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Summary: Remaining strong in the Grace of Christ Jesus, even despite persecution.

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Have you ever thought about what you would write to somebody if you knew it would be your last letter ever to them? Especially if you were writing to a family member or a close friend…somebody you care for but knew that you would never see again? I’ve heard of parents who, when finding out that they were terminally ill, wrote many letters to their children, mile-stone letters, such as for their 10th birthday, their 18th and/or 21st birthday, high school and college graduation letters, and letters for the occasion of their wedding or the birth of a first child. I can imagine that these letters would contain messages from this dying parent of matters that mean very much to the person. Have you ever thought about what you would write if you could never again speak with someone? In our reading today from 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul is writing just such a letter. After Paul had been released from prison in Rome in 62 or 63 AD, and after his fourth missionary journey, Paul was again imprisoned, this time by the emperor Nero, this time around 66 or 67 AD. The first time Paul was in prison, he lived in a relatively nice, rented house. But this time, Nero sentenced Paul to death, and put him into a cold, dark dungeon of a prison to await his execution. And from this prison, Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy, his beloved young apprentice. Paul knew that he was going to die soon, and so in this second letter to Timothy, Paul spells out what he feels are the most important messages and instructions he has for his young apprentice…messages of instruction of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul wants Timothy to continue to adhere to and to teach others, even after Paul’s own death. So let’s open with prayer and then take a look at what Paul is telling us through his letter to Timothy. Let’s pray…

You know, I can remember the moment in time when I realized that I was really and truly an adult. Now, that time was certain not the day I turned 18 years old because as anyone who has known me over the past 25 years can tell you, I might have been technically and legally an adult the day I turned 18, but I certainly wasn’t an adult as far as my maturity was concerned. How about you? Can you remember that moment where you realized, “yes, I am an adult now”? For me, that moment wasn’t even the day I got married, but rather January 31, 1998, the day my twins—Stephen and Ingrid—came into the world. It was that day, as I held my little newborn twins, that I realized that God had truly conveyed adulthood upon me as I understand that these tiny, helpless children with which the Almighty God had entrusted me, needed me. I remember looking at them and thinking that without they were dependent upon Vanessa and me for every little aspect of their new lives. I’m sure that every parent in this sanctuary can fully relate to what I’m saying here. I bring this up because it really is the central message of 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 1-13. Paul, in writing this last letter to his beloved Timothy, a young man that Paul loved so much that he even called him his own son in the faith, wants him to understand what it means to be mature in Jesus Christ. Paul took Timothy under his “wing,” as it were and personally trained him to be a pastor in Christ’s church. In 2nd Thessalonians Paul says that Timothy’s faith is growing more and more. And in chapter two, verse one, of our reading today Paul says to Timothy, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace in Christ Jesus.” You see, Paul knew that the early church would continue to suffer persecution. And Paul also knew what an important influence he himself had been to Timothy. And so, knowing that he was about to be executed, not only was Paul concerned about the church’s well-being under persecution, but Paul was also personally concerned for his son in the faith, his beloved young Timothy. And so Paul has a message for Timothy that teaches us all about being strong—being an adult, mature in Christ Jesus. In fact, the theme of being mature in Christ is can be found all over in Paul’s writings that we have in the Bible. Ephesians 4:13, “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature…,” Philippians 3:15,” All of us who are mature should take such a view of things…,” Colossians 4:12, and “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”


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