by Dr. Phil Kamibayashiyama
Times have changed, even within Christianity. Just look at what is produced by today’s Christian publishers and media, the standards and lifestyle of Christians, and even the way Christians worship in churches. The Bible teaches that some changes are bad and some are good. We are called to discern the difference by God’s Word.
II Timothy is Paul’s last words to the next generation—Timothy. Paul told him that times would change for the worse, and Paul exhorted him what to do—how to keep firm in the faith in changing times. Paul has 3 main themes here: 1) Suffering 2) Testifying of the Truth 3) Increasingly Evil Times. The main truth of 2 Timothy is this: Although you suffer for it, testify of the words of truth during this increasingly evil age.
Our Gospel Sufferings: Paul exhorts Timothy in 1: 8: “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” First, be not ashamed to testify about the Lord. Second, be partaker of the afflictions of the gospel. There is suffering for testifying about the Lord, but do not be ashamed of Him! Speak about the Lord! Stand with His people! Join in suffering for the truth! 1:12a: “For the which cause [vv. 8-11: speaking the gospel] I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed.” Vv. 15-16 mention 2 sufferings: V. 15: All other believers turned away from Paul. Why? V. 16: They were ashamed of “his chain.” But 2:3 commands “Endure hardness/hardships.” 2:10 tells us to endure all kinds of hardships because the salvation of souls is stake!
Our Mission: to Testify the Words of Truth. Secondly, we endure gospel sufferings because they are part of fulfilling our mission. Our mission starts with holding the truth. 1:13: Hold fast the form of sound words. V. 14 calls the truth “that good thing which was committed unto thee.” What are we commanded to do with that truth? Keep it! Do not change because of trends. Do not yield to worldly influences. Then we are to testify of the truth to others! 2:2: Teach it to faithful men. 2:14: Remind them of it. 2:25: Instruct those that oppose (themselves). Of course, to testify of God’s truth, you must study diligently the Word to accurately explain it. Do you study God’s Word? (Not only reading the Bible or studying Christian books.) To stand for truth, we must be convinced of it. To be convinced, we must study it! Then, to hold and testify of the truth, we must avoid unprofitable words (2:14, 16, 23). This refers to religious speculations and issues of curiosity. They have no profit! Instead, study what the Biblical text actually says! God also commands us to purge ourselves from bad influences (2:21) and to flee youthful lusts (2:22). Testifying of God’s truth involves your entire being: what is in your mind and heart, what is in your life, what is in your relationships. We must be pure. Do not be lukewarm! 1) Are you studying God’s Word? 2) Are you holding on to it? 3) Are you avoiding bad influences and unprofitable words that pull you away from the truth? 4) Are you telling God’s Word to others? Last question: Will you maintain a Bible-filled life and testify the truth even as the world gets worse?
Our World: People will become worse. 3:1-5 pictures an increasingly anti-truth world. From such ungodly people, turn away! 3:8 says these people resist the truth. 3:13 says evil men and false teachers shall become worse and worse. BUT YOU, v. 14, continue thou in the truth you have learned even when there is more opposition to the truth and a life obedient to the truth. YOU maintain a Bible-filled life and testify of its truths. This is because the Scripture is from GOD and is profitable for every need of man. Chapter 4 says the Word is what we must preach, no matter what people do.
Someday, we will all stand before God. Each one of us will give an account of whether we were faithful to God and His truth in our generation. We must study the truth, stand for the truth, speak the truth, live the truth, and endure any suffering that comes with holding the truth. Will you do this? Although you suffer for it, testify of the words of truth during this increasingly evil age.
Reading, learning, growing. God calls us to be changed through His Word. At BJMBC, our goal is to speak truthfully and clearly about that Word, while we prepare a future generation of students to proclaim it.