2 Timothy 4: “Fight for the Heart of Your King”

So here’s a morbid question, if you could write your own eulogy today, how would it read? Have you ever thought about that? I always enjoy hearing the stories of people who right their own eulogy to be read at their funeral. One man went as far as to hold his estate for ransom unless a family member read his eulogy exactly as he wrote it! No joke!

The Last Laugh

Walter Bruhl Jr. was 80 years old when he passed away in 2014, but before he left he made sure he was going to have the last laugh. Walter penned his own obituary complete with fill-in-the-blank spaces for the date and location of his death as well as a few LOL’s and inside jokes.

Benjamin Franklin

Christ’s Church in Philadelphia is the final resting place for many famous Philadelphians. One such famous Philadelphian buried at Christ’s Church is Benjamin Franklin. Although we can’t know for certain what the Quaker’s relationship with God was like, here’s a look at his epitaph.

“The Body of B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an old Book
Its contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Guilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms,
But the Work shall not be wholly lost:
For it will, as he believ’d,
Appear once more
In a new & more perfect Edition,
Corrected and amended by the Author.

Paul’s Eulogy

Many scholars agree that Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4 may serve as a eulogy for Paul’s life.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT) As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

As we look deeper into the ramifications of verse 7, I can’t help but realize exactly what Paul is saying. At the end of his life Paul is declaring that the things of his past have led to the faithfulness he’s experiencing in the present. This verse in the Greek reads like this: “I think more emphatic, the good fight I have fought, the course I have finished, the faith I have kept.” As John MacArthur puts it, “In each case the object is placed before the verb so the emphasis is there. This is how he looked at ministry, a fight, a course, and a faith, a body of truth, a race to run, a battle to fight.”

Brave-Heart

After the death of William Wallace, the Scottish Patriot who led armies in the fight for Scottish Independence, Robert the Bruce rose in power to lead the armies of Scotland.

Bruce ended up dying in 1329 at the age of 54. But before he died he requested that his heart be removed from his body and taken on crusade by a worthy knight. James Douglas, one of his closest friends, was at his bedside and took on the responsibility.

The heart of Robert the Bruce was embalmed and placed in a small container that Douglas carried around his neck. In every battle that Douglas fought, he literally carried the heart of his king pressed against his chest.

Douglas went on to fight similar battles in Spain, but on one occasion found himself surrounded. With death being imminent, Douglas reached for the heart strapped around his neck and flung it into the enemy’s midst and cried out, “Fight for the heart of your king!” One historian quoted Douglas as shouting, “Forward, brave heart, as ever thou were want to do, and Douglas will follow his king’s heart of die!”

I can’t think of a better way to leave this earth than to fight for the heart of my King, Jesus. Like Paul, I want to stand at the precipice of my eternity knowing that I fought the good fight, I finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

2 Timothy 3: “It’s The End of the World As We Know It”

I want you to read and determine if you believe we’re in the “Last Days” based off Pauls letter to Timothy. Paul indicates to Timothy that in the last days…

  • (v. 2) People will love only themselves and their money.
  • They will be boastful and proud
  • Scoffing at God
  • Disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful
  • They will consider nothing sacred.
  • (v. 3) They will be unloving and unforgiving
  • They will slander others and have no self-control
  • They will be cruel and hate what is good
  • (v. 4) They will betray their friends
  • Be reckless
  • Be puffed up with pride
  • Love pleasure rather than God
  • (v. 5) They will act religious
  • They will reject the power that could make them godly.

So what do you think? Based on this list are we living in the last days? Of course we are! But so was Paul! So was Timothy! The discipled believed in their heart of hearts that they wouldn’t die before they saw Christ return in all of his glory!

Many have made predictions on a number of apocalyptic events, including:

  • The End of the World
  • The Rapture
  • The Tribulation
  • The Rise of the Antichrist

None of the predictions were as significant as the push made buy famous NASA engineer Edgar C. Whisenant.

The Significance of 1988

*Edgar C. Whisenant (September 25, 1932 – May 16, 2001)

Whisenant was a former NASA engineer and Bible student who predicted the Rapture would occur in 1988, sometime between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13. He published two books about this, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 and On Borrowed Time. Eventually, 300,000 copies of 88 Reasons were mailed free of charge to ministers across America, and 4.5 million copies were sold in bookstores and elsewhere. Whisenant was quoted as saying “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town” and “[I]f there were a king in this country and I could gamble with my life, I would stake my life on Rosh Hashanah 88.”

Whisenant’s predictions were taken seriously in some parts of the evangelical Christian community. As the date approached, regular programming on the Christian Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) was interrupted to provide special instructions on preparing for the rapture.

When the predicted rapture failed to occur, Whisenant followed up with later books with predictions for various dates in 1989, 1993, and 1994. These books did not sell in quantity. Whisenant continued to issue various rapture predictions through 1997, but gathered little attention.

*Wikipedia Article

So What Do We Do Now?

The next big question then is this, so what do we do now? Well, to answer that, let’s look at what Paul instructed Timothy to do:

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NLT) 14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

So how do we live and navigate living in the last days? Simply put, read God’s Word and allow it to instruct your life. By daily reading God’s word you are preparing yourself not only for the day ahead, but also the week, month, year, and even eternity! So keep going! Don’t stop now, like Paul said, God’s word is useful to teach us truth and also serves as a mirror to help realize what’s wrong in our lives.

Think about this: God has you reading the word today in order to prepare and equip you to do every good work.

2 Timothy 2: “A Trustworthy Saying”

At the end of Chapter 2, as he does quite often, Paul tells Timothy the following remarks are “a trustworthy saying:”

11 If we die with him,
    we will also live with him.
12 If we endure hardship,
    we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
    he will deny us.
13 If we are unfaithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is.

Let’s take a few minutes and break each one of these statement down a little further.

11 If we die with him,
    we will also live with him.

The concept of dying with Christ isn’t foreign to a believer who has read God’s word. Many places in scripture we are invited to come and die. Thomas, who’s known for his “doubt” is actually the one who said in John 11:16 (NLT), “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” The Bible really speaks of dying with Jesus in two key ways.

  1. Dying with Christ through Baptism- The old is gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17).
  2. Dying physically for Christ- While Paul is sitting in prison awaiting his sentence and subsequent death, he write to young Timothy that the ultimate death for Christ is experienced as a Martyr for Christ. This is probably what Paul is referencing here in (v. 11).

The contrast statement to experiencing Christ’s death, is experiencing Christ’s resurrection. For as much as we read about death and suffering, we are blessed with the assurance that we too will be resurrected with Christ in our death (Rom. 6:5).

12 If we endure hardship,
    we will reign with him. 

Paul is no stranger to hardship, in fact, many times in his letters he indicates that suffering isn’t a matter of “if” but “when.” Here’s the kicker of what Paul is indicating in this verse. Paul isn’t saying “if” we experience hardship, but rather indicates that the results of our destiny is wrapped up in “if” we endure it! Hardship is unfortunately a part of the deal, but “if” we endure it, which indicates choice, WE WILL (powerful promise) reign with God for eternity! We need to remember that God trains us to rule in the earthly realm, in order for God to trust us to rule with him in the heavenly realms.

If we deny him,
    he will deny us.

Plain and straight to the point, Paul summarizes the teaching found in Matthew 10:33 (NLT) 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. One of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning is quoted as saying,“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

13 If we are unfaithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is.

We would expect Paul to write these words from this perspective…

 If we are faithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is.

However, now that we’ve been reading Paul for a while, we know Paul would hesitate to say that we have the ability to be faithful without God. Regardless of our faithfulness, God will always remain faithful. Praise the Lord that God’s faithfulness is never dependent upon our faithfulness.

Connecting both faithfulness and a desire to not deny Christ, scholar David Guzik recalls, “When one Christian in the days of the ancient Roman Empire was commanded to give money to the building of a pagan temple, he refused; and though he was old, they stripped him practically naked, and cut him all over his body with knives and spears. They started to feel sorry for him, so they said, “Just give one dollar to the building of the temple.” But he still would not. “Just burn one grain of incense to this pagan god,” they asked – but he would not. So he was smeared with honey, and while his wounds were still bleeding, they set bees and wasps upon him until he was stung to death. He could die; but he could not deny his Lord.

The Lord can give you the same strength to live for Him, even as this man died for Him.”

2 Timothy 1: “Just a Small Brush Fire”

South Philadelphia, July, 1989

If you’re just joining us, I’ve shared a couple of stories growing up, but for this story it’s important to know that I grew up on the South Side of Philadelphia. In fact, I grew up about 75 yards from the busiest set of railroad tracks on the east coast that ran from New York to Washington D.C. called, “The Northeast Corridor.”

One day in the middle of summer, my friends and I thought it would be fun to light spinners and throw them in the air. (FYI: Spinners don’t spin when you throw them in the air.) We would often go to the end of my street to perform these shenanigans because it was a dead end. Well, on this particularly hot and windy day, one of the spinner blew over the fence near the rail road tracks. Realizing, “wait, this could start a fire,” we ran around the fence onto the tracks to stomp out the spinner. Feeling the adrenaline rush of that moment, we decided to keep going.

Unfortunately our 4th grade minds didn’t take into consideration the very tall dead grass less than twenty feet from where we were standing. Needless to say, one of the spinners got carried away in the wind and fell into the dense covering of really tall dead grass.

We thought we had the fire contained and stomped out, so we all decided to put down our incendiary devices and go back to playing in the street. Suddenly we could see smoke starting to peak over the large bushes and fence down by the tracks. You may be thinking, “what did you do?” WE RAN, of course! All of us ran home and tried to pretend that nothing happened.

My mother, who apparently wasn’t born yesterday, as she would remind me, saw me sitting out on our stoop with my shoes sitting next to me, came out and asked me what was going on. Of course I lied and said, “nothing…”

“Steven? What did you do?”

“Seriously Mom, nothing’s going on…”

What happened next was a blur of activity:

  • A neighbor who’s house was right next to the fire pulled out his garden hose to fight the blazing inferno
  • The fire siren went off and the fire dept. was dispatched for the brush fire
  • The fire trucks first went to the wrong side of the tracks and had to turn around to come back on the other side
  • Thick black smoke was billowing up as the plastic covering on the fence melted away
  • South bound local train service was halted
  • The siding of the neighbors house was melted due to the heat of the fire

All because, that which we thought was extinguished, reignited because of the strong wind. Then, as the wind continued to blow it just served as fuel to spread the fire along the line of dead grass and bushes.

Fan Into Flame

Paul in 2 Timothy reminds Timothy to, “…fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

If you’ve ever spent anytime around a fire you know that even a fire that looks out can be quickly reignited simply by adding wind. The reminder/encouragement Paul provides Timothy indicates that his fire may have all but been out at this point. When you add verse 7 into the mix, we can deduce that Timothy was probably suffering from being fearful and timid in the faith as well.

Hear me: Paul isn’t just reminding Timothy, but reminds us today to allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to reignite the flame of His presence in our lives! Later he will say, (v. 14) 14 Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.”

(v. 8) So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.