" For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us." 2 Timothy 1:12-14
The pastoral epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy describe one of the greatest spiritual battles of the New Testament. Here is a battle worthy of comparison to that of the Valley of Elah. Superficially this battle is just as badly mismatched as that of the Valley of Elah in 1 Samuel chapter 17! It would seem mismatched and unbalanced! A definite case of David (Timothy) against Goliath (physical and spiritual oponents)!
On the one side we have Timothy:
Naive to the world and its ways, brought up by a Christian grandmother and mother, from a partly sheltered Christian upbringing. Timothy appears to be lacking generally in confidence (1:7; 2:1) and seems hesitant to use the gift he possesses (1:6).
Timothy faced a wide variety of problems at Ephesus:
- Evangelical truth was under attack. In 1 Timothy chapter 1 we get a glimpse of the confusion of law and grace being promoted at Ephesus.
- Doctrinal attack is described in 2 Timothy chapter 2. In particular the doctrine of the resurrection was being denied.
- Ecclesiastical truth is besieged in 1 Timothy chapters 2 and 5
- Moral problems are all too prevalent in 1 Timothy chapters 1 and 4; requiring the exhortation to 'hold faith AND a good conscience.'
To Timothy, when everyone and everything seems to be against him, Paul addresses 1 and 2 Timothy to him.
- 1 Timothy – which has an Educational theme and is replete with church truth.
- 2 Timothy – which is more Encouragement based.
In 1 Timothy our relationship with the Lord Jesus is to the fore (cf. 1 Timothy 3:16), whereas in 2 Timothy Paul reminds Timothy of the resources which already belong to him:
Consider a simple outline of 2 Timothy:
chapter 1 – I know whom I have believed (1:12)
chapter 2 – I know what I have believed and the theme of objective truth (2:15ff; 2:18, 25)
chapter 3 – I know how I came to believe and the lineage and origin of faith and salvation (3:14ff)
chapter 4 – I know why I believe. Eternity, reward and assessment lie just around the corner (4:7ff) putting the entire Christian life with it's sufferings, persecutions and disappointments into perspective.
In this setting of encouragement we discover the nugget of 2 Timothy 1 vs 12 to 14.
The assurance of Divine ability, and all sufficient omnipotence:
'He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day'
Often times Divine power, ability and sufficiency has been used to justify human inactivity! This of course is wrong. This is wrong both spiritually and practically. Divine ability is not an inspiration for human passivity. It is Divine ability in scripture which inspires human endeavour by guaranteeing efficacy and outcome; 'I can do all things through Christ that strengthen me.' Consider Jonah, who appears to have been of the mind that he knew and could predict the character and thus 'inevitable' grace and mercy of God (Jonah 4:2). Jonah seems thus to have wrongly deduced that he was surplus to requirements in the whole purpose and plan of God! Just cut out the middle man; and skip to the mercy and grace and kindness part of the Divine plan. Surely in this sovereign perspective on God there was no need for Jonah? Just count me out! Surely Jonah's meager and mortal efforts were superfluous to the omnipotent outcome? Then to make matters worse, he is proven right (Jonah 4:1ff)!!!
But unknown to Jonah:
- The first person God was going to save was not a Ninevite, it was Jonah! He had completely the wrong mindset; he thought of himself as being above the message he preached, as being an administrator of the message rather than as being a subject to the message. Contrast this with the mindset of Paul (1 Timothy 1:15). Jonah's cry of 'salvation is of the Lord' (Jonah 2) would come not from his observations of God's dealings at Nineveh but from his own personal experience of the grace of God to him!
- God was writing a book – a book that would be a source of encouragement and guidance to future generations of God's servants, a book that would fore shadow Gods exceeding grace extending beyond the boundaries of Israel to the gentile world, a book that would typify His Son, cf. Jonah 2 and Psalm 69:2, 14; Ps 42:7 & Ps 16:10.
- God was delighting in His Son. Here in Jonah God would foreshadow the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, descending to the depths of hell, sinking where there is no standing, heard from the depths, raised again to life, bringing salvation to the whole world
From Divine ability : “and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”(2 Timothy 1:12) there arises the challenge of human responsibility and activity: “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” (2 Timothy 1:14)
For Timothy; God keeps the greater thing – my soul and salvation. For Timothy's part and my part I must keep the lesser thing, 'that good thing which was committed unto thee'. I possess the possession. God possesses the possessor! I hold but He holds the holder!
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2Timothy 1:12)
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (2Timothy 1:13)
“That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”(2Timithy 1:14)
It is God who gives me the ability to keep that which is committed to me. He is all sufficient for Timothy's need, Moses stammering tongue, Gideon's inferiority. Consider this truth worked out in the life of Jacob:
- Abraham – the Father – over 20 times in the scriptures he is referred to as 'our father' ; Rom 4:1, 12, 16; James 2:21
- Isaac – the Son – particularly seen in Genesis chapter 22 as Abraham's 'only' Isaac!
- Jacob is an interesting picture of the Holy Spirit as glimpsed in in his:
- Birth – note the struggle from birth between Esau ( the flesh cf Heb 12:16) and Jacob, the Spirit (cf Galatians 5:17). Esau is the the first man earthy whereas Jacob points us forward to the new spiritual reality in Christ.
- Bethel – Jacob is the only patriarch, only character in Genesis who anoints with oil, both times he annoints this is undertaken at Bethel.
- Bride – The sun sets on the life of Jacob in Genesis 28 and doesn't rise again till Genesis chapter 32. For Jacob Genesis chapters 28 through to Genesis chapter 32 are a night time scene. It is in that night scene between Genesis 28 and Genesis 32 Jacob will be busy, anointing the House of God, calling out a bride and raising up sons!
- Brook Peniel – Genesis 32.
The experience of Jacob at Peniel thus becomes a battle, a fight in the power of the Spirit of God! It is at Peniel that faith grows in the fight! We often try and avoid such confrontations! David was ready to meet Goliath in the valley of Elah because of his experience of the preserving hand of God in his confrontations previously with the Lion and the Bear.
For Jacob at Penuel; battle has a human face as most spiritual struggles do! Despite the many human foes whom the apostle Paul faced in his imprisonments, stoning, shipwrecks and Paul still reflects later on that, 'we battle not against flesh and blood.' Did not the betrayal of the Lord have a human face in Judas and yet was it not a spiritual battle?
It is fascinating to notice that the invitation to let go comes from God! This is a real option and there is a real decision which Jacob must make. Consider the same option given to the disciples in John 6:67; 'will you also go away?' Those who stayed would stay in the power of the Spirit of God, those who left would leave because they lacked the Spirit of God (John 6:70; John 13:30). Consider the option given to his armies by Gideon to stay or leave? The decision is real, the option to leave is real, just as Adam's will in the garden made a real and lasting choice. Israel was similarly in the wilderness for 40 years (Deuteronomy 8:2-3) 'wether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no.' These options are given not that I might fail but that I might choose Him, choose obedience, choose faithfulness! How different my Christian life would have been, how much progress I may have made, how great the victories I could have achieved had every occasion of failure been grasped as an opportunity for success!
The blessing comes from holding fast and not from letting go! Not that holding on buys the blessing or justifies the grace, not that there is anything that I could give to God nor do for God in order to earn eternal and spiritual rewards. Jacob had a great part in Divine purpose. From Jacob would come 12 sons, 12 tribes, a line of Kings and ultimately Messiah! One qualification was essential in Jacob; that he was in fellowship with God, that he had that vital connection with the Divine, that he is a 'Prince WITH God.' He had to be WITH God, to hold on to God!!
Note the timing, struggling through the night, almost at the dawn and then the invitation comes; 'let me go.' He was just moments aware from victory and blessing. How committed was he? Would he hold on no matter what? Through the pain? Beyond the agony? Was it God at all cost? Was he a quitter?? Had he quit now, he would have lost everything, with only moments to go before the blessing!!
1 Timothy chapter 1 verses 12 to 14 - When You Feel Like Letting Go - Hold On
From our systematic series of bible studies in 2 Timothy, a recording of Dr J Stewart Gillespie at the Bridgend Gospel Hall New Cumnock.