The Faithful Christian Life (2 Timothy 4:6-8) by Bro Gabe Castelo

2 Timothy 4:6-8

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

On this day 127 years ago, November 27 1895… A man named Alfred Nobel established, through his last will and testament, what we know today as the Nobel Prize.

Not known to many people today, Alfred Nobel was actually recognized as the “merchant of death” because his company was responsible for being one of the largest manufacturer of weapons and his most notable patent was on the dynamite. A French Newspaper published an article about him describing him as someone “who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.”

So because of this he wanted to be remembered for something else. And in his last will he wanted 94% of the wealth that he would leave behind to establish this Nobel Prize. Nobel Prizes are given to people who have done something in their lives that have a considerable benefit to society.

Alfred Nobel’s legacy was important to him. He wanted to leave behind something great. And so he established an awarding system for those who would also leave good legacies.

In the same way our passage for this morning considers the legacy of a man

—The Apostle Paul. And this man’s legacy was a faithful Christian legacy that left behind something great… Greater than all the Nobel Prize winners combined. And in that great legacy he was also given an award: much better than a mere Nobel Prize. It was an award from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please turn with me as we continue our series, to 2 Timothy 4:6-8

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

We find ourselves in a similar spot from last week, Paul is simply continuing his final words of departure to Timothy. And unlike every other epistle that the Apostle Paul has written, in this epistle Paul has a very definite view of what will happen to him. There’s a particular darkness to the Apostle Paul’s situation that we don’t see in other epistles. But what we have to take note of is that despite the darkness in the situation of the Apostle Paul, this entire letter has been serving as an encouragement for his son in the faith, Timothy. So that Timothy might persevere through the many painful difficulties of the ministry.

We might ask ourselves: How can the certain death of your father in the faith encourage you? How can the certain death of the Apostle Paul encourage Pastor Timothy in his current situation? Timothy was facing the problem of false teaches attacking the church from within. And then there was the problem of persecution attacking the church from outside. And now in this passage his father in the faith is about to be martyred. How can this be encouraging to him?

But it is in these conditions where we see the genius of the Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in pointing Timothy, and us to the picture of a faithful Christian life. And what this morning’s passage points us to is that The faithful Christian life is an offering to God that is promised an award from God. The faithful Christian life—the life of the Apostle Paul, the life that is there to encourage Pastor Timothy, the life that we are looking at today for our own encouragement—Is an offering to God that is promised an award from God.

We’d like to look into these things by two points: The first is An Offering to God. The faithful Christian life as seen in the Apostle Paul’s life is an offering to God. And the second is An Award from God. The faithful Christian life according to the Apostle Paul, will receive an award from God. An Offering to God, and An Award from God. Let’s consider the first, An Offering to God.

The first two verses of our passage this morning, verses 6 and 7, say this: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

What we can observe in these two verses is that Paul’s statements describe his entire life. In verse 6 he’s talking about his present and current situation while in verse 7 he’s talking about his past. So in these two verses the Apostle is summarizing his entire life.

And in the present time Paul was in a very painful, very difficult situation.

As we heard from brother Glen last week, Paul was in deep distress, being stuck in a dungeon-prison awaiting his martyrdom—awaiting his death.

The Bible doesn’t actually tell us how the Apostle Paul would end up dying.

But according to history and tradition, he was beheaded. But however Paul died, we can assume from our passage this morning that he knew about his inevitable death.

And he describes this inevitable death as being poured out as a drink offering. In the Old Testament this drink offering is known as a libation. And a libation is not like the sacrificial offerings of atonement. It’s not like the sacrificial lamb or sin offering. Paul is not saying that his life is being poured out as an offering for sin, but a different kind of offering. We can see this drink offering or libation in Chapter 15 of Numbers, you don’t need to turn there. But I will read it for you from verse 4, Numbers Chapter 15:

then he who brings his offering shall offer to the Lord a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil; and you shall offer with the burnt offering, or for the sacrifice, a quarter of a hin of wine for the drink offering for each lamb. Or for a ram, you shall offer for a grain offering two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a third of a hin of oil. And for the drink offering you shall offer a third of a hin of wine, a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

So this libation or drink offering is offered on top of all the other offerings as an addition, and it gives the character of the offerings to have a pleasing aroma to the LORD. In other words what the Apostle Paul is saying is that in his current state of suffering and in his martyrdom, his life was not the offering that is the foundation of Christianity—There is only one offering or sacrifice that is the foundation of Christianity and that is Christ—But his suffering and martyrdom was the additional aroma on top of all the other offerings. Paul’s death was the pleasing aroma of martyrdom that simply enhanced the beauty of the Christian faith.

Not everyone has this attitude towards death, even us Christians. But the Apostle Paul’s life was so consumed by faithfulness to the LORD Jesus, and he was confident to die as an offering to God because he lived his entire life offering it to God. He describes the life he lived in verse 7, he says I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. These three things, the fight, the race, and the faith all pointing to the picture of the Christian life.

What this verse really shows us is that the Apostle Paul lived one of the most faithful Christian lives. The whole New Testament demonstrates this: He travelled to multiple places preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ; He was persecuted for the gospel, stoned for the gospel, shamed for the gospel; He was falsely accused in churches despite his noble effort to build God’s church; He experienced shipwrecks, poverty, suffering for the sake of the gospel and by the end of all of this he contributed to writing majority of New Testament epistles.

The life of the Apostle Paul was true to his words in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ!” And he was now in the point wherein he can see his death nearing. And still his words are true: “to die is gain.” He lived for Christ fully and fruitfully. And so now he can die a martyr which is a pleasing aroma to God. A libation, a drink offering.

Doctrine: So looking at the perspective of the Apostle’s life, he was ready to depart—in fact, he was happy to depart, because he had lived a complete life offered to God.

And using the Apostle’s life as an example, though we may not know the time of our departure, we must be able to assess the faithfulness of our Christian life. We can assess whether our lives have truly been lived fighting the good fight, enduring well in the race, and keeping the faith.

The Christian life is a fight. And not just a fight but a good fight. We are in a good fight against our own sins, the world’s ideologies, and the schemes of Satan. And in this fight the Christian is a soldier who is tasked to take up the full armor of God to withstand the evil day.

The Christian life is a race. It is a race that requires endurance, discipline, and suffering, just like any race. And in this race the Christian is the athlete who must be trained and prepared to endure the long and difficult road ahead.

And the Christian life is a life of faith. Because doing all of these things require not the strength of man, but the grace of God in Jesus Christ. There is no fight to be fought and no race to be run without faith in Jesus Christ. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith and the Christian can only keep the faith if that faith rests on an everlasting and unchanging Christ.

Have you lived a faithful Christian life? Can you, with the Apostle Paul, say I am ready to be poured out as a drink offering, and I know the aroma of my death will be pleasing to God? Can you say, just like the Apostle, that you have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith?

Bukas Monday na naman. And maraming empleyado na Monday or Tuesday palang humihingi na ng weekend. Kung ikaw yung boss tapos narinig mo yung emplayado mo Monday palang, “Grabe sana Sabado na.” But aren’t we sometimes the same? Pag nahirapan tayo ng konti, “Lord, kunin mo na ako.” But brethren, in the analysis of your life, have you lived the faithful Christian life to be confident enough to embrace your departure just like the Apostle? Or, baka Monday palang ng Christian life mo hinihingi mo na agad ‘yung weekend?

Have you, like your LORD, taken up your cross to follow Him? Have you been a faithful soldier standing up for the LORD Jesus Christ? Have you been a faithful runner, enduring the various trials by patiently hoping in the LORD? Have you been daily placing your faith in the LORD Jesus, knowing that without Him you will utterly fail at being faithful?

Because if you evaluate your life, and you find that you have lived in this way, you will also find confidence in your departure, knowing that it is a pleasing aroma to the LORD. This is the faithful Christian life. I’m not saying that you need to live this way to be a Christian. But what I am saying is that every Christian should have an oriented desire to live this way. And every Christian should be drawn to be faithful.

Every aspect of our lives as Christians must be God-centered. Everyday is a pursuit of fighting, of running the race, and of remaining faithful to the LORD. We are called, as Christians, to orient our lives to a faithful life because we are sustained in it by a faithful God. And just like Paul, we will have the confidence that our departure from this world would act as an encouragement to others because our death would be as a pleasing aroma to God—A life lived faithfully unto Him. So let us live the Christian life faithfully, sacrificially unto the LORD.

One of the strongest preachers that Christianity has ever seen is a man named George Whitefield. And Whitefield was the type of man who was so orderly and consistent with his life, that he didn’t want to sleep if meron siyang obligations that were not yet fulfilled. So George Whitefield wanted everything in his life, the best that he can, to be in order.

And the reason for this was so that if he didn’t wake up the next day, and he died in his sleep, nobody could assume anything bad about his unfinished work, because this might cause unnecessary burden to his family.

And though I don’t advocate for people to be so consumed with every little detail, the attitude of assessing our duties in the Christian life and putting them in order the best that we can is admirable, so that in the analysis of our lives we cannot be accused of negligence in our faith.

Remember that a life well lived is pleasing in the sight of God and the death of a faithful life is a pleasing aroma to God.

This brings us to our second point. Since a faithful Christian life is an offering to God, now, we must turn to the faithful Christian life that receives An Award from God. That’s our second point: An Award from God.

Our last verse, verse 8, says this: Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. This verse is the contrast of the first two verses. We no longer see the Apostle Paul’s life on earth. Here Paul is talking about his afterlife. So in the first two verses Paul was talking about his present and past, now Paul is talking about his future.

And based on this verse the future of Paul was quite promising. He was about to be killed and martyred. But because his life was a faithful Christian life, there was, henceforth, waiting for him an award. A crown of righteousness.

The word “crown” in the original language can be translated as wreath. Now in ancient athletic games they wouldn’t have medals. Instead, they would award winners with crowns or wreaths. So Paul was using awarding language that was very clear to Timothy and readers of that day who understood Ancient Geek athletic games. Because he fought the good fight, and because he finished the race, and because he kept the faith, he was going to be awarded a crown or wreath—A sort of medal or trophy. And that crown was described as a crown of righteousness. In other words, he was being awarded a crown for his righteous life. And the one who would award this crown to him was the LORD, who is here also called the Righteous Judge.

What does this all mean? All of this simply points us to Jesus Christ.

Because on his own the Apostle Paul wasn’t righteous! He called himself the chief of sinners, who was the persecutor of Christians. And even in his Christian life the Apostle Paul admits his struggle with his remaining sin and he calls himself a “wretched man.”

So why would Jesus Christ give him an award with a crown that signified his righteousness? It’s because all the righteousness that Paul had was credited to him only in Jesus Christ. So it is Christ’s righteousness that was given to Paul, and it was this same righteousness that he was receiving an award for, and he was receiving the award from the Righteous Judge, the One who gave him the righteousness in the first place.

This is why the Apostle was able in his life to fight the good fight, to finish the race, and to keep the faith. And this is why his death was a pleasing aroma to God. Because all of it God intended so He can award that righteousness in heaven with a crown of righteousness, and that crown will ultimately point us to Jesus Christ the Righteous!

The Apostle Paul’s whole life, past, present, and future, was a faithful life of righteousness, which can all be attributed to Jesus Christ! And this is why to die is gain because in death Paul gained the award of a crown of righteousness that pointed to the righteousness of His LORD that was given to Him by grace!

And the good news is that this isn’t only for the Apostle Paul. Very importantly he says in the end of verse 8, “and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” To love his appearing is the description of every believer. In Titus 2 Paul says that our salvation in Christ is “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” As believers Christ’s appearing is a picture of hope: It’s our homecoming; It’s our joy and crown, and we will love that appearing.

It’s when we see the revelation of our LORD Jesus Christ and give Him all the praise and honor and glory that He is due. Unbelievers don’t carry this blessed hope of Christ’s appearing. Christ will be to them as a Righteous Judge who will judge them not according to the righteousness of Christ, but according to their unrighteous lives.

So understanding all of this it is good for you to ask yourself: If Christ were to appear right now… Can I count myself as one of the people who will love Christ’s appearing? Or will I count myself as someone who will hate and fear it?

There is only one way you can love Christ’s appearing, and that is if you are given the righteousness of Christ by faith. Just like the Apostle Paul all lives will face its departure. But not all lives will be awarded a crown of righteousness. The only ones who will receive that crown of righteousness are those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their righteousness.

It was Christ who for our sake became incarnate in the flesh, and fulfilled all righteousness that we cannot fulfill. And at the end of His earthly life He didn’t receive a crown of righteousness but a crown of thorns! And He was given as an offering not to be a pleasing aroma to God, but to be a sacrificial offering to be slaughtered for the sins of the ones He would redeem.

So those who would trust in Him as their Savior, will find forgiveness for their sin and they will love His appearing. Because they will receive His righteousness!

So if right now you are in a position wherein you don’t care about Christ’s appearing: Maybe you’re indifferent; Maybe you’re afraid; Maybe you hate the idea of Christ’s appearing; Or maybe you don’t believe Christ will appear at all.

There’s an invitation for you to turn away from that sinful thinking and trust the Savior Jesus Christ. Place your faith in Him that you might love His appearing as your LORD and not your Judge and receive from Him a crown of righteousness.

For those here who are in Christ—my brethren who await for the appearing of Christ your blessed hope… Then the crown of righteousness is your future. And if the crown of righteousness is your future, shouldn’t this strengthen your present?

Are you struggling with sin? Let the future crown of righteousness in Christ remind you that you are no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness. Are you suffering under the weight of the problems of your life? Let the future crown of righteousness in Christ remind you of the eternal glory awaiting you. Are you being persecuted here for your faith? Let the future crown of righteousness in Christ remind you that you are a co-heir with Christ in His kingdom. Are you constantly falling into temptations? Let the future crown of righteousness in Christ remind you that you live for something greater than what these temptations can ever offer. Is your soul weary from this world? Let the future crown of righteousness in Christ provide you patience to wait upon the LORD because He will renew your strength. Has your heart grown cold towards the LORD Jesus Christ? Let the future crown of righteousness in Christ remind you of what He has done on the cross in order to give you a crown.

No matter what happens to you in this life, there awaits an award of a crown of righteousness, who Christ Himself will give you. The Apostle Paul Himself had his head cut, but it didn’t matter to him, because as soon as that head was cut, His LORD took that head and placed a crown on it. Embracing this world will never provide a crown.

One of the greatest Puritans to ever live was Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards is recognized as the most important theologian in America in all history. And if you read a little bit of the life of Edwards, he was just such a phenomenal man. He lived his life on earth for the life to come. Edwards was the type of theologian who is best described in Hebrews 11, someone who was “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” And when Jonathan Edwards became a Christian he held on to an eternal perspective. In fact, he was known to say the famous quote: “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!”

This eternal perspective of Jonathan Edwards brought him to write 70 resolutions in his life. These resolutions would act as reminders for him in how he wanted to live his present life according to the Scriptures. And we get a glimpse of his eternal perspective here. What he wrote in resolution number 55 says this: “Resolved: To endeavor to my utmost to act as I can imagine I would if I had already seen all the happiness of heaven, as well as the torments of hell.”

Our dear pious Puritan brother looked on to the life beyond the current, that he might endeavor to act accordingly. So pains and difficulties in his life didn’t overtake him, because he knew that in the next life the LORD Himself was preparing a room for him in God’s house. And the joys of this world didn’t consume him, knowing that the future glory far outweighs them all.

So just like Edwards… Let your future crown propel you in your present cross. Of course, more than Edwards, this example comes from the LORD Jesus Christ Himself. Hebrews 12 puts it this way, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The faithful Christian life is a life of faith in Jesus Christ, past, present, and future—Bearing the cross of the present life to receive the crown of the life to come.

The promised award from God, the crown of righteousness from our LORD Jesus Christ, which is His righteousness given to us, should drive us from this present life to the life to come. There will be a day when our heads will be crowned in glory with the crown of righteousness. After all that will pass in this life we will be awarded with crowns.

But this is the best part: These crowns will not be a sign of our great accomplishments. These crowns will not be a sign of how great or awesome we were in living the Christian life. Revelation 4 says this: the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” The church will all look up to their Redeemer, the LORD Jesus Christ, and the crown that was placed on their head, they will take off, and throw it towards the feet of Jesus sitting on the throne as worship to Him. Isn’t this beautiful? It all goes back to Jesus.

The crowns will be a testament to the infinite glory of the LORD Jesus Christ. Who has rewarded these crowns of righteousness to those who He purchased by His blood, and given them righteousness by taking their sin and redeeming them forever. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

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