End Of Term Service

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It’s been said that under God ‘everything rises or falls on leadership’. And there’s a great deal of truth in that. The Apostle Paul realized the importance of godly, courageous leadership for the future of gospel ministry and the health of the church and so writes this letter to Timothy – a young leader – to encourage him and strengthen him to be both faithful and fruitful. Paul is writing from prison and knew that his life was nearly at an end and he wanted to ensure that faithful gospel ministry & church leadership continued without him. Now many of you are involved in leadership in one way or another in the church, in university or school CUs and on holiday clubs and camps this summer. And if you’re a student my prayer is that you’ll be involved in some kind of ministry this summer and in leadership of various kinds of ministries in churches in the future. The church here in the North East needs faithful, gifted & courageous men to be overall leaders and gospel ministers and teachers and both men and women to be effectively serving in appropriate ways in gospel & pastoral ministry. So let’s look at Paul’s charge to Timothy and see how it also applies today.

Paul is writing to Timothy to encourage him to persevere in, to pass on and to preserve what he has received - the gospel of Christ and the apostolic teaching at a time when the church was experiencing much suffering. And the letter calls us to do the same today at a time when the gospel is both undermined in many churches and under attack from the authorities. Back in February of this year two evangelists were witnessing in a quotes ‘Muslim’ area of Birmingham when they were stopped by the police. They were advised to stop handing out Christian literature and were under investigation for a hate crime! This past week a motion calling for the House of Bishops “to confirm their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in a multi-faith society, and to publish best practice in evangelizing people of other faiths” was dropped by the General Synod of the Church of England. Instead they will debate a motion on ‘church tourism’! Yet there are also tremendous opportunities for the gospel – witness the Christianity Explored Taster Sessions, HTG and now Clayton.TV. Paul's second letter to Timothy is therefore an urgent letter for our times. A new generation of young Timothy’s is needed who will guard the gospel, who are determined to proclaim it and are prepared to suffer for it, and who will pass it on pure and uncorrupted to the generation which in due course will rise up to follow them. Are we willing to pass it on whether as parents, grandparents, children’s and youth leaders, student leaders, Bible study group leaders, school teachers? Look at v5 where we see that Timothy's mother and grandmother had an important part to play in bringing him up in the faith, in passing on their knowledge of the gospel. We all have a role to play. And are those of you who are in CYFA or who are students or in Transit or 20's and 30's willing to be the next generation of young Timothys? Now that doesn’t have to mean being a ‘Bible basher’ in the Big Brother House! However it might be costly but as the missionary Jim Elliot, who was martyred in South America, said: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he can never lose". So with that in mind


“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity [or cowardice] but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Timothy appears to have been timid and lacking in confidence even though he’d been gifted by God, even though he'd had a good grounding in the faith and had a genuine faith in Christ (v5&6). He was under pressure. He was struggling with the suffering the church was facing and with the fact that Paul, his spiritual dad, was in prison (v8). As a result he was being tempted to be ashamed of the gospel and of Paul. So Paul has to remind him that being cowardly has nothing to do with Christianity. And we need to hear that too. Like Timothy we can be timid or cowardly about the gospel. As someone once said, “If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space! I always find it encouraging to read that John Chapman, the Australian evangelist, was for many years unable to admit to anyone how really difficult he found it to speak to people about Jesus. He writes:

“I thought there must be something wrong with me and sometimes I even doubted whether I was a Christian because of this fear. This spark of doubt would flare up into a flame whenever I was challenged with a question such as, 'How many people have you led to Christ?' It was a long time before I discovered that almost all Christians were like I was. All Christians are tempted to be ashamed of the gospel. Jesus warned us that we would be and Paul has to encourage Timothy not to be ashamed.” (Know & Tell The Gospel)

So how does Paul encourage Timothy to be faithful to the gospel and to
overcome his timidity? And how can we be encouraged to do the same and encourage others? Well in 6 ways.

One - Paul encourages Timothy by writing to him. We too can be encouraged from the very same letter today. Reading God’s Word daily is so important. But writing, texting or e-mailing people can also be vital in encouraging others today.

Two - Paul reminds Timothy in v2 of the grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Three blessings of God's love - grace to the worthless, mercy to the helpless and peace to the restless. Who tonight needs to be reminded of the blessings we have through from and in Christ Jesus? And of his promise to be with us to the end of the age?

Three - Paul prays for Timothy. V3: "Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." We need prayer support and to pray for others over the summer that we all may be faithful, bold & wise in proclaiming the gospel.

Four - Paul praises Timothy and shows that he has confidence in him. Look at v3, 5 and 6. Paul thanks God for Timothy, for his sincere faith and for the gift God gave him. And we too respond to encouragement don't we? It gives us confidence to go on and be bold. So encourage one another over the summer in ministry.

Five - Paul reminds Timothy of the gift of God which is in him, v6, how the Holy Spirit has equipped him and how that gift needs to be fanned into flame through use, through stepping out in faith. Do we need to fan into flame the gift of God which is in us? Are you on fire for Christ?

Six - v7, Paul reminds Timothy that God did not give us a spirit of timidity [or cowardice] but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us and equips us to serve and by his power we can overcome any cowardice. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us power for sharing the gospel. It is futile for us to rely on ourselves. We need to keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit each day (Eph 5:18). The Holy Spirit also gives us love. If we have love for those who don't know Christ we’ll be able to endure the suffering that can come with taking the gospel to them. True Christian love, energized by the Spirit enables us to sacrifice for others and not be afraid. The Holy Spirit also gives us self discipline. Meaning both endurance to battle on and self control so that we can remain calm, keep our heads and be faithful even when the heat is on.

You see Timothy did not need any new spiritual ingredients in his life. All he had to do was fan into flame what he already had. The same is true for us. The Holy Spirit has been given to all who are in Christ Jesus. And Jesus says that the Holy Spirit does not leave us no matter how much we fail (John 14:16). But he cannot fill us, empower us and use us if we neglect our spiritual lives. It is possible to grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and to quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).


“God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.”

Many football fans are not ashamed to wear their team’s shirts in public, except perhaps any England supporters at Euro 2008! Yet many Christians are often nervous about their allegiance to Christ in public. But because we have been given a spirit of power, love and self discipline then we should not be ashamed to speak about the good news of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will give us the words and will do the convicting of sin. We should not be timid or cowardly about sharing the gospel. Why? Well look at Paul. He was not ashamed of the gospel even though he was in jail and about to die for it. His life had been totally changed around by Christ. He had been chosen and gifted by the Lord to take the gospel to the Gentiles. He had been given a spirit of power, love and self discipline. And he also knew that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). And therefore we must let everyone know about the gospel in the power, love and self discipline of the Spirit. Being ashamed of the gospel doesn’t help anybody. People need to hear. People need the Lord. God does not want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Romans 10:14-15:

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? {15} And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Tragically many people today are not ashamed to use the name of Jesus as a swear word. If only they knew that if they used his name in a very different way they could be so richly blessed. Romans 10:13:

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

We must not be ashamed to speak about the glorious name of Christ and the glorious gospel. We may not all be gifted evangelists but we are all commanded to go and make disciples. And what is this gospel we are not to be ashamed of? Look at verses 9 and 10:

“[God] who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, {10} but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

The gospel is the good news of salvation, the good news of our Saviour Christ Jesus. We are saved – ‘not because of anything we have done’ - but through faith in Christ by the grace of God. I.e. God's Riches At Christ's Expense - forgiveness of sin, new and eternal life only through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Did you know that there won’t be any good people in heaven – only forgiven people. By his death on the cross bearing our sin and his resurrection from the dead, Christ has defeated sin and death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, as Paul puts it. Who tonight needs to put their faith in Christ? You’ve been thinking it through for some time. Why not turn to and trust Christ now? And we are not to be ashamed of that message. We are to herald and proclaim it faithfully and boldly with, as Peter put it, ‘gentleness and respect’. We are to herald or proclaim it whatever the cost (v12). And so:


“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God…”

According to chapters 1 and 4 of this letter Paul is in a dark dungeon in Rome, chained, lonely and cold. Some of us who were recently in Rome visited this prison and in the depths it would have been very dark. He is awaiting trial and tradition has it that Paul was beheaded shortly after. Paul has almost finished the race but he wants to make sure that the gospel continues to be spread and faithfully taught after his death in spite of the suffering this may lead to. We are not to be ashamed of the gospel and so we must be willing to suffer for it too. And when we do face the prospect of suffering for the gospel we mustn’t then suddenly become ashamed. We thank God for the recent example of Michael Nazir Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, who has spoken out in spite of death threats. V11&12

“And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. {12} That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”

Paul is not ashamed even though he is suffering in prison for he knows
Christ personally and knows that his future is secure in Christ whatever might happen to him on earth. Remember that we don't suffer for the gospel in our own strength but by the power of God. Timothy was weak in himself and so are we, but by the power of God we can endure. Jesus suffered for us on the cross and calls us to be willing to suffer for him.

Fourthly and finally, GUARD THE GOSPEL v13&14

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. {14} Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

With the spirit of power, love and self discipline living inside us we are not to be cowardly, we are not to be ashamed of the gospel, we are to be willing to suffer for the gospel and we are also to guard the gospel. How? Again, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us – the Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth (John 16:13) and strengthens us to fight the good fight. And, says Paul in v13, with Christian faith and love. With faith that the gospel message is God's message and true, and with love - we are to speak the truth in love. Where there is no genuine faith and love there is no true gospel message and no true preaching of the word. In contrast Paul says in 2 Tim 4:2-4 that we are to:

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. {3} For the time will come when men 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. {4} They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

We are called to remain faithful to God's Word, to guard the good deposit with the help of the Holy Spirit. And in turn what has been entrusted to us - namely the gospel - we must entrust to men who will also be qualified to teach others. Home Group, 20’s&30’s, Transit, Focus & CU leaders to assistants, youth leaders to young people. And 2 Timothy 2 - we are to be approved workmen - workers in the Word, correctly handling the Word of truth, which is one aim of Foundations that begins tomorrow. So let’s encourage one another to fan into flame the gift of God which is in us, to use the gift for the sake of the gospel and for the glory of God. Martin Luther- King used to say 'Keep the faith' - yes but don't keep it to yourself - share it!

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