3:14: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it." - Paul begins to wrap up his final letter to Timothy by instructing him to stay the course and to remember the foundations of his faith.
16-17: "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work." - The Bible is a tool inspired by God to equip His disciples to be effective in ministry.
4:2: "…proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching." - Paul is suggesting that persistence, not cleanliness, is next to godliness - or at least results in godliness.
3-4: "For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths." - The Gospel needs to be taught incessantly and with persistence for without constant exposure to God's truth our "itching ears" may turn our hearts from God.
Points to Contemplate:
Are you continuing onward?
Are there times in your ministry when you just feel like stopping? Have you ever felt that you've done all you could do or that you don't seem to be making any headway? Do Paul's encouraging words to Timothy give you an understanding of how important it is that you press onward with the tasks God has called you to do? During times of doubt or questioning, will remembering the basis of your faith and looking back at the path you've taken help?
Do you agree that the Bible is the inspired word of God? Does this mean to you that His Truth lies in every passage? Or are there areas of it that are open for debate? Do you tend to select verses which are meaningful to you and skip over those that are difficult to understand? Are you careful of literal and out of context interpretations? Are you able to use the Bible "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" without becoming self-righteous, dogmatic, and aloof? Can other writings such as modern books or devotionals also be the inspired word of God? If so, how are you able to tell?
Are you a teacher? Do you "proclaim the message?" Are these instructions to Timothy important for everyone to follow or are they only viable for those with the spiritual gift of teaching? Regardless of your gifts and talents, do you see that you have a responsibility to bring the Good News of Christ into the world? Do you accept that Paul is encouraging you to be persistent in your efforts of sharing and teaching this message to everyone you meet? Are you convincing? Do you encourage debate and discussion? Are you leading people to Christ?
Have you ever experienced "itching ears?" Have there been times when you have drifted towards those providing messages to meet your own desires and not God's? Have you ever wandered to myths or found yourself seeking answers in new and exotic places? What has that done for your life? Have you found answers to your questions or have you become more confused and lost? Do you see the importance that sound doctrine plays in your life? Can you see why Paul calls us to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ? Promises of the Gospel:
In this final letter to Timothy, Paul fills the text with action verbs: "continue, proclaim, be persistent, convince, rebuke, encourage, patience, train, and teach." In this way he is teaching us all that being a Christian means we are to be constantly and persistently active in sharing the Gospel message of Christ to the world. We are not to sit idly by and watch as the world drifts towards unsound doctrine in search of selfish fulfillment. Instead, we are to take the inspired Word of God and move out into the world, teaching, guiding, correcting, training, convincing, rebuking, and encouraging others so that they will not "turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths."