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Be strong in the grace

2Timothy 2:1-7
Sunday, 6th May, 2012

This is not a letter of the weak. Paul may be on his last legs, in prison, forgotten or deserted by many. It may be his last words but it is not a letter of reminiscences and what might have been. It is a tough, gritty call to Timothy to take the initiative in telling the Good News.


 Here is the outline:

Greeting 1:1-2

Guard the Gospel 1:3-18          

Keep the faith 1:3-7

Do not be ashamed of the Gospel 1:8-12
Guard the Gospel 1:13-18

Be Faithful 2:1-26

             Be strong; endure hardship 2:1-7     

Remember Jesus Christ 2:8-13

A workman approved by God 2:14-26 
Continue in what you have learned 3:1-17

Paul’s charge to Timothy to Proclaim 4:1-8

Personal Remarks 4:9-18

Final Greetings 4:19-21

 Benediction 4:22

The four main paragraphs are calls first to Guard the gospel, second to be faithful thirdly to continue and fourthly to proclaim. We then have some personal remarks, the usual greetings and a final benediction.

 This is not a defensive letter, it is encouraging Timothy to get on with the Vision for Mission that they shared. And we should see it as that. An encouragement to get up and go, regardless of the risks and consequences. We have the Good News to tell. Lets do it!


Today’s word of God begins with a call to be strong.


 Be strong

 Could have said: Be strong in leadership; be strong in theology; be strong in discipline; be strong in public view; be strong in good teaching; be strong in worship; prayer; community care; telling the good news; mission links; fellowship; service. No these things may or may not be correct and proper in their place and we are committed to worship, prayer, discipleship as opposed to discipline, teaching, community care, telling the Good news, Mission links, Fellowship and service, they are our responses to the love of God. But what we are called to be is to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”.   That word ‘grace’ will not go away, will it?  

Be strong in grace.

 Jesus is the model of being strong in grace. He came to this world to give his life as a ransom for many. He came to give. And he gave willingly. Grace is receiving what you don’t deserve. It is also giving what others don’t deserve. You are saved by grace and you are called to live by grace. What does that mean? How are you today going to live by grace? Gracious has come to mean polite and friendly but grace is a tough word demanding that we stop our selfish reactions and give heed to godliness.


Grace means remembering that you are  a sinner saved by grace, and so is the Christian brother or sister who is annoying you. Being strong in grace involves learning to forgive those who have sinned against you.

 Praying and telling the Good News

 Being strong in grace means that you want everyone you meet to discover grace for themselves. That involves prayer and proclamation. Tuesday Focus this week was brought information as to the way the Korean church practices this grace. And they make prayer a much greater priority than we do. And they are much more outgoing in their evangelism. I believe we need to think radically about our out reach because we are still yet to impact our community in any significant way. That is not to downgrade what we have tried, whether gospels in every home, texts on buses, adverts in papers, leaflets in every home regularly over a long period. We need to think outside the box, whether it is standing at South Ruislip station offering free drinks and cake and a gospel or home Alpha or Christianity Explored course or one to one Bible teaching. I don’t know what we will do in the future but I know we need to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, live , pray about it and tell it.

 Giving freely of time and possessions

Being strong in grace means that you give your possessions to those in need freely. That you look out for others interests not our own; that you have time for others even when you need time out for yourself.

Grace values others. It doe not devalues yourself, it says I invest my time and resources in others and I see their joy and peace as a blessing for me.


 Entrust to others to teach.

The letter has several repeated expressions, suggesting it was carefully crafted with thought and passion. For example in 1 vers 12 we are told that  “I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”.  Then in 2 verse 4 we are encouraged to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – what God does for us we are encouraged to do for him – guard what is entrusted to us.

 Today we are called to entrust this Good News we have to others – the next generation- in 2 verse 2.

And that is the direct consequence of the call to  be strong in the grace. We believe that every generation has to be won for Christ, God has no grandchildren, there is no salvation in being born in a Christian family, it comes from a personal faith in Christ Jesus. And that applies to discipleship. Each generation has to disciple itself and then teach the next generation to disciple itself. We do well to remember that we are working with the Holy Spirit to build the kingdom of God, which is outside of time. We are to play our part and encourage the next cohort to do the same and then give them the responsibility to do it. The Holy Spirit is who keeps us faithful to our calling and the Holy Spirit will keep them faithful.



 Join me in suffering like a good soldier.

At the outbreak of the Falkland’s War BBC interviewed a mother who was complaining that her son didn’t know that when he signed up for the army he was likely to go to war! He might get killed!  A soldier has to fight even when he does not agree with the politician’s rational for war. He may well die in some accident or minor event or even friendly fire. That is the nature of war. But Paul correctly points out that a soldier signs up to risk injury and death. We are not saved to survive but to look forward to dying and rising again! We are soldiers of Christ, this world is not our home, we are here for the good of others and whatever it may cost us. We are soldiers of grace.

 Not entangled in civilian affairs. For the spiritual person civilian affairs are the priorities of this world. We are not to be trapped in the pursuit of happiness or the desire to be noticed to have our 15seconds of TV fame. We are not to be entangled in the acquisitive society. Have you noticed the number of storage warehouses around designed to store what you have bought but haven’t got room at home. So your jet skis, your unwanted furniture your records and every other sort of bric-a-brac that you will never use again are kept, for what? What a joke storing stuff on earth. when you should be storing treasure in heaven. And that is the point. The soldier is on a mission, he will eat and live in houses, use a car, watch TV, raise a family but that is not the reason for him to be. You are not here to live out your life, you are here to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

 Pleasing commanding officer  This is a hard lesson because we are conscious of what those around us think or might think but we tend to take less care of what Jesus is asking us to do, what he thinks of the way we are carrying on. On the battlefield the commanding officer may be miles away but he is expecting us to complete our mission to the best of our ability. Our position may be overrun but the battle is won and our commanding officer   welcomes his troops, dead or alive with “ Well done, good and faithful servant, come and join me at the great feast in heaven.



Victory by the rules

 Recently a marathon runner was caught having taken a bus round to a further point on the race.  He’d cheated and was stripped of his medal! The issue this week has been should an athlete who cheated  by taking drugs ever be allowed to run again.  John Terry is banned from the final because he was sent off in a match.  And God says to you and me the rule of grace matters. This is not a life of do your own thing and God will get you to heaven anyway. It is that discovering the love of God in Christ Jesus we respond by offering our lives to train, and prepare like any athlete and play by the rules.  Rules for relationships, rules for marriage, rules for neighbourliness, rules for worship, yes, the 10 commandments are relevant to 21stCentury discipleship and our being strong in the grace. So be strong in the grace and live holy lives.



          The 100m is all over in 10 seconds, the marathon in 3 to 4 hours, the pentathlon in three days. Our next example is about staying the course.

 Hard working  Dairy farmers were up this morning at 6am even the keen evangelicals, they would have finished morning milking around 8am but by 3pm they are back for another 2-3 hours session. And that is on a day of rest! The arable farmer in the the hot summer days is not sitting on the beach, he or she is sitting on a combine harvester from the moment the dew dries off to when it returns maybe 8am to 8pm – a 12 hour hot grafting day. And it is very physical, even in these mechanised days. But that is the nature of farming. It is not a 9 til 5 job with an hour for lunch, at least not often! Our boss, Jesus call us to a long haul, not a quick fix, makeover. The church has been working for the harvest for around 1980 years. What is the purpose of the soldier, the athlete and the farmer?

 Shares in the crops

This is the best investment you could ever be involved in. I hope you buy ‘Fair Trade’ food as much as you can, even though it costs more because we believe the farmer is entitled to a share of his crops. But God is into much much, more than fair trade. Sign up today for being strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus and you will get first share option on the harvest. The Good News we are telling is first what we have for ourselves. We are saved, we are forgiven, we have the Holy Spirit in our lives, we know we are going to heaven. And we are promised crowns and honours for faithful service. This investment gives a constant return through life and a guaranteed eternal final pay-off. Underwritten by the eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! That’s grace! You don’t deserve any of it but God pours out his blessings on you.

 So be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Forgive as he forgives

Pray as he prayed

Tell the good news like he did

Give freely as he gave

Entrust this message to other

Suffer as a soldier of Christ

Don’t get entangled in worldliness, keep spiritually fit

Please Jesus

Keep working hard in the long haul to glory

Enjoy every blessing that is in Christ Jesus


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