Summary: This is our Stewardship sermon #4... focusing on evangelism.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor." 6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
“Passing the Torch”
Well… it has been a long stewardship campaign. Five weeks in all. All of them focused on what we are called to be as members of First Presbyterian Church. It started out with making a personal commitment to God, and fostering a personal relationship with him. Then we talked about every member’s commitment to this church… how we lift each other up and support one another. Then it was the big “Time, Talents, and Finances” sermon that should be able to go without explanation by now. Last week, we talked about making a personal commitment to serving. Today, we finish up our stewardship drive with one of the single most challenging parts… as members, every single one of us is called to share the message… to pass the torch… through evangelism.
Our scripture text today can tell us a lot about evangelism and passing the torch… because that is what Paul’s second letter to Timothy was all about. You see… when Paul was writing this letter… he was in prison and he was sure that his life was about to end. His ministry… if it was to continue… would need to be carried on by someone else… someone younger… someone, not in prison. Enter Timothy.
Timothy is a young, enthusiastic, and passion filled man for the Lord. However… he has a few huge strikes working against him… 1. he is not Paul… 2. he looks like he is 12… who wants to trust and follow a 12 year old… and 3. he has missed the hay-day of Christianity. Three big strikes working against him… not exactly the first choice you’d have to lead the Christian church out of its big slump.
Oh… that’s right… I haven’t told you about the big slump yet! Timothy is being called upon to lead the “third generation” church. This is a church that… except for Grandma and Grandpa… has never seen Jesus Christ in person… all they have are the letters and the stories. And the church is suffering… the church is declining… the first generation was moaning and wailing, “how will we ever get this younger generation to carry on the church?” Survival of the Christian community seemed highly doubtful to any realistic observer.
Paul, for one, would not stand idly by and let the church fade away. Now, he would not be able to lead the fight to keep the church alive… it would be for somebody else to do. Timothy was that somebody. That is what our text is about today, it is a letter from Paul to Timothy… passing off the baton of leadership, and letting the next generation lead the church.