"Soldiers of Christ, Arise!"
Paul will tell Timothy in this section about what it means to be a soldier of Christ, and he will give a personal example in verses 8-10. As we look at these examples - soldier, athlete, farmer - we will see what they have in common about our need to stand strong for Jesus.
Soldiers of Christ, Arise!
(2 Tim. 2:1-7)
A. There is a difference between being a believer and being a disciple. A believer has great desire, faith, and loves Jesus. I don’t put down a believer. But a disciple seems to have more actions that accompany the belief. A believer can be in worship every Sunday, but life during the week is separated from life in collective worship. A disciple is a follower, a student, one who desires to be like his teacher in every aspect and often reaches a higher spiritual connection than the person whose spiritual life is centered more around the collective worship than around Jesus.
B. I want to move forward, to have progress in my spiritual life. I know that requires more of me than I often want to give. I know that developing a depth of fellowship with God will cause me to keep in step with the Holy Spirit and to be able to discern God’s will more than my own desires. It comes with putting into practice during the week the things I gain from our collective worship.
C. Can I imagine a more spiritual me? What would I look like? What would I think like? What would I sound like? What would I do differently than I am right now? Those questions cause me to see future that is far more glorious than what I often experience now.
D. I love how Paul begins this paragraph with these words to Timothy, “My child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” The idea of strength coming from God is not new to Paul. Ps. 121 is called a Psalm of Ascent. It was one that looks out from captivity and cries (vs 1-2). Paul has been preaching that anthem not just to Timothy, but to churches. In Eph. 6:10 we hear, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
E. So like Timothy, I am called to action. But I will never be able to do it simply by my own strength. My help, my strength come from God and the grace of Jesus. I draw upon that grace and it takes me from Sunday forward.
I. The Solider, Athlete, Farmer
A. So I speak to you disciples who are here today. I call upon you to hear the message of Paul to Timothy. Find your strength in the grace of Christ, and when you do, Paul calls you a good soldier. Look again at his words (vs. 3-4).
B. Soldiers of Christ understand your calling. As a soldier you are called upon face the trials of war. Endure hardships, share in the suffering, understand this fact, “You joined up voluntarily, so face the hardships like a soldier.” Life is not easy or fair, but it’s time I learn to praise God that He doesn’t give me what I deserve or what is fair. Discipleship calls upon me to pick up my cross and follow him. Brothers and Sisters, let us not whine about how the world dislikes us because of our beliefs. This is battle and we need to learn to rise up, stand up, and become a soldier of the cross. I love the way Bob Moorehead quoted, “The Fellowship of the Unashamed.”
I am a part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.” The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, love with patience, live by prayer and labor with power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable and my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, shut up, let up or slow up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and spoken up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.”
C. Soldiers of Christ, Arise! It is time to stand up and be counted. It is time we learn from the solider. The soldier doesn’t get entangled in the cares of this world. Paul says, “no soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits.” What a great lesson to learn. The idea is that of focus. Maybe we could rephrase the passage – do you want to please self or the one who called you? The soldier is not about serving himself. He serves something greater.
D. The other two examples Paul uses is that of the athlete and the farmer. The athlete “plays the by rules.” Now think through this one. Being a Christian has rules. God didn’t ask me to like them, vote on them, affirm them, or feel good about them. Instead, God said, “I know you and what you need to do so here are the rules.” A lady told me yesterday, “I believe in God, Jesus, the 10 Commandments and the rest is church fights.” I don’t know if that is fully true assessment, but she was right about God having some rules. Paul often uses athletic terms to describe Christianity. He talks about running the race, boxing the air, and receiving the crown but in order to get the crown you have play by the rules.
E. The farmer doesn’t go hungry. I know a few farmers. They may not be rich by worldly standards, but they don’t go hungry. They raise crops and animals to sell, but also for their own food. We are to be like the soldier, athlete and farmer.
II. The Unchained Word
A. When Paul wrote these words, he was in jail. He believed his life would soon come to end. He was not fearful of death for Paul knew that this life was simply the stepping stone for greatness of eternity with God. So Paul says to Timothy that he was bound like a criminal. But the next statement is what Paul shouted from his prison cell, “But the word of God is not bound!”
B. You can take a solder captive. You can put him in a prison camp and leave there. You can even take away his life, but the one thing you cannot do is bind up the Bible. It is the unchained living word that is sharper than any two-edged sword.
A. The song we are going to sing tells us to “Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!” In the spring of 1858 a revival was taking place in Philadelphia. A well-known young preacher named Dudley Tyng was having afternoon prayer meetings and preaching. Thousands would come to pray and here this young preacher. George Duffield was a preacher that had become friends with young Dudley Tyng. But Mr. Tyng was hurt in a farming accident and died. At his side while he was dying Tyng said to Duffield, “Tell them to Stand up for Jesus.”
B. The following Sunday George Duffield preached a sermon from Eph. 6 and read these words as he preached (Read the words of the song).
C. The question you must ask this morning is are you willing to stand up for Jesus? If we can help you to make your stand, please come as we sing this great song.