Dr. Danny Campbell
This young convert was deeply impressed and determined to make these the rules of his life. From that day onward throughout his life he made it a rule to spend the first moments of his day alone with God and God's Word. Before he read a letter, looked at a paper or even read a telegram, he went first to the Bible, that the first impression of the day might be what he got directly from God.
- Series: General Topics
- Scripture: 2 Timothy 3-4
Paul Finished Well
Let’s start by looking at these words from Moses written about 3,500 years ago.
The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength eighty years; yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away…so teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. -Moses in Psalms 90:10, 12
We know that now and throughout history many people have died before they reached 80 years of age, and others lived longer than 80 years of age. But the average age of death in America is between 70 and 80.
So let’s visualize this with a chart for a moment.
If a person lives to be 80…
Of course living in a sin-stained world we are not guaranteed 80 years, so we need to MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT!
But as I look at that list as a 53 year old man, I realize that if the Rapture doesn’t happen first, I am down to my last 10,000 days.
I feel a greater urgency then ever to make every day count for Jesus, particularly to reach all the lost people I see around me and to exhort all the distracted Christians I see around me to make sure Christ is above all in their lives.
Scholars believe Paul died before he reached 70, more like in his mid to late 60’s.
This is the last message in “facing life with the Apostle Paul.”
Last time we saw him use his personal influence to get Philemon to do the right thing in relationship to Onesimus.
Paul wrote to Philemon about 62 AD from the Roman imprisonment that is described at the end of the Book of Acts.
After he was released we aren’t sure what he did for the next several years. We do know the two things he what he wanted to: get the gospel to places it had not yet been like Spain, and take trips back to encourage those he had led to Christ.
Paul modeled 5G living – he did everything he did for the glory of God, the good of his fellow men, to get the gospel to the lost, to help his fellow believers grow, and he did it all with a grateful heart.
Around 64 AD the Roman Emperor Nero distracted his people from his political failures by burning down Rome. Immediately the people were suspicious that he had done it himself.
To save his own skin Nero blamed the Christians and started a vicious persecution against them. Arrests and trials began. When Christians refused to deny that Jesus is Lord and say that Caesar is Lord, they were sentenced to death.
Some died by being attached to poles along the roads in Rome and were se on fire. Others were brought into the sports arenas and hungry lions were brought into devour them. Others were crucified and beheaded.
The two key leaders of the early church, Peter and Paul, were both arrested, and each awaited martyrdom at the hands of Rome’s executioners. But instead of destroying the church, persecution led to even more church growth.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” -Tertullian of Carthage in North Africa (160-240)
We don’t have Peter’s last words before he was executed, but we do have Paul’s - Turn in your Bibles to 2 Timothy chapters 3 and 4.
In our day we usually call in Hospice when we are down to our last 200 days or so of life.
As a Pastor I have seen God use that time to do amazing things.
I have seen it be the time people finally got right with God.
I have seen people ask for forgiveness from relatives and friends, and wonderful reconciliations happen.
I have heard men and women exhort their loved ones to walk with God.
2 Timothy is Paul calling in hospice on himself, no longer speaking of travelling to anywhere but Heaven, and urging Timothy to travel to him before he is executed (martyred). It’s also his last words to all of us living in these last days.
Read 2 Timothy 3 and 4 Paul Finished Well Let’s Pray!
Paul diagnosed the self-love that will characterize our last days 3:1-9
He gives 18 crisp descriptions of a generation that turns from God.
In the last days they will love everything but God.
The will be lovers of themselves, they will be lovers of money, they will be lovers of pleasure, but they will not be lovers of God.
He is not just speaking of those who are pagans.
He is speaking of those who hold to some outward form of the Christian faith, but look everywhere else to find their power for living.
They are led by their lusts.
They resist the truth.
As Paul is giving his last words to Timothy and all of us Timothys, he wants us to understand that those who claim faith but don’t live lives based on God’s truth are frauds, disapproved by heaven, whose folly will be revealed to all.
That would include Preachers and churches that don’t really believe the Bible and say Jesus is not the only way of salvation.
That would include politicians that say abortion is okay. No, it’s murder of innocent life that deserves to live!
That would include all that reject Genesis 1 saying God created everyone male and female, and Genesis 2 saying that marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman, and the only proper use of sexuality is for bonding and possible procreation within marriage.
But the latest polls said that over half of people who say they are Christians think sex before marriage is okay. If that includes you, you are who Paul is talking about in these verses.
Paul challenges all of us as “Timothys” to follow his example 3:10-4:5
Look at verse 10 – “But”
Timothy you have carefully followed what I was about.
When we look at the nine things Paul speaks of next, it’s a pretty good way to check ourselves also.
Paul’s ‘talk’ was what the Bible teaches.
Salvation by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone!
He had experienced it, he taught it.
He knew that if God had saved him he could save anybody.
Paul’s ‘walk’ was consistent with what he taught.
My manner of life
Paul had grown in Christ, and consistently applied Christ’s moral teachings.
Paul had worked hard to have healthy relationships with other believers. He had grown under the leadership of others, he was a good leader to those he led.
Paul had worked hard to resolve conflict biblically. Paul had given and received forgiveness.
Paul’s purpose was to make much of Jesus.
That Paul was a focused guy!
I want to know Christ! For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!
I want others to know Christ, and will sacrifice for it to happen!
Paul’s faith was that God would do what He said He would do.
Share God’s Word with others, and it won’t return void.
He led people to Christ one on one, in small groups, and big crowds. He planted churches that would plant churches, and mentored
Paul was longsuffering in the midst of his physical weaknesses.
Dealing with his thorn in the flesh, discovering God’s grace is sufficient.
He didn’t get healed, but he did get a promise!
Paul was patient as the baby Christians and churches grew.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Paul loved people as he had been loved by Jesus.
He loved people and wanted them to experience Jesus.
He loved his fellow Jews and Gentiles; He loved men and women, boys and girls; He loved the Prisoners and the Prisonkeepers; He loved the rich and the poor; He loved Philemon and he loved Onesimus.
Paul persevered through persecutions and afflictions.
Paul was knocked down by many things in his life. But he always got up again.
He kept going when he felt like quitting.
Paul wasn’t perfect – he even referred to himself in the present tense as the worst of sinners.
But Paul loved Jesus and made every day count for Jesus!
Paul challenged Timothy to follow his example, and the same challenge goes out to us as well.
Every believer should memorize 3:12 – All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
You are going to get knocked down, brothers and sisters. The question is will you be like Paul and get up, refuse to be bitter, keep your eyes on Jesus, and finish well!
Paul lets us know in 3:13 that imposters will grow worse.
Don’t join them, Timothy, be the real thing through faith and applied truth.
God has given you the scriptures.
The Scriptures are profitable for…
Doctrine – that’s what you should believe.
Reproof – that’s what you should not believe.
Correction – that’s how you should not behave.
Instruction – that’s how you should behave.
Timothy, talk the talk and walk the walk like I did.
As you preach the word, some will lash out at you, but others will be saved.
You won’t regret it when you are facing death like I am now!
Paul finished well and would be rewarded (and so can we) V. 6-8
Paul says I am being poured out like a drink offering.
In the Old Testament the drink offering was not a stand alone offering. It went with other offerings like the burnt offering. The drink offering would be poured out around the burnt offering.
Paul knew he had been sentenced to execution, and it could be by burning, or being thrown to lions, or on a cross like Jesus, or beheading.
There was no telling with sadistic Nero. He did know his lifeblood was about to poured out, spent in service to Jesus. And he courageously refers to it as a drink offering!
Take up the water bottle, and say as pouring…
The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. That’s all, folks.
Put the bottle up on its side.
But that’s not all, folks!
There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will give, but not only to me but to all who themselves finish well for Jesus!
Paul is not here referring to the imputed righteousness that every believer receives at salvation. We receive that as a gift by faith.
When Paul speaks of the crown of righteousness, he is referring to the reward that awaits believers for the practical acts of righteousness they have done by faith.
If anyone’s work which he has built on it (his faith in Christ) endures, he will receive a reward. -I Corinthians 3:14
Here’s how Foxe’s Book of Martyrs describes Paul’s martyrdom.
At first, Nero was blamed for setting fire to Rome, so to direct the blame away from himself he blamed the Christians. As a result, a fierce persecution broke out against them. During it, Paul was arrested and put back in prison in Rome. While in prison this second time, he probably wrote his second letter to Timothy. It was his last. Not long after, he was judged guilty of crimes against the Emperor and condemned to death. He was taken to the execution block and beheaded. It was A.D. 66, just four years before Jerusalem fell. -Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
Notice that Paul didn’t describe his life as being taken but as being poured out!
Paul never got over that Christ had poured Himself out for us; in response Paul poured himself out for the Lord and for others.
He finished well, and then joined the great cloud of witnesses who have now crossed the finish line and are cheering us on now.