Summary: A sermon on what it means to Finish Strong in our Christian walk, and why so many Christians fail at it.
If you have your Bibles with you and want to open up to 2 Timothy 4:6. It is a short couple of verses today. As you know, we have been going through the core values of worship, discipleship, outreach, and community. As I mentioned the last few weeks, we are winding down on those core values at least from the preaching aspect of it. In the summer, we will be kicking off a new summer series. Today, what I would like to do is give one more last look at this value of discipleship. Specifically, what it means to finish strong as a disciple. This idea of discipleship is not an end in itself but really a means to an end, a means to finishing strong so that by the time we get to the end of our life, the last years, like the apostle Paul, we too will be able to say that we fought the good fight, that we finished the race, and that we kept the faith. That is what we are going to look at today.
A little bit of background on this second letter to Timothy. This is the second letter to Timothy obviously, and it was written from prison in Rome where Paul spent the remaining years. It was during the time of the Roman Emperor Nero about A.D. 64 where an intense persecution came out against the Christians and Paul was caught up in that. He was arrested and taken off to Rome into a prison. Although this is believed to be his second imprisonment in Rome, the second imprisonment was a little bit more intense than the first. The first imprisonment was really considered a house arrest where Paul had a lot of freedom to kind of move around and even have a lot of visitors. This second imprisonment was a little bit more intense. He was actually in a dungeon and couldn’t see a lot of visitors. He knew that he wasn’t get out of this imprisonment alive. He knew that he was facing the executioners. That is kind of the setting there. He writes this letter to Timothy and asks Timothy to come visit him if he can and to bring his cloak and to bring his scrolls and his parchments that he would like to read. He also writes in the first few chapters an encouragement to Timothy to remain faithful to the word and to remain faithful to the truth in spite of all the opposition that is coming against them and in spite of all the false teachings of what they call the Gnostics and different people that try to twist the gospel. He is encouraging Timothy to remain true to the faith. So that is the setting. We are going to read through these four verses here and get a little bit of a feel for it before we go back and highlight a few.
2 Timothy 4:6 “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.” Again, we have Paul sitting here in his death cell basically reflecting on his life. I suspect when he was reflecting on his life, he was reflecting on both the good and the not so good aspect of his life. If you have read the Bible and especially if you have looked at the book of Acts, you see the story of Paul who was actually at that time Saul. He was on the road to Damascus, and he was in the process of going after Christians, trying to murder Christians. It was in the middle of that situation where God got ahold of him, yanked him off of his horse, blinded him for three days, and he got a fresh revelation from God which came out of that experience with his whole life completely turned around now focusing on spreading the thing that he previously had tried to stop and that is this new thing called Christianity. So Paul is reflecting on his life and he is thinking about how his life went and that sort of thing. Out of that, he begins to make a few interesting statements. He starts out by saying “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.” This idea of drink offering sounds a little bit strange, but you may recall last week I think it was, when we looked at the book of Romans, Paul used similar sacrificial imagery. He talked about that we are all called to be living sacrifices. I believe that Paul saw himself as he lived his life and he faced all these different persecutions and these hardships in life that he was a living sacrifice. But again, now he is at the end of his life. Now it is not just sacrifice in his life. It is actually the extreme sacrifice of giving his life blood over to Jesus. Really that is what is considered a drink offering. It is the idea that before the lamb or animal was executed a glass of wine would be poured over this animal before it was executed. It is basically Paul giving the image he has lived a life of sacrifice and now he is taking the extreme sacrifice where he is giving over his lifeblood.