AGCC Sun. a.m. 11/26/2000

TEXTS:     II Tim. 3:16-4:8;     I Tim. 6:11-12


The days we are living in have great challenges for us and our children. We are living at a time when the clear signposts of what is right and wrong are disappearing, the resulting confusion may result in a lost generation. ILLUS:During the early days of World War II, when the Nazis invaded France, French citizens took down all signposts. As the Nazi armies advanced, they didn't know which way to turn or in what direction lay their objective. Does it seem to you that the signposts of life have all been taken down? They were not taken down by us to confuse the enemy; they were taken down by the enemy to confuse us. We don't know which way to turn until we open the Scriptures. The only reliable signposts are there. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). Such a danger is real, one of the most tragic statements in the Old Testament is found in Judg 2:10 "After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel." The possibilities of a new generation not knowing God can be very real if the people of God are not prepared to live right today. PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us that it is critical we are people of God that keeps the Word of God as the guide for what is considered right from wrong. The loss of truth from God's Word will result in the loss of godliness.

I. THE SOURCE       II Tim. 3:16-17

A. God's Word     II Tim. 3:16 1. Paul was writing to a young pastor, the next generation … Paul recognized that the challenge for truth must be fought in every generation. a. Paul tells Timothy what the source of truth is -- God's Word. b. In order for truth to survive it must not change. 2. Paul states that God's Word is good for: a. "teaching" b. "rebuking" c. "correcting" d. "training in righteousness" 3. This covers all areas. And it shows the usefulness of God's Word for every aspect of life. 4. It is tragic that the world has come to believe that God's Word is outdated and old fashion, and even more tragic that even some believers feel this way! a. God's Word is always fresh, and when examined properly it is amazingly up to date! ILLUS:Oceanography owes a great debt to the books of Matthew Fontaine Maury. His discoveries have been of inestimable help to navigators of the high seas. Maury acknowledged his debt to the Bible for some of his scientific findings. One day when he was ill, his son read Psalm 8 to him. When the boy read the eighth verse, his father asked him to repeat it: "The birds of the air, and fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the seas." When the boy had finished, the great scientist declared, "If there are paths in the sea, I am going to find them." Today the great oceangoing vessels follow the paths marked out by Maury, who believed they were there because the Bible said they were. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). b. God's Word still speaks to all today, and it still will tomorrow. B. Good Works     II Tim. 3:17 1. If we live our lives in line with God's Word our lives will reflect a lifestyle that yields the best good works. a. History is replete with examples of this: (1. The first 100 colleges and Universities in the USA were all Christian colleges … the thirst for truth and knowledge was the result of FAITH! (2. The reason most western countries have such advanced medical institutions was the result of a passionate love to help the sick and needy from a Christian ethic, based on God's Word. (3. The entire work ethic of our modern age was birthed in the Christian faith, this has produced the great advances of technology and progress we know today. b. Good works are the fruit of good faith! 2. The man or woman who actually use God's Word will not find it difficult to be known as someone whose life reflects good works. ILLUS:A Bible that's falling apart probably belongs to someone who isn't. -- Christian Johnson. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1. 3. It is so important that our children see their parents live by God's Word, it will help the youth see that a life with God's direction will certainly go farther than one without it. 4. This is the problem with our culture today, without a sense of godly direction, everything is ok. ILLUS:Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind . Lucius Annaeus Seneca (C. 4 B.C.-A.D. 65) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 4433. 5. Our lives will accomplish so much more when we know where we are going. II. THE STRUGGLE     II Tim. 4:1-5 A. Godly Will     II Tim. 4:1-4; I Tim. 6:1-12 1. Here's the challenge, to preach the Word as well as to practice it! a. To live for God in a culture that has abandoned much of God's Word will be a challenge! b. It will require a determined will to live right. c. We will be at odds with our culture at times. d. There will be constant battles, and pressure to cave in to values that run contrary to God's Word. 2. If we don't stay strong there will be opportunities to violate God's Word, with the tragic result that our Children will then believe God's Word isn't really that important. 3. There is however good news in all this pressure, our testimony for God can shine ever brighter against the black background! a. When we live righteously for God in spite of the world's pressures to compromise it makes our light shine even brighter. b. It will also show the wisdom of God to the world. 4. The fact is that some of the best fruit of our lives comes in the most difficult of circumstances when we trust God's Word and live according to it. ILLUS:When Handel wrote the "Hallelujah Chorus," his health and his fortunes had reached the lowest possible ebb. His right side had become paralyzed, and all his money was gone. He was heavily in debt and threatened with imprisonment. He was tempted to give up the fight. The odds seemed entirely too great. And it was then he composed his greatest work -- Messiah. Could we not say of Handel that the Spirit entered into him and set him upon his feet? -- Peter Marshall, Sr., "Who Can Take It?," Preaching Today, Tape No. 131. 5. During difficulties our focus on God becomes clearer. 6. Notice that Paul tells Timothy that in these last days people will gather around themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear rather than the truth … with the result that real truth will be lost. a. Such things as Sunday school training for our young people has never been greater as a need! b. The importance of teaching and practicing the truth has never been greater. c. It is absolutely critical that we are able to convey God's Word to the next generation. B. Great Work     II Tim. 4:5 1. The one thing we must learn to do when truth is abandoned for convenience by our culture is NOT panic! a. Notice that Paul tells Timothy to "keep your head…" b. It is not a time when we should just sit around and mope over the conditions of the day, it is a time to stay sharp! 2. No doubt the world will become critical of people of faith as our life stands in greater and greater contrast to the compromised lifestyle of unbelievers. a. We must not however become unsettled by such criticisms, we must stay the course for truth. b. If we become consumed with the criticisms we will lose our focus, while it is tempting to defend our stand for truth, it is more important that we simply LIVE the truth, it will defend itself. ILLUS:Colonel George Washington Goethals, the man responsible for the completion of the Panama Canal, had big problems with the climate and the geography. But his biggest challenge was the growing criticism back home from those who predicted he'd never finish the project. Finally, a colleague asked him, "Aren't you going to answer these critics?" "In time," answered Goethals. "When?" his partner asked. "When the canal is finished." -- Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership. 3. We must not become sidetracked by fighting our critics, we must be focused to fight the good fight of faith in our lifestyle. III. THE SATISFACTION     II Tim. 4:6-8 A. God's Winners     II Tim. 4:6-7 1. As Paul looks back on his life, as he nears the end of his life he is able to say with great confidence and pride, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." a. In the end it won't matter what the critics say, it will only matter what Christ says! b. There will come a day when you will be so happy that you hung in there and did not cave in and follow the ways of this world. ILLUS:The Brazilians describe a person who sticks with something with the word "garra." If you look up "garra" in a Portuguese dictionary, you see that it means fingernails. If someone has "garra," he has nails, he hangs in there. That to me is one definition of success because Jesus said, "He who endures to the end will be saved." He who has "garra" will be saved. -- Max Lucado, Leadership, Vol. 13, no. 3. 2. Paul was much more concerned with how God felt about the way he lived than what the world thought. a. This is still a good way to gauge one's life. b. Paul kept his eye on God's approval, not the approval of his culture. 3. Paul refused to compromise his values no matter what the pressures were, not even to save his own life. a. Our culture promotes compromising with truth. b. We must value God's truth to the place where we won't consider compromise. 4. The power of Paul's commitment to truth and his unwillingness to compromise gave the next generation a standard to follow, and so young Timothy as a pastor is encouraged to stay the course … Paul showed that it was possible to live for God in spite of the pressures of culture. a. Timothy as a young man was timid, and often fearful … but Paul's example must have constantly encouraged him to keep fighting to stand up for truth. b. There is power in the uncompromised life, even beyond one's own lifetime! B. Great Worth     II Tim. 4:8 1. Paul is at the end of his life, but he is not looking backward, he is looking forward! a. His focus is on tomorrow … to the reward that will soon be his! b. For Paul it is not how he started life, it is not the mistakes of the past that consumed him now at the end, it is the reward that will soon be his, it is how we finish the race that counts, not how we started it! ILLUS:By 7 p.m. on October 20, 1968, at the Mexico City Olympics Stadium, it was beginning to darken. It had cooled down as well. The last of the Olympic marathon runners were being assisted away to first-aid stations. Over an hour earlier, Mamo Waldi of Ethiopia had charged across the finish line, winning the 26-mile, 385-yard race looking as strong and as vigorous as when he'd started. As the last few thousand spectators began preparing to leave, they heard police sirens and whistles through the gate entering the stadium. The attention turned to that gate. A sole figure, wearing the colors of Tanzania, came limping into the stadium. His name was John Steven Aquari. He was the last man to finish the marathon in 1968. His leg was bandaged, bloody. He had taken a bad fall early in the race. Now, it was all he could do to limp his way around the track. The crowd stood and applauded as he completed that last lap. When he finally crossed the finish line, one man dared ask the question all were wondering. "You are badly injured. Why didn't you quit? Why didn't you give up?" Aquari, with quiet dignity said, "My country did not send me seven thousand miles to start this race. My country sent me to finish." So it is with God. God didn't just send you to start this race. He didn't just send you to begin a noble task or a noble relationship. God sent you both to start and to finish. -- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish," Preaching Today, Tape No. 155. 2. Paul tells Timothy that this reward is not only his, but it is for all who live for God. 3. If this was your last day on Earth and you were about to face eternity would you be as confident as Paul? a. What if Christ came tonight? Would you be prepared to face God with the knowledge of a reward coming? b. There is no reason why we can't be prepared! We just need to be the people of God every day! CONCLUSION:    The summation of a great life is not how much popularity we gained, it is how well we propagated the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The power of God is manifested in a life lived well, lived out in the power of the Holy Spirit and God's Word. It's not how we start life that counts, it is how we end it! Thanks be to God for godly lives!