TITLE: THE TIME…AT HAND
TEXT: 2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
As the Apostle Paul wrote his last letter before going Home to Glory, he summed up his autobiography in the three short clauses found in verse 8; “I Have Fought a Good Fight” (which was of first importance to him at his hour of approaching death). “I Have Finished My Course”. “I Have Kept the Faith”.
In verse 6 Paul speaks of “…the time…at hand” as the time of his departure, but he also tells us in these three verses about the three different time zones which we as Christians will live through. All of us are in one of these zones in our life. Let’s see what Time Is At Hand.
1. THE TIME OF DUTY (V.7)
The Apostle Paul was coming to the end of his time of active duty in the Lord’s Army on the battlefield of life. As he looks back over his life he tells us that the Christian life is a Time of Duty to our dear Lord and Savior. He saw his Time of Duty to consist of three parts.
A. The Fighting
Listed first and foremost by the Holy Spirit is the term, “I Have Fought a Good Fight”. It would be impossible to claim the next two statements as fact if he could not first say that he had fought a good fight. Paul not only fought these foes, but he always put up a Good Fight, he was always a worthy foe.
For Paul, living for and serving Jesus in the Time of Life was a constant warfare. He had many enemies, all of which were the enemies of the one he served, the Lord Jesus and his writings speaks of each of them.
1. His own flesh ( Romans 7:18-25; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
2. The Devil’s Children, Who Are the Enemies of All Righteousness (Acts 13:10)
3. The Enemies of the Gospel
(Romans 11:28; 1 Thessalonians 2:1,2)
We could only imagine how different our nation would be if even one half of those who claimed to be a Christian would have put up a good fight against these same foes.
A man always comes to admire any foe who has shown him to be a worthy opponent, he also always ends up detesting the cowards and the timid for. No doubt, that is the reason America no longer has respect for the Church and is so detested by our world.
The Time at Hand, is the Time of Duty. We must put up a good fight against the foes of Christ. We must see His foes as our as well. Too many have surrendered to their flesh and watched the enemies of righteousness and the Gospel march forward conquering our nation and we have done little to restrain them. Now we stand at a point where we are facing the last great battle to save America and still most of the Lord’s army is no where to be found, unless you find them in the camp of the enemy.
B. The Finishing
Many start well, but soon become a casualty on the battlefield. It seems that fewer and fewer can get back up after getting knocked down.
We are not promised an easy life, just the contrary, there is much suffering to serving in the Lord’s army and not every battle will go well, but the victors, the Good soldiers, are only those who have learned to endure the hardships without waving the white flag of surrender before their foes.
I read of many in the Church today who believe the battle against the homosexual movement and marriage is all but lost and we now must learn how to coexist with them when in fact they mean to win the battle and subject us to their rule.
I cannot ever see the Apostle Paul waving the white flag of surrender and telling the Church to learn to coexist with the foes of Christ. His admonishment would be that of the song writer:
ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
1. Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
forward into battle see his banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
2. At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
3. Like a mighty army moves the Church of God;
brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
4. Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
but the Church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
we have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
5. Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King,
this through countless ages men and angels sing.
C. The Faith
Some respected men of God see the Faith that Paul spoke of as the Christian Faith, the body of recognized Christian Doctrine, while others see Paul as speaking of his own life of Faithfulness to Jesus. There is no doubt that the two must go hand in hand, but I lean towards those who believe the Apostle was speaking of the body of Christian Doctrine, what many would call the Fundamentals of our Christian Faith.
Too much of the Church world have come to see these same Doctrines that the Apostle Paul gave his life to defend, as now negotiable, or even unnecessary. We hear of people who no longer feel it is no longer necessary to believe that ALL of the Bible is the Word of God, or that Christ’s Virgin Birth is essential to the Christian Faith.
Your car can run without a radio, or an air conditioner, but it cannot run without a battery or a motor, those are Fundamental. In the same way the Christian Faith cannot be the Christian Faith without the Fundamentals of the Faith being present. Paul understood that and preached and defended them throughout his life of service to Jesus.
The Time At Hand for nearly everyone that are reading this message is the TIME of DUTY. For the Apostle Paul, life could be defined by one word, DUTY. For him the TIME AT HAND was the TIME OF DUTY.
II. THE TIME OF DEPARTURE (V.6)
Paul is passing from the time zone of Duty into the TIME of HIS DEPARTURE. He had received his Discharge Orders and was preparing to depart for home.
What joy and excitement must have filled the old soldiers heart as he waited and envisioned his home coming. he has already told us the “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” ( Philippians 1:21) and that he always had a desire to “depart and to be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23), now his dreams and desire is within sight. He has already gotten the word from the Lord to pack his bags and now it was just a matter of waiting for the final call.
The last words my dying mother spoke were; “I have to go now”. Oh, what a glorious day that will be for the faithful. I believe it was D.L. Moody whose last words were: “This is my coronation day”. If Jesus tarries His Coming each of us will one day move from our Time of Duty into our Time of Departure. may we all be able to say with the Apostle Paul; “I am now ready…”.
III. THE TIME OF DECORATION (V. 8)
Paul knew he would soon go to be with Jesus, but he also knew that after the rapture of the whole Church there would be a judgment day to examine the life of Duty of each Christian ( 2 Corinthians 5:9,10). Paul had made it his life’s ambition to be ready for that day, and now he was looking forward to the time of Decoration. he knew he had finished well and the Captain of his salvation, the King of Kings would personally Decorate him for his bravery, his endurance, his life of selfless service to him.
The question we must all ask of ourselves is, can we be so assured that we can face the Decoration Day with such confidence as Paul did?
THE TIME OF DUTY, THE TIME OF DEPARTURE, THE TIME OF DECORATION.
For each of us this is the Time of Duty, but our Time of Departure could be sooner that we can imagine, it may be today. May you come to the TIME OF DECORATION and be able to stand in the ranks of those like the Apostle Paul.