Sermon Titled “Finishing With Fearless Faith” (2 Timothy 4:1-8) – Sunday 30th November, 2014 – by Pastor Jason Beams
Ever feel as if you’re always waiting for that “next phase” in life, that next phase that promises to deliver an improved quality of life and greater happiness? How many times do you think about “tomorrow,” and what tomorrow might bring if you can just make it through today? But what if tomorrow or the next day wasn’t guaranteed? In fact, it isn’t.
In last weekend’s sermon, Pastor Beams challenged the congregation to consider how we might choose to spend our time if we knew we only had a certain number of days left to live. Paul faced such a predicament when he wrote his final letter to Timothy. Wasting away in a Roman prison where his only real source of nourishment came from friends who were willing to visit and take him food, Paul expected that his days were numbered. With that in mind, and knowing that Timothy would also face major persecution, he sought to embolden him by daring him to continue preaching the Word of God.
Remember the movie Christmas Story, and the famous “I Triple Dog Dare You” scene? You can watch it here if you haven’t seen it already, but it was shared by Pastor Beams with the intent of reinforcing Paul’s plea (or dare) to keep sharing the gospel.
- 2 Timothy 4:1-5 ……I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
So how does “preaching” the Word of God fit in to our day-to-day lives? What does it look like and what does it take to live out our faith well? I think Pastor Beams raised a valid point when he said that the word “preach” may convey negative connotations to some; to be “preached to” may feel patronizing and overbearing. Simply “passing along” however, the spiritual blessings that God has imparted into our lives, is a less offensive way of sharing one’s faith, especially when done with legitimate love and concern. Pastor Beams offers three different approaches to doing this:
1. The first involves relationships: there’s no denying that there is darkness in the world; people everywhere are starved of love and many are struggling to survive. God calls the church to be a light to the suffering; to take His love wherever we go and share it with our friends, family members, neighbors, work colleagues, and even to strangers.
2. The second has to do with divine appointments. In Luke 10:1-11, we are told that the Lord appointed a group of men to go out to every town and place, and share their faith. Some, said Christ, would not welcome them. But others, ready to receive the good news of the gospel, would gladly invite them in and offer them food and a place to stay.
The latter group represents all those whose hearts are ready and willing to change. They are out there, everywhere, waiting for that precise moment when God will orchestrate a divine appointment (or meeting) with one of His disciples. That disciple could be you. If you hear the gentle prompting of the Spirit, nudging you to visit a certain place or person, don’t hesitate to respond – just go.
3. The third approach is probably the easiest, or the least intimidating – serving others. We are never without opportunities to serve; anyone can be the hands and love of Christ. In our Okinawan community alone, there are many areas of ministry that one can get involved with: local orphans, single service members, single parents, widows, those who are sick, the elderly, etc.
Author and Senior Pastor, Bill Hybels, says that God gives us spiritual passions worth fighting for. That is, he places within our hearts certain desires that cause us to feel compelled to help with specific causes. We’re encouraged to obey those urges; to not put them off and wait for “tomorrow” to make an impact.
In summing up, Paul tells Timothy in verses 6-8 that he has fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Notice how he says he “finished” the race – Pastor Beams highlights the fact that Paul never claimed to have “won” the race, because that would have implied that the Christian life is a game of comparison, and Christianity is most definitely not that.
Christianity is about sacrificial living that results in the genuine care and love for others, and ultimately eternal life with Christ in Heaven. Pastor Beams shared the “Triple Dog Dare You” scene to lighten the seriousness of Paul’s words, but all humor aside, he really is triple dog daring you to go out and share your faith.