(Continued – mission/vision of Southside Baptist Church)
If we are going to shape lives through discipleship, we must stay with Jesus. Look at vv. 8-10. Listen, I’m sure Timothy hadn’t forgotten about Jesus, so the focus of this command here means to keep on thinking about Jesus. Recall to your mind again and again who Jesus is and what He has done. Look at what Paul talks about: Jesus’ resurrection and His descent from the ancient Hebrew King David. Both of these factors uniquely qualified Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ. In fact, both the resurrection and his descent from King David are also mentioned in Romans 1:2-3 as what uniquely qualifies Jesus to be viewed as the Messiah. So Paul tells us to remember that Jesus is the promised one, the Messiah, the Christ.
This is the message for which Paul is sitting in a prison cell awaiting his execution. Yet despite his suffering, he is committed to enduring to the very end. He will not falter or waver, even if it means his own death. He knows that other Christians are watching, and how he endures his suffering will help them obtain salvation in the midst of their suffering. So my friends, if we want to shape the lives of other disciples, we need to center our lives around Jesus. That’s what Paul did, that’s what he encouraged Timothy to do, and that’s what the Bible encourages us to do as well.
Well, that was the end of the message I preached back in June 2015, but I feel the need to go a bit farther. I wanted to ask this question: how many Christians today are enduring like this? How many are willing to suffer for the cause of Christ? We are afraid of the slightest criticisms — so too many have kept their convictions to themselves and have refused to stand up for what is holy. We have allowed the world to dictate to us what we preach, how we worship, where we serve, and even what we believe when our standard for all of this is God’s Word.
But if we are truly going to stay with Jesus, that means we must believe what He believed, speak what He spoke, preach what He preached, and live like He lived. Otherwise, any disciples that we make will fall under the condemnation that Jesus proclaimed to the Pharisees: “when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Mt. 23:15). If we are not staying with Jesus in every way possible, we are defeating His purpose in making disciples. Perhaps that is why Southern Baptists have lost 200,000 members this year. Perhaps that is why the President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Chuck Kelly, wrote recently that we are closer to losing the southern United States than we are to reaching North America. Perhaps that is why hundreds of churches are closing their doors every week. Perhaps that is why so many Christian leaders are experiencing burnout and leaving the ministry. Could it be that we have chosen to go our own way? To do our own thing? To make our own disciples?
I recently read a quote from A.W. Tozer that I believe is applicable: “A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to “accept” Christ without forsaking the world.” And I fear that this is doubly so in the 21st Century. In Paul’s day, to accept Christ meant facing total ostracism. Families, synagogues, businesses…everyone blacklisted you. But they endured, and the gospel spread throughout the world. But today, the darkness is overtaking the light, and we must make a choice. Will we stay with Jesus, or will be embrace the world?