Training for Life
The moment we believe in Jesus for the salvation of our sins, we are ushered into eternal life. Through no effort of our own, Jesus gives us new life we receive by faith. This life has the opportunity for growth and development. So how do we develop this new life we’ve been given? In his last letter to Timothy, Paul is urging his student to remember his training as he continues to grow and mature in this new life. As we read Paul’s instructions to Timothy, we discover how we too can train to develop our life in Christ.
For those of you I haven’t met my name is Brad Linder. I am the student ministry/ discipleship director here at LifePoint church, and it’s fallen out of vogue, but Christians used to describe themselves as “born again.” You guys remember that? Anyway, you remember that back in the day, yeah even if you like go down South, people say I’m born again Christian. I just love falling into that southern accent whenever I say “born again,” but throughout the Bible even if that language is maybe weird or unfamiliar especially if you’re new to church. In the New Testament, we see the language of born again being used to describe what happens the moment we believe in Jesus. The moment we believe in Jesus we are reborn into a new eternal life. Praise God! When we were babies our parents did things to help us grow and develop. Our birth wasn’t the end of our lives. It was just the beginning. So, they would feed us things like strained carrots. Then how are they like teach us to ride our bikes. They teach us to read. They’d teach us that one plus one equals two.
In the same way when we are born again into eternal life, it is not the end of our lives. It is a whole new beginning. Eternal life is about more than just our afterlife. Eternal life begins the moment we believe in Jesus, and that life that we receive can be developed. We can grow in that life, but how? How do we develop that life? If you have your Bibles, I’d love for you to open up to the book of Second Timothy chapter 3 verses 10 through 17. We’ve been in a series over the past several weeks on Second Timothy, and we’ve arrived at chapter 3 verses 10 through 17, and if you’re new to the Bible, Second Timothy is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a young pastor named Timothy. In this letter there’s kind of an overarching theme that Paul is driving home. “Timothy- remember the Gospel.” In this overarching theme of, remember the Gospel as we read through Second Timothy, we also see kind of subplots and sub themes develop from chapter to chapter, in paragraph to paragraph, and as we read this section of Second Timothy chapter 3 verses 10 through 17, the subplot or sub theme that we see develop is this ;Paul encouraging Timothy to continue to develop his life that he’s received from Christ in faith. Continue Timothy, continue to develop the life you have received from Christ in faith.
You know the moment we believe in Jesus; we are born again. It happens in a flash, but developing that life, well that takes time. It takes practice, and that takes training.
When I was 17 years old, one night I was laying in bed reading the Gospel of Matthew, you know like kids do. Boys will be boys… can’t get him to put that Bible down. As I was reading the Gospel of Matthew, it just clicked. All of a sudden, it just, it just became clear that Jesus is who the Bible says he is, that he died for my sins, and in that moment, I had eternal life. And I had grown up in and out of the church. Like my mom was super into church. I was less super into it and, but I had this kind of vague idea, this vague understanding that following Jesus was important. Here at Lifepoint Church our mission is to influence people to find and follow Jesus. As a huge value of ours to help people follow Jesus. But I, I didn’t really have it clear. I didn’t really understand what it meant. I thought it meant just being a good boy, so I tried to be good. I tried to be kind to my sisters. I tried to be more encouraging. I tried to swear less. Yeah tried. Yeah, if you drive on 83 in the morning… whoo. I was trying to be a good boy. That’s what I thought following Jesus was all about, but over the past several years I’ve come to understand that following Jesus isn’t about trying to be good. It’s about training. Following Jesus is training for life. If we want to develop and grow in the life that Jesus has given us, we follow the example that Jesus set throughout his life. We do the things that Jesus did – not to be good boys and girls. Not to get off the naughty list, but because Jesus has life and life to the full-on offer.
So how do we do that? What does our kind of training program look like? Well in Second Timothy chapter 3 verses 10 through 17 Paul is urging Timothy to continue to develop the life you’ve received in Christ. He’s urging him to continue his training. So, as we look at Paul’s encouragement to continue his training, I think there are three ideas that can help us as we develop our life in Jesus as we train to become like Jesus. If you’re new uh, if you’re new to the Bible like I hope that you’re able to dive in, but if you have been following Jesus and today is the first day you decide: you know what? I’m going to develop the life that He’s given me. I’m going to decide to follow Jesus, I hope these three things are a great starting point for you. Have you been following Jesus, like your whole life? You know that following Jesus is a daily recommitment. It’s not a one- time event. It’s something we decide every morning. We wake up; Yep, I’m going to follow Jesus just like yesterday just like the day before. Yep, I’m going to follow Jesus. So, as you’re following along day by day making that recommitment, I think these three ideas are good reminders for us as we continue to develop the life we’ve received from Christ in faith.
Alright let’s dive into Second Timothy chapter 3 verse 10. “You, Timothy however know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecution, sufferings, what kinds of things happen to me at Antioch, Iconium and Lystra – the persecutions I endured yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” Timothy is a young pastor, but he is also Paul’s student, his apprentice, his Padawan if you will. Paul is a Master Jedi in the way of following Jesus. And Timothy doesn’t know just some things about Paul’s life, he knows all about his teaching, all about his way of life, his faith, his love, his patience, his endurance. Timothy knows all there is. He has been following along with Paul. As Paul is following Christ’s example, Timothy has been learning along the way. There’re three towns that Paul mentions. Antioch and Iconium and Lystra. That last one is super important as where Timothy grew up it’s where Paul and Timothy met. It’s also the scene of one of Paul’s most brutal persecutions.
If you go back to Acts chapter 14, you’ll see the scene develop but basically what happens is Paul heals a guy. There’s a guy who’s crippled. He can’t walk to the pool heals a man the town says oh you’re one of our Greek gods. You’ve come to life. Let us sacrifice to you, and Paul says hold up. Don’t get it twisted. I’m just like you, just a man, just a dude, but let me tell you about the one true God and said, “Nah we’re not interested. Let’s just beat you and throw you out of the town like half dead.” Crazy stuff that Paul went through, and Timothy maybe he didn’t see this but it was in his hometown. He had to have heard about it, and he knew what Paul was teaching he knew all about his teaching and just how far Paul was willing to go for the gospel. I think the coolest thing that Timothy got to see in his time following alongside Paul is this. He says Paul says the Lord rescued me from all of them. Timothy got to see God moving in Paul’s life. Timothy got to see Paul be rescued by the Lord. Timothy got to see the evidence of the Lord’s work in Paul’s life that seeing what Paul was doing was helping him develop. And I think that’s the first idea as we develop our lives in Christ; find spiritual mentors, find spiritual mentors, find people who are farther along in their development. Find a “Paul”, so you can learn the ways of following Jesus. The way of following Jesus isn’t intuitive. It’s not like we Jack into the matrix and like our eyes flutter and then our eyes open: “I know Kung Fu. I know how to follow Jesus.” Alright Keanu, calm down. It’s not intuitive. We need a guide. We need a teacher we need a “Paul.” Finding spiritual mentors can help us along the way. Yeah, my first spiritual mentor was my mom. No pressure parents, but you are the first spiritual mentors your kids ever, ever have. We’re here to help so like it’s, it’s cool. Like we’ll help you along the way, but my mom was my first spiritual mentor when I was a kid.
When I was a kid, I remember seeing her read her Bible in the morning. I remember her praying over me and my sisters. I remember her dragging us to church when we didn’t want to go to church. And they don’t have anything to do with it. And by the time I believed in Jesus, the time I was born again, I already knew how to develop my life in Christ because I had watched her do it. I had seen her do the things to develop her own life. And I started following Jesus by following my mom. Since then I’ve had tons of spiritual mentors; my mom and my dad, my mother-in-law and my father-in-law, pastors here at church, people here, friends here at church, authors both alive and dead that teach me how to follow Jesus. The things that do the things that I can do to develop my life, the ways that I partnered with God to develop my life. If you are new to following Jesus or you want to go deeper, there’s two ways I think you can find spiritual mentors. We have a lot of programs here at Lifepoint that help you do that, but two in particular I want to point out. The first is our Foundations class. We have another one starting in March 22nd. It’s a great way to discover with a group of people how to develop our lives in Christ. Might even find a spiritual mentor there. Somebody who is farther along in their development and can help you grow. The other is T2 mentoring program. A women’s mentoring program is awesome. We’ve got some awesome women leaders here in our church, and if you’re a woman looking for a mentor (sorry guys not open to you), but teach you. T2 Women’s Mentoring Program would love for you to check that out. You can go to our welcome desk at the end of the service- would love to give you guys more information there if you’re interested in finding a spiritual mentor. We need spiritual mentors to develop, to help us develop our life in Christ because it’s not intuitive. We need to know the mechanics behind it, but we also need spiritual mentors to help us keep going ’cause sometimes it’s tough. Sometimes obstacles get in the way.
Paul writes to Timothy, “In fact everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted while evil doers and impostors will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived,” (2 Timothy 3:12). Paul makes a chilling statement; everyone who wants to live a Godly life, that is everyone who wants to develop their life in Christ will be persecuted. Sign me up. I can’t wait. Sounds awesome. Now everyone who wants to live a Godly life will be persecuted. What in the world? Now another thing he does point out there is a cost of following Jesus. The people who follow Jesus, well their lives are going to look different than people who don’t follow Jesus. And historically people don’t like what’s different. So yeah, we’re going to face opposition along the way. And Paul would know how likely it was for followers of Jesus to be persecuted because before he met Jesus and he began developing his new life his name was Saul, and it was his job to hunt and kill Christians. Saul knew, or Paul knew, rather that there were people who used to be like him that were actively hunting and killing Christians. When Paul is writing to Timothy. Matter of fact, when Paul has now been born again, he’s developing his life in Christ. He’s writing Timothy from prison awaiting execution for his faith in Jesus, and this continues today in places like Nigeria, Somalia and North Korea. This form of persecution still exists, but if I’m honest I’ve never been persecuted. I’ve never been persecuted like the only thing that I’ve really experienced is maybe like a gentle discrimination. I had a conversation with somebody one time, and they were like believing in God is like believing it Santa Claus. If you mean totally real then, yes, but that’s like it. Nobody beat me or threw me in jail, and so what Paul is describing here, I don’t really vibe with. I don’t really see the connection in my life. Does it mean I’m not really living a Godly life if I’m not facing the kind of persecution that Paul is talking about? I think if we go out looking for this kind of persecution, we could seriously miss the point of what Paul is trying to get at to Timothy, the thing that might also apply to us.
Here’s the point. I think Paul is making, our second point as we’re developing our life. Don’t let opposition change your position. Don’t let opposition change your position. You know whether it’s persecution or just a slight discrimination, sticks and stones are going to break my bones, but this life will last forever. Persecution and discrimination are temporary in the grand scheme of eternal life. Why would I let it stop me from developing and growing- life to the full? Our position is following Jesus, and we won’t let opposition change our position because we know that He has life and life to the full – on offer. Even though Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, I may not connect with it directly. Not the way that he’s talking about it, I think it’s just as relevant to our time today, if not more relevant because the opposition that we face today isn’t like the persecution that Paul and Timothy faced. Our opposition today has a friendly face. Opposition can look a lot like one of my heroes, Bill Nye, the science guy. Do you guys remember Bill Nye, the science guy? Oh my gosh that show was amazing! I’m like there are times when I’ll just sit in the, well not sit in the shower. I’ll like be standing in the shower, and it just comes into my mind; (singing) Bill Nye the science guy, Bill, Bill, Bill, yeah we’re chanting your name in church, Bill. That feels a little weird, but that’s cool. Bill Nye is a hero of mine. I hated science when I was a kid in school. Hated science, but Bill Nye he helped me develop a love for science that I still have today. I still love learning about the universe. I still love learning about the earth and how it’s grown and developed over time. I think science is important, and I think in a lot of ways he’s a genius, but then one of my heroes, Bill Nye, he says things like this: “The idea that there’s a plan for everybody, and this deity God has this all worked out and is really directing things is an extraordinary claim that I find troublesome,” and Bill Nye is a hero of mine, but when I hear him say things like this I kind of feel silly for believing in God. I got to feel like if I ever met my hero Bill Nye that he would be ashamed of me or that I would be ashamed. Opposition has a friendly face. I, I’m, I’m worried that if I ever met Bill Nye, my hero, he wouldn’t approve of me, but our memory verse that we’ve been learning over the past couple weeks Paul says this to Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved; a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15). I’m not working for Bill Nye’s approval, and I don’t have to be ashamed. Even if we don’t see eye to eye on faith, I don’t need to be ashamed because I’m working for God’s approval. I’m developing my life because God approves of that. God wants me to live a full life, and personally I do believe in God. I believe he has a plan for us, and I believe His plan for every person on this planet is that to receive eternal life through faith in Jesus. I believe that God’s plan is for us to develop that life, to grow in life, to the full by following Jesus. Our opposition might look different than Timothy and Paul’s opposition, but it still exists. I think the point remains the same. Don’t let opposition change your position. Continue to grow. Continue to develop the life that Jesus has given you. So, what do we do instead of letting this opposition change our position? How do we remain grounded? Paul continues to write Timothy. Second Timothy 3:14 and 15: “ But As for you Timothy instead of letting opposition change your position continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for Salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Instead of letting opposition change your position continue to develop. Paul is urging Timothy to remember what he learned from his first spiritual mentors, his mother and his grandmother, but then Paul says something weird. He says, “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for Salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, so I’m saved from death and brought into eternal life, born again by my faith in Jesus,” (2 Timothy 3:15). But I thought I’m safe from death and born again by my faith in Jesus. When this seems to say the Holy Scriptures are able to make me wise for Salvation so is it something I do on my own or is it something that Jesus does for me? Being born again, eternal life, comes through faith alone in Jesus Christ. So, what is Paul getting at here? That word Salvation can also be translated as deliverance. So, what is it that Timothy can be delivered from? What do the scriptures make him wise for? For deliverance. If we go back a little bit – Second Timothy 3:12 through 13, Paul writes, “In fact everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Alright got it. Don’t let opposition change your position. While evil doers and impostors will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived. Scripture can make us wise to save us from deception. Scripture makes us wise to, to keep from being deceived. In my experience I haven’t really dealt with a lot of evil doers and impostors and people who are like… their will is bent on deceiving me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get deceived. Because for me that word deception, I think in my context I need to change that word to seduction. I’m seduced all the time. I’m seduced by a platform. You know this pastors got a million followers on Instagram, he must be right. I don’t have to go back to the Bible and check his references or check what he’s saying because he’s got a million followers. I’m seduced by this author whose got 2 million, she sold 2,000,000 copies of her book. She must be right. Everybody is listening to this podcast. It must be right. I’m seduced by advertising. You’ll live a full abundant life if you just buy these sneakers. I, I’m seduced by our culture. You’ll live life to the full if you just live your truth. What if my truth is Jesus’ truth? Well not that truth. Just live your truth. I’m seduced by things that sound like they’re going to be good for me, but they don’t turn out that way. But the Bible can save us from that. The Bible can make us wise to discern truth from deception, truth from seduction. Now what is really good for our lives? What is really best for our lives is God’s will. So, here’s the point. Stay grounded in God’s word. As you develop your life in Christ, stay grounded in God’s word. Paul writes this to Timothy. This is why we stay grounded in what God’s word because all scripture is God- breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Now we could spend a whole lot of time talking about the mechanics between, behind God breathing scripture into life. We could talk about how the 66 books of the Bible were compiled, but we don’t have that kind of time. There are some really good books that you can dive into. I’d love to suggest for you if you want to come up after, but for our time here and now can we just say that we confirm that the 66 books of the Bible that we have in our hands is God’s actual word to humanity, that it is not just something some dude thought of thousands of years ago. That this is God’s word to us, and that when we read this, we’re not just interacting with information we are interacting with the God of the universe. When we read our Bibles, when we open our Bibles, we’re not just interacting with words on a page. We are in the presence of our Creator. You know I think books are great, podcasts are great. They’re really great for helping us develop our life, but there is no substitute for God’s word. I love books about -that help me learn about what God has said, but why would I just settle for what people think God said when I have what God actually said in my hands. Stay grounded in God’s word. And I think, you know, there’s deception and there’s seduction, but I think that people are human. That people are human, and they make mistakes. I make mistakes all the time especially downstairs with our student ministry. They’re a number of occasions where I put a verse on the screen and the reference is wrong. And my students will call me out, and say, “Nope, that’s wrong. that’s wrong. That wasn’t Isaiah that was actually Jeremiah.” Get your life together. It’s a good idea to bring our Bibles to church because even the best of us can make mistakes. If you’re a Bible study leader, if you’re a small group leader, if you work in student ministry, or children’s ministry, or H.U.G.S., we all we just make mistakes. The Bible can turn us back, and say no, no, nope, no this is what the truth is. I can’t just take anybody’s word because of their platform or because they have a trusting face or a cool bow tie. Thank you for that. I didn’t know if that was going to work, but here’s the thing, if you believe in Jesus for eternal life, then you have a life that can be grown and developed and three ways to do that; stay grounded in God’s word. God’s word can be difficult to understand. It can be difficult to read, and I get that. So, we have Bible studies. We have small groups. Would love for you to be a part of. Stay grounded in God’s word together. Don’t let opposition change your position. God wants your best. He has a plan for you; a plan to develop your life by following Jesus. And find spiritual mentors, find people who are farther along in their development, find your “Paul.” Some of you are already Pauls in this room, and you need a Timothy. Maybe that’s your goal- is while you’ve got some people who are farther along in your life you need to add on some people who are not as far along. No pressure, but we’ve got some really strong Pauls, or Paulas. We’ve got both, so as we continue to develop our life. We’re going to find spiritual mentors. We’re going to not let opposition change our position. We’re going to stay grounded in God’s word, and I think every day we’re going to need to declare Jesus. Just like yesterday, I have decided to follow you. I’m going to invite the worship team back out and together we’re going to sing a song together that declares Jesus. We are going to follow you. We have decided to follow you, that Your life is worth following, that Your example is worth following, and that we are prepared to make that decision day in and day out. Would you guys stand? I’m going to pray, and then we’ll sing together.
“Jesus, because of your death on the cross we have eternal life, and the moment we believe it, we have that life. That there’s nothing we can do to earn it, or keep it, or prove it. There’s no work that we can do. That you’ve given it to us free of charge. God, thank you, uh, Jesus, thank you that you lived a life that you walked and spoke and taught and loved and healed, that you taught us that we can live life to the full, and so Jesus, as we develop our lives we want it to look like Yours. We want to look like a full abundant life. Holy Spirit, would you give us strength and courage every day to wake up and not let “opposition change our position,” but to continue to grow and develop. Jesus here today, we declare in one voice that we have decided to follow you. Would you continue to show us the way, in your love and your grace? It’s in your name we pray. Amen”
We have eternal life the moment we believe in Jesus. Nothing we do can earn, keep, or prove that we have that life. Once we believe in Jesus, why is it important to develop the life He has given us?
Who have been your spiritual mentors? In what ways have they helped you develop your life in Christ?
If someone said they learned to develop their life in Christ from you, what practices or attributes would you like them to say were true of you (prayer, kindness, generosity, etc…)?
Have you ever encountered opposition to your faith? What has helped you to keep going?
Re-read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In the Bible, God has given us everything we need in order to believe in Jesus and develop the life He gives us. What has God been teaching you recently about Himself or how to develop the life you have in Christ through His Word?
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