Summary: This is the second in a series on Paul’s Trustworthy sayings. It encourages us to find peace and hope in God’s promises.
(ILLUS.) When I began my first year at Bible College, I quickly became friends with another guy who was in my class -- let’s call him John. John and I were both from Brethren In Christ churches, we both came straight from high school, and we were both enrolled in the same program -- preparation for pastoral ministry. The other interesting factor in our friendship was that we actually resembled each other physically -- about the same height and build, both had blond hair. Some of our professors actually had difficulty telling us apart -- of course, we didn’t help them any when we deliberately sat together in class (sometimes even wore similar color clothing to heighten the similarities).
We had a great first year - we became room-mates in our second semester, we studied together, and developed a great friendship. The following summer, we got together for some weekend activities, and generally had a great time as friends.
In our second year of college, however, things changed. John began to fall behind in his work, and became distracted by things at home. After only 2 months, he dropped out of college, and left the goal of pastoral ministry behind. John and I have tried to keep up with each other -- we participated in each other’s weddings, and correspond once in awhile; but things were different.
When John dropped out of college, it had an interesting impact on me. I became distracted with my work, and I found that I really missed his company. I also began to get worried about my own future -- if this type of discouragement could cause Ben to drop out, how could I expect to endure the next few years of school? How could I ever hope to endure the demands and difficulties of ministry itself?
Thankfully, other friends and family came alongside of me to encourage me and help me stick with my schooling, and eventually end up in pastoral ministry. Without their assistance, I probably would have given up as well.
Now of course, the experience I had in college was not abnormal -- many young people go through it. It is one of the many times in our lives when it is natural to have questions and doubts about who we are, what we are doing, and where we are going.
And, of course, it continues to happen today. Most of us experience times when we’re unsure of ourselves -- whether it’s our work, our families, our church, or some other aspect of our lives. We are forced to stop and evaluate whether or not we’re on the right path. These times can be very unsettling for us -- we desperately need to find some stability and assurance.
Timothy was a young pastor who had been with the apostle Paul for a number of years as an apprentice and assistant. Paul had taken a personal interest in Timothy and had deliberately trained him for ministry -- later placed him in leadership.
The time came when Paul was arrested and placed in prison, with the very certain possibility that he would be executed for his ministry. Paul knew that Timothy would be concerned for him -- not just because Paul might lose his life, but because he himself might lose his friend and mentor. Paul knew that Timothy might be feeling uncertain of his future, and of his ability to continue in ministry without him. He knew that Timothy would need some encouragement & stability for his life and ministry. So Paul wrote Timothy a letter of instruction and encouragement, sharing from his own experiences and motivations for ministry. In this letter, he urged Timothy not to worry about him -- to remain firm and committed to ministry, regardless of the circumstances.
Last week, we noted that five times in his letters to Timothy and another church leader, Paul used a phrase that set a specific principle or truth apart from the rest. "This is a TRUSTWORTHY saying..." -- lit. "faithful the word..." Five times, he said "this is trustworthy" -- "This you can believe. If nothing else seems true and dependable, you can count on these principles -- and you can build your life on them."
In these five statements, Paul gave us FOUR TRUTHS that we can count on -- Four Spiritual Checks That We Can Take To The Bank, knowing that they are not going to bounce. We looked at the first one last week; today, we’ll discover the second.
READ 2 TIMOTHY 2: 8 - 13.
The first foundational truth that Paul shared with these two leaders was "The Certainty of God’s Grace." (last week) We talked about having a proper understanding of God’s Grace -- what we were before Christ, what God has done for us, and what God desires from us.