Finishing the Race

2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

We may not all be called to teach the Word of God in a formal sense, where we are teaching a Bible class, or where we are writing a devotion. But we are all teachers in one way or another.

We teach others who are in our lives by our attitudes, our words, and our actions, whether for good or for bad. And, we give out messages by our daily lives, and whenever we open our mouths, whether we are intending to give a message or not.

So, we need to be those who are giving out the right messages, the kind that are in agreement with the sound doctrine of God’s Holy Word, and that represent God’s divine character and will for our lives, and which reflect the love of God and the fruit of the Spirit of God.

Yet, we all have a responsibility to be sharing God’s word with others, sharing with them the life of Jesus Christ and what he did for us on that cross in dying for our sins. We need to be telling others how they can be set free from their slavery to sin, and how they can live holy, pure and godly lives, pleasing to God, in the power and working of God’s Spirit within them.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

We are already in that time, for sure. In America, where I live, not many are teaching the gospel as Jesus and his New Testament apostles taught it. The majority appear to be teaching a man-made gospel which makes no demands for repentance and obedience and submission to Christ as Lord. For, they are teaching a “feel-good” message which appeals to the flesh of man, for it requires no death to the flesh, and to sin, but it appeases it.

This false gospel which is permeating the gatherings of the church, and institutional churches, is based on human faith and lies, not on truth and not on God-given faith. For, it bases its faith solely on externals or emotions or man-made religion and not on genuine surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. There is no fear of God in what this false gospel teaches, but it is for the glory of man, instead.

These “myths” they wander off to can be many different ones, but the primary one is this teaching that God’s grace merely forgives us our sins and promises us eternal life with God, but it requires no dying with Christ to sin that we might live to Christ and to his righteousness. For, it is all about “What’s in it for me,” and not about loving, honoring, and obeying our Lord.

So, the one who “believes” in Jesus, under this false grace gospel, believes his sins are now forgiven, he is bound for heaven, and he is now good to go, no matter how he lives his life from this moment forward. So, it is a false grace that gives free license to continue living in sin, only now without guilt and remorse, and with God’s approval, by their way of thinking.

And, so the “believer” in this false grace feels he can engage himself in sexual immorality, lying, cheating, stealing, hating, and gossiping, etc. as a matter of practice, and that it won’t impact his eternal salvation at all. He believes he is eternally secure, even though he ignores God and his commands, and he willfully chooses to live in depravity.

2 Timothy 4:5 ESV

“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

We need to be those who teach the true gospel, but not just with our lips, but by our lives. For, there are people who can espouse the true gospel of salvation, depending upon who they are around, while they live the cheap grace gospel, and they continue living in immorality and wickedness.

We must be serious-minded about God and his Word, too, and not take God, his salvation, his grace, and his mercy for granted. We have to be those who are students of the Scriptures, who study them in context, and who pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in understanding the Scriptures, too. For, if we are followers of men, we might be led astray to teaching that is false.

We must take God and his Word seriously by obeying it, i.e. by doing what it says, and by submitting to Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives. And, this isn’t just about ceasing in bondage to sin and now living in slavery to righteousness. This is about listening to our Lord day in and day out in doing what he leads us to do, which may be to pray for someone, or to call someone on the phone, or to send a message to a person, or to answer a specific calling that God has on our lives to minister in a particular way.

This is about giving our lives to our Lord fully to be his hands and his feet in taking his love and his gospel to the world around us. And, this is about being on call 24-7 for the Lord, to pray, to write, to speak, to sing, to share or to do whatever it is he wants us to do at that moment in time.

And, when we do that, and our lives truly are surrendered to the Lord, to do whatever it is he is calling us to do, and to go where he sends us, and to say what he commands us to say, etc., we will suffer persecution, being hated, rejected, mistreated and falsely accused for righteousness’ sake.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 ESV

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

I am so ready to go to be with my Lord, but I know he is not yet finished with me on this earth, so I will be here until my assignment is complete.

But I can confidently say with Paul that, for at least the past 16 years, I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, and by the grace of God, and in his power and strength, I will finish this race he laid out for me. All glory and praise to God! Great things He has done in and through me.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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