One Christian Life Can Make A Difference

The Book of Second Timothy teaches us what living for Christ looks like.

George Wright
Aug 11, 2019    40m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright teaches from The Book of Second Timothy, and examines what a life looks like when a person is living for Christ. He pulls out four lessons from this passage of scripture. First, we need to fight the good fight, by remembering our calling and remembering our confession of faith in Jesus. Second, we need to finish the race, will you leave a legacy of faith. Third, we need to keep the faith, remembering it's all about the good news of Jesus. Finally, live for something greater, remember that we are called to live to further the kingdom of God. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.


faith  legacy  death 

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Today I'm going to be in Second Timothy 4, and I want to explain to you why that is. So if you have a Bible, you can turn to Second Timothy chapter 4, if you don't have a Bible with you, we've got Bibles all over the room in the backs of the seats there, and we'd love for you to grab one so that you can see for yourself what the word of God is saying to us this morning. We really, really emphasize, please read for yourself from the scripture, don't just take our word for it. Don't just listen to what someone else might say, but read for yourself what the word of God says. See for yourself, what are on the pages of God's word.

George Wright: 00:36 Second Timothy chapter 4, and the reason why I changed my message, I don't do this often. I mean my messages are planned out, and I usually have this outline that I'm following weeks in advance, months in advance. But this week has been a very different week in the life of our family. Last Sunday I shared with the church, for those who were here, that my grandfather, George Bryant Wright Senior was right near the end of his life, and Sunday after church we got the word that he had graduated to Heaven. And so this week has been an emotional week. It's been a beautiful week for our family. We've been going back and forth to Atlanta. My grandfather lived in Atlanta, and his services were in Atlanta, and so we were tearing up I-20 back and forth several times this week. But yesterday was the celebration service of his life, and it was such an incredible gift. When I say it was a celebration service, it was really more like a party. I mean it was full of laughter, it was full of joy, it was full of singing. There was so much gratitude and thanksgiving, and the reality that his life had impacted so many, and certainly our family is forever grateful for his life. I will tell you this, I've known a lot of great men of God, a lot of men that I look up to that walk closely with Jesus. My grandfather is the greatest man of God I've ever known. He is one of my heroes ,without question, and I am so thankful for the legacy of faith that he has left behind for our family, and for so many others that he impacted. So, that's why I've prepared a different message for today. I want to preach a message in light of my grandfather's passing, but I really want to preach a message that that allows us all to think about what it might be like for us, when our time here on earth comes to an end.

George Wright: 02:46 I do want you to know, for those of you who may have wondered this, why did I end up at the University of South Carolina? Well, in large part, it is my grandfather's fault. He was the first one in our family to go to the University, South Carolina. He played football for the Gamecocks in the late forties and early fifties. I also want you to know it almost didn't happen. Okay? In fact, my grandfather was recruited by several schools in the south coming out of high school, and he first went to the University of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, to play football and to play basketball at Georgia Tech. And he loved telling this story, he got to Tech and he realized very quickly in the first few weeks, two very important things that caused him to recognize he was at the wrong place for college. Number one, he knew very quickly he was not wired to be an engineer. It just was not going to work for him, it was going to be a life of misery if he had to learn how to be an engineer. So Georgia Tech, the engineering school, he realized he was in the wrong place. But secondly, and he always laughed when he said this. Secondly, at the time, Georgia Tech was an all-male school. And my granddaddy said, I can't go to college for four years, just surrounded by a bunch of guys, I've got to find somewhere else to go. And so he told this great story of walking in to the head coaches office, Bobby Dodd was his name, a legendary coach at Georgia Tech. He walked into Bobby Dodd's office at the end of a practice. He said, Coach Dodd, I know I'm not wired to be an engineer. I'm sorry if I've wasted your time, but I'd like to go play football somewhere else. And Coach Dodd said, well, where else did you receive a scholarship offer? Where else were you recruited? And my grandfather told him a few places and said, I'd really like to go to the University of South Carolina. And so Coach Dodd on the spot picked up the phone, and called Coach Rex Enright, the head coach of the University of South Carolina. Imagine this happening, this would never happen today. One head coach calling the other head coach, no transfer portal, no, sit out for a year. Hey, Coach Enright, his is Coach Dodd, I've got a young man here in my office that wants to come play football for you. Do you still have a spot for him? And Coach Enright said, yes. And my grandfather got in the car and drove from Atlanta to Columbia, and the family misery began. I love being a Gamecock. I love being a Gamecock, because I know, I know that God loves the Gamecocks, as he teaches us his grace and his mercy over and over again as we cry out to him year after year after year. Lord God, we need you, how we need you. And we know that God is near to the humble, and we know that God loves us. But that's how I became a Gamecock, I was the 19th member of my family to come to the University of South Carolina, and it all started with George senior, my granddaddy. But he left behind for us so much more than a love of a school, or a love of sports, or any kind of material thing, he left behind for us this beautiful legacy of faith.

George Wright: 06:11 And so I turn our attention to Second Timothy chapter 4, verses 7 and 8, these great words of the apostle Paul written to a young man that he loved and mentored and discipled, this young man named Timothy. The apostle Paul is coming to the end of his life and the end of his ministry. He leaves this charge for Timothy, because the apostle Paul understood, he understood, that the ministry of his life, and the faith that he believed through Jesus Christ could not end with him. I've got to pour into the next generation. I've got to pour into those who are coming after me. The legacy of faith is what I want to leave behind, and so Paul was intentional to pour into Timothy and the others. And we have this great word, this great charge, at the end of this letter. Second Timothy 4 verse 7. Would you stand with me as I read this? We do this each week at Shandon, it's our custom to stand for the opening scripture, so that we all can be reminded that the word of God is the authority of his church, the word of God is the authority of the life of one who is a follower of Christ. And we stand on this foundation, what God says is right and good and true. Paul writes, "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." Incredible statements, for the end of an incredible life of faith. What will the end of our lives be like?

George Wright: 08:16 Pray to that end as we ask God to speak to us this morning through his word. Father, we stand before you now needing to hear from you. I recognize among all who are here, and among those who join us online, there are so many stories. So many stories of celebration, and so many stories of struggle. And Lord, as we bring all of these stories into this place, in this time today, we need to hear from you. We need to be reminded of what you have done. We need to be reminded of the hope that you provide. We need to be reminded of the reason for joy that comes to those who walk with you. Lord, we need you to speak to us clearly in the power of your spirit. Use this time for your glory. Draw near to us as we look to you. We thank you for this time. It's in Christ' name I pray. Amen, amen. You may be seated, you may be seated.

George Wright: 09:24 My grandparents lived in Atlanta, Georgia, pretty much all of their life, all of their married life. And so growing up in Atlanta, I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with my grandparents. I loved going to their house. They had a beautiful home, beautiful place for us to play. They had a big lot where they lived, right near the heart of Buckhead, where they lived in Atlanta, for those of you who are familiar. And they had this little area down the hill behind their house where there was a Creek, they called it the lower lot, and we'd love to go down to lower lot and play. But anytime I would go to my grandfather's house, I always wanted to go back in his little home office, his little study area next to his bedroom. Because his home office was just full of all this great memorabilia, and all these awards, and all these accomplishments. And on one wall it had all the stuff that was associated with South Carolina, and his time playing for the football team, and the time where he served as the president of the alumni association, and a member of the board, and all these different things that he had done, and that he had accomplished, that were so awesome to me as a young kid seeing all that. And then on another side, he had a portion of a wall that was dedicated to his service of his country, as he had served in the United States Air Force. And it was just so cool to see those accomplishments, and the accolades. And there were awards for business leadership, and awards for the things that he had done, and sales. But on the center of the wall, when you walked into the room and you are looking at the wall, right as you came in his office, there was a framed little picture with some script typed on it. And this was something that my grandfather had put on the wall so that you would see it the moment you walked in to his office, he saw it every day he you walked in to have his quiet time with the Lord. All it said was one simple statement, one Christian life can make a difference.

George Wright: 11:26 One Christian life can make a difference. What a powerful statement. I'll never forget seeing that statement every time I went to his house. And it's come to mean so much to me, especially now that I'm in full time ministry, and serving as a pastor. Because I recognize that for so many people, we would hold up a Billy Graham, or a hero of the faith, or some pastor that's involved in a lot of ministry. We'd say, okay, that lives making a difference, but I'm not sure about my life. So my grandfather was the son of a preacher, my great grandfather was a preacher. My grandfather's oldest son was a preacher. My grandfather's oldest grandson is a preacher, that's me. And my grandfather was a businessman, a great man of God living out his faith in the marketplace. And he lived his faith according to this statement, one Christian life can make a difference. This week as we celebrated my granddaddy, we got to see over and over and over again how accurately that statement described his life. One Christian life has made a difference in the life of so many people.

George Wright: 12:53 And as we think about this charge from Paul to Timothy, as we think about this great man of faith near the end of his life, laying out this calling, so to speak, for this young man who was following behind him, it's so inspiring. It's so encouraging to hear these words, and to recognize the legacy of faith that is being laid before us here on the pages of scripture. Fight the good fight, Paul writes, I have fought the good fight. I have kept the faith. I've finished this race. These three profound statements made by the apostle Paul near the end of his life. I want to break these down one at a time, just walk through the text. Let's walk through the word of God, and just think about what this can mean for your life, and for mine.

George Wright: 13:52 That first statement there, of I have fought the good fight. I believe Paul is saying to Timothy, Timothy, fight the good fight. Fight the good fight. And it's important that we understand what is being laid out here for us in the word of God, because certainly in our day and time there are no shortages of fights for us to engage in, right? I mean it's like every time we turn on the news, or pull up our social feed, all we read about is fighting. As our country becomes more and more polarized, more and more fighting, everybody's fighting something. Everybody's fighting for something, or against something There's all kinds of fights to engage in, and Christians are in the midst of these fights, and people of the church are in the midst of these fights. And so here's the question. Are we fighting the good fight? Are we fighting the right fights? How are we fighting the fight that truly matters? Are we fighting the fight of faith? Because the reality is many of the fights that we engage in, they're really just about us and what we want. In fact, many of the fights that we engage in are actually fighting against the mission of God, instead of fighting to advance the mission of God. So are we fighting the good fight? Are we fighting the right fight? How do you fight the good fight?

George Wright: 15:35 Well, this is not the only time the apostle Paul talks about this with Timothy in a letter You can turn back to First Timothy 6, let's turn our attention there right now. First Timothy 6, verse 12, Paul says to Timothy, "Fight the good fight." There's that statement again. "Fight the good fight of faith." How do you do that? Paul says, "Take hold of the eternal life to which you are called, and about which you made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses." How do you fight the good fight of faith? The apostle Paul says, "Timothy first, remember your calling. Remember the one who is called you. Remember out of what you have been called, and remember to what you have been called Verse 12, Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called." I love this, the apostle Paul is saying, live for eternity today. Remember to what you have been called, and recognize that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have been called by God in faith to trust Christ, to follow after Christ. And as a result, you are now called a child of God, a citizen of the kingdom of God. You're not just a citizen here on earth, but you are a citizen of a greater kingdom, the kingdom of God, and this earth is not your final home. In fact, you can say according to the word of God, that the this earth is a temporary stop for us in the scope of eternity. Live your life to point to eternity. Remember your calling. Remember what God has done. And as you remember this calling, and remember what God has done for you through the good news of the gospel, your eyes are fixed on eternity. And eyes that are fixed on eternity, oh, how we saw this in my grandfather over and over again, eyes that are fixed on eternity lead to a life of joy and hope and encouragement. Because when we look to eternity, we are reminded that this life is not all there is. There is something so much greater for those who are in Christ. Remember to what you've been called.

George Wright: 18:27 But secondly, verse 12, "Take hold of the eternal life to which you are called, and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. How do you fight the good fight? Remember your confession. Remember your confession, your confession of faith. This is so important. Paul is showing us here the significance of sharing our faith, and making a public declaration of that which we say we believe. This is one of the reasons why we so love to celebrate baptism here at Shandon, like we did just a moment ago. In baptism, we are given this public demonstration of someone who is trusted their life to Jesus Christ. They're saying, I want people to know that I am following Jesus. Was that testimonial video not amazing? I'll go wherever God wants me to go, Russia, China, but right now I'm going to start with North America, because that's where I live. What a great perspective, that is beautiful, I love it. What an encouragement to hear that. Baptism is this public declaration, this public confession, I am following Jesus. And when we share our faith, when we declare our faith, the Bible says, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you will be saved. Confess with your mouth, as we speak what we believe, as we say I'm following Jesus. As we share our faith with others, there is a tremendous blessing that God provides our life as we recognize, as we recognize that God is at work through us to point to his love and his grace. I realized sharing our faith can be intimidating. It can cause fear in the hearts of many to have a conversation about faith, I realize that.

George Wright: 20:34 Please don't miss this, when we truly are rooted and grounded in the good news of the gospel, and the acceptance of God for our life through what Christ has done for us at the cross and through the power of his resurrection, when we know we are accepted by God, then it frees us to not be in bondage to the acceptance of others. This is hard. This is hard because so many of us are more concerned about the acceptance of others, than we are the acceptance of God. But when we know we are accepted by God, and when our life is rooted and grounded in the acceptance of God through his grace and mercy, we are free. Free to share, without worry or concern about what others may think, we are free to share the joy of the Lord. You know there's a reason why many people in the church struggle to laugh, struggle to find joy, struggle to really have fun, it's because they do not truly believe that they're acceptance is in the God of all creation. The Bible says, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." The Bible says in Psalm 51, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation." God wants you and I to live a life of joy, to recognize that the incredible gift of who he is and what he has done. Are you free to live in that joy through his grace and his mercy?

George Wright: 22:33 That's something that I loved about my grandfather's life. His life brought so much joy, to so many people, he was the master storyteller. Man, he could tell an unbelievable story, and he loved to tell the same stories over and over again. Do you know anybody like that? Maybe you're that way, maybe your parents are that way, your grandparents are that way. My grandfather would tell the same story over and over again. He would start to laugh, before he even told the story. Okay? And then as he got into the story, he had this great line, he used it all the time. He'd say, "Now don't stop me if you've heard this, because I want to hear it again myself." He was just telling stories for his own benefit, right? He was telling stories for his own joy. And we would all laugh, and we would all just die laughing, falling down because he was so funny laughing at himself. Do you know there's such a gift, such a gift, when your life is grounded in the acceptance of God and in his joy over his children, that you can laugh at yourself? My grandfather, man, he could laugh at himself. It was so beautiful, and it would tear down walls, it would just invite people in to experience the joy of the Lord in his life. "Restore to me the joy of your salvation." This is why Paul is saying, "Remember your calling and remember your confession and fix your eyes on eternity, so that you can rest in the joy of the Lord."

George Wright: 24:13 Secondly, Paul writes, Second Timothy 4, "I have finished the race." I have finished the race, what an amazing statement to consider. Last week in John 17:4 we talked briefly about this, as Jesus is praying for his disciples, knowing that his time in the flesh on earth is coming to an end. He knows the cross is is just before him, and he says, "I glorified you on earth praying to God the father. I glorified you on earth having accomplished the work that you gave me to do." This statement of the apostle Paul is similar, "I have finished the race." It's as if Paul is saying to Timothy, and saying to us, I want you to consider what the end will be like for you. Think about your life. Think about the way you are living. What will that final day be like? What do you want it to be like? Will it be a celebration, a celebration of a life of faith, a celebration of a life well lived, a life that impacted others, a life that pointed to the joy of the Lord. Or will it be time of mourning, a disqualified life, or regrets about the things that never happened for the sake of leaving a legacy behind. I realize you may be here today thinking about the legacy of faith, and then thinking about perhaps what you received, and what you received may not be a legacy of faith at all. We have many people here at Shandon who are first generation followers of Jesus in their family. We have many here that join us, that maybe will be the first generation of a follower of Jesus in their family. Or maybe you're here today and you think, man, the way I've lived so far, this is not what I really am proud of, and this is not going to leave behind a legacy of faith.

George Wright: 26:30 Well, that's where this testimony, so to speak, of the apostle Paul is so incredibly beautiful. We think of Paul as a great man of faith, but for many years of Paul's life, he was actually on the other side of this conversation all together. Before he was called Paul, his name was Saul, and he was the great persecutor of the church. In fact, in many ways in the Christian Church, Paul, when his name was Saul, was the original religious terrorists. He wanted to destroy the name of Jesus. He wanted to destroy the followers of what was at the time called, the way. Those who are following the way of Jesus, he wanted to destroy them. You can read about this in Acts 7, Stephen, one of the followers of Jesus, the first martyr for the Christian faith. After Jesus ascends into heaven, the scripture literally says that the people who were picking up stones to throw them at Steven to kill him simply because he was following Jesus, they all laid their coats at the feet of a man named Saul. He was standing there in approval, thankful and glad that this Christian was being killed. God does what only God can do. God saves this man. Through a radical experience, a radical conversion, Saul falls on his knees and gives his life to Jesus Christ. He becomes the passionate leader of the early church, the first missionary, the original one to live sent is the apostle Paul, as it relates to the early church. And God uses his life in a tremendous way, and he leaves behind this legacy of faith.

George Wright: 28:28 But if you look at the first half of his life, this is not the way the story was going to play out. That may be you here today. Perhaps you're thinking about the way you've lived, or perhaps you're thinking about what you received from your family tree, or perhaps you're thinking about the things that you've done. And right now, if it were to end today, it would not be a picture of a legacy of faith. But please hear this, it can start with you, and your story can change today. Your story can change to the good news of the gospel taking root in your heart and life, if you will trust your life to Jesus Christ, you can leave behind a legacy of faith. Will you live for that day? Paul says, "I have finished the race Timothy. Timothy, I want you to think about the final day. I want you to look at the way that I have walked with Christ, and I want you to take the Baton and take this ministry." For the apostle. Paul does not want the ministry of life to end with him, he knows I must invest in the next generation. I must prop up those who will come behind me, so that they can carry the good news of the gospel forward to more and more that need to hear it.

George Wright: 29:58 Our family entered into this great celebration this week, a beautiful celebration of one who is finishing the race. What will that day be like for you? Do you have a picture of that day, a vision of what you want for that day? Our family was given this great vision this week of what we hope and pray the end of our life would be like, the celebration of a life of faith, and a legacy of faith that is left for those who come behind us.

George Wright: 30:38 Finally here though in verse 7, we see that Paul makes this statement, "I have kept the faith. Timothy, keep the faith." Keep the faith. There are lots of things that will come against you living a life of faith, keep the faith. There are lots of things that will stand in your way of living a life of faith, keep the faith. And the apostle Paul is making it clear that this life of faith is not about him and the things he's done, or the things he's accomplished, but his life of faith is all about pointing to Jesus and the finished work of Jesus and what that has done for his life. Paul was saying, my life of faith is not about me at all, it's all about God's faithfulness toward me, the good news of what Christ has done. You see, the reality is if your faith is built on you, and what your trying to accomplish, there's only a couple of ways that can go. If your faith is about you, and your efforts,, and your works, and your good deeds, and what you're trying to do for God, if your faith is about you, it can only go a couple of ways. It can lead you to a place where you are incredibly discouraged, and frustrated, and exhausted, and burned out, and overwhelmed, because you're trying so hard, and yet things are still so hard. Many people who get exhausted and burnt out in their striving to live a life of faith, they end up fading away altogether, some end up walking away from the church.

George Wright: 32:38 But even worse, there are those who devote their life to striving to live a life of faith, making it all about them and their performance, and the things that they accomplish as it relates to a religious life, and they get pretty good at it. And the better they get at living their self-made life of faith, the more self-righteous they become. And the more self-righteous we become, like our father, the devil, the more destruction we bring. Self-righteousness is one of the defining characteristics of the enemy of God. So is our life and our faith all about us, and what we're trying to accomplish that could either lead us to burnout, or worse to self-righteousness. Or is our life and our faith all about Jesus, and what he has done for us. The work has been finished. Jesus says it at the cross, John 19, "It is finished." The work has been fulfilled. And you and I who say we are followers of Jesus, you and I who seek to live a life of faith, we are walking in the freedom of the finished work. We can strive, we can run, we can work hard, we can serve, we can sacrifice, we can give, not to try and earn God's love, but because we are perfectly and completely loved. And there is freedom in the gospel, keeping the faith, and pouring out what God has given to us into the lives of others.

George Wright: 34:42 We end with verse 8 of Second Timothy chapter 4, as the apostle Paul talks about eternity. He says, "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." The charge to Timothy at the end of Paul's life is this, live for something greater today, because in Christ something greater is awaiting you. Live for something greater. Live today in light of your final day. Live today in light of eternity. And then here's the good news, you and I will never regret the things that we do for the sake of the kingdom of God advancing through us. You will never regret what you give, how you serve, where you go for the sake of eternity being put on display through your life. You will never regret the things that you do, for the sake of God being glorified in you. You see in Christ the last day, the final day, is meant to be the best day. A day where we celebrate all that God has done in its fullness. No longer seeing through the glass dimly, but now seeing clearly face to face what Jesus Christ has accomplished, who Jesus Christ really is in all of his glory. Oh, what a day that will be. In Christ, the final day should be the best day. So will you live your life for that day, will you live today in light of that day, fighting the good fight, the right fight, finishing the race that God has called you to, and keeping the faith so that others will see the incredible gift of God's faithfulness on display through you. Follower of Jesus, your last day will be your best day, so live like it today for the glory of God.

George Wright: 37:34 Would you pray with me as we close our time this morning? Father, I am so thankful, so thankful for your word. It speaks to us in all situations, in all circumstances, and meets us with what we need to hear. It is incredible hope that is given to us through the good news of the gospel. Father, as we think about the life that we are currently living, and the way we want this life to be remembered. I pray, Lord God, that you would give us the faith to follow you, to live today for that final day, to live today for the promise of eternity, to fight the good fight of faith, that points others to the good news of who you are and what you have done. I'm so thankful for the legacy of faith, Lord, it has been given to me. I pray, Lord, that you would use my life to not only honor that legacy, but to continue that legacy pointing others who come behind me to the good news of who you are and what you have done. And I pray specifically today for those who are here who are struggling, perhaps in a crisis of faith, or a difficult season navigating their faith. Perhaps here today having, having gotten way off track from where they really want to be. I pray, Lord God, that they would see the incredible gift of your grace and mercy, calling them back. And pray, Lord God, that you would give them a vision for that final day, and the faith to follow you, trusting in your finished work that their life might be a picture of the good news of who you are, and what you have done. For those who are with us who have never experienced the joy of a relationship with Jesus in a personal way, I pray that today would be the day where they would cross that line of faith and say, Jesus, I'm ready to follow you, I'm trusting my life to you, forgive me of my sin, I need you, I'm following you as my savior. And how we praise you for the good news of salvation that comes to us through the gift of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave. I pray, Lord God, that we as your people here at Shandon would live in light of what you have done, and would live to points to the good news of the things that are to come. Thank you for the gift of Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206