Train to Live on Mission Today! (Overview Week 3)

The Training Routine of a Christian Soldier!

2 Timothy 2:1-4 (NAS95)

 

The Scripture lesson for today and the theme verse for the 2022 sermon series is found in 2 Timothy 2:1-4:

 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

 

In the first two weeks, I covered the first two verses of this passage to learn how we are called to grow strong in the grace of God and how we are to live with a missional focus as good soldiers of Christ Jesus. These are the first two of four messages that lay a firm foundation for our study of the book of Proverbs. Today, I continue by examining the third verse of our theme passage: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”

 

We are invited to learn how to train ourselves, according to God’s wisdom, to grow strong in God’s grace so that we can live on mission for God and not be distracted by that which is not God’s priority for our lives. While every book of the Bible can be used in a soldier’s training routine, I have chosen to focus upon the Old Testament book of Proverbs because of its direct approach to laying out the wisdom of God. Proverbs, like an Army field manual, unapologetically seeks to command you to align your thoughts and actions with the Commander’s (God’s) directives. Sid Buzzell explains this overall purpose of Proverbs in The Bible Knowledge Commentary:

 

Of the several words for wisdom and related synonyms used in Proverbs, the primary and most frequent one is ḥokmâḥ. It occurs 45 times in Proverbs. In the Old Testament ḥokmâh is used of the skill of craftsmen, sailors, singers, mourners, administrators, and counselors. These workers and others, being knowledgeable, experienced, and efficient in their areas of expertise, were considered skillful; they were therefore “wise.” Similarly in the spiritual realm a person who possesses ḥokmâh in reference to God is one who is both knowledgeable and experienced in following God’s way. So in the Bible’s Wisdom literature being wise means being skilled in godly living. Having God’s wisdom means having the ability to cope with life in a God-honoring way. … To be wise in the biblical sense one must begin with a proper relationship to God. To fear the Lord means to respect Him for who He is and to respond to Him in trust, worship, obedience, and service. If God is not honored and His Word not followed, then wisdom, as the Hebrew sages defined it, can never be attained. The purpose of the Book of Proverbs then, is to develop in others, especially the young, a wise, skillful approach to living, which begins with being properly related to the Lord.[1]

 

Just like with athletes who must learn the team playbook, soldiers must commit themselves to learning their field manuals. For example, as an infantryman, we had to learn FM 7-8, which covers all the basic doctrine around how to make decisive actions as a member of an infantry squad and platoon. It teaches you what are called battle drills. Army doctrine teaches that battle drills “are the ‘fundamentals’ that must be constantly rehearsed until they are second nature for all Soldiers.”[2]

 

What are the fundamentals of living a godly life that must be constantly rehearsed so that they are second nature and will be thought and lived decisively regardless of the stress or circumstance? That is the emphasis of our 2022 study of Proverbs – to learn God’s battle drills and train these fundamentals of the faith into our lives so that living on mission is second nature to us as good soldiers of Christ Jesus.

 

Furthermore, Army doctrine teaches that a “battle drill is a collective action executed by a platoon or smaller element without the application of a deliberate decision-making process.”[3] In other words, the action of both the individual soldier and his or her fellow soldiers must be vigorously trained into every soldier as a collective unit until they know it in their bones. Therefore, both the unit and each soldier must commit to the following training routine:

 

1) Know the manual.

2) Train together as one unit.

3) Seek the commander’s approval.

4) Live on mission.

 

Soldiers must participate in a strenuous battle drill training routine so that this all happens without a deliberate decision-making process – it must be trained so that it is a habit of grace! In other words, there are some things that just don’t require a committee meeting or congregational vote: We do these things because the Bible, our manual, commands us and we train them into our lives, our family’s lives, and into our church’s life so that we do what we know we are supposed to do, as individuals and as a unit, every time, regardless of the circumstances. We don’t need to second-guess the manual; we are to live according to the wisdom of God!

 

“SUFFER HARDSHIP WITH ME”

 

Just as Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:3, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” As every athlete and soldier has learned, to win the victory and accomplish the mission you must be willing to suffer hardship. Training godliness, as we learned in last year’s sermon series, which capitalized on Paul’s athletic imagery, requires a level of suffering that is commonplace in the life of an athlete, just as it is in the life of a soldier. Paul knew this and that is one of the reasons he leveraged this imagery for being a follower of Jesus. The daily reality of the training routine of both an athlete and a soldier are found in 1 Timothy 4:6-10:

 

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

 

We not only see this in the athletic and military imagery of the Bible, but it is also in the familial imagery that is used so often. Listen to how the author of Hebrews teaches us to submit ourselves to the Father’s discipline in Hebrews 12:7-15a:

 

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.

 

The training routine of a good soldier of Christ Jesus, just like the training regimen of an athlete on a championship team, or a child to a parent to be an effective and fruitful adult, requires suffering alongside of those who partake of the training with you. The form of the Greek word used by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:3 is only used in one other location, 2 Timothy 1:8. It means to partake in suffering together with another person. This is essential to realize as we develop the training routine of a good soldier, because Paul was not Rambo or the Lone Ranger, both of which are American icons that mislead adults in our culture from understanding the biblical view of maturity, which requires a cooperative view of life.[4] Learning to train on mission today means doing so with the other members of the unit. Paul explained this to his protégé in 2 Timothy 1:7-14:

 

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

 

Suffering hardship is about living according to a set pattern of life, established by God, and entrusted to His people, to be passed on to others who will then pass it on to others (2 Timothy 2:2). It is living according to the mission of God, which is focused on training others to live on mission as God has established for His people of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). The example of Moses is leveraged to make this point in Hebrews 11:24-26:

 

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

 

The reward for faithful living can only be given by God (the Commander); therefore, every soldier must fix their eyes on that one reward: the Commander’s words, “Well done, good and faithful [soldier]” (Matthew 25:23). It is for this reason you have been enlisted. As the leading lexicon of the Greek New Testament, commonly called BDAG, explains about Paul’s usage of the Greek word for “soldier” in 2 Timothy 2:3, “[it is being used figuratively, but with] the major component of allegiance to a commander in the central [meaning] of ‘soldier’ as [its] defining aspect στ. Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ a soldier of Christ Jesus.”[5]

 

“AS A GOOD SOLDIER OF CHRIST JESUS.”

 

In 2 Timothy 2:3-4, Paul exhorts his protégé to be a good soldier, faithful to the mission of God with complete allegiance to the Commander, clearly being Jesus Christ:
 
“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”

 

It has become clear from our study of this scripture that both the Church of Jesus Christ and the individual members of the body of Christ, like good soldiers of Christ Jesus, must train to live on mission today according to the same training routine of any good soldier:

 

1) Know the manual – the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

2) Train together as one unit – we are members of the one body of Christ (Romans 12:4-5).

3) Seek the Commander’s (God’s) approval – Jesus is the Head of His Church (Colossians 1:18-20).

4) Live on mission – the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

 

It is clear from Paul’s words in Philippians 2:19-22 that Timothy successfully committed himself to this training routine, under Paul’s supervision, to the point that Paul could send Timothy out on mission with full confidence:

 

But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.

 

It is important that we commit ourselves to this same task as Paul and Timothy did, and Paul commanded Timothy to carry on, and through that same command, we are instructed to carry on until the Lord returns or we go Home to Him. The author of Hebrews in Hebrews 12:2-3 exhorts us to do live the mission today:

 

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

The same forces of evil that raged against Jesus and proudly nailed Him to the Cross, are at work in the world today as Jesus taught us that “the thief only comes to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Paul expressed in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, to a church in the trenches of the battle in first century Corinth, a city under siege by the evil forces that are still seeking to destroy God’s Kingdom and usurp His rightful rule over the nations in the same ways today:
 

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

 

With an enemy like this, it requires a training routine that embraces suffering, not for the sake of suffering, but for the sake of learning obedience to the Commander who calls us to complete of the mission of God and live for the approval of the one who enlisted us. We cannot be distracted by lesser things nor disunified by lesser loyalties. We must train to live on mission today – we are the hope of the nations! Paul explained the purpose of the rigors of the training routine to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 2:9-11:

 

For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

 

Do not be deceived, my brethren, and my fellow soldiers in Christ Jesus, we have an enemy who seeks to divide us, the people of God, and distract us from the mission of God. The mission is real! It is the purpose of your enlistment – it was for this that you have been saved! The enemy is real, but we neither need to fear him nor ignore him, for the victory is ours in Christ Jesus. For you, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, are invited to learn how to faithfully live by giving your full allegiance to Jesus Christ, submitting your life to His training manual, learning to work together as one unit, seeking God’s approval alone, and train to live on mission today.
 

Allow me to finish by praying over you Peter’s words from 1 Peter 5:6-11:

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Amen!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can listen to Pastor Jerry’s message here:

 

You can watch the video by clicking HERE.

 
 
 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] Sid S. Buzzell, “Proverbs,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 902.

[2] “The Importance of Battle Drills” by Risk Management Magazine on January 25, 2019. https://www.army.mil/article/216557/the_importance_of_battle_drills (accessed December 16, 2021).

[3] Ibid.

[4] These cultural icons have also fueled a misunderstanding of masculinity in our culture that has led to a discussion on toxic masculinity and misogynist leadership the American church. This is a popular topic of public discourse, especially with the viral success of Christianity Today’s “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” podcasts (https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/rise-and-fall-of-mars-hill/).

[5] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 948.


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Train to Live on Mission Today (Overview Week 2)

The Missional Focus of a Christian Soldier!

 2 Timothy 2:1-4 (NAS95)

Allow me to give you a real-life example of this sermon from my life over the last two weeks. Since Christmas, our congregation has experienced six deaths in either our membership or a very close family member to one of our members. I have prayed for and had direct ministry contact with each of these families and have conducted three of the five services with the sixth not yet scheduled. Our congregation has been amazing, providing meals, expressions of sympathy, words of compassion, emotional support, and practical care. I am proud of you, and I am praying for you as I know how heavy this time is on all of us, including me. All of that while remaining mission-focused on my everyday responsibilities, congregational care of a variety of other needs including surgeries and practical helps, as well as conducting our public services.

 

In this difficult time, I had to make a decision that would shape the next season of my relationship to our community. I was invited to help New Castle High School with the girls and boys track and field teams as the new throws coach. It seems that after the long-time throws coach retired, someone from our congregation shared my athletic story and an invitation was sent to me. Please understand that I get a variety of invitations, but this one was different. Through my time here, I have had to become very good at saying “no” to anything that distracts me from my top three priorities: 1) spiritual formation as a Jesus follower, 2) the proper care of my family, and 3) pastoral ministry to our church. I have been very selective of what I commit myself to in the name of the “mission of God” because I have learned it is too easy for me to park nearly anything in that category and get overrun by too many commitments. But this one was different because after initially stonewalling the request, as has become my standard response to anything that doesn’t align with those first three priorities, Kimberly and I discussed and prayed, and I experienced the directive of God to say “yes.” In fact, one night, I couldn’t sleep until after I sent the email saying I would do it. As soon as I did, I fell asleep. We discerned that this invitation is on mission to my calling to this community and in alignment with how God has shaped me for ministry. I am excited and I think I can make a difference.

 

It is my desire that you, too, will learn how to discern God’s will for your life and know to what you are to say “yes” and “no” so that you can maintain the missional focus of a Christian soldier that aligns with God’s priorities for your life and how He has uniquely shaped you for good works, remembering that you were enlisted for this reason (Ephesians 2:10). Do you know God’s priorities for your life? Do you know how God has uniquely shaped you for ministry? I believe that you can know the answers to these questions and train to live on mission today.

 

The Scripture lesson for today and the theme verses for the 2022 sermon series are found in 2 Timothy 2:1-4:

 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

 

Last week, I covered the first verse of this passage in a message called, “Grow Strong in the Grace of God!” That message was the first of four messages that lay a firm foundation for our study of the book of Proverbs. We are going to train ourselves, according to God’s wisdom, how to grow strong in God’s grace so that we can live on mission for God.

 

Today, we are going to learn the missional focus of a Christian soldier. The purpose of the biblical imagery of being a soldier has less to do with our modern understanding of warfare and violence and everything to do with being under authority. Like a good soldier, you are to submit to authority to accomplish the mission of God, as given to you by the Commander, to further the work of the Kingdom for the glory of God. A great way to help you see how the soldier imagery connects to the ministry of Jesus, and a great biblical example of today’s message is Jesus’ praise of the Roman centurion in Matthew 8:5-13:

 

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.

 

In praising the centurion, Jesus was not praising Rome nor affirming the military occupation of Israel. Jesus was not rubber-stamping might makes right, political coercion, nor the subjugation of a people. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was praising the centurion, a Roman military officer, for understanding authority and submission to authority, in a way that military people uniquely understand.

 

Jesus was responding to the centurion’s faith. Let us especially note how this Roman centurion called Jesus, kyrios, the Greek word for “Lord,” which was a term reserved for Caesar in recognition of his ultimate authority as divine, as practiced in the Emperor’s (Imperial) Cult – the religious practice of Rome to see their Caesar as a god within their pantheon of gods. In the same way, Paul is using the soldier imagery for the same reason – to teach us how to be under authority and focused on the mission of God for the glory of Jesus, the King of Kings.

 

In the same way that we cannot throw out Jesus’ praise of the centurion because we don’t like something about the Roman Empire, we can’t throw out Paul’s soldier imagery because we don’t like something about the military. The Bible uses these metaphors on purpose, and it is our job as Bible students and faithful followers of Jesus to understand them and not reject them because they may make us uncomfortable or are coopted for ungodly purposes. Now, let’s walk through 2 Timothy 2:2 and learn about the missional focus of a Christian soldier. We examined verse 1 last week and in the coming weeks we will examine verses 3-4.

 

“THE THINGS WHICH YOU HAVE HEARD FROM ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MANY WITNESSES,”

 

Timothy, the protégé of Paul, learned how to live with a missional focus by being a first-hand witness of Paul’s apostolic ministry. Paul expressed this point to him in 2 Timothy 3:10-11:
 
“Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!”

 

Just as Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:3, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” It is from this verse that we will learn the training routine of a Christian soldier so that we can grow strong in God’s grace and live with the missional focus of a Christian soldier. Just as every athlete and soldier has learned, to live like a champion or to live on mission, you must be willing to suffer hardship in your training routine, as well as in accomplishment of the mission. We will discuss this more next week, but it is obvious that a marathon runner must exert herself to run 26.2 miles, just as a shot putter must strain his body to throw far.

 

There can be no confusion from Paul’s words, Timothy learned directly from Paul on the mission field. He learned not only through words, but through actions. Timothy was more than an eyewitness; he was a participant in the mission. Timothy not only partook of Paul’s words and deeds, but also in Paul’s unwavering missional focus through demanding circumstances, which included suffering and persecution. Here are three passages that demonstrate how Paul and Timothy became yoked together on mission for God:

 

1) Acts 19:21-22. Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

 

2) 1 Corinthians 4:15-17. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.

 

3) 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3. Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.

 

The missional focus of a Christian soldier is caught, but it also must be taught! The training regimen requires you to study the Bible, but it also requires you to get yourself involved in hands-on missional work alongside of your fellow soldiers. We are in this together as the one body of Christ – an army of the One – under submission to His headship (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:15-16; Colossians 1:18).

 

“ENTRUST THESE TO FAITHFUL MEN”

 

First, please know that the Greek word translated “men” is anthropos, which means people, humanity, mankind. It is not a gender-specific term. God is actively enlisting men and women to be “good soldiers of Christ Jesus.” And the goal of all Christian soldiers is to hear the One who enlisted them say, “Well done, good and faithful [soldier]” (Matthew 25:23).

 

As a cadet at West Point and as an officer in the US Army, I remember how good it made me feel to receive a word of praise, be given a coveted coin, or have an award pinned on my uniform by superior officers. If an award from a person can make me feel that good, I can only imagine what it is going to be like to hear Jesus’ praise one day. That is my greatest ambition!

 

Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:4,
 
“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”
 
Part of learning to have a missional focus is waiting for your Commander’s approval. You must hold out for the highest praise; otherwise, you will easily become distracted by people pleasing tendencies and the applause of man. Paul was clear about this in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” It is essential to know whose approval and commendation you are living for; apart from this, no matter what I teach you, your need for man’s approval and worldly recognition will constantly distract you from having the missional focus of a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

 

Furthermore, Jesus taught this in Matthew 6:1-4:

 

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

 

Never forget that you can only entrust to others what you yourself first have obtained for yourself. Paul used the same word, “entrust,” in a special admonition to his protege in 1 Timothy 1:18-19:
 
“This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.”
 
Unsurprisingly, Paul was once again referencing the 2 Timothy 2 imagery of either the soldier or the athlete, with both metaphors utilized to make the same point – remain focused on the task you have been set to or your life will go off course and you will be shipwrecked!

 

Listen to other places where Paul used this imagery of fighting the good fight:

 

1) 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

 

2) 1 Timothy 6:12-16. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

 

3) 2 Timothy 4:5-8. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

 

To entrust to others what you were first given and to train them to be faithful as you are being faithful, then you must always Charlie Mike! Charlie Mike is the military’s phonetic alphabet for C and M, and it means, “Continue Mission”! When a soldier says Charlie Mike, she is saying to her fellow soldiers, “Never give in![1] Never quit! Push through the adversity no matter the difficulties until we have completed the mission!” For twelve years, I have said it to you this way, “Don’t bail before the blessing!” and “Never stop starting!”

 

As Paul exhorts in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 12:3; James 5:7-8). Church, my brethren, until Jesus returns, Charlie Mike!

 

“WHO WILL BE ABLE TO TEACH OTHERS ALSO.”

 

This final clause is essential and can’t be overlooked. Paul expressed that the mission of God is to be passed on to those who will be able to teach others also. There must be a multiplication of laborers for the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38). Does that mean that only classroom teachers, preachers up front, or famous influencers on social media are the ones called to carry on the mission of God? Absolutely not! You are called by God, and it is His grace which qualifies the called. It is the Spirit at work in you. Listen to Paul teach the church this in 2 Corinthians 3:2-6:

 

You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

 

Jesus Christ calls every believer to live on mission for Him in Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission:  

 

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

Once again, the emphasis is on teaching (passing on to) others about what you first received yourself! Just like with Paul and Timothy, this is a call to a discipleship relationship between a teacher and a student, a master and an apprentice, a sergeant and a private. It is about putting your life in submission to the One who enlisted you for the completion of His mission and learning from your fellow soldiers how to live this life while sharing in the mission of God together.

 

Living on mission involves teaching others – entering relationship with other believers to learn and to teach, to share life while living on mission. To yoke together! We each have our own spiritual “family tree.” As Paul considered Timothy his true son in the faith, we can likely draw a tree with our spiritual ancestors and our spiritual descendants. This is why mentorship relationships are important. It’s necessary to have those who are more mature in the faith leading and teaching those who are younger in the faith, entrusting them with the wisdom gained through experience of life on mission. This is what it looks like to entrust your life of faith into another who will also live his or her life on mission, with you and then beyond you to another. This has been one of the richest parts of my spiritual journey and I’m thankful for each of my Timothies.

 

That was not Paul’s novel idea, but rather the example of Jesus Christ who invites us to do the same with Him in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 

It is only when you are yoked and at peace with the Prince of Peace that you can live with the missional focus of a good soldier of Christ Jesus! Until you are at rest in His easy yoke, you are at war with yourself and others. You cannot entrust to others and bring about in the world around you what you yourself do not yet have. Next week, we will learn the training routine of a Christian soldier so that we can learn how to drill into our hearts and minds the life and teaching of Jesus Christ we have been enlisted to live and pass on to others for God’s Kingdom and glory.
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can listen to Pastor Jerry’s message here:

 

You can watch the video by clicking HERE.

 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 
[1] Winston Churchill famously stated in his speech given to Harrow School on October 29, 1941, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour [sic] and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy” (“Never Give In” https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1941-1945-war-leader/never-give-in/. Accessed January 14, 2022).
 
 

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Train to Live on Mission Today! (Overview Week 1)

Grow Strong in the Grace of God!

2 Timothy 2:1-4 (NAS95)

 

The Scripture lesson for today and the theme verses for the 2022 sermon series are found in 2 Timothy 2:1-4:

 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

 

This passage is the foundation for a year-long journey of learning how to live on mission for God as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is verses 3-4 which will provide the theme for this sermon series: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” From this truth, I am going to train you to live on mission for Jesus Christ and to see every moment of your life as a providential opportunity to fulfill the mission of God. As a good soldier of Jesus Christ, you have been enlisted to train to live on mission today!

 

I know what this life looks like because once upon a time I was on the tip of the spear in our nation’s security, serving in a rapid deployment unit as an Infantry platoon leader in the 2nd Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 82nd Airborne Division, stationed out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1997-98. After graduating West Point, I was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. Having graduated from the US Army’s Infantry Officer Basic Course, as well as the Airborne, Air Assault, and Ranger Schools, I was prepared to live the life of a paratrooper and train America’s finest to complete the mission, at any time and in any place that we were called to go. It was our mission to be delivered behind enemy lines through airborne operations to successfully secure key objectives for follow-on combat missions. As a rapid deployment unit, we had to be ready to be wheels up within 18 hours of notification! As a leader in such a unit, it was my responsibility to ensure my platoon was trained, our equipment was maintained, and we were ready to deploy so that we could respond without hesitation. Our motto was “H-minus,” which represented our readiness prior to the start of the operation. H-hour was too late to train—it was mission time!

 

In the same way, you need to be trained to respond to your Lord’s calling without hesitation. When the opportunity presents itself or the enemy comes against you, you need to already know what to do and to execute the mission with confidence! Each Sunday of January, we are going to lay a solid foundation for our year-long training routine, so that by the end of this year, you will be ready at any time to accomplish the mission of God anywhere you are called to go.

 

Let’s start by walking through 2 Timothy 2:1-4. Today, we will focus on what what it means to grow strong in God’s grace and next week we will learn what it means to have a mission-focus, like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. You have been enlisted! Are you ready?

 

“YOU THEREFORE, MY SON,”

 

Paul calls Timothy his son, even though he is not a biological father to him. In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul calls him “my true child in the faith.” He is speaking to Timothy, just as he did to Titus in Titus 1:4, “my true child in a common faith,” as a spiritual father who sees in him the potential not only to be a follower of Jesus, but to carry on his apostolic mission to spread the gospel. Paul relates to both Timothy and Titus as his protégés (his apprentices or disciples). This is the intent of verse 2, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” We will learn more about this next Sunday (1/16) when I will teach you to have a mission-focus, like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

It is enough for today to explain that Paul’s familial reference (son) to Timothy is mission-focused; it’s not sentimentality or emotionalism. While there is genuine love, it is a love born of shared suffering for their “common faith.” I equate this kind of relationship to that which we see between veterans who shared combat together or who can relate to one another because of similar experiences. There is a powerful camaraderie amongst soldiers that is unique to them.

 

We can share in Paul’s charge to Timothy because we are the “sons of God,” as Paul taught of all Spirit-filled Christians in Romans 8:14-17:

 

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

 

This is God’s promise of adoption, as we learn from Galatians 4:4-7:

 

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

 

This is the grace of God in your life—you are no longer a slave to sin! You are alive in Christ and are commanded by the One who enlisted you to grow strong in your identity as a child of God and your new power source as a good soldier of Jesus Christ—the grace of God! It is because of God’s amazing grace, which saved a wretch like me (and you), that we can share a unique camaraderie with one another. It is only through the victory of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary that a blind man like me can now see. That is our common faith, and this is the war that has been won for us! His victory yokes us to one another and we are called to the mission of God by the One who saved us! We are the sons of God—co-heirs of God’s grace!

 

“BE STRONG”

 

There are seven usages of this Greek word in the New Testament, many of which will be familiar to you. First, and most alike in usage to today’s passage, is Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:10-20:

 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak [italics added].

 

Listen to the other verses with the Greek word italicized for emphasis:

  • Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens
  • 1 Timothy 1:12, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:17, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.”
  • Acts 9:22, “But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”
  • Romans 4:20, “Yet, with respect to the promise of God, [Abraham] did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.”

 

It will be the emphasis of this year’s sermon series to learn how to grow strong in God’s grace, increase in strength, and be strengthened by God. I will be teaching you more about the very intentional training routine of a good soldier of Jesus Christ in 2 weeks (1/23).

 

“IN THE GRACE THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS”

 

Grace is the saving power of God. Grace ushers us into the Kingdom of God as children of God. This is most clearly stated in Ephesians 2:8-9:
 
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

 

Furthermore, Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 9:8 that God’s grace is not just our entrance into the Kingdom, it is also the empowerment of the Christian life, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”

 

Grace is what enables us to successfully live the Christian life and accomplish the mission! Paul expressed to his protégé in Titus 2:11-15:

 

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

 

The promise of grace teaches us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God’s grace is our sufficiency for every task God calls us to accomplish: “And [Jesus] has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” In other words, there is nothing you can’t do in God’s grace, but apart from God’s grace, there is nothing you can do! Jesus taught us this with the agricultural imagery of John 15:1-5:

 

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

 

This is the beautiful partnership we are called to have with God through the grace of Jesus Christ! His grace flows into our lives as we abide in Him! Listen to 2 Peter 1:2-11 explain this through the imagery of fellowship with God:

 

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

 

To accomplish the mission of God, every good soldier must be trained to grow strong in God’s grace, which has been abundantly supplied to you!

 

Grace is the key to the Christian life! We must grow strong in our identity as children of God, enlisted into the mission of God as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4). Next week, we will learn that we are commanded to remain focused on the mission of God and not get ensnared or entangled on that which would distract us from growing strong in the grace of God. As Hebrews 12:1-3 commands us,

 

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

This is the Father’s pleasure in enlisting you through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and empowering eternal life in you today through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Train yourself to grow strong in God’s grace and you will not grow weary and lose heart. Train to live on mission today and be a good soldier of Jesus Christ!
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can listen to Pastor Jerry’s message here:

 

You can watch the video by clicking HERE.

 


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