Thursday, April 20, 2023

2023.04.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Timothy 1:13–14

Read 2 Timothy 1:13–14

Questions from the Scripture text: With what command does 2 Timothy 1:13 begin? Of what does this prototype consist? What sort of words? From whom had Timothy gotten them? By what mechanism had he gotten them? What two principles must characterize the way that he holds to this pattern? Who is at the center of a life that is sustained by this faith and driven by this love? What is this pattern called in 2 Timothy 1:14? To whom had the precious deposit been entrusted? What was Timothy to do with it? To Whom was he to entrust his own keeping of the precious deposit? Where does this Holy Spirit dwell—in whom (n.b. how many)?

What is the purpose of the official ministry of the church? 2 Timothy 1:13–14 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that a great part of the official ministry of the church is to guard patterns of words.

Pattern of sound words2 Timothy 1:13a. We live in an age when ministry in the church is often about worship or activities that induce certain feelings in people. The church has forgotten that it lives first before the face of God, and that even before the face of the world, the great thing that it has to offer is God Himself. So the question is not how we can get people to feel a certain way about us, our church, or even our God. Rather, the great question of ministry in the church is just what it is that God has given us to do, what is it by which God communicates Himself. 

So as the apostle is urging his protégé to conduct his ministry faithfully as Paul comes to an end of his own course, he urges Timothy about particular words. He doesn’t urge him to a Word-centered ministry. He cares much about the particular words themselves. He has given Timothy a pattern of words, a model and example of what particular words to use, and he expects Timothy to follow it.

What fuels this particularity about words: faith and love in Christ Jesus2 Timothy 1:13b. Why can’t we all just respect that each has his own faith? Why get so particular with doctrine, when it’s all just about love? Such phrases sound sweet at first, but it is the saccharin, nutritionless sweetness of manmade, synthetic ideas. 

True faith in Christ Jesus cares very much to get the identity of Christ Jesus correct. Faith is not holding on to trust; this is faith in faith, not faith in Christ Jesus. Faith is holding onto Christ. And it matters very much whether we are holding onto an actual Being Who is the Creator of all things and the Redeemer of those who trust in Him, or whether we are holding onto a figment of our imagination, an artifact of our emotions, or simply the lies of mere men.

And true love for Christ Jesus cares very much about Him Himself. True love for Christ cares very much to be truthful about Him. True love for Christ cares very much to know what actually pleases Christ. It does not foist upon the Lord whatever makes us feel good and expect that He must therefore approve of it. Do we have true faith and true love? 

Then we will care to be particular and Scriptural, even about the words of our theology and the patterns in which we arrange those words. This is the principle behind catechizing, and why times of reformation and revival have often produced excellent catechisms or recovered their use.

Who maintains these patterns of sound words2 Timothy 1:14. Are such patterns of words kept by the church or by the Holy Spirit? Yes. Ministers of the gospel, like Timothy, are charged with keeping “that good deposit,”—“that good thing which was committed to you.” But believers can do nothing in their own strength. 

Apart from Christ we can do nothing (cf. John 15:5), so the apostle reminds Timothy that he has the very same Spirit dwelling in him as has dwelt in Paul—the Spirit of Christ Himself, by Whom we abide in Christ Himself. It is this Spirit Who has given the Scriptures (cf. 2 Timothy 3:14–17; 2 Peter 1:20–21), by Whom the Lord Jesus Himself has given pastor-teachers as His method of stabilizing His people in those Scriptures (cf. Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11–14). For this purpose, the Spirit dwells with believers and in believers, so that He will be to us the Spirit of truth by Whom the Lord Jesus is always with us to keep us loving Him (cf. John 14:15–18). The pattern and the power of ministry is not up to the minister. It has been determined by Christ: keeping sound words as those who are kept by the Spirit.

What has the study of sound words played in your walk with Christ? Whom is He using to facilitate this, and how have you availed yourself of their ministry? Whom do you trust to make this effective?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for keeping Paul by Your Spirit, and keeping Timothy by Your Spirit, and that now You have come to us by the Spirit Who dwells in us. Forgive us for trying to do things our own way—either by minimizing doctrine or being loose with it. And forgive us for trying to do things in our own strength—rather than by Your Holy Spirit Who dwells in us. By Your Spirit, grant that we would keep the good deposit that has been entrusted to Your church, for we ask it through Christ, AMEN!

ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH406 “Jesus, With Thy Church Abide”

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