We seen so far that Paul calls on Timothy to be aware of the context in which he lives following Jesus. He must be aware of society and how it seeks to shape him, the messages it teaches, and of the false teachers at work in Ephesus.
And Paul calls Timothy to be different. To recognise the context and stand out from it. (10)“You however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose…” Timothy has heard Paul’s teaching and seen him follow Jesus. He’s been told plainly that persecution will come to those who are godly(12), and that imposters will keep on trying to deceive. That isn’t to terrify him but to spur him on to live differently, to follow Jesus.
(14-15)“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures…” Despite all the pressure Timothy, stay strong, avoid being deceived by keeping on listening to God’s word. Notice those 2 keys words: continue and convinced!
Timothy grew up as a child learning the Holy Scriptures from his mum and grandma. They taught him about God, God’s salvation plan, and the coming of the Messiah. Parents and grandparents don’t underestimate the importance of reading the Bible with your children. With them when they’re young, but then facilitating their own reading of it as they grow. It doesn’t guarantee they ‘ll come to faith, only God can do that, and we can only give opportunity and pray earnestly for it. But isn’t this an encouragement? Timothy’s discipling began at infancy! Is that how we think of it? We’re not telling Bible stories we’re discipling them. Sunday school isn’t childcare so we can do the discipling as we study scripture in here, Sunday school is discipling children so they come to know, love and follow Jesus for themselves.
But parents don’t outsource your children’s discipleship to the church, you see them 7 days a week. Deuteronomy 6v4-9 gives us the discipleship pattern for the Old Testament people of God, and it’s parents that are key.
But as a man, as a minister for the gospel, Timothy needs to continue in what he’s learned. He’s to keep listening to God’s word. In the face of the voices of society and the false teachers Timothy needs to listen to God’s word. He must remain convinced of the Bible’s power and authority over and above every other voice, and so keep listening to God speak.
Disciples need to be utterly convinced of the power and effectiveness of God’s word. Disciples believe the Bible is God’s word to us. That it doesn’t need to be updated or changed in light of our culture. That it’s true and gives us everything we need. Because we will only continue to listen to God’s word if we are convinced of that. Are you convinced of the truth and relevance of God’s word? Or are there areas where you think the Bible is out of date? Places you think society may know best?
If we find ourselves thinking that we need to beware. That is how Satan first tempted Eve. It is us saying God is wrong we are right. Are we utterly convinced of the power and effectiveness of God’s word?
Disciples need to continue to listen to God’s word. It’s what helps us grow, recognise false teaching, see the world’s discipling of us. There’s no substitute for the Bible in discipleship, our own and others. Timothy must continue in the scriptures, he must keep listening to them. As he deals with opposition he needs to instruct and teach them scripture. As he seeks to make disciples he needs to teach them how to read scripture. There’s no substitute for the Bible in discipleship.
Are we continuing to listening to God’s word? Look back at your last week, last month, back over 2020. Are we listening to God’s word? We’ll never grow as disciples if we’re not listening to God because there are other voices all calling for us to listen to their truth, to walk their way. Are we making time to listen to God’s word, to his voice?
Maybe this morning God is inviting you to begin old habits, habits you were once in but which have drifted? As you take stock of your week and think about the hours you spend listening to the box set, or social media. Are they setting your norms and values, how are they discipling you? Will you resolve this morning to listen again to God’s word? There are loads of helpful ways you can.
You may want to read the Bible through in a year. Or maybe just a chapter a day. Maybe you want to get some Bible notes to help you. Many like Explore are available on your phone. And there’s a great new app called Redeeming Time, you put in how much time you have to kill and it tells you which books of the Bible you could read in that time, so that whilst waiting for the kids you can read scripture.
But this isn’t just personal. Don’t shrink Bible reading to that. Disciples aren’t made in isolation. Why not take someone else with you? Why not try to read together? This is also about the church gathered to hear God’s word, to study it and respond to it, but we’ll look at that more in another week.
Are we convinced of the truth and abiding relevance of the Bible even over other voices in every area of life? Are we continuing in listening to and being shaped by God’s word to us?