I thank God because of his rich mercy to me and his persevering grace to sustain and keep me. I give thanks to him each time I think of you and pray that he too will sustain you by his grace. You are the crowning jewel of my ministry and it gives me no greater joy than to know you are staying faithful to Christ.
I am realizing more and more each day that my time is coming to an end. No one is irreplaceable in God’s program and I see he is raising up men like you to take my place. This gives me great joy and I trust he will make you fruitful. Allow me this opportunity to share with you some what I believe to be of the upmost importance.
Let the gospel of Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection, be the center of your life. Make it the center of your preaching, teaching, singing, discipling, thinking, praying, sleeping, working, playing, and resting. A life centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ will result in fruit and blessing to his glory.
In times of trial, recognize that Christ suffered for you as an example so that you might share in his sufferings. You will be persecuted for your exclusive belief that Jesus Christ alone is the way of salvation. He did not revile nor did he threaten in return, but he entrusted himself to the faithful judge. He bore our sins so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness and his grace will sustain you as you suffer for him.
In times of division, remember the example of Christ to provide unity and humility because he did not seek his own needs, but the needs of others. The gospel calls you to die to your needs and serve others. Serve your wife and family before yourself. Die to our preferences for the sake of others and conduct yourself with the humility of Christ Jesus who humbled himself to the point of death on a cross.
When you are tempted to trust in your methods or wallow in your lack of fruit, remember that God is sovereign and uses the preaching of his gospel to call dead people to life. Do not underestimate the gospel but recognize it is the power of God to salvation and as Christ saved Paul the worst of sinners he saved you and he can save anyone. Preach the word at all times and trust not in yourself, but the power of God.
Continue to wrestle with the deep things of God and teach others so that they might teach as well. Debate, argue, and think for the glory of God. But, keep the main thing the main thing. Allow for differences, but do not waver from the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Preach for this gospel, live for this gospel, and die for this gospel. On this I have set my whole life. I now look forward to the consummation of all things in the New Heavens and New Earth where we will all be with the Lord forever.
To the praise of his glorious grace,