Bible

Bible Studies For Life

Florida Baptist Convention, BCF, Richard Elligson
Richard Elligson

Richard Elligson is associate professor of missions and chair of the theology division at The Baptist College of Florida.  Archives

2019

Session 6

July 7, 2019

“THE SAMARITAN WOMAN: FAITH WORTH SHARING”

John 4:10-18, 28-30

There is no faith like saving faith; that willful surrender to both the promisesof Christ to save and the provisions of Christ that secured that salvation.

While salvation (regeneration on our side; justification on God’s side) occurs the instant we believe, there is a process that gets us to that point. That process involves facts (the understanding of things we need to know) and faith (the acceptance of things we cannot know).

John 4 relates the amazing encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well. This Samaritan woman is no pushover! She is not angry or mean, but she has a sharp tongue and a snarky attitude. Little did she know that she was smarting off to the Son of God. In the exchange, Jesus moved her along in the process, confronting her with facts, and inviting her to faith.

Information (vv. 1-15). The story is as intriguing as it is familiar. Jesus was finished in the region of Judea and had turned north, returning to Galilee. In between was Samaria, the distasteful home to the Samaritans, a distasteful people. That Jesus “must needs go” through Samaria was both geographical and providential. The favored route took longer but bypassed the detested mixed race. But Jesus had a divine appointment to keep. At about noon, Jesus rested at a well while His disciples went to find food. It was then and there that the woman showed up. It’s interesting that before offering anything to her, Jesus asked something of her (v. 7). This opened the door to introduce Himself. Information-wise, Jesus told her: there is such a thing as living water; it is God’s gift; He was the provider of it; it was spiritual in nature; and it represented eternal life (vv. 10, 14). Later, He informed her that: her current religious practice was incorrect; salvation came through the Jews; God’s desire was to be worshiped in spirit and in truth; the Messiah had come; and He was the Messiah (vv. 21-26).

Confrontation (vv. 15-18). The woman’s interest in “living water” (whatever that was!) came out in her simple but sarcastic request for it…ostensibly not to give her eternal life, but to ease her daily burden of drawing water. But before she could receive it, she had to deal with her sin. Afterall, repentance is absolutely essential for salvation (see Luke 13:5; Acts 20:21).  By asking her to fetch her husband, Jesus accomplished two things. First, He made her come to grips with the immoral lifestyle she was living. Second, it opened her eyes to the realization that this Jewish man was more than just a weary traveler (v. 19).

Clarification (vv. 19-25). The woman’s declaration that Jesus was a prophet was a move in the right direction. But her comment regarding the right place to worship (Mt. Gerizim vs. Jerusalem) was likely meant to re-emphasize the differences between the two of them, and maybe even to pick a fight. His answer extended well beyond any “us vs. them” mentality. The place was not important…the attitude was. “In spirit” signified that worship was not found in external ceremony, but in the inward man. “In truth” means that worship must be based on God’s truth, not on man’s religious philosophy. Her statement “I know that Messiahis coming” (v. 25) demonstrated her faith thus far. She was on the right track!

Identification (vv. 26-30).  While believing a Messiah was coming one day was necessary, it was insufficient to save. Salvation requires a personal encounter with Christ; repentance toward God and trusting Jesus Christ (and Him alone) for salvation. Paul put it this way: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Jesus made it clear that He was the promised Messiah (v. 26), and her reaction indicates she was convinced of it. Verses 39-42 demonstrate her bold witness that ultimately resulted in salvation for “many” (v. 41).

Special Focus Session

July 14, 2019

MENTORING: HOW TO EQUIP AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS

2 Timothy 2:1-2; 3:10-17

I was introduced to the “222 Principle” (from 2 Timothy 2:2) on the mission field by veteran missionary Nolen Pridemore. There, the goal was multiplication, as we sought to develop as many church leaders as possible. But the methodology was actually mentoring, the intentional modeling of successful principles to those who will in turn, pass them on to others. Long before mentoring gained popularity in societal settings and the secular workplace, the apostle Paul reminded young Timothy that the Christian worldview and lifestyle is better “caught” than taught. Three key ideas stand out.

The instruction (2:1-2).At least 43 times, the Bible commands someone to “be strong.” In the Old Testament, the admonition is most often linked to facing challenges (or challengers). Over and over Joshua was told to “be strong and very courageous.” In the New Testament, the encouragement is most often attached to spiritual disciplines. Here, Timothy is told to be strong not in his own constitution, but rather “in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Those who are firmly established in the faith are thus qualified to intentionally model that faith for others. But there are qualifications set for those potential “mentorees” as well. First, potential mentorees had to be faithful. Much like Jesus’ warning about casting pearls before swine, Paul infers that not everybody is cut out to accept the responsibility of intentional discipling. Second, not only are mentorees required to be faithful, but they are also required to be able. In this case, they need to be able to teach others, thereby multiplying the efforts. I often remind my students that training someone is great; but training trainers is even better.

The example (3:10-13). In chapter 3, Paul returns to the subject of following a role model and then setting an example for others. Notice the depth and breadth of the apostle’s discipleship lessons. He commends Timothy for following his “teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance” (v. 10). Those principles made up the core of Paul’s curriculum. But the life lessons (experiences) Paul faced were also important enough to recount. Three principles are mentioned. First, persecution and suffering are part of living a Christian life in a pagan world (vv. 11-12). Second, the Lord is able to deliver His children from those difficulties (v. 11). And third, those kinds of threats (both persecution and deception) are only going to increase over time (v. 13). Again, Paul’s difficulties and how he handed them provided valuable lessons for the up-and-coming pastor.

The source (3:14-17).In these verses, Paul reminds Timothy of the sources from which he received his Christian training. First, Timothy had influential teachers in his life. Paul was not the first mentor Timothy had. Early in chapter 1, Paul commended Timothy, recalling, “your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and that I am convinced is in you also” (2 Tim. 1:5). Second, Timothy had influential truth in his life, which since his early childhood had provided “wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (v. 15). This truth, of course, consisted of the Scriptures. Looking back, it’s amazing to think of Timothy’s unique relationship to the Scripture. His mother and grandmother taught him the Old Testament., but his mentor Paul was writing portions of the New Testament before his very eyes, and Timothy himself was included in it! While Timothy’s inclusion in the Bible may be unique, his exposure to it need not be. All believers, regardless of our current progress in the Christian walk, should be both receiving instruction from someone a step or two ahead of us in the journey, and giving instruction to someone coming along close behind us. That’s what mentoring really is: intentional, two-part, two-way, both caught and taught, Bible-centered, Christianity-on-display, discipleship.

Session 1

July 21, 2019

PURSUE GODLINESS

2 Chronicles 14:1-8

Israel as a whole had only three kings. Saul was first; then came David; then came Solomon. At the death of Solomon, conflict arose that divided Israel into two kingdoms. The northern territory was known as Israel, and the southern was called Judah. Between the two, more than forty kings (as well as one queen) ruled the lands. Some ruled for more than 50 years; others only lasted for a week or so. The vast majority were evil, but a handful were good and godly men who sought to lead their people to obey the Lord. Young king Asa was one of the good ones, who told the people of Judah to “seek the Lord God” and to “obey His commands” (v. 4).Two lessons from this text stand out.

King Asa broke things (vv. 2-8). Over and over God’s word condemned the kings of both Israel and Judah for “doing evil in the sight of the Lord.” How refreshing to read of one who saw the errors of his predecessors and intentionally led his people into prosperity! First, Asa broke things. A godly lifestyle requires that we “lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us” (Heb. 12:1). In our personal lives, that means getting rid of those obstacles that not only trip us up, but that hold us back. In Judah’s case, the constant presence of pagan idols and the continual worship of the false gods they represented were the first things to go. This was no quiet, secret task. Rather, it was open and public. King Asa removedthe altars and the “high places.” These were the most prominent places of pagan worship. He shatteredthe sacred pillars, the stone statues that represented the false gods. He chopped down the Asherah poles. The word Asherahrefers to a type of tree that may have been planted around these altars, or the type of wood that was carved into idols. Either way, they marked the sites of pagan worship. The addition of the phrase “from all the cities of Judah” in verse 5 demonstrates the extent of Asa’s purge. This was not an isolated crackdown, but rather a nationwide cleansing. The result? A ten-year era of peace and prosperity.

The lesson? Godly living requires us to remove certain obstacles that get in our way, trip us up, or hold us back.

King Asa built things (vv. 6-7). It was Aristotle who said, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” It’s not enough to remove the bad things; you need to fill up the void with good things. And that’s exactly what king Asa did. Building on the momentum of his successful purge of pagan worship, Asa initiated a massive building campaign. Two main factors moved the king in his decision. First, there was peace(v. 6). Without the distractions that come with war, the nation could focus its attention on its own interests. Second, there was God’s promise. “The land is still ours,” Asa told the people, “because we sought the Lord our God” (v. 7). The result of their obedience? “Rest on every side.” With peace comes prosperity. While Asa could have spent the time planting vineyards and storing up treasures, he chose rather to fortify the nation. Cities were restored; walls were repaired and strengthened; lookout towers were added; gates and windows were fortified against future attack (v. 7). His people apparently responded with enthusiasm, for “they built…and succeeded.” Beyond rebuilding and strengthening their cities, Asa replenished and refitted his military force. To protect the land and assure continued peace, he raised an army of 300,000 foot soldiers backed by 280,000 archers. The final words of verse 7 speak of the quality of this fighting force: “All these were brave warriors.”

The lesson? It’s not enough to remove harmful obstacles from our lives. Godly living requires us to intentionally strengthen our defenses.

Session 2

July 28, 2019

DEPEND ON GOD

2 Chronicles 14:9-15

We have always been taught that it’s easy to depend upon God when things are easy. But in reality, that’s when we tend to forget about Him the most! After all, who needs God when everything is under control and life is going smoothly? The problem is, when we neglect God during the good times, it’s mighty hard to fully trust Him in the hard times. This week’s lesson provides a great example of someone who learned to trust God in the good times…and in the bad.

Depend on God when the odds are against you (vv. 9-13). Judah’s decade of peace under King Asa finally came under assault when Zerah from the land of Cush (Ethiopia) set his sights on the people of God. The fortification of Judah’s cities and the rebuilding of Asa’s army still paled in comparison to the mighty army that Zerah brought. A million foot soldiers supported by 300 chariots is almost unheard of in ancient times. While 300 chariots is relatively few (in comparison to the size of the army), it was 300 more than Asa had! The untried king responded to the threat with three positive steps. First,he was prepared(v. 9).With a renewed army and fortified positions, Asa was ready to identify and track the advancement of Zerah’s forces to the border city of Mareshah. Second,he did his part (v. 10).Rather than flinch, the king “marched out against him and lined up in battle formation.” This was not a crazy act of bravado, but an intentional demonstration of the confidence he had in his God. Third, he prayed (v. 11), acknowledging God’s power, admitting their dependence upon Him, and asking for His divine deliverance. The result? A smashing defeat of the enemy’s army. Notice the severity of the words used: the Lord “routed” the Cushites (v. 12); and “they were crushed” before His army (v. 12). It’s interesting that God so identified with His children, that He claimed ownership of Asa’s army as His own! In the end the Lord got the victory, and His people got the loot (v. 13).

The lesson for us? When things look the worst, and the odds are against us, dependence on God tips the odds firmly back in our favor.

Depend on God when the odds are with you (vv. 14-15). Once the enemy army had been pursued and slaughtered, Asa turned his attention to the Philistine cities near the southern outpost of Gerar. While the connection to Zerah and his forces is not mentioned, the destruction of these cities was obviously approved by God. Most likely, the pagan Philistines had thrown their support behind Zerah, and those cities closest to Judah had likely housed the enemy army and stored its provisions. As the news of the destruction of the Cushite million resounded through the valley, a great terror went with it; and rightfully so! Those who acted on behalf of God’s enemies would be considered God’s enemies as well (see Matt. 12:30). With God’s support clearly on their side, Asa continued to prevail. Again, the terms used are emphatic: “they attacked all the cities,” and they “plundered all the cities” because “there was a great deal of plunder in them” (v. 14). But Asa did not stop there. The stretches of land between cities was home to the Philistine herdsmen who maintained the peoples’ flocks of sheep and herds of camels, all of which Asa also plundered. Only when both the cities and the countryside had been fully subdued and unquestionably under the king’s control, did the army return to their beloved city.

The lesson for us? There is no limit to what can (and will) do when His people are fully committed to Him and fully depending on Him.

Explore The Bible

Sherard Burns, Florida Baptist Witness, Explore the Bible
Sherard Burns

Sherard Burns is the senior pastor of Renewing Life Church in Miami, FL. Archives

2019

July 7, 2019

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Confidence

Introduction. Paul is in a dark, probably damp and cold prison. He knows his death is inevitable (2 Timothy 4:6-8) yet his mind is not on himself, but Timothy. Timothy was struggling as a young pastor at Ephesus and Paul writes, what is his last letter, to encourage the beleaguered pastor. There were many personal struggles: fear (2 Timothy 1:7), passions (2 Timothy 2:22). There were church struggles: doctrinal opponents (2 Timothy 2:16-17, 23-26), moral decay (2 Timothy 3:1-13) and doctrinal confusion (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This is enough to challenge seasoned pastors! Paul writes this tender and instructive letter to ensure that Timothy could faithfully continue the work that he, himself, was called to initiate.

Heritage (2 Tim. 1:3-5). In the face of the challenges and difficulties of ministry it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are not the first to experience hardship for our faith. To encourage Timothy to remain faithful Paul reminds him of his spiritual and physical heritage. Paul mentions his spiritual heritage and how he served the Lord with a clear conscience (2 Timothy 1:3). He then mentions Timothy’s physical heritage in his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5). In essence Paul is teaching Timothy that faith in Christ will be tested but the hope of extending the godly heritage will demand that he remain faithful like those before him.

Gifted (2 Tim. 1:6-7). If Timothy will remain faithful to his charge he must rekindle the gift of God within him (2 Timothy 1:6). To rekindle means to stir up, to agitate and or to keep alive. Timothy, out of fear and our youth (1 Timothy 4:12) has allowed the struggles of leadership to cause him to shy away from executing his gift and calling. Paul reminds Timothy to be about the work of stirring up his gift in faithfulness to the Lord. It is not that the Spirit is weak or impotent. It is, however, that Timothy must desire to work in cooperation with the Spirit to keep the gift enflamed. This cooperationis not some new technique or motivational talk, but the ongoing discipline of deliberate communion with the Spirit of the Lord that is courageous, selfless and stable, lived out in the context of ministry. Rekindling the gift by way of the Spirit is imperative because fear is a spirit. Since God has not given us this spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), whenever it arises within our souls, we must counter it and kill it by stirring up the gift of the Spirit within us.

Unashamed (2 Tim. 1:8-12). Next, Paul commands Timothy to live a life that is unashamed of the testimony of the Lord and his gospel. To be ashamed conveys the idea of being silent more than it does anything else. Shame silences us even we feel we want or need to stand for truth because we are afraid of the implications of identifying with the Lord. Paul challenges Timothy’s temptation to shame by calling him to be unashamed of the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8). The gospel has not only delivered Timothy from death to life, but it has been given to him for the purposes of proclaiming and teaching the grace of God to those of whom do not know or obey it (2 Timothy 1:11). Paul also calls Timothy to be unashamed to identify with those whose lives stand as a contrast to the values of this world (2 Timothy 1:8). This is not a call to merely admire such people but to stand with them in gospel solidarity, despite the consequences. This ability to stand unashamed is not willpower, but faith. Faith encouraged (2 Timothy 1:3-5) and faith stirred up (2 Timothy 1:6-7). We can stand unashamed in the face of trials and temptations because God will keep what we surrender to him: our work for Him and our souls.

Loyal (2 Timothy 1:13-14). Finally,having called Timothy to be unashamed of the gospel in the face of difficulties Paul now exhorts him to his ultimate charge: teaching sound doctrine and contending against error (1 Timothy 1:3-7). He had traveled with Paul and had a front row seat to his many defenses of the gospel and now Paul calls Timothy to imitate his example and teaching in Ephesus. Paul uses the word sound which conveys the picture of a broken bone being set right. Thus, Paul is telling Timothy that he must preach the gospel – the sound doctrine of the gospel – in order set right what has been fractured through false teaching. This doctrine must be guarded by Timothy, in the power of the Spirit, so that it is not tainted or mixed with false teaching that existed. All believers must give great care to guard what the orthodoxy of the gospel so that the brokenness of humanity can be set right with the Lord, healed and made whole.

July 14, 2019

2 Timothy 2:1-13

Focused

Introduction Paul has spent the last two chapters of this letter addressing issues in the church. He has written about prayer (1 Tim. 2) and characteristics for proper leadership (1 Tim. 3). Beginning in 1 Timothy 4, Paul turns to speak to Timothy himself. Paul encouraged Timothy to be vigilant in certain areas. What were they?

Future Focus (2 Tim. 2:1-2). An influential theologian stated that it only takes one generation to lose the gospel. If this is remotely true in our day how much more in these earlier years of the church at Ephesus with its contending false doctrines? Timothy needs to lead, despite the difficulties confronting him. He will need to have a strength that transcends the natural (2 Timothy 2:1). If the gospel is to continue untainted and to transform lives in Ephesus Timothy needed to prepare others to preach and defend the gospel in the way Paul had done for him (2 Timothy 2:2). This was no general call to disciple others, as essential as discipleship is. Future leaders must be men who have proven themselves to be reliable as well as trustworthy, with regard to the gospel, in life and doctrine. Here is the question we must ask when choosing leaders: Are they already leading without the title of leader? Charisma and charm are bonuses. Character and fidelity to the truth are essential traits to look for in future leaders.

Mission Focused (2 Tim. 2:3-7). The Christian life is difficult and Paul does not mince words when encouraging Timothy. To underscore the challenges that await Timothy and all faithful Christians, Paul provides three images of the Christian life. First, Timothy is to be a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3). Good soldiers are characterized as believers who willingly share in suffering for the cause of victory (2 Timothy 2:3) and whose singular desire is to please the Lord and not themselves (2 Timothy 2:4). Second, Paul gives the metaphor of an athlete, encouraging Timothy to discipline himself in such a way that he can carry out his calling with endurance and have spiritual success (2 Timothy 2:5). This is not done at the expense of the gospel, through moralism, syncretism, or worldly leadership techniques. Rather, Timothy is to train himself for godliness in and through the power of the gospel (1 Timothy 4:7-16). Finally, Paul provides the picture of a hardworking farmer (2 Timothy 2:6). When a farmer plants his seed nothing happens overnight. In fact, after he plants the seed he must nurture what he has planted if he will receive a harvest. Paul is teaching Timothy and all believers that fruitfulness in ministry is long and arduous, demanding a sacrificial commitment of constant nurture.

Christ Focused (2 Tim. 2:8-13). From the metaphors of soldier, athlete and farmer, Paul now turns Timothy’s focus to Christ and the gospel. In the face of difficulties Timothy is to remember the Person and work of Jesus, especially His resurrection (2 Timothy 2:8). Paul challenges Timothy to never lose sight of the resurrection in order to encourage him in two ways. First, Timothy needs to see his suffering in light of Christ’s suffering so that he will always view his suffering from an eternal perspective. Second, Timothy needs to always remember that the power that raised Jesus from the dead now resides in him. How wonderful is this truth that we are enabled to minister the gospel in the power of the resurrection? The resurrection proves that Christ has won the victory over sin and Satan and, despite what sufferings may abound, we minister in victory. Paul includes his own experience of the power of the resurrection reminding Timothy that even though he is imprisoned and bound by chains, the word of God is not bound (2 Timothy 2:9). Therefore, despite his difficulties and sufferings, Timothy should look to Christ as His example and endure all things for the salvation of the elect (2 Timothy 2:10).

July 21, 2019

2 Timothy 2:14-26

Diligent

Introduction.The incredible call of leadership is that it involves giving yourself for the maturity of those you lead or disciple. This is difficult in that leaders must lead saints to not only desire truth but to be able to stand on their own in contending for the truth. Before Timothy is a massive test of dealing with false teaching and bringing saints to reflecting maturity (1 Timothy 1:3-4) and what is required to accomplish this is nothing short of diligence to the Word of God (v.15). This diligence is to be reflected in Timothy doing his utmost best, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, to finish the race set before him. His study of the Word is to be disciplined in order that he may be able to discern not only truth from error but also those who belong to the Lord and those who do not.

TWO GROUPS (2 Tim. 2:14-19).Within every church there are believers and unbelievers. This distinction is often described as the church visiblereflecting all, saved and unsaved and the church invisible, reflecting those who genuinely profess and practice the faith. We see this distinction in Ephesus but Paul the two groups in which Paul is mentioning are false teachers and faithful believers. To do this Timothy, being diligent in the Word (2 Timothy 2:15), must remindthe saints in Ephesus to remain faithful to living out the heart of the gospel and give no attention to words which have no eternal profit (2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy; see 1 Timothy 1:4; 6:4). Paul, with regard to false teachers must avoid, not only them, but the foolishness of their teaching which only led to ruin (2 Timothy 2:16-18). There is a truth here that demands mentioning as we deal with these two groups within churches. False teaching is not always easy to discern since if it often mixed with truth. Paul shows Timothy difference between truth and error is seen in its moral implications. False teaching inevitably produces moral departure increasing depravity (2Timothy 2:16-18; 2 Timothy 4:13) while the gospel will always lead one to growing in holiness (2Timothy 2:19; 2Timothy 3:16-17).

TWO VESSELS (2 Tim. 2:20-22). Paul has made it clear that the Lord knows those who are his(v19). This is an important statement because within the church there are two different vessels proclaiming to be speaking for the Lord but one is honorable and the other dishonorable (v.21). Paul uses the terms gold and silver with wood and clay to denote the character of the vessels (v20). The determination of who is useful (honorable) or worthless (dishonorable) to the Lord is not so in their words as much as in their behavior. This is an important point to consider since it is evident that men can preach truth and live false which would make them false teachers! If Timothy is to be of honorable use to the Lord he must not only teach truth (v15) he must give attention to who and what he flees and what he gives his focus to. He must separate himself from vices and persons who would nurture sinful infects in his character (v21, 22a) and give himself to godly virtues and believers that live in honor of the One whose house it is (v.22b).

TWO APPROACHES (2 Tim. 2:23-26). The deception in Ephesus must be dealt with and done so decisively (1 Timothy 1:3-5) but in doing so Timothy needed to give great care and caution to how he proceeded. There were two possibleapproaches he could take. First, he could deal with them on their level. The problem with this is that it will only produce arguments and be a waste of kingdom time (2 Timothy 2:23). The other option before Timothy is to operate with gospel integrity. Paul has already informed Timothy of what is to flee and to pursue (2 Timothy 2:22). Now, in dealing with deceivers he needed to do so as the servant of the Lord, modeling the heart and life of Jesus (2 Timothy 2:24). Winning arguments is not our calling. Winning souls from the grip of the enemy is (2 Timothy 2:25-26). In our current political climate and in all of the challenges within the church we would all do well to remember the aim of our charge (1 Timothy 1:5) The best of ourselves and the priority of our time should be given to preserving the Body and defending the gospel against teachings and practices that undermine the glory of God.

July 28, 2019

2 Timothy 3:12-17, 4:1-8

Enduring

Introduction.The incredible call of leadership is that it involves giving yourself for the maturity of those you lead or disciple. This is difficult in that leaders must lead saints to not only desire truth but to be able to stand on their own in contending for the truth. Before Timothy is a massive test of dealing with false teaching and bringing saints to reflecting maturity (1 Timothy 1:3-4) and what is required to accomplish this is nothing short of diligence to the Word of God (v.15). This diligence is to be reflected in Timothy working and laboring with all that he has – doing his utmost best –  in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, to finish the race set before him. His study of the Word is to be disciplined in order that he may be able to discern not only truth from error but also those who belong to the Lord and those who do not.

PERSECUTION IS COMING (2 Tim. 3:12-13). Taking a stand for anything demands siding against something that not everyone will agree with. Standing for the Lord and living for His glory not only opposes the norms culture, but because of this, will invite suffering. This section begins with Paul highlighting his life for the Lord along with his varied and many sufferings for the gospel he has endured. Paul is the object lesson of what Timothy (and all who desire to live godly) should expect (2 Timothy 3:12). It is not that Paul is saying that we should seek after suffering for suffering sake. It does not mean that we should be negatively antagonistic against the culture in an effort to bringsuffering. Paul is saying that with our diligence to live for the glory and honor of the Lord by behaving as a contrast society to the broader culture the enemy will attack us. Herein is a valuable implication that Paul is teaching us that we would do well to remember: the enemy is not scared or afraid of our verbal confession of Christ but of our total life submission to His Lordship. Imposters (or those who pose as Christians) will be increasingly discerned by in their progression in evil (2 Timothy 3:13), but those who are godly will be recognized by their suffering (2 Timothy 3:12).

GET EQUIPPED (2 Tim. 3:14-17).The aim of the enemy towards believers is the distortion of their faithful witness in the world. He cannot destroy their eternal life in Jesus but he can destroy our present usefulness for the kingdom through the distraction and discouragement of suffering. Paul tells Timothy that the inevitability of suffering and its false teaching can only be countered by minds and hearts equipped with the truthful, enduring, inerrant and all-sufficient Word of the living God (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Therefore, Paul is calling Timothy and all believers, to be more than readers of the Word. We must be devoted to it, allowing it to master our minds and to consume our affections so that we might be fully equipped to live out His calling for our lives in this present age (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

PREACH HIS WORD (2 Tim. 4:1-4). Paul has called Timothy to be diligent in the Word, (2 Timothy 2:15) as well as devoted to the Word (2 Timothy 3:14-17) because the work of preaching is serious. The Lord is present and judgment is coming (2 Timothy 4:1). We are to be ready to proclaim the gospel at all times and modeling the virtues that reflect our Lord (2 Timothy 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:24).  The urgency of Paul’s command is rooted in the end time reality of the growing demand for false teaching and the corresponding need to protect the faithful from being led astray (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

FINISH WELL (2 Tim. 4:5-8).When I ran my first 5k the hardest part was the last mile and at the last half mile I felt like death and quitting was a real possibility! I only finished being driven by being so close to the goal. This is what Paul is telling Timothy in these final words. Paul is always a drink offering; his blood being spilt for the honor of God and in short order, through execution (2 Timothy 4:6). He finished, amid persecutions and sufferings because the crown, the prize, was ever before him, energizing him when difficulties made him despair of life (2 Timothy 4:8-8; 2 Corinthians 1:8.9). Timothy is to model his mentor, his father in the faith. He must finish hisrace, and, like Paul, see his life as an offering. Willingly enduring suffering and being aggressive in spreading the gospel to as much as possible to those who have never heard (2 Timothy 4:5).

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