We had a great trip to Boise to visit my wife’s best friend from high school. It was her daughter’s wedding reception and we visited with many friends. We avoided any mountains with snow this year. However, we took a side detour one day. On our way up to Lewiston, Idaho, we were traveling north on highway 95 and came to a fork in the road. We could continue up Idaho or take a detour west through Oregon and Washington. Barbara was okay with that. Neither one of us had been that way before. Neither one of us realized that a few “curves” on the map did not come close to the “curves” on the road. We went up to elevation of 5600 feet in Oregon and enjoyed some barren, but beautiful scenery west of Hells Canyon. Then we went from 5600’ to 1300’ and back up to 3900’ feet all within ten minutes. As we traveled north into Lewiston, down to 725’ feet, Barbara commented, “You need to stop, at the first store that sells seven-up, crackers and Dramamine!”
When I left off three weeks ago, we were looking at a vision for multiplication. Do you remember those three words that compose the vision statement? They are “Connect; Equip; and Multiply.” I hope you have reviewed those notes on “Abounding Joy.” Many of you have shared the joy of growing in Jesus. If you haven’t heard the message, you can listen to it from our church web site from September 8.
How do you multiply? How did Paul multiply? What does that look like? Multiply looks like someone who trains their replacements. It may look a little different with each multiplier.
The last few letters Paul wrote were to individuals rather than churches. These last letters were exhortations to young men Paul knew would carry the baton into the next generation. Paul wanted Timothy to ensure truth was passed on to the next generation. Paul exhorted both Timothy and Titus to examine church structure as a living organism to ensure the Bride of Christ, the Church, functioned to grow and fulfill the Great Commission. But more importantly, Paul was training his replacements so the church would multiply.
I’ve asked Michael Smith to share his discipleship story. Michael has been discipling men for four years. What does it mean “Train Your Replacements”? There are two main principles I want you to see in this introduction of Timothy.
1) God has you on a spiritual adventure (a joy journey)
Notice I have “joy journey” in a smaller font and in parenthesis. I didn’t think macho guys would latch on to that term, so I stuck with “spiritual adventure.” Both are valid. God has you on a journey and He wants you to experience His joy in it. Remember “joy” is “a settled assurance that God is in control.” Therefore, whatever the past was, you can press forward in your present and into God’s future for you. Let’s notice Paul’s past, present and future.
Paul’s past included time in prison. He was in the Mamertine Dungeon in Rome from B.C. 616-63. Barbara, Katy and I were on a seven week sabbatical in 2002. We traveled through 13 countries and 37 cities. Barbara says it was not a sabbatical, it was more of a road march. During the stop in Rome, we took a tour of ancient Rome and went by the Dungeon, but did not see it. There are plenty of pictures of it on google images if you want to see it. From prison, Paul wrote, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.
He was released from prison and made a short trip to Colossae and neighboring churches. He stayed with Philemon based on his comment in Philemon 1:22. Then he returned to Ephesus where he encountered spiritual wolves in the church and had to expel Hymenaus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20). But what was important was his relationship with Timothy. Paul’s disciple relationship with Timothy was very much like Elijah and Elisha. Paul was investing and Timothy was learning how to pick up the baton to lead the next generation.
Paul’s present state was free from prison. It was 63 A.D. and Paul exhorted Timothy in his church responsibilities as shepherd, pastor of the flock in Ephesus and leader to think toward the future. Timothy was young, but had great potential. He was timid relating to people, so Paul exhorted him to use his spiritual authority (2 Tim. 1:7), teach true doctrine and disciple godly conduct in the church of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s future was in the hands of the Lord. Paul saw his purpose to multiply himself by discipling Timothy to take the baton and prepare others to follow. There are four things that make a good discipling relationship. These are four things that also make a good home group, or fellowship group and even a family. The four principles are Biblical foundation, relational environment, intentional discipleship and reproducible process.
The first is a Biblical foundation. Paul exhorted Timothy that he needed to face heresy. Paul wrote,
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia– remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. (1Tim. 1:3-4 NKJ)
Paul wanted Timothy to have a Biblical Foundation to be able to refute “other doctrine.” The final word “faith” is used passively here to refer to that which is believed, or Biblical truth.
9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, (1 Tim. 1:9-10 NKJ)
In the transition away from living under the Mosaic Law, Timothy needed a solid Biblical Foundation to help disciple wickedness out of the church and anything that was contrary to “sound doctrine.” The word “sound” is the word from which we get “hygiene.” Every Christian needs a Biblical Foundation of healthy truth. Paul would have been all over the relativism of 21st century.
Secondly, relational environment is the second key ingredient. Timothy struggled not only with heresies in the church, but individuals who had some crazy ideas of how to “do” church. Paul needed Timothy to learn to stand. Paul wrote,
8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim. 2:8-14 NKJ)
You can imagine that will be an interesting passage to preach through! There were many people with all sorts of ideas about prayer, but especially those who doubted God. There were also women who dressed very immodestly and drew attention to themselves in all sorts of ways. Then there was constant wrangling between men and women during the teaching and Timothy struggled with knowing when to allow questions and when not to allow them.
Paul exhorted Timothy to a relational environment and be willing to face the people, just like God exhorted Jeremiah, “Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD.” (Jer. 1:8 NKJ) Be steady and patient.
Thirdly, continue in intentional discipleship. Paul was intentional with Timothy. Now Timothy needed to train diligent leaders. Read Paul’s exhortation to Timothy and see how he was intentional to identify exactly what Timothy needed to do,
12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (1 Tim. 4:12-16 NKJ)
Paul may have been miles from Timothy, but he was still intentional about discipleship, so that Timothy would be a good follower and disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul saw the potential in Timothy, not whether Timothy did everything right or not.
Fourthly, Paul emphasized a reproducible process. We see this in Paul’s exhortation, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ.” (1 Tim. 4:6 NKJ) Teach and train yourself out of a job. Paul’s part was to find a replacement and train him to carry the baton. Timothy’s responsibility was to pick up the baton and lead others forward. When Paul was beheaded, Timothy carried on.
God has everyone on a spiritual adventure and that spiritual adventure involves other people.
2) God’s adventure for you involves other people
There are three things Paul wanted to do with Timothy. Paul connected with him to worship God, he equipped Timothy in grace to become more like Jesus and he wanted to multiply through Timothy to reach that world with the good news of Jesus Christ.
First, Paul connected with Timothy to worship Jesus Christ. Paul encouraged Timothy as “my true son” (1 Tim. 1:2) and “my beloved son” (2 Tim. 1:2). Paul wrote six letters which included Timothy in the greeting (2 Corinthians; Philippians; Colossians; 1Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians; Philemon). Paul wanted to connect with Timothy even approaching his death as he asked Timothy to come to join him in his final days of imprisonment (2 Tim. 1:4; 4:9, 21)
Secondly, Paul equipped Timothy. Paul kept Timothy near him in the beginning and then continued to disciple him through his letters. Paul spurred Timothy to action, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—“ (1 Tim. 1:3 NKJ) Paul exhorted him to fight through his weaknesses, “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.” (1 Tim. 1:18 NKJ) Leading is difficult, but it’s a good fight. Paul exhorted Timothy to lead in his church,
14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:14-15 NKJ)
Paul accepted the reality that they may not see each other again and he wanted Tim to understand how he should lead. “Timothy, develop your teaching and shepherding.”
Thirdly, Paul wanted to multiply through Timothy by training others, so they would carry on the work beyond him. For example Paul charged Timothy to instruct his people in truth faithfully, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” (1 Tim. 4:6 NKJ) Yet at the same time, Timothy needed discernment not to be hasty to appoint elders, “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.” (1 Tim. 5:22 NKJ)
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul clearly states the multiplication process, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2 NKJ)
God has each of us on a spiritual adventure. That adventure is not like traveling to Antarctica or into the Amazon, it is a spiritual adventure to help people experience the kingdom of God. Paul wrote, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17 NKJ) God’s adventure is not what we eat or drink, but that is what we are often most concerned about. God’s spiritual adventure is about pursuing righteousness, living in the peace that God offers in Jesus Christ and manifesting a settled assurance that God is in control, which is translated JOY! God gave us this letter, so that as we study how Paul trained his replacement, we could see what we need to be doing so that God’s Word will propel into the future, not with a half dozen people, but with 80% of the congregation discipling other people. The growing Christian will think, “How can I ensure what I have learned will pass onto the next generation?”
Your spiritual adventure [in Jesus] needs replacements in your exit strategy.
All of us have very little time left. You may have ten years, thirty years or even sixty years for many of you. I remember when I was thirty and 57 seemed ancient. Now I know how fast the time flies. What is your strategy to make sure the truth is passed on to the next generation. Do you see the truth passing on to the next generation? I’ve heard many people bemoan the fact that our nation is going downhill, but my question is how are you involved in making sure the truth is passed on to the next generation. What is your part?
Your replacement strategy requires:
- a plan for discipleship. It is the most exciting thing you can do, because you do not know how people will respond or what your circumstances will be as you disciple others. The Christian who fails to plan, can plan to fail. 2 Tim. 2:2.
- a multiplication focus. Paul left Timothy and Titus (and many others) to continue transforming their world. That’s really all that matters. If Christianity spent more time equipping and multiplying rather than just learning, it would be 100 fold stronger and able to influence. Paul stated it so well in the context of a people retreating from truth. He wrote, “…always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 3:7 NKJ)
- faith living out of your comfort zone. Anything involving people will take you out of your comfort zone. Jesus will lead you. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13 NKJ)
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) What were/are some of the awkward moments of your spiritual adventure?
2) What were some of the events in Joseph’s spiritual adventure (Genesis 38-50)? What were some of the peaks and valleys? Did the Lord lose control at certain points? What Scripture would you point to for that answer?
3) What were some of Paul’s great achievements (Phil. 3:1-6)? ___________________; ________________; ______________ How did Jesus use Paul’s background to prepare him for his present and future (Phil. 3:7-14)?
4) When Paul left Titus in Crete, did Paul leave him without a purpose (Titus 1:5)? ___________ What were some of his purposes (for Titus)? How do you suppose Paul discipled Titus?
Making application from the message to life:
5) Who are some of the people that have positively influenced you in your spiritual journey? How will you pass on what they did for you?
6) Some people don’t respond like you might hope? How do you remain positive (godly) to keep discipling? What kinds of things should you keep in mind?
7) Do you see people you are involved with as part of your spiritual adventure? How can you be a source of encouragement and even discipleship to help them in their spiritual adventure?