I always love kicking off a new teaching this series, and this Sunday – the very first Sunday of 2014 – we are beginning a new one.
Paul wrote this letter to pass the torch to a new generation of church leaders. In doing so, he emphasized the importance that believers need to endure hardness, stand strong, and be solidly grounded in Christian service.
It’s easy to serve Christ (or attend church) for the wrong reasons: because it’s exciting, rewarding, entertaining, or personally enriching. Yet, without a proper foundation, people find it easy to quit in difficult times. That’s probably why we see so many defections from the faith nowadays – superficial commitment.
The tone of this book is strong meat, almost military in nature. In it you hear language like:
“Stir up the gift of God within you”…. God has not given us a spirit of fear… Hold fast to sound doctrine… Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ… If we deny Him, He will also deny us… Study to show yourself approved unto God… Flee youthful lusts…. Men shall be lovers of their own selves… Endure afflictions… Fight the good fight…. Keep the faith… God will judge the living and the dead…
This is a far cry from the soft wimpy version of Christianity that is so popular today. Somewhere along the way we have dumbed-down the definition of what a real believer looks like. Today, a good Christian is not known for being a soldier, but known mostly for meekness, sensitivity, passivity, mild manners, sentimentalism, and being sweet. The Christian life has been reduced down to an invitation to a passive lifestyle. It’s like angle food cake – soft, spongy, and unsatisfying.
That’s why we are going through the book of 2 Timothy verse-by-verse, so we can learn what the Bible actually says!