Archive for March 12, 2012

Mar 12

Sunday Recap: Carson, “Christians Living in the Last Days” – 2 Timothy 3:1 – 4:8

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 12

On Sunday morning, the last day of Clarus, Dr. Carson delivered a message, “Christians Living in the Last Days,” from 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8. Originally written from Paul to Timothy, this text is timely for all those living in the “last days,” the time between the resurrection and the return of Christ.

Sunday’s sermon was an excellent example of what both of our speakers this year are famous for – expositional preaching. Dr. Carson’s outline made clear what Paul said to Timothy and impressed on us the timeless weight of four imperatives critical for God’s people in these last days.

These last days, says Paul, will be characterized by “terrible times” (3:1). These times will be terrible because of the havoc brought about by the violent and wild rebellion of the ungodly – those who are set against God and his ways (3:2-9). Paul describes people with a string of eighteen traits. They are selfish, “lovers of themselves,” and “proud.” They are socially destructive, “abusive,” and “disobedient to parents.” They are “ungrateful,” “unholy,” and  their speech is “slanderous.” The list goes on. Many are even leading people astray with a form of godliness that is void of the gospel’s power, and some of them prey on the vulnerable.

As those who live in the last days, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is God’s exhortation to us until the return of Christ:

1) Hold the Right Mentors in High Regard (3:10, 11)

In 3:10 and 11, Paul held himself before Timothy as an example worthy of following. In fact, with the preaching of the gospel, it is a string of one Christian following the example of another that explains the perpetuation of the Christian faith among us and throughout the world. What should we look for in a mentor? We should look for people who have their Bibles sorted out, who are characterized by faith, patience, love, and endurance. And as we grow into this maturity we should hold ourselves out as an example for others to follow, always following and leading others as we follow Christ.

2) Hold Few Illusions about The World (3:12-13)

In 3:12-13 Paul warns against persecution as evil seducers go from “bad to worse.” This is true, of course, of evil people in every generation and Christians should never be surprised by great evil in this world. The last century was the bloodiest in human history and there is no reason for us to expect that the next century should not be as bloody or worse. Of course, none of us are as bad as we could be. Even Hitler, for example, could have kicked the dog one more time. But we’re all on a trajectory. Neither Hitler nor the world’s other murderous dictators started out as bad as they ended up. If we are in Adam our trajectory is that of greater evil and a harder heart over time. If we are in Christ, our trajectory is that of greater godliness and a more humble heart over time.

3) Hold On to The Bible (3:14-17)

In 3:14-17, Paul reminds Timothy of his heritage and exhorts him to continue in that heritage of godly faith. Timothy’s first Bible lessons were from his mother and his grandmother, who related the Scriptures in a way that readied his heart to receive the cross-work of Christ has his saving hope. These Old Testament Scriptures, which lead to Christ, are nothing less than the very words of God, breathed out by Him through human authors so that what He wanted written was written down for us. It is to these Scriptures that Timothy must hold in the last days, and Timothy’s godly heritage is nothing to be taken for granted. Of course, that is true for us as well. While instruction at a young age does not guarantee faithfulness later, those who grew up learning the Bible have God to thank for that marvelous and irreplaceable gift.

4) Hold Out The Bible to Others (4:1-8)

In these terrible times, Paul makes an emotional plea: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus Christ, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word” (4:1-2). This is the way that the characteristics of the age are countered in the church. There are many good things we should be doing by way of social and political involvement, but the one thing we must do is preach the Word and teach the Bible to the next generation. In time, none of us will be here, no matter how well known, and a new generation will take our place in holding fast to and heralding the Word of God.