I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;2 Timothy 4:7(NASB)
Second Timothy was the last epistle written by the great apostle Paul to his son in the faith, for our learning, shortly before his impending death. Paul wrote his letter when incarcerated in a Roman prison, and knew without a shadow of a doubt, that he was already being poured out as a sacrificial offering to the Lord. Indeed, in the previous verse we read, "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come."
Paul was ready and willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for love of the Lord Jesus, and he considered his life-breath which was soon to expire on the executioner's block, as a drink-offering that was about to be poured out to the Lord he loved so dearly. Paul's witness to Timothy in this meaningful epistle was, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith."
Paul knew that he was soon to be removed from this earth under the 'axe' of the executioner, but his letter to Timothy was to become the greatest encouragement to the young pastor - and to us as well, to fight the good fight of faith, to run the race that is set before us, and to honour the Lord in all we say and do, by keeping the faith and enduring to the end.
Paul knew that having completed the work that God had given him to do, that in the life that is to come, there was reserved for him the crown of righteousness - an honour which the Lord, the righteous Judge of the earth, would give to him when He comes in the clouds to take the Church to be with Him... and to ALL who have longed for his His appearing.
From the moment that he encountered the risen, ascended, glorified Lord Jesus, this man, Paul, had became an ardent follower of the Christ. He was humbled by the encounter on the road to Damascus, and committed himself to lifelong surrender, under the Lordship of Jesus. But Paul also learned that the Christian life is a spiritual battle and a continuous struggle against evil.
Paul recognised the grace of God that had been extended to him, despite his impassioned persecution of the Christian Church, and he laboured for the gospel more fervently than any of his fellow apostles. He was beaten with rods, lashed with whips, stoned by angry crowds, and imprisoned time and again. Paul was even in danger of being shipwrecked, while being held captive on board a Roman vessel.
Paul had also been in danger from rivers, from robbers, from his fellow Jews, and from pagan Gentiles, which he recognised as spiritual attacks from the enemy of the Lord. He had survived dangers in the city, hazards in the wilderness, and perils on the sea - but Paul discovered that God's grace was sufficient in EVERY eventuality of life that he faced.
He had faced hostility from evil men, apostate teachers, and false brethren... and the apostle Paul suffered much antagonism from his enemies, causing him many hardships, sleepless night, hunger and thirst, heat exhaustion, and hypothermic exposure, together with external hazards and internal pressures from many quarters.
Paul had learned that living a spiritual life and maturing in the Christian faith, did not depend on his own ability, wisdom, intelligence, or efforts, but on the power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, working in him and living through him. It was his passion for his Lord that caused Paul to press on for the upward call in Christ Jesus, until he could say, "it is not I that live- but the Spirit of Christ, living in me and working through me, for His greater glory and praise."
This was Paul's beautiful message of encouragement to Timothy as he wrote his final letter to his precious son in the faith. He had fought the good fight, he had finished the course, and he had kept the faith. And we are exhorted to do the same as we watch for Jesus' imminent return for His Church-age saints.
Let us follow in Paul's footsteps and fight the good fight of faith, so that we may say, with Paul, "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith and in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge of the earth, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."
Heavenly Father, help me to preach the Word of truth, with all long-suffering and doctrine. Enable me to exhort and encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ, with the same godly passion for the good news of the gospel of Christ that was demonstrated in the life of the apostle Paul. And I pray that in due time I may also say, I have finished the work that You have given me to do - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith, to Your praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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