Summary: A sermon that examines how we as believers can have and maintain sincere faith. Finishes with a youtube clip which I have outlined at the end of the sermon.

2 Timothy 1:5New International Version (NIV)

5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

What is sincere faith

Some of the great sincere Christians I have met have often permeated the character and ministry of Jesus Christ. To be fair many have been people in churches who, although carrying responsibilities somehow were not in prominence in terms of position in the church – Here’s a couple – Dave. Dave was an elder in our church, as well as that, up in his seventies, he was still leading Boy’s brigade and used to attend the evening services in our growing church. Dave drove trucks for Fulton Hogan. What struck me about Dave was he would often bring a well prayed out word for the evening and would share it in tears at our services – Everything I saw about Dave was sincere and truthful –

Then there was Betty – Whenever I meet Betty she always seems to have that deep sincerity of a quiet walk with God. She always as a younger woman would share about how God was moving in her life and even now even though she is well up in her eighties in a rest home spends her time in prayer and discerning the word of God. There are of course many others these two are just standouts in a lifetime of meeting Christians with sincere faith.

Of course the reverse side of this coin is those who carry insincere faith. We don’t need to spend too long on that but an example would be allegedly Peter Popoff, 1987

A self-proclaimed prophet and faith healer in the 1980s, Popoff’s ministry went bankrupt in 1987 after magician and skeptic James Randi and Steve Shaw debunked his methods by showing that instead of receiving information about audience members from supernatural sources, he received it through an in-ear receiver.[8] That, if true, would be an insincere faith.

I think though there is a difference between a Christian who is struggling and failing and one who is an absolute fake – I was reading some information on forgeries this week in relation to the art world. BY JEFF TAYLOR

In A Forger’s Tale—convicted forger Shaun Greenhalgh reveals that he drew Leonardo da Vinci’s La Bella Principessa, which has been valued upwards of $100 million.

Greenhalgh even admits that he modeled the subject after a supermarket checkout girl.How did it pass the sniff tests of so many art historians? Undoubtedly, Greenhalgh was able to combine excellent painting skills with a knowledge of art history, materials, and technique he also understood how to corrupt the very systems of knowledge the art world uses to determine authenticity.

As Christians it is important that we are the real deal. Paul says to Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:5New International Version (NIV)

5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

When I read this passage I asked myself what does a sincere faith look like and how could Paul recognise it in Timothy.

Here are some key things to check that would help us recognise sincere faith in ourselves. If you want to be God’s masterpeace here is some stuff we could work on!

In fact they can become for us a to do list.

In 1 timothy Paul writes of Timothy 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the royal command of God, our Saviour, and of Jesus Christ, our Hope, writes this letter to Timothy, his true child in the faith. Grace, mercy and peace be to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is an astute judge of Character – he detects forgeries easily – even in believers for example in Acts chapter 15 we read: Acts 15:36-41New International Version (NIV)

Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas

36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

When Paul wrote to Timothy it is 7 or 8 years later but the attitude of Paul towards his young friend has not changed. He calls Timothy in 1 timothy To Timothy my true son in the faith:

7 years later he says of him - 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith – no new news there!

One of the keys to sincere faith then is consistency – what Paul saw in him in his first letter is still there at least seven years later. One of the other keys to sincere faith is endurance.

As Jesus says Luke 21:19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

Paul continues to encourage Paul in this way in the closing chapter of 1st Timothy chapter 6

12Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

17Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

20O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— 21which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.

Grace be with you.

The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.

J. Stowell, Fan The Flame, Moody, 1986, p. 32.

Paul warns us in Galatians 6:9 - “And let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Jesus told the Ephesian church that had fallen in their race, to get up and “REPENT and do the things you did at first.” Through repentance, prayer, & bible study, rekindle the love you have for Christ so that you can say with Paul ’I have fought a good fight, I HAVE FINISHED MY RACE, I have kept the faith’.

The key to endurance is maintaining vigilance and not opening a gate to let the enemy come in and take over your life.

John Maxwell tells in his book, “The Leader Within You,” the story of the building of the Great Wall of China. They built it so high that no one could get over it. And they built it so thick that no one could tunnel through it. They built this gigantic wall that still exists today. And then the people of China sat down behind the wall, feeling that their future was secure.

But in the first 100 years of the existence of the Wall of China, China was invaded 3 different times. The enemy didn’t come over because it was too high. They didn’t tunnel through because it was too thick. But each time China was invaded, the enemy came through a gate left open for them.

Those who guarded the gate had been bribed. And while the people of China sat comfortably behind the security & the safety of the wall, they failed to teach their children integrity & patriotism. So they sold out to the enemy. And the enemy invaded their land. What a parable!

I think that this is beautifully summed up in 2 Timothy chapter 2

Hold fast to the true: avoid dangerous error

14 Remind your people of things like this, and tell them as before God not to fight wordy battles, which help no one and may undermine the faith of some who hear them.

15 For yourself, concentrate on winning God’s approval, on being a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, and who knows how to use the word of truth to the best advantage.

16-18 But stear clear of these unchristian babblings, which in practice lead further and further away from Christian living. False teachings are as dangerous as blood-poisoning to the body, and spread like sepsis from a wound. Hymenaeus and Philetus are responsible for this sort of thing, and they are men who are palpable traitors to the truth, for they say that the resurrection has already occurred and, of course, badly upset some people’s faith.

The second key we learn about Timothy’s sincere faith is he knew who he was. Discoverwho you are in Christ.

A Good Minister of Jesus Christ

…11Command and teach these things. 12Let no one despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching.

We all have circumstances that could limit our steadfastness in Christ. Timothy was young – You might be old or sick or not intellectually capable or your childhood might not have been good – Don’t let anyone despise your circumstances – Know who you are in Christ.

Timothy knew who he was and carried his faith on in the family way as his Grandmother and Mother had done.

You may say that your circumstances are limiting you – remember Gideon stuck in the winepress –

He was a defeated man in a defeated nation – he felt unable to do anything about the middianite people who were threshing his nation -but the angel saw him and gave him God’s view.

Judges 6:12. .And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” New American Standard Bible

Gideon had one view but The angel presented God’s view.

Timothy needed encouragement and Paul provided it. Paul gave Timothy God’s view.

When you understand who you are in Christ and you live out of that not out of your past or brokenness or self elevation then you live out a steadfast faith.

Paul builds into Timothy not only a sense of his calling and character but a sense of what his identity looks like in Christ.

The key is understanding who you are in God. Listen to these words from 2 Timothy 2New International Version (NIV)

The Appeal Renewed

2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,

we will also live with him;

12 if we endure,

we will also reign with him.

If we disown him,

he will also disown us;

13 if we are faithless,

he remains faithful,

for he cannot disown himself

When we understand who we are in Christ and when we contextualise that identity in Christ then our character becomes steadfast and our faith sincere.

Thirdly – Walk by the Spirit.

Paul goes on to say 2 Timothy 1:7New King James Version (NKJV)

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

A steadfast walk is a walk by the Spirit. We really need to grow in understanding what that looks like. When I was a young man I belonged to a boys group called the lifeboys. Their motto was “Sure and Steadfast” The problem, for me, was I didn’t know how to be stedfast without the Holy spirit. My guess is that you don’t either.

I finished this sermon with an illustration that I got off Youtube

If you go on you tube and search The Holy spirit liquid illustration you will find it - I found it an outstanding way to conclude this sermon.