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Veteran’s Day: 11/11/18
Title: The Call of Duty
Text: 2 Timothy 4.1-5
Without reviewing last week’s entire message, I’d like to just share that we’re in the climax of this letter (2 Timothy). Paul has circled around certain themes throughout his 2nd letter to Timothy. Themes like: Suffering, Service, Sound Doctrine, Faith, the Gospel, Preaching and Teaching, Life Experience and God’s Calling. Paul begins in 1.1 and climbs up through his life and Timothy’s life to finally issue the charge in 4.2 and the letter’s apex in 4.5. We’re just below the summit (so to speak) in 3.10. Paul starts his charge in 3.10 but then stops. In 3.10 we read But you… (Σὺ δὲ). He does so again in 3.14 (Σὺ δὲ). Now Paul is at the top.
Sometimes when you climb, you see what appears to be the summit. But, as you reach that area, you see another summit a little further up. This is what is called a false summit. I’ve had about 30 summits now, including 13ers. I’m thinking that every single mountain climbing experience with the exception of maybe one or two, had a false summit. Man, a false summit can be quite disheartening.
3.10 is like a false summit – Paul presses on and now, boom – in 3.14, we’re there. Paul reaches this summit when he says, “But as for you (Σὺ δὲ), continue…” Be remaining… continue on course with what you’ve learned and what you’ve come to believe. That is where Paul has been headed this whole letter.
Ill.: When you climb a mountain and when you reach the summit, you like to linger for as long as possible. You’ve worked hard to get there and you want to take it in. But the truth is, you can’t stay long. I’ve climbed for hours to reach a summit, only to stay for a minute or two. It’s dangerous up there. There is less air. The area is usually very small. The falls to each side can be steep and far. As the afternoon wears on, storms are likely to come – and they pop up quickly.
With that in mind, Paul is going to linger here for a moment, but not too long. He now issues his charge to Timothy and it is born out of his own experience. You see that charge in 4.1-2. He comes back to it again in 4.5, which I mentioned last week is the thesis statement for the letter (Σὺ δὲ). In 3.10 he said Σὺ δὲ. And in 3.14 he said, Σὺ δὲ. Now, he says it one more time. 5 As for you, (Σὺ δὲ) always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. And then, in v 6-8, Paul will say something like: You, (Σὺ δὲ) fulfill your ministry just as I have fulfilled my ministry.
When I was a soldier, I learned so much about discipline and structure, order and strategy. I am grateful for my four years of service because the Army taught me more about being a man than probably any other single influence in my life. From the moment I got off the bus at basic training my life was changed. Now, I’m not a soldier anymore. I haven’t been a soldier for more than 30 years, but the lessons I learned have stuck with me.
Some folks asked me about climbing mountains alone: Was I ever afraid?
The answer: yes. A few times actually. Once, I was very afraid. But I learned some skills in the army that allowed me confidence in what I was doing. I know how to navigate a map – a skill I learned in the army. I have some survival skills – again, some basics I learned in the army. I don’t mean to sound overconfident. I am not that. But, with four years of ‘how to survive in the wilderness’ training, some of that teaching stayed with me.
I say that with the understanding that Paul is going to use some of this same philosophy with Timothy. He’s laid a great foundation in Timothy’s life through his teaching and his example. Sure, Timothy has been going-it-alone, so to speak, in that Paul hasn’t been there with this young man in Ephesus. But, Timothy is really getting ready to go-it-alone, because Paul senses his life is about to end. And he wants to make sure that Timothy will remember what he’s been taught as he navigates the ministry without Paul. Timothy is going to have to step up and take Paul’s place – entrusting other men with the faith, teaching them just as Paul taught him. He is going to have to endure suffering – just like Paul has; just like Jesus did.
Here is how I see this passage breaking down. Paul says for Timothy to keep his eye on:
- The Master: God, the Father.
- The Message: Make sure it is sound, coming from the Word of God.
- The Mission: It is so easy to chase after some things that seem beneficial, that seem profitable, but might not really be the mission. In fact, there are probably some really good ‘works’ or ministries out there you can be doing, but those ‘works’ or ministries might not be your mission.
- The Moment: remember this time is fleeting. This life is short, but the time you spend in this particular ministry and mission at this particular juncture in life is so brief…
So, let’s begin with the first part of Paul’s charge to Timothy; Paul says, Timothy, Keep your eye on:
I. The Master (1)
exp.: rd 4.1; I 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… Man, that’s weighty. We say Jesus and we often don’t think of the word Judge. We think of words such as forgiving, kind, compassionate, loving, tender…but we don’t often think Judge! Paul is saying to Timothy: This is a mission in which you serve – don’t forget who you’re serving! I think of Hebrews 12.1-2, which reads in the NASB:
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
fix your eyes upon Jesus… the Gk word here for fixing actually means to look away from everything else. It’s a negative with negative alpha used as a prefix. BTW: we do talk this way in English, but it isn’t proper.
ill.: let me give you an example: a teenage son is headed back to college. Mom says, “Call me when you get there.” Pretty clear, right? But what if Dad then says, “Do not not call us upon your arrival!” Is that not more emphatic?
exp.: that is the way it is worded here… Turn your eyes away from all and place them squarely upon Jesus!
ill.: Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.
app.: Timothy, with all I’m going to say in the next moment – don’t forget the most important thing:
t.s.: Keep your eyes on Jesus. 2ndly, keep your eyes on:
II. The Message (2)
exp.: He says, (v 2) preach the Word! This word for “preach,” κηρύσσω means to herald – to proclaim. You can picture someone walking to a corner of a busy street, putting down a crate for a makeshift stage, and then stepping upon it. Then, opening the Bible, begin to proclaim God’s Word to the people passing by. That’s the charge to Timothy.
Now, Paul has already been very clear with Timothy about the importance a healthy doctrine and the source of the doctrine is God’s Word. He’s called it the Word of God and the Word of Truth – and here, he just calls it the Word.
t.s.: So Paul tells Timothy to keep his eye on the Master and on the Message, then he tells him how and why: First, he tells Timothy how and 2nd, he tells him why and that’s the mission:
III. The Mission (3-5)
exp.: Timothy, keep your eye on the Mission and here’s why and how you do it.
- 1st, (How): “be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” And then he tells him why…
- 2nd, (Why): (v 3-4) “3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” And we’ve seen that already happening in the previous chapters of this letter. I think we see that here in the US today.
ill.: I have to admit that it strikes me as odd that many pastors, preachers, missionaries, teachers today don’t use God’s Word in their preaching and teaching. They tell interesting, attention-grabbing stories that tug on the heart or provide a sense of patriotism, but for the most part, don’t Proclaim God’s Word of Truth. This morning, I wonder how many church services in America are patriotic? I mean, the music, the speaker – sharing stories that excite a sense of patriotism. And listen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with patriotism. I’m proud to be an American and proud of my military service. But America is not my home. I’m a foreigner here. I’m just passing through. But the truth is, Worship isn’t about being American or a Veteran. Go back to point #1: Keep your eyes on The Master!
Here’s what it all comes down to, Timothy: rd v 5: always be sober-minded (keep your head in all matters), endure suffering (because suffering will come), do the work of an evangelist (you know those gifts given to you when the men laid their hands on you and prayed?), fulfill your ministry (diakonos).
app.: Up to this point, you’ve probably been thinking: man, I hope Duffey is listening. I hope Shawn and Ivana are listening. I hope our missionaries overseas are listening in. Nope, this should smack you right in the heart! Fulfill your diakonos… Acts 6 – The ministry of prayer and the Word. I’m to be deaconing the Word and prayer. Elders: Prayer and Preach the Word! Deacons – in your service to the body; caring for widows and widowers, waiting tables, working in the kitchen, changing light bulbs, working in the fields, filling the baptistery. Serving at teaching, Venture, Bridgemark, CUB, Bible Study, getting the cookies and coffee ready for fellowship, worship team – whatever it is you do – fulfill your ministry.
t.s.: Keep your eyes on the Master, the Message, the Mission – and finally, Keep your eyes on the Moment.
IV. Moment (6-8)
exp.: rd 6-8; Paul says, Timothy, fulfill your ministry as I have already fulfilled mine! My time is coming to an end! And it will be the same for you!
app.: Our time together is so brief. Let’s make this personal: Momentary in two ways: chronos and kairos;
- 1st, you have only but a season with these folks.
- 2nd, your life is indeed, but a vapor – which appears for a moment and then is gone.
- The people around you are not always going to be there.
- Your class
- Your work
- Your friends
- We live in such a mobile society! But consider what’s more: time races on and the time we have to do what we do is limited. Your time to serve right where you are will come to an end.
- Ann, remember Pauline Faulkenberry? She isn’t greeting anymore. But she did for years.
- Fanny Dusek: She’s not teaching children’s ministry anymore.
- But neither is KK? Your time with the children is done. It’s all marked up and boxed away. You had your chance to fulfill that ministry and the time for that is gone.
- And, even if you came back, it would be different. Different kids, Different families, Different ministries.
- Same for Doris and Darlene –
- Jason and Kenny – the youth you have at this moment is not the same group you had three years ago. And trust me – three more years are going to pass so quickly. The influence you have at this moment… and I mean moment, will soon pass out of sight.
t.s.: What a great reminder for us to consider that brevity of what we’ve been called to do.
Conclusion: Paul has reached the summit of his letter to a dear friend. And, he wants to linger here for a while before heading back down the mountain. This is important stuff. We don’t have much time – so keep your eye on the moment. What we do in this moment is so important – so keep your eye on the message and the mission. And the accountability is so great – it is practically incomprehensible. Foundational to all of this, we’ve got to keep our eyes on Jesus – the master, the author and perfecter of our faith.
In a moment, we’ll be dismissed. Those who serve in the area of fellowship will have the coffee and cookies and doughnuts out. It’s a wonderful time to fellowship. But, it is more than that. We want to hear from you. Maybe God’s been dealing with you in some area. Church membership, Missions or Ministry. Maybe you’d like to talk about where you feel God might be leading you to serve. Let’s talk about that. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior. Come talk with me about that.