Encouragement for a Soldier. Pt 1

Hebrews 13:7  Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

IITimothy 2:1-6 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  3  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  4  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.  5  And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.  6  The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

The book of 2nd Timothy was written by the Apostle Paul to a young man by the name of Timothy. Timothy had followed Paul, had been one of his disciples, had been trained in the ministry, had now been sent and is widely believed to be in the position of pastor of the Church at Ephesus. So 2nd Timothy is one of what we call the Pastoral Epistles, a letter Paul wrote to a pastor, 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy and Titus would all be what we call pastoral epistles and so the primary application of those books is to pastors. Pastors, others that would be training for the ministry of Pastor but as we read in the beginning, Hebrews 13:7 where Paul, writing to a group of believers among the Hebrews, encourages them to listen to their pastor and to follow his faith. So what we see is God does give direction and specific direction to a pastor and then he gives direction to the church to follow the pastor. Thus in a manner of speaking, anything I would preach to a pastor, he is to then live, and the church is then follow. And so there is certainly an application for every one of us here today as we look at this passage of Scripture.

I want to draw your attention to a few things through these verses. First of all verse one again, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” I want us to consider for a moment that phrase. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. I want us to consider two possible and likely applications for this idea of being strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

First of all we certainly need to consider the need for us to rest in the strength that is in God’s grace for us to receive our strength from the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

II Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  8  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Paul speaks here about his own thorn in the flesh, we don’t know exactly what that is, most people agree it was some kind of a physical issue. Many people believe it had something to do with his vision, his eyesight. He might have been virtually blind at this point in his life. But whether his eyesight or some thing else, he had a physical condition that God had given him for the purpose of humbling him.

A little bit of extra here, on the subject of humility, you know often times I’ve heard and Christians will say things like I’m so humbled by what God has used me to do. I am so humbled by the attention that you’ve given me, and there can be some truth to that but we have to be careful because Paul here presents something very different. God using me does not naturally humble me. Being given a position of preaching God’s word does not naturally humble me. Having people come and listen and respond to my preaching does not naturally humble me. The Apostle Paul said God used me in a great way, gave me me visions and used me to write Scripture and so that I wouldn’t be lifted up in pride, He gave me a thorn in the flesh. He gave me hard times and difficulties. See, Paul didn’t think, “You know, God blesses me so much that it makes me humble” because Paul understood that’s not how it works. James and Peter talked about humbling yourselves, that is where we, on purpose, have to humble ourselves.

Humility does not come naturally to men. That’s just a fact. Pride comes naturally to men. And so, sometimes God is going to send us, as He did Paul, very difficult times and that is for our humility. You know the blessings that He gives us we should be thankful for but we should be careful because they will tend to lift us up in pride, not lower us in humility.

But back to what we’re talking about. Paul prayed and asked God to remove this thorn, remove this difficulty and God said my grace is sufficient. My grace, that which I provide, the strength and the blessing and the provision that comes only from God. We need to understand that word grace means that it is undeserved. We use the definition “unmerited favour”. That means there is nothing that I have done that deserves what God gives me. When God gives me strength it’s not because I deserve it. When God gives me help, when God gives me assistance, when God provides for my needs, it is not because I deserve it, it is by grace. We need to understand that. You know, often times as Christians we say it is by Grace, but then we get mad when God doesn’t give us things. Now if I say it’s by grace, I cannot get mad when I don’t receive because I don’t deserve it.

A gift is something that is given, not that is earned. When we talk about standing in God’s grace, it is something that he gives that we do not deserve and that includes our strength and our provision and our health and the provision He makes in our lives, but we need to stand in that. Now Paul understood that Timothy was going to face hard times and we’ll see more of that as we go through the rest of this passage, but standing for Christ will lead to difficult times. Paul could be telling Timothy, “You know, things have been hard and they’re probably going to get worse. You need to stand strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”. In this world standing up for truth becomes increasingly more and more unpopular. When we stand on the truth of God’s word, there are many in the world that don’t like that. There are many in religion that don’t like that. When we stand up and say that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ, by grace and that alone, there are many churches that say “You’re too narrow! Don’t you know all religions are the same and we could just all agree that you know, each way to salvation is okay and it’ll work?” Timothy was going to run into these things. You’re going to run into hard times, you’re going to run into difficulties, be strong in the grace. And so I encourage each one of you here today, know that following Christ will lead to hard times and the necessity is to stand strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

We can’t look to the ANC or the EFF or the DA to provide the strength that we need. Paul didn’t say, “Timothy, stand strong in the Jewish freedom fighters organization! I know that the Romans are going to persecute you but but stand strong in your political party and you’ll be okay”. He said stand strong in the grace this is in Christ Jesus. He didn’t say, “You’re a good man Timothy and you have some good character and you’re a hard worker and you’re a strong man so Timothy, stand strong in your own strength”. Paul knew well man’s strength will fail. If we determine to stand in our own strength, it will fail. So He says stand strong in the grace which God gives you.

Now let us consider another application of standing strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

In beginning this letter to Timothy, Paul encourages him to not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord nor of the testimony of Paul who was at this time in prison for what he was preaching and for what he believed, and to be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God.

II Timothy 1:9-10, Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,  10  But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Timothy is being encouraged to stand strong in the grace but he is literally talking about standing strong in the Gospel, in the grace of salvation. One of the things we must stand strong in is the grace that is in Christ Jesus related to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, related to our salvation.

Now I’ll make two quick applications. First of all, you must stand in the grace of God. You cannot enter into heaven any other way. You cannot enter into a peaceful eternity. You cannot enter into God’s presence any other way than standing in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. It is a must! If you are trusting your good works, if you are trusting your church, if you are trusting your baptism, if you are trusting your religion, if you are trusting your ancestors, you are going to die and you are going to spend an eternity in the Lake of Fire because we must stand in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Titus 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Each man has to stand strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. What would your answer be if I asked you, “when did you come to stand in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”? We’re not born that way. We’re born dead as trespassers in sin. There has to be a time when we come to stand in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And I ask you today, when did that happen? Can you tell me? Can you tell me what that means to you? How it happened?

You know, I was talking to a young man the other day, I asked him about this question, when did you come to stand in the grace that is Christ Jesus? He said in 2013 I gave my life to Jesus. It doesn’t sound like a bad answer. I asked another question. What does that mean? You gave your life to Jesus? Well He forgave my sins and I gave Him my life. That sounds like a good deal for both of you, I said. And the man said yes. Now we’ve got a problem.

If I think I can trade my life for salvation, that’s not the Bible way. There is nothing about my salvation that is a good deal for God. Nowhere in the Bible does the Bible say trade me your life and I will give you salvation. Now God does want your life but not in trade for your salvation. That’s a barter system. It’s not a gift. Salvation is available by grace. God has said repent and believe the Gospel. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”. “Except you repent you shall all likewise perish”. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me,” Jesus Christ said. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. Whosoever believeth on Him. Not whosoever believes that He has something to trade. How and when did you come to stand in the grace that is in Christ Jesus?

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:15  This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

Paul in chapter one had been talking about the same idea of standing in grace, standing for grace and then he makes the comparison of those that have turned away from it, and this is one where again, specifically speaking to pastors, and to preachers who are in training. We must stand strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. We must preach salvation from this book and this book alone.

Paul is saying, “you know how some have departed, some who used to preach the same grace and the same truth that we preach, they now preach a false gospel. They’ve gone and they’ve embraced error and they have turned their back on the Truth of God’s Word and the Truth of Bible salvation. So Timothy, I’m telling you, you must stand strong.” There will be many that want us to change our message, to tone it down, to take it easy to allow for other ways of salvation.

I just recently had a conversation with a man, I don’t really know him, he knows my father, he befriended me on Facebook and then he started posting some crazy things. So I talked with him a little bit but he made a statement something like, “we’re all going to God, whatever your religion. If you’re a Buddhist, if you’re a Muslim, if you’re a Hindu, if you’re a Christian, if you’re a pantheist, if you’re an atheist. It’s all the same”. Rubbish. As a man my mind can make that decision. I can look and say well, that seems the same to me, that seems the same to me, it looks the same to me, but I’m not the authority. When it comes to preaching salvation, I don’t get to decide what salvation is. When it comes to believing for salvation, when it comes to standing on salvation, when it comes to preaching salvation, I don’t get to decide because it’s not my salvation. I didn’t make it, I didn’t buy it, I didn’t purchase it. I’m not the one who gives it. God does. So when I find out what salvation is, I have to go to God and see, what does God say salvation is? And when I go to preach the gospel, I must go to God’s Word and say thus sayeth the Lord. And now understand me, the Bible is our thus sayeth the Lord. If I stand and I don’t look at Bible and I don’t quote from the Bible and I don’t read from the Bible and I don’t teach from the Bible and I say, “thus sayeth the Lord”, I’m a liar and should not be trusted. You ever hear a preacher and he says something and you’re like, that’s interesting, I’ve never heard that before? You go to that preacher when he is done and you say, show me that in God’s word. If he can’t show you from God’s word, you don’t listen to him anymore. I don’t care how many doctorates he has after his name, what title he’s given himself, whether he’s just a preacher or a pastor or an evangelist or a prophet or an apostle or whatever title he’s given himself, if he can’t show you from God’s word, he’s a false prophet. Stand strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The Living Word, the Written Word.

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