The Good Soldier

Title: The Good Soldier

Bible Book: 2 Timothy 2 : 1-13

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Saints; Soldiers Of The Cross; Soldier of Jesus



We are just a couple of weeks into 2018, and it will help us to remember as we begin this New Year who we are and what we are to be doing. Wonderful examples abound in the Bible to help us see our duty and to encourage us to do it faithfully. I want us to consider one of those today - the good soldier of Jesus.

Very often in the Bible the Christian is referred to in military terms. Christ is seen in the Scripture as the Captain of our souls and we are seen as obedient soldiers, and we are told to put on the whole armor of God. Paul said, at the end of his life, that he had fought a good fight!

Why is there so much use of military language in the Bible? Well, to be quite blunt about it, we are in a fight! We do not war against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of this dark world, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Christ never advocated war as a means of spreading the Christian faith, in fact He always preached peace - and so did his followers. So, we need to understand that those who, in the past, fought Crusades or used force to make people adhere to Christianity were acting sinfully. However, there is a spiritual battle going on in this world. That struggle takes place in an ongoing way inside and outside the Christian heart. We are to be faithful and trustworthy soldiers of our Lord against Satan and the evil he promotes in our lives and in this world. This is so important that the Holy Spirit had this theme repeated again and again throughout the Scriptures.

Greenfell, the great explorer, met Dwight L. Moody in Boston in 1897. He told Moody, "Fourteen years ago I was saved in one of your meetings." Moody responded without hesitation, "What have you been doing since?" Isn’t that the question for all of us? What have we been doing since we became a child of God through Christ. Certainly there is a spiritual force at work to keep the Christian from fulfilling his or her service to our Lord Jesus Christ.

We must do more than just be saved. Lincoln once said, "I can find plenty of people who tell me that they are willing to shed their last drop of blood for the Union, but I find it hard to find many who are willing to shed their first drop of blood for the Union." Many in the church sing “I Surrender All” but it is hard to discover exactly what “all” they are singing about. So many talk of their commitment, but they do not show it in their daily lives. A good soldier must be faithful in his duty to big and little tasks for his Master. Jesus shed His blood for us and He expects us to give our faithfulness to Him.

Note with me tonight several points of emphasis regarding the Good Soldier. Paul is writing to Timothy and Paul knows that his own life is nearing an end. He wants to be sure that Timothy remains faithful in the good fight for the Lord's Kingdom.

I. The Equipment

2:1, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

A soldier does not go to war at his own expense. When I entered the Army, I went in at the expense of my government. They clothed me, armed me, fed me, housed me and even met my medical expenses. All I had to do was show up and follow orders! Dear friend, in the good fight of the faith, we do not go to war at our own expense. We are equipped for this fight through the grace, the unmerited favor and expense of our Lord. He paid at Calvary for everything we need. The songwriter, Elvina Hall, wrote these words 150 years ago:

“I hear the Savior say,
‘Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.’
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”

Our strength is small, but we find the strength we need in His grace, for He is our all in all!

Many Christians are afraid to teach a class, witness to a neighbor or even tithe, because they feel that they will fail. Paul told Timothy, who was also known for his timidity, to be strong in the grace of Jesus Christ. He did not tell him to be strong in himself, but to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The strength we need is not within ourselves ‑ it is found in our wonderful Lord.

II.The Instruction

2:2, “…And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Paul reminded Timothy that he had been instructed and now it is his responsibility to carry on the task of training others. The military places great emphasis upon training. From the moment a person enters the military, whether an officer or enlisted person, training is a part of the daily regimen. As soldiers of Christ, we must always be in training and also we must help train others.

Christians are called disciples, which means learners and followers. We must ever be learning, training, and growing. A Christian never graduates from Spiritual University. And also, we who have been trained must help those coming behind us to grow in Christ.

One of the great problems the modern church is facing is a lack of trained, young believers. When I grew up in the church many years ago, we had great Sunday School and Bible Study classes for children and teens. We also had Training Union, which was a discipleship class based upon ones age that helped the believer learn about missions, Bible study, evangelism, speaking in public, and living out one’s faith. As young boys we had a program called Royal Ambassadors. In that program we were taught how to live as young men following Christ. We memorized scripture, some of which I can remember now at 73 years of age. There is no substitute for training up young believers in Christ. Are we doing that today? If we are not, we are failing to develop soldiers of the cross for tomorrow.

III. The Endurance

2:3‑7, “…You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

Children, especially boys, love to play with toy soldiers or even play games as soldiers. Oh, what mighty battles we fought (in our minds!) when I was a boy growing up in North Carolina. When we got tired, our mother's would call us home to a table, where we ate a nice, hot meal. I could bathe and sleep in my cozy bed. But real soldiers must deal with harsh conditions. They must fight till the battle is over, often sleeping on the ground. They eat rations from a bag. They must endure hardness and please their commanders.

Likewise, the Christian soldier must never be guilty of playing church. Like children playing games, we expect everything in our lives and in our churches to be comfortable, like the warm bed we slept in when we were children. Listen, my friend, we are in a spiritual war with the enemy and everything in the Bible teaches us that. No, we are not in a war with people, but with spiritual forces. We must practice our faith no matter how hard the work we are called to do. We must endure hardness and please our Commander – King Jesus!

IV. The Inspiration

2:8‑13, “…8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."
A. The Master
"Remember Jesus"

What a command Paul gave Timothy! Remember Jesus! Our inspiration to be a good soldier comes from our Master, Jesus Christ. He left heaven for us, endured the hatred of men, went to the cross after terrible trials, and bore our sins in His death.

Our example is Jesus. I remember a lady some years ago being led astray by a friend of hers. One of the staff members of the church I pastored went with me to visit her. At one point I asked, “If you’re friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump with her?” The lady answer, “She’s my friend! Yes, I would.” How sad. The lady did not say, “First I would have to check with the Lord to see if it is His will.” Sadly, many Christians put friends, pleasure, success and other things before the Master. A good soldier always puts His Commander first!

B. The Message
"The Word of God is not chained"

The Living Word of God inspires us to tell the message and defeat the enemy. Paul was chained, but he knew that the Word of God was loose in the world! Paul wanted Timothy to remember that no one and nothing can every chain the Word of God. Our message is the Bible and it is powerful and alive!

C. The Mission

Multitudes are without Christ. Paul showed that we are to be inspired by the fact that there are people out there who are to be a part of the elect and he was determined to get the Good News to them. Our mission is to tell the lost and free them from the oppressive grasp of our enemy.

D. The Magnificent Reward
"If we died with him, we shall also live with him...If we endure, we shall also reign with him."

Think of the great reward we shall enjoy when we meet our Lord, and we need to be reminded that we do not get our reward until we meet Jesus. We are not home yet, we are still in the battle. What a reward awaits the faithful soldier of Christ. America’s greatest award to a soldier is The Medal of Honor, but Jesus will reward faithful servants with crowns. Later in 2 Timothy he will remind Timothy of that fact as well.


Will you and I receive a reward when we stand before our Great and Mighty King? The faithful soldier of the cross will, indeed!

The soldier, the athlete and the farmer are used in scripture as those who must be faithful in this world to receive a reward, win a medal or reap a crop. We are called to be faithful to Christ, like a soldier, an athlete or a hardworking farmer.

When a soldier is in the battle, it is a time of tears, sweat and blood. When an athlete is training for contest, there are brutal, exhausting hours of training all alone in a gym or out running on a lonely highway. When the farmer is planting, weeding, watering and working to harvest a crop, it is a dirty, messy and lonely job. But, the day comes when the battle, the contest and the harvest is over. What a day that is – when victory finally comes. Paul reminds Timothy and us, that we are to keep on keeping on till Jesus calls us home.

I have a friend, who like me, is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Unlike me, he faced one of the most deadly battles in the Vietnam Conflict. We were talking one day and he told me about being in the battle of Dak To on hill 875 way back in 1967. That battle was listed as perhaps the most horrible conflict faced by Americans soldiers during the war. Mike Gates was a part of the 173rd Airborne unit that encountered the enemy on that hill. As American men were dying all around that hill, the US forces called in air support. Mistakenly, a pilot missed his coordinates and dropped a 500 pound bomb on our own troops. It was ghastly and shocking. In total, 376 Army soldiers died on that hill that day, and almost 1,500 were wounded, and a number of them were killed or injured by the bomb the pilot mistakenly dropped in the wrong place. As Mike Gates told me that story, I could feel the agony he must have felt as he saw his friends dying around him. But, the thing that seemed the hardest for him to tell was the fact that a bomb from our own pilot killed many men as well.

Listen to me, dear children of God, we are to be good soldiers of Christ. We cannot sit by while others are giving their best. We must not say or do anything to injure those who are on the front lines for Jesus. Let us, here and now, recommit our lives to be good soldiers of Christ and never let it be said of us that we caused harm to one of our own. As Paul is drawing close to his own death, he is still a good soldier for Jesus and he is doing all he can to encourage Timothy – and us – to be faithful as well.

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