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Spiritual Multiplication: 2 Timothy 2:1-2 

(Given at Campus Outreach Samford: 3.27.13)

I’m fascinated by people’s last words= they expose the heart of what someone thinks about their lives or want to leave behind.

  • Grover Cleveland: “I have tried so hard to do right.”
  • Elvis: “I hope I haven’t bored you.”
  • Indira Gandhi: “I don’t mind if my life goes in the service of the nation. If I die today every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation.”
  • P.T. Barnum: “How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”
  • Che Guevara: “Shoot, coward. You are only going to kill a man.”

The book of 2 Timothy is the last book by the Apostle Paul, written to his beloved Timothy, whom Paul lead to faith, traveled with Paul as a missionary to Galatia, Philippi, & Corinth, and who, at the time of the letter, is the pastor of the church at Ephesus. Paul, as many of you may know, was once a terrible persecutor of Christians, but, shortly after Jesus’s resurrection, Jesus appeared to Paul (then Saul) on the road to Damascus, Saul comes to faith, becomes Paul, and from there becomes the most influential Christian in history. In fact, in can be argued that, unless you are of Jewish descent, if you trust in Christ as your Lord & Savior, you can trace (humanly speaking, of course) your hearing the gospel back to Paul, who took the good news of Jesus from the Middle East to what is now Syria, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and beyond. And, of course, not only was he an incredibly faithful minister, but Paul is responsible for writing 13 of the 27 books that comprise the New Testament.

Now here is Paul, writing from a Roman prison sometime between 62-68 AD, awaiting his death. These are, in a sense, his last words. Now what would a man as remarkable as Paul want to say, to leave behind? We as a staff talked before the semester started were so overwhelmed by it, that we decided to spend the rest of the semester focusing on just 13 verses in one chapter of this short book, 2:1-13 (I encourage all of you to read through the whole book later this week. I bet it would take you 10-15 minutes).

What does he say? Paul wants to leave Timothy a bold, clear call for perseverance in the gospel in spite of suffering, and he is a man who knows about suffering. He had faced opposition & danger every where he went for decades, been beaten, whipped & imprisoned countless times (three times with rods), shipwrecked & been stoned- all for the cause of Christ, all so that people like you and I could know the Jesus he knew so well. “I suffer,” Paul says, “but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and He’s worth it. Therefore, Timothy, you too ought to share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, enduring anything for the sake of the church, that some may be saved. But, don’t be misled, all who desire to live a godly life & impact others will be persecuted. You’ve seen it in me, haven’t you? 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; I have kept the faith.” In spite of incredible hardship & repeated abandonments, Paul kept the course. He was able to say, “I have fought the good fight.” What faith & faithfulness! How amazing it would be for any of us, at the end of our lives to utter such words, right?

Now tonight, we’re going to spend our time on just the first two verses of weighty chapter 2: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, [2] and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:1-2).”

What do we see as we look at this? First, we see that Paul loves Timothy. He does not talk to him as a teacher to a pupil or challenge him first and foremost as a pastor or as an evangelist, but as his “child.” Paul loves Timothy like a son, and this is why he tells him these things.

Secondly, we see how Paul encourages Timothy. He doesn’t tell him to buckle down & man up. He calls him to be strong, but how? “By the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Isn’t that interesting? It is reminiscent of Ephesians 3:

“[14] For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, [15] from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, [16] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, [17] so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, [19] and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” -Ephesians 3:14-19

Where will Timothy’s strength come from? From Christ dwelling more and more in his heart as he fixes his mind on God’s incomparable love.  “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Remember that He has already abolished death and brought life and immortality though the gospel (1:10). Remember that He did not call you according to your works, but according to His own purpose and grace (1:9). He who was strong enough to destroy sin & death, who humbled Himself enough to die for you & me- traitors though you were- is surely strong enough to give you grace to endure suffering & temptation. Treasure that love deeply in your heart & you will be strengthened. “

Thirdly, and this is where we’ll spend the rest of our time tonight, Paul charges Timothy in verse 2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paul says essentially, “Just as I have taught & trained you & others of this news of unspeakable joy, go and teach & train others who will be faithful to teach & train others, that the gospel may go forward to the ends of the earth.”

Now, remember the final charge of Jesus to his disciples before he left the world? “[19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).” Jesus leaves his disciples- those men whom He brought to faith, who traveled with Him on his mission, who heard him teach & saw him serve- with a call to take this news of unspeakable joy to the ends of the earth, making disciples as they go along the way. Sound familiar? Paul is essentially leaving Timothy here with a Great Commission: “As I have followed Christ, taught you & shown you; go and do likewise.” But does it sound slightly different to us? Do we have two pictures in our minds of what these calls look like? Should we?

When most of us hear the Great Commission, we know that it applies to us, but we tend to think our roles primarily (aside from short-term mission trips) as “inviters. “ We say to others, “Come to this meeting; come hear David Platt or John Piper or Matt Chandler or Chris Hodges or Louie Giglio,” and we pray that change will happen as those we invite hear these men proclaim the gospel. First, let me qualify & say how thankful I am for these people, but let me draw up a question for you:

1. Money from Steve Jobs’ Estate

You have two options: (1) $10,000 dollars a week for 52 weeks or (2) a penny the first week and the amount doubled every week afterwards.

(Accounting majors?) At the end of a year, (1) would net $520,000

Option 2:

1-10= .01, .02, .04, .08, .16, .32, .64, 1.28, 2.56, 5.12

10-20= 10.24, 20.48, 40.96, 81.92, 163.84, 327.68, 655.36, 1310.72, 2621.44, 5242.88

Week 21: $10,485.76 (20,971.52; 41,943.04; 83886.08; 167772.16; 335544.32)

Week 27: $671,088.64 (make more every week from 27-52 than you would the whole year earning $10,000 a week)

2.  Evangelist vs. Multiplier

Suppose you were the world’s greatest evangelist, and you went out and led 100 people to Christ every day.  If you were able, by the grace of God, to do that every day for one year you will have led 36,500 people to Christ. If you continued at this astronomical rate, by the end of year 10 you will have led 365,000 people to Christ.

I know that it is more or less preposterous to suppose a person leading 100 people to Christ a day for thirty years, but, for the sake of argument, let’s compare this man with the man who leads one person year to Christ, but disciples him to go and do the same. At the end of ten years, the discipler is light years behind the evangelist: 1,023 to 365,000.

At the end of 20 years, however, the gap has closed: the evangelist will have led 730,000 people to Christ (or about the whole state of Alaska), while the discipler will have influenced 1,048,576 people for Christ. 30 years of the greatest evangelistic ministry ever would result in 1.1 million people coming to Christ, while 30 years of faithful evangelism & discipleship reproduced would result in almost 1.1 billion people coming to Christ (It would take the evangelist 30,136 years to reach that same number).

Do you see just how crazy this is? Can you see what would really happen if we took the Great Commission seriously as a call to pour our lives into our neighbors so that they would do the same? Of course it’s not going happen exactly like this so don’t walk out of here thinking that if you are faithful then the entire world will be reached in 33 years.  It’s not all up to you, but God is redeeming this world and he is using us, especially and primarily as we share our faith with others & say, “come and see how I live, how I follow Christ, how I share my faith,” and train them to go & do the same. We model & mentor.

Think about this: how many of you have ever waited tables? How did you learn? By following someone around and watching them do it! What about you junior nursing majors? How many of you felt like you really started to learn what it meant to be a nurse when you started to do clinicals, following other nurses around? Anyone played baseball or softball? How many of you learned to hit by sitting in a classroom? How many learned by watching a coach, then being coached as you tried?

Certainly, the world desperately needs evangelists & excellent preachers, but when we live like the Great Commission depends solely on such men & women, we miss the point. They can’t do it all! There are so many needs all around the world that need attention & that can grip our hearts.  There are so people to feed, orphans to be cared for, diseases to be cured, houses to build, Bibles to translated, etc.  There is no way that any one ministry or church can meet all those needs.

What needs to happen is for the whole of the body of Christ to be obedient and come together to pray & work towards these goals, and the fundamental way we will fulfill the Great Commission  & bring healing to the world is by prayerfully & faithfully laboring to multiply Christ-like leaders, through:

  1. Evangelizing people who don’t know Christ or practice the faith
  2. Establishing people in the truths of who God is & how to follow Him
  3. Equipping people to minister to others
  4. Exporting them out to go and say, “come and see” to others

If you really want your life to count for something so much greater than you, practice these things! I mean, imagine what happen if everyone in this room went out & this year led someone to Christ and built them up until they were mature in their faith. What an impact this would have on the world!

And we see this in Paul’s interaction with Timothy, don’t we? Paul probably led Timothy to Christ (in Lystra in Acts 14, where Paul is stoned), taught him the fundamental truths of Christianity, then equipped him for ministry by taking Timothy with him on his missionary journey (Acts 16), & then “exported” Timothy by leaving him & Silas to do their own missionary work in Macedonia (Acts 17). Paul & Timothy continued to minister together often (he’s present as Paul writes Romans, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, & Philemon) but Timothy is making disciples of his own- just as his mentor Paul had.

More importantly, not only do we see this pattern in Paul’s life, but this was the manner that Jesus used to reach the world, wasn’t it? Yes, Jesus preached to the masses, but most of his three years of active ministry was spent around just 12 men who heard him explain what He taught, watched how He lived, saw His interactions with the Father, and so on. This was his strategy to reach the world! It wasn’t all that complicated! Remember his call to his disciples? It wasn’t simply, “Follow me & I’ll solve your problems or be your friend & confidant” or even “I’ll save you,” but, “I’ll make you fishers of men.”

“The multitudes… were potentially ready to follow him, but Jesus individually could not possibly give them the personal care they needed… Though he did what he could to help the multitudes, he had to devote himself primarily to a few men, rather than the masses, so that the masses could as last be saved.  This was the genius of his strategy.”

– Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism

In Matthew 9, Jesus tells his disciples to pray for laborers to be sent out into the harvest, then, in Matthew 10, Jesus has them begin to answer that prayer by sending them out. They- and we- are to continue to pray that laborers be sent out & we are to continue to “fish” & send others out ourselves, as we multiply our lives. This is how the gospel will go forth to all nations & the end will come.

So then, what will it take for you to “multiply your life”?

1. A zeal to know & have more of God

This means you need a real hunger for God in His Word & prayer & to live a life of repentance. Lead others to the fountain from which you drink. This does not mean by any means that you are perfect, but are growing & pursuing Jesus & holiness.

2. A spirit of humble, dependent prayer.

You are not in control. You cannot help or save anyone, but nothing is even hard for God. The sooner you remember that, the sooner you’ll be ready to be used: When we remember that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead now dwells within us, when we begin to see that God doesn’t need us, but instead has simply chosen to use us for our joy & for His glory, we grow ready to “multiply our lives.”God promises to hear the humble, to give them grace, & to exalt them… and He promises to oppose the proud & mock them.”

3. A willingness to die to yourself.

“ [44] and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  [45] For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” -Mark 10:44-45

Jesus, the King of all Kings, came not be served, but to serve & give his life away. If you want to be a multiplier, you’ve got to find a way to die, to give your life away as a ransom, being crucified with Christ. I would recommend taking a hard look at how Jesus gave His life away, both on the cross & day to day.

4. A prayerful plan for multiplying.

You see, as long as we think that the Great Commission is everyone’s responsibility, it ends up being no one’s responsibility.

“How can I tell if you’ve taken personal responsibility for the Great Commission?  Simple.  You have a plan to pull it off…for most Christians the Great Commission is really the Great Omission because they walk around in a heavenly daze with no visible, tangible strategy to fulfill this mandate the Lord has given every believer.”

 -Steve Shadrach, founder of Student Mobilization

Jesus knew how everything would unfold, because He planned it, and He still prayed.

How Do I Prayerfully Plan? 

1. Pray.

Jesus, the author, creator, and sustainer of all, spent the night praying before He called His first disciples. If He did so, how much more should we, who are weak, do the same? Who is He calling you to pray for?

2.  Keep your focus on non-Christians.

All true discipleship starts with evangelism.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t disciple people if you haven’t led them to Christ, but if evangelism is not a major part of your life, you can bet it won’t be a major part of any person’s life that you disciple. And it must be if the gospel is to go forward, so keep discipleship focused on the 3rd generation, just as we saw Paul do with Timothy. It is focused on the Timothy’s of the world in love, but it is also saying,  “I am spending time with you…why?…so that you can go and do it with someone else someday.” “What you have heard, entrust to others who will, in turn, entrust it to others.”

“A multiplier is a person who is committed to the task of reproducing his life in someone else, who in turn will reproduce himself in a third spiritual generation”

–Allen Hadidian, Discipleship

This also means that, for the rest of your life, if you’re going to be a Great Commission Christian, a prayerful & thoughtful kingdom-vision should give some shape to where you live, work out, and play. Do whatever you can to grow deep into non-Christians’ lives & become all things to all people that by all means you might win some. Remember, Jesus didn’t drop in to earth on Sunday through Tuesday visits or for a bi-annual vacation, but became flesh and dwelt among us for 30+ years. Where is He calling you to invest?

3.  Get trained and discipled by someone else. 

I think all of you should have some mentor pouring into you & challenging you regularly, but I will not give you an excuse to tell me that you can’t grow or impact others because no one is discipling you.

If you don’t know how to share your faith…then find someone to teach you!

If you don’t know how to spend time with God…then ask somebody to show you!

Practice humility. None of us, no matter how mature, could fail to learn from any other believer. I really believe that. Who is He calling you to learn from?

4. Say no to the right things.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” -John 12:24

This is going to be the hardest for most of you. Being that this is Samford, I’d bet that almost every person in this room would say, “Yes, I would love to see my life multiplied. I would love to see more people in the kingdom. I would love to see Christ come back in my lifetime.” But what happens? We get caught up in so many other good things that we don’t make a real impact. We make small impacts in 100 places & no lasting impact anywhere. Don’t you want more than that? (Me: fraternity, YL, SU, etc.)

Wife: sacrifice time with friends, work, walks, reading, coffee shops… why?

Will it be hard to invest in others?  Yes. Will it be easier not to?  Yes. Will I spend less time with my family because of it?  Yes. Will it cost me financially, emotionally, and physically? Yes, likely, to all three. But we are talking about God’s heart for you & the world! Why would you choose to use your life any differently? Look at your life, what you spend your time, money, & energy on & ask, “Who will be different because of my life? What do I need to give up- even if it seems good- so that someone will be?”

It will cost you.  You might not have the best social life on campus.  You probably will make less money than others.  There will be probably be things that you would like to do that you give up.  But don’t you think it is worth it?  To leave a legacy of changed lives & inherit the Kingdom of God!  What is God calling you to give up (job, internship, etc.) and are you praying to find out or are you to afraid of the cost or being uncomfortable?

5.  Go for it.

Here’s a secret: You are never going to feel ready. If you’re waiting for a point where you feel spiritually mature enough or knowledgeable enough or trained enough to lead others, it’s just not gonna come. None of us are capable…but that’s okay. God is. It’s His message & His Spirit & His word. Take what you’ve learned & simply try to pass it along & pray. The fruit is not up to you anyway.

1st try: Nathan & Chris. You grow, learn, pray, and keep trying. Remember even one of Jesus’s 12 didn’t truly believe & Peter denied him in front of a little girl.

6. Ask God to give you “FAITH”-filled disciples.

Faithful, Available, Interested, Teachable, & Hungry. If any of these are lacking- be it faithfulness or time or humility to learn from others or desire to – you are probably not going to get very far. Pray that these things happen!

7.  Be faithful & depend on God. 

He is the one doing the work!  It is not all about you.  There will be times when you will do your best to disciple people you will see very little fruit.  There will be other times when you put forth a tiny bit of effort and God will blow you way with fruit!  That’s how God keeps us humble… Pray, fight sin, seek God, seek out others, & go!

Revelation 5 is coming… By the year 1000, there was 1 Christian for every 270 people in the world & one church for every 5 unreached peoples. By 1900, there was 1 Christian for every 21 people in the world & 20 churches for every unreached people group. By 2010, 1 Christian for every 8 people in the world (world Christians had tripled in 100 years) & 1,000 churches for every unreached people. It is really happening! Jesus really could come back, but He will not do so until this gospel goes forth to the ends of the earth, so let us pray & labor that Jesus might “multiply our lives.”

Pray: This matters; I like this; I can & want to do this