14) But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;2 Timothy 3:14 (KJV)
The race begins
I remember seeing this famous verse penned by Paul to the young Timothy as we left The Wilds Christian camp at the end of a rousing week-long youth trip there in the summer of 2004.
A large sign at the exit to the campground proudly displayed the verse. It was a stirring final reminder for us campers to never let go of what we learned and committed to during our stay.
I have never forgotten that week or the message of that verse. I was saved that summer. When I entered the camp I was a sinner lost to the world and when I left I was a sinner, saved by grace.
Camp also taught me the fundamentals of the faith. For the first time, I knew what it meant to be a Christian. I’ve never been the same since. That place and that summer will always hold a special place in my heart.
Passing the baton
I’ve thought a lot about that verse as of late, especially in light of all of the great champions of the Christian faith that have sadly gone on to be with our Lord recently.“The Christian life is often described as a race. I like to think of it more like a relay…”
Billy Graham, Eugene Peterson, R.C. Sproul, Warren Wiersbe, and Ravi Zacharias are just a few who have passed on into eternity in just the last few years. It makes me question, who will fill their shoes? Who will replace them?
The Christian life is often described as a race. (Heb. 12:1 KJV) I like to think of it more like a relay. Yes, we are each in our own lane running our own race, as we are serving God and being continually sanctified.
Yet all Christians (the church) partake in the race together. When we go to glory we hand off the baton, so to speak, to the next individual and to the next generation.
The next generation of Christians follows in our stead. They too present the gospel message to the world. In sum, we collectively help continue God’s plan of redemption. We are chosen generations. (I Pet. 2:9 KJV)
Nevertheless, the continuation of the gospel is not just a collective continuation but an individual one. In fact, if individual Christians do not continue in what they have learned or continue to grow in their faith then the gospel will be hindered.
E.M. Forster’s famous epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End was, “Only connect!” A key motto for the Christian life can be, “Only continue”! You see, you cannot take the baton if you have not been keeping up in the race yourself. Only those who continue will finish the race in the end.
Paul admonished Timothy to continue because there is much that tries to stop us in this life from serving God. (I Jn. 2:16 KJV) We stop because of setbacks, heartache, and discouragement. Some stop temporarily, others altogether.
We know that in this world we will have troubles (Jn. 16:33 KJV) but some do not continue because they have an incomplete understanding or view of scripture and doctrine. Their foundations are built on sand. (Matt. 7:26 KJV) As a result, they fall away at the slightest flood.
Still, others are led astray by false teaching. In our Going through Galatians series, over on the TGH podcast, we have been learning about how Paul addressed Christians in Galatia that had been led astray. These Christians claimed that what they were following was another gospel. The reality however was that it was not one at all. (Gal. 1:7-8 KJV)
Even today these seemingly “other gospels” are everywhere. There are many today that believe they are “advancing” the “cause” of Christianity by adapting and altering the Bible’s message for the modern world and for the world of tomorrow.“We do not advance Christianity, God does. He alone advances it in the same way, with the same message, and the same results that He has chosen to sovereignly employ since the foundation of the world.”
Removing and altering areas of scripture that do not jive with modern sensibilities is causing many Christians to walk away from scriptural truth. Because of this, they leave the race altogether. They take an exit away from God’s path onto another road whose signs read: Progressive Christianity.
They are like the ones Paul pointed who ran well but were hindered and did not obey the truth. (Gal. 5:7 KJV) These changes of mind are not from God but from a lack of faith and the attacks of the enemy. (Gal. 5:8 KJV)
We do not advance Christianity, God does. He alone advances it in the same way, with the same message, and the same results that He has chosen to sovereignly employ since the foundation of the world. God’s word alone is the message and the standard we are to follow. (Acts 4:12 KJV)
As such we must “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering” (Heb. 10:23 KJV) To the baton of faith, to all things tried and true and pure in the Christian life, to the great truths of scripture that have been preserved for us from generation to generation, to all of these we must cling. As we clench the baton with all that we have, we will not waver. We will be able to hand it off to others to continue the race after we ascend into glory.
To continue the work of His gospel means to continue on the path that He has chosen for his saints to travel. It means continuing in His word alone and continuing consistently in accordance with His word.
Christian, if you have stopped, start again. God hasn’t counted you out. Continue in all the things which you have learned and have been assured of. If there are things you still must learn then continue to get answers, continue to witness, and continue to accomplish great things for Christ.
There is no other name but Jesus, no other salvation but by grace alone, no standards other than Gods. His uncompromising standards and plan of salvation have been and will always be the antidote to a lost and dying world. Only continue! Amen.