2 Timothy 002 – True Christian Education2 Timothy 1:1-5 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 13, 2015 • 2 Timothy - The Call to Persevere
True Christian Education
9-13-15 2 Timothy 1:1-7 Lesson 2
Good morning everyone. If we could take our Bibles and open them to 2 Timothy chapter 1, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Bruce Munsterman and our worship team and the songs that they pick and the way they minister to us every Sunday morning.
We began a study last time through the book of 2 Timothy, we didn’t get very far because we just introduced the book, so we’re going to start today in 2 Timothy 1:1, and the title of our message this this morning is True Christian Education, Christian Education God’s way in other words. What a challenge it is to finish well. It’s much easier to start a race than to finish it. When Paul writes to Timothy he had started well, but finishing the race was kind of up for grabs. There’s no doubt that Timothy is a believer but would this very young man with this calling of God to be a pastor over the church at Ephesus, would he finish the project that God had started him on?
That’s really a great question for us as we go through life with marriage, with business, with raising children, with ministries, managing finances. The issue really is not so much how we started but how we’re going to finish; starting is one thing, finishing is something completely different and that’s why Paul wrote this book. So the title of this whole book is the call to Christian perseverance.
Last time, you remember, we asked and answered nine questions. Number 1, who wrote it: Paul. Number 2, what do we know about the author? Paul was an apostle, he had the assignment from God to, under divine influence, explain the great age of time that we are now in called the age of the church. He explained that in 13 letters. To whom was it written? Timothy. When was it written? About A.D. 67. This would be Paul’s very last book from Rome. Number 5, where was it written from? Rome.
Number 6, why was it written? It was written because Timothy started to, kind of like Peter, take his eyes off of Christ and look at the wind and the waves. And isn’t interesting that when we take our eyes off Jesus and look at our circumstances we begin to sink. Timothy was, as he looked at his circumstances became, as the Bible says in the book of Numbers, sort of like a grasshopper in his own eyes. And he began to waver and become fatigued in what God had called him to do. And so what is this book about then? It’s about Christian perseverance.
What is inside? A four part outline which we’ll reference in just a minute. And then what makes the book different? This is the very last words of Paul prior to his death. He knows, the Apostle Paul knows that he is being “poured out as a drink offering,” as 2 Timothy 4:6 tells us, and the time of his departure is at hand. [2 Timothy 4:6, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”] He knows he’s about to be executed. And if Timothy, Paul’s protégé fails in his task everything that Paul has worked for up to this point in time collapses, because what good is it to promote Christian truth if that Christian truth is somehow not transferred to the next generation. If Timothy drops the ball or drops the baton in the relay race the whole team loses.
And Paul sees this young man with so much potential shrinking backward in his calling, because of a number of factors that we talked about last week. And Paul is concerned, not so much about himself but about the next generation, and that’s the tone and the spirit in which he writes. So we enter, now, the first major section of the book, chapter 1; there’s four sections in this book but we’re moving now into chapter 1, which is a general call (by Paul to Timothy) for faithful endurance in the ministry, a general call to persevere.
So here is an outline of chapter 1, we’re not going to get all the way through chapter 1 today but you’ll see there’s a greeting, verses 1-2; a thanksgiving, verses 3-5; a reference that Paul makes to Timothy’s gifting; verse 6, he calls Timothy to courage, verse 7; he calls him not to be ashamed, verses 8-14; and then the chapter ends with negative examples, verse 15, and positive examples, verses 16-18, of true Christian perseverance, what it actually looks like as Paul references a number of characters that Timothy, no doubt, knew by name and in person, both on the negative side of perseverance, people that did not endure, and then the positive side of endurance, the man named Onesiphorus that did endure, and Paul explains that at the end of the chapter.
But as we begin this book, notice, if you will, the greeting that Paul gives to Timothy. This greeting has three parts: number 1 we have the sender, verse 1; the recipient, verse 2; and then also a benediction, verse 2.
Notice, first of all, this sender as Paul describes himself as the writer; notice verse 1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus.” Who was Paul? Paul was an apostle. Paul, as we talked about last time, was that apostle “untimely born.” He was not converted like the other apostles were; they had been (these other apostles) eye witnesses to the ministry of Jesus Christ, beginning with John the Baptist and leading right up to Christ’s ascension in Acts 1. Paul was different though, he was someone that was converted to Christ long after, maybe not so long after but at least several chapters after Christ had descended. Paul’s conversion came in Acts 9 where he saw a vision of Jesus, he was knocked off his horse, you remember, and at that time his name was Saul. And the Lord said to him in this vision, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” [Acts 9:4] And through this conversion Saul becomes Paul, no longer a great persecutor of Christianity but now its greatest promoter and given by Christ Himself the mantle of apostle hood, or apostleship.
You’ll notice very clearly that Paul never really signed up for this job because he calls himself an apostle by “the will of God.” What sustained Paul all of these years of ministry and all of these years of persecution is knowing that he had been called to this task. It’s interesting that you can put up with a lot in life if you feel that you have been called to do what you are doing. Paul, no doubt, had that sense and decree that he was within the will of God. That’s how he endured so much hardship and struggle and setback. And I think Paul is bringing this up to remind Timothy, this young man in Ephesus, who is becoming unassertive and shrinking back in his calling, that Timothy, you have this calling on your life as well, to be a pastor over Ephesus. It is the will of God for you to fulfill your role, just as it was the will of God and is the will of God, Paul says, for me to fulfill my role.
So “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,” notice this, “according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus.” What is another factor that motivated Paul so significantly. He was motivated by the fact that he had been given custody, if you will, over the most powerful and important piece of information a human being can ever have custody over, which is the Gospel. What is so significant about the gospel is it has within it the promise of life. Paul makes a reference to this life down in verse 10, look at that just for a moment if you could, “but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
What is the gospel? The gospel is the information a human being needs to experience life; not physical life, human beings already have that, we’re talking about spiritual life. Spiritual life has to do with a relationship with the God that made you. If we have never been touched by the gospel, believed in the gospel, then Paul, in the book of Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 1, tells us that we are spiritually dead, physically we may be alive but we have no access or relationship to God. [Ephesians 2:1, “ And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”]
But how glorious it is when a person hears the gospel and responds to the gospel by faith and suddenly they are born spiritually; the Holy Spirit enters them and they are brought from death to life. That’s a miracle of God, when that happens in a person’s life and there isn’t a source of information that you can get this life from other than the gospel. Paul endured what he endured because he recognized and he realized that he had in his hands and in his stewardship and in his custody the most important piece of information that you can have, which is the gospel which gives one the promise of life.
And guess what? It’s not just Paul that had that, you have it as well. If you have been touched by the gospel then you have the information of the gospel necessary to give to other people. There isn’t a more important calling in life than disseminating this gospel to other people. Paul went through what he went through because he was within the will of God as an apostle and because of the source of truth that he had stewardship over, the gospel itself. Timothy, you have those two things as well, Paul says, so you also must endure in the midst of hardship.
We move from the sender, verse 1, to the recipient, verse 2, notice what Paul says to Timothy, “To Timothy, my beloved son.” Paul, as we studied last week had put Timothy in charge of the church at Ephesus prior to Paul’s second imprisonment from where he wrote this letter. And it is so interesting to me that he refers to Timothy as his “beloved son.” Timothy, you are loved, you are loved by me and you’re loved by God. And one of the things that makes that verse so interesting to me is we’re not sure what Timothy is going to do; Paul isn’t sure either. Is Timothy going to endure or not endure? Is Timothy going to do his job properly or not? Despite that conditionality Paul still refers to Timothy as “beloved.”
And we have to understand something, that we are the recipients of the unconditional love of God. God’s love towards us does not come with strings attached to it. So many times in the world, either from our parents or our employer or someone, an authority over us, we think that we are accepted by them if we do what they want. We’re not accepted by them if we don’t do what they want. So we are reared in this culture and this society on this concept of love or acceptance with strings attached or conditions. And it doesn’t work that way in God. Certainly if we disobey God we miss out on blessings but that does not reduce His love for us one millimeter. The love of God for us, the love of God for you is unfathomable. Disobedience cannot curtail it; obedience cannot enhance it, it is yours because it emanates from the immutable and unchanging character of God. And how we need to understand that we are embraced by God, loved by God, accepted by God, as His children.
He refers here also to the fact that Timothy is his son in the faith. In fact, in the first letter, 1 Timothy chapter 1, verse 2, this is what Paul writes, “To Timothy, my true child in the faith:” and Paul reiterates this in the second letter, chapter 1, verse 2, where he refers to Timothy as his son. Now certainly Timothy was not his biological son, Timothy is what we would call his spiritual son. It was the Apostle Paul that apparently on that first missionary journey through the area of southern Galatia, an area called Lystra, where Timothy was from, that Paul led Timothy to saving faith in Jesus Christ. And Paul took this young man who had so much potential and he continued to disciple him and he continued to mentor him, and in fact, Timothy became involved in Paul’s various missionary journeys.
In fact, in Acts 16:1, it says this: “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” And from that point on Paul took this young man under his wing and began to prepare him for the day in history when the baton of truth would be passed to him.
So Paul always looked on Timothy with very special affection as his son in the faith. So there is very little doubt that Timothy was a Christian; there is very little doubt that Timothy was a believer. And you might think well, that’s kind of a minor point; it’s going to be a major point when we get (not today) but over to 2 Timothy 2:11-13, the trustworthy saying. [2 Timothy 2:11-13, “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him  If we endure we will also reign with Him…  If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”]
And you’ll discover, and I’ll show that to you when we get over there, that that trustworthy saying is misinterpreted by many, many people because they don’t start with the basics, they don’t understand or don’t factor in that Timothy’s salvation is taken for granted and assumed throughout this letter. More on that when we eventually get there.
But this letter was written by Paul to Timothy, his spiritual son in the faith. Isn’t it great that we can have spiritual children. We are given privileges of having physical children, some people, because of different reasons can’t have physical children but all of us can have spiritual children; all of us can invest into somebody’s life. The gentleman that led me to Christ when I was 16, I very much look at him as a spiritual father; he was not my physical father but my spiritual father.
We all have people like that in our spiritual lineage and the privilege we have of taking that and investing it into someone else and having our own spiritual children, rearing them on the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And isn’t it great if, when parents, we’ll talk about parents in just a minute, invest into their own children spiritual things, where you can call your own physical father your spiritual father as well; you can call your own physical mother your spiritual mother. You can actually overlap in that sense. Paul was not the physical father of Timothy but he clearly was his spiritual mentor, his spiritual father.
Notice the benediction, that’s a blessing pronounced over Timothy as Paul begins the letter, notice the second half there of verse 2, “To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” It’s very interesting to me that when Paul begins a letter, and most of the other letters that he wrote he says, “Grace and peace,” but when he’s talking to pastors he adds a word, “Grace, mercy and peace.” In fact, he does that in 1 Timothy 1:2, which reads, “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace” he doesn’t just say grace and peace, he says, “Grace, mercy and peace” when he’s speaking to pastors. Why does he add that extra descriptor in there? I think it’s because pastors need all the help they can get. It’s a difficult job, it’s demanding and Paul seems to be acknowledging that through the addition of “mercy.”
What is mercy? Mercy is not getting what you deserve; justice is getting what you deserve. I, frankly, am not interested in justice from God, I do not want what I deserve. I hear Christians and some people saying “God, give me justice and give it to me right now.” I typically like to move out of the way because I think a lightning bolt is going to get launched from heaven and strike someone immediately. We don’t want justice, we don’t want what we deserve; I’m interested in mercy, God withholding from me what I deserve. And what’s interesting is grace is even a step or a dimension beyond mercy. What is grace? Grace is unmerited favor, it’s not just that the punishment is withheld, now you’re given something that you don’t deserve at all. It’s not simply holding back punishment but it’s benefits that are coming to you because of the grace of God.
And is it not interesting that Paul writes here, “Grace, mercy and peace from,” and he tells you exactly where to get these things from, “from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” These commodities, if I could use that expression, grace and mercy and peace, come only from the Triune Godhead. Peace, of course, is the fact that we, as God’s people, are no longer in a state of conflict with God. Most people don’t understand this but Romans 5:10 tells us that before we come to Christ we are, in fact, enemies of God. John 3:36 tells us that before we trust in Christ and His provision the wrath of God abides upon us. [Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of the Son, much more, having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life.” John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life….] And how wonderful it is to trust in the provision of Jesus Christ and have that state of conflict, have that state in enmity called off, we are reconciled to God, we come into peace with God.
If you’re here today and you have never believed in the gospel then you are in a state of conflict with the God that made you. In fact, you’re careening on a collision course towards the judgment of God. That’s what the Bible says. But once you come to Christ and the benefits of the cross and the resurrection are transferred to you and your sin debt is eliminated that state of conflict is over.
So we have peace with God, we’re reconciled to Him, we have mercy from God, the punishment that rightfully belongs to us is withheld. And then God even takes it a step further and gives us grace or unmerited favor. I can’t think of three more important things to possess: grace, mercy and peace. And so many people look for these things in all of the wrong places. It is very clear here that they are only found from the Triune Godhead, from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Just like the gospel, which gives life, that can’t be accessed, other than through Jesus Christ. Look back at verse 1, it says, “life in Christ Jesus.” If you don’t have Christ Jesus you don’t have spiritual life. If you don’t have Christ Jesus you don’t have peace with God. If you don’t have Christ Jesus you don’t have mercy from God. If you don’t have Christ Jesus you don’t have grace from God. They are unavailable; only available through a particular source, which is God the Son fulfilling the will of God the Father, through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.
Notice, as we move into verses 3-5, notice now that there is a thanksgiving. And even before we move into this thanksgiving I think the reason that Paul reiterates these things to Timothy is to show him that he has all of the resources and all of the spiritual reservoir necessary to fulfill God’s purpose for his life. Ephesians 1:3, of God’s grace towards us, says this, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every,” not some, not a couple, He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places….”
Timothy, you have grace, mercy and peace, you have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, you have everything you need to fulfill God’s plan for your life. That’s the same for you, it’s the same for me. Oftentimes we come to God and we say God, bless me, and God looks at us from heaven and says what else do you want? I can’t bless you any more; I’ve blessed you, Ephesians 1:3, not just a few, not just 99% but “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” You have life, you have mercy, you have peace, you have grace, all of the power of God is available to you at your fingertips so that you can endure in your calling as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And it’s interesting that Paul begins this letter with a thanksgiving; he doesn’t come down on Timothy’s case, he thanks the Lord that Timothy is, in fact, in the faith. The thanksgiving can be divided this way: prayers, verse 3, longing, verse 4, and his spiritual heritage, verse 5. Notice how Paul thanks the Lord on Timothy’s account.
He says in verse 3, “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.” Paul looks at his own life and he says you know what? I serve God with a clear conscience. This is something that Paul talked about quite frequently in his ministry. Acts 23:1, Paul says this, Luke records it, “Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, ‘Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.”
Paul says I have done that, just like the greats of the past, the great spiritual leaders of the past and the lineage of my forefathers, I am at the very end of my life and I can absolutely say that with my ministry that God has given me I can look back on everything with a clear conscience. I think that’s very rare, in fact, for people to be able to do that, to look back on your whole spiritual life and say I have a clear conscience about the whole thing, I don’t really have any major regrets. And you see, not every Christian, when they get to the very end of their life can say that. This is only for the enduring Christian; the Christian that walks by faith moment by moment and depends upon the resources of God and presses into the task or the project that God has given them. Only that type of Christian can look back and say you know what, I have no major regrets, I have a clean conscience or a clear conscience.
Paul could say this at the end of his life, in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” What I hear people saying frequently as they get near death is this: if I had it to do all over again I would do this differently, or I would do that differently. Paul didn’t have to say that, and that is a benefit, is it not, to perseverance.
So many times we lapse away from the things of God and we end up suffering regret and Paul says to Timothy it doesn’t have to be that way, you don’t have to get to the end and look back with regret; you can persevere and look back with a clean conscience. Paul says that’s what I’ve done, and Timothy, that’s what I want for you as well. And Timothy, to that effect I am praying for you here in prison. Notice verse 3, “…as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.” You’ll notice that the noun “prayers” here is plural, it wasn’t just a one-time prayer, Lord, bless Timothy Amen. This was something that the Lord had impressed upon Paul and Paul was on his knees over and over again, imploring God to protect Timothy, to help Timothy, to encourage Timothy.
If Paul was anything he was a man of prayer. Prayer here, as I said before, is not singular, it is plural, and you’ll notice how frequently Paul prayed his prayers, plural, he prays for Timothy “night and day.” It reminds me of something Paul said earlier when he wrote to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, he said, “Pray without ceasing.” Are we really, the people we disciple, are we really praying for them regularly? For our own children, physical and spiritual, are we really praying for them with heartfelt prayers for God to bless them, for God to provide for them, for God to open doors for them, for them to grow spiritually the way they’re supposed to. That’s what Paul was doing for Timothy and it’s almost like Paul is saying to Timothy, don’t disappoint me, don’t let all these prayers go to waste, endure, I am praying for you. Not only do you have everything you need to endure but I am praying for you night and day, around the clock and that’s why Paul had a longing to see Timothy.
Notice verse 4, “longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.” Paul was longing to see Timothy so that his joy would be made full. When Paul says that he was expressing confidence in the fact that Timothy would endure. It’s an expression of confidence in Timothy’s endurance; if I should ever see you again I want to see you because I know that you will have endured and my joy will have been made complete and my prayers will have paid off.
And isn’t it interesting that Paul says to Timothy there in verse 4, “as I recall your tears,” what tears is he talking about. We’re not exactly sure, it could have to do with the fact that when Paul parted company with people and he had to go elsewhere after ministering to them for an extended period of time there was often weeping associated with that parting. For example, in Acts 20:37, after Paul had instructed and spent time in ministry with the elders at Ephesus it says in Acts 20:37, “And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him.” You know, there’s a mentality out there that you cannot show emotional vulnerability at all in ministry. I just don’t see that in the Bible. Paul was a man of tears, he was a man of emotions.
Of course, Christ was that way as well; the shortest verse in the Bible, although some people have pointed that out, there’s another shorter verse but what’s commonly believed as the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Jesus was a man of emotion; Jesus was a man of tears. Paul was the same way and those that he ministered to were people of emotion and people of tears. And so it’s likely that when Paul and Timothy parted company tears were shed as your mentor is moving on elsewhere and you’re left to do ministry without his assistance, that tears were shed. And perhaps that’s why Paul says, “as I recall your tears.”
There’s another possibility though, these tears could refer to the emotion that Timothy exuded as he sought to do the will of God. It wasn’t easy; it’s never easy to do the will of God. In fact, Paul is going to make the point later on in this book that those who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. There’s really no way around that. And so consequently Timothy was in the will of God, he was trying to fulfill the will of God and there was emotion and tears involved in that endeavor. And what Paul says here is so affectionate, it’s so loving, he says “I recall your tears.” I remember your tears, I know about your tears. I know this hasn’t been easy. And if Paul can remember Timothy’s tears how much more does God remember our tears?
I love the way Psalm 56:8 reads, it says of God, the Psalmist writes, I believe this is David here, when David was going through a very difficult time in his life, Psalm 56:8 says, “You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” David says I’ve been under duress, I’ve been under stress, I’ve been going through difficulty, I have shed tears and yet the Lord has captured all of my tears in a bottle and actually recorded them in His book.
The fact of the matter is God is much more tender towards us and loving that most Christians are. So many Christians have this mentality where they, if you’re going through a difficult time they just want to throw a Bible verse at you, and tell you to do what your basketball coach or your football coach or whoever told you “just suck it up and go.” And the fact of the matter is we do this often to people in ministry but that’s now how God is. God is aware of the sufferings that we go through to such an extent that even our tears shed as we seek to do His will, He has a record of those tears, recorded in a book, placed in a bottle.
It reminds me so much of Matthew 10:30 where Jesus says of the disciples as he was sending them out to preach the Kingdom, he says in Matthew 10:30, “but the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” They were sent out to go through a lot of difficulty in that first assignment that they had from the Lord; people would despise their message, people would reject their message, but Jesus reminds them that the very hairs of your head are all numbered. The world may treat you very poorly but I know you intimately; I know exactly what’s going on in your life, I know exactly the suffering that you’re going through. I have a record of all of it. And Paul here seems to be reminding Timothy of that, not just Paul’s awareness of Timothy’s tears but no doubt it’s a reminder of God’s awareness of Timothy’s tears as well.
And in this thanksgiving he reminds Timothy of his heritage. He even brings grandmother into the whole thing. Notice, if you will, verse 5, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” This verse probably is the reason I decided to entitle this message True Christian Education. How does truth get transferred, of a spiritual quality, how does truth get transferred from one generation to the next. Well, there’s a pattern, I think the pattern is revealed right here. Timothy, the reason your heart was fertile soil for the gospel is you had a grandmother and a mother that imparted to you spiritual truth constantly.
In fact, over in 2 Timothy 3:15 Paul, I think, makes reference to this. It says this: “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Paul reminds Timothy that from childhood or from infancy grandmother and mother inculcated over and over again and invested over and over again into the heart and into the life of this young, young person named Timothy.
What Scripture is he talking about here. What sacred writings? There wasn’t even a New Testament yet. He’s talking there about Hebrew Bible, we flippantly refer to that many times as the Old Testament. The Jews called it the Tanach, those refer to the major divisions of Hebrew Bible. Timothy had a father was Greek, a mother that was Jewish, she no doubt was very devout in her Judaism and her and grandmother, the two of them invested over and over again from infancy into Timothy’s life “the sacred writings” or the Scripture which is capable of making one wise unto salvation. The only Bible available, they taught it to him regularly.
And so when Paul finally showed up in Lystra on that first missionary journey Timothy’s heart was prepared to receive the full knowledge of Christ and the gospel, because an investment had been made through Lois and also Eunice. How does truth get transferred from one generation to the next? It happens through parent/child (primarily), that’s the design of God. In this case a grandmother played a huge role as well. But your most formative spiritual years come from the hands of your very own parents. God set it up this way.
This is not just the New Testament principle, you’ll see it in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-7. This is a very famous verse in the life of the nation of Israel called the Hebrew Shema; Shema is a word that means listen in Hebrew. And this is what it says: Deuteronomy 6:4-7, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be in your heart.” Watch this,  “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
How did God design it for the nation of Israel to have spiritual truth transferred from one generation to the next? It was primarily to take place within the confines of the family. It was assumed that Jewish parents would diligently,” notice that word “diligently,” just like you have to have diligence on the job. To transfer spiritual truth to your children, to our children, we must be diligent; there has to be a consistency to it. And it’s not simply talking about the lecture method, of course a lot of truth can be imparted through lectures but there’s a lot more to it than that. It says, “when you sit in your house … when you walk by the way …when you lie down and when you rise up.” Notice, that’s talking about all the activities of life, sitting, walking, lying down, evening time, rising up. In Hebrew we would call this a merism, which encompasses the outer edges of something and it includes everything in between.
God watches over me when I lie down and when I rise up. Does that mean just when I wake up or when I go to bed? No, it would include everything in between; that’s a merism, a figure of speech. So using this merism he’s essentially saying teach these things when you sit, when you walk, when you lie down, when you rise up, it would include all of the times of the day; every moment of the day as you’re with your children there are these teachable moments which, frankly, you can’t get back. There are so many days I go to bed and I regret it because there was an opportunity to teach my daughter some spiritual truth because some kind of situation in life arose and the door was wide open but you know what, I was just too busy with other things and I get to the end of the day and I say I wish I could get a little time back; I wish I could do it a little differently today. But then the Lord is so gracious because His mercies are new when? Every morning, and another opportunity will arise.
You cannot teach these truths to your children unless you’re spending time with them. All of this encapsulates the idea of time: sit, walk, lie down, rise up, in other words, being with them, being with them at all different times of the day. That’s why I’m a believer in this principle that if it is possible at all economically for your family that one of those parents needs to be home during the day. I realize that people today are under tremendous economic pressure and we’ve moved into this mindset of double incomes where we need this extra money (so we think) and we have two parents out of the home constantly and the kids are sort of farmed off to day care centers or public schools or whatever the case may be.
But having that one parent home all the time is so critical to the development of those children that it’s hard to overstate the case. That’s what this is talking about. When you walk, when you lie down, when you rise up, there are these moments that are coming where you have a chance to teach those impressionable minds, they’re like sponges. It’s amazing what kids can memorize and understand. We look at kids as if they can’t understand much but those minds that they have are like sponges, they absorb and are capable of absorbing so much. And they haven’t been in many cases ruined by someone else’s bias, and someone else’s lens, and you have with children what is called a tabula rasa in many cases, which is a blank slate. And you have that opportunity to fill that blank slate with Scripture and godliness and divine truth, not just based on what you say but what you do.
Saying it is important but following it and role modeling it is totally different. It’s one thing to tell your kids to pray and prayer is important; it’s a totally different thing when you get down on your knees with those children and you conclude the day or you begin the day with prayer. That’s not a lecture anymore; that’s an osmosis that’s taking place as they watch their own parents assign significance to prayer. There’s a lesson that’s going into that young and impressionable mind that’s so strong and so powerful and this is the way God designed it. This is why Timothy became what he became, because of this influence that he was under.
To the generation that Moses spoke to, Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Joshua, in the book of Joshua, talks to that same generation, and this is what it say in Joshua 4:19-24, you might just want to look there for a minute, Joshua 4:19-24 says this: “Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho.  Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.  He said to the sons of Israel,” watch this, “‘When” not if, “When your children ask their” Sunday School teacher… oh, it doesn’t say that, does it, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’  then you shall inform your children, saying, Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’  ‘For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed;  that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.’”
How is the next generation that never saw the Jordan dry up, how are they supposed to learn that God ever did that? How was that information supposed to be transferred? Well, to accommodate this the Lord told Joshua to set up these stones as a memorial at the place where the Lord did this great work. And a teachable or teaching moment is going to arise at some point because one of those kids is going to ask their father, (now notice it’s assumed that their father is right there to ask the question), one of those kids is going to ask their father hey, dad, what are these stones doing here? And then the Holy Spirit says now’s your opportunity, now you’ve got a pulpit, so to speak. Now you’ve got an open door and you’re supposed to tell these kids what the Lord did there in the Jordan, the miracle that he provided.
And not only that, you don’t just talk about what God did in your generation, talk about what God did in the prior generation because it says there in verse 23, “For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea,” that’s the prior generation, “which He dried up before us until we had crossed.” So this teaching moment is going to come, the kids are going to ask this question, and you go to work at this point and you tell your kids what the Lord did for our generation and what He did at the Red Sea for the generation before us.
And that’s how they are to learn the truths about God, from parent to child, from father to son, and what will be the result? “that all the peoples of the earth my know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” Once this process is at work, once this process is happening the knowledge of God is going to spread, not only within the community of Israel but it’s going to spread all over the world.
And in light of that how tragic it is to read these words of the next generation, after the Joshua generation, the Judges generation. This is what it says, “all that generation,” that’s the Joshua generation, “was gathered to their fathers,” now watch this, Judges 2:10, “there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.”
Something happened in the communication process for that generation that God gave these very specific instructions to; they dropped the ball, they got too busy. They were pursuing other things, probably the things they were pursuing didn’t seem bad in and of themselves but they were getting their priorities out of whack. And consequently this knowledge was not being transferred from generation A to generation B and what is the result? There arises a whole generation of these young people that don’t know anything about the Jordan, they don’t know anything about what God did at the Red Sea and the nation of Israel is in a 300 year disaster period, called The Book of Judges, because of it.
Beloved, that is exactly where we are today in the United States of America. You know, I just got back from a prophecy conference. One of the things I’m noticing at prophecy conferences is all the gray hair. The people that are interested are the older people. Where’s the youth? Where’s the young people? Why don’t they have an appetite or a hunger for prophetic truth. Something has gone wrong with the way we are prioritizing our lives where this truth is not being transferred.
Why is it that your average kid today knows far more about Madonna or some contemporary singer than they know about the miracle that God did to bring forth the United States of America? Did you know that this very country that we’re in is a result of the miraculous hand of God? Do we understand that George Washington was shot at multiple times, and he went home and took off his coat and he could see multiple attacks or wounds on his coat and he miraculously survived, became the father of our nation. He credited it to the divine hand of God. Why doesn’t your average child know that today? Well, one of the reasons is we’ve removed all of that information from the text books but it’s a fact of history, it’s easy to document.
Another thing is parents and grandparents are not spending time with their children explaining these truths. They don’t know anything about the founding of the United States of America; most of them don’t even know anything about the Bible; it’s incredible. In fact, there’s a little girl that lives just down the street in our cul-de-sac and she comes over and plays with my daughter, Sarah, and somehow my daughter Sarah mentioned the word God, and honestly, this is what this little girl said: What’s God? I’ve never heard that word God before in my house.
This is what’s happening. There has been a block, for whatever reason, in terms of the transference of spiritual knowledge. Paul here, and Moses, and the book of Joshua and the book of Judges, they all point to the family, because the family is the way that that information is supposed to be transferred. Proverbs 22:6 says this: “Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I realize that there are always exceptions to every rule; there are parents that are very diligent and their children make choices of their own, independent of what they have been taught at home. But it’s still a general maxim or principle of life, if you are inculcating information and even more important than that, role modeling the information you are inculcating to you children your children will reach a certain age and will start making right choices, because they’ve seen it work for mom and dad; they’ve seen what is important to them.
Why is it that every dictator, when they take over a society, and you can study this, whether it’s Fidel Castro in Cuba, Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany, Stalin, Mao, whatever dictator you want to talk about, there’s always an agenda to alienate parents from children. There’s always an agenda to take over the public schools and the public school becomes the parent. Why is that? Because Satan is coming against this ancient and divine principle. What better way to destroy the church or Christianity or the work of God than to shut down the flow of spiritual capital and information from one generation to the next.
And a lot of parents think this: they can outsource the job. What I’m going to do is I’m going to get a Christian school to do this job for me. What I’m going to do is I’m going to get a church youth group to do this job for me. What I’m going to do is I’m going to get a church Sunday School teacher to do this job for me. And let me let you in on a little secret here; the school or the church or the Sunday School teacher can only reinforce what is happening at home. If it is not happening at home the Sunday School teacher, the church or the Christian school does not have a prayer in the world because if a Sunday School teacher or a church or what have you could accomplish the job, why do we have all of these verses in the Bible about how sons are to ask their fathers.
Believe me, I am pro Christian schools, I even work for one; I am pro church, I even work for one of those too. I am pro ministry, I am pro conferences, I believe all of that, but they are no substitute for this ancient and divine principle of the transfer of spiritual light and spiritual knowledge through the home. In fact, the very first church I became a pastor of in my ripe old mid-twenties, of course I knew everything at that point, right? The man retiring from that church, he took me aside and he says I want to explain something to you: there are parents that use this church like a babysitting service; they will show up, they will drop their kids off, they will go off and do whatever they want to do, read the paper, go out to breakfast, and they’ll come back and they’ll pick up their kids. And he said to me this, he says I want you to watch what happens to those kids of those parents once those kids are capable of making up their own mind on things, once they reach the age of 14, 15, 16, where they can sort of make their own decisions. He says with almost no exceptions at all the children of those parents that use the church as a baby sitting service will leave the church, they’ll drop the church.
And then he said, by contrast I want you to watch what happens to the children of parents who not only bring their children to church, who not only get their children enrolled in vacation Bible school, and Sunday School but who actually stay at the church, enter the worship service, honor the church, become members of the church, become financial donors to the church, I want you to watch what happens to the children of those parents when they reach a certain age, fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen. They will stay with the church, generally speaking.
Now why is that? Because the first group of parents are not honoring a divine principle that knowledge is transferred, spiritually, in the home. The second group of parents are honoring a divine principle because those kids are seeing mom and dad leave and go out for breakfast and come back and pick them up. And they are watching what mom and dad really believe about the church. Don’t we say this quite frequently—“actions speak louder than” what? “words.”
See, this is more than a lecture method, this is a lifestyle of role modeling. When your children see you respect and honor God’s work through the church that is like osmosis into their minds, they say well, if the church is important to mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, it’s important to me too. But when we just drop them off, treat the church as a baby sitting service the kids will pick up on that. They are observing a lot more than we give them credit for. And you say well, yes mom and dad got me enrolled, I guess this is important but it’s not so important that it’s affecting mom and dad’s life.
What did Timothy have going for him? He had this heritage, he had Lois and Eunice that honored a divine principle and inculcated young Timothy with spiritual knowledge, not just academically but through role modeling from a very early age; from infancy you have been made known to you the sacred writings which are capable of making one wise unto salvation.” [2 Timothy 3:15, “And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.] So Timothy, if you don’t persevere you’re turning your back on your own heritage; you’re turning your back on everything that grandmother and mother instilled into you. And we need to think about this when we are tempted to sin and tempted to not endure in what God has called us to do.
Think of what God has done to get the gospel to us, not only what Jesus did through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension, but look what the early church went through. Look at the blood that was spilled by the martyrs, not just by the early church but look at the last 2,000 years of church history. Look at all that has gone on, all the sacrifices that have been made to get the truth to our generation. Even this book that we are luxurious studying today, think about how that book got into our hands. Think about William Tyndale who was burned at the stake so that the Bible could be translated into the vernacular of the common man. If we start thinking about the sacrifices that have been made, I guarantee you, if we look back on our heritage the way Paul is pointing Timothy back to his heritage, we’ll be a lot less likely to bow the knee to sin. We’ll be a lot less likely to treat the work of God and the things of God in such a flippant, casual, cavalier manner. Everything in this book is set up for Timothy to endure.
And it’s possible there could be someone here today that’s never received the life of God which we spoke of earlier in the message. The way somebody becomes a Christian for the very first time is they hear the gospel;, the gospel is called the gospel because it’s good news, it’s good news because Jesus did everything for us that can be done… nothing left for man to do, no human effort, no human word. And so we hear the gospel and we simply respond to it by way of faith which means to believe. God will not accept us on the basis of our works, He only accepts us on the condition of our willingness to receive the gospel in humility. There’s only one way to receive it as a free gift, and the only way to receive a free gift from God is by faith.
So our exhortation to you here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to believe the gospel, to trust the gospel, to accept the gospel, to rely upon the gospel, to trust in Jesus and Jesus Christ alone for the safe keeping of your soul. It’s not something you walk an aisle to do, join a church to do, raise a hand to do, give money to do, it’s a private moment between you and the Lord where the Lord places you under conviction and He convicts you through the Spirit and He says you need the gospel. And in the privacy of your own mind and in your own thoughts and heart you believe or trust in the gospel. It’s a one-step approach to becoming a Christian. We never like to conclude our services without giving this opportunity for people to believe. If the Spirit of God is tugging, doing something on your heart, you really don’t know if another opportunity is going to be yours. The Bible says do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day will bring forth. The Bible teaches that today is the day of salvation. The best you know how believe the gospel, trust the gospel, trust Jesus and His words for the safekeeping of your soul. If it’s something that you need more information on I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.