May 24th, 2009 – 2 Timothy 3:12-17

Growth through Doing Good Works

Lesson 4

Introduction

We have been studying several things (to be five total) that can put us in a position for our faith or trust in Christ to grow. The first four including our subject here are:

  • Growth through the Practice of Courageous Faith – 2 Timothy 1:6-9
  • Growth through Knowing and Living by the Truth – 2 Timothy 2:14-18
  • Growth through the Pursuit of Personal Holiness – 2 Timothy 2:19, 22-26
  • Growth through Doing Good Works – 2 Timothy 3:12-17

There is no claim here of some mystical bag of tricks out of the Bible that cause a growth in faith when we do them. That would be a faith/works approach to your relationship with God. 2 Timothy is written to Timothy as a pastor and by extension the church he led, so Paul is speaking to those who have already experienced salvation through God’s grace and have taken that initial step of faith in Christ. Our subject here is, “What next?” How does a believer’s faith grow after he/she initially embraces a relationship with Christ? The disciplines or steps we are and have been considering simply put us in a position to grow. It is God Who actually causes the growth, but as we learn to respond to Him out of love (Matt. 22:34-40) our faith or trust in Christ will grow. It is a transformation process that is life-changing.
A man named Elton Trueblood has been credited with the following: “Our faith becomes practical when it is expressed in two books: the date book and the check book.” We will not venture into your checkbook (sigh of relief!), but this passage in 2 Timothy 3:12-17 does eventually involve your date book —- how you invest your time and life. Paul calls us to be “equipped for every good work.” (v.17) How can we be prepared for the good works God will bring us to do? Let’s consider two things — the awareness needed (vv.12-13) and the inward process needed (vv.14-17).

The Awareness Needed to Prepare for Good Works

Read: 2 Timothy 3:12-13

Key Question: What does Paul warn us about when we desire to become more Christ-like?

Prior to this passage, Paul in vv.10-11 listed the difficult experiences he had when he pursued a growing faith in Christ. His conclusion even after all that Paul had suffered? “… Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” v.11b. Like us, Paul would not have known that God would bless him through the difficult times unless he received such understanding through life experience. In other words, trust or faith in God develops when we live by or take action on the belief that God can be trusted in all times. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Another way to look at this verse in Hebrews is when you refuse the faith journey because it entails trials along the way then that is like living as if God does not “exist”.

After revealing his own experiences of growing in his faith through trials (vv.10-11) Paul warns in v.12: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, …”. In vv.12-13 the message in essence is that if you make the commitment to grow in your faith there will be sacrifices (v.12) and there will be evil to confront (v.13). The underlining reality is the Satanic realm does not want your faith to grow. Satan can’t stop God from causing the growth so he will seek to discourage you instead.

To allow God to prepare you for “good works” (v.17) starts with the basic awareness that it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it (2 Timothy 3:10-11)! Note the challenges upfront and develop strong relationships with other believers who desire to grow in their faith and you are less likely to be discouraged.

The Inward Process to Prepare for Good Works

Read: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Notice that right off the bat in v.14 Paul exhorts, “… continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, …”. To be in a position for your faith to grow it is not always about learning something new. Rather, it is about “continuing in what you have learned”. Paul mentions in vv.14-15 that it will take time for your faith to grow. Specifically, you are called to embrace on a personal basis the truth from God’s Word from trustworthy people (v.14). Also, Paul points out that if we “continue” to learn and apply the truth in God’s Word we will in time experience the invaluable wisdom inherent in scripture (“… you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” v.15). Paul is not limiting “wisdom” only to a profession of faith in Christ. This wisdom carries implications for our whole lives which include that moment when scripture revealed to you how to be forgiven and have a relationship with Christ. Like an oak tree it will take time for faith to grow. Paul speaks with this in mind when he states, “continue in what you have learned”.

The second part of the process for faith to grow besides taking time (vv14-15) is the fact that a growing faith requires day-to-day commitment (vv.16-17). Verses 16-17, call upon each believer to see God’s Word as God-inspired (v.16a) and experience scripture as life-changing (vv.16b-17). In vv.16b-17 are revealed five ways God’s Word is life-changing:

  • God’s Word teaches us what we need to know (“useful for teaching”)
  • God’s Word confronts us when we need a wake-up call (“rebuking”)
  • God’s Word corrects when we need a change in course (“correcting”)
  • God’s Word encourages when we are on the right path (“training in righteousness”)
  • God’s Word equips us for good works (“… thoroughly equipped for every good work.”)

Conclusion

So we have come full circle! We started with a journey that involves a spiritual growth process “so that” (v.17) each of us can be prepared for “good works”. How does faith grow? In part by being prepared for and taking the opportunity to do good works. Are you prepared and are you willing?

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