Summary: The call of Christians around the world to be brave, strong soldiers of the cross. In this day of evil, are you standing and fighting, or are you cowardly and running?
For many years in the church christians have been spurred on to fight the fight of faith not just from scripture but also from hymn writers such as Barring-Gould. He wrote the words to this hymn that we many times sing in the the church.
Onward Chrisitian soldiers, marching as to war.
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
forward into battle, see His banners go.
At the sign of triumph, Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise.
Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise!
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod,
We are not divided, all one body we:
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!
What a wonderful hymn to illustrate this fight, this war that we as Christian soldiers are involved in. Paul understood something about this war, this fight that he was engaged in. You will remember that Timothy was a young pastor who Paul was working with to teach him and to instruct him in the pastorate. In this passage, verse 12, Paul instruct Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith." This fight that Paul was talking about is not just a fight for young pastors. It is not just a fight for old pastors. It is not just a fight for Christian workers and teachers. It is a fight that every born again believer is involved in.
I want us to take the illustration of a soldier and to think about the fight that we are involved in. I want us to ask ourselves, "Am I a soldier of the cross?"
The Soldier Must Know Who His Master Is
If you are going to be a soldier in war, you must be a soldier who knows where the authority lies. You must become obedient to that authority and none other. May I remind you that in his second letter to Timothy Paul once again writing to Timothy to instruct and encourage him in his pastorate.
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
What Paul was telling Timothy was that his line of command, the one that he would answer to was Jesus Christ. Please note the last few verses of our text.
14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Please pay particular attention to verse 15. Jesus Christ is identified as the "only Potentate, the Kings of kings, and Lord of lords." Twice in first Timothy and again in second Timothy Paul wanted Timothy to know who the Master is. He wanted him to know where the chain of command lies. That is with Jesus Christ. If you are a soldier of the cross today, if you are putting up a good fight, it is because you are listening to the Master Jesus Christ.
Also, think about this, Jesus himself in Matthew 24:6 said that "no man can serve two masters." Why? Because when you try to serve two masters there will be a division. At some point those two masters will have a difference of opinion in what they want you to do. We must serve the Master, Jesus Christ.
Then, in John 14:15, Jesus said to His disciples "If you love me, keep my commandments." A soldier of the cross is a soldier who knows who his master is. That master is Jesus Christ. We express our love, our obedience to Him by keeping His commands and His words. The soldier knows who is Master is. The soldier knows where his commands come from.
The problem in the church today is that there are many who profess the name of Christ but there are many who do not serve Christ. Think about his. Just because you profess the name of Christ does not mean that you have been completely obedient to him. Paul understood something of this. Paul understood that Timothy, as a young pastor in the church, would many who would stray from the doctrine of Christ. May I remind you that if you are going to be a good soldier of the cross, you must serve one and only one master, Jesus Christ.