When you show up for dinner and find your table set with extra napkins, wet-naps and toothpicks, you know you’re in for a good meal. Tonight we were spoiled with a dinner of chicken, ribs and beans followed with Klondike bars and chased with some Pepsi. Very nice. And then, on a full stomach we reconvened for a few songs and a session led by Derek Thomas and discussing “Preaching as Warfare” (based on 2 Timothy 1:1-14). But before he began Thomas gave me a chuckle by mentioning the word postmodernism and saying the following: “I’d like to propose a moratorium on the word “postmodern” for five years to see if anyone is still using it.” Not many people laughed so I assume that not many people keep up with Brian McLaren…
The purpose of tonight’s session was to look at the extraordinary relationship between Paul and Timothy. Timothy had been Paul’s apostle for many years when this letter was written and all he knew about ministry he had learned from Paul.
In this life we face an enemy who hates Christ, who hates the gospel, who hates God. We sometimes say that the devil is “pure evil,” two words that don’t really go together. Satan is committed to the church’s destruction. This letter represents Paul’s last words for shortly after writing it he was executed. This letter is his swan song, his final letter to his dear friend and his son in the faith. He remembers the bond they shared, the deep-seated affection. He remembers Timothy’s sincere faith–the same faith he saw in Timothy’s mother and grandmother. Paul also brings to the surface not only the sincerity of Timothy’s faith but the sacrifices that faith has to make. One of the sacrifices Timothy must make is that he must be prepared to overcome shame in suffering and in testifying about the gospel. He must not be ashamed of the Lord and the testimony about Him.
Thomas then spoke about Christians of our day and Christians of days past who have suffered greatly but who have not been ashamed of the gospel–people like the men who were recently martyred in Turkey, the missionaries who were sent from Geneva in Calvin’s day and David Brainerd. Paul speaks of the gifts of faith and issues a commission in verse six to fan into flames this gift. He refers to this as the gift of God. Why does he do this? So there is no boasting for any gift is but a gift of God. He speaks also of the form of faith, saying in verse fourteen to guard the deposit, the pattern of sound teaching. This is especially applicable today as doctrine after doctrine comes under attack in the church.
We are in a time of battle–no doubt about it. But perhaps the battle has not yet really begun. Perhaps we just hear the sound of hooves in the distance. Pastors have reading to do, studying to do. Pastors who prepare to stand will lose friends, will be accused of being reactionary simply for defending the historic truths of the gospel. The best way to defend against these things is to preach the word. The systematic, expository application of the Word of God will serve as a defense. Preach it all and preach it for all its worth. It is war out there. The gospel is not about our ease or comforts. At the end of the day it is about “Are you willing to give everything for the gospel? How far are you willing to go? What are the limits?” We have to agree with Jim Elliott that “He is no fool who will give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”