Paul’s Preparation for Eternity
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
In this, the last letter he wrote, the apostle Paul knows he does not have much longer to live; and states he is ready to die. How could he say this? He was ready to die because he had made preparations for eternity as we all must do. What did this man do to prepare for eternity?
Fought A Good Fight
As Paul looked at his life, he likened it to a fight. Sadly, before his conversion, he fought “tooth and nail” against the Lord (Acts 7-9). Since that time, he fought hard for the Lord (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
After his conversion, Paul the apostle wasted no time in declaring the truth (Acts 9:17-22). He waged a battle for the hearts and souls of men in such places as Damascus, Jerusalem, and Paphos (Acts 9:23-25, 29-30, 13:6-12). He also fought against the unbelieving Jews in Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:38-51). He and Barnabas also entered into Iconium, preaching the gospel to those who eventually would refuse the truth (Acts 14:1-7).
Please note that Paul was not simply fighting with people, but fighting a “good fight.” He told Timothy that he must wage a “good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18). How can this be? Most people, even some Christians, look at preachers who are willing to fight for the truth as “trouble-makers.” Evidently, these same people lived in Paul’s day, too. They thought he was “fickle, changeable,” “contemptible,” and “rude in speech” (2 Corinthians 1:17, 10:10, 11:6). Paul could truly say he fought a “good fight” because he was standing for the truth!! He was not afraid of folks’ words, nor dismayed by their looks (Ezekiel 2:6). He stood for the truth and proclaimed it regardless of the consequences! As a result, he could truly say, “I have fought a good fight.” Are you fighting the “good fight” for God? Do you support others who are fighting (Matthew 10:40-42).
Finished My Course/Race
When studying, we see this is not the first time he talked about life as a fight and race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, we read, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul placed great emphasis on “finishing” his race. Too many do not have what it takes to finish the race! We could name many who began to serve Christ, but stopped after a time, couldn’t we? (2 Timothy 4:10)
Why could Paul finish his course? It is because he had self-control (1 Corinthians 9:27)! He knew how to be content in whatever situation he faced (Philippians 4:11-13)! This is very important. Too many get discouraged and quit the Lord because they are not content to do what God says and be what He makes them! Too, Paul also had a goal to reach (Philippians 3:13-14)! Other things could be said about him, such as his strong stand for the truth and courage to stand against false brethren (false teachers) (2 Timothy 2:16-18, 4:10, 15). Let us determine to be as Paul and finish the course/race we started with the Lord!
Kept The Faith
With these words, this man of God declares that he was not “wishy-washy.” He was not constantly changing from faithful-to-unfaithful and back again. Paul was not a “fair-weather Christian.” (i.e. being faithful and serving when it was convenient for him.) I know this because of the things Paul faced daily (scourgings, shipwreck, dealings in the city, country, with false brethren, destitute, hungry, and “church-problems,” 2 Corinthians 11:23-28). These things would make most people ““throw up their hands and quit.” Not Paul! He said, "I have kept the faith."
We must do the same if we will see Heaven (I Corinthians 15:58). Timothy was told, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Timothy 4:16). Are we keeping the faith? If not, let us repent today and follow the apostle Paul’s example (I Corinthians 11:1).
What is the result of preparing? We receive a crown given to us by the Lord (v. 8). What have you done to prepare for eternity? Think about it! We must prepare ourselves while we can (2 Corinthians 6:2).