Summary: Being a genuine disciple of Christ is a very tall order. We are to live in such a way that reflects His character and grace. How is that possible? We must pattern our lives after Christ. We are challenged to imitate the Lord we serve.
The Challenge through Discipleship
2 Timothy 1: 12-14
As we consider discipleship, and our responsibility to follow Christ while investing in others, the Lord Himself stands as the great example. He was fully surrendered to the Father’s will and spent much of His time investing in the twelve. With the exception of Christ, none model discipleship better than the apostle Paul. He lived his life in complete surrender to the Lord and committed the majority of his time investing in others. Timothy benefited greatly by being discipled in the faith by Paul. As a young pastor, the insight and instruction of Paul were invaluable to him.
Our text today reveals the essence of discipleship, that one on one instruction and guidance by a mature saint, investing in the life of a younger believer. Paul wrote this letter to instruct and encourage Timothy in his ministry efforts. As we strive to become genuine disciples of Christ, while seeking to disciple others, the words of Paul are of great benefit to us as well. Although written thousands of years ago, the truth they reveal has not changed. Let’s examine the instruction of Paul to young Timothy as we consider: The Challenge through Discipleship.
I. The Authority behind Us (12) – For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. This is a favorite verse of mine because it reveals the power of Christ that supports us throughout life. Paul well understood the authority that backed him and all who follow the Lord. Consider:
A. The Surrender (12a) – For the which cause I also suffer these things. What exactly is Paul speaking of here? Which things motivated him to endure suffering? He speaks of his glorious salvation by the grace of God, the plan of God to use him as a preacher of the Gospel, and the eternal life guaranteed in Christ. When he considered all he had received, he gladly surrendered his life to Christ. He wanted Timothy to consider these provisions as well.
While we are not apostles, and all are not preachers, every believer has been saved by grace, called to a life of service, and guaranteed eternal life. If that doesn’t motivate a life of surrender, in the face of difficulty, nothing likely will. We are blessed to have the privilege to serve Christ. This is not a burden, but a glorious blessing! What an honor to serve the King!
B. The Stability (12b) – nevertheless I am not ashamed. While some viewed Paul’s sufferings as a means of reproach, he declared that he was not ashamed of the life he lived or the difficulties he endured for Christ. His commitment to Christ would not change due to sufferings. Others may have considered his struggles less than appealing, but he had given his life to the cause of Christ and he remained steadfast in the faith. Rom.1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom.5:5 – And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
The world views the cross and the Gospel as a reproach to modern society. If you are committed to standing for the Lord and following Him, you might as well expect ridicule. We simply don’t fit the world’s mold. That is okay with me. Genuine disciples, those who are committed to Christ and impacting the lives of others, are not ashamed of the Lord or His Gospel. He endured unimaginable shame on our behalf as He hung naked on the cross, the sinless Savior bearing the judgment and wrath of God for sin. How could I possibly be ashamed of Him?
C. The Sovereignty (12c) – for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Paul encouraged Timothy to consider the Lord they served. They were not serving a “has been” or one who attained popularity and influence only to fail miserably. They were not serving the ideals or philosophy of a dead man. They served the risen Christ, conqueror of sin and death, giver of eternal life, the sovereign of the universe, and coming King. Resting in the sovereignty of Christ offered great assurance.
Cultures continually change. Morals and accepted practices are influenced by the dictates of society. We continue to live in a world that refuses to embrace the Gospel and submit to Christ. While it may appear that we are outnumbered, we have the sovereign Lord working on our behalf. He ascended back to the Father, where He is now seated making intercession for us. There is an appointed time that He will come again for the church. Our world continues its moral decline, but we can rest in whom we have believed.