This exercise is a continuation of a series we started at Grace with our leadership while I served as interim there. For those who are not pastors or deacons, but who lead in some capacity in any arena of life, these books are a tremendous resource in Scripture. I encourage all of those who would be called leaders or who oversee to take advantage of these notes geared specifically toward leadership or roles with much responsibility.
2 Timothy 2
In his tears, Timothy was encouraged to remind himself of the Gospel and to endure the suffering of this world with Christ. Timothy was reminded that his ministry was not about his happiness, his acceptance, or even his influence. It was about Christ and for Christ. There is much encouragement in this truth. Christ, who is the promised Messiah descended from David, raised from the dead. We are sufferers with both Christ and with Paul. This is why we endure all things for the sake of the elect. This is not an easy resolution to make. Those who die with Christ live with Him. Those who endure, reign. Those who deny Christ will deny us. It is promised. If we are faithless, if we fail, if we are not strong enough, if we give into our depression, if we give up, Christ remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself. He will accomplish His work. We are not the determining factors of God’s success. What a relief.
Timothy is instructed to remind the people of these things. When the nation falls apart and blames God, we are tempted to look into the darkness and say things like, “What do you expect! You denied God and God withdrew from you!” If salvation is by grace, if God entire operation is grace-based, and if He does not depend on people, the truth is that God is faithful even when people are not. He is not responsive as we are responsive. So, we don’t partake in worthless argumentation about what could have been or to defend theological blunders that serve only to guilt others into some behavior modification. That is unfruitful, especially regarding eternity. Those who get caught up in worthless arguments, neglecting the profound implications of God’s amazing grace, only bring ruin upon themselves. It is likely, then, that those people causing Timothy’s tears were only accomplishing their own ruin in the grand scheme while God, by grace, was working out the salvation and sanctification of Timothy and of His true children. I would rather be and defend the true Gospel of grace, and all of its implications, than be under the impression of any other sort of gospel. For with any other sort of gospel, there is contradiction and ruin for those who live by it.
The fact that diligence is required for one to present his or her body as an approved worker before God indicates that this is a great toil. Such is a consequence of the first sin in Genesis 3. The Christian life, particularly for the elder or the deacon, is one of toil requiring diligence. Diligence primarily when it comes to teaching the word of truth. So many people, even many who claim to teach God’s word, have turned and twisted its words into either prosperity or works-based righteousness (really these blunders are the same). Grace is a term used, but the implications of God’s amazing grace are not believed or embraced. This is false religion. We must correctly teach the words of truth, not merely reading the words of truth and then teaching a false form of godliness.
Paul charges Timothy to avoid empty speech, adding greater emphasis to the difficult task of remaining diligent in the toil of preaching. Those who teach empty religion or another gospel produce even more godlessness. People are fooled into thinking that they have somehow accomplished something with their religion. Do we see why the preaching of the Gospel causes such depression and anxiety for the preacher in the current world? Every word a light in the darkness burning the eyes of those born in darkness. Of course darkness would try to overcome the light. False teaching spreads like gangrene.
Even though people falter and false teaching mesmerizes and people love the darkness, God’s solid foundation stands firm. He does not depend on us! He knows those who are His! Those who call on His name are called to turn away from the darkness. It is how we know we belong to Him. If we did not know Christ, why endure the pain of stepping into the light? That is the evidence, from works to grace. Let my insufficiencies be exposed. If I am afraid to be burned, to have my sin revealed, to change, to be wrong, to show that I am unable to save myself, I live in darkness. If I try to earn my righteousness, I am in the darkness. Grace burns, then soothes because we were actually created for its enrichment. God is faithful to bring all who are His into His light. He knows them. That is the greatest comfort. We suffer with Christ for the good of those lost in darkness. Like Christ, we become willing, suffering servants.
*Please take time to pray for the families of the rising number of pastors who have committed suicide due to ministerial depression. The enemy is at work, and he is at work especially against those who do genuine, Gospel-centered ministry. Rekindle.
*please note, if you experience depression because of a mental illness or because of a chemical imbalance, please seek medical help. If depression is constant, please seek the help of a good psychologist. Circumstantial depression (which I am addressing here) is not the same as clinical depression.