We Need Each Other
When Chris first extended an invitation to me to come and preach. I wondered what it was that I should speak on. And I’ve been following on your website, the series that he has launched called connect. And so immediately my mind went to the passage of scripture that we’re gonna look at today, cuz I want to contribute.
[00:00:20] I wanna speak into this subject and I hope if you come away with anything. It will be a renewed commitment to listen very carefully to what pastor Chris has to say in the coming weeks on this subject. So with that in mind, I wanna have you turning your Bibles to second Timothy chapter four, as you’re doing that.
[00:00:40] Let me just briefly remind you about second Timothy. You may not know this, but this is the very last letter that the apostle Paul wrote. He is at this present time, probably in about 65 or 66, a. In the belly of a Roman dungeon, perhaps days at most Meeks weeks away from being beheaded by the emperor Nero.
[00:01:05] And that reality has weighed heavily on my heart as I’ve thought about second Timothy. And I’ve asked myself many times, what would the apostle Paul say, knowing that this was his final opportunity, the last word that he could give to the church of Jesus Christ. What would he say? And we’re gonna look at that this morning in second empathy, chapter four, beginning with verse nine.
[00:01:31] So you follow along with me as I read, do your best to come to me soon for demos in love with this present world has deserted me and gone to Nikah. CRE has gone to Galatia Titu to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get mark in, bring in with. For he is very useful to me for ministry Ticus I have sent to Ephesus.
[00:01:56] When you come bring the cloak that I left with carpus at, Trez also the books and above all the parchments Alexander, the coppersmith did me great harm. The Lord will repay him according to his deeds, beware of him, yourself, where he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense, no one came to stand by me, but all deserted.
[00:02:19] may it not be charged against them, but the Lord stood by me and strengthened me so that through me, the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom, to him be the glory forever and ever.
[00:02:41] Amen. Greet Prisa and Equia. And the household of Ancira arrest us remained at cor. I left trophs who was ill at? Melitis do your best to come before winter UBIs sends greetings to you as do Putins and leus and Claudia, and all the brothers, the Lord be with your spirit. Grace, be with you father. We asked this morning that by the power of your spirit, you would awaken us.
[00:03:09] To the life changing reality expressed in these final concluding words, Lord, this is Paul’s last will and Testament to the church of Jesus Christ, not only in his day, but for all days since then. So Lord, I asked that you would do what Psalm 1 19 18 ass would you open our eyes that we might behold wonderful things in your.
[00:03:35] Amen. So we pray this in the precious name of Jesus, our savior. Amen. Amen. The title to today’s message is God’s second greatest gift, which immediately causes us to ask what is his first greatest gift? The answer to that, the greatest gift that God has given to us is that of his son who lived a sinless life, that we should have lived.
[00:03:59] And. Who died of substitutionary death that we deserve, but now never will. And raised him bodily from the dead to secure for us the forgiveness of sins that we might be reconciled to God forever. That is God’s greatest gift. The second greatest gift is you to one another. In other words, second, only to the gift of his son to us is us to each other.
[00:04:28] I’m preaching through Romans at Bridgeway in Oklahoma city. We’ve been in the book, I think last week was our 63rd week. And last week we were in Romans 16 versus one through 16. It’s one of those portions of God’s word like this one today that most Christians ignore, they don’t think it has much meat, more substance to it.
[00:04:48] It’s just all these greetings in Roman 16, Paul mentions 28 people by. and when you read it and you hear the love that he had for those people and his gratitude for what they had done to him, you begin to get a feeling for what it means to be connected in relationship in the body of Christ. And we see that yet again today in second Timothy chapter four versus nine through 22.
[00:05:11] Now, before I dive into this text, I need to just say a few words about why some of you. don’t believe this is important while you’re quick to dismiss the urgent call to be connected in the body of Christ. You think a passage like this really doesn’t carry much weight for your life. There are several myths that contribute to that notion.
[00:05:32] Let me just mention three of them rather quickly. The first myth is that cultivating close relationships in the body of Christ is for weak. Immature people insecure, emotionally, needy people. And you might say, I’ve got it all together. I’m pretty successful in life. I’m not really sure. I need the people around me.
[00:05:54] And I look at that kind of an objection I say, does that sound like Paul to you? Does Paul come across as emotionally weak and needy and immature. And yet he highly valued the presence of his friends in his life. The second myth, is that what we’re talking about today? This series that Chris is preaching through, this is for people who really don’t know theology very well.
[00:06:19] They’re uninformed, they’re really theologically illiterate. And since you’re saying to yourself, I know the Bible pretty well, and I’ve got my old doctrinal ducks all in a row. I just don’t need to hear this sort of thing. Again, I asked, does that sound like Paul to. can you imagine Paul writing here, Timothy don’t bother yourself.
[00:06:39] Just stay where you are. I’m okay. All alone. I’ve got my theology to reflect upon. I’ve written 13 of the 27 books of the new Testament. I’m fine. That’s not what Paul says. He saw in his young spiritual son and others whom he mentions here, something that theology and doctrine alone could never do for. He needed them.
[00:07:04] And then the third myth is the most dangerous and deceptive. One of all it’s basically goes like this. I don’t need friends. I just need Jesus. Doesn’t that sound sweet and pious and godly and holy and spiritual. And it’s a lie. I’m not suggesting that Jesus isn’t enough, but think about Jesus himself.
[00:07:27] Remember when he called his disciples to him, we read in mark chapter three. That he called him those whom he desired. And they came to him and then listened to this phrase and he appointed 12 whom he also named apostles so that they might be with him. Even the son of God incarnate needed his close companions, his friends to be with him.
[00:07:52] Paul. We’re gonna see it here in just a moment, said that in the midst of my trial, Jesus stood by me. But that didn’t preclude Paul saying, Timothy, hurry, get here before winter. It doesn’t rule out the fact that Paul is gonna bear his soul to us and talk about the pain that he suffered when everybody abandoned him.
[00:08:14] So again, let’s keep in mind. Yes, Jesus is always present with us, but he wants to be present with us through and by means of other believers. Now those myths being set aside. Let me set before you very quickly, seven truths, seven foundational principles that we see in this text that I hope will be an incentive to you to work at getting connected here at sojourn.
[00:08:40] Number one, Paul, obviously the apostle Paul believed in the critical importance of having close friends. You see it right there in verse. Timothy do your best. Touc come to me then again in verse 21, do your best to come before winter. Think about it. A man as highly educated, as Paul, as influential, as famous as successful, he said, Timothy, make every effort to come.
[00:09:09] Not withstanding all that. I’ve known all that. I’ve done. All that I’ve seen. I need you think about this. Folks. Hear the desperation in Paul’s words. Yeah, Timothy. I’m in apostle . Everybody bows to my authority in the church, but I need you Timothy. I’ve seen the risen Christ on the Damascus road. I beheld the majesty of the glorified Lord.
[00:09:33] I heard his audible voice. I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. Paul had, he said, Timothy, I need you come quickly. Timothy. I’ve been granted revelation and insight into deep theological mysteries that nobody else has. You remember? Paul was translated into the third heaven, second Corinthians 12.
[00:09:55] He saw things. He says that it’s not permissible for a human being even to mention. And yet he says, I still need you. Come Timothy. Get here as fast as you can. Timothy. I’ve laid hands on the blind and they’ve given sight. I’ve touched the ears of the death and they suddenly can hear, I’ve seen paralytics rise up off the ground and jump for joy.
[00:10:18] I’ve raised the dead, but Timothy, I need you. That’s remarkable. Timothy. I performed great signs and winners. I’ve driven out demons. Get here before winter. . Timothy. I’ve written scripture, 13 of those 27 books. I wrote the book of Romans, but I need your presence. I need your comforting words. I need you to be here with me for all these things.
[00:10:45] Notwithstanding all that Paul had experienced and learned. He says, I need you here. I need you to comfort me. I need you to challenge me. I need you to hold me accountable. I need your encouragement so that I don’t waiver and cowardice. When I stand before the em. Timothy make every ever to come to me, put everything else on hold, cancel your appointments, change your schedules, drop it and get here as fast as you can.
[00:11:11] That’s how important relationship was to the apostle pole? Second thing we noticed, he knew from personal experience, the pain and anguish of loneliness. I hear about this all the time in our church. I’m sure you, some of you today just say, just saying I’m just, I feel all alone. I’m isolated. Look at what Paul says in the second half of verse 10, he says Creans has gone to Galatia Titu to DW Meha.
[00:11:40] Luke alone is with me. Get mark and bring him with you for he is very useful to me for ministry Ticus. I have sent to E ethicists. Now again, Paul is not condemning Cresin and Titu, and Ticus, there’s no word of condemnation there. Most likely he sent them out on some missionary journey. And when he says Luke alone is with me, he’s not saying only Luke is with me as if I kind of wish it were somebody else.
[00:12:06] No, Luke alone. He’s the only one who is with me. I need more friends. And then look at verse 16. This is stunning at my first defense. No one came to stand by me, everybody deserted me. That just is almost breathtaking, stunning that Paul would say something like that, that he would’ve been left all alone.
[00:12:32] And yet notice there’s no bitterness in his heart. Notice what he says, may it not be counted against them. I wonder if Paul is trying to echo the words of Jesus from the cross father, forgive them, but they don’t know what they. Paul was wounded by it, but he doesn’t hold it against them. My guess is many of you have been deeply wounded by a church somewhere along in your spiritual journey.
[00:12:57] You trusted a friend and they broke confidence. You expected somebody who said I’ll always be by your side. And when you needed a most, there were, they weren’t there you’ve been abused. You’ve been betrayed. You’ve been abandoned. You’ve been deeply wounded. You have been unjustly treated. I hear all the time today.
[00:13:17] I don’t know if you’re following this. We’re hearing a new word into our vocabulary. It’s called deconstruction. And when I talk to people who say, I’m deconstructing my faith, I’m dismantling it all. I’m rejecting the authority of scripture and everything it says. And when you press in and ask why nine times outta 10, they’ll say, because.
[00:13:34] Man. I put my trust in the church. I put my trust in people. They weren’t there when I needed them. Most Paul understood that. And yet he did not abandon the body of Christ. I don’t know if there’s anybody who was ever more wounded by the church than the apostle Paul himself. And yet he remained faithful to it.
[00:13:56] And to his friends, third thing that we read here, Paul knew the importance of having the right kind of friends. In other words, he was discerning. He was selective. Look at verses 14 and 15 Alexander the copper Smith did me great harm. The Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Now isn’t it interesting.
[00:14:16] All these people deserted me. Don’t hold it against them. Alexander’s in a different category. God hold him accountable. I don’t know what happened to Alexander, but that’s a little scary beware of him, Timothy. He strongly opposed our message. The let’s not be naive. Friendship has its darker side. I don’t know if there’s anybody here.
[00:14:40] Maybe you’re an exception to the rule who hasn’t felt betrayed and abandoned by someone somewhere along the way. Amen. We don’t know what great harm Alexander cost. Paul. We know he attacked his preaching verse 15 says he opposed everything. I taught, maybe he was teaching justification by works. Maybe he was denying the de of Jesus.
[00:15:01] We don’t. but Paul said, Timothy don’t trust this man. He may have actually been the reason why Paul was arrested. Maybe he had served as a witness against him, but he says Timothy, for all the importance of being bonded in relationship in the church, keep your distance from Alexander don’t trust him.
[00:15:22] Don’t bring him into your inner circle. Stay away from. Not everyone is a candidate to be a close, intimate, trusted friend in your life. It’s not unloving to say that it’s just reality. And for all the good friends that Paul had, he said, there are some, you can’t put your confidence in. Alexander’s one of them.
[00:15:45] I wish we had time to look at these in detail, but all through the book of Proverbs, we come across these warnings about people we shouldn’t associate. Proverbs 24, 1 and two do not be envious of evil men nor desire to be with them for their heart’s devised violence and their lips. Talk of trouble. Or again, proverb 1628, a dishonest man spreads strife, a whisper separates, close friends, proverb 14 seven.
[00:16:11] Leave the presence of a fool don’t bond in friendship with him. Proverbs 20 verse 19. Do not associate with a gossip. Proverbs 22, make no friendship with a man given to anger nor go with a wrathful man, unless you learn his ways. Proverbs 2320, do not hang out with drunkards or those given to excess. So Paul would tell us, yes, you need those friendships.
[00:16:39] You need those relationships. You cannot survive without them, but be discerning. Be careful not everybody is a candidate to be one of your close companions. Leads us to the fourth principle. Paul knew from personal experience, the pain of betrayal and abandonment. Look at verse 10. Again, demos in love with his present world has deserted me, not just deserted.
[00:17:10] He has left me in the lurch. This is an incredibly painful reality on Paul’s part. Demis was one of his closest friends and associates he’s mentioned in Colossians chapter four. He’s mentioned in the book of FY Lehman. He’s called a fellow worker with Paul. He was there laboring side by side with the apostle I’m sure Paul thought that this guy he’s here for life.
[00:17:34] I can count on. now the reason for Demi’s defection may well be due to the differences between Paul’s first and second Roman imprisonment. This Roman imprisonment, the last one was in the depths of a dungeon, horrible conditions with obviously a death sentence hanging over his head in his first Roman imprisonment.
[00:17:57] When demos was happy to be around, Paul was under house arrest. He had access to his friends. He had all the comfort. Of his own home Demus is saying, Hey, I’m happy to be with Paul then. But when suddenly he found the apostle with his life threatened and all of his comfort stripped away, he said didn’t bargain for that.
[00:18:16] And he bailed on the apostle. Paul says he fell in love with this present world. I don’t know what that would’ve meant then I know what it means. Now. People are drawn to comfort. and to all of the praise and the adoration and the promotion and the wealth that comes from doing certain things and associating with certain people.
[00:18:35] And you find suddenly that they’re no longer a part of your spiritual family. That was the case with demos. Paul’s life was at stake and demos wanted nothing to do with him. I wonder, can’t prove it. I wonder if Paul’s mind might have gone back to Proverbs 25 19. Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.
[00:19:03] How painful and annoying a tooth is that you need to see the dentist and you can’t get an appointment it’s just constant agony or a broken foot that you can’t put your weight on. It’s such an annoyance. He said, that’s what it’s like. When you put your confidence in a person like Demas, who is faithless.
[00:19:23] But Paul didn’t let the betrayal and abandonment of DEMA scare him off. It didn’t turn his heart sour toward the rest of the people of God. He didn’t say Timothy, just stay where you are, because I don’t have any confidence that you won’t treat me the way Demas did. You’ll probably walk out on me when the pressure’s on.
[00:19:41] It’s not what he said. Is it fifth principle? Paul had learned the importance of forgiving. Those who had failed and giving old friends an opportunity. to serve once again, look at verse 11, get mark and bring him with you for, he is very useful to me for ministry. Now, I know you all are familiar with this story, but I have to remind you once again, it was during Paul’s second missionary journey that he and Barnabas had a falling out.
[00:20:15] They remained friends, but for a season they parted ways and it was all over. Mark. Acts chapter 15, verse 36 in following. And after some days, Paul said to Barnabas, let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaim the word of the Lord and see how they are. And Barnabas wanted to take with them.
[00:20:33] John called mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them. One who had withdrawn from them in Phi and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement. You realize good Christian friends can argue with each other and have difference of opinion. And it still doesn’t shatter their relationship.
[00:20:54] Paul and Barnabas just simply couldn’t agree on what to do with mark. So they separated from each other. Barnabas took mark with him, sailed away to Cyprus. Paul chose Silas and departed, having been committed by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. Now we don’t know what had happened with mark. Some say he was discouraged some, say physical exhaustion, some say he was young and he was frightened.
[00:21:20] And he thought about all the threats along the roads where they traveled, maybe muggers or thieves would attack them. Maybe he was home. And some have even suggested that since Barnabas was his cousin and Paul was coming to the ascendancy. In other words, Paul was now viewed as more important than Barnabas.
[00:21:38] Maybe mark was resentful of the, a Apollo. We don’t know, but he bailed on them. And Paul said, he’s not trustworthy. I don’t want him to come on this journey with us. And yet look what happened. Paul says here, get mark and bring him why. He’s useful to me. No. He’s very useful to me. No. He’s very useful to me for ministry.
[00:22:03] This man who proved useless in Phi is now very useful. I need mark. Isn’t that incredible? Not only did Paul see mark restored. God used this young man to write one of the four gospels folks don’t be has. In making snap judgments about people. There are people who may have failed for whom you need to pray and to reach out to see them restored.
[00:22:32] There are other people who seem to be faithful and they’ve bailed out and you need to keep your distance from them. Paul was convinced at one time that demos would never leave and mark would never be of use. And now demos has walked out and mark is back. There’s a lesson to learn from that. That’s.
[00:22:50] sixth. I have to throw this one in, not just because I needed seven points, but as you grow old in life, in addition to friends, you need books to my hero. Look at verse 13, when you come bring the cloak that I left with carpets ATT as also the books and above all the parchments, most likely a reference to copies of old Testament S.
[00:23:17] So here’s Paul, all alone, everybody’s deserted. And the only person present is Luke. Paul says, I need the word of God. That’s where my strength comes from to meditate on the writings of scripture and seventh. And finally, in the final analysis, when all said and done, no matter who is still with you or whoever has walked out, Jesus remain.
[00:23:39] I love the way Paul put it in verses 17 and 18. The Lord stood by me. He strengthened me so that I could preach the gospel. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you Hebrews 13 five. And he strengthened Paul in the midst of his loneliness as he’s awaiting. Number of years ago. In fact, it was in 2004.
[00:24:05] We had moved back to Kansas city after I’d taught at Wheaton for four years. And we had lived in Kansas city for seven years prior to that. So we thought we just merged back into our community and it just didn’t happen. And then all sorts of things began to befall us. Anne’s dad was diagnosed with cancer died eight months later, three months after his death, her mother has a massive debilitating.
[00:24:29] Was in a, basically a wheelchair and in a bed for five years, unable to communicate our firstborn daughter was struggling in her marriage. Her husband had developed a gambling addiction, drove them so far into debt. They had to file for bankruptcy. They foreclosed on their house. She and our two grandsons didn’t have a place to live.
[00:24:50] After the second child was born, she was laid up for three months with a life threatening disease. Anne had to step in as the care. Went through a horrible divorce. Her financial needs put a strain on us. As we tried to provide for her and our grandsons. I was traveling about 80% of the time. So I wasn’t even home to be of much support for very long.
[00:25:13] And then on top of it, all the husband of one of Anne’s best friends fell into immorality, became addicted to pornography and had to nurture them through a divorce. And we could have lost our. We could have just said, this is just more than we can handle. And yet it was about that time, that two couples that we had known previously during our time in Kansas city came together and surrounded us.
[00:25:35] And we all covenanted with each other said, we’re gonna, we’re gonna hold each other accountable. We’re gonna just speak into each other’s lives. We’re gonna authorize the the other to say whatever needs to be said. And we would meet at least monthly sometimes more for several hours over a. And we would share our struggles, our fears, our challenges, our disappointments Anne had been telling me for quite some time that she thought I was burned out.
[00:26:02] It was on a breaking point. I like most husbands didn’t listen to my wife and I’ll never forget. We were at a restaurant. And one of the ladies from those two couples, she just stopped. She said, wait a minute. she said I’m really concerned for you. You’re worn out. Your spirit is dry. Your heart’s broken.
[00:26:26] You need to pause. You need to go and get refreshed. You need to re commit yourself to cultivating intimacy with the Lord. Again, I wanna pray for you. I wanna minister. You wanna encourage you? I don’t know where I would’ve ended up if that lady had not spoken to me in that way. And why did she do that?
[00:26:42] Others might have taken offense and thought it intrusive. Now we had authorized those couples to say anything we had given them permission. You call us to account. You hold us to our responsibilities as husband and wife, and as followers of Jesus, we need your encouragement, your support. If we didn’t have those couples that, that we could dump on every time we got together and just bear our heart.
[00:27:10] I don’t know if we would’ve made it through those times. So let me ask you all here at sojourn. Do you have people in this church who can do that for you? That you’ve gone to and you’ve sat down and looked him in the eye and said, look, I need you in my life. Just like Paul needed Timothy and Luke. And I’m authorizing you right now, whatever you have to say, don’t ever think it’s too hard or too intrusive.
[00:27:35] I want to hear it. Hold me to. encourage me rebuke me, challenge me. Pray for me, folks. You can’t get that just by showing up on a Sunday morning. That’s right. You can’t, this is wonderful, but that kind of mutual support and encouragement only comes when you’re connected, whether it’s in a small group or just a couple of people getting together on a regular basis.
[00:28:01] I meet every single Tuesday morning with my two best friends in Oklahoma. and we do the same with each other. I don’t know where I would be without them. So let me just say this and I don’t wanna sound discouraging or depressing, but let’s be honest. We have reached a point in our world today. That’s unprecedented.
[00:28:25] The moral fabric of our society is unraveling. It’s disintegrating, the social economic, political. Structures of our world are just coming apart at the seams. And if you do not have people in your life, if you’re not connected so that they can uphold you and encourage you and pray for you, I don’t know that you’re gonna survive.
[00:28:49] Let me tell you something. The oppression and the persecution of the church that we see around the world. It’s fast coming to this. And I don’t think really that there’s anything that’s gonna stop it. I think it’s part of God’s plan because when that happens, people of God are compelled to come together to be more United, to more vocal, more courageous.
[00:29:12] So let me encourage you in closing, press into the hearts and the lies of others and give them permission to press into yours as well.