Enduring With Gospel Purpose

Enduring With Gospel Purpose

Do we cherish the Gospel enough to give it away?

Good morning.  As Trent mentioned, I work for North Carolina Baptists with Baptists on Mission as the Student Mobilization Coordinator, and what that means is I get to run Deep Impact camps all summer and do things with student missions during the year.  No one in my office would argue that my job is the most fun of all of them, and I’m OK with that.  I praise God for that. Trent spoke at one of our weeks this summer.  That was certainly a blessing as well. And as he mentioned, the North Carolina Missions Offering supports 19 different ministries of Baptists on Mission.  If you can think of a way to minister to People, Baptists on Mission is probably involved in some way in doing that.

One of those major ways, as Trent mentioned, is disaster relief. A quick kind of story for you. Yesterday, we took some time to reflect on 20 years ago, 9/11, 2001, and around 6:00 PM on September 11th of 2001, North Carolina Baptists already had volunteers and equipment headed to the Pentagon to minister to people and to take care of first responders as they cleaned up and cared for those who were hurt and those who were lost in that disaster.

So, thank you for supporting the North Carolina Missions Offering. Thank you for praying and giving and going so that others might know the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This morning, Trent did ask me to share about that, and then he said, well, just preach.  So that’s what we’re going to do this morning.

We’re going to be in 2nd Timothy. This is Paul’s letter to Timothy, second Timothy chapter one, verses 8 through 12, and this morning, I want to talk to you about enduring with Gospel purpose.

Take a moment now and do something for me – think about something that you cherish.  What’s something that you cherish?  Many of you have children or grandchildren, maybe nieces or nephews – family members that you cherish. I think back to being a little bit younger. They’re probably still in my grandmother’s wallet today, but all my grandparents used to carry in their wallets these little pictures of my brother and sister and me.  And the reason they carried them there was maybe one, so they could just look at the beauty that was their grandchildren, but two, so they could show others. They wanted to share that with others.  I know that my parents, even here in the 21st century, have those pictures on their smartphones, and at any given time, you might find my dad swiping through his camera roll to show people his family. Sharing what we cherish.

Some of you may cherish food. I do. I live in Raleigh now, and there’s a place over in Morrisville, just West of Raleigh right past Cary. It’s called Crumble Cookies. And you may have had a Crumble before. And if you have, you know what I’m talking about. I cherish a Crumble Cookie. And although I may not give mine to you, I really want to put you in my car and take you there and buy you your own. It’s just that good. I have to get you a little bottle of milk to go with it, too, or you won’t enjoy it to the full extent. We want to share what we cherish.

Maybe you’ve heard a song on the radio recently. Maybe you’ve heard a hymn or a worship song that spoke to you. Maybe in your quiet time you you’ve read a scripture. You’ve heard the Lord speak through His Word. And you cherish that, and so you want to share it. Cherishing the Gospel is something that we all aspire to do, and I have no doubt that everyone here, if you are under the sound of my voice and a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, that you share that you cherish the Gospel. I wonder though, if we always cherish it enough to give it away – to endure what it takes to preserve the Gospel and to get it to the people in our communities and our nation and our world that so desperately need to hear it.?

This letter to Timothy is Paul’s last letter to him. Paul, as he’s writing this, is not far off from his execution, and he knows that these will be some of his last words to Timothy, his son in the faith. In the case of Paul, of Jesus Christ, and of many others, last words should be lasting words. Friends, as we as the Church of Jesus Christ, as you as First Baptist Church of China Grove, are on mission with God.

I’m going to begin today by just being honest with you. You are going to endure hardship. You are going to endure difficulty. Your gifts to the North Carolina missions offering even support people who endure those things for the sake of the Gospel. But I want to submit to you this morning that it is our duty to continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ even as we are opposed. Would you read with me?

2 Timothy 1:8-12 –

So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the Gospel, relying on the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. 10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. 11 For this Gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, 12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.”

Would you pray with me?   God, we are thankful for a time to gather as Your church God, thankful for Your Word that teaches us and corrects us and rebukes us. God, it is profitable for training in righteousness that we might be equipped for every good work. Lord, would you use it to do those things now? God, let us hear what You would have us hear. Let us take away from this what You would have us take away from this, and Lord in the message, might we only see You? Might we only have our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith?  God, we ask these things humbly in Christ name, Amen.

1 – We are not to be ashamed of the Gospel or those who suffer for it.

Look at verse 8. Paul begins by informing Timothy that he ought not shy away from the testimony of our Lord or Paul, the prisoner. Don’t be ashamed of that testimony or of me, His prisoner. I want to ask you this morning, have you ever found yourself shying away from the full truth of the Gospel because you were not sure what the response might be? Think for a moment when you’re out on a mission project, you’re serving someone in a park or their house fixing something. You might be in a different state or a different country. You might be in your office at work and know of a lost worker and the opportunity to share the Gospel presents itself. It is clear. And all of a sudden, you’re not quite sure what to do.

Folks, I’ve been there. Wondering what the response to that message might be. And then beginning to back away and kind of retreat from the opportunity that has been presented. I’ve done that. The response to the Gospel is not always a warm one. And we cannot always expect that it will be. You’ve seen people reject the Gospel within the church and outside of it. The Gospel message is powerful. Paul knew that. He wrote about it in Romans 1:16 when he said that he was not ashamed of the Gospel. He further wrote that it was the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.

When we have a full understanding of the Gospel, it is difficult to be ashamed of it. It doesn’t say that our flesh doesn’t get in the way, but as we continue to preach the Gospel to ourselves, we are more and more inclined to stand firm in it. That is to preach the message to yourself that God created the world perfectly and created mankind as the pinnacle of His creation for a relationship with Him. But mankind in his own way and his sin moves away from that. We sin and that separates us from God, and God, knowing that we cannot fix it ourselves, sent His Son Jesus Christ in the form of man through the Virgin Mary, lived a perfect life, thus an atoning death. There the great exchange happens. He gives us His righteousness and takes our sin. And on the third day was raised from the dead to defeat death, Hell and the grave. And will one day return to receive His church unto Himself.

Folks, that is the Gospel and the more that you preach it to yourself, the harder it is to be ashamed of it or shy away from sharing it. So, we are not to be ashamed of the Gospel or those who suffer for it.

2 – Join in suffering for the Gospel.

Upon further examination of the eighth verse, Paul behooves us to share in suffering for the Gospel as we rely on the power of God. So not only do we support those who suffer for Christ – our missionaries stateside and in foreign countries, through Baptists on Mission and North American Mission Board, WMU, the International Mission Board – not only do we do we support those who suffer, we join them.

Paul was not ashamed of his suffering. In fact, he was glad to suffer because it gave him an opportunity to imitate his Savior. When we suffer for the testimony of our Lord, we have an incredible opportunity to imitate Christ. So, the question we must ask ourselves is how are we imitating Christ in our sufferings for His Gospel?

Friends, as we work to fulfill the Great Commission that God has commanded to each of us in Matthew 28, we’ve talked about that there’s going to be hard times. There will be difficult situations.  But if we want to look more like the Savior, it involves this kind of suffering.

There are two kinds (of suffering) that I kind of want to talk with you about briefly this morning – one of them is direct persecution and the second is social rejection. While I don’t know that many of us have experienced the first, a direct persecution for the faith, we can all agree that we’ve probably experienced the second whether it’s been recently or further back.

Often the Gospel message makes people uncomfortable, and contrary to popular belief, it does cost us something when we follow Christ as we die to ourselves and let our lives be a reflection of His. That’s not a completely popular message everywhere. Not everyone is going to receive it. Some are even hostile to it, folks. Have you experienced that? A moment in time where you made a decision to continue to follow Jesus, to live like Christ, to proclaim His Gospel in some situation?  And, all of a sudden you’re not in the group text anymore. Suddenly, you’re not invited to be a part of what’s happening on Friday night. Immediately you begin to see your social situation change.

Mark, chapter 13, verse 13, says you’ll be hated by everyone because of My name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.  That’s Jesus talking. Matthew 10:22 reads similarly. Luke 6:22 – “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you or insult you and slander your name as evil because of the Son of Man.” If you’re doing crazy things and are acting evil, don’t be surprised, OK?

John 15:18-20 –  “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.  Remember the Word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My Word, they will also keep yours. “

In all four Gospel accounts, Jesus forewarns his disciples that there will be pushback. And rejection. And persecution. Exclusion.  This should not come as a surprise to us, but we should take joy in knowing that we share in Christ’s sufferings. When we are able to be broken, we can gain a more full understanding of what it means to fully rely on the power of God.

Folks, I’ve worked in missions for several years. Even before I took this job, I had the privilege of working in college as a student missionary with Deep Impact in my student ministry roles. We sought to get students mobilized for missions. And I got to be honest with you, it wasn’t till we got to some really hard, difficult moments, that I really understood what it was like to rely on the power of God.

I will confess this sin to you. It is easy for me to begin to look at my resume, my kind of rap sheet here and say, boy, I can probably handle this one. When it comes to a problem that has to be solved, the first thing I do is get out my notebook and start writing out how I’m going to do this. What are the steps I should take? How is Jordan going to solve this problem?

It’s not until there’s a moment that I say there is nothing I can do that I truly understand what it’s like to rely on the power of God. And in those moments, He shows Himself powerful and faithful. As we suffer, our faith is to be strengthened, not dismantled. In this Gospel ministry, what’s happening to your faith when you face difficult times? Is it strengthened? Is it dismantled? Take for example Job, who in Job 13:15 offers that even if God kills him, he will trust Him.  Although Job is certainly no perfect man, he maintains a faith in suffering.

You know, I think that we can be thankful in all circumstances. But I think that after some time we can even learn to be thankful for all circumstances. Think for a moment about a difficult time you’ve had. Think about a difficult moment in ministry or difficult moment in discipling your family that you’ve had. It’s hard enough sometimes to be thankful in the circumstances and say God, thank You for the blessings in the midst of this.

But afterwards, I’m not so sure that we can’t look back and say God, thank you for the difficulty. That might sound a bit radical. It could come across as insensitive, but take the words of James in chapter one, verse 2, where we’re taught to consider it joy when we face trials. Consider Paul’s writing in

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – “16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Our affliction is momentary in comparison to eternity – light in comparison to the glory that’s being prepared for us in it, and fruitful as it produces that eternal weight of glory. As we endure and suffer for the Gospel, don’t think that a moment of it is meaningless. It’s not. Every second of it is meaningful. So, when Paul invites Timothy to join him in the suffering in verse 8 here, he knows what he’s doing, and he sees it as an invitation to something incredibly glorious. This is not Paul saying I’m about sick and tired of this, so Timothy get on over here so I got a buddy. This is Paul saying, Timothy, come join me in this suffering that is glorious.

3 – Our calling and salvation comes from God and God alone.

Looking at verses 9 through 11,” He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” Paul reminds us that our salvation does not come from ourselves or our works, but from Jesus Christ. He does that here. He does it elsewhere, Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us of this truth as well. We are reminded also that God knew the plan of salvation before all time began. He knew of His gift for us before any of us would know that we needed it.

The Gospel is a message that I understand you probably understand, but that we do not have an earthly context for. Because of that, it is truly a message that is far beyond any other that has ever been communicated or ever will be communicated. The sheer gravity and magnificence of that message is what compels us to keep pressing forward in getting it to all those who we know have not heard it. Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2 remind us of our deadness in sin before the transformative power of the Gospel made us alive in Christ. While there is certainly a vocational aspect to some ministry, every Christian is called to ministry, to the work of the Great Commission, that is, making disciples.

Paul reminds us that Jesus has brought life and that it comes through the Gospel. When we think about the Lord and His goodness and mercy, it’s hard not to get excited, and we can’t help but become willing to give ourselves to the spread of that message, to give our lives to the advance of the Kingdom of God.

That might mean that you’re sowing. Even Christ says one sows and another reaps. Now, we don’t get to pick which one He’s going to use us for, folks. But that might mean that you’re sowing. It might mean that you’re doing ministry and God has an appointment for you that day with someone who you’re going to share the Gospel with. Either way, if you’re a Christian, you are called to the work of making disciples.

4 –  We have a blessed assurance of our hope.

What a wonderfully appropriate song for the day. Paul goes on to say that he is not ashamed because he knows Who he has believed. He is persuaded that God is able to guard what he has entrusted to Him. We can certainly begin by inferring that Paul is talking about his own life here.

Doctor Duane Milioni from Southeastern Seminary describes the Gospel as life for life for life. That’s what Paul is getting at here. God has given him life, so that he might give that up and live life in Christ and share the Gospel with others so that they might experience life in Christ. It’s also fair, though, to gather that Paul is talking about his life first, but is referring to anything and everything else. In other words, he has given everything to God and has a confidence in knowing to Whom he has entrusted these things. Paul knows Whom he has believed, is persuaded that God is able to guard his life, to guard the purity of the Gospel, that message He is entrusted to him.

Knowing our Father allows us to suffer with confidence and hope. Hear me say that knowing the Father allows us to suffer and endure with confidence and with hope. It reminds us that our difficulties are not in vain. I’m sure we’ve all experienced something. Again, might be recent, might not be. But everybody here has experienced pain in some form.

I was in a situation once in which there were folk who disagreed on some things. And in those moments, some ministry partners and I were kind of pulled in to the mix of that. In watching what ensued afterwards, it just got ugly between people. And in wondering how I was supposed to minister to those folks in those moments and wondering how we were going to handle this, there were nights that I didn’t sleep very much. There were days that I didn’t want to eat very much. That’s probably surprising to some of you that know me. It was difficult.

But when asked now, and I’ve been asked this question, if you knew then what you know now, would you decide differently about being involved there? And the only response I can muster is no. I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t give back the opportunities for ministry or the moments for counseling and care. I’d never give back opportunities to share the Gospel with people who didn’t know it. And because of that, I wouldn’t give back the painful moments that God used to draw me closer to Himself. And to continue to develop me and others into the followers and disciples He would have us be.

Folks, when we face difficult moments, when we’re in difficult situations -take for example, the past really couple of years.  You may not have heard of it, but there was a virus called Coronavirus that showed up in the United States. If you haven’t heard of it, I want to visit the rock you live under and maybe get under there with you. So, sometime we can kind of rest in that together. But it’s been a very difficult season for many people, but folks, even through Baptists on Mission, through our friends in ministry, through ministry partners, God has used a difficult moment in all of our lives to bring people to Himself.

You guys did it last week. This week, some churches are doing it. They’re filling their baptismal pools to baptize people in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit because God used whatever has happened this past year, these past months, whatever it was, to bring people into a saving relationship with Him. So, when we’re asked – folks, if you could go back and make sure it never happened, sometimes it’s hard to say no because God used even difficulties to bring people to Himself.

We do things again because we know Whom we have believed and are persuaded that He is able. And He’s able to keep us and guide us. We’ve all been knocked down, but it will not stop us from loving our neighbors to no end. It will not stop us from living lives that preach the Gospel in our deeds and in our words. It’s not going to stop us from showing compassion like Jesus did, and it’s not going to stop us from praying for those who persecute us.

And folks, let me offer this to you – if you take nothing else from what we’ve done today.  No difficulty, nothing you’ve experienced – you might be in the middle of a trial right now – but it will absolutely not stop the Almighty God from drawing people into a life changing, life-giving relationship with Himself, so that they may know His goodness, have peace, gain eternal life, and yes, share in His sufferings as we become more and more like our wonderful and merciful Savior.

Do you know Whom you have believed? Are you persuaded that He is able? If we are, we endure. The author of Hebrews, who remains unknown, writes:

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

For the joy that lay before Him.  What did Jesus not have before the cross that lay before him?  You, me.  For the “joy” that was set before Him. For the people of God who sit here today at First Baptist Church of China Grove, so that you might have eternal life with the Father God. That’s the joy that lay before Jesus, and that is why He endured the cross.

Paul knew what it meant to endure, too. Through prison and difficult circumstances, he wrote about his sufferings and ministered through them, remembering his calling and knowing the God he served. Paul had the ultimate guide for enduring through suffering. He considered Jesus’ example. We have that guide as well. The heroes of our faith and those who have paved the way only a generation before may not necessarily be watching our race, but we ought to run as if they are cheering us on, as this cloud of witnesses.

So many of the Old Testament believers looked forward to the first coming of a Messiah. We get to look back on that and look forward to a second coming. There are millions of faithful believers who have gone before us, and now it’s our turn. We must endure. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s tiring sometimes. Yes, it can be awkward and painful, but it is so worth it. Christ himself endured. When He had no place to lay His head, He endured. When He was questioned by religious leaders, He endured.  When He was tempted by the Devil, He endured. When He was arrested and sentenced, He endured. Through beatings and mockings and a horrible, yet beautiful crucifixion, He endured. And God raised Him again on the third day that death, Hell and the grave would be forever defeated.

That’s good news, friends. It’s worth giving your life to. It’s worth suffering for. Do not be ashamed. For you know Whom you have believed, and you know how able and faithful He is. Press on. Keep marching ahead. Fight the good fight and finish the race, because an entire generation is looking at us so that they too will know how to run their races with endurance. Suffer well. Take comfort. Be confident because you know that you know that you know.

Would you pray with me? Almighty God, You are our glorious God.  You are sovereign over all things, God. You have marked our days ahead of us. God, you have given us the ultimate example of endurance, Lord. You have shown us what it is to love, what it is to persevere. God, you have been gracious. You’ve given us Your Son. You’ve given us new life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Might the truth and reality of that compel us to tell others, to go in the midst of suffering and in the midst of opposition. In the midst of hardship, God, would it compel us to keep walking, so that others may have the hope that You have placed in us. God as we go, keep us safe and give us opportunities to share Christ’s love with others, both in word and in deed. God, you hear the prayers of Your people. Thank You for making us Your people. Thank You for hearing our prayer. It’s in Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Thank you for joining us today. We hope that the Lord has spoken to your heart and has blessed you through this message.

If you would like more information about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please reach out to us at one of the following locations. You can visit us online at chinagrovefbc.com/salvation.

Or check us out on Facebook. Facebook.com/chinagroveFBC. Thank you and have a blessed rest of the day.