Finding Discipleship In the Absence of the Father

Today’s selected reading continues I the first New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses eighteen through twenty of the first chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the apostle Paul beginning to write and speak about that which went before Timothy. What’s so incredible about the words which the apostle Paul is that he specifically spoke concerning the prophecies which were spoken over Timothy’s life while he was still a young man. This is worth noting and paying close attention to, for when you journey to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the account of Timothy, as well as his background. Within this passage of scripture you will find that Timothy was born to a Jewish mother, yet was the son of a Greek father. What’s more, is that you will read of young Timothy how he was well-beloved and well respected by the Christian community. Based on the observation of this young man, as well as the consensus of the people concerning young Timothy, the apostle Paul desires that Timothy would not only join him on his journey, but would also accompany him on his various missionary journeys. The apostle Paul was so impressed with and so impressed by Timothy that he could not see leaving Timothy behind, but instead desired that he might be a par taker of the apostolic ministry to which he had been called. As I am sitting here right now I can’t help but think about what type of man Timothy must have been—not only to be well spoken of by the Christian community, but also to attract the attention of the apostle Paul. Consider what type of witness and testimony young Timothy must have had in order to appeal to the apostle Paul and cause him to be desirous that he would join and accompany him on his missionary journey.

As you come to these three verses found within the first chapter of this first epistle written unto Timothy you will find that this is the second time the apostle Paul spoke of Timothy using the language of “son.” This is actually quite interesting and remarkable, for if one didn’t know any better, one might think that the apostle Paul was Father to Timothy. How could this be since Luke clearly writes and sets forth in the scriptures that Timothy’s father was a Greek. If you read the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you discover that Timothy’s father was indeed and was in fact a Greek, however, you find nothing else written concerning the man. I have long wondered why Timothy’s father was not written about within the treatise which Luke wrote to the most excellent theophilus. I have long wondered if Timothy’s father had passed away at a very young age, and Timothy was forced to grow up in a single parent home. Perhaps Timothy’s father—being a Greek—ran away from and perhaps even ran out on Timothy and his mother, and Timothy was left alone with his mother. We know that Timothy’s father was in fact a Greek, but we know nothing concerning what manner of man he was according to the sacred scripture. I am becoming increasingly convinced that there was a special bond and a special relationship that was forced between the apostle Paul and this young men. IN THE ABSENCE OF THE FATHER! IN THE ABSENCE OF A FATHER! I can’t help but wonder if there weren’t nights when the apostle Paul and Timothy day together by a camp fire under the stars as Paul asked him concerning his father. I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Paul was able to uncover and discover the tremendous home within the heart and soul of Timothy because of the absence of his father. Is it possible that Timothy carried within his heart and soul tremendous scars and wounds because of a father who was absent within his life.

I am utterly and completely convinced that there is something about the absence of a father within the life of a son, and perhaps even a daughter. I am convinced there is something about finding oneself throwing up without and apart from a father in the home to guide, instruct and direct a young boy, and even a young man. There is something about the absence of a father within the heart and life of a young man that truly does something within their heart and soul that more often than not can’t be explained. In order to begin to understand the life of this young many Timothy, it is necessary that we turn and direct our attention to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It is within the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that we first encounter and first discover the account of this young man whom Paul would have desired to accompany and join him on his apostolic and missionary journeys throughout Asia. Beginning with the first verse of the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the following words written by the beloved physician Luke: “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciples was there, named TImotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for them to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily” (Acts 16:1-5). What’s more, is that what we read and what we find in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts isn’t the only reference we have to Timothy’s family, for if you turn and direct your attention to the first chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy, you will find an additional piece of information concerning this young disciples: “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee bay the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 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” (2 Timothy 1:3-8).

As you read the account of this young man you will quickly notice that before anything else was written about him—even before we learn his name—he was referred to as a disciple. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this one singular fact, for everything else that Timothy was flowed forth and flowed from this one singular reality. I am convinced that if you remember nothing else from this writing, you must first remember that before Timothy was anything else, he was a disciple. Not only was Timothy a disciple, but Timothy was a disciple of Jesus Christ. Along these very lines, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which our Lord spoke unto His disciples immediately after Jesus rebuked Satan for being an offense to him because he didn’t desire the things that be of God, but those which be of men. Beginning with the twenty-fourth verse of the sixteenth chapter we find the following words recorded by the disciple Matthew concerning that which Jesus spoke unto the disciples: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28). If the beloved physician Luke records of Timothy that he was indeed and was in fact a disciple, there is not a doubt in my mind that this young man had given himself wholeheartedly to the words and teachings of Jesus—particularly and especially denying himself, taking up his cross and following Jesus. It’s worth noting that prior to speaking of denying oneself, prior to speaking of taking up one’s cross, and prior to speaking of following Him, Jesus first referenced those that wished to come after Him. We must not lose sight of this particular reality, for within these words are a powerful truth concerning the first and foremost desire which should be found within our hearts—namely, the desire to follow and pursue Jesus Christ with everything that is in us. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of Philippi, beginning in the third chapter of the epistle. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto these dear saints:

“…but what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made comfortable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:7-16).

Within this particular passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking of that one thing which he did in spite of and in light of everything else he did within his life—namely, forgetting those things which were behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. The apostle Paul sought diligently and fervently to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God which was in Christ Jesus, and followed after in order that he might apprehend that for which he was also apprehended. What I so love about this particular passage of Scripture is that the apostle Paul writes concerning the direct manifestation of a righteousness which is in God by faith—namely, that he might know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, and being made conformable unto His death. For the apostle Paul, there was nothing more singular within his heart and life than knowing Christ—and not only knowing Christ, but knowing the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. As I sit here and meditate upon the words which the apostle Paul wrote within this particular passage of Scripture I can’t help but be reminded of the tremendous fact and reality that when speaking of the sufferings of Christ he used the word “fellowship,” while when speaking of the resurrection of Christ, the apostle Paul used the word “power.” What we must realize, and what we must recognize within this particular passage of Scripture is that there can be no power without and apart from fellowship. There would be many among us who would seek and would desire the “power” of Christ’s resurrection to be manifested within their hearts and lives, and yet they are unwilling to give themselves to the fellowship of His sufferings. You know, we spend a great deal of time writing, talking about, and speaking of fellowship with others, and rightfully so, for this is absolutely necessary. What we don’t spend enough time speaking and talking about, however, is a different kind of fellowship—a fellowship that is not with man or with people, but a fellowship that is with the sufferings which Jesus Christ endured and experienced while present within and present upon this earth. We speak a great deal about fellowship with man, and yet I believe that while there are those among us who might have fellowship with others down pat, they struggle with fellowship with the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

The more I meditate upon this very reality, the more I am reminded of the words which Jesus Christ spoke unto the great multitudes which had gathered themselves unto Him in order to listen to Him teach and preach. Beginning with the twenty-fifth verse of the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find the following words: “And there went great multitudes with Him: and He turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be m y disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh again him with twenty-thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-35). Along these same lines I am reminded of the words which the apostle Peter spoke unto Jesus Christ immediately after Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler. Before getting into Peter’s response to Jesus following the encounter with the rich young ruler, I am convinced it is necessary to present you with the account of this encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler. Beginning with the sixteenth verse of the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we read and find the following words:

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).

Within this particular passage of Scripture we find a rich young ruler coming unto Jesus asking one single question, which he desired an answer to—“What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” When this rich young ruler entered into and came unto the presence of Jesus, he asked simply what he needed to be in order that he might have eternal life. Jesus’ response to this rich young ruler was simply to keep the commandments which were ordained and given unto Moses while he was atop the mountain in the wilderness. Attempting to justify himself and loan hold of a righteousness that was in and of himself, this rich young ruler asked which commandments he was specifically to follow and keep. In response to this young ruler’s response, Jesus proceeded to give him the social commandments, or those commandments which deal exclusively and specifically with his relationship with man. What Jesus neglected to do—undoubtedly deliberately and intentionally—was omit and leave out those commandments which deal specifically with his relationship with the living God. What’s more, is that you will also discover that Jesus left out the commandment to not covet, which was perhaps one thing that was most certainly present within the heart of this young ruler. It’s worth noting that in response to Jesus’ list of commandments which this young ruler was to follow, obey and keep, he declared unto Jesus that he kept all those things from his youth up. Thus, in the eyes of this particular young man, he viewed himself as having done everything needed to have eternal life—that was, until of course, he asked a question I am sure he wasn’t prepared for. In the twentieth verse of this particular passage of Scripture you will find the rich young ruler asking Jesus one single question which completely trumped his first two questions—the question regarding what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and the question which commandments he needed to keep. The question this young man asked was simply: “What lack I yet?” IN other words, that which this rich young ruler was asking was what he was still missing within his life. This rich young ruler was asking Jesus Christ what one thing he didn’t have within his life that he needed to lay hold of in order that he might obtain eternal life. Jesus’ response was one that completely rocked this rich young ruler to his core, for Jesus declared unto him that if he wanted to be perfect, he needed to go and sell all that he had, give to the poor, and then he would have treasure in heaven. Once he had sold everything he had and distributed to the poor, he was then to come and follow Christ. Matthew records that when the rich young ruler heard this saying, he went away sorrowful because he had great and many possessions.

ENTERING THE PRESENCE OF JESUS JOYFUL, YET LEAVING SORROWFUL! Did you know that it is possible to enter into the presence of Jesus with joy and your heart, and yet leave His presence with sorrow having replaced that joy? Did you know that it is possible for sorrow to seize and grip your heart when it was once filled with joy and gladness when you entered into the presence of Jesus the Christ? I am convinced that there are a number of men and women who seek to enter into the company and presence of Jesus, and they do so with all joy in their heart—that is, until, Jesus demands something of them, and demands something from them they are not willing to part with or give up. This rich young ruler was not willing to give up his wealth, nor his possessions, nor even his goods, and as a direct result of not wanting to bring himself under the instruction and commandment of Christ, this young ruler went away sorrowful. As you continue reading this particular chapter within the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find Peter speaking up among the disciples and in the presence of Jesus concerning their own experience with Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the words and text which are found in this particular chapter beginning with the twenty-seventh verse: “Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus aid unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:27-30). Please don’t miss the significance and importance of the question which Peter was asking Jesus, for not only was Peter declaring unto Jesus that they had forsaken everything within their lives, but he was also asking what they had to show for, and what they would gain as a direct result of forsaking all. Peter you will recall, had a wife which he left behind, for we read of an account where Jesus heals his mother-in-law. That which the apostle Peter was asking Jesus was what they had to show and what they would gain for and from forsaking all for the sake of following Jesus.

Considering the words which Jesus spoke unto the great multitudes, and considering them in light of that which the apostle Peter declared unto Jesus, as well as what we read concerning young Timothy, I can’t help but consider the fact that Timothy was a disciple who had in fact forsaken everything he had within his life—namely, his mother, and his grandmother. Undoubtedly there was a strong bond and a strong connection that existed between his mother and himself, as well as with his grandmother and himself, for the apostle Paul speaks of the faith which was first in his grandmother, and was passed down to his mother Eunice, and then passed down to him. When I read the words which Jesus wrote concerning those who would come after Him, and yet did not hate his father, or how mother, or his wife, or his children, or his brethren, or his sisters, and even his life, I am gripped by the fact that he emphatically declared that such men and women could not be His disciple. I am convinced that it is absolutely necessary that we read and consider and understand these words—particular and especially when considering the reality of Timothy being first and foremost known as a disciple, for undoubtedly Timothy had forsaken all in order that he might follow Christ and that which was ahead of him. I would dare say that Timothy followed the apostle Paul as the apostle Paul followed Christ, thus indicating that Timothy was committed to following Christ. I absolutely love the reality that Timothy was referred to as a disciple within the region of Lystra and Derbe, for before we even learn his name, and before we even learn about his mother and his father, we first learn and discover that he was in fact a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is important, for if you continue reading the words which our Lord speaks unto the great crowds, you will find Him declaring that whosoever does not, cannot, and will not bear his cross, and come after him, cannot be His disciple. These are some absolutely incredible and sobering words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ, for not only did he declare that those who did not hate their father, their mother, their wife, their children, their brethren, and sisters could not be His disciple, but Jesus also declared that those who hated not their own life could not be His disciple. What’s more, Jesus would declare that those who do not bear their cross and come after Him could not be His disciple. These words are absolutely incredible and worth considering, for these words bring us face to face with the fact that when Scripture speaks of Timothy as a disciple, he was one who came after Christ, one who denied himself, one how took up and carried his cross, and one who followed Him.

IN THE ABSENCE OF A FATHER! I am continually gripped with and by the fact that we know very little of Timothy’s father, for when we read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto him in the first and second epistle, we find him being spoken of as a son. I am convinced this is absolutely important, for Scripture is clear that he did in fact have a mother and grandmother, and those two women who possessed within their hearts faith in the living God, and in Christ Jesus. If there is one thing we learn and one thing we discover from Timothy, it’s not only that he was a disciple, not only that he was well spoken of and well beloved by the Christian community, but he was viewed as a son by the apostle Paul himself. I absolutely love this particular reality, for within this reality there seems to be an indication that Timothy spent a considerable amount of time without a father—perhaps a father who was absent in his life, or perhaps a father who could not speak into his life. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women there are among us in this generation who never had that father figure within their lives who could speak into their hearts concerning the things of the faith. I am convinced that there is present among us today an entire generation of sons and daughters who are living in the absence of fathers who could speak into their hearts and into their lives. I am convinced there are countless sons and daughters who are spending their days and their time without a father who can speak into their hearts and lives, and who is able to instruct them concerning the ways of Christ. This reality and concept of the absence of a father is so critical and crucial when considering the life of young Timothy, for it would appear that the apostle Paul took young Timothy under his wing and stepped in as a spiritual father for this young man. This isn’t to say that the apostle Paul was seeking to replace the father Timothy had, but rather that the apostle Paul recognized the importance and significance of having that father figure being able to speak into his life and instruct him in the ways of righteousness. It was true that Timothy was in fact a disciple of Christ, however, it might also very well be true that young Timothy was a disciple who lived his life absent that father figure who was able to speak into his life and instruct him in the ways concerning Christ. In fact, what I so love about the letters and epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy is not only that they were written to encourage young Timothy, but they appear to have been written to provide him with instruction concerning Christ and concerning His righteousness. These letters appear to have been written unto Timothy in order that they might present him with a powerful reality concerning his life in Jesus Christ in order that he might recognize and understand how he ought to live his life.

When you read the first chapter of this first epistle which the apostle. Paul wrote unto young Timothy you will find the apostle Paul first speaking to Timothy concerning his remaining in Ephesus, in order that those present within that church would not teach any other doctrine other than the doctrine which he himself preached. The apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy concerning not giving heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions,, rather than godly edifying which is in faith. When you come to the eighteenth verse of this first chapter you will find the apostle Paul writing unto Timothy and giving him a very specific charge—a charge which I am convinced should be given unto each and every disciple of Jesus Christ in this generation, and in every generation which may very well come hereafter. The apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy and first spoke to him concerning the prophecies which went before him, and then instructed him to war a good warfare—a warfare that would entail holding faith, and a good conscience. This reality and this concept of warring a good warfare was not simply mentioned here, for the apostle Paul—in the sixth chapter of this same epistle—would go on to write and instruct Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith,” and to “lay hold on eternal life, whereunto he was called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). The apostle Paul could write such words unto Timothy, for he knew that he himself had fought the good fight of faith within his own life. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in the fourth chapter of the second epistle beginning with the sixth verse: “For I am. Now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, in have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). I absolutely love that which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in this passage of Scripture in the first epistle, for the apostle Paul not only spoke of the prophecies which were spoken over and spoken into the life of Timothy, but he also instructed Timothy by and through those prophecies to war a good warfare according to faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone. I leave you with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his second epistle which was written unto the saints which were in Corinth: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

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