We finished up our series in 2 Timothy at Ardgowan this week and I found the whole process really rewarding, personally. Some of this was down to the practicalities of things but it was also a joy to teach a letter I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying now.
From a purely practical standpoint, I set myself the challenge of preaching from a detailed outline rather than from a full script. When I preached through Mark, all but one of the sermons was done with a full manuscript. Using a script is comforting. It lets me know approximately how long a sermon is going to be (my aim is typically 30-35 minutes).
When I use a script, I am forced to think through how I want to say something.
But this time, I used a detailed outline. Now, it was a very detailed outline (chapter 2’s outline was just over 2000 words...) but still primarily bullet points. I’ll probably write about that experience another time.
The main thing I wanted to think about here was what I took away from going the 2 Timothy this time.
The joy and challenge of being a Christian parent
One of the key features of Timothy’s testimony was his upbringing. In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul appeals to the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. They were a key part of his coming to faith.
Speaking from experience (as I said in one of the sermons), the greatest gift my parents gave me was raising me in a home where the gospel was a part of the fabric of daily life. Until I was 10, we lived in a small town where the life of the church was really all there was to do. I watched my parents interact with unbelieving friends and family. I was encouraged to practice the things of the faith before I knew I was converted.
A lot of the time, being a parent is simply tiring. We get to dinner time and just want to collapse. But it’s been at the dinner table that we have the most interesting chat with the kids about things, especially since they’re in Roman Catholic schools.
We have a responsibility to raise them to know what the Bible says and to help persuade them of its truth. This is a joy and a privilege, but it’s also a challenge.
The need for endurance
Again and again in this letter, Paul tells Timothy to endure, to share in suffering. He uses his own ministry as an example (1:11-12; 2:10; 3:10-12). He uses Jesus’ life and ministry as an example (2:8; 4:1).
The need for endurance is real because the task is tough. Just as Timothy was faced with a people who wanted to hear what sounded good to them, we live in a time when it’s easier than ever. Whether it’s on TikTok or the Guardian or GB News (or Fox News if you’re in the States), there is no shortage of people who are willing to tell others what they want to hear.
And so we have to endure the fact that people won’t want to listen to us. The gospel doesn’t teach that people are inherently good, after all.
The need to be on guard
The last big takeaway is sort of tied to the previous one. It’s easy to get to a point, like Jonah or Elijah where you think that God’s miscalculated things.
Timothy had been placed in Ephesus to sort out the problems there. Paul had worked with them for 3 years (see Acts 19-20). Before he had left, he warned them that wolves would come from outwith as well as within. By the time we get to 2 Timothy, it seems like some of the sheep had been sharpening their teeth and howling at the moon.
But as Paul gives example after example, it’s clear that he is concerned for his young coworker. He’s concerned for how Timothy will persevere in ministry. Demas had been a trusted coworker but had proven to be in love with this world rather than looking forward to the one to come. There was real risk of Timothy swerving from the truth (2 Timothy 2:15-18).
And so if he needs to be on guard against error, we all need to be on guard against error. We must be on guard as we are guarded (2 Timothy 4:18). We must be on guard knowing that it’s worth it to endure through suffering like Paul.