A Good Soldier’s Life
July 12, 2020 AM
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (2Timothy 2:1-4)
A. The Apostle Paul is writing to a young man named Timothy about being a good soldier
1. Paul is sitting in a prison in Rome, awaiting trial before the High Court of Caesar Nero – which will end with Paul being executed
a. Not for being a murderer, or a rapist
b. But because he dared to go against the flow of the world around him with the Gospel!
c. He preached against sin, at the highest levels, and said there is only ONE Saviour, Jesus, the Son of God – not Mary, not Allah, not the pope, or Ghandi
d. He called for grown men to repent, and to turn from idolatry and to follow Jesus
e. And grown men did! By the millions!
2. One young man was on Paul’s heart – needed to be encouraged. His name was Timothy
3. Paul wrote this New Testament Book just before his execution
4. And told Timothy to be a “GOOD SOLDIER of Jesus Christ”
a. 2Timothy 2:1,2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
b. 2Timothy 2:3,4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
c. A Good Soldier – what an Unusual title
d. We like titles like servant, and preacher, and elder
e. But Paul emphasises the word ‘Soldier’
B. All Christians are Soldiers in God’s Army
1. Being a soldier is not for elites
a. You know what an elite is don’t you?
b. Elites believe they are superior to other people – like the royal family, or Media personalities
2. Elites sit in their palaces, and tell people what to do
3. Soldiers are at the front lines of every battle, and do the hard work, the dangerous work
4. Christians are not special – but what we DO is special
C. We are in a war – an invisible war that is just as serious and just as deadly as any war could ever be!
1. If you have ever tried to win someone to faith in Christ, you know what I am talking about
2. If you have ever tried to battle temptation, you know what I am talking about
3. If you have ever wrestled dark, wicked, dangerous imaginations, you know what I am talking about!
4. Just try and do right, consistently, and you will find Satan blocking you and discouraging you the entire time
D. It is called Spiritual Warfare
1. The truth is, Not every illness or problem is only physical
a. Like broken arms, sinus problems, hearing loss
b. Like wars, famines, disasters, fightings, arguing
2. Some problems are emotional (problems in the soul)
3. And some are spiritual problems - Like demonic attacks, discouragements, spiritual fatigue
4. And no amount of drugs, or therapy will cure them!
E. Most Christians are not aware of the spiritual war going on around them – ignorant and dangerous
1. I aim to change that!
F. Few Christians are actually trained and ready for the ‘spiritual’ fight that they are in!
1. We have very little power with God
2. We get so few prayers answered
3. We rarely sense the prodding and pulling of the Holy Spirit – only the call of the world
4. We have no joy - only hyper-critical attitudes about everything
5. Spiritual fatigue is quite common today – less and less interest in this Book, in preaching, in doing the right thing, in winning souls, in growing in faith, in standing for the truth of God
6. Christians live in defeat to temptations and constant habitual sins
7. Yet, deep down we KNOW we are supposed to be on the offensive – on the attack – not running for cover!
II. So, Prepare for War! (2Timothy 2:1-5)
A. Five Different Modern Views on the Christian life
1. The Spectator – just watching, and letting others do the work
2. The Supervisor – well able to tell everyone what THEY should be doing
3. The Super Sensitive – all emotion. Only gets offended, and enjoys living that way – as a victim
4. The Sampler – you just barely try to do anything
a. Sample your Bible
b. Go from church to church, never settling
c. Work in a ministry for a small bit, and then get tired of it
5. Churches are filled with those kind of Christians…
6. But Jesus did NOT die so you could be any of those!
7. He died and rose again to make A Christian SOLDIER out of you!
B. Remember, you have ONE enemy, and he is a deadly killer (SNIPER)
1. He wants us to all quit – to roll-over and just die
2. And Satan will win in this realm if we do not become good soldiers in that fight
3. 1Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
III. A Christian Soldier’s Life – What We Are
A. We are Sons of God – born again into a great big family called Christians! (LAST WEEK)
1. Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
2. We are Part of the Family of God
3. A Christian Soldier has a ‘SON’ Relationship with God (2Timothy 2:1) NOT a superficial one
4. An actual, real, powerful, intimate relationship with the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you!
5. It is up to YOU to KEEP that relationship fresh, and real and the centre of your life!
a. Not something you just tack on, on a Sunday
b. But an ongoing, consistent, dependent relationship that you talk with Him all day long!
6. THAT will be a VITAL part of making you and I good soldiers in the fight
B. We are Soldiers – that means something!
1. Soldiers are people who protect nations from the enemies of liberty
2. They are part of an army that does the fighting on the ground – hand to hand, toe-to-toe
a. The Generals give the orders – the soldiers follow those orders
3. We Christian soldiers don’t sit at home and let the world go on its merry way to hell
a. We engage the spirit of the age
b. We confront the lies being put out by zillions of cults and religions
c. And especially the Fake News media and the movies and the music (DON LEMON)
1) Did you see that CNN is saying Jesus wasn’t perfect? A guy named Don Lemon boasted, "Jesus Christ, if that's who you believe in, Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when he was here on this earth"
2) Uh, ignorant of the Bible!
d. We win souls, and persuade MEN to repent and follow Christ (AT PEACE PARK)
4. That’s what we are. And that’s what we DO
5. By-the-way, ‘Soldier’ is also a verb that means to continue on through difficult times. So, to “soldier on” means to NOT give up even when life is tough, like soldiering on through difficult times and against all obstacles.
C. We Are Already Dead
1. That may sound strange to you, but it is how God sees us, and how we see this world
a. Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
b. Colossians 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
2. We are more alive than ever! Just not to this world
a. The moment a person gets the gift of God, which is ETERNAL LIFE … They died to this world
b. Our old life died the moment we got saved – we traded it in for a new life – ETERNAL life (Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
c. We have already moved on from this world, in our hearts – and have our hearts, our hopes, our affections, our dreams in a better place where Jesus is!
d. EXAMPLE: A godly pastor in Chicago in the 1850’s named Pastor Randall was dying. His vast congregation queued up outside his home to sing and just send their love to him as he lay in his bed at death’s door. One of the deacons in his church wept at Pastor Randall’s bedside and Pastor Randall asked, what he was weeping about. The man replied, because you, Reverend Randall are dying! Pastor Randall smiled, and said back to his faithful friend in the ministry, “Mr. Randall died a long time ago my friend” and then he fell asleep in Jesus!
So, no matter what we may face, we kind of don’t
At least not in the way the culture around us does!
a. We do NOT fear Covid19, economic collapse, or any of the next 20 disasters that are coming
b. We no longer fear what man can do unto us
c. We don’t even really fear death!
1) Because we have ALREADY passed from death unto life when we got saved
2) John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
e. ARE YOU SAVED friend? It is WONDERFUL to be living a completely new life
f. 2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
D. We are Guaranteed Winners
1. The Lotto has no attraction to a Bible believer! Just throwing away money
2. But we Christians? We are MORE than conquerors! Romans 8:37
3. Because of Jesus (John 16:33) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
4. We literally have already, completely won – let me explain…
a. At salvation, a believer is put into the very life of Jesus Christ
b. And Christ is back in heaven, victorious over death, sitting on the throne
c. And so Paul says that as far as God is concerned, we are already THERE in heaven (Ephesians 2:1-6)
1) Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2) Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3) Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4) Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5) Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6) Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus
5. While we are here, now, God has given us all the weaponry, and all the training we could ever need to win absolutely every fight we face – IF, we would use it!
6. So let me begin to show you what the Apostle Paul says about getting trained for battle…
IV. We Need Some Training
A. This is going to be brief – it would normally take at least 6 months of instruction and experience to learn what I am about to talk about this morning!
B. To be Any Kind of a Soldier, There Must Be Intense Preparation
1. Why do WE think we can succeed without intense preparations? Training, coaching, drilling?
2. The Christian life is no picnic – it is a war
a. It is a battle every day
b. If you think it is easy, you are not obeying Scripture
3. Discipleship and real Bible PREACHING is unpleasant sometimes
4. The Bible is often hard to understand
5. This is a fairly big book!
6. So what! Obey it! Do what it says! Live it!
7. And no matter how many times you fall, or fail, get back up and keep going!
C. Must be Trained in GRACE (LAST WEEK)
1. Every one of us need to Become Strong in Grace
2. Develop STRENGTH in God’s Grace (2Timothy 2:1), not in His Force
3. 2Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
4. Paul knew that GOOD soldiers are supposed to be strong in God’s GRACE
5. Grace means kindness and gentleness
6. Grace is the ability to put up with hardships
7. It is a different way of thinking and living, that defeats our enemy, the devil at the core (DIAGRAM)
a. Satan operates in the area of hate
b. He operates in the area of bitterness and anger
c. He operates and dominates in the area of feelings and hurts
d. He loves darkness and secrets, and old memories, and unconfessed sins and unforgiveness
e. He loves to stir up wrath, and revenge, and retaliation
f. But GOD operates in the area of praise, and faith, and rest, and humility, and forgiveness!
g. God’s grace is MUCH more powerful
8. It is the moments where God has shown you grace that you need to become strong BECAUSE of that kindness
D. Must Become Mentally Disciplined
1. Christianity is NOT something you just figure out as you go alone
a. It is not a hope for the best way of living
b. You LEARN it
2. Like a soldier on the battlefield
a. Can you imagine if a soldier was left to figure out how to fight a war without being trained?
b. The only thing that can keep him from running and screaming is his training
3. Like a Doctor in the A&E
a. Can you imagine if a Doctor was left to just make up patient care without intensive training?
b. The only thing keeping a Doctor from becoming frozen in panic at the sight of blood is his or her TRAINING!
4. Every Christian needs to learn how to handle pressure and problems, and to get the will of God done
5. It is called A DISCIPLINED MIND - Mentally able to withstand Satan’s attacks on the mind
E. How to Discipline your thoughts and imaginations…
1. Read the Manual God Gave Us
a. Make the commitment to read your Bible
1) So, Sit down and read it through, 4 chapters a day, every day, finishing it every year
a) Reading it year after year
b) I am saved 40 years, and have read my Bible through 40 times
c) You can do it!
b. Study it - don’t leave it to Pastor Craig to do all the studying and teaching!
1) 2Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2) Learn what is in it – let it surprise you
3) It has the answers about Racism, and about depression, and about money, and about the economy, about relationships, and about politics, and a thousand more subjects!
4) Start studying this Book like your sanity depends upon it
c. Jesus said learn everything He said
1) Matthew 28:19,20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe [OBEY] all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
2) 2Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses…
d. Start from the heart out – don’t read this Book for your mind only – read it for your heart
1) Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
2) Deuteronomy 11:18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
e. And make sure you commit to obeying whatever Jesus says to do in every page!
1) James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
2) Even if no one else in your home is committed – you do it
f. Your sanity, and family, and health depends upon believing and obeying what this Book says!
2. Listen to Godly Instructors
a. 2Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses…
1) Timothy sat and listened to Paul teach – for several years
2) Just as Peter, James and John had sat at the feet of Jesus and learned from HIM
b. Don’t be a fool, and unteachable! Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
c. Listen to the teachers God has given you – they are not perfect, but they are God’s gift
1) Your parents
2) Your pastor
3) The Holy Spirit of God in the quiet times alone with your Bible and prayer
4) It is called discipleship
5) The world calls it mentoring – when you sit at the feet of a master Teacher, and listen to every word and watch every move
d. Pay careful attention - All eyes open, all ears listening
1) My teachers in College NEVER let us record their classes
2) We had to be fully awake, and had to WRITE down everything he said
3) I paid HALF of my college tuition, so it was vital that I did not waste one minute of time there!
e. Watch the teacher not only in a class setting, but at the grocery shop, at the funeral home, at the hospital
3. Believe God
a. Timothy, Your experiences will constantly change
b. Circumstances will constantly change
1) One minute everything is fine
2) And the next minute your wife is upset at you, or you get laid off from work
c. Just believe what God promises in the pages of this Book
d. There is no purpose in learning this Bible unles it is to believe what it says
4. Study People’s Lives – not just the names, places, and dates, lke a history book
a. Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
b. There are well over 400 men and women described in the Bible to study and learn from so that we can fight the good fight of faith OURSELVES
1) So, Learn from Moses how to humble yourself before God
2) Learn from Peter how to fail and get back up again
3) Learn from Sarah how to work through all the doubts and become strong in your faith in God’s ability to do anything
c. AND… there are thousands of lives worthy of study from Church History
1) Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand. It’s about a Jewish Romanian Lutheran pastor living in communist Romania. He was imprisoned and tortured for Christ
2) George Muller - a great man of faith who by faith, fed thousands of orphans in England in the early 1800's
3) Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot. She tells the story of her husband, Jim Elliot and his four friends, who gave up promising careers in the US to be missionaries to a deadly tribe in South America in 1956 and were speared to death at first contact.
4) John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It tells the stories of many Christian men and women who suffered intense persecution, poverty, and prison for Christ over the past 2,000 years.
5) William Wilberforce who worked tirelessly to End Slavery in England
6) Joni Eareckson Tada, handling great hardships being paralyzed as a teenager from the neck down
7) Jonathan Edwards, a great preacher in the 1700's who saved America with the great awakening
8) The great reformer, Martin Luther
9) The great Bible translator, William Tyndale
10) George Whitefield
11) Charles Spurgeon in London
12) William Carey, Missionary in India in the late 1700's
13) Adoniram Judson Missionary to Burma, and his wife, Ann Judson
5. Take time to ponder, question and test everything going on inside your head
a. 2Timothy 2:7 Consider [PONDER] what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
b. Peter said, These are the words of eternal lfe
c. So, Ponder what is being said
1) See things from all angles
2) Words have meaning – today almost every word is being changed and ruined
3) Learn the meaning of words – don’t make things up as you go along
d. Be careful WHAT you are learning
1) Right doctrine – CAREFUL teaching
2) So much of today’s “teaching” is fancy cult materials that Christians are eating up like candy
3) Romans 16:17,18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
4) 2Peter 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
e. Most churches say things that are nothing but tripe – meaningless mysterious phrases that help nobody
f. Churches are just entertainment centres now - Promoting sensationalism
No one was supposed to just believe Paul alone…
Search the entire Scriptures!
1) Whatever someone says should be easily backed up not just by Scripture, but by careful examination of Scripture
2) Acts 17:10,11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
6. Yield to the Pushing and Pulling against your will – very important
a. 2Timothy 2:9,10 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
b. No truth is true to you until it has been tested
c. So, God pushes you beyond yourself, like a seargent pushes his new recruits
d. You can sit and gripe and complain and pout
e. Or you can yield, and attempt great things for God
7. Ask God for help, constantly
F. Pass Everything On
1. This generation does not know God at all. Who will teach them?
2. Invest what you learn in the next generation of Good Soldiers
3. God is interested in influencing at least three generations at any one time
a. 2Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
b. The Teacher (who actually learns the most, so that he can teach)
c. The Soldier along with other Faithful Men currently being trained
d. Who will go on to “teach others also”
4. That’s why God left you and me here – to pass what we have learned on
5. That’s why this church is here – to influence every generation
a. That’s why it is important to keep this church growing
b. That’s why we do Bible Clubs, and Children’s Church, and Teen Outreaches, and Soul-Winning, and Men’s Camps, and Youth Camps
c. We love what WE learned, and love passing it all on!
d. Help me and I help you pass it all on!
V. Next Week - A few more things we need to understand and start doing
A. Enduring Hardness as Soldiers
B. Watching Out for Traps / Minefields
C. Seeking to Please just ONE Person by your life…
A. We Have a War to Fight
1. Against the darkness of this world
2. Against the powers of hell
3. Against our own temptations and sins that so easily besets us
4. Against the thoughts that roll around inside our heads, that don’t belong there
B. There are Things that Everyone of Us Must Do to Soldier On
1. Have a ‘Son’ Relationship with God
2. Develop Strength in God’s Grace
3. Become a Student of the Bible
4. Learn of Faithful Men and Invest in Faithful Men
5. They enable any Christian to keep going
6. To Press On, and on and on until heaven!
C. All, so that we can please the One Who Called You and me to be Good Soldiers
1. The Christian life is not about YOU
2. It is not even about all the lost in the world
3. It is about pleasing our Saviour – doing what HE wants us to do, the way He expects us to
D. I invite you to examine yourself and see if you are a Christian – not baptized, or a member of some church, but a born again child of God
1. Have you ever admitted to Gopd that you are a sinner, and that you now trust Jesus enough to be enough to save a wretch like you?
2. The Bible says (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:13)