Pass it On

Pass it On

“Pass it On”
(2 Timothy 2:2)
Series: Disciples Who Make Disciples (3 of 7)

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson

Take your Bibles and join me in 2 Timothy, chapter 2 (page 800; YouVersion).

We are in a special series of messages on discipleship, a series entitled, “Disciples Who Make Disciples.” We are discovering what the Bible teaches about being a learner and follower of Jesus.

We have noted that discipleship is not a program. It’s not a class. Like one hour from 5-6 on Sunday evenings. Discipleship may include a class, but it is not a class itself. Because discipleship is not a program, but a process.

Discipleship is a process of life transformation that begins with trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and growing over the period of our entire lives. And—and this is so important to our study—and discipleship is our inviting others to follow us on the journey. So we are growing and we invite others to grow along with us. Discipleship is saying, “Come follow me as I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ.”

Robby Gallaty in his book, Rediscovering Discipleship, says, “As a disciple-maker, all you’re doing is pointing to the one your’e following and saying to those around you, ‘Come with me; I’m following him (79).’”

in 2 Timothy 2, there is a verse that is so helpful to our study. I want to read the verse, pray, and then we’ll talk about the verse, grounding it in its proper context and then we’ll open it up and sort of spread it out so we can see it all and delight in all it has to offer us. 2 Timothy 2:2.

The Apostle Paul is writing to his young mentor friend and pastor in Ephesus. He has written about the wonderful gospel and has encouraged Timothy to remain faithful to it. He has just said to him in the opening verse of chapter 2, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Then, verse 2, he makes this statement that is the verse and focus of our study, 2 Timothy 2:2. It’s a good memory verse.

Please stand in honor of the reading of the Word of God.

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.


A year ago last December Reuters News agency reported an interesting story about how an old photograph prompted a search for a secret recipe that had been lost for 70 years.

Two history enthusiasts in Poland found the photograph, a picture of a Polish gingerbread maker and his daughter. They traced the father and daughter back to the village of Bardo, famed for making a particular kind of gingerbread, for which the recipe dated back to the late 1400s.

After World War II the village of Bardo, which previously belonged to Germany, became Polish territory and, in turn, gingerbread bakers such as the one depicted in the photograph were forced to leave Poland. Reuters reports, “The tiny village of Bardo had only half a dozen families living there, with recipes kept secret and only passed [on] from father to son.”

With the death of this man’s son in 1967, there was no one left to pass on the tradition, and so the famed gingerbread went out of production. And these history enthusiasts were trying to track down the recipe lost from a 500-year-old tradition.

I find stuff like that fascinating! And I hope those guys succeed in finding something that was so important that it had been carefully passed on from one generation to the next until it was tragically lost in recent history.

This was Paul’s concern—not with gingerbread, but with the gospel! He says, “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 was concerned that the truth he had received from the Lord be carefully preserved over the years and carefully passed on to others, the message protected and passed on through the multiplying discipleship of one person to the next. Disciples who make disciples.

I want to talk about that this morning. The message is entitled, “Pass it On.” Back when we were going verse-by-verse through 2 Timothy we mentioned this metaphor of the gospel being passed on carefully from one person to the next—like a running back receiving the football carefully from the quarterback and running the ball forward without fumbling it. Well, we don’t want to fumble the gospel. We want to receive it carefully and then pass it on to someone else.

Pass it on. Everyone say, “Pass it on.” Pass it on.

This passage concerns primarily the passing on of the gospel to faithful men who are able to teach the gospel to others. It seems that Paul has in mind primarily those men such as Timothy who are involved in church leadership—because not everyone has the gift of teaching, for example. So Paul says, “The things you have heard from me…commit these to faithful men who are able to teach others.”

And yet, in this verse there is a clear principle that emerges, a principle of discipleship applicable to every member of the church, every man, woman, boy, girl, senior adult. In fulfillment of our Lord’s Great Commission, we are each of us to pass along to others the biblical message, developing generations of God-glorifying disciples who make disciples from the community to the continents. Remember, that’s our church’s vision. Let’s put it up on the wall:

Vision: To develop generations of God-glorifying Disciples Who Make Disciples from the community to the continents.

That’s our church’s vision. That’s why we exist. That’s why we are living on planet earth. That’s what we’re about here. Disciples who make disciples.

We’ve noted that discipleship is not about being a people who merely schedule events or host weekend worship experiences. Discipleship is not a program, but a process. It is informational but also relational.

Look at Jesus. He was teaching, and teaching in various ways, living before the people and interacting with people, building relationships with people.

Relational ministry helps us see the value of “servant evangelism,” activities like our “Henderson I Love You” service projects. We are building relationships, modeling the love of Christ. It is relational gospel work with a view to sharing the information of the gospel.

So discipleship is not a program, but a process.

I’m excited for our Sunday school classes beginning in March, adults and students going through the new Lifeway Sunday school literature on discipleship. It’s called, “The Journey,” and it’s a one-year study with a view to developing disciples who make even more disciples. Discipleship is a journey, a process.

So I want to draw out this reasonable implication from verse 2, the teaching of discipleship in general—because what Paul teaches Timothy about leadership in particular, applies to each and every Christian concerning discipleship in general.

I’ve said before that I believe deep down inside everyone of us is a disciple-maker! We are created in God’s image so we mirror Him. Deep down we want to please our Creator. We were designed by God to glorify Him by doing what pleases Him and when we do that, we feel right about it. It feels good to us because we are following Him according to His Word. We want to be disciple-makers.

So here are three (3) Commitments of Disciple-Makers. First, we are committed to the:

Biblical Message (2a)

We don’t want to hastily move through this verse and talk about mentoring and multiplying without first talking about the message. Look again at verse 2. Paul says:

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.

The things that you have heard. What things? Paul is referring primarily to the Gospel—the Gospel teachings in all their fulness. Look above this passage, look at chapter 1, verses 13-14:

13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus
14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us

The things that you have heard are the things referring to the biblical message of the gospel.

These are things, Paul writes, “that you have heard from me among many witnesses,” and this may be a reference to Paul’s teaching ministry, a teaching that occurred before “many witnesses.”

But the point is that we must be committed to the biblical message. Discipleship means to be a learner and follower of Jesus—but we are not merely following the example of Jesus Christ, we are following the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The glorious Gospel! Paul opens this letter to Timothy by referring to the Gospel as, “The promise of life.” See that in verse 1 of chapter 1? “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” That’s shorthand for the gospel!!

Have you received the gospel? It is life. The promise of life which is in Christ Jesus. And it’s not just eternal life—when you die you go to heaven, though that is great! But the gospel is the promise of life, which means it is also the promise of life today. It is a new identity in Christ today, right now.

So many people are trying to find validation and identity in their jobs, or school, or weight-loss, or relationships, or grades, or fashion, or friendships. The wrong thinking is, “If I can just get this job, or get into that school, or lose 40 pounds, or meet that person, then—then!—then I will be truly happy because then I will be really special.

That’s why so many people vacillate from one mood to the next. Even many professing Christians, up and down. One moment happy, one moment sad. We’re like those inflatables at the used car lots, the wacky waving inflatable tube man, up one moment, down the next. Up and down. We’re up and down because we’re trying to locate joy in something other than Jesus. We’re trying to find meaning, purpose, and identity in something other than the Lord.

You locate our meaning, purpose, and identity in Christ, you won’t waver between one thing and the next. Your mood may change, but your identity is secure. All you need do is pause for a moment and preach the Gospel to yourself. Just say:

I believe in Jesus. And though I am often weak—weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed—yet I am in Christ. I am secure in Jesus. I have turned from my sin and turned to my Savior. And though I am weak, I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope or could imagine. Thank You that You accept me not on the basis of my pitiful performance, but You accept me on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness given to me. So, thank You, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole. Thank You Lord for giving to me, Thy great salvation so rich, so free!

This is the biblical message we receive. And this is the biblical message we pass on.

So the first commitment of a disciple-maker is a commitment to the biblical message. Number two; the second commitment of a disciple-maker is a commitment to:

Biblical Mentoring (2b)

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.

Commit these teachings to faithful men, to others. Mentoring. “A relationship in which one person guides and passes on information to another person, equipping that person to guide and pass on information to yet another person.”

So Bible teaching is not about just delivering information. We don’t just dump information onto people so that they merely “soak up” the teaching. This is the danger of a church that offers a number of bible studies. We can offer an endless number of bible studies, but we must teach the people who come to the studies that they are not merely to “soak up” the teaching. Like a heavy sponge that just moves from one spill to the next, never wringing out, just soaking in.

It’s good to “soak up,” but then we’ve got to “squeeze out!” We’re not to be consumers of the truth, but contributors of the truth. Gotta both “soak up” and then “squeeze out.” If you’re a Sunday school teacher or the leader of a bible study, do you make sure that those who come to the teaching are also sharing what they learn with others? Do you give others an opportunity to share in the class—share a testimony, an insight, or teach? Are you reproducing other teachers to begin other classes?

How else will they learn if you don’t give them an opportunity to teach?

Disciple-makers are not just committed to the biblical message, they are committed to biblical mentoring.

We noted last time from Ephesians 4 the biblical role of church leaders in this regard. Ephesians 4:11-13:

And He Himself (the Lord) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the church to do the work of ministry, so that the church is built up.

Church leaders are not merely to dispense information as though distributing content to consumers. There is equipping involved. There is mentoring involved.

Alex Absalom and Greg Nettle, have a helpful little book entitled, Disciples Who Make Disciples. That’s a great book title! In it, these church leaders write:

One of the things that we have observed in the attractional model of church [a church focusing on attracting people to a big worship event] is that many people bring their friends to church so that they can follow the example of the ‘paid professionals’. The problem is that the real job of the paid professionals is to equip all of us to be disciples who make disciples. We should be followers of Jesus who simply say, ‘Come follow my example’.

2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men. Follow my example.

They writers add:
For years we have kept track of how many people attend our weekend worship services. For years we have counted how much money is given. In some cases how many hands are raised and in others how many baptisms occur. But what we would contend is that it is time for us to start measuring how many disciples are making disciples.

Yes, how many of us here are involved in disciple-making? That’s what we really should be measuring. This is biblical.

To quote Robby Gallaty again, in his book Rediscovering Discipleship, “Discipleship wasn’t a ministry of the first-century church. It was the ministry of the church (85).”

Disciple-making is relational not just informational. And discipleship is not merely information, but also imitation.

Follow me as I follow Him.

Do you know a person you can disciple, someone you can mentor? Does a name come to mind? Maybe a couple people. Do you know someone you could approach and say, “You know, I don’t know everything, but there are some things I have learned and I’d like to pass the on to you. Would you be interested in my discipling you, mentoring you?”

Tony Merida, who teaches preaching at Southeastern Seminary, writes about the importance of personal mentoring in smaller groups with a few disciples, contrasting that with preaching to big audience. He says:

You could think of teaching like the three types of golf clubs. You have woods, irons, and a putter. The woods are big, showy, and impressive. That is like preaching publicly. You are able to cover a lot of ground, talking to lots of people.

Then you have irons. They require finesse and accuracy. Irons are like classrooms or smaller groups, where you get feedback and dialogue.

Then there is the putter! This is the club that poor golfers misunderstand and so often fail to practice with! It is personal. It is for short distances…While you need all three clubs in your bag, my observation has been that many pastors have a pulpit ministry (a driver), and sometimes a classroom (irons), but few use their putter (mentoring a few “faithful men”).

He adds:

But what did Jesus do? Did He not pour His life into the Twelve? Sure, He occasionally used His irons and driver too, on hillsides and in the synagogues, but Jesus was not building buildings. He was building men.

And similarly, disciple-makers are committed to biblical mentoring. Identifying a person or two you can pour yourself into. Someone to whom you can say, “I don’t know everything, but there are some things I have learned and I’d like to pass the on to you. Would you be interested in my discipling you, mentoring you?”

Before I share the last commitment, take a look at the bulletin insert entitled, “Your Testimony.” This is another recent resource our church has made available to help you in your discipleship.

This guide is helpful both to you as you share your testimony, as well as being a help to you as you mentor others, disciple others, help others to write and share their testimony.

A testimony is simply “your story about what God has done in your life. Some are dramatic and include radical shifts in lifestyle and thinking. Others are the sweet story of growing up in a Christian home…” but everyone has a testimony. Can you share yours, your testimony, your story? That’s what this little guide will help you do.

So we give it to you today to take home and look over and take out a sheet of paper and jot down your story. AW Tozier said, “Only a disciple can make a disciple.” So get familiar with your testimony. It will give you confidence as a disciple who makes disciples of others.

So a disciple-maker is committed to the biblical message, and biblical mentoring. These two commitments lead to the third. Biblical message and biblical mentoring leads to:

Biblical Multiplication (2c)

We are passing on the powerful, life-changing message of the gospel from one person to the next, one generation to the next, one friend to another, one student to another.

Disciples who make disciples; multiplying and reproducing ourselves, passing on the Gospel to future generations as together we build the kingdom of God. This truth is captured in the last part of verse 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.

The gospel doesn’t end with us. We hear it, receive it, and then pass it on to others. That means we pass on everything we know about what it means to be a learner and a follower of Jesus. Everything.

We multiply and reproduce ourselves in the lives of others. Are you doing that, moms and dads? Sunday school teacher—multiplying and reproducing yourself. Deacon? Are you multiplying and reproducing yourself, passing along to others what you know?

Every single one of us is to multiply and reproduce ourselves.

Let’s finish our study this morning by saying verse 2 together, okay? Verse 2, say this together now:

“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.”

And unlike that gingerbread recipe that’s been lost for 500 years, God has enabled His children to successfully pass on the teaching of the gospel from one generation to the next, for 2,000 years. Let’s keep passing it along for the glory of God.

Stand for prayer.

Before we pray, I quoted AW Tozier earlier. He’s the one who said, “Only a disciple can make a disciple.” Are you a disciple of Jesus? Have you received the gospel? Are you saved? Have you received the biblical message, “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus?” Come this morning and give your heart to Christ.

If you are saved, are you reproducing yourself and multiplying yourself? When we sing in a moment and we ask the Lord to show us our labor, show us what we should do, commit your life to pouring into others. Begin identifying one or two persons you can develop and disciple.

Maybe you can’t say, “Come follow me as I follow Him?” because you’re in sin. Repent this morning. Say, “God forgive me for my sin, I repent, and I turn to You afresh and anew.”

We’re going to sing, “Here am I” and when we do, you respond however the Lord leads. You want to join the church, be baptized, come for prayer. Come forward while we sing and simply say, “I’d like to join the church,” or, “I’m coming for baptism,” or however the Lord wants you to respond, you come.

Let’s pray…

Dear God, we know that only a disciple can make a disciple. Lord, I ask that You draw new disciples to Your side right now. Save souls right now. Give folks the courage to come and trust You right now. We follow You in obedience to Your word, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing and you come however you need to respond.

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