The Presence of Hope in Hopeless Times

Gregory Magruder        Parkview Baptist     Gainesville, FL      01/26/20
"The Presence of Hope in Hopeless Times”
2 Timothy 4:6-8
INTRODUCTION: Paul was in prison in Rome. He knew his time was short. Second Timothy is his swan song, his final farewell. Paul writes, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6). Paul saw his life as a sacrifice for God. The Jewish sacrifices on the altar ended with a drink offering being poured out on the altar. Romans ended their meals with a libation poured out to the gods. Sailors would offer a libation to the gods before they set sail. Paul knew his departure was close at hand and knew his ultimate sacrifice would be death for Christ.
He writes, “the time of my departure has come.”  Paul’s word departure in 2 Timothy 4:6 is important. It means "loosing" or "unmooring." It’s a word he uses again when he sighs, "I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ" (Phil. 1:23). Departure is a nautical term that suggests "shipping out"—weighing anchor, slipping the lines that tether us to this world and getting underway. It’s a marvelous metaphor for dying. For believers in Christ, death is not an end but a beginning. It means leaving this old world behind and getting to a better place, completing the purpose for which we were made.
Paul’s final message to Timothy is clear: be a person of faith in faithless times. God’s Word will instruct, protect, and guide God’s people through perilous times. Therefore, Paul has hope for the present and hope for the future. The Lord’s presence always gives God’s people hope. Paul uses three metaphors from the games to show how we can face life and death.
*Life is like a combat sport, like boxing or wrestling. It is a contest, a fight. Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight” (4:7).
*Paul’s life was a prime example of the struggle (see 2 Corinthians 2:23-28).
There are some things worth fighting for as God’s people.
*Paul also said that he “finished the race” (4:7). Like the marathon in the Greek games, it is vital that we not only run the race well but also that we cross the finish line.
*We aim to reach the goal and the prize awaiting us at the end of the race. As Paul told the Philippians, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (3:13-14).
God’s people need to run the race well and finish strong.
*Finally, Paul told Timothy that he “kept the faith” (4:7). Participants in the Greek games promised to do their best and abide by the rules. Paul says that he was faithful to his commitment to Christ and to his calling. He not only believed, he also obeyed to the end.
*Participants in the Greek games endeavored to win the crown, the laurel wreath that was placed on the head of the winner. Paul looked forward to receiving an eternal reward, the crown of righteousness. All followers of Christ will receive this prize, the gift of eternal life. “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (4:8-9).
*The apostle Paul was very open about his death (2 Timothy 4:6). He knew that its sting had been removed because Christ paid sin's penalty on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Death would give way to victory (v.54); he would fully experience Christ's righteousness; and he would be with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus gives that same confidence to all who trust Him as Savior and Lord.
God’s people have an eternal reward because they trust an eternal Savior.