Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 17, 1969
NUMBER 49, PAGE 5c-8

A Charge To Christian Youth

Mike Creel

I challenge you to take your place in the Church! Every Christian has his proper place in the Lord's work regardless of his age. Your youth does not excuse you from your responsibilities, but rather it gives you an advantage in many ways. I do not challenge you to be an "average Christian," but more than that, be an "example of the believers." I believe that too often we young Christians are overlooked by our elders (I do not mean bishops only), but something which is worse, we tend to slight ourselves and overlook our own responsibilities. Let us study together and apply to ourselves Paul's charge to Timothy in our text.

I. Paul told the young man Timothy in I Timothy 4:12 to "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." Young people, because of your age, adults are going to misunderstand you; they may even unintentionally discourage you from developing into a strong Christian. I think this has been the case in many instances. Do not permit this to happen; do not settle for being a halfhearted Christian. Take a stand! Go all the way and become an "example of the believers." Only you can prevent adults from despising your youth.

An Example

You have the responsibility to teach and there are two ways you can do it. You can teach by word of mouth, like Peter did in Acts 2 on Pentecost, or you may teach by example. The example is always necessary; no matter how much you talk to someone, you will never teach him unless you set a good example. Christians are to be the "salt of the earth" and "the light of the world"; you are not to hide your light, but rather let it shine so you can lead others to Christ (Mt. 5:13-16). You have to hold "forth the word of life" as your banner while living here (Phil. 2:13-16) showing to others that Christ is living in you as Paul stated in Galatians 2:20. You, as a Christian, are chosen and separated so that you can be a light in the world. (I Pet. 2:9). You could not be a light or a leader if you were still part of the world, so you have been separated by virtue of being a Christian.


You are to be an example "in word." You can usually tell what type of person one is by the way he talks. In Ephesians 4:29 we read, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Say only those things which will make others stronger, that is, that which will edify. You cannot be a good Christian and let obscene words "slip out," because your words are just symptoms of the condition of your heart. In Matthew 15:18-20 we read, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile a man..." Again in James 3:8-10, "But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." These people are the ones of whom Christ speaks in Matthew 15:8, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." Their hearts are truly far from God. Christians have died to sin (Rom. 6:11), been buried and raised with Christ in baptism and have taken on a clean spiritual body free from sin for all sin has been put away (Rom. 6:1-6, Col. 2:12). In this condition Christians have set their affections on more important things (Col. 3:1-3) and have "also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of their mouths." (Col. 3:8). "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." (Jas. 1:26). Do you need to correct your language? Take heed and be an example.


You are to be an example in conversation, that is, in your manner of life. Paul said, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called." (Eph. 4:1). Your vocation is being a Christian, and it is a hard job to be a good one; but it is worth all the work necessary. In Philippians 1:27 Paul again says, "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."

Paul is talking about your everyday life or your conduct, is it becoming to the gospel of Christ? He again says in I Timothy 3:14-15, "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." The house of God is His household or family; and as long as you are a child of God, you are in his family, and should behave as a child of God.

Do you? Does your life bring reproach upon your family? Take heed and be an example.


You are to be an example in charity, that is, in love. You cannot exhibit a love like that known by the world: loving your neighbors and hating your enemies. Christ tells us to love even our enemies in Matthew 5:44, "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven..." It is not our place to take vengeance when we have been wronged, but to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:19-21). John says in I John 3:15 that "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer..." You should not display the world's love but rather, Christian love. We are separated from the world, and we must be different. Take heed and be an example.


You are to be an example in spirit. Many good examples in spirit are needed now in the Church. We see so much indifference, indolence, and slothfulness, (next time you go to the zoo, look up the sloth and see if he reminds you of anyone in the Church). We need to see more zealousness and attitude of work. Why be half-hearted? You may as well quit altogether since God will reject the lukewarm and infidel alike (Rev. 3:14-16). Never be satisfied with being a "half-way" Christian, go all out or nothing! Lukewarm Christians are a disgrace and a shame to the Church. Do not remain a babe in Christ too long, as the Corinthians and some of the Hebrew Christians did (I Cor. 3:1, Heb. 5:12). Grow up and be zealous; let nothing stand in your way - crush every barrier and march on! Be an example.


You are to be an example in faith. All "faith" will not save, only that which is in God and is strong enough to motivate you to obey (Heb. 11:6, Jas. 2:17). Develop faith (Rom. 10:17 — by studying God's word) which will cause you to fully trust in God. A faith which will keep you certain of salvation even in the face of the storm, not like that of Peter in Matthew 14:28-30. Never let your faith waver (Jas. 1:6) but rather "be ye steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (I Cor. 15:58). Be an example!


You are to be an example in purity. It is sad to see those who have become impure, those who have no moral values, especially those who are in this condition and are associated with the Church. If you count yourself as belonging to God, and therefore having his promises, you ought to cleanse yourself "from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God," (II Cor. 7:1). Be separate from the evil of the world (II Cor. 6:14-17); you no longer have any fellowship with it, and you certainly cannot inherit the kingdom of God if by the flesh you are led to do the works thereof. (Gal. 5:17-21). There will always be an inward war between your spiritual desire and your fleshly desire. If you destroy the desire of the flesh by the spirit, you will have eternal life; but if you are led by the flesh, you will die (Rom. 8:13). Even Paul had this problem; he had to control his fleshly desires so that he would attain that goal else even he be lost after preaching to others. (I Cor. 9:27). Refuse to do those things that your associates do that are wrong; it will be difficult, but you must expect many more difficult and challenging trials; this is one of the first. Be an example, you can do it!

II. Paul further admonished Timothy, "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee..."(I Tim. 4:13-14).


You are to read, study, and learn God's will. Without knowledge, you cannot remain a faithful child of God. (Hos. 4:6). "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Tim. 2:15). Can you "rightly divide" or "handle aright" God's word? You are to prepare yourself to defend the word and always be ready with your defense, (I Pet. 3:15). Study must be continuous and continual. A lack of study in recent years on the part of many has caused many "workmen" to be ashamed. Be sure to study your Bible daily and diligently. You cannot have too much knowledge (II Pet. 3:18, I Pet. 2:1-2); zeal will not compensate for a lack of knowledge; without knowledge your zeal would be vain. (Rom. 10:2). Be an example!


You are to give attendance to exhortation. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost to Jews who were in Jerusalem. In his sermon he taught them about Christ and told them what they should do to be saved. At the conclusion of his sermon Peter "...exhorted them saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation."' (Acts 2:40 RSV). In other words, Peter taught them and then urged them to obey. It is your duty to preach the gospel (Mk. 16:15-16). Every Christian must yield fruit to the Lord or else he will be cast into the fire (Jno. 15:1-6). However, it is not enough to make sure others know the truth, you must also exhort them to obey. Paul told Timothy in II Tim. 4:2, Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." Take advantage of every opportunity to exhort others, when it is inconvenient as well as when it is convenient; be patient. This does not only apply to those outside of Christ but also those who are Christians who need exhortation to be able to walk closer to God. Christians encourage one another as we work together and thereby are enabled to live better Christian lives. Fewer become unfaithful when each exhorts the other and the exhortation is received and given in love. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb. 3:13). Always look forward to assembling with fellow Christians, for the assembly should be a source of strength and encouragement. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Heb. 10:25). Not only be able to exhort (purely motivated by love and in a humble manner, I Peter 5:5) but also be able to accept exhortation and profit by it being thankful that a brother or sister loves you enough to care about your soul. Be sure first of all you live your sermons. Preach the gospel having Paul's attitude expressed in Romans 1:14-15, "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." and in I Cor. 9:16, "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for the necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" Preaching the gospel is your debt and it is necessary for you to be a Christian, but remember that preaching is teaching and exhortation. You do not need a pulpit in order to preach, teach and exhort everyone you can; this applies to both young men and young women. Be an example!


You are to give attendance to doctrine, that is, to teaching and instruction. Assiduously adhere to the scriptures for they are the only source of teaching. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Tim. 3:16-17). If you wander away from the doctrine you are lost without God. We are warned in II John 9, "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching (doctrine KJV) of Christ, hath not God: He that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son." (American Standard Version) You must rely entirely on what has been revealed by inspiration in the scriptures. Understand what you believe; have no convictions based upon what others say, custom, or what you merely think is right or wrong. Prove all of your convictions by the Bible. (I Thess. 5:21). Have your convictions as a result of diligent Bible study and thus by faith (Rom. 10:17) remembering that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Rom. 14:23). Consider the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Be open minded but as narrow as the scriptures themselves. Do not form your convictions by what your parents or preacher believes, though you admire and respect them; such convictions would not be of faith in God's word. You have a mind that is to seek out God's truth; do not be molded by some person; stick to your convictions. Pray for wisdom. (Jas. 1:5). Never seek man's wisdom in religious matters. (I Cor. 1:18-31). Some have tried to abide by man's instructions or doctrine, but their worship was vain (Mt. 15:0). Become firmly grounded in the doctrine of Christ and then teach it to others, instructing them in the ways of righteousness, supporting your words with scripture. Give attendance to doctrine and be an example!


You are not to neglect the gift that is in you. The statement here to Timothy alluded to the spiritual gifts which he had. These gifts were provided by God through the Holy Spirit as God's testimony (Heb. 2:4 NEB) that Timothy and others of the early Church who possessed these gifts, were preaching God's word — they did not have the written word at that time. God had given them a task, to preach, and a means of obeying, guidance from the Holy Spirit. (Jno. 14:26). Today, you and I have tasks set for us, and, unless we are especially unfortunate, we also have been provided the means of accomplishing those tasks, our mouths and minds are examples of the means provided. Never convince yourself that you cannot do anything. You can do something!

What are you really saying when you say, "I can't!' about something the Lord commanded to be done? To answer this, let's, consider Moses. Read Exodus 3:10-4:12. God told Moses to go back to Egypt to bring Israel out from under bondage, but Moses replied, "Who am I that I should go...?" Moses continued to try to excuse himself from this task assigned to him and finally in Exodus 4:10-12, "...Moses said unto the Lord, 0 my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou Nast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, who hath made man's mouth?..-have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth..." Moses was certain that he was not equipped to obey the Lord, but the Lord reminded him that He had made man's mouth. If you say, "I can't," you are in effect, saying, "God goofed," that He gave you a task but not the ability to obey; you are forgetting, like Moses, that God will be with His children. Just for what it is worth to you, let me quote Harvey Friedman, Ph.D at 19 years old. (The Ph.D. is not as impressive to me as what he has said and done.)

On Ability

"Confidence plays a large role in activities — as large as ability — and I'm not sure that ability isn't just a special case of confidence."

On Creativity

"The difficulties of education are psychological. As soon as a kid gets the attitude that any creative ideas he has have already been thought out by the older generation, he loses his enthusiasm and interest."

Do Not Defeat Yourself!!!

You can do almost anything you want to. Some things are going to take work and practice, but you have the equipment if you are willing to develop it. Let nothing discourage you whether it is direct opposition or ridicule. Set a higher goal than you think is possible to reach and work as hard as you can to achieve it. If you miss you will be higher than if you had set a low goal. Be an example!

III. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them;" are the words of Paul as he continues his admonition. The items which have been already mentioned are to be of special concern. We read in Psalms 1:1-2, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." You are to be very concerned with and occupied by the will of God, not being entangled too much with the things of this world that you may wholly serve Christ. (II Tim. 2:4). In order to serve Christ you have to be with him, if you aren't, then you are his enemy. (Mt. 12:30, Jas. 4:4). You must be either wholly devoted to Christ or else none at all; half way will not profit. Apply this and be an example.

IV. Our text is terminated by, "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."


Never reach the point at which you are certain you are above fault. As sure as you are convinced that you are standing, you are in danger, and Paul warns in I Corinthians 10:12, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." (II Cor. 13:5). "Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." (Heb. 3:12). There is a constant need for self-examination throughout your entire life; test yourself from time to time to see what your condition is. If you find something amiss in your life, do something about it. (Jas. 1:23-25). Be sure that your spiritual being is healthy and well fed on wholesome spiritual food that you may remain a child of God.


Take heed unto the doctrine, "the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation...?" (Heb. 2:1-3). You need to study and re-study in order to keep what you learn. Lack of use will cause you to forget. Have your "senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Heb. 5:15). " thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life," (Rev. 2:10).

Let me now conclude by paraphrasing to you Joshua's charge to Israel (Joshua 24:15): If you do not want to truly serve the Lord, wholeheartedly, then decide whom you will serve, but as for me, I will serve the Lord.

Serve The Lord — Be An Example!!

— 1013 8th Avenue West Apt. 3, Birmingham, Ala.