Brief Thoughts on 1 Timothy 1:15 and 2 Timothy 4:6-8: Part 3

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In many cases it is harder to suffer than to do; and therefore it may be that endurance is more prominent in New Test. writings than zealous activity; but both patience in suffering, and energy in doing, are characteristic of the faithful disciple. And the sphere for the exercise of faith, hope, and love, is measured by the suffering and the doing appointed by the Lord. This patience, yea pleasure, in suffering for the Lord's sake, this zeal in His service, marked and distinguished Paul all the way from 1 Tim. 1:1515This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15) to 2 Tim. 4:6-86For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6‑8).
How soon he felt the reproach of Christ! How soon he was tested as to the reality of the change! His former friends seek his life, and he escapes by being let down in a basket through a window over the city wall. Imagine proud Saul, avoiding his foes in this ignominious manner! But whether from friends (who if they become enemies are generally the most bitter) or from idolatrous mobs in heathen cities, or from fanatical and murderous persecutors in Jerusalem, always and everywhere he was content to bear all things for Christ's sake. None of these moved him. He had seen the Lord, and everything else was dross.
His companions with him had also fallen to the earth and were overpowered by the brightness of the light, and, for the time, could not either hear or see (Acts 9:7; 21:7; 27:147And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. (Acts 9:7)
7And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day. (Acts 21:7)
14But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. (Acts 27:14)
). They all fell, but the men with Saul soon recovered, rose and stood, and heard the sound, but not the words. Saul heard the words, but lay on the ground till the Lord bade him “Rise, and stand upon thy feet” (26:16). They heard the sound, but could not distinguish the words; it was not intended that they should. Saul both saw and heard (though the effect was to blind him for three days), as he says, “Have I not seen the Lord?” and “last of all He appeared to me also.” And when Ananias came, he says, “the Lord that appeared to thee.” Such was the effect of the heavenly vision that, not giving heed to any caution, the result of human prudence, he went straightway into the synagogues in that city, the very center and stronghold of Jewish enmity and pride, and there he preached that Christ is the Son of God—this to the Jew, and to the Gentile—that God was manifest in flesh, and has brought salvation for all.
As an apostle he was a prominent object for the shafts of the enemy; and tells Timothy in this same epistle, wherein he rejoices beholding the crown, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came upon me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra.” But among these may be discerned some of those sufferings, yea, and graces too, which are or may be the common lot of all. There are patience and longsuffering for any with more or less of persecution in some shape. But there were trials and sufferings special to him as an apostle, and by which to the Corinthians he proves his call to the apostleship, that his doings and sufferings were so great that he came not a whit behind the very chief of them, that he was in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. He was nothing behind them in all these things. Then he adds to the list of sufferings, for he particularizes, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one, thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned [Acts 14]. The three towns, Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, have a prominence among Gentile cities in the persecutions of Paul], thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and day I have been in the deep, in journeyings often, in perils of waters, perils of robbers, perils by countrymen, perils by the heathen, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”
All these things were the result of his having seen the heavenly vision on the road to Damascus. The word “I am Jesus” so filled his heart that to him to live was Christ; it not only dominated but x. eclipsed every other thought, The power of Rome made him think of Christ the power of God, the philosophizing Greek turned him to Christ the wisdom of God. The furious persecutors among his “own countrymen” only made Christ the more precious to him; for if they threatened his, life it was his to say not only to live is Christ, but to die is gain. How could death turn him aside? Whether as a believer simply, or as an apostle, it mattered not what obstruction lay in his course, he pressed onward to the mark set before him. There was the crown in view. It mattered not by what means he might attain the prize, “if by any means “: not that he was not assured of it, but that he was content to suffer now, certain of the crown in that day. Whether as an apostle, or as an ordinary Christian, the devoted bondman spending and being spent, or like a humble, unknown disciple, he pressed on toward the mark. Let the pressure from without be what it might, there was the endurance of faith and confidence. If there were no visible way of escape, he knew that he was not entirely shut up; he might be perplexed but not destroyed; persecuted, but not abandoned; cast down, but not destroyed. Nay, he was more than a conqueror, and was anticipating the overcomer's crown.
But if our pathway between the two termini is not so prominent as his, nor so rough and stony, our fight not so valiant, yet we set out from the same starting point, and reach on to the end to receive the crown appointed for us. Such as Paul can say that the crown is laid up for him, and to such as him, the Lord will say, Well done, good and faithful servant.”
“And not for me only, but unto all them that love His appearing.” Here is our portion, the crown is laid up for all that love His appearing. All such, more or less, fight the good fight, keep the faith, all will enter into the joy of the Lord. Can there be Christians who do not love His appearing? Nay, but their affections are too much occupied with the present world. May this mark of vital Christianity become more prominent, as we feel increasingly the contrariety of all things below, and as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The love of His appearing must be in the heart of every Christian. It may be for the time overshadowed by caring for the world—for who has not to watch against this?—yea, by the disappointments in the world—in each case occupying the mind to the exclusion of the thought and desire, the longing desire of His appearing. There are things here below which are good enough in themselves; but when they overshadow the heart so as to hide the characteristic mark of Christianity—the coming and then the appearing of our Lord—do they not become positively evil. The ordinary teaching of the present day seldom prevents the heaping up of worthless lumber where none ought to appear. The returned Jews could scarcely build the wall through much rubbish (Neh. 4:1010And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. (Nehemiah 4:10)); and it is a great hindrance (even insuperable save where the grace of God removes it) to the love of His appearing. We all know how prone we are to set our mind on things on the earth; yet it would be indeed anomalous—an impossible thing—for a saved man not to love the appearing of his Savior. The Spirit of God dwells in every believer and leads him on in desire and love to the day when He who is our life shall appear. For when He appears, we shall appear with Him. May we be obedient to the Spirit's leading.
Yet the looking forward is not to the saints' appearing, but His; because when He will take His kingdom and reign, every enemy will be His footstool, the groans of creation will cease, all be delivered from the bondage of evil and corruption, wickedness no longer triumph, Satan no more enthrall, and from all the redeemed creation the shout will arise “Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Surely the true believer in Christ loves to look forward to the day of His triumph and of glory.
The crowning of the saint is not when he departs this life; then he is present with the Lord, and truly far better to be absent from the body and present with the Lord; nor is it when the Lord comes and gathers up all that are alive and remain, but when He appears. This appearance is for the world, when we also shall be the trophies of the Lord, the victor over Satan, sin, and the world. Then is the time of judging the quick (not the great white throne judgment, but as in Matt. 25, Acts 17:3131Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31), &c.)
When the Lord was here, the world crucified Him and put Him into a grave; the world never saw Him come out. When next they see Him, it will be when He appears to take vengeance on His murderers, and His appearance will be as the lightning which shines from the east to the west. That is, all shall see Him then. Before that day comes, the Lord will descend and we shall ascend to meet Him in the air; so that when He appears, He will bring us with Him. This is what we wait for. The world did not see Him come out of the grave, but the testimony of it was given. It was the joy of the disciples, the utter discomfiture of the enemy, who to cover his defeat led the priests to tell the soldiers to say, “His disciples stole his body while we slept.”
The world will see Him come out of heaven. Then will be its judgment, then the saints' crowning to His glory, fruit of that complete salvation of which the apostle speaks, when he says that it is nearer than when we believed (Rom. 13:1111And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11)).
R. B.