Summary: Christian service requires stamina to stay the course despite opposition.
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (1)
Relational preaching is in vogue; forceful preaching that defends the Faith is less popular. Strong, effective defenders of the Faith are sufficiently rare as to be notable when they are encountered. It was no different in past eras. Even during the time when Jude wrote his missive, doctrinal preaching that ardently pursued the truth appears to have on the wane. Jude wrote, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” [JUDE 3, 4].
Timothy faced the same challenges that pastors have always faced. The pressure to tone down his rhetoric, to accommodate “good people” who deviated from the truth “just a little,” to go along to get along, to affirm his listeners, was just as great for Timothy as it is for any preacher in this day. Paul has focused on the need for Timothy as an elder to serve as a strong defender of the Faith.
Focused as he is on equipping Timothy for effective service, Paul provides two necessary qualifications for Timothy to stand firm and to fulfil the ministry he had received from God. Certainly, Timothy, and all who would serve as elders following in his train, would require strong convictions if he would stand firm; he would need to adhere to Scriptural authority, holding the Word of God as sufficient for faith and practise [see 2 TIMOTHY 3:14-17]. This vital aspect of the ministry of an elder will be examined in a message planned for a future date. The message at this present hour examines Timothy’s need for a strong example in his spiritual mentor. The message today focuses on Timothy’s spiritual mentor and the need for all who preach to have such mentors.
LIFE AS AN APOSTLE — “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.”
These verses begin with the Greek words “Sú dé. “You” is in an emphatic position. The point Paul will make is made more emphatic still when he uses the conjunction in the adversative sense. The formula will appear again when Paul wishes to draw a contrast between Timothy and the false teachers. Like Jannes and Jambres [see VERSE 8], the false teachers were denoted as resisting the truth. Timothy, on the other hand, was fully acquainted with Paul’s life and service. The young theologue had chosen to identify with the truth.
Paul’s doctrine was crucial, but he appeals to far more than his doctrine alone when he calls Timothy to remembrance. He uses nine nouns to speak of the totality of his life with which Timothy was quite familiar. He appealed to “my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings.” To be sure, doctrine was the first matter to which Paul appealed for Timothy to recall. Built upon his doctrine were the other aspects of his life.
Let me caution the congregation of the Lord that just because a man can deliver a stirring sermon does not mean that he is a man of God. I was a member of a congregation that was seeking a pastor on one occasion. A man came seeking the position. He was a veteran preacher, having worked within the denomination for many years. He brought his sugar stick (every pastor has at least one) and pitched it. The deacons were very eager to see him take the reins of the congregation and pushed for an immediate vote.
I asked for opportunity to speak with this gentleman. Reluctantly, the deacons agreed to permit me to question him in private. However, the privacy was soon interrupted as a number of members of the congregation crowded around; they were obviously interested in what sort of questions I might have. I asked for a synopsis of his doctrine. Since I could speak to members of his present congregation or speak to members of the community, and since the deacons had not chosen to reveal whether they had raised such questions, I wanted to know what his assessment of his reputation in his present community was like and how other pastors in that community would assess his service. I wanted to know why he was leaving his present church. I understand the desire to move to a larger charge, but normally the capacity of handling the addition challenge has become evident before the move is affected. Each question was met with what can only be described as a sullen, even a combative, response. It was painfully obvious that he was looking for a salary and not a place of service. It was equally obvious that the deacons had not understood the responsibility to seek out and present one who had divine appointment.