“HOW TO LIVE AS A CHRISTIAN IN THE USA” 2 Tim. 4:1-5
INTRO – Sermoncentral video – Ronald Reagan: “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we are a nation gone under.” I wonder sometimes if we have gotten to that point in our nation now.
Franklin Graham continues to crisscross our nation with the Decision America Tour, leading massive prayer gatherings at every state capitol in the nation. On March 29, he stood on the steps of the Utah state capitol in Salt Lake City & said, “America is being lost. Our nation is in great trouble, & it’s in trouble b/c we have taken our eyes off God.”
We can’t expect those who don’t know Christ to put their eyes on God. I don’t care how many times we say “In God We Trust,” & “One Nation Under God.” Mama always said that you’ve got to let lost people act like lost people.
But, what about us? What about the Church? What about those of us who DO know Christ as our Savior? What can we do to show that we truly do trust in God? What can we do to help our nation truly become a nation under God’s rule & reign? How are we to live as Christians in the United States of America? While there are a whole lot of things that have changed in our nation, there are some things that have not changed for us Christians. And, the one thing that will NEVER change is the Word of God! And THAT’S where we find our instructions & get our marching orders for how to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ in a nation that is moving farther & farther away from Him. Paul charged Timothy with some very specific directives. That means that he warned him about these things, & reminded him of his responsibilities as a Christ-follower. It was almost like a general giving his final commands to his troops. Let’s look at this passage & discover…
3 things that every Christian in the USA is charged to do:
Evangelize – v. 2 – NAMB tells us that there are 259 million people in the US & Canada who do not have a personal relationship w/ Jesus Christ. So, obviously, the Church still has a lot of work to do. Clayton Jennings is preaching his heart out nearly every night in venues all across our nation & seeing thousands of people come to faith in Christ. There’s a young evangelist named CT Townsend who is started a revival meeting at a church in Burlington, NC, 8 weeks ago. They’re still going! Have moved to a big tent outdoors. Thousands are coming – over 500 have prayed to receive Christ! Franklin Graham is working hard to call the church to repentance & action. Praise God for what these men are doing!
But those guys are just 3 men in a nation of millions of people. And while they are passionately preaching the Gospel all across our land, they can’t do it all.
EVERY Christian in the United States of America has got to commit or recommit himself/herself to being a witness for the Lord Jesus. EVERY Christian needs to faithfully, regularly, obediently “preach the Word.” The word for “preach” in v. 2 means “to announce publicly; to proclaim w/ the goal to persuade; to urge; to warn to comply.” It’s not a word that is just reserved for those of us who are vocational ministers; it’s for every Christ-follower. It’s the job of EVERY Christian in the USA to preach the Gospel & evangelize the lost.
It’s time for EVERY Christian in the USA to quit some things & start sharing the Gospel:
- Quit giving in to the enemy’s lies that you can’t do this
- Quit giving in to the thought that “Nobody is going to want to listen to me b/c I don’t have a flashy testimony.”
- Quit giving in to fear of rejection & ridicule
- Quit giving in to complacency & just plain old laziness, or that it’s just not convenient – “Be prepared in season…”
- Quit giving in to the thought that someone else will do it
- Quit giving in to an unwillingness to even try to learn how to share your faith
- Quit giving in to the false idea that we don’t need to witness to people b/c we won’t have the opportunity to disciple them
- Quit giving in to the belief that we don’t need to evangelize people b/c they’re going to come into a relationship w/ Jesus whether we witness to them or not
Everyone has their place in the Body of Christ. We are going to talk more in depth about that over the next few weeks when I preach on spiritual gifts. But, sometimes, we use that as a reason to not witness & evangelize the lost. “Well, I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” “I’m more of a teacher.” “I’m more into discipleship than evangelism.” Truth is that, while everyone DOES have their place in the Body, everyone in the Body has the responsibility to evangelize.
Expect – v. 3-4 – Whether people want to hear it or not, or believe it or not, Truth demands a response. When we are preaching & sharing the truth of the Gospel, it causes the hearers to make a decision about what they are going to do w/ what they’ve heard. Excuses are removed; opinions don’t matter; truth demands either obedience or defiance.
We can expect that there will be some joyous times when people respond to the Gospel in obedience & faith & truly trust Christ alone to save them. Had the privilege of leading a 30 yr-old young lady to Christ just this past week. We also saw about 10 kids in VBS pray to receive Christ. Every fisherman knows that you’ve got to go fishing if you expect to catch fish. Fish in different ponds & lakes. Use different rods, lines, lures, & baits. Sometimes fish from the bank, sometimes off a pier, sometimes in boat. So we can expect that when we keep fishing, we will surely catch some fish.
But Paul makes it clear in these verses that we can expect some other experiences as we share the Gospel in our world. People in our society have a great appetite for error instead of truth. So when we share the Gospel, we can expect these things:
- Expect resistance – v. 3a – “The time will come when people will not put up w/ sound doctrine…”
- Expect rejection – v. 3b – “…Instead…”
- Expect rebellion – v. 4
Isa. 30:9-11 – “…these people are [rebellious people] who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions. They tell the seers, ‘Stop seeing visions!’ They tell the prophets, ‘Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your ‘Holy One of Israel.’” (NLT)
Endure – v. 5 – “But, you…” – When you are faced w/ those who are resisting, rejecting, & rebelling, “keep your head in all situations.” Stay alert to false teaching, wrong beliefs, & evil forces.
And, endure! Withstand the troubles that WILL come & WILL increase. Persecution, hard times, & difficulties are going to come. Look at 2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3; 3:12.
“What we really need—and what God really wants—is endurance. Enduring means you do not think anything is more important than your faith, and no one more significant than Christ. Fix your eyes on him. Keep running. To the end.”
The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit.
Our goal as Christians in the USA is to endure all the way to the end, to finish our race w/ the torch of our faith & the flame of the Gospel still burning brightly in our lives.
 Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 317). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.