Today’s selected reading is found in the first New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith. More specifically, today’s passage is found in each of the six chapters which make up this New Testament epistle. “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple 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 all knew that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for 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 16:1-4). “And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for the come to him with all speed, they departed” (Acts 17:14-15). “And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue” (Acts 18:5-7). “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way” (Acts 19:21-23). “And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychius and Tophimus. These going before tarried for us at Troas” (Acts 20:4).
“Timotheus MY WORKFELLOW, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you” (Romans 16:21). “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, WHO IS MY BELOVED SON, AND FAITHFUL IN THE LORD, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:14-17). “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: FOR HE WORKETH THE WORK OF THE LORD, AS I ALSO DO. Let no man therefore depise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren” (1 Corinthians 16:10-11). “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:19-22). “Paul and Timotheus, THE SERVANTS OF JESUS CHRIST, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1-2). “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. FOR I HAVE NO MAN LIKEMINDED, WHO WILL NATRUALLY CARE FOR YOUR STATE. FOR ALL SEEK THEIR OWN, NOT THE THINGS WHICH ARE JESUS CHRIST’S. BUT YE KNOW THE PROOF OF HIM, THAT, AS A SON WITH THE FATHER, HE HATH SERVED WITH ME IN THE GOSPEL. HIM THEREFORE I HOPE TO SEND PRESENTLY, SO SOON AS I SHALL SEE HOW IT WILL GO WITH ME. BUT I TRUST IN THE LORD THAT I ALSO MYSELF SHALL COME SHORTLY” (Philippians 2:19-24). “Paul, and apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, AND TIMOTHEUS OUR BROTHER, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1:1-2). “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:1). “Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timotheus, OUR BROTHER, AND MINISTER OF GOD, AND OUR FELLOWLABOURER IN THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-6). “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2).
MY WORKFELLOW! MY BELOVED SON! FAITHFUL IN THE LORD! WORKETH THE WORK OF THE LORD! THE SERVANTS OF JESUS CHRIST! AS A SON WITH THE FATHER, HE HATH SERVED WITH ME IN THE GOSPEL! OUR BROTHER! OUR BROTHER! MINISTER OF GOD! FELLOW LABOURER IN THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST! “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Timothy 1:1-2). When you come to the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find some incredibly affectionate language that was used by the apostle Paul. Upon reading the words which are found in the opening verse of this first epistle you cannot help but encounter the strong bond and connection the apostle Paul had with this disciple whom the book of Acts reveals he encountered while in Lystra and Derbe. If you journey back to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the physician Luke writing concerning Timothy how he was a disciple in Lystra and Derbe, and how he was well spoken of by the brethren. A DISCIPLE WITH A REPUTATION! DISCIPLES WITH REPUTATION! DISCIPLES WITH A GOOD REPORT! As you read the opening verses of the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will indeed find Timothy as a young disciple who was in Lystra and Derbe, and how not only was he a disciple, but he was also a disciple with a reputation. In order for you to understand the narrative of Timothy you must needs recognize and understand that he was a disciple who had a reputation among the brethren—and not only did he have a reputation among the brethren, but Scripture reveals how he was well reported the brethren. Pause for a moment and think about how truly significant this is—not merely to be a disciple, but to be a disciple who was and is well reported among the brethren. What’s more, is I would not only reference and speak of being a disciple who is well reported of the brethren, but also a disciple who is well received among the brethren. WELL RECEIVED AND WELL REPORTED! It is truly something astonishing and worth considering when reading the narrative concerning Timothy, for while it is indeed true he was a disciple, we also learn that he was a disciple who was spoken of well by and among the brethren.
WHAT IS YOUR TESTIMONY AMONG THE BRETHREN? WHAT IS YOUR WITNESS AMONG THE BRETHREN? I sit here today thinking about and considering that which is revealed concerning Timothy in the New Testament book of Acts, for that which we find and read concerning this young man is that he was the product of a mixed marriage (his mother was a Jew, his father was a Greek), he was the product of a mother who believed, he was a disciple, and he was a disciple who had a reputation and was well spoken of by the brethren in Lystra and Derbe. It is absolutely necessary and important that we recognize and understand this, for it was based on his discipleship—and not only his discipleship, but also his being well spoken of and well reported by the brethren—that caused the apostle Paul to seek that he accompany him on his missionary and apostolic journeys. It is within the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find and read the apostle Paul seeing and beholding something in Timothy, and it was that which he saw in Timothy that caused him to desire to bring Timothy along his journeys. The more I think about and consider the narrative of Timothy the more I am brought face to face with the fact that although Scripture reveals and makes it quite clear that he was indeed a disciple who was well spoken of by the brethren, I would venture to say that his discipleship was such that might very well have been absent any type of conflict, any type of struggle, any type of affliction, and any type of suffering. The more I read the narrative concerning Timothy the more I can’t help but be brought face to face that it was when he began journeying with the apostle Paul that he began seeing a different side of discipleship—a different side of walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be after and as Timothy began walking with the apostle Paul within and along his apostolic journey that he would undoubtedly begin witnessing and beholding the affliction, the suffering, and the persecution that would accompany the gospel—and not only the gospel, but also walking in this life as a disciple of the Lord Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but think and consider that when Timothy began walking with the apostle Paul he began witnessing and beholding an entirely different form and measure of discipleship—one that would be steeped in suffering, affliction, persecution, and tribulation.
SO THIS IS WHAT DISCIPLESHIP LOOKS LIKE! I DIDN’T KNOW DISCIPLESHIP COULD INCLUDE SUFFERING! I DIDN’T KNOW DISCIPLESHIP COULD INCLUDE AFFLICTION! Scripture is unclear whether or not Timothy’s mother had journeyed to Lystra and Derbe after the great persecution had broken out in the midst of Jerusalem after the death of Stephen, and we are uncertain and unclear how she came unto that place. Scripture is unclear how Timothy’s mother came to meet his father, however, we do know that his mother believed and was herself a disciple, while his father was a Greek. Scripture seems to give no indication that Timothy’s father believed, and the very fact that he is referred to as a son, and as a beloved son by the apostle seems to suggest that there might have been some form of disconnect in the relationship he had—or perhaps didn’t have with his father. I can’t help wonder if the apostle Paul didn’t merely see Timothy as a disciple, but also saw him as a disciple without a true father figure, and sought to be unto him as a father. Is it possible that the apostle Paul saw Timothy as a disciple and as a brother in the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet he was a disciple without a true father figure within his life. Oh it was indeed true that Timothy did in fact have a father, and that his father was a Greek, but beyond that knowledge we know absolutely nothing about him. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if when the apostle Paul witnessed this disciple in Lystra and Derbe who was well spoken of by the brethren if he did not see him as a disciple without a father—as one who desperately needed one who would teach and instruct him as a son. Not only this, but I can’t help but wonder if for the apostle Paul, Timothy was not only regarded as a spiritual son in the faith, but also as a son in whom he could impart the truth concerning the gospel, and the truth concerning the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. I find myself being absolutely gripped and captivated with the fact that while it is most certainly true the apostle Paul saw Timothy as a disciple, he also saw something else that was so desperately needed within his life—namely, that of a father figure within his life. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth:
“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, WHO IS MY BELOVED SON, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:14-17).
The words which we find here in this particular epistle are actually quite powerful when you consider this narrative of the apostle Paul and Timothy, for when writing unto these saints you will find Paul declaring how they had many instructors in Christ, and yet they did not have many fathers. I can’t help but wonder if this is precisely how the apostle Paul saw Timothy in Lystra and Derbe, for although he was a disciple, and although he was well spoken of by the brethren, he didn’t really have a father figure in his life—one who could teach and impart unto him the truths concerning the kingdom and concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that it is quite interesting that immediately after writing unto the Corinthian saints and speaking unto them concerning their having many instructors in Christ—yet not many fathers—he would refer to the sending of Timothy who was his beloved son. WE dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the tremendous importance and significance of this truth, for when the apostle Paul sought to introduce this dynamic of father and son unto and among them—particularly and especially concerning the faith—he would send unto them his own son in the faith. What’s more, is that not only would the apostle Paul send unto the Corinthian saints a son, but also one whom he called his “beloved son.” This language is the same type of language that was used of Jesus within the gospel narratives after He emerged from the waters of baptism, as well as when He was transfigured before Peter, James and John atop the mountain. It would be after Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan River that the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended upon him in the bodily form of a dove, and the voice of the Father spoke from heaven emphatically declaring that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. On top of the mountain when Jesus was transfigured before the disciples and appeared talking to Moses and Elijah there would again be a voice speaking from heaven which would once more declare Jesus as His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. We must needs recognize and understand this truly powerful reality and language, for this language is the same that was used when the apostle Paul wrote his epistles unto the churches. For the apostle Paul Timothy was more than simply a disciple, and was even more than a son, as he would view and regard Timothy as his beloved son—one who was a faithful minister in the Lord.
It is truly something worth thinking about and considering how the apostle Paul sought to bring Timothy with him on his apostolic and missionary journeys, for there is not a doubt in my mind that as much as Paul saw Timothy as a disciple, he recognized something else that was needed within his life—something that was needed within and among the Corinthian saints. I would dare say that when the apostle Paul saw Timothy in Lystra and Derbe, and when he heard the words and reports which were spoken concerning him, he realized and recognized that there was perhaps something missing within his experience as a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, it is as you continue reading the words which are written and recorded in the New Testament book of Acts—as well as the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote—that Timothy’s discipleship before Christ was not only absent that dynamic of a father who would and could instruct him in the ways of the Lord, but also the element of discipleship that touches upon the realm of suffering and affliction. I would dare say that what we witness and what we behold within the life of Timothy was indeed a disciple of Jesus, yet a disciple who desperately needed a spiritual father and/or father figure who would enter into his life and both teach and instruct him. What’s more, is I would dare say that Timothy needed that godly example of a man and father who would not only instruct him with words, but would also teach him with actions and with a lifestyle. This is something we must needs pay close and careful attention to, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful reality within the life of Timothy—namely, that his discipleship was not merely absent that of a father who would teach and instruct him in the ways of the Lord, but who would also lead him in the ways and paths of Christianity. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and tremendous truth that when the apostle Paul saw Timothy there in Lystra and Derbe—not only did he see a disciple, but he also saw a young man who was in desperate need of that father figure and father influence within his life. What makes this even more compelling is when you read the words the apostle Paul would write in the second epistle written unto Timothy concerning the faith of both his mother and grandmother, but absolutely no mention of his father. Oh, what do you do when you are a disciple of Jesus and yet your life is absent the godly influence of a father—one who can teach, guide and instruct you in the ways of the Lord? For Timothy, the apostle Paul would enter into the picture and would essentially be a father for and a father unto him.
As you read the words which are written and recorded in the first New Testament epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing unto Timothy—not merely as a father would speak unto a son, but also as a mentor would speak unto a mentee. What I so absolutely love about the words which are found written and recorded in the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy is that the epistles were meant to strengthen and encourage him—both in his walk as a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as a faithful minister, laborer and worker within the kingdom of God. The more you read and examine the relational dynamic between the apostle Paul and Timothy the more you will find it centered upon that of a father with his son, but also that of brothers in Christ. What’s more, is that not only will you find this relational dynamic in terms of brethren in Christ, but you will find it also centered upon fellow laborers, workers and ministers in the Lord. It’s truly astonishing and remarkable to read and consider how the first mention of Timothy in Scripture refers to him as a disciple who was well spoken of by the brethren, and then there is a powerful transition that would take place within his life as he would not only transition to a spiritual son in the faith to the apostle Paul, but he would also transition into the place where he would be a faithful brother and fellow worker and laborer together in the work of the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. FROM DISCIPLESHIP TO SONSHIP! FROM DISCIPLESHIP TO BROTHER! FROM DISCIPLE TO FAITHFUL MINISTER! FROM DISCIPLE TO FELLOW LABORER! Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the narrative of Timothy is that while the story would begin with his being a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ as was mentioned in the New Testament book of Acts there would be a powerful shift and transition that would take place as this young disciple would begin walking with the apostle Paul, and as a result of this union and fellowship he would be transformed into one who would be a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. FROM DISCIPLESHIP TO MINISTER! THE PATH OF DISCIPLESHIP MUST NOT ONLY TOUCH THE REALM OF SUFFERING, BUT IT MUST ALSO LEAD TO A PLACE OF MINISTRY AND SERVICE IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!
I sit here today thinking about and considering the narrative concerning Timothy and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Timothy was first referenced and mentioned as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet would eventually and ultimately transition to the place where he would be a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh we must needs recognize and understand just how powerful and necessary this is within the life of Timothy, for it brings us face to face with the transformation that would take place within the life of this young disciple who would not only begin walking with the apostle Paul, but would also begin witnessing, beholding and experiencing a discipleship that would have directly linked and connected to it suffering, affliction, tribulation, and persecution. It would be as Timothy would walk with the apostle Paul he would begin seeing a discipleship that was perhaps different from the experience he had among the brethren there at Lystra and Derbe. It would be this experience that would ultimately position Timothy to be able to step into a prominent role as a leader and minister within the early church. In all reality, it’s quite interesting to think about and consider just how incredibly important the words and language concerning Timothy which is found in the various epistles written by the apostle Paul—as well as the language that is found written concerning him in the New Testament book of Acts—for not only do we find Timothy journeying with Paul through some intense periods and seasons of suffering, affliction and persecution, but we also find Timothy laboring together among the churches which were present in Asia. You cannot read the words which are found within the book of Acts and the New Testament epistles written by Paul without ultimately encountering the fact that Timothy would be trained under the leadership and discipleship of the apostle Paul, and would be trained in such a way that he would eventually be sent unto certain churches to strengthen, to encourage, to uplift and to teach and instruct them. We know that there were multiple times when the apostle Paul would send Timothy unto some of the churches which were in Asia, for when reading the writings of the apostle Paul you will find him writing to the churches of his desire to send Timothy unto them. How absolutely wonderful and marvelous it is to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul would see something in Timothy that would not only cause him to invite him to walk and journey with him, but also eventually partner together with him in the work of the ministry.
The narrative which we find within the life of Timothy is one that would begin in Lystra and Derbe with his being a disciple who was well spoken of by the brethren, and yet it would ultimately transition to the place where the apostle Paul would send him unto and among the churches. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul would send Timothy unto the churches—not only to strengthen and encourage them, but also to teach, instruct and warn them concerning false doctrine, false teaching, false teachers, and the like. Eventually and ultimately you will find the apostle Paul instructing Timothy to not be afraid of nor fear false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, false brethren, and those who make preposterous and arrogant claims—and not only to not be afraid of them, but also to directly confront them head on. You cannot read the words which are found written within the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy and not be brought face to face with the tremendous amount of encouragement the apostle Paul sought to provide for Timothy as he continued to faithfully serve as a minister in the work of the kingdom of heaven. The apostle Paul recognized and understood that Timothy was indeed a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, there were undoubtedly times when he might have grown discouraged and when he might have grown tired and weary. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words which are found in the epistles written by the hand of the apostle Paul that Timothy was one who faithfully walked with and served the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet that would not come without a tremendous toll which would be taken upon his heart, upon his soul, upon his mind.
Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider the tremendous truth that you can indeed be a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not only can you grow tired and weary, but you can also need encouragement, strength and support? Would it shock and surprise you to hear and consider that you can be a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet you find yourself in a place when the pressure, the stress, the burden(s), and all the weight of ministry weighs so heavy upon you that you are in need of encouragement, strength and support? There is not a doubt in my mind that although Timothy had labored in the work of the gospel within churches such as Philppi, Corinth, and Ephesus, he was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ whom the apostle Paul needed to reach out to and provide encouragement and strength in the work of the ministry. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear if Timothy thought about giving up in the ministry, but we can know for certain that Timothy would indeed and would in fact be in need of great encouragement, strength and support. What’s more, is that I would dare say that the apostle Paul realized and recognized the struggles and conflicts Timothy was either facing, or was about to face, and as a direct result of this he sought to write unto him as a means of providing strength and support. In fact, you cannot read the epistles which were written unto Timothy and not find the apostle Paul writing unto him concerning one of the greatest conflicts and struggles that was present within many churches during those days—namely, the presence of false teachers, false apostles, false prophets, and false brethren. The apostle Paul realized and recognized the great responsibility that was before Timothy, and the apostle Paul sought to uphold and lift him up during those times. That which the apostle Paul sought to write unto Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith was essentially a means of encouragement in the fact of conflict, struggle, affliction, opposition, persecution, tribulation, and the like. You cannot read the words which are found in the epistles written unto Timothy and not find the apostle Paul charging him with the task and responsibility of being a faithful minister and laborer in the work of the kingdom, and in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. When beginning the first epistle the apostle Paul would write unto Timothy you will find the following words which were spoken unto him:
“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unreigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling: desiring to be teachers of the law: understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1 Timothy 1:3-12).
THAT THOU MIGHTEST CHARGE SOME THAT THEY TEACH NO OTHER DOCTRINE! NEITHER GIVE HEED TO FABLES AND ENDLESS GENEALOGIES! [WHICH MINISTER QUESTIONS, RATHER THAN GODLY EDIFYING, WHICH IS IN FAITH]. SOME HAVING SWERVED HAVE TURNED ASIDE UNTO VAIN JANGLING! DESIRING TO BE TEACHERS OF THE LAW: UNDERSTANDING NEITHER WHAT THEY SAY, NOR WHEREOF THEY AFFIRM! Oh we must needs pay close attention to the words which are found within these opening verses, for within these opening verses—not only are we directly confronted with the charge the apostle Paul gave unto Timothy to confront false teaching and false doctrine, but we also find the apostle Paul warning and speaking about those brethren who have turned aside in and turned aside from the way. The apostle Paul clearly referenced his beseeching Timothy to abide in Ephesus, and the sole purpose for abiding in Ephesus was to fulfill an incredibly important—albeit incredibly challenging task and assignment. The apostle Paul would speak unto Timothy in the opening verses of this epistle and would remind him of the purpose and assignment for which he had been instructed to remain in Ephesus. What makes this so incredibly important and powerful is when you think about and consider the fact that after the apostle Paul had departed from Ephesus—or rather as the apostle Paul was preparing to depart from Ephesus after abiding there among them for a few years—he would leave Timothy there among them with a very specific charge and assignment. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that this task and assignment given unto Timothy was not necessarily one that was or would have been easy, but one that would have challenged every part of his faith, and every part of his commitment and devotion as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would beseech Timothy to abide in Ephesus, and he would beseech him to do so that he might charge and warn those who would teach a doctrine which was different and contrary to the gospel which he himself had preached unto and among the churches. The apostle Paul would write unto Timothy his spiritual son in the faith as a faithful minister before and unto the Lord that he might rise up and fulfill his charge and assignment among the brethren—namely, that he might directly confront false doctrine, false gospels, false teaching, and that which was contrary to sound truth and sound principles which were found in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What’s more, is that when you read the words which are found within the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find him reminding this spiritual son in the faith concerning the life which he lived and the life which he had before Christ. If you begin reading with and from the twelfth verse of the first chapter you will find the apostle Paul once more recounting unto Timothy concerning the tremendous grace and mercy the Lord Jesus Christ showed unto him—even after he persecuted the church of God which was in Jesus Christ, and committed countless men and women to prison. The apostle Paul would write unto Timothy and would be thankful that Christ Jesus their Lord enabled him counting him faithful to be put into the ministry—he who was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious to the church and body of Christ. The apostle Paul wasted absolutely no time in reminding Timothy of his life before Christ, and his life which was lived according to his own flesh as he would persecute, endanger and injure the church of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would write unto Timothy and would remind him of his former conversation and former manner of living which he had before he obtained and found mercy from the Lord Jesus the Christ. In fact, the apostle Paul would go on to write how he obtained mercy because he did it ignorantly in unbelieve, and that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ was exceeding abundant with faith and love which was in Christ Jesus. What’s more, is the apostle Paul would go on to write unto Timothy and declare unto him a faithful saying, which was that Jesus came to die for sinners of whom the apostle Paul considered himself to be chief among the sinners. The apostle Paul wanted to use his own testimony and his own life as means of encouraging and strengthening Timothy in his fellow laboring and his fellow working the work of the ministry of the kingdom and of the gospel. The apostle Paul sought to use himself as an example of the forgiveness, of the grace and of the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ toward sinners, for if the Lord would and if the Lord could forgive he who was injurious toward the body of Christ then the Lord could indeed forgive anyone of their trespasses and their sins in this life.
As you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle you will come to verses eighteen through twenty of this New Testament book and find the apostle Paul charging Timothy to war a good warfare, to hold the faith, and to hold to a good conscience. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which is found within this passage of Scripture, for that which the apostle Paul sought to charge Timothy with was not only directly confront those who would teach false doctrine contrary to the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, but would also instruct Timothy to war a good warfare. This language would indeed be found again in the second epistle which the apostle would write unto Timothy, for the apostle would write and speak of how he had indeed fought a good fight—and not only fight a good fight, but fight a good fight of faith. In fact, in order to truly understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we not only consider the words which the apostle Paul would write unto Timothy in the final chapter of this epistle, but also the words which the apostle Paul would write unto Timothy in the second and fourth chapters of the second epistle written unto him. Not only this, but we must also recognize and understand that the apostle Paul would write concerning this warfare, this conflict, this battle, this struggle that we would face in the flesh when writing his second epistle which would be sent unto the saints which were at Corinth. There is not a doubt in my mind that we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this, for perhaps the single greatest charge the apostle Paul would give unto Timothy was that of fighting a good fight and waging a good warfare. Make no mistake about it—the apostle Paul recognized that walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed be that which would introduce warfare, conflict, battle, affliction, suffering, persecution, tribulation, and would require a tremendous amount of endurance within the heart and soul. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this, for there are very few among us who would actually teach and preach that the gospel is one of conflict, warfare, struggle and battle, and that discipleship is that which has in the midst of the same conflict, struggle, warfare and battle. Heaven help us when we think we can have the gospel and discipleship absent, without and apart from any manner of conflict, struggle and battle. Oh it is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found concerning this conflict and struggle in the midst of our walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I 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 4:7-8).
“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:1-4).
“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).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestled not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helment of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH! FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT! FIGHT! WAR A GOOD WARFARE! Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within this portion of Scripture, for the words which we find within this first epistle, for within the first epistle we not only find the apostle Paul writing unto Timothy instructing and urging him to war a good warfare, but we also find him instructing him to fight the good fight of faith. It’s actually quite interesting and unique to read the words which are presented before us here, for when speaking of warfare and when speaking about the fight we find the apostle Paul using the word “good.” We must not miss and lose sight of the words before us, for in the context surrounding both the fight and the warfare is that of being good. Pause for a moment and think about how much you actually agree with, accept and believe that sentiment and thought within your heart and mind. How much can you and how much do you truly believe that the warfare can be good? How much can you, and how much do you truly believe that the fight of faith can indeed be good? What makes this all the more intriguing and captivating is when you consider the good that surrounds the warfare is entirely based on Timothy, while the good that surrounds the fight of faith is actually intrinsic and linked to the fight itself. FIGHT! WAR! GOOD! We dare not and must not ignore and overlook the truth that surrounds the words found in these passages, for they bring us face to face with the fact that despite and regardless of how tiring and how wearisome the fight might be it is still good. Stop and actually think about that for a moment, and consider the tremendous truth that not only can the warfare be good, but also the fight can be good. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time you stopped to ask yourself if you were warring a good warfare? When was the last time you stopped to consider the good fight of faith and if you are even fighting that fight? Moreover, when was the last time you stopped to ask yourself whether or not you were even fighting or warring at all? Scripture is replete with narrative after narrative, account after account, and example after example of our needing to both fight and war, and yet the question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are actually fighting and warring at all.
ARE YOU EVEN FIGHTING? ARE YOU EVEN WARRING? We know from the words which the apostle Paul wrote that we do not wrestle—we do not war and we do not fight—against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places, and against rulers of darkness. We know from the words and writing of the apostle Paul that although we walk after and according to the flesh we do not wage war after the flesh. What’s more, is the apostle Paul goes on to write and declare how the weapons of our warfare—the weapons of our warring and the weapons of our fighting—are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. It is absolutely necessary that we understand and recognize this, for it directly confronts the tremendous reality that within our life as saints of God there must be this warring, there must be this fighting within our hearts and within our spirits. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not there is this element of warfare and conflict within our lives as the saints of God. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not we are indeed and are in fact warring and fighting within this life as saints of God and disciples of Christ. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not there is even any fight within us—within our hearts, within our spirits, within our souls. When writing unto Timothy the apostle Paul emphatically invites him to not only war a good warfare, but to also fight the good fight of faith. A GOOD WARFARE! THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH! It’s actually quite interesting what a difference a word can make, for when the apostle speaks of warfare he places the responsibility squarely upon the shoulders of Timothy as if to say the quality of warfare he engaged in and fought was entirely and altogether up to him. When writing and speaking of the fight of faith, however, the apostle Paul was declaring and speaking of the fight itself being good. Pause for a moment and think about just how tremendous and astonishing this is within your heart and life, for there is a drastic difference between warring a good warfare and the responsibility being placed solely and squarely upon us, and the good fight of faith as a description of the fight. What’s more, is I am absolutely convinced that not only is the fight itself good, but so also is the faith itself good.
THE FIGHT IS GOOD! THE FAITH IS OF FAITH! There is not a doubt in my mind that in order for us to fight the good fight of faith we must needs commit and devote ourselves to war a good warfare with weapons which are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. WE must needs recognize and understand this, for when we speak about this life as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ we must recognize and understand that it is not a life without and apart from conflict and without struggle. We would like to think that this life is somehow absent conflict and struggle, and yet to suggest that this life could even be without and apart from conflict and struggle is to essentially remove the passages found in Scripture concerning and regarding warfare, battle and fighting. To somehow think and even perceive that our life would and could be without any type of conflict and battle would be to remove any need within our hearts and lives of warring a good warfare, and fighting the good fight of faith. What’s more, is that we must needs realize and recognize that faith is more than simply that which pleases God, and is more than just something we walk by, for faith is actually a fight which we enter into within this life. We would like to think that faith is this glamorous realm where we please God—this realm in which we walk by, and this realm in which we are justified—and yet the truth of the matter is that much of faith is actually a fight. Much of faith within our hearts and lives is steeped and conflict, in struggle, in battle and in warfare, and we dare not and must not think of it as being anything less. It would be very easy to think and consider that faith can be absent conflict, absent struggle, absent battle, and absent warfare, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not and must not be the case. We would do well within our hearts and minds to understand and recognize that faith is more than simply this realm whereby we please God and whereby we are justified, for faith is this realm and arena whereby we fight, whereby we wage war, whereby we engage ourselves in conflict, in struggle, and in battle. What’s more, is when you consider the language that is found within this epistle concerning the tremendous spiritual warfare that can be experienced within this life—spiritual warfare that is manifested in rampant deception, rampant false teaching, rampant false doctrine, and the like. Consider if you will the words which are found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament epistle in regards to the rampant deception, the rampant disobedience, and that which is contrary to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Law of God:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy: having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that not is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:1-8).
The language which we find here within the first epistle written unto Timothy is actually quite powerful and quite dramatic when you truly take the time to consider it, for within it the apostle Paul speaks directly unto his spiritual son in the faith concerning the fight—and not only the fight that he was in, but also the fight that was in him. THE FIGHT YOU ARE IN, THE FIGHT WITHIN YOU! This is actually quite captivating when you think about the concept and reality of fighting, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that it is not merely about the fight which we are in—the fight which we face within our lives—but it is also about the fight that is within us. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is which is greater—the fight we are in, or the fight that is within us. How we answer this particular question can and will directly impact how we war in the midst of warfare, and how we truly fight the good fight of faith. Not only this, but I am absolutely and completely convinced that if the fight you are in is greater than the fight that is inside of you there is a great need for strength, there is a great need for endurance, there is a great need for courage, there is a great need for confidence, and there is a great need for boldness. There is not a doubt in my mind that what is so desperately needed within many of our hearts and souls is not the absence of fights in which we find ourselves in, but rather the size of the fight that is within us. There are far too many Christians among us who think that what is necessary within their lives is the absence of fights, and the absence of their being in the midst of fights, and yet the truth of the matter is that the greater need is for the size of the fight that is within them to increase. Many among us within our churches and Christian circles think that what can, will, and perhaps even should make our lives that much easier is the absence of fight(s), the absence of conflict(s), the absence of warfare(s), and the absence of battle(s), and yet we fail to realize that there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. We do ourselves a great disservice, and we do the living God a great dishonor when we ask for the absence of the fight within our lives rather than asking for an increase of fight within our hearts, within our souls, and within our spirits.
If there is one thing we must recognize and understand when reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy it’s that he wasn’t willing to let him live his life absent fight within his heart and absent fight within his spirit. The apostle Paul took to writing unto Timothy that he might charge and instruct him to teach, warn and instruct the saints which were at Ephesus concerning the truths of the gospel and the truths concerning the kingdom, and in addition to that he also sought to encourage his spiritual son in the fight. In all reality we might very well say the apostle Paul took to writing unto his spiritual son in the faith that he would not give up, that he would not lose heart and that he would not fight. In fact, you almost get the sense that the apostle Paul knew the intense struggle and conflict Timothy was in—perhaps even the fact that Timothy was in the single greatest conflict, warfare, battle and fight of his life. In fact, it was when the apostle Paul was speaking unto Ephesian elders as he prepared to journey unto Jerusalem that he spoke unto them of savage and grievous wolves who would rise up among them who would not spare the flock. The apostle Paul faithfully warned the Ephesian elders concerning the great struggle and conflict that would come in among them, and what makes this even more captivating is when you think about the fact that not only was Timothy present when the apostle Paul spoke these words, but the apostle Paul would also leave Timothy in Ephesus to bear up in the midst of such conflict, in the midst of such struggle, in the midst of such warfare, and in the midst of such battles and fights. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly fascinating reality, for there is not a doubt in my mind that as Timothy was present within Ephesus he would be engaged in the single greatest conflict and struggle of his life—one that would require his warfare to itself be good, and that which would prompt the apostle Paul to instruct him to fight the good fight of faith.
It is this particular truth that continues to captivate me within my heart, for I am absolutely and utterly convinced there are men and women who think that what is needed within their lives is the absence of fight(s), and yet what is truly and ultimately necessary is not the absence of fight(s), but rather the increase of fight within them. We dare not and must not allow the fight we are in to be greater than the fight that is within us any more than we dare not and must not let the conflict and struggle we are facing become greater than the God whom we serve. There is a great and tremendous need within our hearts and spirits to get us endurance, to get us strength, to get us stamina, and to get us courage and boldness that we might stand up in the midst of the fight and truly fight the good fight of faith. Oh we dare not and must not miss the words which are found within this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy, for the words which the apostle Paul sought to present unto his spiritual son centered upon his need to not only war, but also to fight. FOR GOODNESS SAKE FIGHT! FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, FIGHT! FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, WAR! One of the greatest troubles facing many among us within many of our churches is that there is not fight within us, and because there is no fight within us when the conflict and struggle truly does indeed rise up within our hearts and lives we are caught fearful, anxious, terrified and petrified. I am absolutely and completely convinced there are countless weak and feeble Christians among us within our churches—those who have not only been taught that the Christian life is that which is absent conflict and struggle, but when the conflict and struggle truly does arise within their lives they have no fight within them. Oh there have been countless ministers and leaders within the church today who have produced weak and feeble Christians in the pews because they have preached and taught them that walking with and following Jesus means the absence of warfare, the absence of conflict, the absence of battle, and the absence of any type of fight. Oh there is nothing more tragic than a weak and feeble Christian who not only does not expect conflict, struggle, warfare and battle, but also one who when the conflict and struggle arises in their lives they are weak, feeble and have no fight within them.
One of the questions I am asking right now is how many among us within our churches truly have a fight within them—those who truly have the courage, the strength, the endurance and the boldness to stand up and fight in the midst of the fight. THE FIGHT WITHIN THE FIGHT! THE FIGHT IN THE MIDST OF THE FIGHT! Oh I continue to believe with all my heart that one of the greatest needs within our lives is that of the fight that is within us to be greater than the fight around, the fight before, and the fight against us. Oh there might definitely be a tremendous battle before us, and there might most certainly be a great conflict raging all around us, and yet the truth we must cling is that there is a great need in our hearts, in our souls, and in our lives for the fight that is present with us to be far greater than the fight that is before and around us. Not only this, but the God of the fight that is within us must be greater than the enemy and adversary that is before and all around us. The Spirit of the LORD of the fight and warfare within us must be far greater and have more strength and more power than the fight and the battle that is present before and all around us. For Timothy, the apostle Paul recognized and understood that what was so desperately needed was the ability to war a good warfare, and the ability to fight the good fight of faith. For the apostle Paul, faith was not merely something we walk by and something we are justified by, but faith is actually a fight—and not only a fight, but a good fight. This is something we must needs recognize when we think about faith, for while it is through faith alone we have been saved by the gift of God in Christ Jesus, faith is also a fight—is also a conflict, a struggle and a battle. What we must be willing to ask ourselves is whether or not we are truly fighting the good fight of faith, and whether not only is the fight within us greater than the fight before and around us, but so also is faith a fight, a battle and a struggle within our hearts and lives. In other words, we must recognize that faith doesn’t come easy, and that more often than not faith is a fight and faith requires a fight.
As I bring this writing to a close I feel it absolutely necessary to emphatically declare and proclaim unto you who are reading these words that not only is faith itself a fight, but faith also requires a fight within us. When the apostle Paul wrote and spoke of fighting the good fight of faith—not only was he declaring unto that faith is itself a conflict, a struggle and battle within our hearts and souls, but so also does faith require a fight within our hearts, within our souls, within our spirits, and within this life as we seek to lay hold of it. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome and powerful reality, for it brings us face to face with the incredible truth that faith is a fight, and faith requires a fight. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are not only willing to enter into and engage in the fight, but also whether or not the fight that is within us is greater than the fight which surrounds faith. What’s more, is that we must needs recognize and understand that faith does not always come easy, and faith does not always come naturally, and there are times within our hearts and lives when we must needs realize that in order to even lay hold of and possess faith at all we need to engage ourselves in a fight—perhaps even the greatest fight of our lives. There are times when although faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God—faith itself is both a conflict and a struggle within our hearts and lives. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to commit ourselves to the good fight of faith within our lives, and whether or not we are willing to truly wage and war a good warfare in this life. We must not be those who seek to live and lead a life absent conflict, struggle, battle, warfare and fight, but rather those who allow the fight that is within us to be greater than the fight that is before and all around us.