Resurrection: No. 1 - The Key to the Position

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
F. B. Hole
No. 1. — The Key to the Position
When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he was about to depart from the field of battle, and enter upon the bliss of being with Christ. He had been in the thickest of the fight, and now the tide of conflict was beginning to run against him: the adversaries were growing bolder, and many a deserter was leaving the ranks; yet his words breathe forth a dauntless courage and supreme confidence in the great Captain, who will ultimately lead His forces to victory.
But the very fact of the aged warrior, Paul, laying down his armor, must only make the young man, Timothy, gird his the more tightly on, and prepare himself to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:33Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3)). He is to “stir up the gift of God” which is in him. He is not to be “ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,” but rather to be a “partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:6, 86Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6)
8Be 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; (2 Timothy 1:8)
The mighty adversary in the conflict is a foe of sleepless vigilance and consummate skill. Every military commander of outstanding genius has been marked by two things: first, he was able to quickly locate the exact spot in the enemy’s defense which was the key to his position: second, he was able so to manipulate his own forces as to make that point his objective, and sooner or later deliver a crushing blow there. We may be sure, therefore, that Satan, the secret energizer of all man’s opposition to God, has from the beginning, and all along the line, been aiming his blows at that which is at the very heart of the truth of Christianity.
Let us glance at the epistle itself that like Paul we may not be “ignorant of his devices.”
2 Timothy 1:1-101Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, 2To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. 6Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8Be 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; 9Who 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, 10But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (2 Timothy 1:1‑10). The apostle encourages Timothy by lifting the eye of his soul from himself, and even from the field of conflict below, to GOD, and to those purposes of His ‘which shall never fall to the ground, since they find their place of undisturbed repose “IN CHRIST JESUS,” and further by reminding him that in spite of apparent defeat, victory is sure, for the great Commander Himself, “our Savior Jesus Christ,” has already, single handed, achieved it. He “hath abolished [or ‘annulled’] death, and hath brought life and immortality [or incorruptibility’] to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:1010But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (2 Timothy 1:10)).
What an inspiration this is!
2 Timothy 1:11-1811Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12For 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. 13Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. 15This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. 16The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: 17But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. 18The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. (2 Timothy 1:11‑18). Having breathed in fresh life and energy, Timothy is bidden to calmly view the actual position of the conflict as committed to the saints of God below. How dark the picture! Paul, lying in a Roman dungeon with martyrdom before him; “all they which are in Asia” — his own converts, including those at Ephesus, the capital of that province, where much of his finest work was done — had turned away from him: it may have been to run eagerly after new teachers, who were already developing the deadly theories known afterward as “gnosticism,” so that even the “form of sound words” was in danger of being given up.
2 Timothy 2:7-197Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 8Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. 14Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; 18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:7‑19). Having brought Timothy thus far, the apostle now discloses to him the great key to the Christian position against which all the enemy’s assaults are delivered. Verse 7 is a preface showing the deep importance of it. Verse 8, containing the disclosure, is poorly translated in the A.V. The R.V. is better — “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel.”
CHRIST RISEN is the key.
If we may paraphrase the apostle’s inspired words, it was as though he said, “My gospel presents to you Jesus Christ in two ways, as incarnate upon earth, come of the seed of David, and as risen from the dead. Maintain both; but since you are not Israelites, but Christians, risen from the dead’ comes first as of paramount importance to you; let go that and the day is lost.”
Already Satan’s forces, led by Hymenæus and Philetus, were being launched against this truth (verses 17 and 18). Not that it can be really touched. Christ is risen. The foundation of God stands sure. Thanks be to Him! Yet, if forgotten or denied, the key of the position is left in the enemy’s hands, and disaster to our faith is sure.
The Corinthian believers illustrated this. They had in their midst grave immorality unrebuked (chap. 5.); party spirit was rampant amongst them (chap. 1.); and disorder marked their coming together to partake of the Lord’s supper (chap. 11.); but it is not until we reach chapter 15. that we find the root, in that the resurrection was being questioned in their midst! Moreover Paul immediately shows them the effect of this, not only on Christian behavior, but Christian doctrine. Read verses 13 to 19 and learn that if the resurrection of Christ be unreal, Christianity itself is dissolved like the unsubstantial fabric of a dream.
Has not all this a loud voice for us who live at the end of the Church’s conflict upon earth? Instead of being as in her first years “comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners,” she has become in her responsibility on earth an outward wreck, torn in every direction, alike the prey of enemy without and traitor within, till the poet had to write —
“With a scornful wonder
Men see her sore opprest,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distrest.”
Early in her history “Jesus Christ, risen from the dead,” faded from her memory. The thought of Him as a risen, heavenly Man was almost lost; if He was remembered it was as a babe in the arms of His virgin mother, and that only in a carnal way. Hence the Church lost her heavenly character, forgot her heavenly hope, and settled down into the corruptions of the world around.
If any revival has in these last days visited us from on high, it has been as He, the risen One, has shone as the Morning Star into our hearts.
His appearance in the midst of His disciples on the resurrection day transformed them, so that instead of huddling together like a flock of frightened sheep, they stood forth filled with the Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, as bold as lions. The faith of Himself as the risen One will do all this for us today.
Christian men and women, may this faith be ours! To have His resurrection as an article of our creed is not enough it was an article of the Church’s creed all through the dark ages. It is Jesus Christ Himself, raised from the dead, shining before the faith of our hearts, that we need.
Then hope will burn brightly, and the fort of true, God-given Christianity will be held, till those words come true with which the poet closed his verse —
“Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, ‘How long?’
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.”
“Unto the upright there ariseth perception goes along with, integrity of light in the darkness:” clearness of purpose.