Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Words for the Last Days (2 Tim. 3:1 - 4:7)


This is a slightly edited version of the sermon
I delivered at GLCC Dagupan (December 30, 2012)

Hapon ng Disyembre 29, 1896, isang araw bago kitilin ng mga dayuhang awtoridad ang buhay ni Dr. Jose Rizal, dinalaw siya ng kanyang ina, ilang mga kapatid, at ilang mga pamangkin sa Fort Santiago. Sa kanilang pag-uwi, ipinadala ni Rizal ang kanyang cocinilla. May ibinulong si Rizal kay Trinidad: "There is something inside". Maaaring sinadya niyang gumamit ng salitang Ingles upang hindi maintindihan ng mga guwardiya; kung naintindihan nila, malamang kinumpiska nila ang cocinilla.

Pag-uwi nila sa bahay, hindi nila agad binuksan ang cocinilla pangambang minamanmanan pa rin sila ng mga kaaway. Petsa 31 na nang ito ay kanilang buksan. Natagpuan nila ang kapirasong papel; nang ito ay kanilang binasa, sila ay napaluha. Naroon ang isang napakaganda at makabagbag-damdaming tula. Bagamat hindi ito pinamagatan ni Rizal, ang tulang ito ay kilala natin ngayon bilang "Mi Ultimo Adios".

Sa tingin ko, kung alam mong malapit ka nang pumanaw, doon nananariwa sa iyong puso at alaala ang mga bagay-bagay na mahalaga sa iyo. Konti na lang ang panahon mo kaya isinasantabi mo na lang mga mga bagay na di naman mahalaga, at inilalaan mo na lang ang nalalabing oras at lakas sa mga bagay na malapit sa iyong puso. 'Yan ang dahilan kung bakit naisulat ni Rizal sa isang paraang nakakaantig-puso ang kanyang huling paalam.

Hawak natin ngayon ang huling sulat ni Pablo. Ang 2 Timoteo ay isinulat niya ilang araw o ilang linggo bago siya patawan ng parusang kamatayan ng mga awtoridad. At nang isulat niya ito, batid niya na malapit na ang kanyang pagpanaw (2 Tim. 4:6). Subalit hindi kalungkutan ang laman ng kanyang huling liham; sa halip ito ay isinulat ng isang tao na sa tingin niya ay hindi nasayang ang kanyang buhay. Hindi man siya ituturing na matagumpay ng mga kapwa niya Pariseo, sa kanyang sariling ebalwasyan ay matagumpay ang kanyang pananatili dito sa ibabaw ng lupa. Wika niya, "I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)


Ang kanyang alalahanin sa kanyang pagsulat ay kung paano niya bibigyan ng lakas at pag-asa ang isang mas batang pastor na dinisipulo niya. May indikasyon na nanghina ng loob nitong si Timoteo (2 Tim. 1:6-7). Pero bagamat gusto niyang palakasin ang loob ng kanyang disipulo, ayaw rin naman niyang itago ang katotohanan na mahirap ang mga panahong darating. Ipinagtapat ni Pablo kay Timoteo na ang paglaban ng sanlibutan kontra sa mensahe ng Panginoon ay hindi isang pansamantalang kondisyon, kundi isan permanenteng kalagayan mula sa kanilang kapanahunan hanggang sa pababalik ng Panginoon. Patuloy na mamahalin ng sanlibutan ang kasalanan at patuloy nilang kamumuhian ang katotohanan. Ito ang nasusulat sa 2 Tim. 3:1-4:

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (NIV 1984)


Ang pananaw ng marami ay ganito: “Man is inherently good”. Hindi nila nauunawaan ang lalim ng ugat ng kasamaan ng tao. Kaya naman ang kanilang mga mungkahi upang malutas ang problema ng kasamaan sa mundo ay mababaw. Sabi nila, basta magsama-sama lang daw tayo sa isang burol at umawit ng I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, magkakaroon na ng kapayapaan. Subalit pagkatapos ng mga peace talks at habang sariwa pa ang tinta ng mga lagda sa peace treaties, makakarinig ulit tayo ng mga balitang kagimbal-gimbal.



Paliwanag ni D.A. Carson: "What is astonishing is that after the bloody century we have just come through, so many people think that if we simply sit around a table and talk we will sort it all out. Th is attitude is astonishingly na├»ve. Christians should never, ever, be surprised by evil. While we should always be horrified by evil, we should never be surprised by it. Do not adopt a Pollyannaish view of things. Do not be surprised by evil. Hold few illusions about the world. Th ere are many times we should be horrified – surprised, never." 1

Sa talata 5, mababasa natin na ang ilan sa kanila ay mga relihiyosong tayo pa, subalit ang kapangyarihan ng ebanghelyo na bumago ng buhay ay hindi nakikita sa kanila. Ang bilin ni Pablo kay Timoteo, huwag siyang maugnay sa kanila.

They are already present in Timothy's lifetime. So when we read “There will be terrible times in the last days” (3:1), we should not see it as having no application in Timothy's day. In this sense, the “last days” being spoken of here had already begun eversince Jesus' incarnation (Hebrews 1:1)

Included in this group of wicked men in the last days are false teachers who infiltrate the church of Jesus. The ones who are most vulnerable to them are those who
a. lack biblical knowldge
b. lack biblical morality (2 Tim. 3:6-7)

Praise God they will not remain unexposed (3:9)


The last days audience will be resistant to truth and receptive to lies. What will be on demand are preachers who preach the things that will tickle the ears or depraved minds (2 Timothy 3:3-4). It's not the gospel selfish people want to hear; what they want to hear is that it is God's will for them to have a luxury car, so they will hire teachers who will tell them they need a luxury car

Sa mga panahong ito na ang kadiliman ang namamayani, paano mo palalakasin ang loob ng isang pastor na halos sumuko na? Ito ay ginawa ni Pablo sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay n tatlong habilin:

1. Alalahanin at tularan ang mga huwarang Kristiyano
2. Panghawakan ang Salita ng Diyos
3. Ipasa ang Salita ng Diyos sa iba


Unang Habilin: Alalahanin at Tularan ang mga Huwarang Kristiyano
 2 Timothy 3:10-12  You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted...”

After describing the ungodliness that will mark the last days, Paul points to an opposite example – namely Paul himself. Timothy heard apostolic teaching from Paul. Timothy observed Paul's pattern of daily living. Timothy knew Paul's motives for service. Timothy is a witness to Paul's faithfulness. Timothy saw how patient Paul was to difficult people. Timothy saw Paul's sincere love for God and men. Timothy witnessed Paul's endurance even in the most adverse conditions. Paul left the footprints and Timothy should follow them.

Paul especially mentioned about the persecutions and suffering he went through and says that it is not only for him, it is not only for Timothy, but for all who live godly lives. In looking for good mentors, consider how they view persecutions and suffering and how they react to them. Does he preach “It is NEVER God's will for you to suffer”? What will he say when he visits Paul in prison? Will he blame Paul and say: "It's your fault Paul! You are in prison because you did not have enough faith. You did not confess positive things. Follow this instruction Paul. Open your mouth wide and shout: I DECLARE I WILL BE RELEASED FROM PRISON". When that preacher lives by that principle, then he will not be a good mentor for you for he does not agree with verse 12.

Paul's life was a contrast to the attitudes of the decaying society. Paul will be gone soon, but these memories will linger in Timothy's thoughts and it will motivate him to be faithful in life and ministry.

John Macarthur remarked: "Often more than we realize, we are influenced by those we have lived with, worked with, and served with. Sometimes the influence is for good, sometimes for bad."2

May isang TV infomercial na noon ko pa napanood pero kumintal sa aking munting isipan ang mensahe nito. May dalawang bata ang naglalaro ng laruang kotse. Ipinagmamalaki ng isang bata kung  gaano kabilis magmaneho ang kanyang tatay. Sabi pa niya "Paglaki ko, gagayahin kon tatay ko". Bigla na lang sumulpot ang isa pang bata dala-dala ang isang nakakabilang balita: “Ang tatay mo nabangga.”

Maaari tayong mabuhay bilang mga masama o mabuting mga halimbawa; piliin na lang natin maging mga mabuting halimbawa sa pamamagitan ng pagsunod sa halimbawa ng mga Kristiyanong mas mature sa atin.

D.A. Carson asked, “Do you ever say to a young Christian, ‘Do you want to know what Christianity is like? Watch me!’ If you never do, you are unbiblical. After all, the apostle Paul can write elsewhere, ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ’ (1 Cor. 11:1). Many things are learned as much by example as by word." <sup>3</sup>


Pangalawang Habilin: Panghawakan ang Salita ng Diyos
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

In an age of decadence, both in the society and in the church, the danger is for us to conclude, "If we can't beat them, let's join them". Paul's prescription so that the man of God will not fall into that trap is to remember the biblical convictions. Verse 14 serves as a transition between the first and second points. The godly mentors were only worthy of imitation because of what they have learned and become convinced of. Timothy's mother, grandmother, and Paul-- the godly influences in his life were all students of the Holy Scriptures and were convicted of its  authority.

So Paul's instructs Timothy, if you don't want to fall into the degradation that is prevalent all around, remember the power of the Holy Scriptures. They are sufficient for:

1. Giving the knowledge of salvation; and
2. For directing us to a holy life. It informs us of pure doctrine. It reproves us of errors in doctrine and behavior. Should we stray, it restores us to the right path and it builds us up that we may live righteous lives.

What happens to a man exposed to the Sacred Scriptures? He becomes competent, equipped for every good work. How could the holy writings do that?  It is because of it's divine origin. It is God-breathed (theopneustos).


Paul did not say: "I'm about to depart Tim! So that you will stay safe, make sure you are in company with Pope Peter and his successors. And when Peter dies, someone else will succeed him. Just stay close to the Pope Tim and you could never go wrong". Rather, Paul says "Hold on the the God-breathed Scripture", it will make you completely equipped for every good work. When there is a question regarding faith and morality, go to the sacred Scriptures. That is all you need. That sounds Sola Scriptura to me.

Pangatlong Habilin: Ipasa ang Salita ng Diyos sa Iba
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

So far, the first two points are on the defensive end. The world is decaying but we should not rot together with them. So let us:
a. value godly mentors; and
b. treasure the Bible.

These two are meant to protect and build us up. . The third point is on the offensive side. Kumbaga sa boksing, hindi naman puwede na panay ilag at salo lang tayo. Siyempre susuntok rin tayo.

This is about crossing enemy lines and rescuing at least some of those who are in the decaying society and even those who are already in the church yet are being influenced by the principles of the ungodly world.

Our offensive weapon is giving them the word of God (4:2). We should give them the word of God at all times, in every opportunity and in whatever circumstance. We should give messages fit for the need. If corretion is needed, offer a correction grounded on Scriptures. If rebuke is needed, then don't hesitate to rebuke if you are standing on the authority of God's Word. And if weary hearts need encouragement, strengthen them not by some empty pep talk but by the rich hope found in God's word. We should offer the Word of God with patience even to those who seemed to cover their ears everytime we speak. And all these we should do with precision in expositing the counsel of God.

Surely, many will reject are message, but some will respond positively. Faithfully proclaiming the message is tough in the last days, but some will believe. Out of that believing few, some will emerge as the future leaders of our church, future worship leaders, future musicians, future missionaries, future evangelists and bible teachers. For this the discipleship program that the apostle envisioned:

2 Timothy 2:2 -- "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. "

Step 1. Paul passes the baton to Timothy
Step 2. Timothy is to pass the baton to reliable men
Step 3. These reliable men will pass the baton to other reliable men.

Paul's program is not that we keep our treasure for our generation alone. His program is an unbroken chain of truth-lovers and truth-defenders.

Praise God for the ministry of John Macarthur, but Macarthur is now 73 years old. Praise God for the ministry of R.C. Sproul, but he is now 74. Obviously, they will not be with us forever just like James Boice who left us at the age of 61 and Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the age of 81.

This is one of the reasons why we should keep on giving the word of God. When Paul was near death, it was one of his concerns: so if we are to be imitators of Paul, this should be our concern too. Think beyond 2013. Think about GLCC Dagupan's distant future. For time flies so fast; I didn't even notice that the next year marks the end of my first decade at Guiding Light Dagupan. Some of you were here from the beginning and you too didn't notice how time flew so quickly.

You may say, “Pastor Jun is still young; there is no need to worry about the future of GLCC Dagupan”. Folks, Timothy was a young man when he was instructed to extend the chain. On a personal note, let me say this. I have to say this. I am younger than Pastor Jun. But because of my medical condition, most probably I will depart earlier than Pastor Jun. I am saying this to you younger guys, or even you  older guys who are still expecting 20 to 30 years of productive life. You are this church's Generation Next. And the preparation for that is not later. It is now. It must be now. Let's get serious.

In order to fight a good fight, in order to finish the race, in order to keep the faith, these should be our priorities in the last days.


FOOTNOTES: 
1. D.A. Carson, From the Resurrection to His Return (Christian Focus)
2. John Macarthur, Second Timothy, MNTC (Moody Publishers)
3. D.A. Carson, ibid