Read 2 Timothy and the little book of Titus in the Bible, some time. They were written around AD 62 by the Apostle Paul to his spiritual protégés, Timothy & Titus. At the time Timothy was the lead pastor/elder of the church in Ephesus. Titus got the assignment of leading the elders on the Mediterranean island of Crete (nice assignment, dude!). Smack dab in the middle of those two books Paul tells Timothy:
“But you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings…what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me! And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim. 3:12-13 – NASB)
ALL those who desire to live godly lives will be persecuted! That’s a pretty definitive statement. The apostle didn’t stutter. He said ALL. And ALL means ALL. And that includes you and me.
Just a few short years ago that statement might be considered hyperbole – at least for us Christians in America. Not anymore. Half of the current U.S. Congress is working feverishly to hamstring – if not straight up outlaw – the practice of the Christian faith in our country. Outright persecution of Christian believers is underway. And unless it is resisted by more sage leaders in Congress – ours will be a world in which “evil men [and women] and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
So how are we as disciples of Jesus Christ to respond? Paul tells Timothy & Titus (and us by extension) to do three things. They are our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) against the virus of godless persecution.
Persevere by holding on to the truth found in scripture (2 Timothy 1:8; 3:14-15; 4:5a; Titus 1:9a). To persevere means to be “constant, steadfast, or unflinching.” When you suffer persecution for practicing your faith and encouraging others to follow your Christian example (and remember, we will be persecuted) – don’t be intimidated. Persevere. And we can only do that if we are not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remain convinced of the truth you’ve found in Jesus Christ. Be spiritually “sober” and prepared to endure hardship. That takes guts and fearless commitment to the truth. As Paul told Titus, we must be people who are constantly “…holding fast to the faithful word…”
Preach and teach the truth based on scripture (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17; 4:2; Titus 1:9b; 2:1). Paul reminded Timothy of the trustworthiness and veracity of the Bible – and to never be ashamed of its truth. The truth of God’s word will exhort and refute those who oppose and contradict it. Listen to it. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Apply it to your life. And never be ashamed to preach it! Simply put: “Read it and heed it – because you never know when you’re going to need it!”
Evangelize the people around you by your example (your words and your actions) according to scripture (2 Timothy 2:22-26; 4:5b; Titus 2:7-8; 3:1, 8, 14). Persevering and consistently preaching and sharing God’s word are essential – but done alone they are never enough. Your “example of good deeds” is what will win the day – if anything will. Be ready to share your faith at any time. The times, “they are a changin’” – and we need to be ready to help people in their despair to meet the One who can comfort and save them in these rapidly changing times.
After Paul describes socially and spiritually rebellious people in the “last days” (2 Timothy 3:2-8), he says: “But they will not make further progress, for their folly will be obvious to all…” Folly in this verse is used only one other time in the Bible. In Luke 6:11 it’s used to describe the scribes and Pharisees and their “want of understanding” as they reject Jesus’ message of salvation and healing. It means “madness expressing itself in rage.” And we’ve seen plenty of that lately.
I’m praying that the “folly” of those who reject Jesus Christ and his ways will be exposed for what it is – spiritual ignorance, “madness” and “rage.” I’m also praying for their salvation. I hope that’s your prayer, too.
In the meantime – I’m not leaving my house without my spiritual PPE. Join me and become a “super-spreader” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Read more about Being a Faithful Disciple of Jesus Christ and Sharing Your Faith in my book Every Man Jack available on Amazon (www.amazon.com/Every-Man-Jack.../dp/1973680386), Westbow Press (www.westbowpress.com), and wherever books are sold.