Big Idea: Paul is urging Timothy to keep on heading in the right direction.
You have probably all seen those big red signs… Wrong Way! Go Back. Not concerned with grammar or your feelings. Just issuing a blunt and confronting warning. Hopefully, when you have seen them it’s been in passing from the safety of the correct lane, going in the right direction. But there was an occasion where I would have really appreciated such an obvious and blunt warning. We were on holiday, here in Brisbane. I was a little lost and I turned into Vulture Street, Woolloongabba Vulture Street is a major thoroughfare and one way. I was going one way. It was just the wrong way! It was a startling realisation! In case you are wondering I didn’t die. I was able to avoid any major accidents or traffic infringement notices. I only narrowly avoided a heartache. I still dream about the disaster that could have been and thank the Lord that despite my best efforts he kept me safe.
In our passage today, Paul is that helpful warning sign, that I never saw. For Timothy staying on track, not making a wrong turn as a follower of Jesus in this world will be a real challenge. Paul said earlier in the letter that life will be very difficult for people trying to live as followers of Jesus in the last days. And in our passage today we will read that anyone who wants to live for Jesus will be persecuted. There will be social pressure and physical threats which could cause Timothy to go the wrong way. And like Timothy, we are also living in the last days. As followers of Jesus, we will be faced with pressures, persecutions and persuasive arguments all tempting us, even threatening us to go the wrong way.
How do we avoid making a wrong turn?
That’s what we’ll find out from this passage today. As Paul exhorts, urges Timothy not to go the wrong way. God has given us two precious means, two precious gifts for staying on track. 1. God keeps us on track, through the gift of … His People (v10-14) Christianity is a team sport. Read v14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it… Paul’s instruction to Timothy is to CONTINUE … imperative/command. Just do it.
Continue in what you have learned – what did he learn? The good news of the gospel and living as a follower of Jesus. You know what you have firmly believed and you know from whom you learned it. When Paul says knowing from whom you learned it he is talking about God’s people, the church. In Chapter 1 we learned that Grandma and a mum schooled Timothy in the Scriptures and faith in Jesus (1:5). We know from Acts 16 that Timothy was a part of the church at Lystra.
Timothy’s growth came through the people of God doing their part in growing followers of Jesus.
In Acts 16 after meeting him Paul takes Timothy on his missionary journey. Here is a young man, well-taught and useful. And we see from our passage that Paul had great influence in Timothy’s growth and maturity as a follower of Jesus.
Read v10 You however Timothy, don’t take that wrong turn. You however Timothy, follow my example … my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness …
Some writers reckon Paul is sitting in prison reminiscing about his glory days and big-noting himself.
Like some old footballer exaggerating his sporting career of younger days. The older I get the better I was. Ah, the glory days. But it’s not that. Timothy has travelled, ministered, lived and worked alongside Paul. If there was an inconsistency here between what Paul taught and how he lived then Timothy would know it. But Paul is able to say what I taught (my teaching) and how I lived (my conduct) it all aligned. There was integrity. You know this Timothy. My aspirations in life (my aim) and my character (patience, love, steadfastness) were shaped by what I believed (faith). There were no inconsistencies.
Paul was to Timothy a great example of a faithful follower of Jesus. And more than that, through Paul’s experiences Timothy has seen that Jesus is faithful.
my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra-which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
Through his relationship with Paul Timothy saw the glory of Jesus.
I love watching any footy game with my brother Al. He loves the game. He knows all the players, past and present, all the stats … anything you want to know. He even picked the Sharks premiership win two years before it happened. I get to know and enjoy footy so much more when I watch it with Al.
Through knowing and being with Paul, through being a part of a church Timothy came to know Jesus better; to understand the life of faith more clearly.
And that is the case for us. God keeps us on track through the gift of His people. Which is good news in the difficulty of the last days.
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
God is not caught off guard by the sinfulness of people or the downward spiral of the world. He has given us His people so that we might continue. 2. God keeps us on track, through the gift of… His Word (v15-17) Specifically, the Bible.
15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Two things I want to point out from v15.
1. Sacred writings.
Not sacred rumours, sacred whispers, sacred traditions or sacred dreams.
I know a bloke who would pay substantial amounts of money to someone who lived in Murwillumbah (Northern NSW) to pass on messages from the Archangel Gabriel! But notice God has given us His written Word, the sacred writings. We don’t have to rely on some Northern Rivers whacko to convey angel utterances.
God’s Word can be read, studied, reflected on and appealed to. You can keep it open on your lap as the preacher preaches his sermon, and follow along to see that he is staying on track; not leading you the wrong way. Throughout history, God has used his written Word to bring reformation to his people. OT: Josiah’s reforms (2 Kings 23) when they found the written word during the temple renovations.
History: The reformation of the 1500’s when Luther and Calvin (and others) were convicted and converted through the written Word of God. We believe that it is through the Word faithfully preached and taught and humbly and prayerfully studied that God brings reformation, life and vitality to the church. Because this Word can …
2. Make you wise for salvation. v15b… which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. The Old Testament points us to Jesus. That was Jesus’ claim as well eg. Luke 24.
Jesus is not plan B, Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s eternal plan of salvation for his people. That’s why Paul can say to Timothy that the Scriptures… make you wise for salvation. In his great love for us, God through his word, the sacred writings or the holy scriptures gives us all we need to know so that we might be wise for salvation.
You need to know that the answer to life, the universe and everything is not 42.
The answer really is Jesus. What was God’s purpose for you before the creation of the world, the universe and everything? That you would have life in Jesus – that we should be holy and blameless before him through Jesus. You cannot know that apart from God’s Word. This sets us apart from every other religion in the world. Plenty of religions will say Jesus was special or even significant.
JW on the corner of Blackwood St – they think Jesus was special. But not God the Son. Not salvation through faith in him alone.
Only Biblical Christianity holds that Jesus is the revealed Son of God and that through His sacrifice the Saviour of God’s people. And God has given us His Word so that we will know the way of salvation and not make a wrong turn. And it really is God’s breathed-out Word.
Read v16-17 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.
All Scripture, both the OT and NT are God’s breathed-out Word. Paul and other NT authors knew they were writing Scripture. 2 Peter 3:15-16 Paul writing … people twist … as they do with other Scriptures. 2 Thess 5:27 … under oath to read this letter to the other brothers.
John 20:31. Mark 1:1
Bible Commentators often argue with each other about who the author of a particular book of the Bible really was and why it matters.
Paul says, actually in every instance the author is God. Although the Bible has more than 40 different human authors God by His Spirit spoke His message, breathed-out his Word through them. God-breathed. In the theological tradition of our church we claim that the Bible is inspired (breathed out by God), inerrant – has no errors, infallible – cannot be wrong. Because these are God’s very words. If there are apparent contradictions they are the result of human misunderstandings. All Scripture is breathed out by God and speaks His message through His Word even today to His people. Timothy is faced with the daunting task of sharing the gospel message in a hostile world and leading a church in the last and difficult days. How can he stay on track?
Going to conferences on church leadership? Reading the latest book from Koorong? Buying the latest software?
Being in the Word. Which is …
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.
This is how God directs and corrects his people. As we sit together under the preaching of the Word, with our Bibles open. As we sit prayerfully with Word in our time of personal study. As we read the Bible together as families. As we wrestle with God’s Word as a Growth Group.
I’m with Optus and the other week when the network went down I had to find people’s addresses without Google Maps! I got there alright but I was very lost on the way home.
God has given and preserved His Word for our direction in this world.
God’s word will equip you for the task of living to His glory.
Fergus, our youngest son moved home about a month ago. Among other blessings, I now have a live-in gym buddy. Having someone to go to the gym with makes that discipline so much easier and the experience much more enjoyable. We also had a PT write us a program to follow and give us a few sessions of coaching to correct any bad form and teach us the proper technique.
It’s been a very Biblical experience. The power of community and the practice of coaching. This is what God has given us so that we do not make a wrong turn. His people
His Word. I have been reading through the OT prophet Amos over the last week. Amos proclaims God’s judgment on his disobedient, rebellious people as … Scattering the people of God rather than gathering. Withholding of his word. A famine of His Word. God’s blessing is found among his people and in his word. God’s judgment results in scatteredness and silence. God has given us all we need so that we do not make a wrong turn.