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Summary: We can be confident in Christ; can he be equally confident in us?

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The year is A.D. 155, and the persecution of Christians sweeps across the Roman Empire to the city of Smyrna. The proconsul of Smyrna, swept up in this persecution, orders his minions to find the Bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp, arrest him, and bring him to the public arena for execution.

They find Polycarp and bring him before thousands of spectators screaming for blood. However, the proconsul has compassion on this man who is almost a hundred years old. He signals the crowd to silence. To Polycarp he said, "Curse the Christ and live."

The crowd waits for the old man to answer. In an strong voice, he says "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong. How dare I blaspheme the name of my king and Lord?” With that, Polycarp becomes a martyr—tied to a post and burned alive for his allegiance to Christ.

[We can be confident in Christ; can he be equally confident in us?]

I. INTRODUCTION

1. Timothy is one of the best-known minor characters of the NT. The son of a heathen father and a converted Jewish mother, he first joins Paul’s entourage at Lystra (Turkey) at the beginning of his second missionary tour. He is already a Christian of some standing, perhaps converted by Paul when he preached in the area a year or two before.

2. According to the picture painted in these letters, Timothy, after traveling with Paul for some time, stays at Ephesus as an apostolic delegate to the churches there, on temporary assignment. Today we might view his position as “interim pastor”.

3. Among the problems in the Ephesian churches, heresy (false teaching) is the most glaring. As a port city and cultural melting pot, Ephesus draws people from all over the known world; therefore, social and religious practices become quite diverse. Ephesus represents nearly every form of paganism, and pagan zealots attack the Christian minority for their faith in Jesus Christ.

4. Enter Timothy—young, inexperienced, the least likely candidate for such an important assignment. But Timothy has something going for him: Paul, his mentor, who writes two epistles (letters) to this young man, giving us a glimpse into Christian discipleship in the first century.

5. Paul’s second letter concludes with a charge to his young protégé. Throughout his letters, he stresses two important themes: having confidence in Christ and adhering to sound doctrine.

6. Paul’s final words encourage Timothy to offer himself completely for the labor and cause of Christ. To pour out his life for Christ selflessly, as an offering of consecration (set apart oneself to the service and will of the Lord). OYBT 2 Timothy 4.

7. In verse 6 Paul writes, I am already being poured out like a drink offering (NIV), figurative language that describes what is happening to Paul:

A. OT sacrifices often began with a drink offering; good wine (the best you had) poured out on the ground signifying (as best we know) the consecration of the people to God. The pouring of the drink was merely a precursor to the sacrifice that was yet to come. Interestingly, pagan worship included the same practice.

i. This is significant; the drink offering has meaning to Jews and Gentiles (Ephesus has both).

B. Paul knows he will shed blood for the gospel. His blood will pour to the ground as a drink offering pours before the altar of the Lord. (What we know of Roman law suggests Paul was likely beheaded). Nero cannot throw Paul to the lions or crucify him—he is a Roman citizen.

8. In the face of martyrdom, Paul remains confident in Christ, pouring himself out to him; providing a suitable example for Timothy, whom he instructs to do the same.

A. This morning we consider this concept of pouring oneself out for Christ. What does it mean to pour myself out, and how exactly do I do it?

B. Reflecting on his time as an apostle, Paul cites three attributes of his ministry that typify pouring oneself out for Christ. In fact, they typify Christian life as God intends it to be:

II. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT (v. 7a)

1. Paul has struggled in his walk with the Lord, finding opposition and difficulty nearly everywhere: from the [1] enemies of Christ, [2] fellow believers, and [3] God himself.

A. He has struggled with God’s will. Paul once put Christians to death for their faith, and must now bring others to that faith!

B. He has struggled with God’s grace; sometimes God removed the obstacles before Paul, and sometimes he chose not to (e.g. thorn in the flesh).

C. He has struggled with other Christians; imagine a fellow believer as an obstacle!

2. Lesson #1: Be prepared to struggle in your Christian walk

A. Life in Christ is sometimes difficult. [1] Spending adequate time with God daily; [2] Being a positive force for Christ in the workplace; [3] developing a meaningful prayer life; [4] involving yourself in the work of Christ; [5] sharing your faith with neighbors, friends, family, etc.

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