Monday, March 09, 2009


The Importance of Being Earnest 2Timothy 2:8-13


2 Timothy 2:8 Keep in mind Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel.
9 For this I suffer, to the point of being bound like a criminal; but God’s message is not bound.
10 This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
11 This saying is trustworthy: For if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us;
13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Then the hard times come. How do you go on in the face of chemotherapy, job loss, single parenting, the divorce of your parents, peer pressure at school, demands which are pulling you apart, the general weariness of life?

Everybody becomes disillusioned with life. How do you go on?

Paul was undoubtedly despondent at times sitting in that prison.. awaiting what? Execution!

Timothy was beginning to lose heart. His reputation was being attacked. He was wondering if it was all worth it.

Despondency si a terrible enemy. Its one of Satan’s greatest tools.

How you combat despondency? There is only one thing I know that combats it, having a greater earnestness about the things that matter.

What mattered to Paul?

What mattered to Paul was what should matter to Timothy and should matter to you.

1. Why You Should Be In Earnest About Jesus Christ?

This is the Saviour Who Came

2 Timothy 2:8 Keep in mind Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel.
We have a tendency to forget important things. We're human. So, we have reminders. Strings around our fingers. Post-it notes on the mirror. Alarms to wake us. Calendars & appointment books for scheduling important events. Even in the Old Testament God told his people to employ frontlets as reminders. He encouraged them to have scriptures on the walls. Today we have WWJD bracelets to remind us. "Remember" Paul says.

1.) Remember that JESUS WAS RESURRECTED AND IS ALIVE - and he said, "Lo, I am with you always." He said I'll never leave you or forsake you. In fact, the night before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples that He would not leave them as orphans - and so too, we are not orphans, we are not alone it this world. He goes with us - "He walks with me and talks with me, along life's narrow way."

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. No one had yet heard of it. Its basic idea was that Jesus was a great religious teacher, but only a man. "Christians" of the first centuries all knew this. But Constantine the Great, to unify his empire, in essence deified Jesus in the early 4th century. He and his cohorts purged all the records. And the Roman Catholic Church perpetuated the myth of a divine, crucified and resurrected Savior and Lord. People like Leonardo da Vinci knew the truth, and kept it alive through their paintings and secret society. We can find clues to this truth in these works of art and literature; thus the "da Vinci code."

There's more to the book and its heresies, but this will suffice for us today. Now the book has sold 43 million copies, and stayed atop the bestseller lists for months.

How do we know the book is wrong? The Bible you have was created, according to its thesis, by the church centuries after Christ's life was done, and was written to promote the myth of his divinity. So "the Bible says" is no answer. You believe the contrary, of course; but you've inherited the myth. Is there objective reason to reject this thesis and find your courage in the purpose and actions of a risen, living Jesus? Absolutely.

Without citing the New Testament, we know these facts:

In AD 52, Thallus the Samaritan described the darkness of Jesus' crucifixion; so we know he died on the cross as the Scriptures say.

Tacitus (died AD 120), the greatest Roman historian, states that Jesus died at the hands of Pontius Pilate, as the New Testament says.

Suetonius (died AD 135) writes of the Christians' faith in Jesus.

In AD 112 the Roman administrator Pliny the Younger described the fact that Christians "sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ as to a god."

We have letters, books, and fragments from Christian writers (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Quadratus, Justin the Martyr) dating to the first century, unanimously teaching that Jesus Christ was and is the risen Lord, the Son of God.

The hypothesis that Jesus was a man deified by Constantine in AD 325 is historically preposterous. Every evidence and source is to the contrary. Everything we know from ancient records tells us that Jesus Christ was believed by Christians to be their risen and living Lord. As he is today.

When we believe that he is alive and real, that he is empowering and rewarding us, everything changes.

Martin Rinkart buried 4,000 people in his city during the Thirty Years War, including several members of his family. How do you go in the face of that? That was the year he wrote the hymn, "Now Thank We All Our God."

Terry Anderson, the Christian journalist taken hostage in Lebanon for seven years, wrote of his experience: "We come closest to God at our lowest moments. It's easiest to hear God when you are stripped of pride and arrogance, when you have nothing to rely on except God. It's pretty painful to get to that point, but when you do, God's there."

Galatians 6:9, "Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we faint not." That card got me through it.

2.) The resurrected SEED OF DAVID (emphasizing his humanity & ability to sympathize) is with us. He who was predicted and came according to the prophetic scriptures. Of the seed of David, just as the Holy Spirit through King David promised. King David’s greater King, of whom He predicted in the second Psalm 2 Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and His Anointed One: 3 “Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. 5 Then He speaks to them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath: 6 “I have consecrated My King on Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 I will declare the Lord’s decree: He said to Me, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.
8 Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron; You will shatter them like pottery.”

This is the One all the Old Testament prophecies spoke about.

This same Jesus, of the seed of David has come.

This is the Gospel That Saves

A great violinist was due in a particular city. The newspaper reports written in advance of his concert, however, devoted most of their attention to the original Strativarius violin he would play. The morning of the concert, the local paper even carried a picture of the great instrument. That night the concert hall filled with people, and the musician played at his best. When he concluded, applause thundered. Then the violinist raised his instrument over his head, and smashed it across his chair. It splintered into a thousand pieces. The audience gasped in shock. The violinist explained: "I read in this morning's paper how great my violin was. So I walked down the street and found a pawn shop. For ten dollars I bought this violin. I put some new strings on it, and used it this evening. I wanted to demonstrate to you that it's not the violin that counts most. It's the hands that hold the violin."

No matter how smashed your violin may be, the hands that hold it count most. Hold onto those hands, for they are holding onto you.

And it still goes on saving today. 9 For this I suffer, to the point of being bound like a criminal; but God’s message is not bound.

They may bury the witnesses but the testimony to eternal life goes on.

They could chain Paul's hands & feet, but they could not fetter his faith. They could silence his lips in death - but the gospel still goes on being preached today! Rome couldn't stop the gospel, the inquisition couldn't slow it down. Coummunism couldn't conquer it, Humanism and Atheism cannot - and all the powers of hell shall not. The truth goes marching on! Remember that Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Many of the brethren are much more bold to preach the gospel because of my imprisonment," {cf, Phil 1:14 RSV}. That is God's method of spreading the church. When you and I look around and see the apostasy that is setting in, in our day, among Christians in the church, we must remember, as the poet James Russell Lowell put it:

Though the cause of evil prosper, Yet 'tis truth alone that's strong.

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne.

Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown,

Standeth God within the shadows Keeping watch above his own.

"Truth crushed to earth shall rise again,"

10 This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory

I do not think there is any greater testimony to that than what has happened in China. When the missionaries were thrust out of China in 1950, Christians everywhere wrung their hands and said, "This is terrible. China will go back into the dark ages under the Communist heel. The poor Christians there will be reduced to nothing." But the truth has now become evident. The door is open to China again, and Christians who went back in found that the church had increased numerically sevenfold over what it was when the missionaries left.

He is indeed the risen, living Lord. Has he called you to this Mamartine dungeon? If he has, count on the power and reward of God. If you're not, do whatever it takes to get into his will, his power, and his reward.

2. How Earnest Should You Be About Jesus Christ?

A. Past The Point Of Suffering

For this I suffer,

This is why I endure all things

The loss of pride


Personal gain


I was reading again this week about some of the preachers of the past, John Wesley, he parted company with ease early in his ministry. He parted company with money all the time in his ministry, he lived very simply on little and gave away nearly everything he had. He said, "I also leave my reputation where I left my soul, in the hands of God," because he was continually maligned in his day. John Wesley travelled by foot or horseback 225 thousand miles, preached over 24000 sermons that we know of, amid misrepresentation, abuse, never knowing the delights of love at home, subject to incessant attacks by the mobs, by other preachers, by the press, yet he never lost the joy of his service until he died at the age of eighty-eight.

Farrar said, "To Wesley was granted the task which even an archangel might have envied."

It was said of George Whitfield, also God, of course, used him mightily here in America after He used him in England for years, in 34 years he crossed the Atlantic 13 times and preached 18,000 sermons. As a soldier of the cross he was humble, ardent, devote, put the whole armour of God on, preferring the honour of Christ to his own interest, his own repose, his own reputation or his own life. And William Cowper wrote this in tribute to Whitfield, "He loved the world that hated him. The tear that dropped upon his Bible was sincere, assailed by scandal and the tongue of strife, his only answer was a blameless life."

B. Past The Point OF Dying

Christ's church has survived through her power to endure. Her sons were ready to die, to die daily. It was given unto them not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for His sake, Philippians 1:29. They would not be stamped out. When their persecutors thought they were scattered like chaff, it turned out they were scattered like seed. The omnipotent power of Rome was impotent before such resolution.

Scattered like chaff but it turned out to be seed. You're here today because believers were willing to endure. And they have endured and endured and endured and endured through all the centuries.

What motivates one to endure? What is to motivate Timothy? Well let's remember what we said last week. The first thing that Paul says must motivate you is the preeminence of the Lord, verse 8. "Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead, descendant of David according to my gospel."

"Consider Him," the writer of Hebrews says in 12:3, "who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

In Matthew chapter 10 verses 24, 25, that section there, he says, "You don't expect the servant to be above his master and you don't expect the teacher to be above...the student rather to be above his teacher," and the implication is if the teacher and the master are persecuted, so will the student be and so will the servant be. Persecution is to be expected. You need to be ready for that. You need to be willing for that.

The call then to endurance is part of the call to discipleship. Jesus in the same passage says you may have to say goodbye to father, mother, sister, brother. You may be set at variance, after all I came not to bring peace but a sword, to cut a family in half, animosity and persecution may come right out of a family. You must make very personal sacrifices. They may even involve taking up a cross, they surely will involve denying yourself, losing your own life in order that you may find it.

John Bunyan said, "I have loved my Lord and wherever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth, I have covenanted to put my own also."

If you're looking for your own well-being, you're not going to endure any persecution. More than your own comfort, if you're looking for your own comfort you won't endure persecution.

In 1943, December, eleven missionaries were martyred on the Isle of Pines (New Caledonia?), martyred for the cause of Christ. One of them was a Dr. Francis Rose. Sometime prior to that martyrdom he had written these magnificent words to express his commitment to Christ against persecution: "All human progress up to God has stained the stairs of time with blood. For every gain for Christendom is bought by someone's martyrdom. For us He poured the crimson cup and bade us take and drink it up, Himself He poured to set us free, help us, O Christ, to drink with Thee. Ten thousand saints came thronging home from lion's den and catacomb, the fire and sword and beast defied for Christ their King they gladly died. With eye of faith we see today that cross-led column wind its way up life's repeated Calvary, we rise, O Christ, to follow Thee."

C. Past The Point Of Denial

"On the other hand, if we deny Him, He also will deny us and if we are unbelieving, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself." If we deny Him, future tense, if some time in the future, now we name His name, Oh yes we believe, but sometime in the future under persecution, stress, difficulty, we deny Christ, that one...emphatically...that one, that is Christ Himself will also deny us. The word means to reject or disown or renounce. He'll reject you.

Titus 1:16, "They profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him." It is a word with reference to rejection. Some people who profess but then reject, that's its use there in Titus 1:16. For a while it all sounds good, it sounds like they really believe, but they deny. It's the same word used in 2 Peter 2 verse 1 of those who name the name of Christ but deny the Master who bought them. On the one hand they claim to be teachers representing Him, but on the other hand they truly deny Him.

The one who continually then carries on that denial...oh there may be moments like Peter's moment when your words come out and you deny what you know to be true, and you repent and you go on believing. But when you come to a point in your life where even having named the name of Christ you move into a mode that goes on denying Him and disowning and renouncing and rejecting Him, He'll deny you, He'll renounce and reject and disown you. That's what it says. And that is taken, by the way, right out of Matthew 10. Can I read it to you because I want you to make the connection? Matthew 10:32, "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."

They are the Demases of the world who having loved this world forsake Christ. They are those like the disciples in John 6 who follow Jesus for a little while and then walk no more with Him. And so he says if in the process of persecution you back out, deny Christ, walk away, it proves you never were genuine and the Lord will deny you and maybe some day you'll hear, "Depart from Me, I never knew you,"

The Donatists stood tall when the world was forsaking Christ, and they would not let the deniers of Christ back into the church when the Roman persecutions ceased with Emperor Constantine’s conversion.

In Japan the church was formed initially by Thomas (doubting Thomas). Some time later the emperor’s of Japan decided to rid themselves of Christians. They conducted a genocide. They drew a cross in the dirt and required any one they suspected of being a Christian to spit on it and trample it under foot. 11, 000 would not and were put to death for not denying the Lord Jesus Christ.

How about you? What will it take to stop you? Are you earnest about the Lord Jesus Christ?

Denial can take many forms:

Many mega-church pastors today believe that evangelism should therefore be viewed as a marketing challenge. In other words, they believe that the church should market the gospel the way all modern businesses sell their products. Of course, that calls for some fundamental changes because the goal in all marketing is “to make both the producer and consumer satisfied,” so anything that tends to leave the “consumer” unsatisfied must be jettisoned.

The world despises preaching -- so replace it with encouraging talks, motivational speeches, stand-up comedy, and drama.

The world does not believe in Hell -- so never mentioned Hell, judgment or even sin for that matter.

The world promotes self-centeredness, self-promotion, and self-pride -- so package the gospel into a political rally cry to promote social issues, or into a success strategy that one may achieve health and wealth.

Today, marketing principles are becoming the arbiter of truth. This new church-growth philosophy is altering the message the church conveys to the world, although many who propound these ideas think of themselves as loyal to biblical doctrine.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said many years ago, "Doth that man love his Lord who would be willing to see Jesus ascend to his throne by the cross, and do we expect to be carried there on the shoulders of applauding crowds? Be not so vain in your imagination. Count you the cost, and if you are not willing to bear Christ’s cross, go away to your farm and to your merchandise, and make the most of them; only let me whisper this in your ear, 'What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?'”
How does market-driven ministry compare with the biblical model? How would Timothy have fared under Paul’s tutelage if he had followed the advice of twentieth-century marketers?

Charles Spurgeon “Men are perishing, and if it be unpolite to tell them so, it can only be so where the devil is the master of the ceremonies. Out upon your soul-destroying politeness; the Lord give us a little honest love to souls, and this superficial gentility will soon vanish. I could with considerable refreshment to myself pour sarcasm after sarcasm upon religious cowardice. I would cheerfully sharpen my knife and dash it into the heart of this mean vice. There is nothing to be said in its favor. It is not even humble; it is only pride of too beggarly a sort to own itself... We do not make the evil, we only expose it; and if we use words and symbols which strike and stick, and even offend, we believe that they are necessary, and ought to be used far more frequently.”

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