II Timothy 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. 6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I’m not sure that much of what’s preached today is actually the gospel. There are sermons on about every topic. They’re attractive and appealing to the masses. Some only bring an emotional response that doesn’t have a staying power that sustains a person through the week. I want to talk about four characteristics of old time religion.
Faithfulness: Look in verse 5. It stays through the storms of life. Some Christians seem to lose faith when storms come. We need to ride them out. Joy comes in the morning. We have somebody with us to help us. One day the disciples were on a boat in a storm. Jesus was asleep. Afraid, they woke him up asking if he cared that they were about to perish. He rebuked them saying “where’s your faith?” We’re saved by faith. We also then walk with Christ by faith. What we face, God can get us through. Lois was faithful and it affected her family.
Fruitfulness: look at the scripture. Lois came to know the Lord. She led her daughter and then led Timothy to the Lord. He became a pastor. Our life as a Christian should be fruitful. We found something and we should tell others. James 2:20 says faith without works is dead. We produce good works because we’re saved, not to get saved. Does your faith produce? Works are evidence of salvation. We can’t see another person’s faith, but we can see the evidence of it through their good works. What’s the purpose of a peach tree? Shade? To be pretty? No. Peach trees are to produce peaches. Otherwise, it’s not good for much. In Luke 13 there is a parable of a fig tree that produced no fruit. We all have times of unfruitfulness. If we stay that way, there is a problem. For four years the owner had inspected this fig tree and it bore no fruit. He told the keeper to cut it down. The vinedresser asked for one more year to work it and get it to produce. Isn’t God merciful!! He’s done all he can yet people still refuse him. They remain lost. One day he will cut it down. This parable tells us to bear fruit as Christians. We are not to be judges of others; however, we can be inspectors of fruit. The world can see our fruit. If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Flammable: Look at verse 6. What was the gift of God Paul wanted stirred up? Some of you will remember this. In the old days people had wood or coal stoves. At night they banked the fire. They turned the damper down, put some wood or coal in, and left it for the night. The next morning they would open the damper and stir the fuel; they “stoked” the fire. It came alive! The embers needed to be stirred. That’s what Paul is talking about. Some people are smoldering, just flickering. We should all pray “God, stir the fire in me!” Many things hinder the fire, willful sinning being one. We can get caught up in temporal things and be hindered. Luxury and ease can hinder. Neglect causes smoldering. We need the fire stoked to keep it burning. Ask God to stoke your fire. Don’t let family or friends hinder you. Each of us has a lighted candle within us. What are we going to do with it?
Fearlessness: look at verse 7. We’re not given a spirit of fear. Timothy was timid while Paul was not. There is moral courage, the desire to do the right thing regardless of the outcome or the consequences. There is physical courage, not being afraid of others. It’s rare to find this and even more rare to find both. Many people fear death. I’m not urging death to come, but for the child of God the fear of death has been taken by Jesus Christ. When I die I will go into the presence of the Lord. Some fear men, as Peter did. Some fear failure. There is a fear of trying new things, of being in the minority. We can appreciate that when we look at Joshua and Caleb. They were the two of out ten spies who said Israel could take Canaan even though there were giants in the land. They were in the minority but stood their ground. Would you be in the group of two or ten? Be Joshua and Caleb. We don’t have many Noah’s or Daniel’s these days. Fear is a paralyzing emotion, but by God’s help we can overcome it.
Forcefulness: look at verse 7 again. There’s power in Jesus Christ. The demoniac was healed because of Jesus. Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus and was summoned to come down so Jesus could go home with him. His life was changed. The dying thief found salvation at the last hour. The Samaritan woman was changed. There was evidence that all these lives were changed. Jesus makes all the difference.
All these are part of having the old time religion. It will make a difference. With God all things are possible.