2 Timothy 2: 1-3 – So, you, my son, be strong [constantly strengthened] and empowered in the grace that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus. The things [the doctrine, the precepts, the admonitions, the sum of my ministry] which you have heard me teach in the presence of many witnesses, entrust [as a treasure] to reliable and faithful men who will also be capable and qualified to teach others. Take with me your share of hardship [passing through the difficulties which you are called to endure], like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Two words that strike me the most from this letter of Apostle Paul to Pastor Timothy was ‘good soldier’. That suggests to me that there are two types of soldier: good and bad soldier of Jesus Christ.
Last week God sent us a message that patience is needed in order to obtain the promises of God for our lives. Today’s message is a follow up to that of last week; as endurance and patience are like brother and sister of the same parent – the Holy Spirit.
In Col 1: 9-11 (Paul praying for the Colossian brethren that God will fill them with the knowledge of His will, through the wisdom and understanding from the Holy Spirit; to live a worthy life pleasing to God; bearing fruit in every good work; strengthen with all power might such that they may have great endurance and patience).
Definition of terms
What is endurance?
The ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; the ability to continue with an unpleasant or difficult situation, experience, or activity over a long period of time; the ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way; the capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear.
What is hardship?
A condition of life that causes difficulty or suffering; a condition that is difficult to endure; suffering; deprivation; oppression; an instance or cause of this; something hard to bear, as a deprivation, lack of comfort, or constant toil or danger. (hardship can happen as a result of natural disaster; economic recession; epidemic/pandemic; political instability or armed conflict; religious intolerance; family issues; etc). Something that causes people to suffer or a period of difficulty.
Who is a soldier?
Simply put, a soldier is person who serves in an army.
However, I read a definition of a soldier from a Jewish lady online, – Laura Parienti – A soldier is not just one person who fights in an armed force or just someone who is in the army. That does not even come close to the actual definition of a soldier. A soldier is someone who is willing to sacrifice his own life for the protection of his country and its citizens. Is someone who is willing to train every single day, without enough rest, without enough food, following their superiors’ orders, without missing one of them, someone who is discipline not just inside the base but also outside it…. A soldier fighting in the Israeli army is someone who has to be in alert every single second, minute, hour of every single day and night, for any possible threat. He is someone who is mature enough to know that if he does not defend their homeland, then their homeland could disappear.
Who is a Christian soldier?
Laura Parienti’s definition fits quite well with how a Christian soldier should be defined. He is someone who is not just serving in the Army of the Lord; but someone who is willing to sacrifice his/her life for the propagation of the gospel and the protection of the faith. Someone who is willing to train everyday single day, following God’s orders, without missing one of them; someone who is discipline not just inside church, but also outside it; someone who is matured enough to know that if he/she does not defend what is the Christian faith, then that faith could disappear.
Jude 1: 3-4 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I was compelled to write to you [urgently] appealing that you fight strenuously for [the defense of] the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith that is the sum of Christian belief that was given verbally to believers]. For certain people have crept in unnoticed [just as if they were sneaking in by a side door]. They are ungodly persons whose condemnation was predicted long ago, for they distort the grace of our God into decadence and immoral freedom [viewing it as an opportunity to do whatever they want], and deny and disown our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father, grant unto me the power and might from Your Spirit to have and demonstrate great endurance and great patience throughout my lifetime.
13 Essential attributes of a good regular soldier / relation to a good Christian soldier
1.Sacrificed life – sign a declaration, no suing if anything goes wrong.
Phil. 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
2.Obedience – prompt and complete. Have always heard people say, ‘obey first and then complain’. Not so in the military, the slogan is – Obey the last order. God is not interested in our complain. It is classified as murmuring…
Prayer: Father, help me to live a life of sacrifice to You; help me to always obey You promptly and completely.
3.Punctuality/Time keeping – few seconds makes a difference to life and death…Intentional trained to respect time. Song: Time is money…in the Army it is life.
Ephes. 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
4.Neatness/Hygiene – cleanse in and out. Shinning parade: (teeth; haircut; shaving; dress; boot; belt; beret; nails; rifle; etc)
2 Cor. 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Prayers: Father, help me to redeem the time I have; and help me to keep myself pure.
5.Orderliness/Methodical/Routine/Patterned life. (week by week, you get to do same things which you have mastered and become part of you). line order of authority that do not break. E.g. a Private soldier cannot take an issue to his Platoon Sergeant directly; just like an Officer in a Company cannot go to the Battalion Adjutant; etc
I Cor. 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
6.Few words. The training compels you to keep your mouth shut. Your mouth can put you in trouble, e.g. robed into a coup, mutiny, insubordination against a higher officer, etc.
Jam. 1: 26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless
Prayers: Father, help me to set my life in order; and help me to control my mouth.
7.Staying alert/constant vigilance/security conscious – quickly get conversant with his surroundings/enter an enclosed place, look for way of escape.
I Peter 5: 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
8.Modest life/Moderation – not usually material minded. Mainly because their salary cannot take them beyond a particular level anyway; except a member of their family is in business.
Phil. 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Prayer: Father, help me to remain vigilant; help me to live a modest life.
9.Battle ready – Emergency roll call: blow bugle – must be able to report to the parade ground in less than 30 minutes fully dressed.
I Peter 3: 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
10.Physical & Mental Fitness – look after health. 5 times at Battalion level – given us message & body to deliver the message to look after.
I Tim. 4:8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
Prayers: Father, help me to be battle ready and bless me with both physical and mental fitness.
11.Belief in afterlife/resurrection – toughest soldiers to fight against are those that believe in the afterlife; as they look forward to some kind of reward as long as they fought and at least die honourably.
Gladiators – what we are now is what we find ourselves doing in the afterlife. Die with honour! Surprising to them, they were still alive after the contest, as they were full of courage.
Hymn – those who had gone ahead are watching us as we fight….
Heb. 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
I Cor. 15: 13-22 – Resurrection of the dead is certain as Jesus rose…rewards will follow, otherwise we will be most miserable persons that lived.
12.Endurance – ability to persevere in adverse circumstances: deliberately denied food, drink, sleep, given punishment, etc. to become toughened
2 Cor. 6:3-4 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
Prayers: Father, help me to keep focus on my reward in glory; help me to persevere in adverse circumstances.
13.Balanced/An all-rounder/Robust – field craft, weapon handling, tactics, etc must be good in all aspects of soldiering.
2 Tim. 2: 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
old & new testament – Mt. 5:17 – come to fulfil the Law, not to abolish it
God is love & consuming fire – I John 4:8; Heb 12: 29
watch and pray – Mt. 26:41 – not to fall into temptation
know Christ more: power of resurrection and fellowship of His suffering – Phil. 3:10
gentle and wise – Mt. 10:16 – you are sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
confess with your mouth and believe with your heart – Rom. 10:9 – to be saved.
in Christ? a new creature, old things passed away and all things become new – 2 Cor. 5:17
saved by grace and judged by works – James 2: 17
Prayers: Father, help me to be sound and balanced in Your word as a Christian good soldier. Let me not be swayed by any wind of doctrine.
Among the 13 attributes, I will like to zero in on one particular one, which is endurance.
8 Biblical characters of those that endured hardship as Christian soldiers we can emulate
2 Tim. 2:10 Therefore, I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2 Cor. 11: 22-31 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
Prophesy: What you are going through now shall be a testimony very soon. Your today’s challenges will be an encouragement of tomorrow for many.
Job 1: 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
Job 2: 9-10 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Prophesy: You are been pushed by someone close to disobey God. Please do not accept. May God grant you the grace to say no.
Gen. 37: 23-28 – just sold by his blood brothers
Gen. 39: 7-20 – thrown in dungeon
Prophesy: You are going through a time of difficulty for something that is not your fault. It shall be for your elevation.
Gen. 29: 15-30 – 14 years for wives
Gen. 31: 41-45 – 6 years to get some possession. Laban almost took everything back.
Prophesy: You have been cheated by people of trust; God will compensate greatly.
Gen. 26: 18-24 – dug wells for his household, seized by the Philistines. God took him to Rehoboth, a place of rest.
Prophesy: There is a contention for what is your heritage, something that is rightfully yours is been contended for. Never mind, I will still take you to a place of rest and enlargement, where you will be envied.
I Sam 30:1-19 – lost every member of his family
2 Sam 6: 5-13 – endured curses from Shemei as he fled from Absalom.
Prophesy: You are going through a particular hardship, and people are taking advantage of that to treat you bad; God will exonerate you. Jehovah will vindicate you.
7.Apostles of Jesus
Mt. 19: 27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?”
Prophesy: You have given a lot to the gospel and to the saints. It is not in vain. You shall reap a 100-fold return in Jesus name.
8.Jesus – our Commander and the greatest example
Mt. 27: 26-43 – pushed around in trial for two days.
I Peter 2: 18-23 For [as a believer] you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you may follow in His footsteps. 22 He committed no sin, nor was deceit ever found in His mouth. 23 While being reviled and insulted, He did not revile or insult in return; while suffering, He made no threats [of vengeance], but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges fairly.
Prophesy: You are been reviled and insulted, just because you are following in the footsteps of Christ. God, The righteous Judge will fight for you. He will avenge on your behalf.
Let no one be like Esau who could not endure hardship and despise his birth right for a morsel of bread, leading to his dislike by God.
Heb. 12: 16-17 and [see to it] that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that later on, when he wanted [to regain title to] his inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance [there was no way to repair what he had done, no chance to recall the choice he had made], even though he sought for it with [bitter] tears.
Rom. 9: 10-13 And not only that, but this too: Rebekah conceived twin sons by one man [under the same circumstances], by our father Isaac; 11 and though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything either good or bad, so that God’s purpose [His choice, His election] would stand, not because of works [done by either child], but because of [the plan of] Him who calls them, 12 it was said to her, “The [b]older (Esau) will serve the [c]younger (Jacob).” 13 As it is written and forever remains written, “[d]Jacob I loved (chose, protected, blessed), but [e]Esau I hated (held in disregard compared to Jacob).”
Father, by your mercies, let all the sacrifice I have made for the gospel pay off for me now; and in the life to come.
Father, please boost my endurance level.
Sermon delivered on May 24, 2020.