Gospel Coalition Conference – Observation #4

Phil Ryken may not be known by you, but those who have been blessed by the ministry of James Montgomery Boice will probably know who he is.  Ryken followed Boice as senior pastor of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.  While his talk may not have been the most exuberant of the week, I felt like it was one of the best.  Below are my notes followed by some reflections…

Phil Ryken

2 Timothy 1:13-2:13

Apostolic Call to Faithful Ministry (vv.13-14)

–       Follow the pattern (Words that Paul has said and used in explaining the gospel of Jesus Christ)

–       The Gospel is sealed and protected by the Holy Spirit

–       NOTE:  Really guard against the idolatry of truth

–       Trusting Christ for EVERYTHING

  • Doctrine
  • Life
  • Time (to be spent for His gospel in loving other people)
  • Success in ministry – will be gauged by faithfulness to Christ, the Word, His Gospel

Personal Example of Faithful Ministry (vv.15-18)

–       Bad examples (v.15) – lessons learned from those who have been faithless.  Important to learn… A fool would ignore such examples

  • 1700 ministers leave the ministry every month (1 in 10 will actually retire a minister) – There is immorality; financial misdealings; lost leaders

–       By God’s grace (before the beginning of time) there can be faithfulness: Onesiphorus

  • Loved those who preached God’s Word
    • Ministered (physically and spiritually) to Paul
    • Do I love my fellow ministers / pastors?  Do I serve them?
  • Courageous to go to Rome (ready and willing to suffer for the gospel cause)
    • Faithfulness requires courage
  • Fruitfulness (those faithful in ministry are faithful wherever they go)

A Sacred Trust Given to Faithful Men (2:1-2)

–       Colossians 1:29 is foundational

–       Passing ministry along to faithful men is critical

–       Those younger should be those you see as faithful to preach the gospel

–       Your ministry should be “transmissional” (prepare to pass it along – work with SBTS)

–       Passing on the faith

–       In a sense your ministry should be a perpetual work of witnessing to the unconverted; training young pastors; meeting with seasoned pastors

Illustrations of Faithful Work (2:3-7)

–       Difficult professions are used as illustrations

–       The Soldier

  • Not given to worldly affairs
  • Does not speak against bi-vocational ministry
  • Does not condone sacrifice of family (pastoral position is no excuse for neglect)
  • The point is don’t waste time!  Don’t get distracted!  Do the thing that most needs to be done!  Do the hard work FIRST!
  • Limit the amount of time spent in entertainment – remember you are to live in the mindset of wartime, not peace-time
  • The aim is pleasing the Commanding Officer (you don’t take a leave!)

–       The Athlete

  • Competing according to the rules
  • Regulations of athletes?  Probably.  Much self-control to avoid any disqualification
  • Work hard as an Olympian – work hard in the word, prayer, evangelism
  • Victory crown is a gift of grace for the faithful, not an award of merit

–       The Farmer

  • The hard working farmer
  • Up before dawn, working all day, exhausted after nightfall
  • Faithful – this is not work-a-holic tendency.
  • The most important harvest for the hard-working pastor is the fruit of the seed sown of the Word of God – IN DUE SEASON
  • Are you working faithfully for the gospel reward?

Command to Remember a Faithful Savior (2:8-10)

–       We must be careful not to take these things as law, but has grace-filled / rooted effort!

–       Highlights the death, burial and resurrection of Christ

–       He is our Salvation

–       What He did!  Who He is!

–       Remember Christ is why suffering is enabled in us!  The scriptures will prevail and because it’s the Word that is powerful, our suffering is warranted.

–       It is for the sake of the lost – Be Faithful!

Faithful Commendation of a Faithful Savior (2:11-13)

–       If we persevere and remain faithful, we will be with Him

–       If Jesus Christ is our greatest joy then there is nothing more satisfying than being with Him forever.

–       Will we remain faithful?  Will we endure?

–       Some become faithless and eventually deny Christ, proving to be unregenerate.

–       The last line is for you… If faithless, HE REMAINS FAITHFUL!  Why?  He cannot deny Himself! (He is not talking about an unregenerate pastor.  He’s talking about our weak, lazy, selfish work in ministry)

–       Even our unfaithfulness cannot undo the power of the gospel (reflect on the cross in the faithfulness of God in your ministry – Humility)

NOTE:  Look at practical decisions to live out this vision for hard-working, time-efficient, soldiering, running, farming type of pastoral ministry.


As I look back over this week and remember the consistency of the message by Paul to charge Timothy to be faithful even in the midst of hardship, I am challenged on so many levels.  As much as I feel that overall I’m a hard-worker in ministry I know that (probably like many of you) I’m fooled by my busy-ness to presume that I’m effective.

Paul’s use of these images for ministry all are very productive in the task at hand.  Focused.  I’m not focused like I should be.  I aim to be more focused, just as we are working very hard this year to focus the ministry and schedule of UBC.  My hopes by the end of this year for UBC is to be more efficient and effective in equipping the saints for every good work.  To do this, I have to BE this.

There’s no doubt I am busy.  But I would be a fool to think that all that I’m doing is the right thing to be doing.  God has equipped us with EVERYTHING we need pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) including the energy and effort needed to do those things (2 Peter 1:4-10).  So, we just have to make sure that our great effort is being given to personal godliness and ministry effectiveness (according to biblical standards).

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