From Knowing to Showing (II Timothy 3:14-4:4)
Topic: II Timothy Passage: 2 Timothy 3:14–4:4
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From Knowing to Showing
II Timothy 3:14-4:6
(Partnership Month, Part 2)
September 20, 2015
This morning is the second week of an emphasis we're calling “Partnership Month”. Many of you were here last week, but for those who were not, let me remind you of how I explained Partnership last month. This is what we talked about...
What we call Partnership is simply a tool we use at Way of Grace to explain, affirm, and celebrate commitment to Christ and His church.
Is a Partnership process like ours mentioned in the Bible? No, it's not. But does that make Partnership unbiblical? Of course not. Partnership is biblical because commitment to the local church is biblical. It's biblical because right doctrine and accountability and interdependence and leadership are biblical. Partnership doesn't add to these things. It is simply a tool we use to explain these things, to affirm these things with you, and to celebrate them together.
Christmas is similar. Christmas is a tradition or tool that the church has used to explain, affirm, and celebrate the fact that the “word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In fact, I believe Partnership is even more important than Christmas. Why? Because it helps builds up and unites and protects the local church.
II. Commitment and Unity: Knowing to Showing
With those things in mind, this morning we need to dig into God's word and discover what it teaches us about those Essential areas to which we need to be committed and around which we need to be united. Reflecting our Four Essentials, we see four areas of commitment described in God's word. This morning, we will look at two of those areas. Now remember, our lesson this morning may feel more like teaching than preaching (lots of verses), but I think this information is so important and so helpful. Are you ready? Let's first talk about...
A. Our Common Beliefs
I think in light of the three passages (or three groups of passages), I think we can conclude that if we are not united in His truth, we are not truly united as His people.
Read Passage #1: II Timothy 3:14-4:4
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. [4:1] I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
I believe there are at least three key points to take from this passage:
1. This truth that comes from the mouth of God has been given to us by God in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. (3:16)
2. Through the Scriptures, God’s people are guided and equipped to be everything He intended them to be as His people, the church of Jesus. (3:16, 17)
3. We must be faithful to preach and protect God’s word because our tendency, and the world’s strategy, is to substitute human wisdom for God’s truth. (4:2-4)
Summary: The truth of God that will equip and unite us as God’s people is ours in the Bible. Since we always drift toward compromise, we must preach and protect the sound doctrine (or ‘healthy teaching’) that comes from God’s word.
Key Question: Do I go to the Bible for my daily bread, to verify teaching, and to answer every question?
Read Passage #2: II Timothy 1:13, 14; 2:1, 2
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you...[2:1] You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,  and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Again, I think there are at least two key points to take from this passage:
1. The “pattern of sound words” that Paul mentions in 1:13 is that sound doctrine of “healthy teaching” which Timothy heard (1:13; 2:2) from Paul whenever he was teaching or preaching.
FOOTNOTE: Sound Doctrine: those teachings which are informed by all of God’s word (I Tim. 6:3a; II-3:16), which accord with the gospel of salvation (I Tim. 1:10b, 11), and which, through faith, inevitably lead to a sound or “healthy” life of conformity to Christ (I Tim. 1:10; 6:3b; Titus 2:1).
2. The essential truths which unite us must be rooted in this sound or “healthy” teaching, and fed by the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 1:10b, 11), since this is the “good deposit” we are called to protect (1:14) and pass on (2:2).
Summary: While all of the Bible is always the word of God, we must “rightly handle” (II Timothy 2:15) the Scriptures so that our beliefs and teaching accord with “sound doctrine”. Only this kind of “healthy teaching” can inform what we would define as “essentials”.
Key Question: If I believe the Bible is God’s word, do I rightly understand what it teaches?
Read Passage #3 (actually three passages): I Corinthians 8:1-13/Titus 3:10, 11 /II John 9-11
However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.  Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.  But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. (I Corinthians 8:7-9)
1. Within the local church, there have always been differences of belief on certain ‘secondary’ (though still important) subjects. While such differences should encourage, not discourage, faithful teaching and gracious discussion, unity on such matters should not become a prerequisite for fellowship or brotherly love. (see Figure 1 at the end of next page)
FOOTNOTE: In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In all things, charity. (author unknown)
As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,  knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)
2. But in regard to such matters, when a person within the local church does make one of these a prerequisite for fellowship (cf. Rom. 14:1) and/or teaches contrary to the stated beliefs of the church on such matters (cf. Heb. 13:17) and/or creates division with such a belief (cf. Titus 3:10, 11), church leaders must firmly address such actions.
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,  for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (II John 1:9-11)
3. And yet there are many subjects for which there can be no differences of belief within the local church. If there is not unity on these essentials, there can be no genuine fellowship.
Summary: As a church, we must learn to stand united in our essentials, to lovingly discuss and tolerate differences over non-essentials, and correct and protect God’s people when it comes to those who err in either of these goals.
Key Question: Do I have a clear understanding of what is ‘essential’ when it comes to our beliefs?
So if we stop and think about everything we've learned from these first three groups of verses, how might we summarize our commitment in light of them? The first section of our Covenant of Commitment, entitled, “Our Common Beliefs” summarized our affirmation of these things with the following words:
We humbly submit to the authority of Scripture, recognizing that only through the Old and New Testaments has God clearly and perfectly revealed Himself, these writings alone being sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do. We also hold that our common beliefs according to God's word are faithfully expressed in summary form in both the short and full versions of the Essential Beliefs of this church. We agree that as faithful expressions of God's word, our beliefs are not only intended to inform our minds, but also our lives. Therefore we seek to walk in obedience to all God has communicated, encouraging others toward the same goal, holding to these truths in unity.
B. Our Common Walk
That final part of the Covenant reminds us that, according to God's word, our knowing should lead to showing. Truth, not just known, but believed, embraced in faith, should lead to a truth-shaped life.
I believe our next group of verses will affirm this, as well as remind us that if we're not walking in a worthy manner, our impact is hampered inside and outside the church.
Passage #4: Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 4:1-3
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel... (Philippians 1:27) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called... (Ephesians 4:1)
1. Every follower of Christ is called to “walk”, that is, live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel and the calling to which God calls us. (cf. Philippians 2:3-11; Ephesians 1:1-2:10)
2. This idea of worthiness can be visualized by an old-fashioned scale with two balancing sides. Our attitudes, actions, and words should be proportional to the weightiness of the gospel.
3. Our life together as God's people should also reflect this goal, as we stand together (and labor together) in love and unity.
Summary: As we grow in our understanding of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, our thoughts, words, and deeds should evidence that same power at work within us.
Key Question: Do I live daily in the truth of the gospel for my assurance and growth in Christ.
Passage #5: Colossians 3:1-8, 18-4:1
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth...
1. If our mouth, hands, and feet are to be used in a manner worthy of the gospel, we must first make sure our eyes are looking to the “things that are above”.
2. Because Christ died for our sins, we can now “put to death” the sinful desires and mindsets so common to the world, and so common in terms of common temptations.
Now, in 3:18-4:1 wives, husbands, children, and (what we might call) employers and employees are all addressed. In light of those verses, we could also say...
3. Living in a “manner worthy” of the gospel also means that our homes and workplaces will be impacted as we seek Christ.
Summary: God's work of 'setting us apart' (i.e. sanctification) begins with raising our perspective, and then reforming our practice, in every part of our life.
Key Question: Am I putting all effort forward, in view of the gospel, to grow in sanctification, in every part of my life.
Passage #6: I Corinthians 10:23-11:1 [explain context beforehand]
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.  Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.  Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.  For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.”  If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.  But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience?  If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,  just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. [11:1] Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1. To live our lives in a way that reflects the greatness of the gospel, we must be passionately concerned about doing “all to the glory of God”.
2. To live for God's glory means following the example of Jesus Christ. He is our ultimate Teacher, standard, and inspiration.
3. Following the example of Jesus means not considering my rights or desires first, but instead, thinking about how others might be served and saved.
Summary: The man or woman who is walking in a manner worthy of the gospel is a person who wants both God to be glorified in all things, and all people to know of His redeeming grace.
Key Question: Do I think about how God can be honored in every area of my life, even in things most consider mundane (e.g. eating and drinking).
So considering everything we've just learned, how might we summarize our commitments in light of these passages. Well, the second section of our Covenant of Commitment, entitled, “Our Common Walk”, summarizes our affirmation of these “showing” principles in this way:
In light of God’s word, we commit ourselves, by His grace, to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel by which we have been saved. Knowing that we have been called to follow in Jesus' steps, we endeavor to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and striving to love all with His love. We seek, by the power of His Spirit, to show patience and forgiveness when wronged, faithfulness and fairness in our dealings, discernment and holiness in the world, purity in our sexuality and speech, and humility and zeal as we seek the salvation of the lost. As we instruct our children and love our spouse, in our workplace, school, and/or community, in our priorities and pursuits, we purpose to be a godly example of Jesus Christ.
III. Unity, Purity, Testimony
So what have we seen this morning? What has God shown us? He's shown us that what we believe matters, AND what we do with what we believe matters. If we are truly living to know the word, the word should show in our living. And as we think about those principles in light of our life together as Way of Grace Church, I believe God has reminded us about how important these things are in terms of our unity, our purity, and our testimony.
These are not optional beliefs or mere preferences. These are Essentials: One Truth; One Lord. And if we cannot affirm these beliefs, there is no glue holding us together.
Let me finish this morning by reading the opening words of our Covenant of Commitment:
Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to confess faith in Jesus Christ as
Savior and Lord, and in light of the grace by which we are accepted by God, in love and gratitude, we commit ourselves to... [our Common Beliefs, to this Common Walk]
Sound doctrine, healthy teaching, should always point us back to the gospel, and in turn, the gospel instructs and empowers us to live a transformed life. Let's finish this morning giving God thanks for the truth and grace that is ours in Jesus.