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Reform/mission... Paul writes to Timothy when everything is falling apart around him - people are deserting the gospel - even from Paul's closest colleagues, Paul himself is on death row and Timothy is plain terrified in the face of a congregation that don't entirely embrace their young pastor.

How do you respond to Pastor Tim? Paul reminds him that he's a genuine Christian. You'd think he wouldn't need to do that. Tim is the pastor of the Ephesus Community Church, one of the flagship churches of the New Testament. But, he needs to hear that Paul sees evidence of genuine Christianity in him. Consequently Tim has no reason to be scared rather he has the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead of cowering in the dark he should stand up and be counted, facing opposition and suffering with Paul for preaching the gospel. This will fan into flame the gifts God has given to Tim.

To further empower Tim Paul reminds him of what that glorious gospel is. Of grace. Of the abolition of death and the introduction of immortality. Of the resurrection of Jesus the great King forever.

Teaching this message is Tim's job. Teaching reliable people who will teach others. The last few of the first apostles will be gone before long and it's time for the next generation to ensure that future generations will go on. The church needs teaching, and the world needs to hear about grace. Tim needs to reform his life to who he is and get on with doing mission.

On the road Tim is going to encounter much false teaching but he must be different. He's to handle the word rightly which must mean with right content - unlike those teaching funny doctrines, but also with right character that is free from the youthful passions of quarrelling that tear the church apart, even when the message is correct. Grace and immortality come from God, and so does repentance. The Lord's servant is liberated by knowing that and can trust that God can guard the gospel and his people - he knows them.

False teachings will abound. Some are saying that the resurrection has happened. Paul agrees that Jesus is risen. And he would agree that Christians are in some real sense risen with Christ - but its not everything yet. Nonetheless false teachers prey on the church and persecute it. The godly must face this opposition in religious clothing. But Tim can trust that scripture is all God speaking and is the only weapon he needs. The word needs to keep on being preached - even when people scream for relevance it's reformission that Tim must do.

And when the race is done - glory awaits, immortality awaits. The race is well worth running even if the journey is going to be really really hard.


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