Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2 Timothy 4:6-8

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Vs. 6-8 The Apostle Paul having exhorted Timothy to fulfill his ministry now begins to tell of the end of his own, at least as far as this life is concerned. Drawing on the analogy of the Old covenant drink offering as a metaphor for his life (vs, 6). The Apostle Paul describes it as being poured out; this time not on the service of others faiths (Phil 2:17); but as the crowning jewel of his having left and lived it all for Christ. Therefore the Apostle Paul's words here are not the words of man whose life is about to end with a meaningless end and death. But of a quiet contentment, knowing that he had sacrificed it all for the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul could confidently look at his circumstances and exhort Timothy to fulfill his own ministry, by saying: 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. vs. 7-8
And so the Apostle Paul confidently looking back must have been amazed at all the Lord Jesus Christ preserved and brought him through (2 Tim 3:11). And that is the secret of having a deep abiding faith. Always moving forward in spite of ones circumstances or opposition. For when by the permissive will of God we go through afflictions; persecutions, perils and or trials. We also experience the reality of His Person in our lives. Sometimes subtly, sometimes rather dramatically, but always it is the Lord who is carrying and preserving us through it all (Ps 34:19).
Therefore drawing on three different metaphors to picture the fulfillment of his duties for Christ.
The Apostle Paul begins by saying that he has "fought the good fight"; that is the cause and proclamation and defense of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to everyone, everywhere (consider Acts 20:26-27; Phil 1:7, 17). Now we who believe in Jesus are likewise charged with the proclamation and defense of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (consider 2 Cor 10:5; 1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3). Of expounding not only Scriptural truth in a world hostile to it, but of obeying it as well (consider Rev 14:6-12). And thus declaring the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ to the best of our abilities, as His witnesses. From His Divine Person, to His virgin birth as a Man, to His Crucifixion death at Jerusalem. To His Resurrection from the dead and His ascension back to God the Father, now seated at God's right hand until all His enemies are made His footstool. Fighting the good fight is ultimately standing up for Jesus Christ and all His Words, in all the circumstances of our lives (consider Matt 10:27-33; Mark 8:34-38). Therefore the Apostle Paul could confidently say that he fully preached Jesus Christ the Lord, Savior, Judge, Redeemer of all people, everywhere. So that by repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead anyone can have remission of all their sins and everlasting life the moment they believe (consider Acts 17:30, 31; 20:21; 26:20; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 7:9-10; Eph 1:13-14).
 Now in doing so the Apostle Paul took a lot of flack from all sides. From the Jews, (especially those who did not believe) Paul the former Pharisee, was in their minds, a traitor to their religion and nationalistic ambitions. For the Apostle Paul didn't preach "Judaism" he preached the Messiah (i.e. the Christ) as the Scriptures do, that Jesus Christ is God's King and Priest for all mankind, not just the Jews. For Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of everyone who believes in Him, regardless of their background or nationhood (consider the Apostle Peter's words in Acts 10:34). As well the Apostle Paul early on took no small fight to those Jews who believed yet were commanding the Gentiles who were turning to God by faith in Jesus; and thus by the grace of God; to be circumcised and to keep the Law, as essential to being accepted by God. And thus the Apostle Paul because of his absolute opposition to all such notions was often thought an enemy of Moses by his own countrymen. Not that the Apostle Paul opposed God's Law, just the misuse and miss application of it, and thus their using it as a means to be justified before God the Father by observing it rather than by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord (consider Acts 15:1-29; 21:17-25; Rom 10:1-13; 5:1; Gal 2:16, 19-21 etc.).
Thus the Apostle Paul continually and fully refuted every reasoning and argument that would endorse or impose putting Gentile believers under the Law and it's covenant, (as did all the Apostles and church elders), rather than the New Covenant ushered in by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, which binds us all who believe to the grace of God. Now those principals of God's grace given to all by faith in Jesus Christ inundate, and are, the theology of the Apostle Paul's Spirit inspired letters. Everything else in them in regards to righteous; holiness and self-control etc. are born out of a regenerated heart and life, by the Spirit of God indwelling and transforming us all who believe in Jesus (Gal 5:16-23). Therefore do not let anyone bring you into bondage (consider 2 Cor 3:5, 6, 9, 17; Gal 5:1, 4-5 etc.). Either by their misusing the Law (see Rom 6:14; 1 Tim 1:5-11). Or by their developing and or promoting their own ideals of what constitutes our being made right before God. Often by their deciding what is acceptable for believers to do and not do. Essentially taking non-moral things and applying and imposing all sorts of legalistic restrictions on anyone naive enough to heed them (consider 2 Cor 11:18-21).  And so the Apostle Paul fully opposed not just those Jews who wanted to put Gentiles under the Law, but any and all man made traditions, commandments, or ideals whether born out of the Law, or elsewhere, as being incumbent on anyone who believes in Jesus (Col 2:20-23; Titus 1:14). Just as Jesus Himself did and first warns us all about (consider Matt 15:1-9; 16:6-12; 1 Tim 4:1-3). And thus no works based salvation. Nor no faith plus works based salvation, but only the gospel and the grace of God, period. That by faith in Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead, and ones confession of Him, one receives everlasting life as a gift of God. Not as a repayment for good behavior, or services rendered (consider Luke 18:9-13; Rom 3:19-28; 10:9-10, 13; 11:6; 11:34-36; Eph 2:8-9; Gal 2:16; 2:19-21 etc).

"Finished the race"
This is the second in the Apostle Paul's three part declaration that he had finished what God had appointed him to do. For the Apostle Paul was called and appointed by Christ to be His Apostle in every sense of the word. Leader; teacher, preacher, evangelist, church planter, miracle worker and healer, the Apostle Paul in every sense of the word was Christ's chosen messenger and envoy of Jesus' Divine Person. Both to Jews and Gentiles alike. Though the Lord Jesus laid a particular burden on Him as His Messenger to the Gentiles, just as He did with the Apostle Peter to Jews (see Gal 2:6-10). The Apostle Paul never restricted himself to preaching, teaching or discipling any particular ethnic group, or socio-economic class of people. For the Apostle Paul was entrusted by Jesus Christ to the founding of His church by the declaration and defense of His Person and doctrine before Jew and Gentile alike. Whether the worst of societies sinners to the most affluent and powerful amongst us all. The Apostle Paul both preached the gospel and treated all who came to faith in Jesus Christ as dearly beloved and equal brethren (Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 2:19-22 etc.). And the though the Apostle Paul was one of the last Apostles called and equipped by the Lord Jesus Christ he was arguably one of the most proficient. In season and out of season the Apostle Paul preached and defended the gospel of God (and the sound doctrine that is born out of it) that brings salvation to everyone who believes; irregardless of Paul's personal circumstances, persecutions or sufferings.

"Kept the faith"
The Apostle Paul now declares that he has done is kept the faith. For as fighting the good fight of faith is incumbent upon us all, so is keeping the faith. The difference being "fighting the good fight of faith" is that it is primarily the defense and proclamation of the gospel; while having "kept the faith" is something that each and every believer must do personally irregardless of what others are doing around us. And thus this entails both a lifestyle and grace based heart and attitude that is congruent with the gospel. Now sometimes we are stronger in one area of our lives than in another. So I don't want anyone to come away with a feeling of smugness or of defeat, but rather to be always striving to move forward by the Spirit of God, in the grace of God in spite of ones weaknesses and failings. For keeping the faith is after all a lifetime journey that requires patience (with ourselves and others) and of course steadfastness with Christ as we journey home.

And so the Apostle Paul having exhorted Timothy to continue on in his journey with Jesus by telling him how the end of his earthly sojourn is drawing near concludes by saying: "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." vs 8 

And thus drawing on analogies of competitive athletics or chariot races the Apostle Paul says of himself and all who follow Jesus Christ to the end of their lives in faith and love that there is laid up for him (and us all) the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will give not only to Paul but to everyone who loved His appearing; who received the love of truth rather than carrying on in their sins and transgressions (consider John 5:28-30; 2 Thess 2:9-11). For our lives are either being lived in faith for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom and Righteousness or their being lived in unbelief in sins and trespasses for the world and the things that the world treasures. There is no neutrality.  Therefore do not be like those who disobey the truth. Rather receive it while you can. Receive the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart and life to be your Lord and Savior then follow Him in discipleship. For there is no other way. For the Lord Jesus Christ alone has the keys to life and death, to an eternity in heaven or hell (Rev 1:18). Therefore choose life, choose to believe and obey Christ!

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

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