Monday, May 04, 2009


2 Timothy 4:1-8 How To Finish Well


1. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:

2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;

4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

I guess in a worldly way we were all somewhat gratified by the agreement of the CEO of Macquarie Bank to take a pay cut this year.

2006 “Macquarie Bank Ltd bosses remain the highest paid in Australia, taking home a massive $143 million in total last financial year with chief executive Allan Moss himself receiving $21.2 million.”

SYDNEY, May 1, 2009 (AFP) - The chief executive of Australia's largest investment bank, Macquarie Group, has taken a 99 percent pay cut after its annual profit plunged by more than half, the bank revealed Friday. The move came as the bank, once dubbed the "millionaire's factory," posted a massive 52 percent drop in profit to 871 million Australian dollars (947 million Singapore dollars), Macquarie's first profit drop in 17 years. Chief Executive Nicholas Moore saw his full year remuneration for fiscal year to March 2009 drop to 290,756 Australian dollars (210,885 US) from 26.75 million the previous year, figures released by the bank showed.

He reduced his wage to a mere $200,000, because he hadn’t performed well in investing for the bank. At least we could see he was concerned to do what was right, now that his wage was under the scrutiny of the nation as we face economic meltdown and recession.

Your life will be under scrutiny.

The apostle Paul is facing death. He is facing appearing before the Judgement seat of Christ. He ahs to consider what is really important right now in the light of stepping into eternity.

The apostle Paul has in the previous few chapters told us about the terrible days of apostasy that would come upon the world before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. His statements about the moral declension in the church and the false teachings that would abound have seriously come to pass in our day with greater magnitude than any other time in history.

Today the Western church , protestant churches, are at a crossroads.

There has been a rise in secularism and atheism in our Australian society.

The church has never fared worse in Australia than it is right now.

Paul has already told us that there is only one solution, the Word of God. You and I need the Word of God.

We need the Word of God because It alone points us to true salvation.

2 Timothy 3:15  and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
We need the Word of God because It alone establishes us as Christians.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,

We need the Word of God because It alone completes us and makes us adequate for all of life’s trials.
17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Now Paul is going to tell us how important it is to do what is important. How do you know what is important? The bottom line is that in a world that is saling to hell we must do the important thing. We must finish well!

1. Finish Well By Doing What Counts.

When people file out after church, they sometimes say things to their pastors that they probably didn’t intend to come out that way. Here are a few that pastors have heard:

“Pastor, you always manage to find something to fill up the time.”

“I don’t care what they say, I like your sermons.”

“If I’d known you were going to be good today, I’d have brought a neighbour.”

“We shouldn’t make you preach so often.”

“Pastor, every week you’re better than next week.”

Preaching has fallen on hard times. Even many pastors do not believe in the relevancy of preaching in our TV age, where people have developed shorter attention spans. They contend that we ought to abandon doctrinal sermons in favour of more emotional forms of communication, such as drama and storytelling.

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of preachers are boring and irrelevant. Listening to their sermons is a lot like P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster described listening to a violin solo: “It was loud in spots and less loud in other spots, and it had that quality which I have noticed in all violin solos, of seeming to last much longer than it actually did.”

J. I. Packer who wrote (A Quest for Godliness [Crossway Books], p. 282), “We shall never perform a more important task than preaching. If we are not willing to give time to sermon preparation, we are not fit to preach, and have no business in the ministry at all.” He argues (p. 281) that “the well-being of the church today depends in large measure on a revival of preaching in the Puritan vein. He says (p. 283), “... to the Puritan, faithful preaching was the basic ingredient in faithful pastoring.”

Preaching the Word and hearing the Word are essential for God's people.

These words are important enough as they stand, but they take on more weight when you realize that they are Paul's final charge to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. Paul could not have emphasized the essential nature of preaching any more strongly: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word ....” (2 Tim. 4:1-2a).

It follows, of course, that if preaching the Word is so important, then hearing the Word preached is also top priority, because a man does not preach to himself. It also reminds us that in many ways we are all involved in this precious work , and we all are preachers.

The famous preacher, Dr. Campbell Morgan, has four sons, all preachers. The story is told that, on one occasion, the whole of the family was at home when a friend called. They made room for him in the circle round the fireside. There at one end was the Doctor himself; at the other, Mrs. Morgan; in between, the four sons, and the friend. Presently, in the course of the conversation, the visitor turned to one of the sons and said, "Howard, who is the best preacher in your family?" All eyes turned in the Doctor's direction, for it would certainly be he that would get the crown! But Howard surprised them all by looking to the opposite corner, and saying, as if there could be no second opinion, "Why, Mother, of course!" She was the one member of the family that wasn't a preacher, and she was the best preacher of them all!

Why preach?

The Word should be preached because of the serious issues at stake.

The word translated “solemnly charge” (1 Tim. 5:21; 2 Tim. 2:14) has a legal nuance: Paul is calling Timothy in front of God's judicial bench and charging him under oath with the awesome task of proclaiming God's Word to those who also will someday stand in front of that bench for judgment by Christ Jesus who will return to reign over all.

There is the serious issue of Judgement.

The verb “is” (before “to judge”) literally means, “is about to.” It imparts the urgency of the task. The day is soon coming when Christ will return. He came the first time as the suffering Savior to redeem us from our sins. But the second time He will come as the Sovereign King, to put down all rebellion and to judge the living and the dead. That includes you may be hovering somewhere between those two realms. Although as believers in Christ, we will not face condemnation, we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).

This means that life is a serious matter. Every human being must someday stand before the living God to give an account of his or her life. The Word of God tells us how to live so that we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” Preaching is important because of the seriousness of this fact.

Christ will appear and set up His kingdom. The word “appear” was used of the Emperor's visit to a province or town. Just before his visit, things were put in perfect order. The garbage was cleaned up, the streets were swept and the buildings were scrubbed clean for his appearing.

There is the serious issue of Scripture.

Scripture gives us “the wisdom that leads to salvation” and equips us for every good work (3:15-17). Scripture reveals to us “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). If a man doesn't explain and apply Scripture, his preaching may be entertaining and inspirational; but it will lack life-changing power.

There is the Serious Issue Of Salvation.

Romans 10: 9 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. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

14 But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How welcome are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!

Picture a paramedic unit on call, ready to save someone’s life. Souls are perishing without Christ. Christians are straying from the fold. Proclaim God's Word whenever and wherever you can!

To do this, a preacher must make an appeal to the reason of the hearers: “Reprove.” The word is a legal term that means to present your case in such a manner as to convince your opponent of his wrong. A preacher must not simply give an emotional harangue. He must present his case in a logically convincing manner from the Word so that his hearers are persuaded that what it is saying is right even when their behavior is wrong. The Holy Spirit’s task is to reprove (= convict) the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). He does this largely through Spirit-filled biblical preaching.

Second, a preacher must make an appeal to the conscience of the hearers: “Rebuke.” This moral aspect of preaching says, “You are wrong; you need to repent!” We tend not to like that sort of thing, but it is desperately needed in our day of watered-down, feel good Christianity. William Barclay was right when he wrote (The Daily Study Bible [Westminster Press], p. 207): “Any teacher ... whose teaching tends to make men think less of sin is a menace to Christianity and to mankind.”

Third, a preacher must make an appeal to the will and emotions of the hearers: “Exhort.” The word has the nuance of encouraging someone to right behavior. Some people need rebuke and some need encouragement. If you encourage those who need rebuking, you assist them to go on sinning. But if you rebuke those who need encouragement, you'll discourage them. Someone has said that the preacher’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Only the Holy Spirit can take the Word and apply it individually to a congregation made up of all sorts of needs.

There is the Serious Issue Of Deception

Paul warns Timothy that the time will come when people in the church is the implication) will not endure sound doctrine, but rather, wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate (lit., “heap up”) teachers in accordance to their own desires. They will find teachers who tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

“Sound doctrine” is one of Paul's frequent themes in the pastoral epistles (1 Tim. 1:10 whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching ; 2 Tim. 4:3; Titus 1:9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.

2:1 But you must speak what is consistent with sound teaching.

“sound words” in 1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

“Sound” means healthy (we derive our word “hygienic” from it). Sound teaching results in healthy Christian living. Note that such healthy teaching is set in contrast to what people like and thus it must be “endured”! This implies that, like health food, it doesn't always feel good at the moment, because it confronts our selfish desires, but in the long run it yields healthy Christianity.

In 4:4, Paul says that people will turn aside from the truth to myths—the religious ideas of men as opposed to God's revelation in the Word.

2. Finish Well By Presenting Something Complete.

5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

“But you ...” (3:10, 14). It is a pointed reminder that a man of God must go against the flow, even, at times, against the “Christian” flow.

First, “Be sober” (literally, “Don't be drunk”). When people get intoxicated with the latest winds of false doctrine, you’re the designated driver. Keep your head about you and continue preaching the truth.

Don’t let your ministry become incomplete through indolence.

Second, “Endure hardship.” If you preach the truth of God’s Word, you will catch flak. Harry Ironside said that he occasionally received letters from people in his congregation (invariably people he didn’t know personally) who would say, “I don't like your preaching; and I don't think you had any right to expose me in the way you did. I don't know who has been talking to you about me.” And they always closed by saying, “It’s not true.” His comment was, “If you throw a stone into a pack of dogs and one of them yelps, you know who got hit.”

Daniel Niles, once shared-a story about a young missionary couple who labored long and hard for in the midst of a rather primitive tribe in the New Hebrides Islands.

For months and even years there were no visible results until...finally, one day, one family became Christians. Now it seemed that the future of their whole ministry to that tribe rested on the future of that one family. But what should happen? The child in that very family contracted a horrible disease.

As you can imagine, the parents prayed desperately for the recovery of that child. They brought him to the missionaries and the missionaries prayed as never before that God would hold back this enemy and show these superstitious people the power of prayer and the Christian faith.

But, nevertheless, the child died. And the missionaries were devastated. They went on with their work as before, but the future success of that mission work just didn't seem very hopeful. They feared that their ministry to that people would just collapse.

But 3 months later, the leader of the tribe came to the missionary hut and said, "We, too, want to become Christians." The missionaries were overfilled with joy, but surprised, really, and wondered, "Why?" "What would lead this chief and his tribe to make this wonderful decision?"

So they asked him. And this is what he said, "We, too, want to have a God that makes us strong to face death. We have never seen death faced the way you and the parents of that boy faced it. We want that strength too."

This morning I told you of the Joseph Tson. This evening think about the first American Foreign Missionary was Adoniram Judson in the late 1700’s. He was a missionary in Burma which is today called Myanmar. He was imprisoned and put in shackles until there were grotesque scars on his wrists and hands. Later, he went before the King to get permission to preach in a certain place. The King said, “I am willing for a dozen preachers to go, but not you. Not with those hands! My people are not such fools as to take note of your preaching, but they will take notice of those scarred hands”. On of the early church Fathers said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

Don’t let your ministry become incomplete through cowardice.

Third, “Do the work of an evangelist.” Don’t get sidetracked by those in the church who criticize you, but keep going after lost people. Evangelism is the cutting edge of the church’s ministry.

There is nothing more important than seeing a soul saved.

Don’t let your ministry become incomplete through foolishness.

We can get all hung up on things that don’t count. We can get hung up on what the council should or shouldn’t give us. And we can forget the unsaved guests who came to church and not talk to them.

We can get hung up on the secondaries and neglect the primary.

Finally, “Fulfil your ministry.” Paul is saying, “Don’t leave the ministry and go into an easier line of work just because you run into opposition. Fulfil your mission as a preacher of God's truth! Follow me in fighting the good fight so that you will finish the course” (4:7). John Calvin explains, “The more extraordinary the eagerness of wicked men to despise the doctrine of Christ, the more zealous should godly ministers be to defend it, and the more strenuous should be their efforts to preserve it entire; and not only so, but also by their diligence to ward off the attacks of Satan” (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 255). Stephen Olford, a godly preacher whose father was a missionary, was once about to speak at the English Keswick Convention I understand, when he was called off the platform by an emergency phone call. His mother was on the line and she told him that his father was dying. Stephen told her that he would go back to the meeting and explain the situation. They could make do with someone else, and he would come immediately. But his mother said, “No, your father doesn’t want you to do that. He said, ‘Tell the boy to preach the Word.’”

Preaching the Word and hearing the Word are essential for God’s people.

3. Finish Well By Persevering For The Crown.

Once we know what is important, we should not get discouraged from persevering towards the end of the goal. So often we feel like quitting.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you mut--but don't you quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns, As everyone of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don't give up, though the pace seems slow You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than It seems to a faint and falters man,

Often the struggler has given up, When he might have captured the victor's cup

And he learned too late, when night slipped down, How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out The silver tint to the clouds of doubt

And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems afar;

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit. It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit!

The man who once most wisely said, Be sure you're right, then go ahead,

Might as well have added this, to wit: Be sure you're wrong before you quit.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

He pictures death as a religious rite.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and

He pictures death as a release.

the time of my departure is at hand.

He pictures death as a contest.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

And the thing that makes him persevere is the thought of a wreath at the end of it.

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

It’s the runner’s wreath.

It’s the boxer’s wreath.

Will there be a wreath, a crown for you?

I am thinking today of that beautiful land I shall reach when the sun goeth down;
When through wonderful grace by my Savior I stand, Will there be any stars in my crown?

Refrain Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I wake with the blest in the mansions of rest Will there be any stars in my crown?

In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray, Let me watch as a winner of souls,
That bright stars may be mine in the glorious day, When His praise like the sea billow rolls.

O what joy it will be when His face I behold, Living gems at his feet to lay down!
It would sweeten my bliss in the city of gold, Should there be any stars in my crown.

Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I wake with the blest in the mansions of rest Will there be any stars in my crown?

I EXPECT you know your Pilgrim's Progress, and will recall that after Pilgrim has passed through the Wicket Gate, and has thus really become a Christian, the very first thing that happens to him is a visit to Interpreter's House. There is so much for him to learn if he is successfully to pursue his journey. And, again, what is the very first thing that is there shown him? He is taken into a room to look upon a picture that hangs on the wall - it is a picture of a preacher. As if John Bunyan would impress upon the new convert that, while he is to become many things, his first responsibility is to be, in some sense, a preacher. Call the presentment up to mind - "eyes lifted to Heaven; the best of books in his hand; the law of truth written upon his lips; the world was behind his back; it stood as if it pleaded with men; and a crown of gold did hang over his head."

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Free Hit Counter