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Title: The Foundation of Missions
Text: 2 Timothy 3.14-17
Introduction: We’re in 2 Timothy this morning.
While you’re turning to that passage, let me prepare you for our journey this morning. We’ll spend the first half of our time and maybe more time making our way through 2 Timothy to gain a better understanding of the context of this letter. I don’t want you to think that after 20 minutes of what feels like the introduction, that we’re finally getting started on the sermon and then somehow feel frustrated. This morning’s message is designed that way with the sole purpose of gaining perspective on the context of the entire body of the letter. So, in some respects, the body of the sermon is quite short. That should be encouraging. Here’s what I’m thinking: 2 Timothy 3.16 – one of the most popular and famous passages in all of Scripture has the ability to stand alone and still make sense. You can quote it (16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work), and pretty much anytime you do, it won’t be out of context. But, this passage within the context of mission and the missionary, within the context of the called and their service will do something wonderful in the mind and spirit of every believer.
With that in mind, let us establish the context by making our way through this letter with a cursory reading of many of the verses. I think I hope, we’ll feel better connected to the text when we get there. So, let’s begin in 1.1.
1.1: an apostle: sent, commission – God has commissioned him in some way.
1.3: whom I serve: here is his service; something that is in his blood, in his family history – except with him, he’s understood that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
1.3-7: Remembrance is repeated; rd v5-7: 5-7 is a possible thesis statement – a reminder of his faith and the need to ‘fan into flame’ this spiritual gift and use it. for this reason is different wording than we often find. Often the Gk is on account of this, sometimes translated therefore. But here there is this legal term – in a negative sense it would be an accusation – but here it is a positive thing.
1.8-11: this outline – this thesis continues in v8-9; He says the power of the Gospel saves us and calls us. He also says there is the downside to service – that is a downside to fulfilling our calling into service: suffering. Note: the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ who suffered in our place.
Now already we’re seeing a theme: we’ve been saved by faith – then, called and equipped to serve. And that service brings suffering – no different really than our Master.
1.12-18: Paul then tells us of this suffering in v 12; I think there is a break here, though not noticeable in the text. The break should probably be at the end of that sentence there in v 12a. Which is why I suffer as I do. which, by the way, has that legal term again. Break. But, and he continues; rd 12b; But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Some clarification: we sing a hymn that has this verse in it.
But I know whom I have believed
and am persuaded that he is able
to keep that which I’ve committed
unto him against that day.
Well, the verse is most literally: and I am convinced that he is able to guard my deposit until that day. You might see that in a footnote or a reference note in your Bible. My deposit could be what I give to God, as the hymn implies or it could be the possession I now have that God has deposited into my life. And, that is what the ESV translates and I think is the correct meaning considering the context of what follows.
Then, Paul builds on that in v 13 and says here that he has set an example for Timothy to follow:
- God has deposited this gospel in me and entrusted it to me.
- Sound Words – namely – words that come from God. You could say – the Word of God.
- Words you’ve heard from me:
- Words that present the Gospel.
- Guard the deposit entrusted to you
- Summary: as I’ve been called, sent and entrusted with this service by these words – you do and be likewise.
- Remember suffering comes with this: Phygelus and Hermogenes abandoned me. Onesiphorus blessed me.
2.1-7: Therefore, imitate me by entrusting faithful men to teach others. Share in the suffering. And then he gives illustrations of those who suffer in their labor: Soldier, Athlete, Farmer.
2.8-13: Suffering and the Gospel. Note: The Source of this Gospel is the Word of God (v 9).
2.14-19: Paul tells Timothy what he needs to be teaching these entrusted, faithful men: Sound Doctrine! Rd 14-15; here is another term for God’s Word: The Word of Truth.
- Testimony about our Lord (1.8)
- The Gospel (1.8, 10; 2.8)
- Sound Words (1.13)
- The Word of God (2.9)
- And here, The Word of Truth (2.15)
And you’ll see when we get to our text today that Paul uses two more terms: Sacred writings (3.15) and Scripture (3.16)
But, avoid irreverent babble (16) that is, harmful words – like, and he mentions two more men who have swerved from the truth, Hymenaeus and Philetus. Look at v19, but God’s firm foundation stands. I believe that is God’s Word. Their words are babble, but God’s Word is foundational – it is the Truth.
2.20-26: Now Paul moves back to Timothy to encourage him in what he has already challenged him in: rightly handling the Word of Truth which leads people to a knowledge of the Truth. Paul wants Timmy to be ready for every good work (21). This good work leads people to repentance and salvation (22-26).
In 3.1-13: Paul wants Timothy to understand just how difficult this will be and that he should avoid such people; rd 3.1 & 5; His examples are Jannes and Jambres; these two are not mentioned in Scripture, but we know of them through Jewish writings and even pagan references. If you go to Exodus 7.11, you’ll see them there. They are the ones who did as Paul mentions here – opposed Moses.
In 3.10, Paul comes back to that command to be like him. 1.13; 2.2; and again now in 3.10; rd 3.10; Paul has been mentoring and discipling Timothy with his life. Paul has been an example of the Word, which he has been teaching. You might say that Paul is telling Timothy here, you know my talk matches my walk.
In 3.11-13, he goes back to his suffering and the opposition he often faced in his mission work; rd 3.11-13;
Now, we’ve reached the climax of this letter. I think it stays at its apex through 4.5 and then quickly recedes into the end of the letter. It would be so much fun to go through this letter verse by verse and spend some in-depth, quality time working through their relationship and the passion they both share for the work God has called them to do. Someday, I probably will.
For the next month, let’s just focus on the climactic part of this letter and it’s closing:
- The Foundation of Missions: God’s Word
- The Duty of Missions: The Work
- The Anxiety of Missions: Persecution and suffering
- An Example of Missions: George Müller
These four areas of focus will cover as we study the task of the missionary – which, by the way, you are. You are a missionary right here in Tyler. So, you can apply this to your own life. And just what does Paul say here to Timothy about this calling and commission?
- Continue…God’s been at work.
Rd v 14a; But as for you; standing in opposition to those who are (using the words in 11-13) ungodly, persecutors, and deceptive; rd 14b; continue. That word Continue is where we reach the climax. This is everything Paul has been working toward: Continue. The Gk is μένω; and it is most literally to remain. So, Paul is saying lit.: be remaining. We, of course, don’t talk that way in English. We say continue.
Continue in what? Rd 14c; continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed. This first word is a derivative of disciple (a disciple is a learner)(μαθητής). We get our word math from these words. The 2nd word is the verb form of our word faith. Being in verb form expresses to us that Paul is saying to Timothy that his life demonstrates what his heart believes.
But there is more! Now Paul identifies what elements in Timothy’s life have influenced this lifestyle; rd 14d; knowing from whom you learn it; which by the way, whom is plural in the Greek. Translation: Paul is identifying the influences on Timothy’s life and there is more than one person. He expounds on that in v 15; rd 15a; and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.
If you make your way back to 1.5, you’ll see two of those influences: Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Their faith is also Timothy’s faith. A third influence would be Paul, who mentions how Timothy has heard and seen Paul’s faith lived out.
App.: Man, there is so much application for us at this moment. Have you considered that every aspect of your life has been God working on you to bring you to this moment?
- Every struggle and every success
- Every victory and every failure
- Every tear of happiness and every tear from pain
- Your parents, your upbringing, your teachers, your work, your education, your music, your… everything.
Next, I want to look closer at this word acquainted. It means to know intimately. It isn’t just a basic rudimentary knowledge. It goes much deeper than that. And just what is this of which Timothy has such intimate knowledge? What is this that he’s been learning since he was a child? Rd 15; and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings… Here is another term that Paul uses for Scripture – the sacred writings. So, to review:
- Godly influences (family and friends)
- Discipleship: learning about this faith
- Faith: expressed, it is lived out…
- Sacred Writings: Scripture, God’s Word; the standard held up and which we live our lives by…
The rest of the verses in this chapter outline for us just what this Scripture is: namely, it’s power, its purpose, it’s source and it’s many uses:
1st, it’s power – It is able (δύναμαι) the verb form of the word from which we get our word: dynamite. It’s powerful. How powerful? 2nd, It can make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ. That’s the purpose.
How can it be so powerful? Because of its source! Rd v 16; Because All Scripture is breathed out by God. This word θεόπνευστος – Theos: God; And pnewō: breath. That is, every word in these sacred writings contains the breath of God. Remove your breath and you can’t speak. Ask Marilyn!
The idea that God breathed his breath into the Holy Scriptures isn’t an isolated thought by Paul. Peter, in his 2 letter, gives his testimony of when he and the two Sons of Thunder, the brothers James and John, were up on the mountain and saw Christ transfigured. At the end of that testimonial, he writes: …that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Some folks think that this refers only to the Old Testament. But I don’t think that’s the case. We don’t have time here to defend this, but let me say, the OT canon wasn’t even established until 90 AD at the Council of Jamnia. That’s 25-30 years down the road from this letter’s origin. So, Paul wouldn’t use words like we do to describe the writings in different Testaments. Let me show you how he referred to them: 4.9, 13; cloak (4.21) biblios and membranos; books and parchments; He doesn’t say, bring my Bible because they didn’t have a Bible like you do. BTW: both Peter and Paul referred to their letters as writings as taught to them by the Holy Spirit and to be read in other churches by other believers and shared for the benefit of discipleship, polity, and instruction. Like in Colossians he says: Hey, I wrote a letter to Laodicea. Give them your letter and read theirs to your people. And, just like in this letter, he calls them to obedience, etc.
For this same reason, you and I understand God’s Word to be holy, infallible, inerrant, fully trustworthy and reliable. Paul continues to teach us, as he’s teaching Timothy here of just how reliable it is: and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…
Lyle Skeels said one time in a Bible Study here that he learned it this way:
- What’s right
- What’s not right
- How to get right, and
- How to stay right.
I don’t know where he heard it, but he said he didn’t make it up. He got it from someone else.
- You teach What’s right
- You reprove What’s not right
- When you correct God’s people you show them How to get right, and finally,
- When you train them in righteousness, you show them How to stay right.
Ill.: when I was a college student I purchased a Korean/English Bible for my mom. If I recall, it has the Korean translation on one side and the English on the other side. Before giving it to her, I wrote in the front of her Bible of how the words contained in these Scriptures have the answers for life. I wish I’d have known this verse well enough to have referenced it.
Ill.: There is a popular preacher who every time he gets up to preach he asks his congregation to raise up their bibles. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the Word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same. In Jesus name. I love that. That ain’t bad. The problem I have with this preacher is that he never then opens it up and teaches from it. Basically, he appears to me to be a motivational speaker.
App.: I’m not trying to dog on him. I’ve made it my practice not to be critical of pastors – that’s why I didn’t mention his name. But if you believe that This is my Bible and that it truly is breathed out by God, and, that it teaches you what is right, what is not right, how to get right and how to stay right, then, why wouldn’t you spend some time in it.
- Competent… God’s equipping you
Paul tells us these things as he writes to Timothy because he wants us to know…That God has been working on him, molding him and shaping him into the man he wants him to be because he’s equipping him for service; rd v 17; that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. This wording here is truly beautiful the way it is composed in the original language. The first word, competent, means to be fitted for something.
I’ve got my ’72 Chevy up and running and I’m having some problems. After not being used for the last few years, some of the rubber gaskets and seals have become dry and brittle. The master cylinder for the brakes is going to need replacing now. Here’s the thing: I can’t just buy any master cylinder. This is a Chevy. I can’t buy just any part. Even more so, it is 1972 Chevy – 46 years old. It has to be the right part – fitted just for my truck. I was actually shopping on one of the parts websites and it warned me of a part I was looking at: This part doesn’t fit your truck.
When you consider missions, you must consider that God has fitted you for that position. Moreover, he has equipped you for every good work. The word equipped here is a compound word that uses our word competent as a part of it. God has been molding and shaping Timothy and Paul and every minister and missionary he is sending out. That’s pretty cool when you think of it. And how has he been doing that? – with his Word.
Conclusion: God’s Word is the foundation for missions. It makes the missionary and minister into the tool God wants to use. It contains the Good News of Jesus to evangelize the lost making them wise for salvation. It contains the polity and practice of the church and its officers for organization and clarity. It teaches us:
- What’s right
- What’s not right
- How to get right, and
- How to stay right.
Application: So, what would I like for you to take with you today when you go home?
- You can trust God’s Word for every area of your life.
- Your marriage
- Business and money practices
- Salvation (present the gospel and offer an invitation)
- You can trust that God is molding you and shaping you for the work he has called you to.
- Fill in the blank
Really, this passage outlines the work of God in your life:
- He saves you through faith (15)
- He then molds you and shapes you through teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness…
- Then, he equips you for his service.
- Is it possible that God might be calling you today?
- Ministry: pastor or teacher
- Service in the body: to step up and serve somewhere – where there is a need?
I don’t know what God has been up to in your life leading up to this moment, but I’d like to encourage you to be open to his leadership. Will you surrender your life to him completely? In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’re going to have a moment of silence for us to reflect on the day’s activities – to reflect upon what God has been communicating to us as individuals – as families. After that time of silence, we’ll have a prayer and be dismissed. We’ll have some coffee and refreshments at the back of the worship center. Let’s spend some time talking. If you have questions, the elders and staff would love to try and answer those questions and offer some direction – maybe pray with you.