As we have been working through II Timothy as a staff, we have noticed that God has given us an amazing treasure in the Gospel and He wants us to use It for daily life, as we seek to serve Him by making disciples.
Last week, we learned that the Gospel is a treasure because It is the power of God to transform our lives and set us free from our slavery to sin. It equips us for daily life. Next, we learned to guard the Gospel. We guard the Gospel by retaining the high standard and pass It on to others who will guard It and pass It on to others. Paul was an example in retaining the standard by passing the Gospel on from person to person. Timothy, himself, is proof of Paul’s faithfulness.
This week, we will focus on what it means to be a soldier for the Lord. Are we all to be soldiers or just a select few? Let’s see if we can discover the answer. First, I want you to keep this scenario in view as we learn together. It has been said that there are three types of soldier and only one of them is vital for victory.
- a zealous soldier with no training
- a trained soldier with no zeal
- a trained soldier with zeal
Which one do you think is the key to victory? There are two major elements to becoming a good soldier. These are training and examples. Let’s take a look at these two aspects.
The training process is divided up into two parts, training in the Word of God and suffering. These two work together and I want to look at them individually as we keep in mind the overlap of them. One produces the other and the other opens doors for the previous.
- Training in the Word of God – II Timothy 2 teaches us about the importance of training in the Word of God and using the Word of God in making disciples. The first thing that needs to take place is to have a leader/teacher investing in you and teaching you from the Word of God. As this happens, you are being trained so that you can take the baton and begin seeking others to whom you should pass the baton (treasure). You are being taught to train and you teach others to train with you. This is how soldiers are trained, they learn to train with others who are experienced and then they seek to train with others who are inexperienced. As you are training in the Word of God, ponder on the things that you are learning and ask God to give you understanding. As you train, you will acquire understanding of the full scope of the Gospel. As you are training and you seek to train with others, there will be opposition which can and will lead to persecution and suffering. The suffering should not be a shock to us. In fact, it is actually a tool used by God. We will take a look at that tool and why in a moment. As we are being trained by a leader, we learn to be diligent in our own study of God’s Word so that we can use It to do what God has called us to do. As you grow and mature while training, you will have a desire to preach that Word to others. How does suffering fit into training? Let’s take a look.
- Suffering – As we train and grow in the Word and begin to seek to invest in others, we will have opposition. This opposition actually works in our favor. One, it sharpens us and shows us who we really are. If we are true followers of Christ, the persecution will not stop us. It will strengthen us. Also, persecution actually opens us doors for us to preach to more people. The theoretical aspect of training is when we open up the Word. The practical application comes in as we face opposition. Here is what God want from us. II Timothy 1:8 teaches us that we are not to be afraid of persecution and we should not run away from it. The reason that we should not fear is because we have God’s power in us. We can endure and thrive in the midst of persecution. In II Timothy 2:9, we see that persecution opens more doors to preach the Gospel to more people. In II Timothy 4:5, we are to continue to preach the Gospel as we are being persecuted. James 5:10 and 13 teach us that the genuine prophets of old were all persecuted for preaching the Truth of the Word of God. We are also to pray to the Lord if we are suffering, pray that we can endure and continue to preach the Gospel. The key to all of this is found in Matthew 10:16. As we go about preaching the Gospel, God will use the persecution to sharpen us so that we can get better and better in making disciples.
As you can see, the Lord has orchestrated things so that we train constantly, learning and applying. As we apply, we learn more. Training is an endless cycle that sharpens us and equips us to make disciples of all nations, taking the Word of God to the people around us. Do we have an example of all of this? Yes, the apostle Paul is Timothy’s living example.
II. Paul’s Example
Paul describes himself and others as soldiers in the Lord’s army. Let’s take a look at II Timothy 2:3-4. First of all, in order to be a good soldier, you must realize that you are in active service. While in active service, you have one goal and one duty, to please the One who enlisted you. His will is key. Everything that you do is to be done to accomplish His will. In order to do this, you must not entangle yourself in the affairs of everyday life. The affairs of daily life are not necessarily bad but they detract from the goal. It reminds me of Matthew 6:25-33. If we are the Lord’s then we no longer live like the pagans, worrying about what we will eat, drink, wear, and where we will sleep. We trust the Lord. We seek to serve Him by doing His will. We trust Him to care for us. So, not only is Paul an example, he also uses other living examples for Timothy to look up to. In Philippians we learn of Epaphroditus, a fellow soldier who serves Paul and also other believers. He suffered because of his service but that suffering did not stop him. In Philemon, Archippus is introduced. He is actually mentioned in Colossians. He is a teacher in the church of the Colossians. His name means leader/work horse. What do we use to wage war?
Let’s take a look at some passages in the New Testament. According to II Corinthians 6:7, we learn that we have weapons, but they are not the weapons that we think. Our weapons are the weapons of righteousness. The best weapons that we have are walking with God and obeying Him day by day. In order to do this, we must study God’s Word and apply It daily. This is how we overcome the enemy. A more specific list of our weapons is found in Ephesians 6:10-17. We have all of the weapons at our disposal. We are told to do two things, put them on and buckle them up.
- belt of truth (the Word of God)
- chest protector of righteousness
- shoes of the Gospel of peace
- shield of faith
- helmet of salvation
- sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God
The list begins and ends with the Word of God. This is why we must train in the Word of God daily and apply what we learn. When we apply, we will have opposition. The opposition is also part of the training. It strengthens you and opens up more doors for you to preach. In I Timothy 6:12, we see a challenge that should stir all of us up. Paul explains that when we have experienced eternal life, you will fight the good fight of a good soldier of the Lord. Have you experienced eternal life? Are you fighting the good fight? Do you see yourself as a good soldier? Are you training daily? Are you applying what you are learning? Do you have opponents? How are you dealing with persecution?
May the Lord help us realize that we are called to be good soldiers by training in the Word of God daily. This is the starting point and the sustaining point. Finally, we pass this Word on to the people around us.