Saturday, September 22, 2012

Should Christians seek victory?

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. 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.
2 Timothy 4:6-8

This week we had "Focus Week" here at Northland.  Dr. Timothy Jordan, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church (my previous church when my family lived in PA) in Lansdale PA was the speaker.  The whole "focus" of the conference was clearing up old misconceptions about passages of scripture.  The above passage was one of the passages he took us too during the sessions.

As can be seen at the beginning of this passage, Paul talks about being "poured out as a drink offering" and the fact that the "time of [his] departure [had] come."  This is an allusion to his execution which would take place soon.

The misconception he addressed in regards to this passage was the fact that it is usually preached to us that Paul lived a victorious Christian life, and so too should we!  Paul "won" the Christian race, and we should strive for the same victory!  This leads us into hopelessness, because, first of all, we don't know what victory looks like, and if we can contrive what it looks like, we know that we can never attain it...or at least we don't believe we can.

The first thing that Dr. Jordan pointed out was the fact that the word "win" is not even mentioned in this passage.  Paul does not say he won, it says he "fought a good fight."  This reminds me of Paul's "thorn in the flesh."  Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove it from him...but it wasn't.  Paul struggled with sin, he fought a good fight against it.  God never tells us to seek victory...in fact, the best we have is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  Even when Paul says, "I have finished the race"...this says nothing about winning.

Dr. Jordan even suggested that to seek victory is to seek ones own glory.  We want to look good, because we have "conquered" sin...but we can't.  This is not to say that we do not fight...because this passage impels us to fight...but we must acknowledge that we will fail, and fail often...we still must fight sin, by God's grace.

This passage also impels us to keep the faith.  This Christian race is hard, and there will be times we want to give up.  Especially in times of intense struggle with sin, and trails...but we must constantly be reminding ourselves of the goodness of God, and the fact that He's so much better than our struggle and sin.

When we view this passage in light of these truths...that "crown of righteousness" seems much more attainable, doesn't it?

There's one more thing I want to share that Dr. Jordan said, that was very encouraging to me in regards to this passage.  He said, that our idea of when we see God, is that He's going to say something like this, "well, you didn't do a very good job, but I guess since you're saved, I have to let you in."  I admit that this is the way I have thought about things being when I get to heaven.  That is not how it will be at all...for any believer...much like the Prodigal son's Father eagerly awaited the return of His son, so too is our heavenly Father eagerly awaiting our return to Him.  Also...just like the father in the parable of the prodigal son embraced his son with joy when he arrived...so too will our heavenly Father joyfully receive us when we meet Him face to face...

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