2 Timothy 2:14-19
Often times when we hear this scripture it is targeted towards the people of God who are called into one of the the five-fold ministry areas; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and/or teachers. Each of these offices come with specific instructions: 1) perfecting of saints, 2) work of the ministry, and 3) edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). However, on today I want to suggest something that is really going to be a difficult idea for us to grab a hold of. The idea is that we have become a people who have lost their footing when it comes to “effectively teaching” exactly what the word of God is saying to the church. I know this is going to upset you a little, but hang in there with me and soon you will see the salvation of the Lord.
The text that we have before us today represents the encouraging words that Paul wrote to Timothy, who was gearing up to become active in ministry and teaching the world about salvation through Jesus Christ. As a result, this is why a lot of us classify this as the passage geared for preachers of the gospel. In spite of this classification, I want to propose a new classification: Anybody who professes Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour should read this segment of scripture since we are all called to witness to somebody at one point or another. That’s right we are all called to witness and share the love of Jesus with others. The problem that we face is in today’s society is our definition and viewpoint of witness. To witness is to be able to attest or give account of an event because one possesses (watch this) first hand knowledge of the event. So, the viewpoint of the witness should be to provide first hand testimonial proof relating to the matter. What matter? The matter of Jesus Christ being our Lord and Savior who died on the cross for the remission and redemption of our sins. However, he didn’t stop there. He went on to justify us, qualify us, and verify us before God as being co-heirs of the Kingdom through our belief in him. Watch this. Anybody that Jesus did something for in the Bible was able to prove it. How did they prove it? He changed the lives and lifestyles of the individual, which made it easy to see that a change has come over them. So, how did they witness? Can I make a suggestion? The people who saw them and how they once were met them and how they now were, and their changed, renewed, and transformed lives spoke for itself. In other words, the people who Jesus did something for didn’t have to say a word (most of the time). Their lives and the transformation thereof spoke for itself. The only time the people had to speak was when the observers asked “Who did it?”
Don’t believe me, go and look at the blind men that Jesus healed. Go and read about the man that was demon possessed and Jesus set him free. Go and read about the man who was waiting beside the pool for the angel of the Lord to come and disturb the water. Is this the only way that I can witness? Surely not! There were just as many people who witnessed on account of their petition to Jesus and his provision of said petition. Ask the man whose son was on his dying bed, yet he went and sought out Jesus to heal him. Jesus spoke it, the man believed it, the boy lived, and as a result the whole house believed. Ask the Samaritan woman by the well concerning how Jesus met her where she was, spoke to her about her lifestyle, and she believed as well as went and got others so that they could also. Perhaps one of the greatest miracles in the Bible, go and ask Brother Lazarus how he laid dead for 4 days in a tomb. Jesus spoke a word and his entire body found a grove. Everybody watching had no choice but to approve. Why? At the sound of the voice of Jesus, death had no choice but to move. What are you saying to us Kean? Nowadays, we don’t have people who are willing to become a witness through firsthand experience, rather we have a society full of hearsay witnesses. “Let me tell you what I heard about Jesus. Child the pastor said this, that, and the other about salvation. You know God did such and such for that one over there and that one right there.” That’s great, but What Has He Done For You? Did he change your mind, thereby changing your lifestyle? Did he heal your body, mind, soul, and spirit? Did you experience the transformational power of God? That’s the witness the people need and want to hear!
However, we don’t really get this experience of witnessing today. Why? Can I make another suggestion? People don’t want to hear the truth about God and the Christian life anymore. We don’t want to hear that repenting means to turn away from your old way of living. We don’t want to hear that living this Christian life requires discipline. We don’t want to hear that you cannot do what you want, when you want, how you want, and with who you want! We don’t want to hear that you have to learn how to live in the world without being of the world. No ma’am and no sir! Now, we want to hear that it’s okay as long as we believe in Jesus. We want to hear that Jesus desires for us to be rich, whole, healed, and filled while allowing you to be yourself. We want to hear that it’s okay to come as you are because this is who I am and God created me this way. We want to hear that I can call on Jesus anytime of day or night and he hears, answers and delivers right on time. We want to hear there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, because we believe it allows us to remain in our sinful or fleshy nature. Truth be told most of this is halfway true, but the fact of the matter is that there are requirements on our part that we must meet also. Let me be clear: The requirements I speak of are not so that you can be saved (meaning your actions doesn’t qualify you to be saved) rather they are so that you can experience your best life in Christ. Perhaps the biggest requirement is that of obedience. Obedience is the word that we are all familiar with but somehow we feel that it doesn’t apply to the Kingdom of God. It’s okay for us to demand it from our children, but when it comes to God requiring obedience from us it all of a sudden becomes optional. I know this is not making you feel like praising, but I’m on assignment and it has to be said.
Somehow we have switched from speaking of obedience to speaking more of sacrifice. Somehow we have began teaching that God seeks a people who are willing to offer up sacrifices and give sacrificial offerings for this, that, and the other. All the while, we have neglected mention of obedience. Please, don’t get me wrong. In its proper place there are times when God will seek and honor our sacrifices, but not at the stake of foregoing, withholding, or the complete obliteration of obedience. Why? First and foremost, his word declares that “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22). That word hearken means to listen, give attention to, or to heed by doing. Here’s my question , what happened or what conversation led Samuel to make such a statement? If you go back and read the entire chapter of said scripture you will notice that God had given a decree to Saul to totally destroy the Amalekites and everything they had, from the head on down to the possessions. Yet, Saul feared what people would say and allowed them to supersede the commandment of God, as a result they sparred from destruction the things that they thought were valuable or the things they determined to be okay as long as they offered it up to God. Question: How many times do we do this? How many times do we hear what thus saith the Lord, but still allow other people to have influence over it? Better yet, what has God told you to completely destroy, but you destroyed only a portion of it in order to appeal to other people?
I know that stung (it stung me also), but it had to be said. Now, I am convinced that this is what is meant by the topic “The truth shall make you free!” It is not your truth, your version of the truth, or someone else’s version of the truth. No! It is the truth of what God said; all of it down to the “T” without any of our thoughts, opinions, and intellect added to it. Yes, our belief in Jesus Christ and everything that he has done for us gives us access to salvation, but as we spend time building a relationship with God through the workings of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, our lives ought to evolve and our love for Jesus and everything he has done for us ought to begin to show. This is where the last portion of our text comes into play which states “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” What does this mean? The foundation that God has laid (the truth established in His word concerning who He is, His ways, His actions, His doings, etc) will forever stand true and sure. Those who profess to have this foundation should possess also the seal of approval or authorization. What’s the seal or authorization? God says that He knows them because He has the ability to look on the inward parts of man to validate whether they be true or not. However, since we do not have this ability, He gave us another way of verifying: Let those who names and believes in Christ turn away from their wickedness or evil ways.
Now, can I prepare y’all for the shout cue? In the natural, how are you able to verify whether a child be yours or not? I know we have science and technology and all that fancy stuff, but what is the most tell-tell sign? Their outward appeal: looks and actions. You have to have both, because there are some snakes in the grass trying to slither their way into the hearts and minds of people. Looks can be deceiving in that it is possible for somebody to look like you, but do they have the actions of you? In other words, do they possess the ability to behave how you would, act how you would, and/or display like characteristics of yours. Shout cue on the way! Whoever I say that I am, that am I: Whoever am I, my works justify. In other words, what you see me do should be an outward justification of the inward revelation downloaded and received from God. This is what it means to rightfully divide the word of God. It’s not just in what you teach to others, what you say you are to others, or the religious observances and appearances that you put on in front of other. No! It is all of that along with an inward conviction and inward transformation that says I’m not just going to behave outwardly in a certain manner, rather I am going to live my entire life as a representation of who God has called me to be. You missed it! Let me give you the quick and easy to digest version. Shout I’m A Witness! In other words, whoever I say to you that I am it’s not just outwardly being displayed but inwardly also. Shout I’m A Witness! I don’t act one way in public, then a whole different way in private. Shout I’m A Witness! I don’t portray this to one person and something else to another. Shout I’m A Witness! I’m not lukewarm, possessing the ability to switch on and switch off as it pleases people. Shout I’m A Witness! I’m not playing in the grey area trying to manipulate others into doing something that I don’t fully commit myself to. Shout I’m A Witness! I don’t live one way, talk another way, think this way, all while secretly being that way. NO! Shout I’m A Witness!