you get to the very difficult next verse. I don't think Paul is talking about Romans 6, baptism into faith, that if we died with Christ we'll walk in newness of life with him. What he's basically doing here… This is a call to martyrdom. It's a call to being an athlete and a soldier and a hardworking farmer.
What Paul did in verses 1-6 is he illustrated through metaphor. What he's doing in verses 8-12 is he is testifying through the experience of men. In other words, "This isn't just some big idea that you should be a hardworking farmer and a competitive athlete and an active soldier. Jesus was that. I am that. You should be that, and all faithful Christians are that." It's illustration through metaphor. It is experiences of men. "Join us, Timothy. Find yourself here. If you die to yourself and take up your cross and follow him, that's where life is."
This week, I heard stories right here at good ol' Watermark. A young woman heard a testimony of somebody who used to be a john, who used to take advantage of weak women and prostitutes. She was here, and she herself was a stripper. When you're a stripper, you don't just strip. You eventually do lap dances, and eventually when you do lap dances, you go home. This little girl heard about this john testifying to his sin and his death and the forgiveness he found in Christ and how it turned his life around, and she came up and said, "I'm on the other side. Tell me about that Jesus again."
This week at Watermark, we were talking about how God loves us and frees us all from our slavery to sin, and a young guy came up and said, "Listen, man. I was abused when I was a young man, and I can't stop having sex with men. Tell me again about the power of Jesus." What else do you want to do but see people freed from that? This week at Watermark, I guarantee you there's some self-righteous individual who's going to hear about the gospel and that they need it, and God is going to open their eyes, and they're going to call themselves a sinner, and they're going to come to him. What else do you want to do? Those are three equally miraculous stories of grace.
Do you want life? Come on, man. Join me in being a faithful witness of the gospel. That's this week. It happens all the time here. I'm just walking with Jesus going, "There he goes again." What else are we going to do this week? Watch this. In the same way, in verse 12, you see this come up: "If we deny him…" You have to draw a line from that word deny to faithless, because the synonym for "If we deny him" is "If we are faithless."
If we are not cross-carriers, if we are not active soldiers, if we are not professional athletes, then he will also deny us. That isn't Paul's idea. That is Matthew 10:33. "If you don't confess me before men, I will not confess you before the Father. You're not mine." One of the marks of being a Christ follower is that we suffer. Tertullian said, "The man who is afraid to suffer cannot belong to him who suffered." The man who is off mission cannot belong to this commander.
There is a very serious warning here. Don't sing his little songs and then live your own life. Don't salute him on Sunday and live your little life. Don't say what a wonderful cross it is and then go out there and build your kingdom. Now here's the good news. First of all, that's why we remember Christ. But here's the good news. Remember I told you to draw a line from "If we deny him, if we're faithless, he'll deny us"? Because he remains faithful.
The idea here is if we deny him, he'll deny us. We are faithless; he is not faithless. Meaning, when Christ says, "If you don't take my provision…" This is where I was going to take you to John 6, but I don't have time. Go read John 6. In John 6, when you get to verse 66, it's where Jesus is saying, "I'm the Bread of Life. If you don't eat my flesh and drink my blood…" And people are like, "That is weird." Jesus explains it. It says that some went away and no longer followed him, and he wasn't surprised because he knew who were his from the beginning.
People who are his from the beginning finish the race. They take up their cross and follow him. He is faithful. He's not going to mock himself. He's not going to say that full devotion is normal for a believer and then let a bunch of weak, said professors get into heaven, because he is faithful to himself. He will begin the work of grace, and he will complete the work of grace, and if you don't see the work of grace in you, it ought to concern you.
Now, Christian, here's some good news. He doesn't say you're going to be the perfect active soldier, the perfect professional athlete, or the perfect farmer. So, even when we are faithless…here's the tag…he is faithful. Peter, Christian or not? Say "Yes." Did Peter deny Jesus? Say "Yes." So how does that work? Here's how it works. Peter wept and mourned and cried out to God for forgiveness. He knew he was off mission, and he got back on mission.
He picked up his cross, and when it came time to die as a martyr, he said, "Don't you put me on a cross that way. That's how my Savior died. Turn that sucker upside down and nail my feet to the top." You're going to mess up this week. You messed up last week. Do what Peter did. Repent, weep, mourn, confess, get back in a band of soldiers, and say, "Let's go." Amen? Let's worship our King.
Father, I thank you that even when we're not, you're faithful, but let us not be deluded with our little songs. Let us follow our Savior. Would you open the eyes of nonbelievers? Would you let them hear today of the goodness of your work and the beauty of your cross? And may somebody out there who is chosen see your love and run to you in this moment, and may those of us who know you listen to the description of our competent, caring commander who has already been crowned, and let us live for him so that we will share in that life and crown. In Jesus' name, amen.