THE MIGHTY TOWER AND THE COLLAPSED LUNG
II Timothy 1:8-11 but esp. 1:12
Surely one of the most magnificent declarations of faith in Christ's power to keep past death, ringing with assurance, fragrant with fervour, a sort of response in courage to the presence of the Master whose alliance over time has been explosive in power while instilled with peace, intimate in provisions and explicit in character, is to be found in II Timothy 1:12.
It proceeds from the base in II Timothy 1:9-11, as a rocket proceeds from its foundational structure. Let us then first look at this, and then lift the eyes to that rocket of assurance in its motion aloft. Here is a test for the apostle, imminent death. It appears from such sites as Philippians with I Timothy and other hints, that Paul escaped or rather was delivered from his first imprisonment, and from Papias, we find that he probably visited Spain. Now, in the ferocity, not of a Claudius, from whom many suffered in his expulsion from Rome (Acts 18:2), but apparently of Nero, Paul looks in the midst of vicious snapping from what might appear wolves in human form (II Timothy 4:14-16), to the execution that seems imminent.
Let us however first proceed from
1) THE ORIGINAL GRACE.
The first verses, today, we shall take without much printed coverage: I Timothy 1:8-11. This will allow much for 1:12.
Notice however the sheer glory of the grace and power, the plan and the provision of God, bringing life and immortality to light. Notice for the Christian that God “has saved us” and “called us with a holy calling”. You need never have doubt about your life’s work: it is holiness in the Lord to be directed by the Lord to your due employment in His will. All of this, it is according to “His own purpose and grace”. The salvation is ACCOMPLISHED ("has saved us" - perfect tense cf. the parallel perfect use in Ephesians 2:8). It is engineered from eternity. It is for His own purpose. It is wrought in grace. It results in a HOLY CALLING. Life and immortality surround it like flowers the vine of a wisteria plant, adorning an arbour.
2) THE TOWER
Now we happily have occasion to come to II Timothy 1:12. But first notice this, that Paul leaves no doubt about his own calling in this, that he notes he was APPOINTED a preacher, an apostle and a teacher for a particular GROUP, namely, remarkable for a Jew, that of the GENTILES! It is in their hands that he indeed now finds himself, with the mad Nero about to wield, via an executioner, it seems, an axe in no figurative fashion.
THIS IS WHY I suffer all this! says Paul, but I am not ashamed. Voluntary suffering in the presence of God who became man that man might become equipped with eternal life, this is no sham or shame! Such willingness to suffer for such a calling is following a divine example in redemption, in a human fashion in its verbal dissemination. It is now a matter of preaching it, teaching it, just as earlier, Christ performed it, and before that, the prophets predicted it.
It is God who did it; Paul with the other apostles, told it. Suffering was a price to be paid, in Christ in bearing sin, in the apostles in detailing the deliverance in the Gospel thus available, covered and complete.
"I KNOW," says Paul, "WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED!"
He does not make an inference merely: HE KNOWS. It is not a matter of book knowledge alone (though the verificatory, prophetic, unchanging scriptures of the millenia are there - Romans 16:25); for it is an issue of interchange, friendship as with Abraham, called the friend of God. He has known Him in suffering FOR HIM, worked for Him in POWER from Him, experienced Him in grace provided, in enabling, in overcoming in directions fulfilled innumerable.
Consider merely Acts 23:11 with 28:11ff., with the events of Acts 22, 23, 24, 25, yes and the saga of the voyage and the safe arrival on the island of all those shipwrecked, as the Lord told Paul and he first of all told them). Likewise the apostle found His divine art and presence in personal enablings (II Corinthians 12:9), tender and effectual.
I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED!
Further, Paul affirms not merely that he knows the Lord, but that he has believed in Him; for faith is ever the operative ingredient in the vales of grace, that brings the sunshine of warmth and power, in the presence of the One trusted in. Ready for any need has He been, in every phase, so amply, so wisely, who is like the conscientiously plied tanker craft flying alongside the fighter airplane. When the one runs low in fuel, the other is always there, always adequate, also airborne, always at one's side.
I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED AND AM PERSUADED…
Of what then is the apostle now persuaded ? Of Christ's ability to KEEP him in his extremities. Of these, not the least is death, glaring with its heady defiance. This, Christ’s divine breach of this plague, the most decisive of all! as so amply emphasised earlier, what is it like ? It is like a Caesarean birth liberating a child unable to evacuate: no anodyne, but actuality is His provision. No psychic lift, but physical deliverance; not poetry but performance is His operation, wrought first in Himself, then applicable to those who are His own. His people are purchased in atonement FOR sin, and TOWARD service in Spirit, company in grace, friendship in goals and in participation in the functional premises provided: till all done, the end is the beginning of a more exalted clime, one free from the damages of curse, where cure is no more an application, but rather the prelude to consummation of restoration in the very presence of God (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 7).
As to Paul, in his declaration in II Timothy 1:12, deliverance in victory over death now awaits him, the leader first having done that operation Himself in open court! (Romans 1:4).
HE IS ABLE TO KEEP
KEEP WHAT ?
Christ in whom he has believed, whom he knows, is able to keep what I have committed to Him! says Paul.
Now comes the issuance from the integrity of the past.
Paul did not make a compact with God for a beneficial income outcome. It was not a self-interested enlightenment of sorts which had actuated the apostle. Counting all things in competition and comparison with Christ as dross (Philippians 3:8), he was not safeguarding his retirement, status, income or position in society: scarcely could such things have been less in his estimation as he served Christ: the "offscouring of the universe" (I Cor. 4:!3) does not prize such things!
It was a commitment of his life to the LORD, who being such, did not utter inane or vain words. WHY, Christ had said, DO YOU CALL ME LORD, LORD and not do the things that I say! (Luke 6:46). The Lordship of Christ was real. Paul was far from perfect, but in one thing he was clear, Christ was his Lord.
Just as one must exercise lordship over one's fingers, and not try to dissociate their work from one's own will, so as a Christian, however imperfect one may be, the finger of life propels one's living to life eternal with no interruption by judgment, an issue which is covered completely (Romans 8:1, I Thess. 5:9-10). In His own everlasting life, Christ confers on each of His people, a living reality. We are integumental with Christ's body by adoption, that great team of limbs and organs, where He is head. It is this figure which more amply illustrates the Lord's application of His own work, in the family of Christ sent from eternity, to bring man to it (Isaiah 26:19, I Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 1:5, 2, 4). In this, the body of Christ, each has his or her place; and all have the place where the consummation is to be (John 14:1ff., Revelation 21-22, I Thessalonians 4).
KEEP WHAT HE HAS COMMITTED HOW LONG ?
It is AGAINST THAT DAY.
Of what does the apostle here speak ? Resurrection is sure; but what of the outcome ? THAT is the point. What of the judgment day ? Is this not a terror ? (II Corinthians 5:10-11). These are examinations in which it is not fitting to fail! ALL must appear before this judgment seat, but the Christian is exempt from its condemnation (I Thessalonians 5:9-10), being covered (Isaiah 61:10, Romans 3:23ff.), by the blood, by the vicarious death, by the substitutionary atonement wrought by and in Christ his Lord. TO ALL there is the impediment of the things done in the flesh, but to those whom God has found whenever and however, in the Gospel, in Christ, there is the countervailing reality of the Saviour. He Himself is both barrister and ground of acquittal! (I John 1:7-2:2).
What more does this wonderful word from the Lord through Paul have to tell us ?
It is this. There is the faith in "immortality", which Christ has "brought to light". Based in reality, it is exhibited in history, founded in fact, wrought by Christ as a manifest datum, available to faith and repentance in the Saviour. This ? it is that same Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:7 -11), as was predicted for millenia, His work fulfilled on time, wrought before the eyes of the disciples, its results enforced in the world which could not so much as keep His body. It what was His triumph most powerful ? It was in this that He who had raised the dead, then walked into immortality, from the pangs of mortal life: back into that immortality from which He had come (John 17:3), making the path clear and the way as white as snow (John 14:6, Isaiah 1:18).
It was His own divine purity, unsullied by His adoption of human form and living, which constituted the underlying value which nothing could shake, not even death, not even ridicule, not even contempt, not even religious condemnation, not even slow death by agonising crucifixion amid criminals.
Not even diminution of His body by slow blood loss could decrease Him, who was as He is, Lord over all life (Rev. 1:18-19). Not merely did He suffer it to be so, that such should be done to His body as He proceeded to bear the sins of those who would benefit in faith, by receiving Him and all that He Himself had done: there was more. Having suffered, He resumed life, and grasping His body, He took it, and walked away with it. Irrepressible, irreducible, eruptive from death, transcendent, transformed, what He took was yet very much His OWN BODY! Not like tanks on which minor weapons fling themselves in vain, but in acute humanity He suffered, man for man; but better than tanks, eschewing death, He tasted it and wasted it, breaching with the power that made man in the first place, the very sentence which is so awesome to many, but which it was in His domain to overcome.
Death is a penalty; He paid for His own, offered the payment to all, and then, like a huntsman who has made secure His prey, He released believing man from the thrall and dominion of that dread plague (Hosea 13:14, I Corinthians 15:51ff.) which had held him.
In this, Paul with all Christians participated; and hence this, his rallying call, yes His fearless word of faith as He faced this death. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him against that day." That is one side of our interest at this point.
THIS IS THE ROBUST ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE, the norm and form for the Christian (Romans 8:16, Philippians 3:20ff.).
What however of those who play with religion, who parley with it, whose minds are elsewhere than on Christ, whose empty form of religion is their uttermost and whose hope is in their own selves, organisations which they run in their own sweet way, their illicit convictions within the flimsy films of autonomous flesh, confused clamoring, hoping in casuistical arguments of their own finding and funding, looking to vain religions or living or hoping in their own prescription ?
Alas, this is the contrast. What might it be called ?
It is a
“FORM of godliness,” as we read in II
Timothy 3, one not acknowledging the POWER OF GOD. HENCE it uses
strategies and plans, evades issues and does not come into the open: subversive
and subverted, it is a mere mockery. The commandments ? let them wait. Good
counsel ? let it slide. Such is their way. MORE IMPORTANT things are in hand! This is the inheritance of our present Age in strict accord with
4) THE COLLAPSED LUNG
II Timothy 3:1-5. Here you see the syndrome of suffering and sorrow which formalism and evasion present to mankind.
“Lovers” – yes of themselves, with their self-esteem and self-fulfilment, ogling life as if it were a business for profitable returns to themselves. “Disobedience to parents” is compounded with the “unloving, unforgiving” conduct of many, while the “brutal” manner, now famous for Islam in jihads and al Qaeda, joins with others whose attitude is that of being “despisers of good”. All this comes amid a torrent from the tongues of “blasphemers” and a mad search for money (3:1), amid unthanfulness and unholiness: all a picture of distortion and doom.
Dying without life, these cannot reach the Tower of Christ the truth, being unwilling at first, and disenabled at the last. Many like Esau, might seek repentance, but find their own hearts so hard and their spiritual breath so laboured with their collapsed lung, long inhaling the spiritual tobaccos and tars of this world, that they end like radioactive waste, where they belong.
WOULD YOU RATHER LIVE IN THE GRACE OF GOD ? Then avoid mere formalism, trust His power and USE IT by faith in prayer (Mark 11:23-24), knowing that the name of the Lord is a refuge into which you may run and be safe (Proverbs 18:10), a strength by which you may walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:30-31), the signal and rock of salvation, by which you live and find life eternal, the cleansing agent of sin, by which you are made acceptable (Eph. 1:6), the place of promise, by which you may grow in grace, knowledge and being filled with peace, know what it means to live in the power of the Lord.
For a wider treatment of this, see gracetoface6.html.