ST. LOUIS – Endurance for the gospel was the theme for the CORE session of the 178th annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) taught by Tony Merida, pastor for preaching and vision at Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C., and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.
“Endurance is not big events,” he said, “but, long obedience in the same direction.”
Merida pointed to statistics about those who have dropped out or disqualified themselves from serving.
“Paul is teaching Timothy in 2 Tim. 2,” he said, “to endure despite the crazy teachers, defectors, detractors and others in the church by the power of God.”
Merida highlighted several steps to help believers persevere with the message of Jesus. First, he said to “Live on the gospel” is important.
“We are strong by grace in Christ Jesus,” he said, “His grace is enabling and it is a daily union with Jesus Christ.”
Merida gave the example of Charles Spurgeon’s work.
“Pointing to all the sermons, writings and other accomplishments of Spurgeon,” he said, “someone asked him how he got it all done. Spurgeon said, ‘You forget there are two of us.’”
The second step to endurance is to “Pass on the gospel.” Merida said, “Verse 2, instructs Timothy to find reliable men who can teach. Leaders need to do the same thing, find faithful men who can teach.”
“We have a platform of public proclamation and classroom occasions,” Merida said, “but, we must do more life-on-life teaching and encouraging. Jesus poured His life into 12 men who changed the world.”
Merida described “notebook lunches” he has as a mentor.
“I set these up and they come with questions so we don’t waste any time,” he said. “If you make the decision to mentor, you may discover a new passion to disciple the younger guys.”
According to Merida, the examples Paul lists in chapter 2 are important for endurance.
“The first picture is of the dedicated soldier,” he said. “Don’t quit or complain about hardship, expect it. Paul says it is a bad soldier who gets distracted from the mission. Then, he points to the training of the athlete.”
Merida talked about the fame of today’s athlete.
“Many want to be athletes and to live like athletes,” he said, “but, they don’t want to put in the practice it takes. Many Christians are like that. They want the blessing, but not God’s rules. It is a lesson in integrity. There are no shortcuts or silver bullets.”
The hard-working farmer is the final example.
“This is the ministry in reality,” Merida said. “The big conferences, the podcasts are not what it is about. It is not glorious. It is getting up early and shooting the wolves, doing the work and enduring to the end to see the fruit.”
The final step Merida gave in the CORE session was to remember the hero of the gospel. “How could we forget?” he asked. “Taking our eye off of Him will do it. We must remember the tomb is empty and the throne is occupied. Our vision should be Jesus in glory and we are doing it all because of Jesus.”