Follow Me (2 Timothy 3:10)
3-13-16 2 Timothy 3:10, Lesson 24
Good morning everybody, did you all remember to set your clocks ahead; we didn’t, that’s why we were about twenty minutes late to Sunday School. By the way, let me just get this off my chest, I wish they took all that daylight savings time stuff and set it on Monday, because when you think about it the only people it hurts is church people. Does it hurt anybody else? So let’s start a revolution right now.
If we could take our Bibles and open them to 2 Timothy 3, verse 10, maybe looking today at verses 10-13, I don’t know. And the title of our message this morning is Follow Me. And as you’re turning there I just want to alert you to… well, first of all I want to thank Gabe who filled in last week, I appreciate his ministry and I trust you enjoyed it as well. And as Ed mentioned this Wednesday we’re not having our normal Bible study but something else is going to be going on in this area, called the Chafer Theological Seminary Conference. And it’s going to be held at West Houston Bible Church, which is only about twenty minutes from here, and it goes Wednesday, I think around noonish all the way through Friday evening and featuring Dr. Steven Austin, Steve Austin is not the bionic man but he’s a creation scientist so he’s going to be the evening speaker and there’s going to be some phenomenal speakers there.
Dr. Thomas Ice is going to be giving a presentation on Christ at the Checkpoint, if you know anything about that. It’s a movement within evangelicalism to write Israel out of the Bible which to me is like trying to explain away the Atlantic Ocean. But there’s a concerted effort in that regard to minimize Israel’s role in the end times. He’s going to be reporting on that. Dr. Charlie Clough is going to be speaking, missionaries are going to be speaking, I’m going to be speaking on Hebrews 5:4-6, if those verses have ever troubled you, I’ll try to be dealing with that subject. And West Houston Bible Church is really up to snuff in terms of archiving and streaming so if you can’t make it in person I’d invite you to take advantage of those opportunities.
And then last week I was at the Steeling the Mind Conference in Spokane, Washington and one of the neat things about my involvement with those conferences is I have access to a lot of very good public speakers in Christianity that are bringing cutting edge stuff to the body of Christ. That’s how I was able to get Shahram Hadian to come here late last year.
And Curtis Bowers was there, if you know anything about Curtis, Ed read a little bio on him, but he basically put his whole life savings into a video called The Agenda, which exposes the way Marxists take over societies. And we have a tendency to think that it happens with one or two elections but really it doesn’t, it’s part of a concerted effort to infiltrate the key areas of thought which would be media, entertainment, academia and even the church world, to shift the vocabulary to gradually move us away from our limited government founding documents into more of a collective mindset. This is the kind of thing that’s being taught in schools, it’s the kind of thing you see on the news constantly. It doesn’t go under the name Marxism any more, it has kinder, gentler names, like Green Jobs, Social Justice, Sustainability, but it’s the same old stuff. And actually who’s behind it is the devil and you’ll see that it’s worked very well to shift country after country after country into more of what I would call a Marxist frame of mind. And it’s the very thing that’s happening today. It’s been happening, not in the last couple of elections but it’s a transgenerational strategy.
And Curtis really stepped out on faith to make this movie and God has honored his faith; this movie has gone all over the world. It’s become an award winner and he’s actually going to be here live, he’s not going to be showing a movie but he’s going to be here live giving us the exact presentation that I heard last week at the Steeling the Mind Conference. And so I’m not sure if an opportunity like this will present itself again to this church so this is a unique opportunity this evening. So I’d invite you to come, it starts at 6:00 and if you have Christian friends that need somewhere to go on a Sunday night, maybe they’re from other churches that don’t have a Sunday night service, invite them to come.
And Curtis reminds me of a very young Fred Schwartz. I don’t know if you know the name Fred Schwartz. Fred Schwartz started a ministry in the 1950’s called the Christian Crusade Against Communism, and he left his medical practice, immigrated to America to basically expose this Marxist paradigm which was already taking place at our universities. And he would go out and publically challenge Marxist professors to debate and things of that nature. And it’s almost like God has raised up Curtis to take the place of the late Fred Schwartz. Fred Schwartz heavily influenced Dr. Norman Geisler, if you know that name, a big name within evangelicalism.
And so I think God has His hand on Curtis and he’s going to be bringing his family, I’m not sure what we’re going to do, they might actually sing for us, it’s all kind of ambiguous at this point but I think you should show up and listen to the man and it’s very eye-opening, the things that he unfolds. He’s a committed Christian and he brings a much needed Christian perspective on our country, which most of us recognize is not going the right direction. And he’ll answer the “why question.” Anyway, all of that to say take advantage of tonight.
Here we are in the book of 2 Timothy. Paul is writing this book to a very young pastor, named Timothy, in Ephesus, encouraging him to complete the race, or to complete the course. Paul wrote this from Rome, this is Paul’s last epistle. And Timothy is thinking of quitting, throwing in the towel, we’ve explained why Timothy is thinking of quitting. And should Timothy quit and should you quit, by the way, truth cannot move trans generationally from one generation to the next; Christianity dies, in other words. The weakest link in Christianity is the transfer of truth from one generation to the next. Christianity is always one generation away from extinction and if you don’t believe me just visit Europe some time and you’ll see beautiful cathedrals and architecture. But probably about 1% of the population in Europe today even goes to church.
So Paul is worried about this happening and so he writes this letter to encourage them. Chapter 1 is basically a generic call to endurance. Then in chapter 2 he gives 10 word pictures explaining what endurance looks like, ten metaphors which we’ve walked through slowly. Then beginning in chapter 3, verse 1 through about chapter 4 verse 8, which is the section we find ourselves in, Paul begins to describe why it’s going to be difficult to endure as a faithful man or woman of God, because of something that would come into the life of the church particularly as the church age is winding to its conclusion, called the apostasy.
We have defined the apostasy as a departure from known truth. It’s not speaking of the world system, rather it is speaking of the church that would have a tendency to gradually move away from known truth as the end of the age approaches. And that makes life difficult for the person that wants to stand for the truth. They’ll find themselves in opposition to their own churches many times. And this is why Paul explains this, because it’s pivotal in enduring in the last days in our calling. You cannot endure in your calling in these last days unless you understand something fundamental about the apostasy of the church, what to do in the midst of the apostasy.
So Paul, in verses 1-9 of chapter 3, has described the apostasy, the evil that’s coming, what people would become like without God. And then he gives some examples of some apostates, Jannes and Jambres, who were the magicians that opposed Moses in Egypt. And you get, in verses 1-9, a tremendous description, or an explanation of the apostasy. And now that we have a description of what the apostasy is, that’s one of the things I like about Paul is he doesn’t just give us the problem, he gives us the solution. He never says here’s how to deactivate the apostasy—do steps A, B and C. He never does that.
What he says is the apostasy is in inevitable, it’s unavoidable, but for you to stand firm in the midst of the apostasy and to become all that God has called you to become in the last days. You need to have a strategy. And his strategy is two-fold; number 1, Paul says follow my example, and then the second strategy, which we won’t be getting to today, beginning at chapter 3, verse 14 through about midway through chapter 4, the second strategy is to focus on the Word of God. As the apostasy becomes ever more present more and more attention, Paul says, must be given to the Word of God.
But prior to him talking about the Word of God he talks about strategy A, which is to follow Paul’s example. 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says this: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” Paul says follow me as I follow Christ. It’s interesting Paul never says follow me, period; he says follow of me to the extent that I am following Christ. 1 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.” And see, Timothy had a role model, a mentor, or a discipler in Paul whose lifestyle and characteristics Timothy could imitate.
And so in verses 10-13 Paul points to himself. I mean, would you do that? I don’t know if I’d want to do that with somebody—“follow me” and list all my good qualities; I’m afraid too many bad things would come out. But you see, Paul was so committed to Christ he could confidently say to young Timothy, “follow me” because I am following Christ. And this is an important principle for us to understand; we only have influence over other people to the extent that we are following Jesus in our daily lives.
A lot of people say I want a bigger sphere of influence, I want to influence more people. My question for you is are you following Christ, because if you are following Christ in your daily life the sphere of influence that God has for you will automatically take care of itself. But if you’re not following Christ, if there’s massive compromise in certain areas of our lives, that’s the reason our ministry influence is not what it could be. So Paul says to Timothy follow me as I follow Christ. And he gives Timothy, in verses 10-11 at least, a total of nine characteristics.
Now take a look there at chapter 3, verse 10, “Now you follow my teaching, my conduct, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my perseverance,  persecutions and sufferings.” You’ll see nine things there that Paul calls Timothy’s attention to in Paul himself.
It’s interesting in the Greek language that each of these nine characteristics has the definite article in front of it. So it should read as follows, and I’ll translate it as such as we move into this passage: “Follow the teaching, the conduct, the purpose, the faith, the patience, the love, the perseverance, the persecutions, and the sufferings.”
And what’s interesting is the possessive “my” is placed in front of the first one there, it’s very clear in the Greek, it doesn’t show up too clear in the NASB, but he says, “Now you follow…” actually it does show up in the NASB, “follow my teaching,” so he uses “my” one time and then he has a definite article in front of each of the characteristics that Timothy is to imitate. And what that simply means is Paul is claiming ownership over all nine characteristics. All nine characteristics, Timothy, you see in me, and as you imitate these nine characteristics you will have the backbone and the strength and the fortitude to keep yourself out of the tug of war that’s going to be going on in the life of the church, called the great apostasy of the church.
Now verse 10, when he says, “Now you,” that’s a contrast, isn’t it? Paul is contrasting himself from what is discussed in verses 8 and 9, which is the false teachers of Jannes and Jambres; Jannes and Jambres, those magicians that opposed Moses in Egypt, they are the negative example. By contrast, Paul says Timothy, you follow me, the positive example. In other words, here’s what not to do… and this is what I love about the Bible, it gives negative and positive examples. Here’s what not to do, negative example, here’s what to do, positive example.
In verse 10 it’s very interesting he says, “Now you follow my,” now this word “follow” is better translated “faithfully follow.” It’s the Greek verb parakoloutheó, and what that means is to make an extensive effort to learn the details about something. Timothy, I want you to make an extensive effort to learn about the details of my life and to put them into practice, thereby keeping yourself out of the apostasy.
Interesting, it’s the identical verb used in Luke 1:3. Luke 1:3 is considered the prologue of Luke’s Gospel, and this is what Luke says in Luke 1:3, “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated” there’s the same verb, “everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus.” Luke was a physician, he was not an eyewitness to the ministry of Christ directly, as the apostles were. What Luke had access to is eyewitnesses. And he carefully investigated the claims of Christ and he put them together in a presentation that we call The Gospel of Luke. And you think of the amount of detail and history that Luke gives us. Luke, of course, had a great mind for details because he was a what? He was a physician. If your doctor is not interested in details you might want to consider getting another doctor because doctors are all about details; that’s why Luke is throwing details at us that most of us wouldn’t really be interested in.
For example, Luke, in the book of Acts tell us that when Judas hung himself his body fell off a cliff and on the way down the rocks ripped open his corpse and his intestines gushed out. And I look at that and I say that’s probably a little more information than what I’m interested in. But you see, Luke is interested in intestines and things like that because he’s a physician. And of course, it’s Luke that tells us more about the prenatal… we have several women in this church on the precipice of giving birth, hopefully not today but down the road, Luke talks about the prenatal activities of Jesus and John the Baptist more than any other writer of the Bible. Why would he even broach that subject? Because he’s a physician. So Luke had this tremendous mind for details and he weaved everything together, in what we call the Gospel of Luke.
And Paul, who knew Luke well, uses this identical word to explain to Timothy what he is to do. You are to make a careful investigation and examination of my life. I’m going to give you nine characteristics, I want you to study these very carefully because as you know these and learn these you will be kept out of the apostasy.
Timothy had a rare privilege. This was his rare privilege: he had known Paul for almost twenty years. Paul and Timothy had first come into contact with each other, probably around A.D. 49 in Paul’s first missionary journey. The year now would be about A.D. 67, almost two decades have passed and Paul is basically telling Timothy you have seen me in every circumstance over these last twenty years and there are nine things that I want to stand out in your mind that I want you to imitate, which will keep you out of the apostasy.
So Timothy had a tremendous mentor; probably the only people on planet earth that were more privileged in terms of an actual mentor were the apostles themselves, the disciples, who were with Jesus, the incarnate Son of God for a little over three years. Other than them Timothy had the best mentor you could have, a handpicked apostle of the Lord, someone that he was with and saw in almost every circumstance over the prior couple of decades.
So Paul is going to surface nine characteristics total, some of them will come from his ministry, verse 10, some of them will come from his character, verse 10, and some of them are actually going to come from Paul’s difficulties, verses 11-13. That, to me, is astonishing; if you were mentoring someone would you let them in on your difficulties and your problems? I probably wouldn’t do that. I’d talk about my victories and my successes, and Paul had lots of those to talk about but he doesn’t talk about those here, he talks about his adversities, because Timothy, adversity is coming to your doorstep, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. And we need to know how to react as Christians in the midst of adversity.
So take a look, first of all, at verse 10, Paul’s ministry; he surfaces here in verse 10 three things. Now you followed my teaching, my conduct, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my perseverance.” The first thing that Paul calls to Timothy’s attention that Timothy had been following and should continue to follow is the Apostle Paul’s teaching. Teaching is number 1. What teaching are we talking about? We’re talking about the things that Timothy had learned from Paul. Did not Paul say back in 2 Timothy 2:2, “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.”
So Timothy had heard teachings from Paul. By this time the Apostle Paul had penned 13 books. They are the book of Galatians, the books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans, the books of Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians, the book of 1 Timothy, the book of Titus and now Paul is on number 13, the book of 2 Timothy. This is what we call the Pauline corpus of material; “corpus” you recognize that word as in body, Corpus Christi, which actually means body of Christ, I think the ACLU needs to be reminded of that when they’re trying to purge Christianity from the public square. The whole town of Corpus Christi means the body of Christ. So are we going to change the name of the city? Come on! We’re just getting ridiculous with this militant secularism that we’re into today.
So corpus means body of material. Timothy had from Paul a body of material and this body of material is so significant that we would know almost nothing about the age of the church were it not for those 13 books. This mystery realm that we are in today that has been going on for the last 2,000 years called the church age; it’s hardly even hinted at in the Gospels. But remember what Jesus said in the Upper Room? He said, see if I can remember the exact quote, “I have many things to tell you but you are not able to bear them now.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth,” John 16:12-13.
You don’t get a lot of material about the age of the church from Jesus. There’s a lot of people that have a “Jesus only” mentality, and they do that because Jesus letters are in red, right, so those are the most important. But Jesus Himself said I’m not giving you the whole picture, that’s going to come with the Apostle Paul. It’s the Apostle Paul that God raised up to disclose this unique period of time that we’re in now called the church age.
And so when Paul calls Timothy’s attention to His teaching he’s calling his attention to this mystery truth, this body of Christ’s truth, which began with the day of Pentecost and will end with the rapture. If you were to tear Paul’s 13 books out of the New Testament we would have virtually no knowledge of the time period that we’re in now and what God is doing. So Timothy, number 1, I want you to pay attention to My teaching.
The second thing he brings up related to what Timothy is to do is Timothy, number 2, is to pay attention to Paul’s conduct. Teaching maybe is the easy part; living it is an entirely different matter, isn’t it? Timothy, don’t just pay attention to what I say, and what I say is very important, it’s Spirit inspired truth, but pay attention to what I do. One of the phrases that we like to use around here is that orthodoxy is designed to lead to orthopraxy; “ortho” as in going to the orthodontist and having your jaw or mouth corrected, simply means correct; “doxy” means belief, “orthodoxy” means correct belief. Orthodoxy should lead, in the life of the child of God, to orthopraxy which simply means correct practice.
In other words, doctrine and Bible knowledge, as wonderful as it is, and we would be lost without it, was never meant by God or was never designed by God to be an end in itself. Knowledge is an important step but it is only a first step. Knowledge at some point must become wisdom, which is knowledge applied. And I need to emphasize this because in Bible church circles, and we’re part of a Bible church movement, there is a tremendous tendency to focus just on the cerebral, the intellectual, what we can hear, what we can listen to, what we understand. We don’t demean that at all. We are simply saying that all of this knowledge that we acquire, as wonderful as it is, was never meant to be the end game in terms of spiritual maturity.
There are many people out there that can rattle off all kinds of accurate doctrinal truths, all kinds of Bible verses, but to move into the area of conduct one’s life must change according to what they are learning. It’s interesting that Paul in the first letter, 1 Timothy 1:5, says this: “But the goal of our instruction is” what, can anybody fill in the blank? “love.” You notice he didn’t say the goal of our instruction is passing an exam, the goal of our instruction is filling our brains with so much knowledge that we have to fill and flush, like I used to do for tests, fill and flush, cram. The goal of our instruction is love; orthodoxy is first and it’s critical but it must be followed by orthopraxy.
This is how Paul sets up almost every book he wrote. Ephesians 1-3, you go through that section, chapters 1-3 and what you’ll discover is there’s no commands for application; it’s all about orthodoxy. And then in chapter 4:1 he uses the word “Therefore,” and when Paul uses the word “therefore” we have to ask ourselves, what is the word “therefore” there for? And it is to transition us from doctrine to practice; you move into chapters 4-6 of Ephesians and “Katy bar the door,” you’ve got thirty-five, at least, commands that I’m aware of. Do you see the pattern? Orthodoxy first, Paul never tells us what to do until we have orthodoxy but orthodoxy is not the end game, it is to move into orthopraxy.
The whole book of Romans is set up the exact same way. Romans 1-11, orthodoxy; then chapter 12:1, the word “therefore,” which shifts us into orthopraxy. The book of Galatians is set up the exact same way. Galatians 1-4, wonderful truth about orthodoxy; then in Galatians 5:1 you see the word “therefore” and Paul moves his audience away from just knowledge into practice.
One of the things that I so appreciate about the Apostle Paul is he didn’t simply didactically teach truth to Timothy but he role modeled it. For example, in Acts 20:33-35, as Paul is speaking to the Ephesian elders, he says this: “I have coveted no one’s silver, gold or clothes.  You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.  In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
It’s one thing to know that Jesus said “it’s more blessed to give than to receive,” it’s an entirely different matter to labor amongst people without drawing a salary from them, with such intensity that you would have something to give away to them. Paul had a self-funding ministry. Is it wrong for pastors to receive a salary? No, of course not, but you see, Paul wouldn’t receive it because he wanted to role model to the people what his true priorities were. It was neve money with the Apostle Paul. It was always ministry. And Paul says I role modeled that before you.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-12, Paul says the same thing to the Thessalonians. “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.  You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;  just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
Paul says you Thessalonians, you heard me teach and you saw me live, pointing to his conduct. And let me just tell you something; the world system is sick and tired, and frankly I’m sick and tired of Christians that say one thing in public and act a totally different way when the spotlight is off. The world system calls that, correctly, hypocrisy. And if we have massive pockets of hypocrisy in our lives we are written off lightning speed by the world. They will not listen to a word you say, even though our doctrine may be perfect. Do you remember what Nathan said to David when David had committed, first of all adultery, second murder, third, lying. Remember what Nathan, the prophet, said to David? 2 Samuel 12, around verse 14, Nathan says to David, “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme….” David, Ted Koppel and Brian Williams and every other liberal journalist you can come up with is now on television making a mockery out of Christianity because your doctrine says one thing and your lifestyle says something totally different. And how we give ground, constantly, to the accusations of Satan when we wander into sin; we give him an occasion to blaspheme.
Paul said the same thing to the Jews in Romans 2:24, “For ‘THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,’” and think of all of the people that could be won to Christ and yet stay away from Christ because of legitimate hypocrisy and inconsistency they see in spiritual leaders and in many of God’s people.
You see, for Paul the issue was not just doctrine; that’s critical but it was also conduct. I want you to imitate, Timothy, my teaching and I want you to imitate my conduct which you have seen before you presented for the last, almost two decades.
Number three, there’s a third thing I want you to imitate Timothy, in my ministry, and that’s my purpose. You also see that in verse 10. If Paul understood anything he understood what his purpose was. Do you understand your purpose? Do you understand why God has you alive at this particular time in history? [Romans 9:10, “Now you follow my teaching, my conduct, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my perseverance,”] As long as there is still breath in your lungs, there is some sort of purpose that God seeks to execute through your life. Paul knew his purpose.
You know, we have youth today that have no purpose at all, kind of just wandering aimlessly from one activity or experience to the next. And why should they not think that way when we teach them in the public schools that they are biological accidents through evolution; they are nothing but a product of random chance. Well, if that’s what you believe then you belief your life is a complete biological accident and if you believe your life is a complete biological accident then you really have no concerted purpose.
But how different it is for the child of God who understands that they are a special creation of God, both created by Him and redeemed by Him, that God wants to use to expand His purposes upon the earth. Paul knew his purpose; I believe his purpose is stated in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul, what’s your purpose? To live for Jesus Christ, not even to live for Him but if you understand Paul’s theology correctly it’s to allow Jesus who is already inside of me, through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit, to express Himself through my life. That’s your purpose; that’s my purpose. That’s why we exist.
And as we understand our purpose God begins to tell us in the direction of service. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” There was something inside of Paul that was just dying to get out and express itself. And that was Christ living through Paul and proclaiming the gospel. I believe Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:16 is referring, at least by allusion to the prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 20:8-9, do you know Jeremiah had a bad day in Jeremiah 20, I mean a BAD day, thrown into a well, beaten by a priest named Pashhur and Jeremiah began to feel sorry for himself. You know, I’m not going to speak up any more for the Lord because every time I speak up for the Lord people get mad at me and abuse me. Have you ever felt that way. That’s what’s going on in Jeremiah’s mind. [Jeremiah 20:2, “Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in …. ill treatment of a prophet, a prophet of the Lord, and one that was a priest too,”]
And in Jeremiah 20:8-9 Jeremiah says this: “For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, Because for me the word of the LORD has resulted In reproach and derision all day long.” Lord, people are making fun of me all day long so I’m just going to shut my mouth and say nothing more of truth. And then Jeremiah says this,  “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,’ Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, indeed I cannot endure it.”
Yeah, I want to quit, I want to throw in the towel but you know, every time I mentally go that direction, Jeremiah says, it’s harder for me to quit because there is something deep inside of me that is compelling me to do what I am doing. That is what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 9:16 when he says, “Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel.” [1 Corinthians 9:16, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”]
Jeremiah and Paul were not perfect people but they understood a divine purpose and calling on their lives and they understood that diverting from that purpose and calling would be more painful than the natural persecution you receive in pursuing that calling. Paul says you watched this in me, Timothy, for the last twenty years, and I want you, as the apostasy comes, I want you to follow not just my teaching but also my conduct. And beyond that I want you to understand my purpose.
And then he shifts right in the middle of verse 10 and he begins to surface characteristics and attributes that relate to Paul’s character. These are things that are based on not so much what Paul did or does but what Paul was in terms of his character. He surfaces here at least four things: faith, patience, love and perseverance. Let’s take these one by one.
As you look at 2 Timothy 3:10, right in the middle of the verse, he begins to talk about faith, patience, love and perseverance. Notice he mentions “faith” here; why is faith such a big deal? Faith is such a big deal because you have no access to God without it. Hebrews 11:6, you know the verse, it says, “And without faith it is” what? “impossible to please Him,” it doesn’t even say it’s difficult, or hard, you can’t please God without faith. [Hebrews 11:16, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
Faith simply means trust; trust, of course, would relate to what is necessary for a lost sinner to be justified before God but you know, you run into a lot of people, they say yeah, I trusted Christ back in 1973 or whatever. Did you know the Christian life is not just about a one-time trust in Christ to be saved. To be clear, one time faith in Christ saves the soul eternally, but you know what? As you move away from that mountain top experience of salvation you’re going to run into problems in your life. And you know what God wants you to do in the midst of those problems? To keep trusting Him. The faith which we initially express in Jesus Christ God then begins to send you through valleys and He begins to kick away from the life of the child of God all of the false securities and props that we have a tendency to rely upon because He is trying to develop within us trust in Him, not just to be saved, which is obviously very important, but in terms of a walk with Him, trusting God through the exigencies and the emergencies of life. And Timothy had seen that in Paul because Paul went through, as you study the book of Acts and other books, his share of trials.
Now who role modeled this for us, continuing to trust in God in the midst of problems? Do you know the ultimate role model of it? Jesus Christ Can’t get a man more abused than Jesus Christ and how did He endure it? 1 Peter 2:23 tells us. It says, “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats,” watch this “but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
How did Jesus tolerate all of the abuse that he experienced related to the ordeals of the cross? He kept entrusting Himself, despite His circumstances, over and over and over again to God the Father, knowing that one day God the Father would judge righteously.
1 Peter 4:19 applies that to us, it says: “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall” what? “entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” Does that describe you as you go through trials and tribulations in life? Are you continually entrusting your circumstances to God, or are you trying to navigate all of those problems in the power of the flesh? Paul says I went through so many problems and trials I could not have navigated my way through these circumstances had I not kept entrusting my circumstances over and over again to God. Paul says to Timothy you’ve seen me do this and now Timothy I want you to do the same thing.
Faith can also be translated faithfulness. That’s how it’s translated in the book of Galatians, verses you no doubt know, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,” what’s the next word, “faithfulness” that’s our magic word, “gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.” What is an attribute that God is seeking to develop in the life of his children? It is trusting Him in problems but it is also being faithful in life’s circumstances. What does that mean to be faithful? It means to be consistent. It means to be trustworthy. It means to be the type of person that can be counted on.
And how we need to understand this attribute in the modern church world today, where Christians act so flaky. Today I’ll do a ministry but if it’s inconvenient and my emotions are telling me something different I’ll drop out. Today I’ll attend this church and this week I’ll attend this church but once they do something I don’t like, once the pastor parts his hair on the wrong side of the head then I’m out the door and I’m going to go down to church B down the street where they will cater to my desires. And you have people just rotating around from church to church to church, ministry to ministry to ministry, starting something, never completing it. And God is looking at all of this and says to His children, you know what I want to see out of you? I want to see a little bit of consistency. I want to see some steadfastness. I want to see some faithfulness. I want to see some people that are going to stick with the task in the midst of adversity. That’s what I want. And that’s why Paul brings up this attribute that Timothy is to imitate.
Now this next one is going to hurt, patience. Have you ever prayed this prayer? Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now. Patience, we know what that means; that also is one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” You know, it is so hard in American society to be patient for anything. We have instant travel, we don’t even have to look up things in books any more, we just press a button on the computer and we get instant information. We don’t even have to wait for meals any more since we have microwave ovens and fast food. And we have all of these creature comforts where any desire we have almost impulsively we can have gratified instantaneously. But with one click options. You don’t even have to go to a store or through the normal selling and buying process; push a button and it’s mine. And this is what the market place demands, instant gratification.
And in the midst of all of this God is trying to teach His children patience. He is trying to teach us delayed gratification. And so He puts us in circumstances where our immediate needs are not met and we cry out to the Lord, and we say Lord, You’ve forgotten me. And the Lord says I don’t function with you the way America and its economy functions; I’m trying to develop something in you called patience. And that’s why I will not gratify every single need you have instantaneously.
And the prosperity gospel gets around this by turning God into a cosmic genie. God operates according to my schedule. That’s what the prosperity gospel says. Anything I want, if I command it God is obligated to give it to me. If that were true, first of all, your life would be a total disaster because there’s a lot of things God won’t give you. My daughter, Sarah, at nine years old, wants to drive the car, and she pleads and begs and if we, as parents said well, we want to gratify your immediate desire, go ahead and take the car keys, take it out for a little spin, we know how that story will end up.
It’s the same way with God. He doesn’t give us immediately everything our hearts desire because many times we’re not ready to handle it. So He withholds things until a proper time of maturity so our lives are not destroyed. He withholds things, many times, to develop within us this very important attribute of patience.
Paul points out something else here, Timothy, I want you to imitate something else in my character, which is love. And you already know the Greek word for love, which is agápē. In Greek there are four different words for love, érōs, romantic love, phileō, brotherly love, storgus, family love, and then there’s finally agápē love.
Love which simply loves, without demanding or expecting anything in return, that’s what Paul had, and it wasn’t Paul that conjured that up through some kind of self-help program. That was Jesus expressing Himself through Paul’s life. It’s a love which is of the most unselfish variety. You see, lust can’t wait to get; love, on the other hand, can’t wait to give. Look at your life? How would you describe it? Is it more of a life of lust or is it more a life of love towards others that many times misunderstand you and mistreat you?
Of course Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13 tells us all we need to know about love, doesn’t he? 1 Corinthians 13:1] “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
Well, Paul, what is love? We throw this word “love” around so much most of us don’t even know what we’re talking about. Paul tells us what love is, [1 Corinthians 13:3] “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous,” someone else gets promoted and not you, are you the type of person that is actually happy for the person promoted or do these lingering feelings of jealousy reside in your heart. “…love does not brag, it is not arrogant,”  it “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, it is not provoked, it does not take into account a wrong suffered,” do you have a list, a blacklist in your mind of all of the people that have mistreated you? That’s not love. Love, we’re told here, keeps no record of wrong. It  “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” And then at the end of the chapter, as you know, Paul says, “…faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
You know the day is going to come where faith won’t even be needed because you will see Jesus face to face. Did you know the day is going to come where hope is no longer needed because you will see Jesus face to face. But you see, faith and hope may dissipate but love will continue on and on and on throughout the ages and the eons of time. Paul says Timothy, I want you to imitate the agápē love that you have seen over these last 20 years of Jesus expressing Himself through me.
As you know, love is also a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, love, as I have it underlined there, is first on the list. How can we not be people of love as God’s people when 1 John 4:8 tells us “God is” what? “love.” 1 John 4:8 doesn’t even say God is loving, he says “God is love.” God’s character is love. And if a person is rightly related to the Lord Jesus Christ and walking moment by moment in fellowship with Him, how in the world can we claim this connection to Jesus Christ and not be loving towards people? It’s an impossibility.
1 John 4;20 says, “If someone says ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not loves his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” As you look at people do you feel a sense of love? I’m not talking about the people that are nice to you. You know, even the mob, the mobsters are nice to the people that are nice to them. I’m talking about the people that are rude, crude, lewd and obnoxious. I’m talking about the people that have wronged your or are wronging you. What is your basic attitude towards them and how you answer that question will determine your depth of spiritual character and fellowship with God. I want you to, Timothy, to imitate love.
We’ll do this last one here, and with this we are finished. I want you, Timothy, to imitate My perseverance, also in verse 10. The Greek word for perseverance here is hupomenē, it refers to a capacity to bear up under difficult circumstances. If Paul had anything going for him it was hupomenē, a capacity to bear up in unfavorable circumstances. Does that describe you? Proverbs 24:16 puts it this way: “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.” What did your Jr. High School football coach, basketball coach, gymnastics coach tell you? He told you it’s not getting down, getting knocked down that’s the issue; everybody gets knocked down. It’s how fast you can get back up. And see, this is what God wants to develop in us, a perseverance, a stick-to-itiveness in the midst of adversity. This is what Paul demonstrated for Timothy as Christ’s work through Paul for twenty years. Timothy saw Paul getting knocked down over and over and over again and Paul kept getting right back up, over and over again and completing his assignment.
In fact, at one point, and he describes it a little bit later in verse 11 so I won’t go into too much detail on this, but in Timothy’s home town, you’ll find this in Acts 14:19-20, they threw in Lystra so many rocks at Paul that they thought he was dead, and they left him alone. [Acts 14:19-20, “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.  But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.”]
Now what would you do if God sends you out on an assignment and people are so opposed to what you’re doing that they actually throw rocks at you to the point of physical murder; they think you’re dead and then they just leave you there dead on the road without any decent burial. Most of us would be feeling so sorry for ourselves. Paul, on the other hand, gets right back up, goes right back into the city that abused him and finished his task before God. That is perseverance.
It is not something that is conjured up in the flesh, it is something God works through us. It’s the very thing that Jesus emulated and imitated as He was dying on the cross, Hebrews 12:2 says, “fixing” same word, hupomenē, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,” that’s hupomenē, “despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
What do you see in Christ? hupomenē, perseverance. What do you see in Paul? hupomenē, perseverance. What does Paul want Timothy to imitate? hupomenē, perseverance. What does God want for your life? hupomenē, perseverance. You say well, Pastor, I just don’t have it. I mean, I just don’t have it! I quit really quick, any little problem I throw in the towel. Do you have an answer for me? And I’m so glad you asked.
James 1:2-4 is the answer, “Consider it” what? “all joy, my brethren,” speaking to believers, “when you encounter various trials,” wow, you mean when adversity hits I’m supposed to internally celebrate? Apparently. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces” what? “endurance,” hupomenē.  “And let endurance” same Greek word, “let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, not lacking in anything.” God already knows we don’t naturally possess this quality of perseverance. So He starts to instill it in us by putting us into circumstances that are above our ability to navigate.
And finally, we try this option, it doesn’t work, our problems are still there. We try this option over there, it doesn’t work. We try this option, it doesn’t work. And then finally we come to the Lord and say you know Lord, I’ve tried everything, I guess I’ll have to trust You. And God says thumbs up, that’s what I wanted the whole time because I’m trying to develop something in you which you do not necessarily possess on your own, hupomenē, but it will come to you as you learn to walk with Me in the midst of trials. How to endure in the midst of the apostasy? Imitate Paul’s character in faith, patience, love and perseverance, and also imitate Paul’s teaching, conduct and purpose in his ministry. Next time we are together we’ll be taking a look at patience in the midst of difficulties.
Shall we pray. Father, we are grateful for this straight teaching that You’ve given us in Paul’s life. Help us to walk out these attributes this week as we acknowledge that You have sovereignly many times put us in difficult positions. Help us to draw upon You and allow these attributes to become more and more manifest in our lives and make us people of character. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory, we ask these things in Jesus’ name. And God’s people said.. Amen.