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Pastoral Epistles - Lesson 17

2 Timothy 2:1–13

Paul continues to encourage the discouraged Timothy, reminding him of the glorious gospel that he proclaims. Even if Paul himself is bound, the gospel is not.

Bill Mounce
Pastoral Epistles
Lesson 17
Watching Now
2 Timothy 2:1–13

2 Timothy 2:1–13

Personal appeal to Timothy to persevere

Strengthened by Christ’s grace (2:1)

“Strengthened”

“Grace”

Entrust the gospel to faithful “men” (2:2)

1. “Faithful” in their belief

2. Faithful in their conduct

3. “Able to teach”

Persevere with single-minded devotion (VV 3–7)

Theme: “Share in suffering.”

1. Soldier (2:4)

2. Athlete (2:5)

3. Farmer (2:5)

Don’t allow the difficult times to change your direction

Concludes with a call for reflection (2:7)

The gospel is not bound (2:8–10)

1. Gospel is about “Jesus … the offspring of David”

2. Gospel is also about Jesus, who is also the “Christ, risen from the dead”

Hymn of 2:11-13

1. Conversion/Sanctification (v 11b)

2. Perseverance (2:12a)

3. Judgment (2:12b)

4. Faithfulness of God (2:13a)

Where is the dividing point between faithlessness and disowning?


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Transcript
  • Dr. Mounce introduces himself and covers the traditional issues in introductions, including his historical reconstruction of the writing and history behind the Pastorals, basic misconceptions people have of the Pastorals, and the survey of the critical issues often raised.

  • Paul begins by reminding Timothy of an earlier visit, and encourages Timothy to stay on at Ephesus, dealing with the issues in the church. Paul's goal is love, which stands in stark contrast to the work of the false teachers. Throughout 1 Timothy 1, Dr. Mounce is enumerating the ways in which Timothy (and we) should deal with false teaching.

  • Paul gives the theological argument up front as to why the false teachers were wrong and Timothy needs to silence them. They are legalists, applying the Mosaic Law to all Chrsitians. Rather, salvation is by God's mercy and grace as seen in Paul's conversion. But things have gotten bad in Ephesus, and Paul had to take a firm stance on dealing with two of the leaders of the opposition.

  • Having looked at the core teaching on why the false teachers were wrong, the class now looks at the other main pasages in the Pastorals that deal theologically with the false teaching.

  • Paul begins a two chapter discussion on issues of leadership in the Ephesian church. He begins by critiquing their habit of praying only for some people, which shows their legalistic way of looking at salvation. Then he deals with issues of public worship, first men then women. These are issues that the leaderhip should have been dealing with but most likely were being caused by poor leadership.

  • While this paragraph is not a matter of orthodoxy, it is nevertheless important since there are so many women in the church. Paul lays out the basic principle that women should learn with a submissive attitude, and then restates that principle with an eye to application; they cannot teach certain people in certain situations. Paul looks to the pre-Fall creation and the relationship that Adam and Eve were created to fulfill, and then spells out a consequence of what happens when that relationship is not honored. Because Paul references Genesis 2 and not Genesis 3, this is not a cultural teaching but transcultural.

  • After dealing with some questions, the class resumes by finishing the last two verses in chapter 2.

  • Paul gives four basic requirements for the leaders of a church. He beghins by emphasizing that leadership is a good thing and insists that leaders must be a certain kind of person, a person's who character is above repreoach. To appoint unqualified people to leadership is a sin, and those appointing them share in the responsibiiltiy when they fail and damage the church. But elders must also have a proven managerial ability of people, be spiritually mature, and have a good reputation in the eyes of people outside the church.

  • We conclude our discussion of elders by looking at two other passages on the role, Titus 1:5–9 and 1 Timothy 5:17–25.

  • We now move into the discussion of deacons in 1 Tim 3:8–13. There is much overlap between elders and deacons, and yet deacons are more involved in the day-to-day service of the church and are not required to be able to teach. The major interpretive decision is in v 11 as to whether it refers to women (i.e., deaconnesses) or wives (of the deacons).

  • This paragraph is the heart of the letter, putting everything that Paul has been discussing into perspective and giving it context. The church is precious, and we should protect the gospel because of the truths it teaches.

  • Paul goes back to addressing the needs of the Ephesian church. He deals in summary fashion with people of different ages, with a special note of concern for Timothy in how he deals with young women, which leads him into a discussion of young widows. His concern is that the church care for those who are "truly widows," i.e., who are old, truly alone, and have lived godly lives. Younger widows, however, should remarry and not burden the church. The church has limited resources, and it should initially care for those who are the most vulnerable.

  • Paul concludes his letter with a series of different and not always related topics. He deals with slaves, and begins to lay the groundwork for abolition, gives Timothy two tests for correct theology and spells out the download spiral and eventual destruction of the false teacher especially related to their love of money, and then encourages Timothy three ways. And in proper biblical fashion, he concludes with a doxology. The final paragraph (skipped by Dr. Mounce, is a final word to the rich in the church and a final plea to Timothy to be careful.

  • Most of the content of Titus has been covered in the lectures over 1 Timothy. However, the letter does have something to add to the discussion of leadership, and its two salvific hymns raise the issue of the reationship between justification and sanctification.

  • Paul begins his letter to his best friend by encouraging him to continue in ministry. If ever there were a model for how you encourage someone, especially someone who looks up to you, this is the chapter. The best thing you can do is find how many ways Paul encourages Timothy, and then see how to apply those points in your own life and ministry.

  • Paul concludes his encouragement to Timothy, and points out examples of faithless friends, and of one faithful friend.

  • Paul continues to encourage the discouraged Timothy, reminding him of the glorious gospel that he proclaims. Even if Paul himself is bound, the gospel is not.

  • The false teachers come back into view with a strong emphasis on Timothy's need to remain faithful. But the encouragement is that God's foundation in Timothy's life, and others, is sealed with a promise, and yet Timothy must also pursue righteousness and flee evil. Paul uses his own life as an example of faithfulness, and concludes with a strong admonition to preach the gospel because it comes from the very mouth of God.

  • Paul concludes his discussion of the role of Scripture in Timothy's life, reminding Timothy of Paul's own life of faithfulness. Paul makes some personal remarks about a few people, and references his final trial. He knows he will die, but death is merely a loosening.

The Pastoral Epistles contain some of the most practical advice in the New Testament. Learn how to handle heresy, appoint qualified leaders, take care of those who may not be able to care for themselves, and especially how to encourage one another in ministry. Titus alone contains two of the most powerful salvific statements in all of Scripture. These 13 chapters are worth studying.

Pastoral Epistles

Dr. Bill Mounce

nt630-17

2 Timothy 2:1–13

Lesson Transcript

 

Okay, Paul moves into Second Timothy Chapter two and continues in his appeal to Timothy, and he starts by saying, You then my child can hear the affection be strengthened. By the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses in trust to faithful. Something who will be able to teach others also? This is one of those words. It's a little hard to translate because it all depends upon who he's talking to. If he's talking about faithful people, then that's how you translate it. But if he's thinking of the elders. Then you have this whole historical problem is whether in emphasis in the first century the the elders were all men or not. It is anthropology. So you, you have to you have to make your interpretation. But that's why the ESV went with faithful men, because we thought it was the elders. Um, I'm sure that the Navy is faithful people or something like that. Part. Reliable people. Get reliable people. Either way, what what Paul is wanting is he wants to see Timothy. That's going to become clear as we go on. And part of the process of Timothy leaving emphasis is that he's going to send other workers to emphasis. But he also wants to make sure that Timothy is is discipling, is replicating his God. He's got a leadership development program. He's got people that he can entrust, people who are reliable, who will be faithful to the gospel, who will continue Timothy's work after Timothy is gone because he wants Timothy to get there before winter. And then starting anniversary, we have a wonderful fold, um, call to focus, to perseverance. He wants. He wants Timothy. Well, he says share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ.

 

Jesus. And one of the frustrating things in Greek is that you can take a gloomy picture. I'm thinking I got the right word. Yeah, you can take the preposition soon, which means with and you can stick it on the words. And so it's not just suffer. It's suffer with. And it's almost always the question of suffer with whom? Because the way these words are formed doesn't require the object of the sun, but share in suffering. Share with or in other words, a share is coming out of the soon the with preposition. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ, Jesus certainly share with me with meaning Paul, perhaps with other Christian leaders. He doesn't say. But Timothy's not alone. He's not the only one who's suffering. So he's to suffer with and is to suffer as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. And the basic theme here is single minded devotion. Stay focused, stay on track, don't get. Diverted to other things, but stay focused on your ministry. This is one of the really hard issues I had to deal with when I left Pulpit Ministry. Was I allowing myself to be sidetracked? And certainly earlier in my life, I did allow myself to be sidetracked. I loved to program computers. It's the math side of my brain is the strongest side. So of course, I go and do a humanities profession, and I'm not quite sure how that works, but I really enjoy math. How many times at three in the morning I just let out a scream because I figured out how to make the program do something, which I guess I usually heard Robyn yell back, Bill, the kids are asleep. Anyway, I had I in my own life I did.

 

I do know that I let myself get distracted and it's not a good thing. I should should stay focused. So that was one of the questions I had to deal with. And it's one of the questions you're going to have to deal with is what does it look like in your environment and in your calling to stay focused on your ministry? Sharon Suffering is a good soldier. Christ Jesus. So what he does to to drive home the point of single minded focus, despite the problems of suffering, is he uses three images a soldier, an athlete and a farmer, and he uses each one to indicate what it looks like to stay focused on the task and often gives what the goal is. And it's the goal that keeps them focused on their task. So number one is no soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. The word entangled is an interesting word. This word was often used in earlier years to say that a pastor could not have a second job. That it was wrong for a pastor to do tent making, basically. And it's not what the word means. The word doesn't mean that you can't do anything else. One of the examples of this word used in secular literature is of a rabbit entangled in a brier bush. And there's a wonderful picture. And instead of being focused on the minister, we think of a rabbit that's just stuck. It's just the thorns are stuck in it. It can't move. And it's frustrating is legs are flapping and they just can't move forward. And Paul saying that that's what that's what I don't want you to do it. See, that's something different than a pastor driving a bus, right? It's or, you know, whatever.

 

But he's saying a soldier doesn't get entangled in civilian pursuits. He stays focused on his task. And his goal is to please the one who has enlisted him. And so that's the goal is fighting for. I always thought that was really a strange statement, not never having been in the armed services. I would think that my goal as a soldier would be to pleased my sergeant with the one that's currently involved in in leading me. And the other day had a wonderful example of this. Hayden is 19, is a senior in high school. He enlisted in the Marines, I think it was about two months ago. He's going in on July 28th to boot camp and he's got a neat recruiting sergeant. I forget his exact title. Um, but they have to every week show up to to exercise with the Marines. And boy, did they put these kids through the paces it's been is Hayden just comes home like he's just dragging um and he missed one of these meetings and he, he didn't realize he he just he forgot. Didn't do it on purpose. And the look on his face was. Oh, no. And he said, I've disappointed Sergeant So-and-so. There was this recruiting officer. He was he was devastated that he would have disappointed his enlisting officer. Well, that's exactly what Paul's talking about. So evidently there's some kind of bond there. I mean, for those of you who've been in the service, maybe you understand that the Paul's saying, you know, if a soldier stays focused on the task because he wants to please the person that brought him into the service. Number two, an athlete is not crowned, you know, which doesn't win the race. This is back in the day when only the winner got a crown.

 

Of course, now we're so offended and concerned about offending everyone. Everybody gets a trophy, which is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Talk about if everyone has it, it doesn't mean anything. I'm sorry, but this is back in the day and age where the winner got the crown. The the athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. So we're saying athletes have to stay focused. They stay focused on running the race according to the rules. They don't get into the other person's lane because they get disqualified. Going to hand the baton off, they have a certain time frame, which the baton has to be handed off. If not, they're disqualified. Again, an athlete stays focused. He's going to run according or she's going to run according to the rules. And although it's not stipulated to the prize, that motivates them is the crown. Right? So the soldier's motivation is to please the enlisting officer, the athletes motivation is the crown. And then the third illustration is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. So nothing can deter the work of a farmer. Ideas to stay focused on farming and the prize that motivates him is that he actually is going to have a crop at the end. I've had a friend back in Spokane that was a farmer. They farm a couple of hundred acres and this guy was 70 some years old and he could still buck a bale of about six levels. I just I've never seen want to be able to throw a bale of hay that high in my life. And but he man, he was focused And when we got near harvest season, you know, we actually Robin and Tyler actually went down just to help him.

 

But he was he was just so focused because, you know, if you got a time the harvest just right and you know, if it if you wait too long and it rains, it wrecks the wheat to take it out too early is not good. You'll make as much money. And I mean, you know, farmers get focused, especially in the harvest. Right. And he says, think of a soldier. Think of the athlete. Think of the farmer. Think of the things that motivate him. Think of the the the goals. The prize that awaits. And then he says in verse seven, Think over what I said. In other words, what I've just said the last three verses think over what I've just said for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. This is a great verse on the doctrine of. Not revelation, but, um. The five hour hasn't kicked in yet. So say. Illumination. Thank you. I knew his name. This is a great example of the doctrine of illumination. Illumination, as that is the doctrine. Not that the Holy Spirit will give you new revelation, but that the Holy Spirit will help you understand the revelation that's in the text. And that's what's going on here. And Paul's saying. Timothy, just think over what I'm saying. The Lord will work and will illuminate in your mind what I'm getting at. Now, I don't think Timothy struggled with what the meaning was. I mean, it's pretty straightforward, right? He doesn't need the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit to understand this is a call to perseverance. I think what Timothy probably needed was illumination on how to apply it. Okay. In my situation and in emphasis, with all the stuff going on with me needing to conclude my ministry finally and being able to go, what does it actually look like to stay focused? And so my guess is the call for illumination was more on the application of what Paula said and not, you know, the actual meaning of what he said.

 

But it's a it's a wonderful call to perseverance, single minded devotion to the task ahead, remembering the praise that waits for us. Comments or questions. Okay. He then goes on to another wonderful description of the gospel. And remember, these descriptions of the gospel are not just to kind of give to teach. Timothy Timothy knows this stuff, all right? He doesn't have to be taught it. But by reminding Timothy about the gospel, he's just encouraging him. He's trying to say, get your get your head out of the day to day muck and mire of your church ministry and remember what the gospel is and what it is that you're actually proclaiming. So that's the that's the function of these discussions of what the gospel is. It's all encouragement to Timothy. He goes, Remember Jesus Christ? Our gospel is the message of Jesus Christ risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel for which I am suffering. In fact, my suffering is so intense that I'm bound with change as a criminal. And that's the word that means serious criminal. But it goes. But the word of God can not be bound because there is inherent power in the Gospel that does not allow it to be bound to be limited, to be pushed down and ignored. Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation, the salvation that comes in Christ Jesus and the salvation that comes with eternal glory. Timothee is to persevere in the hard work of the Christian life and the Christian ministry because the gospel is worthy of the struggle. That's the basic message, right? The gospel is worth it. So he talks about the Gospels, about Jesus, the the offspring of David.

 

That's the incarnation. That's the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It's the the human, almost human side of Jesus. The human. What aspect? Human nature. The human nature. Thank you for that. Be real safe and use a good trade theological term. Right. The human nature of God. But the Gospel is also about a Jesus who is the Christ who is risen from the dead. In other words, this human Jesus is also the Christ. He's the Messiah. He's God's agent of resurrection. Remember the Gospel. Remember what it is that we proclaim. And then he adds the sing in that even though I'm proclaiming the gospel and I am suffering, I'm. I'm bound. I'm stuck in a prison. And there's a good chance, by the way, that the kind of prison that Paul was in was just a big hole with a grating over it. That's where Romans tended to put the really serious criminals. There was no HBO, all right. I mean, this this is not a nice place that Paul is now, by the time you get in change as a serious criminal. You're dumped on a hole in a gratings put over the top. So he says. He says, We've been proclaiming the gospel and I know I'm bound, but the gospel is not bound to Timothy. Don't be embarrassed of it. Don't be ashamed of it. Remember what we're doing. Keep going forward. Stay focused on your ministry. Because no matter what it may look like in terms of my own life, the gospel itself can not be bound. So what you want to do is bet on a winner, and the winner is the gospel. Because no matter what it looks like, it will win. It in fact, can't be bound that God has given a power to the Gospel.

 

That cannot be defeated. And there is no more powerful example than this than China. Right. Okay. When the cultural so-called Cultural Revolution happened, when the purging of the Communist Party happened in China and so many people were killed and some Christians were kicked out and other Christians were murdered, and and, you know, all the work of the missionaries and you sit there and you wonder, is anything going to matter? And, you know, you look at China now with conservative estimates, over 100 million Christians. Like, I mean, that's the largest religious demographic in China are Christians. Most of the Chinese are just simply there's nothing there at all. And there's no better picture, I don't think, in modern times anyway, of the power of the gospel, that no matter what the Communist Party tried to do, no matter how it stripped out the entire spiritual side of the Chinese culture, the gospel cannot be bound. And when we were able to go back in and see, there's a few Christians have multiplied by 100 million. It's a lot of people. A lot of people. Gospel cannot be bongos. No matter how frustrating or difficult ministry becomes, no matter how it appears, your work may appear to be defeated. Can't be born. Can't be born because God has given it a power. So he's been encouraging. He he's given the illustrations on single minded perseverance. He's reminded Timothy of the gospel and that it can't be Bond. And so he should keep moving forward in the proclamation of the gospel. And now in verses 11 to 13, he's going to kind of give Timothy another way of looking at this issue is he's going to, um, quarter him most likely a well known him in the early church, something that was used to teach theology.

 

And he's going to quote it. And again, the thing here is not to put the pressure at first it feels like all the pressures on the person. But I think the point of the hymn is to put the pressure on God and to remind Timothy that behind all of this, we have the faithfulness of God. That is not that while we're involved in this whole process, that that God will continue to be faithful and continue to persevere and to continue to save his own people. That that's the emphasis. In other words, on the hymn is at the end of the hymn. But let's go through it. This is a great passage. Importance of Gods Perseverance. Second, Timothy 211 and 13. Let me just read it through. The saying is trustworthy. This is something we should believe if we have died with him. We will also live with him if we endure. We will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. And if we are faithless, he remains faithful. And then Paul possibly adds to the hymn, for he cannot God cannot deny himself. So some pretty interesting metaphors. And kind of what makes us a little more difficult is that if Paul is quoting this, you can't just automatically assume poorly meanings to the words. You know, if we died with him and if, you know, Paul wrote that, you know instantly what it means, Right? It's conversion. I still think it means conversion, but it's a little harder to kind of. Define some of these words, but there's two basic interpretations. And I was teaching this at John Piper School several years ago, and I, I pushed my interpretation, which I think is the standard interpretation pretty hard.

 

And at the end someone says all about this interpretation. And I said, No, I don't think so. And I could look around. I saw the faces of all the kids. I went. That's what John thinks, isn't it, Nick? So then we went into a longer discussion, and thankfully I'd talked a long time in the commentary about John's position. But anyway, I just could tell you what I think, because it's Friday and I'm tired. If we have these, this is how we relate to the Gospel one. If we have dived with him, we will also live with him. I think this is a reflection of conversion that did that as Paul uses the imagery so the him uses it. Dying is becoming a Christian, dying to ourself, becoming a disciple. This is Mark eight language. If you want to be, if you want to follow me, deny yourself. Take up your cross. Live as someone who has died to his own ambitions and live for God. This is Romans six one, two, four kind of imagery. If we have died, if we have died with him in our conversion, then we will also live with him. And I don't think at this point in the hymn Live is Eternal Life. It's living out our life on earth, living out our Christian life. So the first stanza of the hymn, I think refers to conversion. And then what happens in the rest of the hymn is that it lays out three different post conversion experiences. So, so many goes through a conversion experience. We're not even going to, at this point talk much about whether the conversion experience was real or not. But let's just say someone's gone through the conversion experience. They have died with Christ.

 

They will also live out their life with Christ. What happens after conversion? What happens in your church after someone comes forward to an altar call? Well, one thing is that possibly they will endure. They will persevere. And Paul says, if we endure, continue to live out our Christian life, persevere in our faith, know that we will also reign with him. This is this is the doctrine, I believe, of perseverance. And it's saying it's the promise that if we endure in our Christian walk, then I can know for a fact where I'm spending eternity. And this is the biblical. This is where perseverance comes, right? There's there's three there's three things we look at in first, John, for assurance of salvation. One is the character of God. One is the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, and the other is the fact of a changed life. Those are the three tests. Those are our three marks of assurance that we are believers. And Paul is simply repeating that one of the sources of assurance of our salvation is our perseverance. If we endure in our walk, in our Christian walk, we can know for a fact that we will spend eternity reigning with Christ. This is the prize of the soldier, the the crown of the athlete, the the crop for the farmer. This is what they are all going for. This was the prize. But notice that if we endure. Then we will ring. This is why I am a bad Calvinist. All right. This is simply Colossians 123 that we have been reconciled to Christ if we continue steadfast and firm. Right. I mean, Paul is so unequivocal on this note. It it's really hard to know. Our people have misunderstood Jesus as those who persevere to the end will be saved.

 

I mean, and in the imagery of the gate, in the path, that's why it's so important that the life is at the end of the path, not on the other side of the gate. So I'm a Calvinist. I believe in the absolute necessity of justification by faith at the gate. Without it, nothing is possible. But I also believe that the path is not optional. I believe that change people must live, change lives. It is the change in our heart that God creates by making some new creation must show itself. Now. I am not the judge. Uh, this is the whole thing on Lordship Salvation. I believe in Lordship salvation. But unlike the attitude that so often attached to it, I don't believe I'm your judge. And, you know, I remember just coming up once when the church started and I saw one man just turn beet red when I said I believe in Lordship salvation. And I talked to him afterwards. Well, it turned out that a previous pastor that had split their church was just hyper on Lordship Salvation, and he determined that he and the elders were the judges of people's eternal salvation. Like, that's not theologically what Lordship salvation is, is that God is sovereign, but God is the judge. I am not the judge. I cannot judge anyone as to whether they are truly a Christian or not. And I don't pronounce people Christian or non-Christian for the most part. Not not unless there's a theological denial of the divinity of Christ, which then it's really easy. But this is this is a statement of perseverance and in it is contained that you have to persevere, that our reigning with Christ in heaven is conditioned upon our enduring. But the primary thrust of it is that if we endure, if we persevere, then the goal that's laid out before us is our reigning.

 

And what I tell my hyper Calvinist friends who accuse me of being, let's see, I'm in a weird situation. My Calvinist friends call me Wesleyan. My Wesleyan friends call me a Calvinist. It's it's I'm somewhere in the middle, I guess. But I say, look, you guys, this first has to mean something. It has to mean something. Oh, you're there. A lecture. You're damned. What? Well, what does this first mean? And for some people have real trouble. And I said, look, if you if your theology cannot handle this verse, then your theology is wrong. And I are a Calvinist, but I believe in the absolute necessity of the perseverance of the Saints, knowing that it's the perseverance of God. Okay, So but the role of this thing plays in this passage is the joyous news that if you endure, then you will reign. Now, what is the second thing that can happen with coming out of a conversion experience? What's that? What's the result? And he says, if we deny him, then he will also deny us. Denial is is refusing to acknowledge a refusing to acknowledge knowing him, refusing to acknowledge a relationship with him of of staying away of saying I have nothing to do with you and Jesus. If you deny me before men, I will deny you before the Father. If you disallow disavow a connection with me before this adulterous and sinful generation, then when judgment comes, I will disavow any connection with you at all. So are you saying that you see this as linear, where we're essentially saying, look, first we die with the same kind of linear? No, I see it Branch, I see branch. I see three experiences coming out of conversion. And that's why I called it a conversion experience, because I think some people go through a conversion experience that's not real.

 

They either may perhaps are really sorry for their sins and they they don't want to go to hell. And so they come down at the altar call and say, I don't want to go to hell. And the pastor mistakenly pronounces them saved. Well, there's no such thing as salvation by sorrow or salvation by fear. You know, does that person really understand that salvation is by grace and that they are to follow Christ? You know, so I think, unfortunately, a lot of people go through conversion experiences that aren't real. That's why I object to altar calls where you haven't given the people enough information because biblically, there's the charisma, right? There's the basic proclamation of the gospel all the way through acts. And it always it always contains a discussion of who Jesus is and what he's done and the fact that he has died for sins. And there's a call to repentance. I mean, there's a there's a very, very fundamental structure to the early church's preaching. And my concern in the church is when we have altar calls and we haven't given people enough to respond to. So that's why I say a conversion experience, whether it's true or not, I don't know. Only God knows. But coming out of this conversion, I mean, just think of all the people that have come forward in your preaching and where have they gone? Well, some people have endured, right? They've grown. They've it's their lives have shown that the conversion experience was real. But unfortunately, there's other people that we know of that came forward to accept Christ and they have gone off in a different direction. My dad had a very good friend that was a missionary for 20 years and got to a point where he completely denied Christ.

 

He said, I never was a Christian. It was all a fake. You were missionary for 20 years. It was all fraud. And he went off and died in a state of denial of Christ. So we have. We have. So that's another experience that comes out of our conversion experience. And the warning here is, if you deny Christ, he's going to deny you. If you deny Christ before this adulterous and sinful generation, Jesus says. So also, when you stand before him in the day of judgment, he will deny you. Now, Paul is not talking about an occasional sin. He's not even talking about a series of sins. I think you're saying if you fail to endure to the point that you disown Christ and never repent, know for certain that he will disown you. I had a a gallon. Our church gave me the expression our get out of jail free card, you know, playing Monopoly. And it's it's some people think, okay, I've gotten through the gate and I've got a card. This card says, I can't go to hell. And so they live anywhere they want. They doesn't matter and they hang on to this get out of jail free card. And the sad thing is that when they get to the to the gates of heaven, they're going to find out the cards are worthless. The mean thing. I have this image that I tried to use and I haven't shared it with you, but I often do. And I encourage you to use this image in your preaching, or at least think of your preaching in these terms. I think that every preacher should have to stand by the judgment seat. And watch every one of his people go past Jesus. And and you're going to have to watch every person that was in your church or within your context either go to the right as a sheep or just the left as a goat.

 

And if you live with that image in your mind, I wonder how it will impact our preaching. Will we really preach the true gospel? Will we preach the full gospel? Will we offer salvation to people if they're just sorrowful enough? Knowing that there is no such thing as a salvation by sorrow. I it's it's a powerful image. And in if I if I have to stand in front of the judgment seat and watch the people that I preach to pass, I want my hands clean. I want my hands washed. I want to know that I preach the full gospel and that people heard the message that there is no such thing as a get out of jail free card. Now, you guys know, I believe that that that the work of God in someone's heart is permanent, is not reversible. That no one can snatch me out of my father's hands. And that especially means me. So you know where I am theologically. But I still think that people need to hear that that being a Christian is not simply a matter of a one time theological affirmation or being sorrowful or. Or I tell my story about VBS. We we had huge VBS outreach. We had lived in a neighborhood where there were a ton of kids. And VBS was a very important evangelistic outreach. And so we put a lot of work into it for like the last year I was there, we built about 100 foot pirate ships and basically filled the gym up with this giant pirate ship because we always had these crazy skits that we did. And then with whatever we did every year, we left the prop up all year. So so you could use it. And then they would the kids would come in, they would see the initial skit, and then each day they would go on to a different room for a different kind of experience.

 

And I started hearing about all these conversions coming out of this one room. I mean, it was like 30 kids this day, you know, 40 kids the next day. And it's like and everyone was just rejoicing that God's spirit was moving in the lives of the kids and. I guess I'm enough of a cynic to go. That's weird. I wonder why all the conversions are coming up. Almost all the conversions are coming out of one room. So I went to the room and looked and I don't know. What the leader was thinking. Was it? Listen to me preach, that's for sure. Had a big sign on the wall and was telling the kids they were going to go to hell and burned forever if they didn't become a Christian and signed the list. Well, you're a four year old kid. You got an adult saying you're going to burn forever in hell until you write your name down. I'm writing my name down. Yeah. And it was kind of like, okay, what are you doing? I mean, there is no such thing as salvation by fear of fire. Right. I mean, it's part of the appeal of the gospel. You don't want to go to hell, right? Even if he's going to be annihilated at some point in the future, you still don't want to go there. You do want to live forever in the presence of God, but you don't get there by being so scared. You sign your name on a list. The list came down, the leader was excused and the number of conversions went down. But at least two conversions of that point became more real. Anyway, I digress. But the point is one of the conversions, one of the experiences that happened as we come out of the conversion experiences, some people fall off into denial and the message is there is no get out of jail free card.

 

It doesn't exist. If we deny him, if we live in a state of apostasy, then he will have nothing to do with us. I was a Calvinist in a Western school for ten years. This specific is Wesley in an orientation I thought was really cool. They even wanted a Calvinist there. I can think of a lot of reform schools that could really be have a lot better educational experience. Hiring a Wesleyan, an Armenian and bring it in and have some dialog. I think that's a healthy thing. So I was I was always proud of Azusa for that. I also liked having a job and but this was the debate we had all the time. Just, you know, and for a long time I just said, show me one versus says we have free will and I'll become a Wesleyan. Of course, there is no verse that says we have free will. There's a lot of verses that talk about the bondage of the world, but there's no verse that says We have free will. There is a counterargument, but I didn't tell it to him because I didn't want him to win the argument. After a while I stopped saying that and what I said is this is a waste of time. Why are we even debating this point? Because Wesley and Calvin were in 100% agreement on this point. They were looking me like, you know what? What have you been smoking? And I said, No, in a minute. Both Calvin and Wesley agree that if somebody goes through a conversion experience and then a pastor size falls away, both men agree that person ends up in hell. Right. Now they get there different ways for Wesley. They lost their salvation for Calvin. They never were a Christian to begin with.

 

And. And my colleagues would want to argue the point to go, That's the most worthless waste of my time. And I'm not going to spend any more time debating this issue with you guys. They the kids are going to end up in hell if they don't persevere. So how about we build a relationship with our students and we encourage our students and talk about the joy and the necessity of continuing in their Christian walk? And let's just put this whole debate of what saved always saved at the side. It really worked out to be a really good discussion because then we got to talk about things that really, truly mattered. So anyway, but I think that's what's going on in the second half of verse 12. It's goes through a conversion experience. Some people endure, some people are past the size. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what actually happened because of where they're going to end up. But there is a third experience, and that is verse 13. And I would say this is the main this is the largest category of these three experiences because most people. Live through times of faithlessness, don't they? I mean, it's three steps forward, two steps back. Is that I mean, that often the way it is for us. I mean, it'd be wonderful, the Christian walk with this very smooth upward progression. But it's not. We sin. We feel, we backslide. We're recommitted. Sometimes we should be committed, you know. But, I mean, that's that's the nature of the Christian walk, right? And there are times of faithlessness. And these are the people that find themselves somewhere between enduring and apostasy. So in order for this him to make any sense. There has to be a difference between denial and being faithless.

 

And so you have to define what that difference is. Um, and here's how I said it. For those whose endurance has failed and yet have not fallen all the way into apostasy, the promise is that your sin does not nullify the faithfulness of God. Right. And this is this is the word of encouragement that the people that I mean, we all have our favorite sins, right? We all have sins that are it's easier for us to commit than other sins. Perhaps that sin is anger or pride and arrogance or whatever. Be the case we are. We all have our favorite sins and it's easy to fall into it because we like them, right? I mean, if we didn't like it, we wouldn't do it. Um, but there's nothing. There are, there are times of faithlessness in all of our lives and that the message of the gospel is just because we sin. And even because we go through times perhaps of faithlessness, God remains true to his character, true to his word. He remains faithful to us. In fact, he can't be unfaithful to us. Because it is in his very nature to be faithful. He will not deny his essential character of being faithful to his children. And this is why I believe in the perseverance of God, not the perseverance of the saints. It's God who perseveres. It is in his very nature to be faithful to his children no matter what. And he will continue to be faithful even when we backslide. That's what I think this him is saying. It has to be somewhere between enduring and denial. And that's the question. You have to define what that looks like. And as soon as I think you step back and look at human experience, you can see these three.

 

You have the two extremes, and then you've got the bulk of the people somewhere in the middle. And, you know, if we confess our sins, how do we know for sure that God's going to forgive us? Because I do some good things and I get more good than bad. So he says, I'll forgive you. And I said, if we if if we confess our since he is faithful and just see John goes to the to the character of God, doesn't he. And said don't wait a minute. If we confess our sins, we are tapping into the very character of God, a God who is faithful and a God who is just. And because of who God is, He will forgive us our sins and cleanses from all unrighteousness. So John goes to the very character of God. That's exactly what the him is doing to him is going to the character of God. As someone who is absolutely faithful, I would say to his true children. And so in it, it doesn't matter. He is going to continue to enable us to respond in faith, to continue to repent, to continue to move forward, even if it's kind of a jerky motion up and back. Sin, not sin, whatever. Um, he will remain faithful. I absolutely love this him. This is him of encouragement. That man I want to endure. I want to reign with him. Um. I don't personally believe in rewards other than well done. A good and faithful servant and a minority position on that. But, uh, my reward is reigning with him. My. My reward is. You did a good job, Bill. You can reign with me forever. Um, and so I read this, and I'm going to do that, you know, by God's grace and by God's empowerment, I will continue to push through the challenges of my life because I want to reign with him.

 

But at the same time, I understand that. Apostasy has serious consequences. The reason I'm not going to pass the size is that I'm going to continue to push forward with all the assurance of knowing that when I am faithless, when I struggle, when I do things that aren't right, when I give in to arrogance or pride or anger or whatever, be the case, God's still God. And it is by his character that and by His empowerment that He will stick it out with Bill amounts and I will continue to move forward. That's why I think this him is so powerful that it gives us full experience of warning and encouragement all at the same time.