ⅡTimothy2:20-26 “Being an Instrument for Noble Purposes”

Today, I will speak on “being an instrument for noble purposes.” In the first half of chapter two, Paul, in order to encourage Timothy who was pastoring the church at Ephesus, advised him to be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ. And, Paul advised him to remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. The reason is that whatever problems Timothy was facing, the key to solving all of them is in Jesus Christ. By remembering who Jesus is, whatever we are suffering, we can endure it.

Last week, we saw that Paul said that quarreling about words is of no value, and only ruins those who listen, and he said to warn them before God because it destroys the faith of some. There were actually people in the church at Ephesus doing this–Hymanaeus and Philetus, whose teaching was spreading like gangrene (the Japanese translation says “like cancer”), and affecting the whole body.

In spite of this, God’s solid foundation stands firm. God’s solid foundation is the church. Even if there is such quarreling in God’s church, the church does not waver, because it is God’s, and God knows who are his. They will turn away from wickedness. So even those the church faces various problems andattacks, it does not waver. It most certainly cannot waver because it stands firm on God’s word.

If this is the case, how are we to be? That’s the subject for today. If the church is those who are in God, we do not waver from that firm foundation, and must become instruments useful to God. Just how can we become instruments like this?

I. Instruments for noble purposes (v. 20-21)

First look at verses 20 and 21.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

What does “in a large house” mean? The “large house” is the church. Like in a large house, where there are not only articles made of gold and silver articles, but wood and ceramic, in the church there are different kinds of containers. Some serve noble purposes, some are made for ignoble purposes. Containers made of gold and silver are not only used for eating, but also are used as decorations. My mother-in-law had some heirlooms, and when she died my wife inherited them–a glittering silver spoon, fork, and tray, not for everyday use, but for special guests and occasions. As particularly valuable items, they are treated specially.

What would happen if these were treated in the opposite way, as a garbage can or container for leftovers? What a shame to use them as a trash can or leftover container, inconspicuously placed on a backyard porch, in some corner of the kitchen, or hidden inside a built-in cabinet. An ignoble use, inside a cabinet mixed in among less worthy articles. In the same way, there are all kinds in the church, and not all are the same, some are used for noble purposes, some are used for ignoble ones.

What is the standard for determining which is which? It isn’t having such great talent or ability. It isn’t how a person serves the church. It is a matter of how much he turns away from wickedness and cleanses himself from it.

Look at verse 21. Here it is: “If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. ”

Everyone, please imagine I have an expensive wine glass here. Would you drink from it if there were mold growing in the bottom of the glass? No matter how shiny a gold container is, if it is filled with trash it can’t be used. Before using it we’d check it to be sure it was clean. We would use a clean one. All the more so if we were to use it for a guest. Christians, God’s laborers, are the same. No matter how gifted or talented, if we are not holy we can’t be used by God. An instrument used by God, an instrument used for a noble purpose is one who has cleansed himself from the latter.

What is this “latter?” Hymenaeus and Philetus were written about before this. They had wandered from the truth, and destroyed the faith of some. In other words, instead of building others’ faith up, they caused people to turn from their faith. They were filthy instruments. You must turn from such wickedness, and become a noble instrument.

Isaiah prophesied about this. Isaiah 52:11: “Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing. Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the LORD.”

The people of God, Israel, were saved by God’s unilateral grace. They put on the garments of righteousness. All that was expected of them was that they would keep from defiling them. They were called upon to “Go out, go out, depart from them.” You have been saved from Babylon, clothed in beautiful new garments, so you must brush off the dirt and shake off the shackles. And then get out, and avoid that which defiles. You must get out of there, and cleanse your body. That’s what is worthy of a vessel of God.

Proverbs 25:4 records the same thing. “Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith.” Impurities. How do we get a good vessel? Remove the dross, the impurities. Do so, and we can become good instruments in our sleep. Now, what about removing the dross?

II. Becoming a holy instrument (v. 22)

Please look at verse 22.

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. ”

Here, Paul is teaching what to avoid, and what to seek in order to become a useful instrument to God. First, the things to avoid are the evil desires of youth. This not only means lusts of the flesh, including sexual desires, but includes sin that goes well beyond that. That’s what Barclay’s Commentary says.

“Impatience is included in the meaning. That is, to go faster and faster without knowing it, in such a hurry as to not notice when something good has become harmful.

Next, self-centeredness is included. That is, to not be able to suppress your own ideas when their expression is arrogant. And to not know how to accept the superior points of another’s ideas, be sympathetic to them, and understand them.

And there is the matter of liking to quarrel. To debate more, and do less. To spend the night in heated discussion, but to leave problems unsolved.

And, to be overly fond of novelty. To argue against a reason simply because it is an old reason, and to ardent about something for the simple reason it is new. ”

When young, these feelings more easily control us. But not only in our youth. It’s true no matter what our age. We are to flee from this wickedness. How can a young person flee from these?

It’s here in Psalms 119:9-11.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

How can a young person keep his way pure? The author of the Psalms says it is by living according to God’s word. To seek God’s word with all our heart, and live in accordance with His commands. It’s important to fill our hearts to the brim with God’s word. Why? People talk of what is in their heart, and act according to what is in their heart. So what is in our heart is very important. If filled with God’s word, our behavior will change with it.And Paul not only advises us on the evil to flee from, but the good we should seek after. What are these good things? Four are listed. They are righteousness, faith, love and peace.

First is righteousness. What is righteousness? Righteousness is correctness. It’s not a matter of just being accepted as righteous, but as a Christian who has been accepted as righteous we must seek after righteousness. A Christian must always seek to do the right thing.

The second one is faith. Faith is to trust God. It is to listen to God’s word, to believe God, and to follow his direction. Through this our faith is strengthened, and we can grow. In many cases, the times when our faith is weak we are not listening to what God is saying. Or it seems like we are listening when we really aren’t. If we give priority to our own thoughts, we can’t obey God’s directions.

Jesus spoke of this in his parable of the sower. A certain person was sowing seed, some by the side of the road, some in rocky places, some among thorns, and some on good land. What happened to the seed sown by the side of the road? The birds came and ate it, so it couldn’t bear fruit. The seed sown in rocky places germinated, but without soil, it dried up in the daytime sun, unable to put down any roots. The seed sown among the thorns was covered by the thorn bushes when they grew, so that it, too, was unable to bear fruit. But as for the seed sown in good soil, some bore fruit a hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold. The seed planted in good soil are people who hear the word of God, understand what it means, and by obeying and living it they bear fruit.

The next thing the Christian must seek after is love. What is love? I Corinthians 13 is well-known. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in envying but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (13:4-7)

We don’t have these qualities when we are born. They are God’s love, self-sacrificial love, giving love, agape love. God expressed this love to us by giving his own Son. A Christian knows God’s love, and accepts God’s love. But that is not sufficient, from then on he must become a person who lives in that love. A Christians must spend the rest of his life seeking after that love.

The fourth thing is peace. Peace is brought about by a right relationship with God, and a right relationship in respect to our interactions with others–a condition of accord and harmony. If we listen to God’s word and live in obedience to it, it will bring about peace, and if we don’t, it will generate confusion and not peace, conflict and not harmony.

Please look at Philippians 4: 8-9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever your have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

How can the God of peace be with us? Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. And not just think about them, but we must put them into practice. And if the do, the God of peace will be with us.

Do you want to be an instrument for noble purposes? Do you want to be an instrument God can use? If that is your desire, you must flee from evil, and think about what’s is true, noble, right, lovely, all that is excellent. And put them into practice. If we do, the God of peace will be with us.

There is one more important thing to consider here: what it is to call upon the Lord with a pure heart. As a Christian we can’t seek after these on our own. It is with others who have a pure heart that we must do our seeking. That means the body of Christ, the family of God–the Church. A Christian must not go it alone, to separate himself from his companions, to become distant. It may seem easier to be without any friction with others, but throughout the Bible the stress is on doing it “together.” The joy, the power and the support can be found in that companionship.

The British missionary John Wesley put it this way. “A person must have friends. Otherwise, he must make them. No one is going to heaven alone.” What meaningful words, don’t you think? You can understand that by looking at the kanji for “person”–two leaning together and supporting each other. We live by supporting one another, and cannot live alone. The faith life of a Christian is the same; we must seek after righteousness, faith, love and peace along with others who call upon the Lord with a pure heart.

III. Don’t have anything to do with quarrels (v. 23-26)

Thirdly, one more thing that Christians in order to “be an instrument for noble purposes” (21) must be careful about is that they “don’t have anything to do with… quarrels.” (23) Please look at verse 23. Here it says, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” “Foolish and stupid arguments” (23) are arguments that have no content and are just an idea. However, such “foolish and stupid arguments…produce quarrels” (23) “It is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (14) In the Ephesian church such talk “spread like gangrene.” (17) However, “the Lord’s servant must not quarrel.” (24) Instead, the proper attitude of the Lord’s servant is to “be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (24)

  1.  “Be kind to everyone” (24) The Lord’s servant is not to quarrel, but to “be kind to everyone.” (24) This is the attitude that Christians are to have. Most of the time when you quarrel both parties become emotional and excited and so from such a condition a good result will not be produced.  However, with a kind and calm attitude when you communicate with calm words, the other person’s feelings become quiet and at times the other person will listen.

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath,

But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

We are not to do something bad to someone because they have done something bad to us. Even if the other person is emotional, we are to respond with a calm attitude and with soft words. Therefore, let’s not quarrel, but “be kind to everyone.” (24) This is the kind of church we are aiming to be.

  1. Be “able to teach.” (24) The Lord’s servant does not quarrel, but studies the Bible well and is “able to teach.”(24) “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)  It may look like this will take time, but walk on the correct road. It is the most reliable and closest road.
  2. Not to be “resentful”. (24) We need to not be resentful especially towards those who cause you misery. This is a very difficult thing to do. God wants us not to be resentful. Jesus said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
  3. “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct.” (25) To instruct is to correct. However, that is not instructing with anger, but with gentleness. It is not by looking down on him, but with gentleness. He must correct with humility. If so, the cold heart that was frozen shut will by Christ’s warm love melt.

The reason why the Lord’s servant must take such an attitude is written in the last half of verse 25. “In the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” Also verse 26 says, “and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

In other words, they may be saved. God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4) This is God’s will. Therefore, we as much as possible should strive to not be resentful and have attitudes in accordance with the will of God. Paul too said in 2:10 “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” We are the same. We don’t know who will be saved so we too need to “endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (2:10) We are the same we don’t know who the elect is, but there are such people . We “must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (24) Those who oppose us we “must gently instruct.” (25) It is God that “will grant them repentance,” (25), but it is the work of the servant of the Lord, us Christians, to lead them to repentance.

This is truly the kind of person that God uses as his instrument. The instrument that God uses is completely unrelated to how splendid, or gorgeous he is. It depends upon how holy he is.  “If a man cleanses himself” (21) and flees from unrighteousness, “he will be an instrument for noble purposes.” (21)

Are you an instrument that is used by God?  What do you need to flee from? Also what are you seeking after?  First let’s begin by making our instrument ready as “an instrument for noble purposes…useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (21)

ⅡTimothy2:14-18 “A Workman approved by God”

Today from II Tim. 2:14-18 let’s look at what a workman approved by God is like. In last week’s passage Paul taught how when you suffer for the Gospel, you can tolerate the suffering. That is by remembering “Jesus Christ, raised from the dead.” (8) Jesus was born as a descendant from David.  In other words, Christ’s resurrection proclaims his deity, and his descent from David shows his humanity. The real God who can’t be seen by human eyes became man and came to this earth. Then he was put on the cross for our sins. After that just as the Bible says, on the third day he rose from among the dead. By this he publicly proved that he was the Son of God. By this Jesus received glory. However, Jesus received the glory after he had suffered on the cross.  In the same way the Lord’s worker must remember that after suffering he will receive glory.  Paul himself was like this. Paul himself too suffered for the Gospel but that was so that those who were chosen would be saved. That was so that they would be saved and would receive eternal glory. It was for that purpose that he suffered, but after that suffering he will receive glory. That’s because if we have died with Christ “we will also live with him.” (11)  Paul used a hymn that everyone in that age knew well to explain that. Those who endure will received a reward.  Today is the continuation of this, but here Paul is teaching Timothy that even in the midst of such suffering how God’s worker should be.

  1. Don’t quarrel about words   (Vs. 14)

First of all please read verse 14. “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.”

Here Paul says, “Keep reminding them of these things.” (14) “These things” (14) are the things that Paul said in the preceding passage. In other words, what kind of glory that enduring brings.  That is like a soldier who endures suffering “to please his commanding officer” (1) and is victorious. It is like an athlete that endures training and receives the victor’s crown. Also it is like the hardworking farmer who works continuously and receives “a share of the crops.” (6) Also, just like Jesus by enduring the cross and by the resurrection received the glory of God, those who endure will surely be rewarded.  That reward is full of glory and it will bring great joy. If the rewards man gives are wonderful, then how glorious the rewards given by God will be! What God gives is “eternal glory” (10) and continues for eternity. We must remember these things. We are to remind others of these things.

Another thing is we must warn others “against quarreling about words.” (24) We must “warn them before God.” (24) That is because quarreling “is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (14) Such people sneaked into the Ephesian church where Timothy was pastoring. They were teaching wrong things. Not only didn’t they “not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,” (I Tim. 6:3) but they had “an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction.” (I Tim. 6:4, 5)

“Quarreling about words…is of no value.” (14) If we quarrel, will anyone be saved? If we quarrel, will the faith of the people that hear it be built up and mature? No, rather it “only ruins those who listen.” (14) Rather than people being saved, it ruins people.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  We must speak words that are “helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) Let’s spend our energy and time for this.

“Warn them before God against quarreling about words.” (14)  Here it says, “before God.” (14) That means that it is that important of a thing.

However, surprisingly such “quarreling about words” (14) can be seen in many places. For example, some people quarrel about how baptism should be done. Baptism should be by immersion, or by sprinkling, or by pouring water on the head. When a person is baptized he should lay back or should kneel bowing forward. However, the way a person is baptized is not important but the essence of it.  If a person repents and is baptized, he is saved. I believe in baptism by immersion, but there are exceptions to it. It is difficult to immerse people who are sick. There are conditions where sprinkling is better. Some people say that then it isn’t necessary to be baptized. However, the Bible commands us to baptize. Also it promises us, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16)

Also some churches have infant baptisms. In such churches when that person grows up he takes confirmation and makes his own personal confession of faith. Therefore, when a person that has been confirmed joins some Baptist churches they must be baptized again. Of course, we don’t require that.

What is important is the essence not the method. Also we must “Warn them before God against quarreling about” (14) such words.

Of course, it is necessary to fight against any teaching that is clearly against the truth. For example, we must thoroughly confront anyone who contradicts things like the trinity, or the divinity of Jesus Christ, etc. These are things that we must take a firm  stand on. The teaching that we are saved by faith is also an important teaching. However, we shouldn’t quarrel about differing unimportant Biblical interpretations. Rather, it is important to acknowledge and accept the differences.

However that is not just faith.  In our daily lives too, surprisingly we criticize others for a slip of their tongue and quarrel. Recently I bought a computer type tablet. It didn’t arrive by the time it was supposed to. I wasn’t planning to go out so there was no problem about it being late. However, it was pass the time it was supposed to arrive so I called the call center to check on it. The person on the phone said that it was due to arrive in the morning and if it hadn’t she was very sorry. She said she would check on it immediately.

Then a moment later the doorbell rang and when I answered the door, the delivery man was standing there.  He said that he had forgotten to bring the tablet that was to be delivered in the morning so that he would go back and bring it so to please wait a little longer.

Then there was a telephone call from the call center. They said they looked into it and the person that was supposed to be delivering it had left. They were very sorry for being late. However, I was the one that should have been apologizing. I had bothered them about something that wasn’t that important. I felt very ashamed. Like this we think we are right and quarrel over little things that don’t really matter.

However, such attitudes are “of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (14) Therefore, we must be careful not to quarrel “about words”. (14)

  1. A workman approved by God

The key to not quarreling can be found in verses 15 to 18. Verse 15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Here Paul is saying that those who quarrel “about words” (14) are the opposite of what a workman of God should be.  Such a person is to be “as one approved” (15) by God, accepted by God. In other words, the workman must do his best to be approved by God. He must do his best to be a workman. To do your best is to eagerly give your all to the task before you. Workmen have work to do, and they must take pains in it. Those  who work diligently with all their soul and might, do “not need to be ashamed.”(15) However, workmen that are unskillful, or unfaithful, or lazy, those who don’t keep their mind on their work, or do it half- heartedly or don’t try to do their best will be ashamed. The workman’s job is to correctly handle “the word of truth.” (15) “The word of truth” (15) is the Gospel which Timothy is to believe, obey and to preach. Timothy must do his best to present himself to God as such a workman.

To correctly handle (15) means to cut straight. It was originally used when a farmer dug trenches straight. There were no curves, but were straight. God’s Word is also the same. There must be no waves, but be straight. It must be handled correctly. It must not be warped by human wisdom. We must listen obediently to message that the Bible is telling us and preach that.

How we can become such a workman approved by God is by doing our best to present ourselves to God. We are do our best to present ourselves as “a workman who does not need to be ashamed”. (15) To “do your best” (15) is to do something with your whole heart, with a devoted heart. We must do our best to present ourselves to God as a workman approved by God that understands correctly the meaning of what the Bible is teaching and who can teach it to other people.

I try not to preach from the same passage I have preached on before because if I preach on the same passage then I don’t learn so much. Without studying there is no understanding. Without understanding, you can’t share with other people. Therefore, the weekly message takes a lot of time. However, for me I am really thankful that I can study.

However, that is a miracle.  I originally was not good at sitting. I always want to be moving. To be moving is easier. However, to prepare 1 message I am sitting in a chair for a long time. That is a miracle! It is only by the work of God that I can sit in a chair for that long of a time every day and study which I don’t like to do either. Without the help of the Holy Spirit I would never be able to do it. Why I do this is because if I don’t, I can’t understand the Bible. If I don’t understand it, then I can’t preach it. In order to be a workman approved by God we must do our best to present ourselves to God.

Please look at verses 16 to 18. Here it says, “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Phileptus, who have wandered away from the truth.  They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroyed the faith of some.”

Here it talks about another characteristic of a workmen approved by God. That is they “avoid godless chatter.” (16) That “godless chatter” (16) is teaching that is different from the truth and causes people to “become more and more ungodly” (16) and causes them to wander “away from the truth.” (17) This “teaching will spread like gangrene.” (17)  Strange and bad topics spread faster than good topics.  The Bible compares bad things to yeast. Just like only just a little yeast causes all the dough to rise, such teaching spreads throughout the body of Christ, the Church, and destroys it.

Here the names of two people “Hymenaeus and Phileptus” (17) are specifically given. Hymenaeus was mentioned by name in I Timothy 1:20 too as having shipwrecked his faith. Such “godless chatter” (16) spreads “like gangrene.” (17)

Their mistake was that they “wandered away from the truth.” (17) They said “that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroyed the faith of some.” (18) They broadcasted to everyone that the resurrection was not a bodily resurrection and that there is only a spiritual resurrection. They interpreted the resurrection allegorically, not literally. They claimed that to rise from the dead is unthinkable so it is stupid to believe in the resurrection. However, the resurrection that the Bible teaches is that when Jesus comes again, our bodies will in reality change into an imperishable glorious body. “The dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (I Thess. 4:16,17) Just as this says this will actually happen. It isn’t just a spiritual resurrection. Please look at I Cor. 15:51 and 52. Here it says, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

When the Lord comes again our bodies “in a flash” (I Cor. 15:52) will be changed into an imperishable glorious body. “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” (I Cor. 15:53, 54) Like this the Bible clearly promises us that we will be given an imperishable body. Therefore, a workman approved by God avoids “godless chatter”. (16) We must be careful that such people don’t enter the flock.

  1. God’s solid foundation (Vs. 19)

Let’s look at verse 19. “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’”

“Nevertheless” (19) is even though the false “teaching will spread like gangrene” (17) and some people wander “away from the truth.” (18) “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’”(19) There were people in the Ephesian church that taught false teachings. Such people drew the devout to themselves so many people got caught up in it and “wandered away from the truth.” (18)  “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm.” (19) God’s firm foundation is the church. It is a firm foundation.  It will never be shaken. It is a foundation laid by God. It is God’s church. No matter what happens “God’s solid foundation” (19) won’t be moved. Even if false teachings come into it, even if the teachings stir up the church, the church will definitely not be shaken up. That’s because the church is “God’s solid foundation” (19) established by Christ.

Please open your Bibles to Matthew 16:18. Here Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” In this passage Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15)

Peter confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16)

Peter made the right confession. However, Jesus said that he didn’t make the confession by his own ability to understand, but it was revealed to him by God. He said that he would build his church upon that confession “and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18) It is built upon a firm foundation. That is what the church is. If the church was started by a person, no matter how grand it is, it will perish.  Man is unstable. However, God is different. Even if the heavens and earth perish, God’s Word will never perish. Everything will be fulfilled. It is that definite. Therefore, God’s church that was started by God no matter what will “stand firm.” (19) Even if false teachings enter the church, even if a huge problem occurs, the church will continue to “stand firm.” (19)

“God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with” (19) two inscriptions. One is ‘The Lord knows those who are his.” (19) The other one is “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (19) Both of these are words quoted from the event of Korah and his sons in Numbers chapter 16. If you look at them in the light of Jesus words I think you can understand well.

Now we can’t look at this in detail, but William Barclay, a Bible commentator explains these two inscriptions so I’d like to introduce what he says.

The first is a reminiscence of a saying of Moses to the rebellious friends and associates of Korah in the wilderness days. When they gathered themselves together against him, Moses said: “The Lord will show who is his” (Num.16:5). But that Old Testament text was read in the light of the saying of Jesus in Matt.7:22: “Many will say to me in that day, `Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, I never knew you: depart from me you evil-doers.” The Old Testament text is, as it were, retranslated into the words of Jesus.

The second is another reminiscence of the Korah story. It was Moses’ command to the people: “Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs” (Num.16:26). But that, too, is read in the light of the words of Jesus in Lk.13:27, where he says to those who falsely claim to be his followers: “Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity.”

Two things emerge. The early Christians always read the Old Testament in the light of the words of Jesus; and they were not interested in verbal niceties, but to any problem they brought the general sense of the whole range of scripture. These are still excellent principles by which to read and use scripture.

The two texts give us two broad principles about the Church:

The first tells us that the Church consists of those who belong to God, who have given themselves to him in such a way that they no longer possess themselves and the world no longer possesses them, but God possesses them.

The second tells us that the Church consists of those who have departed from unrighteousness. That is not to say that it consists of perfect people. If that were so, there would be no Church. It has been said that the great interest of God is not so much in where a man has reached, as in the direction in which he is facing. And the Church consists of those whose faces are turned to righteousness. They may often fall and the goal may sometimes seem distressingly far away, but their faces are ever set in the right direction.

The Church consists of those who belong to God and have dedicated themselves to the struggle for righteousness.” ( William Barclay, Commentary of I Timothy, II Timothy, and Titus, “II Timothy 2:19”)

“The Church consists of those who belong to God and have dedicated themselves to the struggle of righteousness.” (Barclay) Therefore, even if they fall and the goal may seem far away, even if something is distressing, even so, their faces are always facing the goal. Therefore, no matter what happens to God’s church, it is not shaken. Let’s believe this promise of God and let’s reconfirm that we belong to God and that we have dedicated ourselves to the struggle for righteousness, and move forward aiming for the goal of God.

ⅡTimothy1:1-7 “Fan into flame the gift of God”

From today on let’s look at the second letter to Timothy. This is the last letter that Paul wrote. It is thought that he probably wrote it around 66 A.D. just before Paul’s martyrdom. At this time Paul was shut up in the Roman underground prison. If you look at Acts 28:30 and 31, Paul who had come to Rome “for two whole years…stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” After this he was temporarily set free and he went as far as Spain preaching the Gospel. Then when he returned again to Rome, he was arrested by the Roman emperor Nero and was shut up in the Roman underground prison. The place was a poor environment made of carved out rock and no sunlight came in at all. Under such conditions Paul who knew that his time of death was near wrote this letter to his disciple, Timothy.  He really wanted to talk to him in person, but in his situation that didn’t seem possible so he wrote this letter telling what he really wanted to say. These last words of Paul were written with his death right before his eyes so they really carry considerable weight. He wrote what he really wanted to say badly. What was it that Paul really wanted to say?

Already we have seen some things in the first letter that he wrote to Timothy. In today’s passage Paul is advising not to become timid. Please look at chapter 1 verse 6. Here it says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Apparently Timothy was timid and lacked confidence.  This may have come from him being young and so he may have lacked confidence in his relationships with the elders. It also may have come from the troubles and anxiety of dealing with false teachers. Even though the reason is not clear, it is apparent that a lack of confidence was a serious problem for Timothy.  The flame of “the gift of God” is about to go out. Paul is warning Timothy that that must not happen. “The gift of God which is in” (6) Timothy “through the laying on of” (6) Paul’s hands must not become cold. It must be fanned into a flame again. That is because “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (7)  Today let’s look at three aspects of how we can overcome fear and “fan into flame the gift of God.” (6)


  1. The promise of life has been given (Vs. 1,2)

First please look at verses 1 and 2. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my dear son:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Here Paul says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” (1) He didn’t become an apostle because he thought he would become or wanted to be an apostle. He became “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” (1) Everything is “by the will of God.” (1) If we know that then we don’t fall into complaining and dissatisfaction or self-pity.  For Timothy the pastorship of the Ephesian church was extremely difficult. However, it was “by the will of God” (2) that he became the Ephesian Church pastor. If you know that what you are doing is “by the will of God” (1) then you can certainly overcome the difficulties and moreover, you can be thankful.

Also here it says that Paul became an apostle “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” (1) This is according to the promise of eternal “life that is in Christ Jesus.” (1) Those who believe in Jesus Christ are promised eternal life. If we believe that then there is no need to fear anything. We go this way and that way according to what is before us because we think that the things of this world are everything.  However, if we look to heaven, “according to the promise of life” we can overcome all difficulties.

Paul says the following in II Corinthians 4:16 to 5:9: “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened. Because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

Paul says here, “our light and momentary troubles”. (II Cor. 4:17) Really they are not “light and momentary troubles”. (II Cor. 4:17) They are very heavy! However, when they are seen from the perspective of eternity, these difficulties diminish in importance and weight. The eternal glory “far outweighs them all.” (II Cor. 4:17) Those who believe in the Savior Jesus Christ are promised this “eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (II Cor. 4:17) That is “an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (II Cor. 5:1) Now certainly on this earth while we are in this earthly body we carry many kinds of loads and groan, but when in the course of time there will come a time when our physical body will perish and at that time we will enter into our “eternal house in heaven”. (II Cor. 5:1)

Paul accepted this at face value. Therefore, no matter what happened he was not moved. Even though he was tortured from all sides, he never reached the end of his rope. That was because he believed that even if he died, living life, eternal life, would be given to him.

Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ, who is in Christ, will live, even though he dies. Of course Christian’s bodies will perish, but their souls will definitely not die.  For Christians death is like moving.  We move from this earth to heaven. This is a much more wonderful place than this earth. It’s more wonderful than Hawaii! It is so much more wonderful that it is incomparable. That is the eternal kingdom in heaven. In the course of time when Christ comes again we will receive an unperishable spiritual body and for eternity praise and worship the Lord. Our physical body becomes tired, sick, commits sin, and groans a lot from being far from perfect. However, the body that we will receive in the course of time is imperishable, a perfect body. We will receive such a body.  Therefore, for Christians death is something to look forward to, something that we can hardly wait for. Of course, there is the loneliness of being temporarily away from our families on this earth, but we know that in the course of time we will be able to meet again in heaven so we can overcome that sadness.

In general when we say that a person has died, we say that “he passed away”. However, for Christians he hasn’t “passed away”, but he has only just “moved away”. He has moved from this earth to heaven.  Now he is living in heaven. For Christians death is only the entrance to the glorious heaven. On this earth the last moment is linked to the first moment in heaven. When we close our eyes for the last time on this earth, in the next moment when we open our eyes we will see Jesus’ face. That is Paradise. Therefore, it is only natural that we would want to go to heaven. Paul said, “I desire to depart and be with Christ.” (Phil. 1:23) I can understand his feelings. This promise of life is given to all Christians.

We want a better life, to be richer, to have fun, to enjoy life, a life without any inconveniences. We want to be healthier, more beautiful, and have a more enjoyable life. Of course, to think like this is not bad, but if you obsessed with it, you uselessly waste money, time and strength. However, if we know not only about life on this earth, but also that eternal life has been given to us, it is no longer necessary for us to dwell upon such a manner of living. At the time Paul wrote this letter he was shut up in the Roman underground prison. Even though he was in such a poor environment, he was thankful from his heart to the Lord. That was because he believed in the promise of eternal life. All is in the will of God. To live and to die is all in the hands of God. If we know that even if we die that a living life has been given to us, then that is also gain. Therefore, we can put all in God’s hand. “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) Therefore, it is not necessary for Christians to worry about anything. To be alive in this world in and of itself is thankfulness. To die is also Hallelujah! That’s because we know we are going to heaven. Paul is trying to tell Timothy this.


  1. Night and day you are remembered in prayer (vs. 3,4)

The second point is about prayer.  Please look at verses 3 and 4. “I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.  Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.”

Paul constantly remembered Timothy in his prayers both at night and day. Paul was in an underground prison so he may not have known when it was day or when it was night. However, in any case, he was always praying for Timothy. For Christians there is no greater encouragement than intercessory prayer. Paul knew well Timothy’s personality and also the situation he was in so it wasn’t just customary prayer, but he could pray from his heart seeking God’s help. Even though he was in the prison, even if he was tied by chains, he could pray. Not only that, but Paul’s personal prayers were night and day, 24 hours a day. He constantly remembered Timothy. How great an encouragement that was for Timothy!

Now he is in heaven, but Rev. Kuester who was the pastor of the Calvary Baptist church of Gardena that sent out my wife to Japan in 1979 always remembered us in prayer. Several years after Rev. Kuester retired when we visited in his home in Oakhurst near Yosemite. Rev. Kuester brought out a really worn out paper asking whether or not any of the prayers requests had been answered or not and if we had any new requests. The paper was a monthly prayer calendar that my wife had made many years ago when we gave a report at Calvary Baptist church of Gardena when Rev. Kuester was still pastoring there. Rev. Kuester had been praying for us every day with that calendar for years! We realized how much we were supported by prayer! That was such an encouragement for us!

However, what we must not forget that more importantly Jesus Christ is praying for us. Please open your Bibles to Romans 8:34. “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Jesus Christ is sitting “at the right hand of God and is also interceding for” (Romans 8:34) you.

Also let’s open our Bibles to Hebrews 7:24 and 25. Here it says, “But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” A priest is a person that intercedes for us. Christ as a priest that “lives forever” (Hebrews 7:24) and is alive now too, lives to intercede for us.

Verse 4 says, “Recalling your tears.” Jesus recalls your tears. Just as Paul knew Timothy so well, rather more than that, Jesus knows you well and “Recalling your tears” intercedes for you.

In ancient Christianity there was a great theologian named St. Augustine. Until he was saved at the age of 33 he led a pretty terrible life. His mother was a Christian, but to her dismay Augustine left the church and became an active follower of a pagan religion called Manichaeanism. At about the age of 19, Augustine began an affair with a young woman in Carthage. The woman remained his lover for over thirteen years and gave birth to his son, Adeodatus. The person whose heart ached over this was his mother, Monica, who was a Christian. She prayed endlessly for her son. She prayed, and prayed, and prayed.  She was greatly encouraged by a certain holy bishop. He saw Monica praying with tears and consoled her with the now famous words, “the child of those tears shall never perish.” Monica ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity after 17 years of resistance. He was baptized in April when he was 33 years old.  His mother, Monica, died that year in the Fall. Truly because of his mother’s prayers the great theologian of the ancient church, St. Augustine was born.

Jesus Christ recalls your tears. He knows you well and even now is praying for you. There is no greater encouragement than this.

There is a Japanese Christian song called “Don’t forget”. The words of the song are: Don’t forget that always Jesus is watching over you. Therefore always keep a smile in your heart.

However, someday a violent storm will blow away your smile. Therefore always let the Word of God slip out from your heart.

Don’t forget that the night of sadness will change to the hope of morning to quickly get back your constant smile.

Don’t forget that Jesus is praying for you. If so then you will receive courage and strength and no matter how violent of a storm comes upon you, you will be able to overcome and can have joy and peace in your heart. If the Word of God doesn’t slip out of your heart, the night of sadness will change to the hope of morning.


  1. You have been given a sincere faith (Vs. 5-7)

The third point is to remember that you have been given a sincere faith. Please look at verse 5. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded now lives in you also.

Here Paul is reminded of Timothy’s faith.  The reason that Paul is reminded of Timothy’s faith is as verse 6 says, “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,” by being reminded of his faith Paul wanted to encourage Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) once again. Then Paul says that Timothy’s faith is a “sincere faith.” (5) This “sincere faith” (6) is a real faith. Paul is saying that therefore, Timothy must stand on that faith. That is because this faith will help him overcome his difficulties. There is a saying, “Remember your original intention.” When we walk in faith various unimportant things get stuck on our faith and without notice we become separated from this pure faith. Our pure faith falls into impure faith. However, if we stand in pure faith we can “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) again. We won’t have to worry about the various voices around us, and just stand firmly on the pure faith that the Lord has given us.

Let’s look at how Timothy was given pure faith.  Here it says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded now lives in you also.” (5) It lived in his grandmother and mother and that faith was passed down to Timothy. Probably they entered into the faith when Paul went to Lystra on his first missionary trip. The family was brought up and supported well by that faith. Therefore when Paul visited Lystra the second time Timothy joined the ministry. Timothy’s mother, Eunice was a Jewish Christian and his father a pagan Greek. Even in the midst of this he made the Gospel of Christ an important part of his life. “Lois” means “a person that gives a good feeling” and “Eunice” means “a good victory”. Timothy’s family through the Gospel of Jesus Christ was given a good feeling and victory. From this a pure faith grew up.

From this we can see how important it is to pass down the faith. So that a pure faith like Timothy is grown up we need to think once more about what faith in the family should be like. Then since such a pure faith is given we must continue to stand on it. If so, we will not be shaken up by circumstances, but by receiving God’s help and power we can rise up.

Please look at verse 6. Here Paul says, “For this reason I remind you.” “For this reason” (6) is referring to the contents of verse 1 and on. In other words, it is that the promise of eternal life has been given to Timothy. It is also that Timothy is being prayed for day and night. Also he has been given a pure faith.  Therefore, he must “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) again. The flame is about to go out because Timothy had forgotten to fan it. He had been depending on his own knowledge and power rather than God’s knowledge and power. Rather than being God centered he had been pastoring by human opinion. The real solution can be brought by God only. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (7) By God’s Spirit we can “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) and can work with confidence and power.

In what areas do you lack confidence? Work? Health? Human relationships? Financial? We have many kinds of fear. However, such fears cause the “gift of God” (6) to burn out. Who you must fear is God who has power to throw your soul into hell. We must fear God. If you fear God, then there is nothing to be fearful of on this earth. Paul wasn’t fearful before the Roman emperor Nero. That’s because he knew what God had given him. That was not “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (7) “Self-discipline” (7) includes an ability to make calm decisions. Here Paul says, “For God did not give us.” (7) “Us” (7) also includes Paul himself. Such things were given to Paul so he was not fearful.

This can be said of us too. We too have been given “a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (7) Therefore, it is not necessary to be fearful of anything. Rather, let’s pray seeking the power from above and that the flame of love will burn more and more. Also then while examining all of our actions by a calm knowledge, let’s “fan into flame the gift of God” (6) This is what Paul with martyrdom right in front of his eyes wanted to say so badly.