«CONFIDENTLY FACING DEATH – II Timothy 4: 6 - 8 Several years ago I read about a guy who was going from cemetery to cemetery as he was studying his ...»
CONFIDENTLY FACING DEATH – II Timothy 4: 6 - 8
Several years ago I read about a guy who was going from cemetery to cemetery as
he was studying his family lineage. And as he was going to these different cemeteries he
would come across these different markers, and he came upon a tombstone one day with
a very capturing statement. It stunned him. It said, ‘Pause stranger, as you are now, so
once was I. And as I am now, you soon shall be. So prepare for death and come follow
me.’ Taken aback, the guy thought about it for a moment and then he looked over and adjacent to the tombstone that he had just read he saw on another marker this: ‘I am not content to follow you until I first know the place you went.’ So someone obviously did a little writing of their own since they were just dumbfounded at that first tombstone.
Here is the reality. Every single one of us is going to die. Our days are numbered. There is a one in one chance that you will die. Pretty good statistic isn’t it?
Unless Jesus comes back during our lifetime we will all face it. But the question remains how do we die confidently? How do we face death? How do we look at that grim reality out there that we can see? And is it grim for the believer? Is there anything we can learn in Scripture about those big questions because our temptation when it comes to things like death is to not think about it, to avoid it, to shun it, to wish it away? But I think it would do us all a great service to think about death, to think about that reality from time to time so that we can maximize and make the most of our lives. If you knew what was going to happen to you after you die would that make a difference with how you live today?
We have each been given this lot in life and we need to make the most of it. It has been said, “I would rather die a meaningful death than live a meaningless life.” But if you want to make the most of your death you must make the most of your life. Even in my own life I talked to my wife about time this week. I just think about time a lot. My wife would tell you that. It is on my mind. I will get up in the middle of the night and I will think about if I were to live an average life then I only have this much time left. And I get discouraged sometimes.
My wife and I were at Chili’s the other night and I said I just feel like there is more. I feel like at times that I am not living my life as fully as I can. I get frustrated. I feel like I am not sharing Jesus enough in my life with people. I feel like there is so much more of God to know. I feel like sometimes when it comes to prayer I am like oh man, I need to pray more fervently and passionately. And sometimes I prayer can feel like a burden to me.
Now you guys are kind of looking at me like hey, you are a pastor, what do you mean? Do you ever feel that? Does it always feel great? No. If you want Biblical evidence look at Jesus’ disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane and see how much they liked prayer that night. Sometimes you are just tired, and you just feel like you don’t have the energy, and you have a hard time seeking God. Or maybe you are anxious. I
wake up in the morning and I want to hit my check list. I just feel overwhelmed sometimes. And I think we do the church a disservice when we go oh, prayer is just so awesome, and it is so wonderful. And then other people go but I don’t really like it, because we have told them how unbelievable it is. And sometimes it is amazing, but sometimes it is painstaking.
And I am just overwhelmed sometimes at my life. I want it to count. Ever feel that way? Ever feel like you just want your life to count, like you want your life to be lived to the max? You want to fulfil it, but you feel overwhelmed. Well, that was me over dinner the other night with my wife, feeling like there is more. I want more of Jesus. I want to tell more people about Him. I want to know His word more. I want to pray more. I don’t want to settle and be complacent. I don’t want to waste my life. I want to fulfil my ministry.
And that is Paul’s charge to Timothy to fulfil your ministry. He tells him that in II Timothy Chapter 4 in our series to ‘Guard the Gospel.’ He tells him that in the 5th verse and then he makes this great contrast where he writes like a satisfied man. As one who has fulfilled his ministry and now he can confidently face death. Because when you fulfil your ministry, you can confidently face death.
And so I am going to ask you turn with me to II Timothy Chapter 4 and verses 6 through 8 if you will, because I am going to read these verses to you and then we are just going to dissect them. We are just going to go in investigate these verses and see what we can learn from a man who lived well, a man who was about to die, a man who was confidently ready to face death.
So beginning in Chapter 4 and verse 6 Paul says to young Timothy, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering. And the time of my departure has come.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge will award to me on that day. But not only to me, but to all who have loved His appearing.” And so in these verses, Paul is writing like a satisfied man. He is in prison in Rome and he is on death row, and he is telling Timothy to hang in there. Timothy, who is wavering a little bit in his faith. Timothy, who needs some encouragement to finish strong. Paul is saying it is worth it, to hang in there. Paul is saying he is at the end, the hourglass is about to empty, and guess what? He is saying it is really worth it.
Make the most of your life by fulfilling your ministry and you will be able to confidently face death. And now let’s begin to dig in and starting with verse 6 where he says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering.” Notice the word ‘already.’ He speaks as if he is already dying. He just knows that the handwriting is on Page 2 of 14 pages 8/25/2013 CONFIDENTLY FACING DEATH – II Timothy 4: 6 - 8 the wall. He knows his days are numbered. And he is so confident at this point that death is imminent that he speaks as if he is already dying. “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering.” That drink offering is a libation. And a libation is a drink offering poured out to one’s deity.
And Paul compares his life to a drink offering. And just as one would take a drink offering and pour it out to their deity, Paul is saying that my life is a libation, my life is an offering unto God. We see this in the book of Genesis where Jacob had this powerful encounter with God at Bethel. And what does he do? He takes his drink and he pours it out on the rock as a libation to his deity, to Yahweh, to his God.
And here we learn from Paul that he is challenging Timothy to offer his life up for the gospel. He is saying offer your life up for God. Make your life a libation. That is what Paul has done. That is how he has modelled his life to his young disciple. We get saved and then we spend the rest of our life surrendering to the God who saved us. We pour out our life. And as we die daily to the things that we once held dear, we find life in our Saviour who is the dearest.
And that is what God wants us to do, to pour out our life as an offering. Romans Chapter 12, “In view of God’s mercies, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy and pleasing. This is your acceptable worship before Him.” That is what God wants. He wants us to give our lives to Him, to surrender to Him. And I ask you, are you fully surrendered to God? Are you pouring out your life to God? Or are you holding on to it? Because if you are going to confidently face death, you have to pour yourself out.
You have to surrender yourself. You have to give it all.
Some Christians just want two percent of God. They want their saving pass but they don’t want it all. They don’t want His heart. Give me a little Bible just so that I don’t fall off the deep end this week, Pastor, but I don’t want it all. And Paul gave all of it to God. He was a true disciple. In fact I don’t really like calling us each other Christian. The word Christian is used three times in the New Testament. The word disciple is used two hundred and ninety-six times.
We are disciples. And a disciple is one who learns to follow. We are followers of Jesus. And Paul followed. When you talk to non-believers don’t ask if they are Christians, everyone thinks they are Christians, for crying out loud. Ask this; are you a follower of Jesus? That is the question. Are you a follower of Jesus? Let me ask this, are you a Christian? Probably most everyone will say yes, I am a Christian. Okay, ready for the real question. Are you a follower of Jesus? That is what a Christian is. You follow somebody. You get well acquainted. You know that person and you study them and you love them and you follow them.
Page 3 of 14 pages 8/25/2013 CONFIDENTLY FACING DEATH – II Timothy 4: 6 - 8 That is what a Christian is, a follower of Jesus. And Paul did that. He poured out his life following, focusing, and fixating on the person of Jesus. And as a pastor I do not want to offer you a false gospel. I don’t want to offer you a watered down gospel. I don’t want to offer you two percent of God; I want you to have all of God. I want you to be sold out. I want you to want more. I want a church filled with libations, just pouring themselves out for God.
I know when we preach like this that some people will go it is too much, too much. But I would rather stand before God someday knowing that I called you to the pure gospel, to know God at His fullest, than to just try to keep you in here and build this church by tickling your ears, and giving you a pseudo gospel that won’t be worth anything in the end.
Paul says, “The time has come for my departure.” The time has come for my departure. You know we all have a time of departure. God knows that date. And it is funny when I think about my life, as I tend to think about it like, okay, I may only have forty more years. And I might not have until the end of today. I am not guaranteed more than this moment right here. “The time has come for my departure.” This word ‘departure’ was used of boats in the ancient world, in the ancient Greco-Roman world. It was used as a boat departing from one port, from one land to make its way to another land. And here Paul lifts that word that is used to refer to boats and he applies it to his life. His life is like that boat, that is soon to depart here on earth and he is headed for a new land. He is headed for Heaven.
And you know this vision of Christianity is so beautiful. It is not an atheist vision that says you expire once you die. No, life just begins for the Christian when you die.
Death is a promotion for the believer. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” And it is funny that I simultaneously dread and yet look forward to this single event. Right? It is like the greatest thing to be with God forever. And I was thinking about it yesterday, what an amazing place Heaven will be. And I was wondering if I will have the sight of an eagle, and the scent of the shark, and the strength of a bear. What would it look like to be able to see two thousand miles away like it is a foot in front of me? I mean I have no idea what my eyes are going to be like, but you get the picture.
Think about Heaven, think about being with God. It will do your soul good. It will give you hope.
Time is running out. I have had the privilege of having Heather as my girl for eighteen years. She has been my bride for sixteen years. And if God would allow me to have just two more of those sections – eighteen times two or thirty-six years - thirty-six years from now I will be seventy-six. I will be lucky to still be alive. And I think about how fast this little bit of time has just blown by and I’m thinking, I feel like I was just seeing the beauty of this woman in her family room at 1523 Melbrook yesterday. And if Page 4 of 14 pages 8/25/2013 CONFIDENTLY FACING DEATH – II Timothy 4: 6 - 8 I get two more of these sections of time, I am already a third into the game. That is how fast it goes by. The average person will live 78.6 years. That is 683,806 hours. We have to make the most of this. We have to do what we can to maximize our lives. We can’t waste it. And some of you, if you are honest with yourselves, you are wasting some time.
That is what I was feeling. How do I prioritize my time better, make more of this life?
Let’s go back to verse 7. His departure is inevitable, he has been pouring himself out, and what does he say now. “I have fought the good fight.” Oh, did he ever. Paul fought. He was left for dead, gets back up, he persevered. He fought hard. He was persecuted for the gospel. He was beaten for the gospel. He was shipwrecked. He was left hungry. He knew what it was like to sleep out in the cold. People blasted him with words. He was misunderstood. He was locked up in prison. He did it all for Jesus. He couldn’t get enough of Jesus.
And I think about seeing people as a pastor that start strong, but then a trial comes into their lives and they are done with Jesus. And I don’t want to paint a picture of following Jesus and it always being hunky dory. If we were to tell you that you are going to have all these possessions, and you are going to have perfect health and nothing is going to go awry, that is just setting people up to be disillusioned. I want you to realize that the Christian life is a fight.
And Paul is speaking about this fight. But notice he calls it a ‘good’ fight. The
hymn ‘It Will Be Worth It All’ says it like this:
You know Paul experienced this. Look into his heart in his first letter in I Timothy Chapter 6 and verse 12 where he says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Paul calls it the ‘good fight.’ Fight about what matters – the gospel – the good fight.