II Timothy 3:10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
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.
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
We hear more and more about the importance of community at this time. With the illegal and ungodly dictates people are being encouraged to work together more to supply food, etc.
One community that is most important and yet greatly neglected is the local church. That is where true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ gather for spiritual food and also for fellowship. In our text we see that this was important in the first century. It is still important today. It is in the local church and with other faithful saints that we learn true doctrine and we see it lived out in accordance with God’s Word.
Paul had spent many hours with Timothy and Timothy had observed Paul’s teaching. He knew what Paul was teaching. He knew that his teaching was from God.
Timothy had also observed how Paul lived. He knew that Paul was a humble servant of the Lord. He did not seek to exalt himself. He had learned how to be patient with those who despised him. He had faced much opposition but he continued to trust in the Lord in the midst of all of that. Timothy also knew why Paul was doing what he was doing. He was not in it for the money. He was not in it to become popular. He suffered much for standing true to God. Paul’s steadfastness was due to his faith in the true God. It is sad to see how some people who once claimed to be faithful to the Lord, seem to throw it all away for the sake of keeping their wayward children happy. The challenges of life will show who a person truly is. They do not care if their children end up in hell. As long as they can keep everybody happy, that is all that matters. Truth is immaterial, in fact, truth seems to be a dangerous thing.
Paul was a man of true faith. He believed in the true God. It cost him friendships. It cost him his health. It cost him his mobility. However, he drew closer to God through it all and as we see in chapter 4, he had a confidence that was based on truth, not on fiction.
Timothy had also observed Paul’s longsuffering. He went back to cities that dragged him out and stoned him and left him for dead. He was willing to address those who tried to kill him. His life was a true testimony of someone who was saved. His charity and patience were also well known to Timothy. What God directed Paul to write here was a reminder to Timothy, that he knew enough about Paul to know that he was genuine. He was not like the Judaizers or the Roman government. He was not living for himself. He was not trying to get rich. He was seeking to honour God in all things. Because of that he faced persecution and he also faced afflictions.
Paul even mentioned some of the places where he faced these different things. In all of the difficulties that Paul faced, the Lord delivered him. Yes he suffered injuries, but the Lord delivered him from them all. He was still alive and he was still serving the Lord faithfully. Timothy had no reason to draw back. He needed to grow in his faith in the Lord and toughen up like a good soldier, to the challenges that every true child of God will face.
In verse 12 Paul reminded Timothy that every true child of God will face persecution. Over the past number of years this has not been very visible in Canada. North American Christianity is a very compromised Christianity. New Evangelicalism has dominated in much of the religion of the West. Then there is also the ecumenical movement which also teaches the importance of unity at the expense of the truth. Doctrines have been changed or discarded for the sake of getting along and not causing division.
Years ago I was interviewed for the position of pastor in a church. I was rejected because of my position on Biblical separation. One of the men who was leading the interview stated that we do not want to stir the pot. They liked the way things were and they did not want to face persecution. I am not looking for trouble. I am not looking for persecution. However, Paul was directed to remind Timothy here that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution. We do not need to look for persecution. We need to expect it if we live godly in Christ Jesus. That is what God says. Jesus Christ faced persecution while on this earth. Even His closest friends, His disciples, abandoned Him at His trial. It was as if no one on earth believed in Him at that time. However, He was right then and is still right now.
Paul also faced a time when he was left alone.
II Timothy 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
The next verse reminds us that the Lord did not forsake him. That is what matters. In Matthew 7:23 we read of men of whom the Lord will say: “I never knew you, depart from me ye that work iniquity.” That is of far greater concern than if men choose to abandon the Lord or the Lord’s servants. As we noted already, Paul was faithful to the Lord. Timothy needed to understand that life may get lonely for the flesh. However, the true child of God needs to come to understand that the most important thing is to know that the Lord is with him or her. If the child of God has that true walk with the Lord, then they will be sustained and blessed by the Lord even when it seems no man wants to support them.
It is a blessing that God is truthful at all times. No true saint needs to be surprised by what happens to them. What is important is to value that which is eternal.
Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
True Christians are not living in a make-believe world. They are living in the real world. Lost people are trying to develop a make-believe world that does not bring satisfaction. John Lennon sang a song where he encouraged people to imagine things that will never happen. He was living such an imaginary life that he was shot and killed by someone who was also imagining things that led to his act of murder. You cannot bury your head in the sand and make up your own reality. Get up, wake up and look at life as it really is. However, you need to do that as a child of God. Otherwise you will faint and fail. Trusting in the Lord will give you the stamina needed to press on for truth in the perilous times in which we are living.