Children can be embarrassingly frank. I read of a minister who was visiting one of his members. The lady of the house was trying to impress him about how devout she was by pointing out the large Bible on the bookshelf and talking in a very reverential way of it as "the Word of God". Her young son interrupted the conversation, "Well, if thatís Godís book we better send it back to him because we never read it!"

Most of the apostle Paulís writings which have survived to be included in the Scriptures are written to churches, but there are just a few personal letters to individuals, where he focuses to a single person and gives him the benefit of his long experience. This is the case when he writes to Timothy whom he regards as his son in the faith - and what a warm letter he sent. What an encouragement it must have been to the young man. When did we last send a letter or speak a word of encouragement to someone starting out in Godís service or any Christian under pressure? Think if the enormous blessing a postcard of John Bunyanís church meant to Terry Waite kept hostage in Lebanon for several years.

Paul was nearing the end of his life, but before he died, he wanted to make sure that the message that had been revealed to him by the risen Christ would be continued in a new generation. News came to Paul of heresy in the church, of the entry of erroneous doctrine peddled by false teachers whom the evil one used, perhaps unknowingly to them, to deceive sincere believers in Jesus.

Paul was in a Roman prison, chained to a soldier, so what could he do? Thereís a saying that "the pen is mightier that the sword" Ė but here we have "the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God". Paul took up his pen and wrote to his dear, young friend Timothy reminding him of the blessing which was his in coming into Godís family while young in life; how he had learned the truths of Scripture and the responsibility that he now had to carry the message forward. We have this in Paulís second letter, 3: 14 - 17.

These verses, although originally meant for Timothy, contain a vital message for us too, as the apostle urged his friend to "Continue in the truth you have been taught". We see first of all the need to:

Paul had been warning Timothy of the effects of a godless society, the breakdown of relationships, the infiltration of error in the church and the persecution this would bring to a faithful servant of Christ. He then addresses Timothy personally: "But as for you" - you, he says, must be different from this; you must "continue in what you have learned". Letís take the words as a personal call from the Lord.

Timothy is challenged to remain constant to the Christian teaching he had received from Paul, whatever false experts might teach. Itís as if a captain of a ship has issued a command to his navigating officer on the bridge; there must be no deviation from the course