The Path of the Godly in a Day of Ruin

2 Timothy 2  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The believer, instructed in the mind of God, cannot but admit that what passes for the Church of God before men has no resemblance to the Church of God as presented in Scripture. This grave departure from the Word of God clearly shows that God's intention for the Church, during its sojourn in a world from which Christ is absent, has been ruined in the hands of man. Few, indeed, would deny that we live in a day of ruin. It is, however, of the first importance to understand clearly what we mean when we speak of the ruin of the Church.
We must remember that, in Scripture, the Church is viewed in two ways. On the one hand it is presented according to the counsels of God; on the other hand it is viewed in connection with the responsibility of man. In the first aspect it is presented in Scripture as founded upon Christ, the Son of God, composed of all true believers, and destined to be presented to Christ a glorious Church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. As such it is the result of Christ's own work, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. No ruin can touch Christ's work, nor set aside God's eternal counsels for Christ and the Church.
In the second aspect the Church is viewed as set in responsibility to witness for Christ during the time of His absence, and to present the grace of God to a needy world. Alas! the Church has entirely failed in carrying out this responsibility. Through lack of dependence upon the Lord, submission to the Spirit, and obedience to the Word, the people of God have become divided and scattered; and lack of watchfulness has ended in a vast profession embracing believers and unbelievers. In result that which passes before the world as the Church, so far from representing the glory of Christ, is "a denial of the nature, the love, the holiness, and the affections of Christ." Thus on earth the testimony of the Church has been ruined. The fact that we have to speak of a professing Church which is visible, and a spiritual Church composed of all true believers which is invisible, only shows how complete is the ruin.
If, then, we speak of living in a day of ruin, we mean that our lot is cast in a day when the Church's witness to an absent Christ has been ruined. In the addresses to the Seven Churches in The Revelation we have a prophetic outline of the Church's history on earth, viewed as the responsible witness for Christ; and therein we have the Church's progressive failure in responsibility foretold with divine accuracy by the Lord Himself, beginning with its departure from first love, and ending with a condition so nauseous to Christ that it will finally be spued out of His mouth.
Scripture, however, gives further light as to a day of ruin. In this Second Epistle to Timothy, we not only have the prediction of the ruin, but the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, gives very definite directions to the godly how to act when the ruin has come in. However dark the day, however great the ruin, the people of God are not left without divine guidance. The mercy of God has marked out a path for His people in a day of ruin. We may lack the faith in God and the devotedness to Christ that are necessary to take the path; none the less it is marked out in the word of God for the obedience of faith.
Thus we reach the conclusion that two things are necessary in order to take God's path intelligently in the midst of the ruin. First it is essential that we have some knowledge of Paul's doctrine (which includes the truth of the gospel as well as the truth of the Church); secondly, there must be a right spiritual condition. Without some knowledge of the Church, as presented in Scripture, it would be impossible to appreciate the extent of the ruin; and without a right spiritual condition, the believer would hardly be prepared to take the path that God has marked out in the midst of the ruin.
Paul evidently assumes that the one to whom he writes is well acquainted with his doctrine. In the first and second chapters he refers to the things which Timothy had heard of him (1:13; 2:2); and in the third chapter he says, "thou halt fully known my doctrine." There is therefore no doctrinal unfolding of the truth of the Church in this Second Epistle. Such truth is fully presented by the Apostle in the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, the First Epistle to the Corinthians and the First Epistle to Timothy.
The path of God for us in a day of ruin, and the spiritual condition needed to take the path, are unfolded in this Second chapter of the Second Epistle to Timothy. If we desire to answer to God's mind in this day of failure we shall do well to study prayerfully this important passage. The truths of this chapter may be viewed in the following order:-
A. The spiritual condition necessary to discern and take God's path for us amidst the failure of ChristendomTIM 1:1-13{(Vv. 1-13):
B. A brief outline of the course of the evil that has led to the corruption of ChristendomTIM 1:14-18{(Vv. 14-18):
C. The resource of the godly, and the path of God for the individual in the midst of the ruin TIM 1:19-22{(Vv. 19-22):
D. The spirit in which to meet those who raise opposition to God's pathTIM 1:23-26{ (Vv. 23-26).