DUNCAN/Continuing in the truth of the Word
Please turn with me to 2 Timothy 3:10-15. This letter is Paul’s last words to Timothy. Yet, these words are not simply Paul’s words, these are God’s words to this faithful Christian and to us. This passage is a call to discipleship. Paul’s words call not just Timothy, but you and me to be a disciple. In relation to this call, his words remind us to expect opposition from this world. In addition, Paul’s words remind you and me to expect false teachers always to be around us. Furthermore, Paul’s words call us to live by the Bible. This passage can be divided into two sections. First, Paul provides encouragement regarding a Christian’s call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Secondly, he provides an exhortation to live according to Scripture.
I. A Call to Be Disciples of Jesus Christ.
In verses 10-12, Paul calls us to be disciples of Jesus Christ. He is telling Timothy, “In contrast to those false teachers that I have just described, follow me in this way.” Specifically, Paul is saying “Timothy, I want you to follow me, and following me is going to mean emulating me in nine areas.”
Firstly, Paul says “You have followed my teaching.” In other words, he is saying, “Timothy, in contrast to those people who have been led astray by false prophets, you have followed my teaching. Now, keep on doing that.” Paul is reminding us here that the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t run after every fad and trend that false prophets use to tickle our ears. A true disciple of Jesus Christ follows in the way of the Lord in the teaching of the Word in all its fullness. Paul is reminding us that a true disciple follows the whole counsel of God.
Secondly, Paul says, “You have followed my conduct.” He’s saying, “Timothy, you didn’t just say that you believed the things that I taught. You have lived like I live.” That’s what a disciple does. A true disciple emulates Jesus in his or her life. It is imperative that Christians live out the truth of the Word of God in their daily lives. The Apostle Paul is saying, “Do you want to be a disciple? Then live like I live.”
Thirdly, Paul says, “You have followed my purpose.” We learn in Acts 14:12 that Paul was determined to take the Gospel as far as the Lord would let him take it. It was his purpose in life. Disciples share the purpose of their master. Jesus said, “It is My meat to do the will of Him who sent me.” So if we’re Jesus’ disciples, then our purpose, our meat, is going to be the same purpose and meat of Jesus. And that’s what Paul is saying to Timothy. He is reminding Timothy to embrace his teaching, his conduct, his life, and his purpose as a faithful disciple.
Fourthly, Paul says, “You have followed my faith.” Paul was a man who lived by faith. He knew that faith was important because “without God we can do nothing. But all things are possible through Him who strengthens us.” Aware of his own weakness, Paul trusted God in all things. His salvation was by faith, and his whole life was by faith. And so he’s saying to Timothy, “You have followed me in that faith. Now keep on following me.” That’s what a disciple does. A disciple lives by faith.
Fifthly, Paul says, “You have followed my patience.” The Apostle Paul is telling Timothy, “You’ve seen my patience with people, and if the grace of God is at work in your life, you’re going to manifest that same kind of patience with people who are going to be difficult in Christian life and ministry.” Patience is proof of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a person. A disciple is not only patient with struggling Christians, he’s patient with people who persecute him.
Sixthly, Paul says, “You have followed me in love.” A disciple has a true concern for others’ best interests, and a deep sympathy for people, even their persecutors. Paul is saying that a disciple of Jesus Christ ought to be consumed with a faithfulness and concern about the truth of God and be able to join these things with a practical, tangible love for people.
Seventhly, Paul says, “You have followed me in my steadfast perseverance amidst trying circumstances.” If patience refers to patience with people, then endurance refers to patience in circumstances. When you run into the trials of life, you keep on going. You are patient, and you endure despite those circumstances. Why? Because you have the grace from God to hold up and hold on in those circumstances. That’s what a disciple does.
Lastly, Paul says, “You followed me in my persecutions and sufferings.” Paul is saying to Timothy, “Now remember, I’ve suffered a persecution or two in my life.” And that most likely would have reminded Timothy of the first time that they met in the context of Acts 14. It is important to remember that Timothy was converted because Paul was willing to be beat almost to death to take the Gospel to his home city. And Timothy possibly remembers seeing the bruises and the stripes healing on Paul. He likely remembers that Paul endured persecutions and sufferings in order to share the Gospel. As a result, Timothy was converted under the faithful preaching of the Word of God, and in God’s providence, he became a minister of the Gospel. Paul is also reminding you and me here that we will face sure opposition from this world if we are going to be a disciple of Christ. As a result, we must be ready to stand firm in our witness for Jesus.
II. An Exhortation to Live According to Scripture.
In verses 14 and 15, Paul says, “Timothy, live by the Bible. Live by Scripture because the Bible alone will tell you the way of salvation.” A true disciple loves the rich teaching of the Word of God, lives that teaching out in conduct in life, and has a purpose to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Now, Paul is there awaiting his own execution, and he’s thinking, “What last words can I say to this dear man whom I love that will stay with him forever?” And what does Paul say? He tells Timothy to be a faithful disciple and to live his life according to Scripture. And so, my friends, I implore you, know the Bible. Love the Bible. Believe the Bible. Trust in the Savior alone as He is offered in the Gospel. Trust in the Bible which is able “to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” May God, by His Spirit, enable us to receive the Bible for what it is which is the very truth of God and empower us to heed His Word to His glory and our eternal good.