I remember Bill Armstrong, our former president, would often walk on the campus and he would tell us he had this habit of looking around and he said, “I wonder who the next Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright will be. I wonder who among our students will be the next Florence Nightingale, William Wilberforce, Patrick Henry, Esther, D.L. Moody.” These were World Changers and he would think like that because he had so much faith in what God was doing in this generation of students. And so I’d like to talk with you for a few minutes about the making of a World Changer and I’d like us to think about Timothy in that respect in our theme verse for the year. There was an author, a political author, named Theodore White who every election cycle used to write a book The Making of the President. Well I want us to think about the making of a World Changer. Timothy was part of a team of Christians that changed the world. They turned it upside-down. And he’s worth looking at so if you have a Bible, I’d encourage you to open it to 1 Timothy 4:12. That’s our theme verse for the year. Others have spoken on it and I want to take a little different tag in the few minutes I have this morning. And just so you know that many people have been praying at 4:12 in the afternoon for you. It’s a reminder that we need to uphold our students in prayer and ask for God to bless them. So I love this verse, whoever chose it thank you. The verse is quite simple it’s, don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. I remember growing up I heard a pastor say one time, I forget who it was, but he said, “Never read a Bible verse, “always read a Bible passage.” Because the passage gives you the context and you can lose the meaning if you just pull a verse out of context and so it’s important to read around this particular verse and to learn about what God was doing with Timothy. In fact, it says, here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance that we have put our hope in the living God who is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe. Command and teach these things, Timothy. Don’t let anyone look down on your youthfulness, but set an example for believers in speech, life, love, faith, and purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect your gift which was given to you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid hands on you. Be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them because, if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. So there’s a little bit of the context of 1 Timothy 4:12. And you gotta remember that this book and 2 Timothy are the world’s all time best-selling books on pastoral theology, that’s the context.
These were written not to churches but to individual pastors and Paul wrote that verse and that passage to remind Timothy of his calling and to encourage him. It was probably in the mid-sixties. Paul was just released from his first imprisonment. Timothy had met Paul on his first missionary journey. You can read about it in Acts 16. Timothy is from Lystra; his home was sort of divided. His mother and grandmother believed, his father did not. He was taught the Scriptures by his mother and his grandmother. He became a convert on Paul’s first missionary journey. Paul loved this guy and called him, “my son whom I love.” That’s the person that we’re reading about. And he wrote this to encourage Timothy because he knew that younger people need encouragement. Now I gotta tell you I hung on this verse when I was a lot younger, I still hang on it. It’s a great verse, it’s a verse of encouragement. And the reason I hung on it is because there are times where people do despise you or scorn you or look down on you or underestimate you because you’re a younger believer. And in that culture, where older people were revered much more than they are in ours, Timothy had to deal with this. They looked at him and they said, “Oh but you’re so young. “You’re so young.” And that hurts and that can stifle you. And Paul didn’t want Timothy to be intimidated by that to fall back or to be ashamed. He wanted him to claim his calling and go out and serve Christ in a great way, in an exemplary way. I was watching the PBS special Victoria the other night. Anybody watch it? It’s on Queen Victoria and it’s fascinating. The young British queen who is crowned queen in 1837 of the entire British Empire, she was 18 years old. And in the film, and in her life story, it tells how they treated her like a child, many expected her to fail they said, “You’re not capable of being the queen.” Her stepfather came up to her and says, “Do you “have any idea of what is at stake here? “What can a girl like you uninformed possibly do “to serve this great empire?” And then Victoria looked at him and she said these words, “I think you forget, although I am young “and perhaps ignorant, I am my father’s daughter, “the granddaughter of the King. “I know I am young, but I assure you I am ready “for the great responsibility that lies before me.” It was pretty awesome and it reminded me of Timothy. Just a female version of Timothy. Same thing, there’s good news here for younger Christians. That God delights in using young people and He doesn’t want you to hold back. In fact, in the history of revivals God seems to favor young people where He pours out His spirit in a new way and does a new thing. So this is a great verse of encouragement. You’re not to become cocky when you read this. That’s the other extreme, right? And I’ve seen it when I was president of RTS in Orlando, Reformed Theological Seminary. Had great students, graduate school, most of them were going to be counselors or pastors, but some of them, you know, they graduated and they knew Hebrew and Greek really well and they had that look in their eyes like I’m gonna be the next Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, fill-in-the-blank. And, you know, they didn’t realize all of the years that went into making those guys, number 1, and they didn’t realize how much they still had to learn, number 2, even though they had a Master of Divinity from RTS, and they didn’t realize how God would use suffering and brokenness to make them as pastors. One of my favorite writers on prayer E.M. Bounds in his book Power Through Prayer once said, he was talking about preaching and he said, “It takes 20 years to make a sermon “because it takes 20 years to make the man “and preaching is not just the delivery of the sermon, “it’s the delivery of the preacher.” So, you gotta keep that in mind when you’re reading this thing just as a check because it’s easy to say well okay, you know I’m called to be courageous and everything and I can be kinda cocky. I got a degree from CCU or whatever seminary or whatever degree you have and you think you’re gonna tackle the world, but you still have a lot that God is gonna show you. So it calls for humility, but boldness. Humility, teachability, but courage to go forth into your calling.
So my question is quite simply how did this timid, young guy become a World Changer? Four ways, real quickly. And I think this will help us understand the verses we try to take it in throughout the rest of this semester. First of all, he became a World Changer because he had a gospel revolution take place in his life. You can’t read this verse out of context and just think, okay I gotta be an example, be this, be this, be this and that’s the end of it. If you do, you’ll just care less about the verse. The context of the verse is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And all through Timothy, Paul keeps going back to the life, the death, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The cross of Christ, how He saves us by His grace and raises us up to new life and gives us His Holy Spirit and changes us from the inside out. That’s the motor that propels this whole Christian enterprise, including 1 Timothy 4:12. That’s the context, because if you just take the verse in it’s own you could become a great moralist, you know? You could become a I’ll pull myself up by my own bootstraps kind of godliness, you could take that as your version of godliness. But what you have here is a Christ-centered gospel-driven godliness and so when you think about the making of Timothy you’ve gotta come back to he was first made by the gospel, the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so that’s why I’ve gotta ask you, have you embraced Jesus Christ as He’s offered to you in the gospel? Have you embraced the forgiveness that God has for you through the cross of Jesus Christ where you can be forgiven and made new? That’s the beginning of being a Christian World Changer. The second part of being a world changer is, he not only had a gospel revolution but secondly, he had a commitment to godliness. Now in Scripture, sometimes it’s called godliness, sometimes holiness, sometimes Christ-likeness, sometimes pleasing God, it’s all basically the same. But we’re called to be that as we follow Christ to grow in that. Godliness is central to the churches’ mission and the proclamation of the gospel. And Paul is concerned about Timothy’s teaching, but he’s also concerned about his life. And he keeps coming back to this, watch your life. So when you read verse 12 about you know be an example in these areas, it’s part of this big vision of become a godly person as you follow Jesus Christ. Let your vision be to become a godly woman or a godly man as you grow in Him. And here’s how you can do it. You’ll talk differently, he doesn’t say this, no trash talk but you know, we live in a very crude culture but the point is you’ll let grace and truth, you’ll speak the truth in love, change the way you talk. You’ll live differently, you won’t do shoddy work, you’ll work as unto the Lord. You’ll love differently, you’ll hold to your commitments. You’ll be faithful, you’ll think about purity in a whole different way than our culture does and in sexual matters you’ll be careful about what you take in and how you live your sexuality out before God to please Him, godliness. Timothy can earn respect in his congregation by being an example in these ways. To be a teacher is one thing, but if he shows it with his life, they’re gonna listen to his teaching. So this is part of the wider vision, but the nuclear core of it all is Jesus Christ and the gospel which starts this whole revolution inside of us. The mystery of godliness. And by the way Paul is not opposed to discipline. In fact, when he talks to Timothy in the other part of this letter he says, “Train yourself to be godly.” And he takes up the language of the gymnasium and the athletic competitions, and says just like an athlete we’ll eat differently and exercise differently.
If you’re gonna become godly, you have to start putting into your life some new habits, holy habits, sacred rhythms that will form you and shape your heart as well as your mind to be like Christ. Okay, so you wanna be a World Changer? First, it takes a gospel revolution. Second, it takes a commitment to godliness. Third, and here’s something that we often forget, it takes the presence of godly mentors in your life. And that’s what’s so central to Timothy. Paul was this godly example who invited Timothy to hang out with him over a number of years so Timothy got to see Paul in action and got to not only hear him but see him. And there were connections that were made that went really deep into Timothy because he saw the godliness of Paul in action. So what did he see? He saw Paul suffering, church planting, he traveled from town to town with Paul, he traveled through Galatia, he saw the disappointments of closed doors and the mission to Asia. He had the thrill of seeing open doors to Macedonia. He got to see Paul preach in Corinth and Timothy preached with Paul in Corinth. He was there when Paul wrote the book of Romans and Philippians and Thessalonians. And then Paul, after a while, said, “You know, Timothy, “I want you to pastor the church of Ephesus.” And that’s what Timothy was doing when Paul wrote 1 Timothy Timothy was pastoring the church of Ephesus. And he could look back on those years where he not only heard Paul speak but he saw his life and the power of his life helped to make Timothy steadfast. And so I’ve gotta ask you, as students, you know, got any mentors in your life? I mean do you realize how important a godly mentor is for you to become a World Changer like Timothy? I don’t think you could become a World Changer without a series of godly mentors.
When I was a student, someone said who do you admire? Spend time with who you admire; go be with them. Take out the garbage, take out their trash, do whatever. Just be with them, catch what they have. And so I would take a little time, I got to spend time with a number of great people, great Christians: John Stott, Chuck Colson, and a number of others that rubbed off on me in ways that were just life-shaping. So, my advice to you is as you think about becoming a World Changer, what you learn in a classroom is important, but also find mentors. In fact, here’s a great thing about CCU, some of your teachers will become your mentors. That’s a great thing about being here and not just doing this online. Our faculty are living curriculum. So they say things, but you can be with them and you can hear them and pick up their heartbeat. And if you’re an older person here, a parent, or staff, or faculty, I gotta ask you, are you mentoring younger people? Pouring yourself into this up-and-coming generation for the glory of God and for the mission of Jesus Christ. See, becoming a World Changer, it happens, you are made by a gospel revolution, by this embrace of a godly life, by having godly mentors in your life, and then finally, the fourth thing I see here, and there’s much more, but a fourth part of becoming a World Changer is you then become committed to live out your specific calling to the end of your life, you have this long distance vision of “a long obedience in a same direction” as Eugene Peterson said. Where you say I’m gonna follow God’s call to be whatever, to the day I die. Now for Timothy it was to be a pastor. And I have no doubt that some of you, God is calling you to be a pastor and you’re starting to sense that nudging in your life and it’s a wonderful calling. But some of you, most of you, are not being called to be a pastor, but God’s calling you to another vocation and you’ll know in time. But to whatever it is, to take this vision that Timothy had and Paul had to fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith, and keep going to the end of your life, that’s what makes a World Changer. That tenacity, that consistency, that endurance over time. And so you wanna change the world? You wanna know what goes into the making of a World Changer? Well, I think it’s at least these things. This is what propelled the Christian mission forward. This is the way Christian World Changers are made. They discover Christ in the gospel. They catch this vision of godliness. They work through the intimidation of being young and say that’s okay because I’m called. They link up with godly saints and they go the distance with Jesus Christ. May God raise up a new generation of World Changers like Timothy at Colorado Christian University. Let’s pray together. Father God, we thank you so much for your Word and even this little sliver of your Word which we’ve decided to focus on this year. We thank you for speaking to us through it. Father, thank you for the Gospel. The life-changing, life-transforming, culture-transforming, power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for the way that you call individuals to serve you in all kinds of vocations for your glory and for the well-being of people everywhere. And thank you Lord for this encouragement in this verse. Give us courage to be whole-hearted disciples of Jesus Christ today and in the coming year. So we ask all this in the strong name of Jesus Christ and everybody said Amen