By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012
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Discuss the point that the proper Christian response in a terrible world is to reflect Christ's character and ministry. In what way is the Holy Spirit significantly involved in this process? What is the danger of trying to do Christ's ministry without Christ's character or seeking Christ's character without doing His ministry?
Discuss the point that the proper Christian response in a terrible world is to reflect Christ's character and ministry. 
Paul painted a true and hideous picture of how things will be in the last days. The terrible times of the last days will be populated by the terrible people of that age, who will display the worst kinds of human behaviour and sinfulness. The purpose is not for Timothy and all the disciples of Jesus who would read this epistle to respond by withdrawing from this awful world. Rather, the challenge is to be involved in this world, by the grace of God, so that who we are and what we do would result in the redemption of many of these people trapped in sinful behaviour in a darkening world.
PHOTO: Paul painted a true and hideous picture of how things will be in the last days. The terrible times of the last days will be populated by the terrible people of that age, who will display the worst kinds of human behaviour and sinfulness.
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The response is twofold. Firstly, the challenge to display Christian character before the world, and secondly, to do Christian ministry in it. Christian character is simply a reflection of Christ's character, and Christian ministry is a continued expression of Christ's ministry. In other words, the proper Christian response to the sinful world of the last days is to mediate the presence of Christ through the manifestation of Christ's character and ministry.
The proper Christian response to the sinful world of the last days is to mediate the presence of Christ through the manifestation of Christ's character and ministry.
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The problem in Paul's time, as in ours, is that there were false teachers who were making the darkness even darker. It was imperative (of vital importance) for sincere and committed ministers such as Timothy to ensure that the Word of God was taught and that the true gospel was faithfully preached. It is with this in mind that Paul gave his inspiring charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
PHOTO: The problem in Paul's time, as in ours, is that there were false teachers who were making the darkness even darker. It was imperative (of vital importance) for sincere and committed ministers such as Timothy to ensure that the Word of God was taught and that the true gospel was faithfully preached. It is with this in mind that Paul gave his inspiring charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
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The response of the Christian is not to abandon this terrible world and have nothing to do with it.  Certainly, the church must be different from this world; it must be salt and light. But it must resist the temptation of seeking this holiness away from the world, for that is not possible. The church must remember that while it is in the world, it is not of this world. We must neither get into a holy huddle (heap together in a disorderly manner) and isolate ourselves from the terrible world, nor foolishly and uncritically imbibe (acquire) the values and habits of this world. We should neither lose our witness nor lose our holiness. How can we ensure this?
Certainly, the church must be different from this world; it must be salt and light. The church must remember that while it is in the world, it is not of this world. We should neither lose our witness nor lose our holiness.
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We can do so by ensuring that we grow in Christlike character and by continuing the ministry of Christ in this sinful world. We cannot do this in our own strength but through the grace of God and the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit does his work of sanctification in us, producing the Christlike character in us and enabling enable us to do the ministry of Jesus faithfully. In the last days we must not change the message of the gospel to suit the sinful taste of the people; nor should we change the way we minister by adopting the salesmanship of the false teachers. Instead we must serve faithfully and with the character of Jesus.
PHOTO: We should neither lose our witness nor lose our holiness. We can do so by ensuring that we grow in Christlike character and by continuing the ministry of Christ in this sinful world. We cannot do this in our own strength but through the grace of God and the power of the Spirit. In the last days we must not change the message of the gospel to suit the sinful taste of the people; nor should we change the way we minister by adopting the salesmanship of the false teachers. Instead we must serve faithfully and with the character of Jesus.
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Central to all of this is the Word of God. We must, with all diligence, study and apply God's Word in our lives, accepting its authority and profound influence, no matter what modern false teachers might claim. We are also helped by our mentors, both living and dead, who continue to remind us to be faithful to Jesus and to always place our trust and hope in Him.
PHOTO: We must, with all diligence, study and apply God's Word in our lives, accepting its authority and profound influence, no matter what modern false teachers might claim.
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Each of us should also ask some searching question. Who am I mentoring in the way Paul mentored Timothy? Who is encouraged and convinced by my example and way of life? Am I still faithfully ministering and serving Christ? If not me, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?
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In what way is the Holy Spirit significantly involved in this process? 
To mediate the presence of Christ through the manifestation of Christ's character and ministry is made possible by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in believer's lives and the church. The indwelling Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22-23) - which is the character of Jesus. He also enables the church by giving its members various gifts of the Spirit so that the church can continue the ministry of Jesus. Rather than abandoning the world, we should cooperate with the Lord to bring light into darkness, and hope for the hopeless.
The actual phrase "fruit of the Spirit" occurs only one place in the Scriptures. Here it is:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
We can't "try harder" in our attempts to be more spiritual. We can't say, "I'm going to be especially loving today so that I can demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit." That doesn't work. Instead, when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and transform our hearts, we naturally display the fruit of the Spirit in the same way that apples naturally grow on apple trees when they are healthy and mature.
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What is the danger of trying to do Christ's ministry without Christ's character or seeking Christ's character without doing His ministry?
Trying to do Christ's ministry without Christ's character or seeking Christ's character without doing His ministry, we would not result in the redemption of many of these people trapped in sinful behaviour in a darkening world.
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Without Christ's character "People will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
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Seeking Christ's character without doing His ministry results us not to "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2)
Without doing His ministry we won't be able to correct the mistakes of others. To have fruitful result in the attempt to correct others, we need to be able to convince them of the truth. The purpose of rebuking is to convert others from doing wrong acts to perform righteous acts. Encouragement is to bring comfort to those who are in distress and in need of help. Correct, rebuke and encourage - aka Convince, convert and comfort.
This is made possible by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in believer's lives and the church.
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Question from the book "Faithful to the end" by Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012
 From "Faithful to the end" A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, Copyright © 2014 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-241-0, PART THREE: UNLIKE THE WORLD, Chapter 10 "Christian Ministry in a Terrible World" (2 Timothy 4:1-5), Page 146-147.
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2 Timothy 4:1-5 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4%3A1-5&version=NIV
2 Timothy 4:2 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4%3A2&version=NIV
2 Timothy 4:3-4 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4%3A3-4&version=NIV
Galatians 5:22-23 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+5%3A22-23&version=NIV