“ARE WE WILLING TO PUT IN THE HARD WORK?”
2 Timothy 2:14-19
CWBC – 8/19/18
INTRO – Evangelist Greg Laurie article: “Uncomplicating Evangelism.” Asks question: “What’s your biggest hurdle to sharing the Gospel?” He said we overcomplicate this thing called evangelism, & need to look at the Who, Where, Why, & When of evangelism.
WHO is called to go into all the world & preach the Gospel? Answer: We are! All of us. The Great Commission is not just for pastors, evangelists, & missionaries. It’s for EVERY Christ-follower.
WHERE are we to preach the Gospel? Answer: Everywhere. Mark’s Gospel – “Go into all the world & preach the Gospel.” Let’s personalize that & say “Go into all of YOUR world…” – YOUR family, YOUR workplace, YOUR classroom, YOUR sphere of influence.
WHY are we to preach the Gospel? Answer: B/c God’s primary way of reaching people is through other people. He could do it in other ways, & sometimes He does. But His primary plan is to use YOU & ME to reach our world for Christ!
WHEN are we to preach the Gospel? Answer: All the time! Be ready all the time. Never know when the Holy Spirit is going to open the door for you to share w/ someone.
I want to add one more: HOW – How do we do evangelism? We do it by WORKING HARD doing the Lord’s work of sharing the Gospel.
So question is: Are we willing to do the hard work? God wants to grow His Church, & it takes hard work on our part. Are we willing to do the hard work?
EXPLANATION – Open your Bibles or your Bible app to 2 Timothy 2:14-19 (page 995 in pew Bible).
2 Timothy 2:14-19 (ESV)
A Worker Approved by God
14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
2 Timothy is very personal letter from Apostle Paul to young pastor, Timothy. Paul’s final writing. Martyred for his faith after he finished writing this letter. Ray Stedman said this about 1 & 2 Timothy: [1 Timothy] has to do with the ministry of the church itself — its character and its nature, its function in the world. [2 Timothy] centers around the message that it has to convey — the great theme is the gospel, and Timothy’s relationship to that gospel. (https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/timothy)
The great theme of 2 Timothy is the Gospel, the Good News about Jesus, & Timothy’s relationship to that Gospel. It’s our job as the Church to spread that Good News as far & wide as we possibly can. God wants to grow His Church, & the way that He will do that is when His people take this job seriously & get busy doing the hard work of the Gospel. There are 3 truths that I want to share w/ you today:
HARD WORK – First of all, let’s just say it & make it clear to everyone here: God’s work is hard work. It just is. It always has been & it always will be.
- It takes time.
- It takes energy – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.
- It takes money.
- It demands a high level of commitment.
- It can be disappointing & discouraging at times.
- It is not popular or politically correct.
- Opposition to God’s work is growing more & more overt & intense.
- It can be risky & dangerous.
- It will cost us a lot, even our own lives.
Think about some of the people in the Bible who did God’s work:
- The disciples
- The Apostle Paul
It’s obvious – God’s work is hard work. BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT! When we join God in doing the hard work of the Gospel, we get to experience some amazing things!
- See people’s lives changed for all eternity! 4 men saved just this past Wed. night at Mission Byram & 2 people saved yesterday!
- See believer’s grow in maturity as they start praying, start studying the Bible, start fellowshipping w/ others & worshiping the Lord w/ their church FAMILY, & start serving the Lord!
- See broken bodies healed, broken lives put back together, relationships reconciled & restored!
- See prayers answered!
And the amazing thing of it all is that God lets US be involved w/ Him in His work of the Gospel!
HARSH REALITIES – v. 14, 16-18 – One of the reasons that the work of the Gospel is hard work is b/c of the opposition that we will inevitably face. We have an enemy who hates Jesus, hates the Gospel, & hates the Church. And Satan will stop at nothing to oppose & hinder the work of the Gospel.
Opposition outside the Church is on the rise. Groups & organizations are actively at work to discourage Christians in the workplace, in government positions, & in their school classrooms from being outspoken about their faith in Jesus. Lawsuits are threatened & filed against Christians all the time.
But even worse than the outside opposition to the Gospel is the inside opposition to the Gospel. And that’s what Paul was advising Timothy to watch for & deal with.
Satan is a very clever & devious enemy. Jesus called him a liar & the father of lies. If you think you’ve got him completely figured out, you’ve got another thing coming. His attacks against us are many-pronged & multifaceted – he undermines the truth of the Bible; he tempts us w/ popularity & acceptance; he lures us w/ the love of money; he diverts our attention away from the Gospel & our calling to make disciples; he instills fear in our hearts & paralyzes us w/ worry & anxiety; he polarizes & divides us inside the church by utilizing gossip & factions & cliques & hidden agendas.
Timothy had to deal w/ people inside the church quarreling & running their mouths in “irreverent” ways. “Quarrel” literally means, “word battles.” They were choosing sides within the church & fighting w/ each other. When divisiveness gets into a church, the result is disunity in the church, disruption of fellowship between members in the Body, & destruction of our witness in the community. Paul said that the outcome of these types of battles in the church is catastrophic. It “ruins the hearers.” That Greek word for “ruin” is literally the word for “catastrophe.”
Heard of a church that had an argument over putting up a Christmas tree in the church. One group said not to do it b/c of the pagan origin of trees, so to put one up would be to yield to pagan rituals. Other group said it was an innocent tradition that they had done since childhood & would do no harm. That group got a tree, decorated it, & put it up in the basement of church. Other group got tree, dragged it out of church. First group dragged tree back into church. Fight erupted, spilled into parking lot, & the police had to be called. The next day, the story of the fight at the church was all over the local newspaper.
Satan loves this kind of stuff. He also loves stuff like Hymanaeus & Philetus were doing, spreading their “irreverent babble” & false teachings “like gangrene.” (v. 17) He loves bringing catastrophes inside churches through division & disunity. He loves it when people inside the church are led more & more into ungodliness. He loves it when people inside the church “swerve from the truth.” (v. 18). He loves it when people inside the church have their faith upset. He loves this stuff b/c he knows that THIS is the kind of stuff that will halt the progress of the Gospel in any community. Which leads to the last point:
HEART FOR GOD – v. 15 – Handling these moments of opposition & potential disunity in the church calls for us to have a strong heart for God, to be a hard worker for God, & to be a faithful handler of God’s Word.
Paul challenged Timothy to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved.” What a great challenge for us! All of us need to work hard to develop a heart for God & live a life that is dedicated to the Lord, consecrated to Him, set apart & different from the ways the world says we ought to live. Our lives ought to be characterized by diligence & discipline. Johnny Hunt: “I have learned as a leader that most of the things I’m good at, I got there through discipline.”
- It takes discipline to get up 15-20 minutes earlier in the AM to have your quiet time.
- It takes discipline to exercise on a regular basis to take care our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
- It takes discipline to stay faithful to your Church FAMILY – faithful in worship; in service; in giving.
- It takes discipline to read your Bible, to study it, to memorize it.
- It takes discipline to learn how to share the Gospel & to do it.
That heart for God leads to being a hard worker for God. God doesn’t call us into a relationship w/ Him to put us on the sidelines. We are saved to served! We are born again to bring glory to Him by serving Him! We are brought out of spiritual death into spiritual life so we can serve Him! A lazy Christian is a disobedient Christian. When we are working hard for the Lord & doing the things He has called us to do, we won’t have the time nor the desire to get involved in squabbles & quarrels.
And one of the main things we ALL must work hard at is handling God’s Word in the right way. To “rightly handle” God’s Word means that we will cut it straight, like plowing a straight row, or cutting a straight board, or sewing a straight seam. Every carpenter works w/ the motto, “Measure twice. Cut once.” Saw a tshirt that said, “Measure twice. Cut once. Cuss a lot. Buy more wood. Cut again.”
You & I need to work hard at carefully studying the Word of God. But just like the carpenter cuts after he has measured, you & I need to go to work after we’ve studied. No house ever got built b/c the carpenter just went out & measured a bunch of wood. He had to cut it, then nail it up & frame it up to build the house.
You & I need to work hard at studying the Bible. We need to measure it & let it measure us. But we can’t stop there. We’ve got work hard at putting the Word of God into action every day of our lives. That’s how God will grow His Church here at CWBC! As more & more of His people here begin working hard at studying & obeying the Word of God, His Church is going to grow – deeper in spiritual maturity, & bigger in numbers as we share the reach out to our community more & more, & Gospel w/ more people.
So, are we willing to put in the hard work? If we really want to see God’s Church here grow, are we willing to put in the hard work?