Oct 21, 2019
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
I hope you will join us every week and be sure to let us know how you enjoy the podcast and let others know about it, too. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
I learned early in my military career that one of my responsibilities was to train my replacement. Eventually, I would leave my position through transfer, promotion, or at some point, everyone departs the service. If I failed to train someone to take my place, the service would suffer, and soldiers would suffer. Not that I was indispensable or anyone else was, but we had a responsibility to make sure none of us were by ensuring we had someone ready in the wings to take our place.
Paul knew the importance of doing the same as he embarked on his missionary journeys. So he groomed Timothy and Titus to take his place in the early churches he formed in his mission work. He knew he would need a replacement at some point, and the way things had been going for him, that time would probably come sooner rather than later. He'd been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, run out of town, and imprisoned. He knew his days were numbered. So, while in prison, Paul penned instructions to his two proteges.
My instructions to the officers that came behind me centered on how to treat soldiers, how to make decisions, how to carry out the tasks given by higher commands, how to determine priorities of work with limited resources. Some of the training I provided to those who would come after me in the service I hoped would save lives on future battlefields, and as I've heard from some of them and read accounts of current conflicts, I think some of those lessons paid off.
Most of the training I passed on didn't make it into documents that I expect to survive for centuries, though. In fact, if they last another decade, I will be astonished. Those bits of knowledge will last a season and be gone. Some will trickle down another generation, maybe two, but then warfare will change, tactics and doctrine will evolve, and the lessons passed on thirty years ago will seem pretty meaningless to anyone who might care to hear about them in another generation.
But Paul's words to Timothy are a completely different story. We read them, memorize them, absorb them into our being. We do so because we understand the depth and truth of his words. He writes these words to Timothy in the second letter addressed to him in the New Testament:
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:14-17)(NIV)
We know from these few sentences, Timothy was a student of God's Word. He learned from his mother, Lois. He studied from Paul. He poured through the scriptures personally to discover all he could about the God he served and loved. What we often forget as we read these words from Paul, is that the "scriptures able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" did not include any from our New Testament. That should cause us to give pause to any who might discount the Old Testament as unimportant to the Christian life or its statutes as ancient and no longer applicable to modern society.
What can scriptures do for us? Timothy knew, and Paul reminds him. They teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness. And why are those attributes important to followers of Jesus? Because he gave us a mission. He told us to go and make disciples. Teaching them all the things others taught us in his name. How can followers of Jesus share knowledge if no one shared with them in the first place? It goes back to what I learned as a new Army officer. I need to start preparing my replacement. If I don't, there may not be a replacement when one is required.
Have you thought about that in your Christian walk? What if you were the only link to carrying the message of Christ to the next generation? How well has your replacement learned to place his or her trust in God based on what you taught? Is the next generation of disciples ready to pass on what you know because you taught them well?
The next words from Paul often used to provide the charge to ministers really apply to all of us who follow Christ. Jesus didn't differentiate between any of those gathered on the mountain when he gave the command to go and make disciples. He told all of them the same thing. What Paul told Timothy, reminds me of the importance of my role in sharing what I learned from others. Paul continues his letter with these words:
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:1-5)(NIV)
It tells me that whenever I have the opportunity, I must be prepared to correct, rebuke, encourage, teach with great patience and careful instruction. The time when people will not want to hear sound doctrine came a long time ago. They didn't want to hear it from Timothy or Paul or even Jesus. With all we see around us, those statements could not be any more accurate today. People run to what they want to hear instead of the hard truth of God's Word.
Ignoring the truth in his word does not fix our sin problem, though, any more than ignoring cancer will repair those runaway cells in our body. We must do something about the disease. When we find out about cancer, we go to the oncologist and seek a cure. When we find out about sin, if we are to find release and relief, we must go to God and seek a cure. Listen to Paul. Do the work God calls each of us to do in reproducing disciples through sharing what others entrusted to us. It's how God's kingdom grows. It's plan A and surprisingly, he never developed plan B. It's up to you and me to make it happen.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked NIV are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV): Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission of Zondervan.