Mitchelton Presbyterian Church logo

How to Survive an Avalanche

Published: 6 months ago- 22 October 2023
00:00
Sorry, no results.
Please try another keyword

SERMON MANUSCRIPT

Big Idea: Paul’s instruction to Timothy on how to survive amid the avalanche of people deserting the gospel due to the threat of suffering.

During the week I found myself watching YouTube clip on how to survive an avalanche. Very informative. Very engaging. But very random! I don’t feel under any immediate threat of avalanche.

But, I did learn that there are a number of techniques to remember if you are caught in an avalanche, and a variety of little things you can do to increase your odds of survival during the slide down the slope.

But the presentation was clear, there are absolutely no guarantees. Even if you are able to avoid being smashed into a boulder or a tree and stay alive during the ride down the slope; unless you are rescued within the first 15 mins your chances of survival are lower than 30%. Not great odds!

But there is one technique, there is one thing which you can do which is 100% guaranteed to enable you to survive any avalanche. You want to know what that one thing is?

Don’t be there. Don’t go where avalanches happen. True story, that’s their advice. It’s a foolproof method to survive any avalanche.

But in our passage today Paul shows us that there are some avalanches that you just can’t avoid.

The avalanche for Paul was that the whole of Asia was turning away from him (1:15), even trusted fellow workers were turning away from the gospel. It was cool to reject Paul and his gospel.

Paul is warning Timothy about the danger of getting swept up in this avalanche of rejection.

Our unavoidable avalanche is that we live in a time and a culture where social opinions, directions and beliefs are in direct opposition to the gospel. It is cool to reject Jesus and his gospel and to reject those morons and simpletons who follow Him.

And it maybe that you are feeling the impact of that. Among your friends, at work, school, or uni.

Maybe you are feeling the weight of being an alien and stranger as you seek to live a gospel-shaped, Christ-centred life in a world that’s feeling more challenging and more foreign.

HOW DO YOU SURVIVE THE UNAVOIDABLE AVALANCHE?

I want to point you to three things Paul says to Timothy about surviving the unavoidable avalanche.

That he be convinced of … The Call of the Christian; The Risen Lord Jesus and The Word of God.

This, brothers and sisters is how we stand firm in our own time and our own culture which is so wholeheartedly rejecting the gospel.

To be convinced of … The Call of the Christian; The Risen Lord Jesus and The Word of God.

This is how you can endure when your school friends give you a hard time for being a Christian.

To be convinced of … The Call of the Christian; The Risen Lord Jesus and The Word of God.

This is what you need as the only follower of Jesus in your workplace.

To be convinced of … The Call of the Christian; The Risen Lord Jesus and The Word of God.

This is what will encourage you to continue to count the cost of shaping your life by the gospel in a world which is actively and aggressively seeking to drag you in the opposite direction.

To be convinced of … The Call of the Christian; The Risen Lord Jesus and The Word of God.

Let’s take a look.

THE CALL OF THE CHRISTIAN

Be convinced that as a follower of Jesus, you are called to suffer for the gospel.

Read v3

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Timothy don’t be swept away with all those who are ashamed of Paul and the gospel. Many of these would have been well known to Timothy – especially Phygelus and Hermogenes. Probably really good friends.

But Timothy, hold fast, join with me in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus and not with those being swept away by fear and shame. Timothy this is what you signed up to; be prepared to step onto the battlefield.

The call of the Christian, not only Timothy but to all followers of Jesus is a readiness to suffer for the gospel.

You need to be convinced of that. This is what we signed up for. If you are investigating Jesus, then you need to know this is what you are signing up for.

This is what Jesus meant when he said

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me

Luke 9:23.

The call of the Christian is a readiness to suffer for the gospel.

That’s Paul’s point in v4-6. Cast your eye over these verses… The soldier is on about soldiering. That’s their life. The athlete is on about competing. That’s their life. The farmer is on cropping. That’s their life.

The Christian is on about suffering for the gospel. It’s not something we turn on or off like a switch. It is our way of life.

Suffering doesn’t just mean sitting in a Roman dungeon, locked in chains and awaiting execution.

Suffering for the gospel appears in many and various ways.

For Timothy, an aspect of suffering for the gospel was to align with Paul when everyone else thought it was very embarrassing.

Suffering for the gospel is the all of life, whole of life commitment to living in obedience to and for the glory and honour of the Lord Jesus.

Sometimes suffering will come from the struggle against our inner passions and desires.

Sometimes it will come as we wrestle in prayer about how to live or respond as a faithful, obedient Christian as we face various challenges (v7).

Sometimes it will come from feeling like an outsider in the circles we live and move in.

A lot like someone on the carnivore diet reading the menu in a vegan restaurant. This place does not cater to my life choices.

Don’t be surprised that you face challenges as a follower of Jesus in this world which rejects him. Don’t think it odd or unexpected that you will get grief for identifying as a follower of Jesus. Don’t be discouraged if living a gospel-shaped life is a challenge. Be convinced – it’s what we signed up for.

Be convinced of …

THE RISEN LORD JESUS

Be convinced of the one in whom you trust.

Timothy as everyone around us slides down the hill in an avalanche of shame and fear … Remember Jesus, who he is what he has done. Read v8-9a.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.

Paul knows the one he believes in.

It seems like a funny way of describing the gospel. But look at what Paul is saying.

Jesus Christ, raised from the dead.

The world rejected Jesus as King. His own people the Jews and those who ruled the Empire, the Gentiles rejected and did away with Jesus.

They did their absolute worst. Played their highest card. Crucified him, and confirmed him dead – spear in the side before allowing him to be buried in a borrowed tomb.

I think that part of the reason we call it a borrowed tomb because three days later it was empty – Christ is risen. He appeared to the women, the disciples, to a crowd of 500 and lastly to Paul. Jesus – the death crusher.

Part two of Paul’s description is that Jesus was descended from David

The Risen Lord Jesus, born in the line of David is the promised Messiah, Son of God, the Forever King of God’s people.

Jesus has overcome death and is confirmed as God’s promised Messiah. The victory is won, no matter what the world throws at you.

I don’t think we’ve had the chance to talk about the NRL Grand Final yet. Not long after halftime in that magical game I was thinking how unbearable it was going to be having to live in Qld when the Broncos had been victorious. But then, with 17 minutes to go, when all seemed lost. Thank you Nathan Cleary. The victory has been won, the trophy lifted, the championship rings handed out. Doesn’t matter what detractors say.

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Through his death Jesus made the once and for all sacrifice paying the debt of our sin and dealing with God’s righteous anger against us.

There is no salvation apart from trusting in and following Jesus.

Even at full flex the world could not overcome Jesus. His reign, even though not obvious to all at the moment, is the victorious and eternal reign.

Do you believe that?

Polycarp, disciple of the Apostle John. At 86 he was arrested and threatened with being burned at the stake unless he denied Jesus. Part of his response was … you threaten me with death. Is that all you’ve got? Why would we deny the one who has defeated death on my behalf? Why would I deny the one who has secured my eternal life? Polycarp Remembered Jesus. He was not swept away by fear.

Paul is in a dungeon and fastened with chains like a criminal awaiting execution and yet his hope and confidence remains in Jesus. He remembered Jesus. He was not swept away by fear and shame.

Do you want to be a BFF with the world or do you want to see the smile and hear the commendation of the Risen Lord Jesus on the last day? Well done good and faithful servant.

Raised from the dead, descended from David.

God’s victorious and reigning Forever King.

In the face of opposition, in the rush of the avalanche of rejection … look at the scoreboard, Remember Jesus.

Be convinced of …

THE WORD OF GOD

Paul says, he might be bound with chains as a criminal …

v9b But God’s Word is not bound (ESV).

The messenger is bound, but not the message.

God’s word goes out and keeps going out even today when there are more Christians in the world today than have ever lived in all of history. And most of that growth is in countries that ban the Bible, ban preaching the Bible.

God’s Word is not bound.

That gives Paul his confidence and determination to endure. Read v10.

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Salvation comes to God’s chosen people through the preaching of the Word. And here is the truth of the word of God.

Here is an eternal truth that we need to be convinced of, a promise and a warning.

We need to be convinced of both.

Promise

v11 If we die with him – if we surrender our lives to living for the cause of Jesus, suffer for him and to his glory – we will live with him – eternity in his unveiled presence.

v12 if we endure if we run the race and fight the good fight that is continue with Jesus in this life we will also reign with him in the life to come.

Warning

v12b If we disown him, if we are ashamed to be recognised as one of his He will disown us – Jesus states that in the gospels.

v13 If we are faithless or unfaithful – that is if we don’t persevere in trusting in him. He remains faithful – true to his word, which means we will face eternal punishment. Because that is the testimony of God; apart from faith in Christ there is no life.

Jerry Bridges worked for the Navigators Written some very challenging books. I saw him preach one time – 80 odd-year-old guy slowly making his way to the pulpit. When he preached – boom! Preached the gospel to himself everyday – every morning.

1 John 5:10-12 This is the testimony, God has given us eternal life and this life is in the Son. Those who have the Son have life. Those who do not have the Son of God do not have life.

Here is the eternal truth of God’s Word. It is an anchor in the storm. It is the rock, the foundation that prevails through every storm and every avalanche. Trust in Jesus.

A friend of mine is terrified by the thought of being eaten by a crocodile. And so, he has vowed never to go to the NT – if you never, never go … That seems doable.

The video on avalanches – stay away. Doable.

But today we have seen there are some avalanches you can’t avoid.

The way to stand firm when all else is sliding away… To be convinced of The Call of the Christian, The Risen Lord Jesus and the Word of God.

As we close, two encouragements. As a follower of Jesus ultimately our strength comes through the grace of God in Jesus v1.

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

The grace that saved us is the grace that will preserve us until that day. Confidence to live out our calling is God’s grace toward us. Trust in and seek God’s enabling.

As a church our mission remains that we establish a gospel legacy v2.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

Don’t change the message; don’t seek to amend the survival techniques. Pass the baton. Teach the truth. Equip those who will continue the mission.

This verse (v2) prompted me to reflect on my own Christian walk. I notice that the most impactful influences were not at Bible College, or ministry – as good as these were. The biggest influences were the men who taught me Sunday school, and who led me at youth group.

We need to be convinced of the call of the Christian, of the supremacy of the Risen Lord Jesus, and the authority of the Word not only so we are not swept away, but for the sake of future generations under our watch.

That’s what I’d call Gospel Grit.