Do you find yourself spending too much time and energy on the inconsequential things of this world? As we close out our sermon series The Last Word, Blake Holmes shows us three practical ways to invest in what truly matters so that we might finish well when our time on earth is done.
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
Do you find yourself spending too much time and energy on the inconsequential things of this world? As we close out our sermon series The Last Word, Blake Holmes shows us three practical ways to invest in what truly matters so that we might finish well when our time on earth is done.
Good morning. This is a fun time of year. School is coming to a close, and high school athletes across the state of Texas are receiving a letter jacket. If you remember back in high school… I mean, that was like the crown jewel, wasn't it? You worked hard to receive your letter jacket. It really is a special thing. It honors hard work and discipline and commitment and competition. When you're in high school, when you receive that letter jacket, you wear it with pride. There's a great sense of accomplishment.
But here's the crazy thing about the letter jacket: the moment you graduate from high school, it's no longer cool to wear your letter jacket. None of us want to gather with our friends who talk about how cool they were in high school. I tell my kids all the time… I'm like, "Listen. At some point, these achievements you're striving for in high school will no longer be cool. Nobody is going to care about the letter jacket." My words to them simply are "Don't peak in high school."
Letter jackets are really neat, but could you imagine if today I wore my letter jacket? What if I came up here and I was like, "Hey, guys. Woo! Do you see this? Do you see that patch right there? Back in '90…woo-hoo! We were really good." You would look at me like something was really wrong. Or high school seniors, try showing up next year as a freshman in college with your letter jacket on. That's just not the cool thing to do.
Here's what I want to share with you. There's going to come a point in our lives when we are going to stand before the Lord and give an account for how we lived our lives. Here's what I think is tragic: many of us are going to stand before the Lord, and it's going to be like we put on a letter jacket.
The things we're pursuing today we're going to look back on and go, "Man! Why did I invest so much time and energy in pursuing letter jackets? Why did I forsake what was truly important and what I professed to believe on Sunday? Why did I spend so much energy in seeking good things, but not ultimate things; good things, but not eternal things?"
I believe every one of us wants to finish well. We don't want to just finish high school well. We want to finish life well. We want to arrive at the point when we stand before our Maker and hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Right? That's what we all want to hear: "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
But how do we do this? How do we live in such a way that when we come to the end of our lives we find that we lived for the ultimate things, the eternal things, the things God valued, and we will be able to hear those words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant"? Today, we're going to see that finishing well starts by living faithfully today, and we're going to conclude our look at the book of 2 Timothy. Specifically, we're going to look at chapter 4, the whole thing.
We're going to see that in order to finish well, we have to hold to sound doctrine (verses 1-5). In verses 6-8, we're going to see we have to live for the eternal reward. Live for what's eternal, not what's temporary. Then, finally, he's going to close, and he's going to show us we have to invest in the lives of people. So, how do we live well such that we'll hear those words we all want to hear: "Well done, my good and faithful servant"?
This is Paul's last word to Timothy. He's writing to his protégé from a Roman prison. He knows he's about to die. These are his final words. In chapter 1, he told him to guard the deposit of faith; in chapter 2, to be strong in the faith; in chapter 3, to persevere in the faith; then, finally, in chapter 4, "Finish well, Timothy. Finish well." So, let's jump into verses 1-5. In these five short verses, we're going to see there are nine imperatives that Paul gives. Let's read this together.
"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."
Paul's charge was made in light of Christ's presence, in light of Christ's judgment, in light of Christ's return. "Timothy, what I'm about to share with you is of utmost importance. Get this right." Then he tells him to preach the Word, which he described as the "inspired word of God" a chapter before. It's not just any ordinary book; it's the inspired Word of God, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.
"Take this Word and preach it, in season and out of season." At all times he was to be ready. Literally, to be on duty. He was to reprove those who were not correct in their thinking around God's Word. He was to rebuke those who lived contrary to the will of God. He was to exhort those who were living faithfully and continue to encourage them and applaud them and tell them to keep going, and he was to do so with complete patience and instruction. I love that.
"Hey, Timothy, when you're teaching, do it patiently. Do it in a way where you inform your followers. Don't do it out of an angry spirit and spite or impatiently. No one wants to be instructed by a teacher who's impatient or doesn't clearly inform them on what's expected of them. But you do it with patience and clear guidance."
The reason this was so important… He warns him in verse 3. "The time is coming, Timothy, when people, those who are listening to you, will not endure sound teaching." In other words, they are going to reject the teaching of God's Word. Why? Because they want to have their ears tickled. In other words, they're going to accumulate for themselves teachers who are going to tell them what they want to hear.
Like, "This is what the Bible may say, but that feels pretty inconvenient" or "I don't like that" or "That feels judgmental" or "It doesn't seem right to me. So what I'll do is I'll just go over, and I'll listen to those who will tell me what I want to hear." It's coming. "They'll turn away from listening to the truth," he says, "and they will wander off into myths. But, Timothy, you do this."
Verse 5: "As for you, be sober-minded, clear thinking, endure suffering…" "Endure hardship as a good soldier in Jesus Christ" is what he said earlier. "Do the work of an evangelist. Make sure people understand the clarity of the gospel. Fulfill your ministry. If you want to finish well, Timothy…" If you want to finish well, Watermark, you have to hold to sound doctrine.
Now, when I think about doctrine… If you're like me, I hear that term, and I go, "We don't use that term very often: doctrine." When I think doctrine, I think old. I think dusty. I think out of touch. I think kind of cold or distant principles. But doctrine is a word we should claim back, because Bible doctrine is essential. Let me tell you what doctrine is. Doctrine is just simply what the church believes, what the church teaches and confesses on the basis of God's Word.
That's what doctrine is. It's not stale or old. Bible doctrine is what the church believes, teaches, and confesses based on the truth of God's Word. We need Bible doctrine. It's essential to the Christian faith. It instructs us, it guides us, it protects us, and it unites us. Clear teaching, clear Bible doctrine, instructs us, guides us, protects us, and unites us.
Several years ago, we were able to rescue a young dog, a black lab, a puppy. I love dogs. This dog and I quickly bonded. My wife had one rule for when we got a dog. She said, "Hey, listen. I have four kids at home, so when I open up the door, I don't want to have to then chase the dog down the street. So, can we train the dog to where when you open up the door she's not just darting down the street?"
I have a friend who is a member here at Watermark who trains dogs. He's like, "That's one of the easiest things I could ever teach." I'm like, "Really?" He goes, "Oh yeah." I was like, "So, how do you have a dog to where you walk the dog, and you don't even have to have a leash, and she'll stay right beside you?" He goes, "I've got it." So, he comes over and pulls out of his bag of tricks this long, 12-foot, what he called, check cord with a little clip on it.
He put that check cord on the dog's collar like that, and then when you open up the door, you just stand on the check cord. You never touch the dog. You just stand on the check cord. You open up the door, and of course, the first time, do you know what the dog wants to do? Bolt out of the house. But how far does that dog get to go? As far as that check cord, about 12 feet.
The first time she does it, she darts out, and in about 12 feet, she falls back. The second time, she tries it. The third time, not going anywhere. I walk outside. I walked her all over the neighborhood, and when she got a little too far I'd just step on it. She would feel that tug, and then she'd come right back to me. I haven't put a leash on my dog in years. That check cord taught her to stay close to the one who loves her, who has her best interests in mind.
I'm not trying to keep her away from having fun. I'm trying to keep her close to me, because I don't want her to run out into the street. I don't want to lose her. I love that dog. The check cord has kept her close to me, the one who has her best interests in mind. That's what Bible doctrine does. Clear biblical teaching instructs us, guides us, protects us, unites us. It keeps us close to the God who loves us, our Master.
I want you to think for a second the practical implications of Bible doctrine. Consider the difference between the incoming college freshman who believes God's Word is authoritative and true and that truth is absolute versus the incoming freshman who believes that truth is relative, who believes truth is found from within, and whatever feels good, do it. Think for a second. If that's what they believe about truth…either it's absolute or it's relative…do you think their experience at the end of those four years will be different? Bible doctrine matters.
Or think about the single adult who believes life is found in loving God and serving others versus the single adult who believes "Life is found in my career, in my accomplishments, in my wealth." Theology matters, friends. Or the married couple that views their marriage as a covenant before God to reflect the Godhood, the Trinity, and that marriage is not just for their happiness but it's to reflect the holiness of God, versus the couple that gets married and sees marriage as just a contract, and you stay in for as long as you're happy. Do you think theology matters? Absolutely.
In every area of our lives, theology informs what we think and how we live. The cancer patient who believes everything that happens in this life happens according to a God who's providentially at work, who's sovereign over every aspect of our lives; the cancer patient who believes in hope of a resurrection and life eternal versus the cancer patient who just believes we're here because of time plus chance plus matter, and then after you die there's nothing. How do they respond to that kind of diagnosis? Theology informs everything, friends.
As one person has rightly said, ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. It's for this reason that Paul says in Ephesians 4, "Don't be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." Don't be tossed here and there by all of the ideas that flood you day in and day out, contrary to clear Bible teaching. Know God's Word. Hold fast to Bible doctrine if you want to finish well.
Paul's charge serves as a helpful litmus test for the church today. At Watermark, we hold to what we refer to as seven essentials. There are seven essentials that we hold to corporately that every member says, "I believe that. I want to be held accountable to that. I want to be instructed in that. I want to be encouraged to that. I want to be informed, because I believe those seven essentials to be true." It's around the doctrines of the Bible, the Trinity, who Jesus is, the Holy Spirit, the nature of man, salvation, and the second coming.
We are unashamed, unequivocal, immovable, fully convicted that these seven truths are of God and are best for us and should inform everything we do. We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and is our final authority in doctrine and practice. We're unapologetic. We believe in the Trinity. We believe there is one God, that Father, Son, and Spirit are each God and the Father, Son, and Spirit are each a distinct person. We believe with all of our hearts.
We believe in the doctrine of Jesus Christ. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God, and he accomplished our redemption through his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, his burial, and his bodily resurrection. That's what every member at Watermark says: "Hey, I believe."
If you go to our website, you'll see what we believe on the Holy Spirit. We believe God the Spirit restrains evil in the world, convicts mankind of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and dwells within the heart of all believers. Do you believe that? Do you really believe you're a temple of God and God's Spirit lives in you?
The nature of man. We believe man was created innocent in the image and likeness of God but that man sinned, bringing both physical and spiritual death to himself and his posterity. The ultimate problem we all face is not a lack of education, not a lack of finances. We don't have marital problems or conflict with coworkers. Ultimately, our greatest problem is the problem of sin, that we've rebelled against a perfect, righteous, and holy God. That's what we believe.
It manifests itself in thousands of ways, but the good news is that we believe in the doctrine of salvation. We believe salvation is a gift of God and it is received by man through personal faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for sin. We believe God loves you. No matter what you've done, no matter where you've been, no matter how many times you've done it, you are not made right with God because you have a letter jacket, because the good outweighs the bad or you come to church.
That's not what makes one right with God. What makes one right with God is someone who recognizes that ultimately they are a sinner, that we've lived in such a way that's contrary to the will of God, but God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. So, salvation is a gift to be received, not because of something we've done but because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, through his death, burial, and resurrection. That's where we find life. It's the hope of the gospel, and it defines everything we do.
We believe in the second coming. We believe in the future visible and bodily return of Jesus Christ to earth. We believe God is providentially at work, that history is not just a random occurrence of events, but God is so orchestrating the events that occur in this world to culminate in the return of his Son. Do you believe these things?
Corporately, that's what we hold to; what, at the very least, you have to say and have to believe in order to be a part of this particular church. Those truths will never change. We're unapologetic. We ask our members every year to reaffirm these seven essentials on what we call the 4B form. It's just a chance for us, as the family at this local community of faith, to go, "Hey, count me in. I believe those things to be true. I want to remain a part of this family of believers."
The goal, friends, is not just to check a box or intellectually pass a quiz. The goal is to reaffirm what we believe to be true and our common commitment to one another. You cannot love God if you do not know him. Bible doctrine helps us to know his character, and you cannot know him apart from understanding right doctrine.
When I was in college, I had the opportunity to go to Europe for several weeks, and I found myself over a couple of days… My friends and I had all split up. We were studying over there. I found myself for a couple of days in Paris, France, which sounds great, but I was all alone. I don't know if you've ever been in a foreign country where you didn't speak the language, but, man, talk about feeling isolated.
Here I am sitting in Paris, and I'm thinking, "This is the City of Lights. It's a beautiful place.
It's where everybody wants to come, yet I can't make my way around anywhere, because everybody speaks French and I speak English." I couldn't read anything. It was hard to get directions, hard to order food. Some people were willing to help, but, man, it felt isolating.
One night while I was out, I happened to run into a friend of mine from college who I wasn't particularly close with back home, but when we saw one another… I mean, I wanted to give that guy a hug and hold on tight, because immediately… We looked at each other, and we spent the next few days in Paris together, and we made memories and had a ball. Why? Why was it so great to see him? Because we spoke a common language. We had a shared worldview.
Christian, let me tell you something. The Bible describes you as an alien and stranger in this world. This world should feel unfamiliar to you. The things you value, if you hold to sound doctrine, should make you stand out. But when you come across somebody else who holds that same language, speaks your language, holds the same worldview, has the same values you have, you want to embrace them. If you want to finish well, hold to sound doctrine.
Here are two helpful things you can do. In your Community Group, I would encourage you to go to the website and look at the seven essentials. Review them with your group. Or sign up for our Understanding the Essentials of Christianity, our online course you can take by yourself or with your Community Group.
Paul knew his death was imminent. He uses images like military images, athletic images, stewardship images, saying, "Hey, I've fought the good fight. I've finished the race. I've kept the faith. I've come to the end, but I've remained faithful. I've lived for what was eternal, and I know there's going to be an eternal reward for me: the crown of righteousness."
Notice the promise he makes in verse 8. "…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." That includes you and me. When we live faithfully to finish well, we live for the eternal reward.
We recognize that there's more to this life than what's simply temporary, that we're all going to stand before God one day. We'll all give an account for how we lived our lives. I said doctrine is not popular to talk about anymore. Well, neither is the judgment of God. That's just not something we talk about in churches as much as we should, yet it is as clear in Scripture as any other doctrine. God's judgment is certain. God's judgment is personal, and it is final. We must understand this.
I love the game of chess. I don't know how many people play chess out there, but I love the game of chess. When I was trying to teach my kids growing up how to play chess, I tried to instill within them, "The object of the game is to capture your opponent's king, yet sometimes, strategically, you'll sacrifice pieces in order to accomplish the main objective: to capture the king."
But my kids were young, so, oftentimes, here I am, and I'd sacrifice pieces, and they would feel great because they're taking a pawn or a knight of mine, yet all along, I'm just strengthening my position, because, ultimately, I want to capture the king. Here they are collecting pieces, losing sight of what the objective of the game is: capturing my king.
Gang, we will all stand before the Lord and give an account for how we lived our lives. Mark my words. Some of us are collecting pieces that we're going to look back on, and we're going to go, "Yeah, I accomplished this in my career, which was great, but it was temporal. I had a great vacation. I had a great experience. I made this much money or I earned this degree." All good things in and of themselves but not ultimate things, not eternal things.
If you want to finish well, you have to recognize the objective: to glorify God, to live for what is eternal, to seek the eternal reward, the crown of righteousness, not just collecting pieces, the things of this world. If you want to know what you're living for, Jesus gives us a really clear test. What do I ultimately value? Jesus tells us in Matthew 6.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Do you want to know what you ultimately value? Look at how you spend your money. Look at how you spend your time. That will be a clear indicator of what you value.
Verse 10: "For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica." He says in verse 11, "Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry." Verse 14: "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."
Paul invested in people. Some deserted him, some stuck with him, some were useful to him, some harmed him, but he invested in the lives of people. I love 1 Thessalonians 2:8: "So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." Paul didn't just teach to inform the mind; he invested in the lives of people. He loved people.
That's ultimately what ministry, life, is all about: the people we loved, the lives we invested in, those we encouraged along the way. Friends, who are you investing in today? Who are you seeking out, loving, praying for, intentionally serving? Who's on your list as you close your letter of the people you want to encourage, the people you want to help, the people you want to support, the people in your office, the people in your school, the people in your neighborhood? Who do you see?
There are two coffee shops in my neighborhood (this is really interesting to me), one on Hillcrest and one on Preston. They opened up at about the same time. The coffee shop on Hillcrest Road, which is closer to my house, is a more name brand, one that most people recognize. It's a local coffee shop. I went in there one day with my wife, and when I went in, the girl behind the counter seemed pretty miffed that I was even there.
She was on her phone. Clearly she was on social media or playing a game or collecting whatever coins. She was playing, and when I asked, it sounded like I had inconvenienced her for my cup of coffee. Now, it had tables and chairs and Wi-Fi and all of those things. She hands me the cup of coffee. I said "Thanks," and I tried to be kind. I don't know if she really said much to me at all. So, I took my coffee, and I was like, "I don't think I ever want to go back there."
Then there's another coffee shop a little bit farther from my house that opened up on Preston Road. I go in there, and it's half the size. There are no tables. It feels like a long hallway. It's just a nook. I walk in with my wife, and the owner is standing in front of the counter. When I walk in, he sees me, and his eyes connect with me, and he goes, "Hey, how are you? Is this your first time in?" "Well, as a matter of fact, it is."
"Great. Tell me about the kind of coffee you like." I'm like, "Tell you the kind of coffee I like? Okay." I described the coffee drink, and he listens to me, and he goes, "I think I know what you want." So he goes behind the counter. I don't even make an order. He hands me the coffee, and he goes, "There you go." I take a sip, and I go, "That's excellent." He goes, "Great. I'm glad you like it."
I go, "So, if I come back, what do I call this?" He goes, "Oh, when you come in, just tell them you want cowboy juice." I was like, "Great. Cowboy juice." So, I go back in looking for my cowboy juice. The first thing that happens when I walk in… He goes, "Hey, Blake, are you back for cowboy juice?" Truly. I'm like, "This is a pretty good store. There is no Wi-Fi, there are no tables, and this guy seems to like me. He remembered my name."
I think, "Well, maybe it's because I'm a nice guy." So then I go on Saturday morning, and I recognize "Oh, now I'm in line." There are several people. But here's what's crazy. He went, "Hey, Mark. Hey, Sally. Hi, Rob. Hi, Michael. Hi, Blake." They knew people's names. Every individual mattered. I said to him, "Hey, man. You not only have great coffee, but I've come in on Saturdays… This isn't just like a sideshow. You know people's names."
He said to me, "Blake, let me be candid with you. I'm not in the coffee business; I'm in the people business." I thought, "Wow! How right that is." We're in the people business. Paul prioritized relationships. I just want to say to two groups of people today… Some of you are visiting. Some of you are online. For some of you, this is your first time at Watermark. Some of you have been here a thousand times and we still don't know who you are.
Some of you have walked in today, and you're going, "Wow! There are hundreds of people here. I'll never get plugged in." Can I just say to you? We would love to know your name. We want to know you. Every week we tell you… It's not just a hollow invitation. We say, "Take this Watermark News. Fill it out. Let us know your name, and someone on our staff will follow up with you this week."
We call you. "Become a member. Get in a Community Group. Find a place to serve." When you do that, a really big place begins to feel really small. Let's face it. You can look around and go, "Hey, this is really big. No one is ever going to know me." But you know what? If you're in a room of 100, the same thing can be true; 50, the same thing can be true; 10, the same thing can be true; or sitting at a table for 4, the same thing could be true if you never let somebody get to know you.
We want to get to know you, and we want to encourage you and pray for you and help you. For those of you who are members of Watermark, who are faithfully serving… You're a student leader for years investing in people. You're a Bible study leader. You're a mentor in South Dallas. You're leading a Community Group. Of the thousands of ways in which you're serving, can I just thank you for investing in people?
What makes this family special is not whatever happens up here on a Sunday, but it's individual members who recognize "You know what? Life is about loving God and loving people. That's how I'm going to finish well." I want to introduce to you two couples. Each couple is an example to me. When I thought about, "Who are the friends in my life who hold to sound doctrine, live for the eternal reward, and invest in the lives of people?" I thought about these two couples. Let's watch this video together.
Jim Wimberley: We are Jim and Judy Wimberley.
Neil Curran: I'm Neil Curran.
Jody Curran: And I'm Jody Curran.
Jim: I just recently celebrated my 80th birthday. I became a believer in 1970, so I've been learning to lean on Jesus for over 50 years.
Neil: Well, when it comes to sound doctrine, I think of things I learned early in my faith. The great commandment is to love God with your whole heart and soul and mind and to love others as yourself. Then I learned the Great Commission, which is to make disciples. So that's what my life ought to be about.
Jim: Holding to sound doctrine is important because it is the only truth in the universe that we or anyone can rely on.
Judy Wimberley: We are just in a stream of various ideas and thoughts that culture is pushing on us, so holding on to sound doctrine is having a steadfast place where you can be sure of what you're choosing each day, when you choose sound doctrine, that it's what God would want you to do.
Jim: At this time in his life, Paul was looking forward to eternity. Actually, in verse 8, he said that there is a prize that awaits everyone who is looking forward to his appearing. That prize is the crown of righteousness. Judy and I also are looking forward to eternity, and we're looking forward to his appearing.
Jody: My dad was just the greatest guy, and whenever I did anything that was a little out of the ordinary that he approved, I'd get a big smile. I go through life thinking… Even when people reject what I was saying about Jesus or don't agree with me, I just think to myself, "Well, Jesus is smiling."
Jim: One of the things we have done is that we have prayed that God would allow us to show and share the love of Christ with people he brings around us, and we want to be faithful and available to do that with our words and with our ways.
Jody: We, like Paul, have had some disappointments, but God has never abandoned us. The fact that Paul was seeing his life poured out… At 77 and 80, I have no fear of death, and I recognize that we're all dying. Sooner or later, we're all dying. So what do you want to invest in? What do you want to give your life to?
Jim: I think to live our lives in accordance with God's Word and just telling others about the good news that he has allowed us to find is what he is calling us to do as followers of Christ.
Neil: If you want to finish well, then you need to keep growing, and the way to keep growing is to study the Word and interact with other people and help them grow and understand. I think that's the key: continually being involved in the Word and studying it and learning and serving others.
[End of video]