Union University R. G. Lee Society of Fellows

"Soldiers in the 
Savior's Service"
II Timothy 2:3-4; 4:7-8

by Dr. W. H. Sims, III
Pastor, First Baptist Church
Union City, TN

Dr. W.H. Sims, III

On June 18, 1940, Churchill said to England, “What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of civilization. Upon it depends our own British life and our empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy will soon be turned upon us. Hitler knows he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. Let us therefore give ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British commonwealth and empire last one thousand years, men will say: ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”[1]

As servants of the LORD we are compelled to give ourselves to the service of our LORD. Paul the Apostle wrote to Timothy, his son in the gospel ministry, to be on guard every moment. Paul knew the devil would attack Timothy with everything he could throw against him. Paul desired Timothy to look above and find trust and tenacity in the God of grace and glory.

Let us notice the avenues believers may find in our Savior’s service.

I.      Avenue number one: A Soldier is a Follower of the LORD (II Timothy 2:3).

A.        Following the LORD implies a relationship. This relationship is accepting Jesus as LORD and Savior. This relationship is constantly growing in the admonition of God’s Word. Even through suffering, stress and sadness our relationship is to be closely drawn to the LORD.

On a Sunday morning in 1898 R. G. Lee was attending a revival service at which the preacher spoke on “The Gates of Heaven.” After spending a sleepless night, feeling miserable and sinful, R. G. Lee arose and went to the fields. He said, “I had to plow that day, and got down by the side of Barney, my old white mule. I told God that I felt awfully bad – awfully sinful, and I wanted to be saved. On August 5, 1898, he was baptized in the First Baptist Church of Fort Mill, South Carolina by Dr. E. S. Reaves.”[2]

R. G. Lee, who influenced many, truly had a dynamic relationship with the LORD. This relationship is for everyone, all over the world.

B.        Following the LORD implies a rank. Every soldier of God is under Jesus and is responsible for following His explicit instructions. Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” Jesus is our Captain and we must not lose sight of the truth that God is in total control. In Luke 9:62 Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” When we turn our life over to the LORD, He can turn nobodies into somebodies, broken dreams into realities, and shattered hearts into wholeness. God must be in control.

II.     Avenue number two: A Soldier is Faithful to the LORD (II Timothy 2:3-4; 4:7b).

A.        Faithfulness to our LORD implies patience. Every soldier must endure until the end. There is no place for quitters. A good soldier realizes that there will be troubles, trails, and triumphs along the way and is not detoured by them. He understands that pain, problems, and perplexities are part of the Christian life.

Shortly after R. G. Lee’s conversion experience, an urgent conviction came to him like a “lightening flash” that he must preach the Gospel of Christ. He constantly prayed, “O, LORD, help me to preach someday.”[3]  He promised the LORD that if He would help him, he would win people to Christ. He kept his promise faithfully, even through difficulty and distress.

B.        Faithfulness to our LORD implies proper priorities. Notice that a faithful soldier has no higher goal in life than in pleasing His Superior. The soldier knows that anything that dims his performance must be cleansed. Pleasing Jesus must take top priority in every soldier’s life.

R. G. Lee in his early years of service attended Sunday School and church services regularly. On one occasion the Sunday School superintendent at Fort Mill offered a large Bible picture to his pupils for each visitor whom they brought to Sunday School. The next Sunday R. G. Lee brought more than forty boys. Several years later in a revival meeting conducted by George W. Truett, Lee led his first person to Christ.[4]

As R. G. Lee placed Jesus first in His life, so we must place Jesus first in our lives. It was not what Robert Louis Stephenson did for himself, but what he did for others. William Carey did nothing for himself that made him great, only what he did for others. When it took Carey five years to win his first convert in India, while his little son died and wife become seriously ill, he still served others. Priorities must be in order, Jesus first and others for the Master.

III.    Avenue number three: A Soldier is Familiar with the truths of the LORD  (II Timothy 2:7).

A.        Serving the LORD implies familiarity with the sound of the Commander’s voice.  Paul closed this verse with a prayer that the LORD would grant Timothy a thorough understanding of spiritual truths. This understanding would only come by listening to the voice of the LORD.

Statistics and comparisons do not tell the whole story of a man’s ministry, but they do give some indication of its effectiveness. To illustrate:  Spurgeon’s ministry of thirty-eight years received 14,700 new members;387 per year. During Truett’s ministry of forty-seven years the church received 19,331 new members; 416 per year. During R. G. Lee’s ministry of thirty-two years, 23,721 additions were made to the church; 741 per year.[5] These facts reveal godly men who listened to the tender, true voice of Jesus.

B.        Following the LORD implies familiarity with strategy of the enemy. Paul warned Timothy of the evil devices of the devil. If the devil could stop Timothy, the work would suffer. Paul urged Timothy to be on the alert for all the evil attacks brought on by Satan.

A group of clergymen were discussing whether or not they ought to invite Dwight L. Moody to their city. The success of the famed evangelist was brought to the attention of the men. One unimpressed minister commented, “Does Mr. Moody have a monopoly on the Holy Ghost?”  Another man quietly replied. “No, but the Holy Ghost seems to have a monopoly on Mr. Moody.”[6]

Oh, my every prayer, “LORD, have a monopoly on my life. Ever restrain me from the snares of the evil one.”

IV.    Avenue number four: A Soldier is a Fighter for our LORD  (II Timothy 4:7).

A.        Serving the LORD implies determination. The good soldier does not retreat in the face of his foe. He stands his ground and fights the battle until the very end.

“One step won’t take you very far, you’ve got to keep on walking. One word won’t tell folks who you are; you’ve got to keep on talking. One inch won’t make you very tall; you’ve got to keep on growing. One deed won’t do it all, you’ve got to keep on going.”

B.        Serving the LORD implies dedication. The good soldier dedicates himself to serving his Master.  He is determined to live for the LORD in any situation. Paul was dedicated to serving the LORD, and encouraged Timothy to stay on course. Paul experienced many victories and defeats, yet he remained dedicated to his LORD. Paul was “sold-out” to his LORD. Nothing could replace what Jesus had given to Paul.

George Stephenson spent fifteen years to perfect the locomotive. Field’s crossed the ocean fifty times to lay cable so mankind could talk across the oceans. Most railroad executives treated Westinghouse as a mild lunatic, yet he persevered and finally sold the air-brake idea.[7]

The greatest cause in the world is serving Jesus. As a soldier in the LORD’s army you must remain dedicated to the fields God has placed in your life.

V.     Avenue number five: A Soldier is a Finisher for our LORD (II Timothy 4:7-8).

A.        Serving the LORD implies a readiness from the soldier. Paul viewed the Christian soldier standing in the strength of His Commander. This unending strength would forever keep the soldier ready for battle. This strength would supply all power for any battle.

A young boy who had a pet mongrel dog was walking down the street. When a man asked the boy what kind of dog it was the young fellow replied confidently, “a police dog.” The man said he did not think the dog looked much like a police dog. Undeterred the boy spoke up proudly, “He’s in the Secret Service.”

B.        Serving the LORD implies a reward for the soldier. When Paul wrote to Timothy he wrote as a father to a son, as a master to a student, and as a captain to a new recruit. As a Christian soldier, Paul encouraged Timothy to serve Christ’s army “to please Him.” He also reminded Timothy of the crown that followed for those who completed the fight. Paul contemplated the victor’s crown to be worn on the day of victory. However, we should be aware that there is no crown without a cross. For those who stay in the battle, there will come a glad day of blessing. They will hear the LORD say, “well done thou good and faithful servant..” (Matthew 25:21,23) .

In 1863, John Roebling and his son Washington were inspired to build a bridge that would connect Manhattan Island to Brooklyn. Everyone throughout the world told Roebling to forget it, this idea seemed absurd. With unharnessed excitement and inspiration they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge. The project was only a few months under construction when a tragic accident took the life of John Roebling and severely injured his son Washington. Even though Washington was unable to move or talk, his mind was sharp and he still had a burning desire to complete the bridge. For thirteen years, Washington tapped out his instructions with his fingers until the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge was finally completed.[8]

God is looking for serving soldiers who will fight to the end. May our daily challenge rest in the fact that God is able to strengthen us and subdue all of our foes. May we give Him our best and serve the LORD until the very end.

Written by Dr. W. H. Sims, III
Pastor, First Baptist Church
Union City, TN


[1] Lee, Robert G. Bread from Bellevue Oven, (Sword Of The LORD Publishers, 1954), p. 150.
[2] Gericke, Paul. The Preaching of R. G. Lee, (Christ For The World Publications, 1967), p. 34.
[3] Ibid., p. 43.
[4] Ibid., p. 46.
[5] Ibid., p. 53.
[6] Tan, Paul Lee. Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, (Assurance Publishers, Rockville, Maryland, 1979), p. 996.
[7] Ibid., p. 196.
[8] Ibid., p. 397.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. William H. Sims is the pastor of First Baptist Church, Union City, TN.  He is a 1983 graduate of Union University and received the  masters of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  He and his wife Nancy have two children, Andrew and Hannah.


Joanna Moore, Campus Ministries & Church Services

R.G. Lee Center for Christian Ministry