Australian Bible Church – March 16, 2008 II Timothy 1:1-10
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
Its Promise, Past, Gift, Power, Love,
Grace and Saviour
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, 2to Timothy, a beloved son:
'3Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
'I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did,
as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,
4greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears,
that I may be filled with joy, 5when I call to remembrance
the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first
in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice,
and I am persuaded is in you also.
'6Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God
which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
'8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,
nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel
according to the power of God,
9who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works,
but according to His own purpose and grace
which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
10but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ,
who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to life.' "
That is the NKJV rendering of our text, with verses numbers left for reference.
FAITH EMBRACES the GIFT, POWER AND LOVE OF LIFE with
a MIND for Self-Discipline, Control and Duty 1-7
Paul is an apostle of life, as previously promised. Life is natural to man, and his thoughts of their own nature, tend towards their Maker, His nature, his own duties and responsibilities and the wonder and fear of God. Affectations to the contrary will never quite remove the obvious, that each of us is a spirit set in a series of sequenced systems which are the wonder of the world. All we as mankind produce is derivative from what has been put into us, and such is this life that eternity is in its Producer, and eternity the fitting end for us through His mercy. It is FOR that.
Distemper seeks to deprive us of it; divinity nevertheless makes provision for it. To those who find it, in Jesus Christ, there is GRACE, MERCY and PEACE. If you rest in Him and what He has done, then you cannot help but relish the life which sourced in God, is sent to grasp us forever in its power. Hence Paul tells Timothy to stir up the gift solemnised in his case by the laying on of hands.
What is the nature of this gift, the quality of this life ? It is one discordant to fear, from which it turns as sound people from obscenity, filled with power as those who rely not on themselves, their nation or philosophy but their living, loving God. Thus life has love as a range of mountains in it, to which one lifts one's eyes, to see it descending from the mountains of divine felicity in spurting streams. Then, reaching the lowlands of practical, daily living, it has a spirit of stirred up, well directed, self-control, responsibility and dutifulness, of self-discipline and stability of mind.
In Hebrew 'faith' implies stability, endurance. This enables the word play in II Chronicles 20:20, “Believe in the Lord and you will be established." It is like 20/20 vision:
“Have stable reliance on the Lord
The case is similar with Ahaz in Isaiah 7, where the negative case is brought to bear on one who seemed a slick-tongued exponent of equivocation.
Words from this basic root include ‘Amen’, solidity, firmness, certainty, faith, truth. In Greek it no less rests on the God of power, peace and love, purity and pardon (Hebrews 11:1): here is its base, point and force, unyielding, true, making sure for faith. It brings close fearless love, active power and co-ordinate control.
What faith in the regenerating Redeemer brings to heart (John 15:26) is the Spirit of the Lord (Romans 8:9), and its movement is very like a stream from the mountains in its purity and power, gliding to the beautiful valleys in peace and loving donation to the gardens and the thirsty, keeping to its course so that its beauty is not lost through dispersion over the land, but it remains a source and resource, a place of recourse for all who seek in the name of Him who sent it. Such is the image in Jeremiah 18:14, where the nature of faith is contrasted with that of no self-control and unbelief:
"Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon, which comes from the
rock of the field ?
Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters ?" ...
such as those that lay over a good part of Queensland recently, as if to rebuke the unfeeling fiascos that rise in our nation. These floods are like a blight welcomed, to ruin the fruit trees, and rot their roots. Others suffer drought, as if to show ANY disorder will do, when God does not … have enough appeal to direct our straying nation towards Himself. Or again, it is as Isaiah has it in Ch. 48:
"O that you had harkened to My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea..."
But where is this to be found ? It is as Paul says, in the Saviour to whom Isaiah turns in the following 7 chapters, on whom as on a Lamb for slaughter is laid the iniquity of all who receive Him. But who are these ? It is those who have "believed our report" (Isaiah 53:1), making of His life a sacrifice for their sin; and these are all healed of their iniquity and find PEACE (Isaiah 53:5, 57:19). It matters not at all in what part of history these come, if it is to THIS Lord, and this Saviour they come. It is this Gospel which has sounded like the music of the oceans for millennia. They come in faith to Him? then to them He cries "Peace, peace" as indeed He did when He came. But they have not all believed the report (as Paul declares in Romans 10:16).
Timothy, Paul is persuaded, has the same living faith as was to be found in his mother and in his grandmother, and his tears (perhaps when Paul left him to continue his Christian battle on his own, perhaps as he found Christ in the first place, probably both) stay in Paul’s heart as testimony to the disposition of his heart. Indeed, General Booth of the Salvation Army is said to have told some workers almost despairing of 'success' in their ministries, to 'try tears'... Christianity involves faith, faith is in God and God is love, God sent His only begotten Son to DIE in mortal horror, to bear sin. We don't have to do that, but tears of travail and seeking, sympathy and yearning for Him and for His people both those to be found and found already, speak a language readily understood, one well-known to Christ as you read in Luke 19:41-42.
"Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying,
"If you had known, even you especially in this your day,
the things that make for your peace ?
But now they are hidden from your eyes."
On that occasion, He then foretold their destruction: whose welcome AS A CITY to the LORD they ostensibly worshipped, was a Cross. It was not a city square for His welcome, but an execution depot, for His removal from their Capital, the people and the world. Pity prevailed in tears, but the Cross availed in power even so, because this same Jesus has "brought life and immortality to life" (II Timothy 1:10). To this we shall return at the end.
2 FAITH FASHIONS FEARLESSNESS, FACES SUFFERING 8
Meanwhile, Paul calls on Timothy not to be ASHAMED of him, for he was in prison for the faith, just as Christ died to produce it! This takes and promotes just that spirit of power (not to fear), and love (not to abandon those who deserve love, because of the dynamic of love which does not fade when under fire), as also of a self-disciplined mind, which the apostle depicts. That last is an active wisdom and not a volatile emotional collapse, a sense of direction and duty to God in Christ, and not a diffusion like that of a spilt liquid or vanishing gas released into the atmosphere.
England expects every man this day to do his duty - this was a fine cry in essence. It was just that it would far better have been directed to the Lord who was ostensibly at least at the HEAD of England at that time, and then to do whatever duty required with others, in its defence.
It is to Christ that this duty comes, and so we learn that if we are ashamed of Him in this time, then in that of judgment, HE will be ashamed of us (Luke 9:23-26). Take up your cross and come after Me, He cried. This allows nothing in the way of equivocation, and while failure may happen on occasion, in the end, YOU DO WHAT YOU ARE! and in Christ there is nothing aloof from power and a sound mind, a proper sense of duty and a rigorous realisation of truth. Indeed, peace is in the ROCK, which not only protects but enters into the very soul, 'Christ in you, the hope of glory' - Colossians 1:27.
FAITH FINDS SALVATION, APPORTIONED BEFORE TIME,
ITS IMMORTALITY THROUGH DEATH'S ABOLITION 9-10
Some things, then, will be abolished, insincerity among them (as in Matthew 23), for its end is fiery. But that is merely the trash can, the weed depot (Matthew 3:12, 24:51, Malachi 4:1), while the 'grain' is garnered, gathered, stored in the place of retention (Matthew 24:31,40-41). It is His in sowing (John 12:24), in growing and with His sunshine, it is glowing (as in Malachi 4:2).
How did He ABOLISH DEATH ? It is easy to understand, and like many things, hard to do; and none so hard as this (Hebrews 5:7). That is like making the universe: it was not easy but easily within the competence of the Almighty. In removing death, His power only could do it, but He planned it, secured it and is applying it as soul by soul, people come to rest on HIM and WHAT HE DID. As our Redeemer and Representative, for us who believe (Romans 5:1-12), He has TAKEN that penalty of death which is the RESULT and PLACE for life that sins, and thus cannot fit into heaven (because of its purity, such pollution would destroy it for all), and cannot meet in itself justice (since violation of life means death before the aweful purity of God).
Hence in I John 1, we find He is faithful and JUST to forgive us our sin - how would He seek penalty for it twice, who has Himself borne it already, ONCE! (as in Hebrews 9:12-10:14). These divine statements show that His redemption is perpetual, wipes stains, provides access for cleansing to faith, is irrevocable. NOW "ONCE in the end of the ages He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself". NOT OFTEN (as if man made masses or the like) but ONCE. Not often, says Hebrews, for then He would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world, but NOW ONCE...
You test anything. If a knife does not cut, then you sharpen it or else if it is resistant, throw it away - no knife but a mere formal resemblance to one! Tests are great. If a lady wants to test the love of the heart of a suitor, for the latter it is great. She wants to KNOW the inner glow, the ardent feeling, the admiration and the protectorate that forms in his heart for her, the relish. What a PLEASURE to be able to show this; for if it is there, and it is like breathing to show it. If you have a cold, it is no trouble to cough; if you love, it is no trouble to show it.
Believing in Him brings this trust and power and love and unashamed testimony, because your faith reaches to One who is there, whose love is REAL and so shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5), from which love NOTHING will separate us (Romans 8:29-36). How could it since He is omnipotent and has worked in us that regeneration which makes us His actual children, His spiritual genes within the life (I John 3:9); and having died (Romans 5) for us in weakness, how much MORE will He save life for us, delivering us from wrath, which He has already born! Or will a collector buy a painting for a billion dollars, and fail to preserve it! “Much more, then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wreath through Him.”
This LIFE is the sort of thing for which we were made, from which man in initial probation, fell (Romans 5:1-12), to which man looks in his innermost heart, until it is found by His grace; or else so soiled that it is doubly dead, slithering from salvation like reptile into the waters of a diseased lake. Christ has brought this actual life of GOD to LIGHT (cf. I John 1:1-4), showing it in His own life and resurrection, power and pity, and He with its resurrection has evidenced as He foretold, IMMORTALITY.
I love immortality (cf. (cf. Isaiah 26:19, Daniel 12:2, Psalm 17, Proverbs 12:28, Job 19:23ff., I Corinthians 15:50ff., Titus, John 11:25-26): but ONLY in Christ. Imagine immortality in the midst of some sleazy, steamy, slithery, polluted tyranny. Stop it NOW! But when it is in the very presence of the God of all mercy, purity, truth, with our resurrection giving us the spirits of just persons made complete (Hebrews 12:23), "registered in heaven", where no sin enters (Revelation 21-22), then let it be forever. To have it cease is like the gallows. Yet to have to wait for the general resurrection which Isaiah foretold with the message of the free Gospel of God's grace (Isaiah 26:19, 42-55), this is like being on a voyage. The ship is there, the ocean is there, the progress (here of the elapsing of time till Christ's return) is there; and the certainty of arrival is there, since He is "faithful who calls you, who also will do it" (Philippians 1:6, I Thessalonians 5:24).
I for my part LOVE the abolition of death. It is such a sniping, griping, gallow-like, aspiringly serpentine sort of thing that bites. But it is fair: sin requires it (Romans 6:23). What a deliverance with delight to have it GO. ABOLISHED! That is far better than just abashed, or distanced. If there is one thing I want abolished first of all, it is death. But then, with it there MUST be abolished sin also. Thus let not sin have dominion over us in this period of test. IF you have faith in Him, HE will deliver you from its sovereign sway over you (I John 3:9, Romans 6, 8). Faith is the connecting link, like that to desert oil. The OIL is there, if the link is there, it flows. He even raises the fallen (I John 1:7-2:1).
LIFE to light! Enough - the curse on this earth has joined with the sin that sweeps like a hurricane through it with increasing power and boldness. Let us have LIFE, with the termination at last of the whole fallen creation as in II Peter 3, and the calling into being of a new heavens and a new earth (Rev; 20). Engineers can make new cars; God can make a new universe. Let it come, let it come, and let this world and its evil works be burned up, but let IMMORTALITY be brought to light, so that its departure is but that of dross.