July 19, 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 just for being an open and faithful Christian
2. One young man was on Paul’s heart – who needed to be encouraged. His name was Timothy
3. And told Timothy to be a “GOOD SOLDIER of Jesus Christ”
a. 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.
B. All Christians are Soldiers in God’s Army
1. Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
2. Not Spectators, or Supervisors, but Soldiers!
C. We are in a war – an invisible war that is just as serious and just as deadly as any war could ever be!
D. It is called Spiritual Warfare
E. Yet, most Christians are not aware of the spiritual war going on around them – ignorant and dangerous
II. So, Prepare for War! (2Timothy 2:1-5)
A. I know these are not the kind of things we want to hear
B. But they are wise instructions on how to finish well as Christians and not be frauds
C. As we get closer and closer to the end of this age, we will watch more and more Christians fall away. Wear out. Get upset and quit.
D. So God wrote a manual on how to press on – it’s perfect, but not easy, yet exactly what we need to know and do, to get through every valley, and pass every test the world, the flesh and the devil throws at us!
E. Three final thoughts from this Scripture – about how to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ
3. Enjoyment - Pleasing God
III. Message - Endure Hardness (2Timothy 2:3)
A. God is talking to YOU, Christian! To “Endure hardness!”
B. Not a cruel command, but a common problem among all Christians!
1. Since we are battling Spiritual Enemies – not all problems are physical, or even emotional
2. We are battling Spiritual Fatigue – the inability to keep going
3. A common problem in any warfare
4. Paul tells Timothy to stay the course
a. The Christian race – living, doing, thinking differently than the world around us
b. The will of God for our lives
5. A Christian wants to finish their life well. We care how we live and how we finish!
a. Listen to a Christian in the first century…
b. Acts 20:22-24 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
c. 2Timothy 4:6,7 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith
d. That’s how “I” want to FINISH!
6. But it won’t happen naturally – must be worked at
C. Meaning of the phrase “endure hardness”
1. It does not mean…
a. Having just a bad day
b. Having some hard times, or doing hard tasks
c. Putting up with problems, or troubles for a little while
2. It actually means
a. To do the hard thing and keep doing the hard thing!
b. Persevering! To be persistent!
c. Persevering, even though you are stuck in a bad situation
1) Like living with a birth defect
2) Or a lot of pressure at school or at work
d. Staying on course, in spite of
1) Suffering – being in pain, in prison, losing at life
2) Scourging, whippings, imprisonment
3) Hardness describes a hard and severe labour for an extended period of time, like when going through a trial, and actually suffering through it
4) Day in and day out
5) Enduring a time when things are hard, and not changing for the better
3. In other words, Never quitting
a. Even though failing and falling – VIDEO of runner falling/getting hurt, and yet not quitting
b. Staying on course, to the end
c. Sometimes resting – taking a break, but never quitting
D. Hardness’s in the Christian Life Includes…
1. Persecutions (2Thessalonians 1:4; 2Timothy 3:11)
a. 2Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure
b. 2Timothy 3:11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
c. Paul, Timothy, Peter, James, John experienced troubles like we can’t imagine
d. Yet, they endured – put up with it
2. Afflictions, weaknesses, limitations (2Timothy 4:5)
a. 2Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
b. Afflictions are things coming at you that would normally stop a person
3. Aloneness – for so many, that is hard! It would be for me
a. That’s why I constantly invite people to work in the ministry WITH me
b. Two are always better than one
c. God sends out His servants two by two
d. Yet, when no one is there – when no one comes to help me go soul-winning, or help hoover the floors, or help preach, I have to persevere
4. Delays, defeats, discouragements
5. And yet, we are called to keep going!
E. Most of the Christian Life is Hard
1. Work is HARD – we are supposed to work! Even if it is hard work that we don’t enjoy!
a. Everybody is looking for easy work, fun jobs – no matter what you end up doing, it will become hard
b. Every book writer starts off with a great subject to write about, but after that, it is almost all uphill and hard work writing a book
c. Anything worth doing will always be hard
d. JFK said in 1961, that the US was going to the Moon, not because it was easy, but because it was hard – and believe me, over 400,000 people for the next 12 years endured hardness fulfilling that dream!
2. Serving God is hard
a. Doing what God wants done is usually going to be hard – gloing against the world, the flesh and the devil!
b. Soul-winning is hard
c. Serving people, and looking out for each other is hard work
d. Teaching in Children’s Church is hard
e. Preaching is hard
1) Listen to a page in John Wesley’s diary from 1770… He started the Methodists
2) “Sunday morning, May 5, Preached in St Ann’s church. Was asked not to come back anymore
3) Sundat p.m., May 5, preached at St. John’s church. Deacons said “Get out and stay out”
4) Sunday am, May 12. Preached at St. Jude’s church. Can’t go back there either
5) Sunday pm, May 12. Preached at St. George’s church. Kicked out again.
6) Sunday am, May 19. Preached on the street of the town, and was driven off the street.
7) Sunday, May 26 am. Preached in a meadow, chased out of the meadow as a bull was turned loosed during the service
8) Sunday am, June 2. Preached out at the endge of town, and then kcked off the highway”
3. Sound Doctrine is hard!
a. It takes commitment to Endure sound doctrine (2Timothy 4:2-4)
1) 2Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2) 2Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
3) 2Timothy 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
b. People want easy things to learn and do
c. People want easy things to preach and teach
d. They don’t care about sound/thorough doctrine and truth
e. They want entertainments
f. People do not want to have to actually think and study and learn and test!
4. Temptations are hard to endure (James 1:12)
a. James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
b. When you get tempted to do what you have always done, and you try and resist, God says He will bless you if you just put up with the temptation and NOT give in
c. Impossible without God’s help
d. But help you he will, if you WANT to endure it instead of give into it!
5. Paul summarizes it with “Endure all things” (1Cor 13:7) – put up with everything, stay at the Christian life!
a. 1Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
b. 1Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
c. 1Corinthians 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
d. 1Corinthians 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
e. 1Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth - NEVER QUITS!
6. But that’s the price of following Jesus
a. Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
b. 2Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God
7. If you knew just how hard it was going to be being married, would you get married? Probably not – but then again, being alone I think is a lot harder!
8. If you know how hard it is being a pastor, preacher, missionary, would you volunteer? Probably not! But then again, missing out on the will of God is a lot harder – ask Jonah!
F. Enduring Hardness is Worth It – at least it will be (1Corinthians 15:58)
1. 1Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
2. Do you want to know what was the last line on that page in John Wesley’s diary? After all those rejections and mockeries?
a. “Sunday, pm, June 2 (the next Sunday), afternoon service. Preached in a field, and as many as 10,000 came to hear the Gospel!”
b. John Wesley never quit
c. Neither does any man who accepts the challenge to endure hardness as a good soldier!
3. For the Christian, every problem is worth solving
4. Every soul is worth saving
5. Every limitation is worth overcoming
6. Every part of the will of God is worth doing
Why? Because souls are worth it!
Because it’s for Someone who is worthy, who just happened to chose US to accomplish His will
a. All for the Gospel’s sake – for the winning of the elect – even the hard-headed Jews (2Timothy 2:10) 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. There is NO EASY WAY to win souls, start churches, or turn nations upside down
c. Military Medic motto – “So Others May Live” – and so, many medics risk their lives to save others
G. Too Many Examples:
1. The Bible describes quite a lot of people who had to endure – God’s people do not have the luxury of getting what they want, but rather are usually suffering, and stay sweet while suffering
a. Jesus (Hebrews 12:2,3)
1) Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2) Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
b. Paul being hunted, and hated (2Cor 12)
c. Moses endured (Hebrews 11)
1) Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
2) Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
3) Hebrews 11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
4) Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
d. Joseph endured from the moment that his brothers sold him into slavery, through all the years as a slave in Egypt, and then the two years in prison for a crime he did not commit – he stayed faithful to God, and to God’s call on his life!
e. David endured the 7 years running from the threat of king Saul against his life
f. Jacob persevered during 14 long years for the love of his life - Rachel
g. Abram and Sarai endured 25 years waiting for the promise of a son
h. Job, persevered through all the depression and affliction that HE had to endure while trying to just trust God
i. Name me someone in the Bible who did NOT have to endure hardness? Not many
2. Other examples include
a. Runners, who are not just good starters, but are set to finish, no matter what
1) Pains in their side, blisters, groin pulls, hamstrings, muscle cramps are part of the race
2) So they prepare for them
3) And if at all possible, press on in spite of them!
b. Builders, who finish the job
1) All builders start off with a bang – full throttle!
2) But along the way, things get hard, and detailed, and require extra time, fixing things not done well at the beginning
3) And so few builders are complete builders – they do one thing and then go away, and leave the next phase to someone else
4) When it comes to building things, that may work, but not in the Christian life!
c. How about Marriage?
1) One of the requirements is to stay at it until death, and grow it and bless it and make it awesome
2) Everyone wants a wedding, and a honeymoon
3) But when the disagreements come, and the bills pile up, and the weight gain starts, and the health problems come… everyone would rather quit, and get someone else!
4) Endure hardness!
d. Raising your children – you have to stay at it – they are not wired right! This generation of children and teenagers need parents who will endure hardness
H. The Secrets of Enduring Hardness
1. God showed us six things already…
a. Rely on God’s Grace (vs 1) and kindness towards you – He is for you – lean on HIM
b. Walk with Jesus (vs 1) – every day, and all day! Make HIM your life!
c. Learn everything you can about being a strong Christian from the Bible, and from other Christians (vs 2) – maturity, and stability is what we need, not entertainment!
d. Share the load - Don’t just live for yourself – invest in the next generation (vs 2) who will prayerfully one day encourage US to keep going!
e. Stay clear of traps (vs 4) – NEXT WEEK
f. Do everything to please the God who loved you and saved you and purposed your life (vs 4)
2. Remember that this is not your home – this is not where we belong – this is not forever!
3. Know if you are in the will of God or not – knowing that makes enduring anything much easier
4. Hardness’s are often the will of God
a. We actually assume that God would never WANT us to have to endure hardness – but He does (1Peter 3:17) For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
b. The Good Soldier doesn’t usually seek the easier path – he/she seeks the right one, and stays on it all the way to the end
5. Rest and Slow Down at times, but never actually stop!
a. Mark 6:31 And he [JESUS] said unto them [HIS DISCIPELS], Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
1) Did not tell them to QUIT or RETIRE
2) Just to rest for a while, and then get back into the good fight
b. Listen to Isaiah 40:30,31 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD [SERVE THE LORD] shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
1) Those that fly sometimes take to running
2) Those that run sometimes take to walking
3) But none of them quit!
c. So, know when to take a break, and when to press forward. That’s why we need everybody in this church helping, so those that have been running, can slow down for a while, and you can run, and those that have been carrying heavy loads can pass it off onto others for a while, and then pick it all up again!
6. Determine to finish just as you started – by faith, and with your eyes only on Jesus. If you don’t set out to finish well, you won’t.
A. Dear Christian. How close are you to giving up?
1. On praying?
2. On your marriage?
3. On even trying to do right, and stay right with God?
4. On saving your kids and teenagers?
B. We Have a War to Fight and WIN!
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
C. Press On!
1. Heaven’s not so far away!
2. Press on! To the everlasting land of endless day
3. Press on! Through the power of God's amazing grace.
4. The time is drawing nigh
5. To bid this world goodbye.
6. Very soon we'll see our Saviour, face to face.
D. Next Week are the final instructions
1. Watch Out for Traps / Minefields
2. Seek to Please just ONE Person by your life…
E. I invite everyone in this room 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 God 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)
3. Jesus is our victory!
4. And He is the very reason why we CAN keep going!