Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8

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You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8 – 04/15/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 2:1 (ESV) You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the second chapter of Second Timothy.

V1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Paul starts his exhortation by telling Timothy to “be strengthened” and as a young teacher myself I understand the premise behind what Paul is saying here and that Timothy would need to be strengthened to fulfil what God had called him to do. Paul is faithful in his work as encourager and mentor and there will be times in our lives where we are the encourager and conversely there will be times that we will be required to be encouraged.

One thing we have to realize is that we serve the God who wants to supply all that we need and should we need strength to complete a task then he is always available. I have found many times in my life that God will allow me to try things in my own strength to show me that I am not enough or that I need him and his strength. Let’s look at a passage in Isaiah…

Isaiah 40:28 (ESV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

God gives power to the faint; they will rise up with wings like eagles. As usual I do wish to look at an epistle and I know I quote this all the time but let’s also look at Ephesians 6…

Ephesians 6:10 (ESV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We have to remember that although God makes his strength available to us as stated above we also have to rely on him instead of our own strength. Then Paul goes on to say that “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” that the strength in grace is absolute in order to fulfil the calling that God has you do. In the last year from stepping into ministry I have a new found respect for full time members of the clergy and I understand when some pastors say things like “my job as a pastor was getting in the way of the ministry” because when you are the one people are looking to for answers there carries a responsibility and it is true that “to much is given and much is required” (Luke 12:35-48) and that we have to be strengthened in Christ’s grace as it is a burden as well as a calling. Please do not think I complain as I am blessed more than I can talk about.

God will supply all that his children need, we have that love, favor and grace and despite whether we have earned or deserve anything that God benevolently gives us we understand that through the grace of God is where we can draw our strength. I am reminded of the song…

“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”

Paul describes his dealings with grace through problems in his second letter to the church in Corinth…

2 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a notion, for when I am weak, then I am strong! Real strength comes in the Lord. Paul then goes on to write “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” And that is my heart too with any ministry that I do, that I am not simply passing knowledge or passing on decent precepts or personal opinions, in fact part of the job description of the Pastor was to train others to train others in the true faith. That is not to say a pastor of a 3000 person church should still do all the training, I am saying that would be silly, but he should be a part of the training and maybe managing the ones who are doing the training.

And he was to train “faithful men” Paul goes through what would be regarded as a faithful man in First and Second Timothy and the epistle to Titus, we are not to look at the external but the internal! What is the faithful man’s fruit? Is he doing some of the work already without being asked? HE has to be a good quality candidate because he is supposed “to teach others also”.

V3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Paul then makes a comparison between three occupations that would have been relevant both in that time and even today, he compares the Christian life to…

  • A soldier
  • An athlete
  • A farmer

The soldier is one who is used to suffering, yes in those days they did not have mortar bombs or automatic weapons or for that nature chemical or nuclear warfare but the soldier was still used to suffering, taking orders, dealing with hardships and that is sound doctrine because when I have achieved the most for Jesus has been when I have been at my lowest in other ways in my life. Even the call to ministry is fraught with potential pitfalls whether that is financial, familial or any other hardship in whatever way it comes. Examine your own heart and where you cherish the most will be the place that you will be hit the hardest. See below for what Jesus said about taking up his cross and following him…

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Paul goes on to say “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” and the one who enlisted him is obvious as Jesus is that Commander of the armies of heaven and rather ironically he was probably looking at the soldier he was chained to as he was penning this so it is no surprise that he used this occupation. He also notes that the soldier cuts himself out of civilian life, really what Paul is saying is do not do anything that will interfere with your calling.

It sounds grim but please stay with me, let’s look at the athlete…

V5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

First we have “hardship” and now we have “fair play” and the idea of athletics would be well known in this Roman/Greek culture and it was known that the rules of competition would be known beforehand and the athlete would want to receive the prize for competing. The athlete also knew that he would be disqualified if he did not place by the rules and what Paul is really saying is that like the athlete we should not do anything to be disqualified in our calling, in our walk with Jesus on a daily basis. We should be the ones to set the standard and play by the rules.

V6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

And Paul is stating we should be diligent and hard working. The farmer does not get any glory but if he does not work hard then no-one eats! By the same token if he has called you into ministry it is no place to be lazy. You have to be hard working for God because God see’s you sleeping on the clock. Paul also uses the metaphor of eating in the relation to the food that he will be supplying to his congregations and I know that to be true that God will have me live through something before I was able to teach that lesson. Also often times I have found that in order to teach something with heart I have had to learn the lesson myself and sometimes there has been some repenting going on in order for me to be able to teach it clearly with experience and authority.

V7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Paul gave three quality illustrations that I know that because of time served with Paul that Timothy would have received them in a way that did not require further explanation and the overall theme is to be diligent and persevere and that is a message that is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Lastly Paul calls for understanding and as stated prior God will give us understanding in the same abundance that he will give us strength.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks about holding to the truth in a steadfast manner, having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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All along the watchtower – a morning with Jehovah’s Witnesses

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All along the watchtower – a morning with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1 Peter 3:14 (ESV) But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

This Saturday morning just past, we had a visit from some local members of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was pretty much arranged from last week when the LORD gave me an opportunity to redeem myself for the first time I met these people.

Rubbish first impression

The week before I was not prepared to receive visitors, my wife was ill, lying on the couch and I saw them as an unwelcome distraction on my front porch. Really I was trying to get rid of them so I could attend to my wife. They (It was two ladies the first time) were persistent and I agreed to meet them again Saturday just passed. (3rd January)

I mention this as I wish to give a balanced account of what happened. I am not wishing to record that I did a wonderful or super theological thing and also wish to show that I didn’t do it well the first time. If this was a test from God, I most certainly flunked it the first time.

God is good all the time and he allowed me a do over and I am truly grateful. When the lady I saw the first time came back, she brought an older gentlemen who within a few minutes of discussing with him advised us that he had been a JW since 1978.

Doing what I was created for

I love it when people come to my door and ask me to talk about Jesus. (It doesn’t happen all that often so this is an opportunity made of 24 karat gold) When people from the JW’s or the LDS church come to your door and try to teach you another gospel that is contrary to the word of the LORD, take it as a tremendous opportunity to give witness to the gospel that you believe in.

Hence the feature verse. Several years ago I came across an apologetic evangelist called Charlie Campbell and his ministry called “Always Be Ready”. He spoke at the local Calvary Chapel in Visalia about the dangers of the Emergent church; I was that impressed that I checked out many of his other apologetic talks. Unsurprisingly he has one also on the Jehovah’s Witness organization.

So between the first time (the previous Saturday) they came to my door and the second I read up in what they believed, possible topics I could engage them in and we were ready.

Discussion topics

They came by and their opening line was about relevance of world topics such as the Paris attacks. They then focused in on how similar our beliefs were and tried to sound out if we read the bible. We also confirmed that we would be using a copy of their bible (New World Translation) we confirmed that we did read the bible and when they were discussing their beliefs they touched on a few areas that they have unique beliefs. (Compared to Christians)

1) A non-belief in a literal hell
2) A belief that everyone will be with Jesus regardless if you have chosen to believe or not.
3) A denial that Jesus was God or the trinity as a whole
4) A belief in “soul sleep”
5) A two tier heaven

Where do I start? Well my wife was keen to use their translation of the scriptures to avoid “translation difficulties” and this allowed us to focus on the topics that mattered.

1) A non-belief in a literal hell, 2) A belief that everyone will be with Jesus regardless if you have chosen to believe or not & 4) A belief in “soul sleep”

These three beliefs tied in together in the discussion that we had, they pushed the belief that regardless of the actions that you took in this life, you would not be separated from God, that there would not be an actual hell that you would go to.

This begs the question “why did Christ die?” if it was not for the substitution of our sins, my wife was the driver in the conversation and allowed them to state their case clearly and concisely in order to get where they were coming from.

We didn’t get to this scripture due to time constraints, however I was trying to get to John 14:6 where Jesus advises that “I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the father but by me”.

This doctrine ladies and gentlemen is a lie from the pit of hell. The bible advises the existence of a literal separation from God, that those who choose to separate themselves from their creator will get their wish. Once you enter a posthumous state, time is up and the choice then has been made, there is no cooling off period (or soul sleep)

3) A denial that Jesus was God or the trinity as a whole

We had the most fun with this one, the gentleman hypothesized “well who can really tell when Jesus came about?” So I took him to John 1:1, albeit in the New World Translation they have changed the wording from “God” to “a god” trying to remove Jesus as the Son of God.

It is important to see where they are coming from before you enter into that discussion, I then took them to Genesis 1:1 to show that the plurality of the word used for God shows more than one entity involved in creation, the fact that the Holy Spirit is mentioned by name and the fact that God (Father) says phrases such as “let us make man in OUR image”.

The last scripture I took them to, to show this was in the later part of the book of John (John 20) where Thomas, who originally doubted fell to his knees and stated “My LORD and my God!”

The interesting thing that they did do is they brought up Isaiah 9:6 and really tried to labor the point that he was only a “mighty God” and that “many people who were renowned in those days were known as gods” Of course my wife and I (mainly my wife at that point) were defending the position that we have a much higher view of Jesus being both God and man.

Because of their beliefs they also do not belief in a resurrection for Jesus. They believe that Jesus was a created angel as opposed to the propitiation for our sins. They do preach Jesus but not the Jesus of the bible. They attempt to remove the deity of Christ, ranking him as similar to an angel.

5) A two tier heaven

They kept referring to a “ruling class” and “everyone else” in heaven, so they do believe that there will be different zones in heaven dependent of what you believed at the time. I am assuming (this wasn’t explored due to time constraints) that the JW’s will be in the ruling class and that everyone else will be in the lower tier of the glory of God.

Perhaps I am misquoting them when I say heaven, they spoke about living on a paradise earth as opposed to a literal heaven.

So if everyone is in the presence of God at the end of the road, what is the point in what they are doing?

Well I had to look into that further as I did not explore that further at the time of the conversation. The JW’s believe that you have to be a baptized participating member of their organization in order to get a type of works based salvation. (Paul refutes this in Ephesians 2:8)

We did not get into their belief in the 144,000 also, I was hoping to but again we only had 40 minutes and we packed a lot into that time.

Treat them in LOVE

Most people try to get rid of JW’s as quickly as possible (like I did the first time) but I have learned from my error. These guys, whilst I believe that they are in error and are putting their faith in something that will not achieve what they hope it will, are still people and still require the love of Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Here is the deal, I can be as convincing as I can be by stating things that make sense to the mind but I do not have the power to save someone. I can be used by God to witness to these witnesses (see what I did there?) however it is only through belief in Jesus Christ and the individual accepting his free gift of grace can he be saved.

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Follow up?

Is really up to them, they have an open invite to my door anytime, however the chap who had been in the faith since 1978 was getting a little frustrated when we stated our beliefs. My hope and prayer is that they do come back; I love situations like this as I enjoy having an open invite to state my belief in Christ Jesus and my wife really is tremendous and was literally glowing when stating her faith. She truly is a blessing and really led the line at the beginning.

They stated that they would come back and left a “Watchtower” magazine that they would discuss with us upon their return. One hopes they do, if they have to do door to door time as part of their works based theology, I would much rather that they did it with us that would give them questions to stretch their faith than someone who may become a convert.

I have a great deal of love for them and prayed a lot for them over the weekend.

I pray this article was a blessing and please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads.
TGBTG
TTE