Things Which Remain
Notes of an Address on 2 Timothy 1 and 2
In this epistle the Apostle writes of what was in the mind of God for His own in perilous times, so that we may be forewarned and forearmed in view of days of difficulty, declension, and distress.
Let me pass on to you a message given to me by a Christian in a time of great sorrow. It was this: “If the outlook be dark, try the uplook.” To merely look around at circumstances is to be overwhelmed, and one degree worse than the outlook is the inlook. Now remember, God never intends us to find satisfaction either within or around. There is One in whom He has found fullest satisfaction. God looks at us in Christ, and He wants us to find our satisfaction and rest in Him. The uplook encourages us to go forward.
We are apt to flag and be discouraged. If we look at the church in its responsibility we find failure and breakdown on every hand; but let us remember that God has permitted it to teach us necessary lessons. We may take encouragement, for God will carry out His own purposes, in spite of all. The first chapter—and indeed the whole epistle—presents things which remain—the will of God, life in Christ Jesus, grace, mercy, peace, faith, the gift of God,—all these abide.
Look at the first verse of the chapter: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” Is that promise not to be made good? Assuredly it is. Again in the ninth verse: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” The Apostle goes back to the purpose of God before the ages of time. We make a promise and through weakness or forgetfulness we may fail to fulfil it; but if God makes a promise it will certainly be fulfilled. We are the outcome of God’s purpose in Christ before the world began. We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, Go back before all things were created; God had a purpose, and that purpose was to set us in the enjoyment of life which is in Christ Jesus. Then we are also the outcome of His blessed atoning work, and also of the operation of the Holy Spirit who now dwells in us.
Amid all the disruption which has come in God is carrying out His purpose. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21). Job learned this amid all his deep sufferings, and was brought to say, “I know that Thou canst do everything, and no thought of Thine can be hindered” (Job 42:2, margin). God’s counsel shall stand, and no power can prevent His thoughts being fulfilled. Do you say, “This or that one has turned aside and we are in a broken-down condition”? Let me ask, Are the purposes of God in a broken-down condition? Man may set himself against them; the devil may exert all his forces to prevent their accomplishment, but nevertheless they stand. It is this to which the Apostle first calls Timothy’s attention—the purpose of God and the way He is carrying it out.
Then he speaks to him of the power of God. Look at verse 7. “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Are you afraid of the future and of what it may bring? Are you saying, What shall we do if this or that happens? When a young Christian spoke in this way to an aged servant of God, “There is no future,” he answered, “but glory for the Christian.” Glory with Christ is the only future we can be sure of. He is coming. He is near.
Look up, the glory is near, and there is the power of God to maintain you until you reach that glory. So again we read, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord nor of me his prisoner, but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” Yes! that abides unchanged. Everything appeared to be going to the bad—but God and the power of God remained. In verse 14 he refers to the fact that the Holy Ghost dwells in us. He is here to hold the ground for Christ, so do not fear. Would you walk in power here? Take care then what you put into your body. Take care what you put upon your body, and take care where your body goes. It is the temple of the Holy Ghost.
Timothy was exhorted to stir up the gift which was in him, to keep the deposit entrusted to him of God. And surely we may say God has put a deposit in every one of us. You have not Timothy’s gift, but you have a deposit. Something has been placed in your stewardship. There is a pathway for you to tread, and of this chapter 11 speaks: a pathway of service for the glory of Christ and the good of men. Do not hang down your head and say everything is gone. You are left here for Christ. Ask your Master what you are to do.
The Lord said to Abraham, “I will bless thee, and thou shalt be a blessing.” You have been blessed. Seek now that you may be made a blessing to others. You are left here for this. Christians are Christ’s ones for His service, and the Holy Spirit of God is within you as your power and to enable you to keep near enough to Christ to know what He wants you to do.
There is the purpose of God for us and the power of God in us. There is also a pathway according to God marked out for us to tread in—the pathway of separation to Christ. The Apostle in his pathway did not want anything that was not of Christ, and in our pathway here let us see to it that we follow the same course. There is a danger of our being satisfied with mere outward separation. May the Lord separate us to Himself and make us more and more suitable for His use where and when He will.
Our Calling 1913