Succession; December 16, 2020


2 Timothy 2:1-2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

I cannot read 2 Timothy without being sharply aware that as far as we know, it was Paul’s last letter before being martyred. He himself was clearly aware that his next trial was not likely to end well, and he is pouring his soul out to his son in the faith. What he states here is the human side to why and how the Church has continued for the past 2000 years, despite all the persecution and everything else. Of course the human side is the lesser side; God’s power through His Holy Spirit has been and continues to be essential. However, God has chosen to use people to build His Church, and this is the mechanism for that. I am reminded of Frank Laubach’s literacy movement. Starting in the the Philippines, it was powerfully effective in many countries around the world. His mantra was, “Each One Teach One,” and if I am not mistaken, he was inspired by this very passage. (He was certainly a strong Christian.) We tend to think of evangelism in terms of leading people to a commitment and then getting them baptized, but that is forgetting half of the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) We tend to twist that around to “Make converts,” when what Jesus said was “Make disciples,” which is clearly a deeper level of commitment and obedience. On top of that, He specified “teaching them.” That is what Paul is talking about here. Paul himself contributed immeasurably to that by the letters he wrote, which now form half of the New Testament, but we need to make full use of the “instructional material” he provided, not just dumping it on people but helping them grasp and apply it. If we will do that, the Holy Spirit will certainly be faithful to raise up teachers and leaders after us, and the Church will flourish and grow.

This is intensely personal for me, since this ministry is independent and non-denominational. I have sought to teach (and my motivational gifting is Teacher) but my methods haven’t been the best. I am all too prone to dump truth on people, failing to confirm their understanding and failing to walk alongside of them in applying it. I have a particular challenge coming up, with a young Chinese woman requesting baptism. Her Japanese isn’t that great and her English is even weaker, and I speak no Mandarin at all! I have agreed to baptize her because of confirmation of her repentance and faith via missionaries from Taiwan (though their Japanese isn’t very good yet either). I will have to trust them to do the majority of the follow-up as well. I have been learning coaching techniques for the past couple of years, hoping to grow as a teacher and minister, but this is a potent reminder that I’m completely dependent on the Holy Spirit in any case. On top of that, I still have the matter of my successor in the leadership of this church. I won’t be here forever, and I have no organization to appoint someone after me. I need to keep faithful and keep praying, asking God to work His perfect will through me, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Thank You that Your plans are indeed greater than anything I could imagine. (Isaiah 55:9) May I be fully yielded and obedient, doing Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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