Preparing for the next sermon in our 2 Timothy 3 study and came across verse 14, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it…” This set me to ask how might I continue in the faith? More specifically how can I help my young children continue in the faith?
I began to jot down a few things that seem to flow out of this text. These are things that I plan on going through with my children…perhaps it will be helpful to you as well. I am writing them as if I were talking to my own kids…in fact, I am thinking of them right now (especially since Caleb is sitting right across the table from me!):
- Diligently learn
This part of your life is meant for learning. You know that. That is why you are so engaged in school work right now. That is what this part of your life is about. You’ve been learning since the day you were born. You’ve learned so much. It’s such a joy for me to think about this. I remember you learning to make noises with your voice and then you learned to roll over and to sit up and to pull yourself up in your crib. You learned to not touch the picture frames on the lower part of the table. You learned to form words and to walk and then run. You learned to smile and to laugh and to giggle. Oh man, I tell you what, that does my heart good to think of these things.
You are a learning machine. And Paul reminds Timothy that he should “continue in what you have learned”. That means that Timothy became a disciple. He was a learner. And if you are going to continue you’ve got to become a learner as well. And, by-the-way, that means that I am your teacher. If you’re going to learn you need a teacher and God has appointed me (primarily) to do that.
Use this time in your life to learn…learn spiritual truth. Learn the Bible. That’s why we have AWANA and Sunday School and Kids Club, etc. We want you to soak up the truth…to become a learner…a disciple. You should give the most of your time right now to be a diligent learner. Take this very seriously. Never allow your heart to get cold when it comes to the things of God. Whether it is in family worship time or in Sunday School or in a church service…be a diligent learner. Learn to take notes. Learn to remember what you’ve been taught. Hide these things in your heart.
- Firmly Believe
It is not enough to be a learner. You must be that, but not only that. You see, there has to come a time in your life when you believe the things that you are learning. The word that Paul uses here means to be convinced of something. There must come a time in your life when you become convinced of these things. And this is the goal of your diligent learning. You are not learning so that you can get a big head. You are learning so that you will be able to believe. The Bible tells us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The more that you expose yourself to the Word of God the more active God is in your life. And He is the One who gives you faith…the ability to believe these things. That is why you hear me pray that God would help you to believe. You can’t do it on your own. But you must! So that’s why we ask God to come and help you. Remember how we begin our family Bible reading? We always pray, “Lord help us to understand and believe what we’re about to read. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
And you should begin doing this. As you hear and learn and listen and study and memorize, ask God…beg Him to help you! You must become convinced of truth because there will be plenty of people and things in your life that will try to convince you otherwise. These people and these times will most surely come.
- Gratefully Remember
Look at what Paul says: “knowing from whom you learned it”. The word “whom” is plural which simply means that he has more than one person in mind. Who is that? No doubt he is talking about Timothy’s grandmother and mother in particular…not to mention Paul himself. If you are going to continue you’ve got to gratefully remember those people in your life who have taught you. And think about their lives. Think about how they believe and practice what they teach.
When you are grown and out of the house, I hope that you’ll remember your mom and me. I hope that you’ll remember how we taught you and what we taught you. I hope you’ll remember those times of seeing us live what we taught. I hope you’ll think back to our failures and times of sin. I hope that you’ll remember how that grieved us and how it hurt us. I hope that you think about those times when we had to tell you that we were wrong…or those times when we told you about our own struggles with sin and temptation. And when you do I hope that you’ll remember those things with thanksgiving…thanking the Lord for those times.
- Thoughtfully consider
You’ll notice that Paul reminds Timothy of the effect of the Word of God on his own life. “Timothy, think about this: the Bible (what you learned) was able to bring you to salvation.” Apart from the Bible you never would’ve come to know about God and your sin and heaven and hell and redemption and the forgiveness of sins. You would never have come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And I tell you this kids…you’ve got to think about how the Bible has changed your life. What would your life be without the Bible? It is the very Word of God Himself! Think about this especially when you are older and those times of temptation come to you when I am not right there by your side. Those days will come. You will be forced to make a decision about things that you have learned are wrong. And when it comes to that point…think about this: The Bible is the very Word of God!
- Eagerly Expect
If you are going to continue you need something to anticipate. Look at verses 16 and 17. You should expect that the Bible will make you a complete, mature, adult. You can look forward to that! You can eagerly expect and look forward to being a spiritually mature young man or women. Expect that. Wait on that. Look for it. Anticipate it. You can expect that the Bible will teach you and rebuke your wrong behavior and restore you to godliness and train you to live a righteous life.
This is exactly what I’ve experienced and so has your mom. We’ve grown and matured spiritually. We’ve come to be convicted of sin and have been set straight when our thinking and living wasn’t right. We’ve found a deeper and more joyful relationship with God. And that’s our prayer for you. In fact, that’s why God has made us parents…and given us the gift that is second only to the gift of salvation and marriage. He’s given us you! And He’s done that so that we might tell you of all His grace and His wonderful works.
So continue! Keep on and don’t give up!