A sure key to successful Christian life lay here in these 7 verses. I had a man once tell me, “Those books are for Pastors” I think over the years as many try to systematically teach doctrine they have inadvertently caused a separation of Church leadership and layperson, something the Bible was truly never meant to do. In every instance of Christ's teaching he tried to show the leaders were no better than the followers, as a matter of fact Paul taught that they were of a higher accountability because they were teaching the word.
So I am going to give you a little hint here. These books are written to INDIVIDUALS and each person of the body of Christ is an individual and yet we are all one in Christ. These books are books for individuals and as such we should pay closer attention to them. Not just for leadership but personal spiritual growth. Remember that each person in Christ teaches with their words, actions and life style. The first step we see here in these verses is we are to be strong in the Grace.
1) You Must Be strong in the Grace
Vv 1 ¶ Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
A major prOBlem in the church today is a misconception of what grace is. Grace is not freedom to sin without any repercussions. That was a prOBlem in the early church as well when Paul wrote, Romans 6:1, 2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? While Paul taught by his very life style how to live in this grace, many Christians today have not been taught by the example of others or their leaders how to be strong in the Grace. And like all of our life it is by faith.
So many have taken on a “oh Well I am a sinner saved by grace” instead of “I am strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus.” While that first statement is true it is of our past condition but in our present condition we are no longer alive to sin but alive to righteousness. This is where the true understanding of Grace lay.
Grace is the Power no longer to sin. Before I was saved I could do nothing but sin and even my good deeds were sinful. But once I was saved by grace through faith I was empowered by the Holy Ghost no longer to sin.
2) You Must Commit This Grace to Others
Vs 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
This is not about teaching doctrines or denominational creeds this is about committing the teachings of a Life Style to others that they may do the same. This is where the weakness in the church lay as the wrong idea of grace is taught and no one living it out for others to see and learn from as living ensamples.
3) You Must Endure Hardness by Grace
Vs 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
A Christian must learn to endure hardness. I know it is real easy for me to go to the Greek and try and change the English word to another to make it understandable. But if I can’t understand this word in English how will I ever know it in the dead language of Koine Greek? While hardness could imply hardship it would have broader meaning when we learn it as hardness.
Hardness is a unique word used only 7 times in the Bible and this reference being the 7th. To establish the meaning we must look at all the verse especially the first one and in all the other 6 uses it has to do with mans heart and I see no reason for that meaning to change here.
In the past soldiers were the local police. There is one thing I have OBserved in police and that is that the people they are employed to protect often are very hard toward their actions and duties. When the police or military are called forth to take action during a disaster, the police and soldiers have to put up with a lot of opposition and hardness from the people.
Understanding that men hearts are hard against those in leadership over them or in authority it is in like manner today many men of God when trying to minister the gospel of Grace find themselves in a world that in opposition or hardness of heart to the message of the Gospel. This we, both the layperson and the leader, must endure this hardness toward the gospel and the teaching of Grace, keep at our walk and the message until we have finished our own course and calling in Christ. We must learn to endure this hardness just as soldier/police has been trained to endure hardness.
4) Vs You Must have singleness of Heart of Grace
Vs 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Another truth we see in these verse is if you are serving Christ with a double minded heart you can’t fully serve him. I have a friend who has been saying for years he wants to serve the Lord in the mission field but yet he always has one more thing he must do before he can go. And as of yet he still is not in the mission field. No, if God calls you to go, you go. If he calls you to do a work, you do that work, but don’t serve God with a double minded heart, serve him with singleness so you can please him who called you.
5) You Must Strive to Master Yourself in the Grace
Vs 5And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
Sin comes easy in our life and if we truly want to live in the grace of God we must reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to righteousness. You must strive or work hard at your sanctification. That is to separate yourself from the sin that so easily besets us. As you do this you are working out your own salvation just as Paul encouraged us in Php 2:12 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always OBeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. When striving correctly with The holy Ghost and the word of God as our guide we will be working out our salvation.
6) You Must be First Partaker of the Fruits of Grace.
2Ti 2:6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
A Husbandman is what we call a farmer or one that grows plants. Whether flowering or fruiting plants grow in a certain way and must be cared for in order to bring forth abundant fruit. But if a husband has no fruit to partake of then he also has no fruit to share with others.
Your Christian walk/life is like a plant and you are to care for your walk as you would a plant in order to bring forth fruit. Now you can let it grow wild and un-manicured and the result will be less fruit. But if you manicure or prune it properly then you will cause it to produce more fruit. Jesus taught this in John 15:1-8 ¶ I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. Through the strength of the Grace that is in Christ Jesus we should all be bearing more and more fruit.
So if you are a branch and you have had fruit in your life, God will allow you to be purged meaning he will remove parts of the branch in order that more fruit will come. We call this pruning. Notice that the branch first brought forth fruit to begin with. A branch first has to show it is capable of bearing fruit. Once it does then it is pruned so the branch will thicken and this will allow it to be able to handle the weight of more fruit. Example that pulls all these points together.
7) You Must understand It is the Grace of God
Vs 7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
This Grace is of God and he first gives it in Salvation which only comes through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Then you must continue to grow in that grace through faith as well. Col 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Peter also teaches 2Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.