I think perhaps the Lord would have us to
underline and go just a little bit further with what we were
saying at the close of the gathering last evening. You know
we are in the letters to Timothy, and we are seeing by the aid of
those letters that they, and Timothy himself, stood at a very
critical turning point in the history of the church, of
Christianity. And that the things that the apostle wrote to
Timothy in those letters, were things which bear very, very
strongly, seriously, upon the whole course of things as it was
being "reshaped", shall we say, at that time.
And in speaking about Timothy last night, as
himself a symbol of the situation and of God's method of meeting
it, a symbol of the need to meet the new situation of spiritual
declension and departure, we noted, on the one side, the neediness
of Timothy - how he is presented in these letters as one in need
in every way. And then on the other side, the urge that the
apostle brought to bear upon him, the tremendous responsibility
which the apostle indicated as resting upon him. And all these
words of exhortation and command, seeming to make very great
demands upon this young man: "I charge thee...", says the apostle,
"in the sight of God...", "Oh Timothy..." the appeal, more than
once to him, "Be strong", "Endure hardship as a good soldier",
"Give diligence to show thyself approved unto God", and so on. And
in the light (as we pointed out) of the situation which was
developing at that time - the terrible, terrible persecution of
Christians that was coming about, to which Paul himself so soon
after writing this last letter fell a victim. And Timothy knew
all about it. It was indeed putting a lot upon a weak vessel. It
was making tremendous demands upon one who was evidently in
himself not, speaking quite naturally, of great account.
Apparently physically he was at a discount, "thine oft infirmity"
the apostle mentions, "thine oft infirmity". Evidently Timothy
went down under some malady, repeatedly and often.
Well, what did it all amount to? And this is the point; and we
only need, as I have said, to re-emphasise it this morning: Paul
was not calling upon Timothy to be a kind of super-man; neither
was he calling upon Timothy to be more of a man than he was.
That doesn't get us very far; we might talk to one another like
that when we get down and under, or knocked about a bit. We might
speak in human language and terms, "Well now, buck up!" "Now then,
none of that, no giving way! Remember you're a man, remember
you're a woman, remember you're a responsible person! You ought to
behave better than that, it's most undignified!" Well, I don't
know how far that gets you. It may make us feel all the worse,
and thoroughly ashamed of ourselves and such utterly
worthless creatures that we want to get out of it altogether. And
so Timothy might, if this had been what Paul was doing, might have
said, "Well, Paul evidently doesn't think much of me; he has got a
very poor opinion of me. And, well, I'm good for nothing - I had
better just give it all up". But you see, that was not what Paul
It's important to notice this great feature about his letters; we
shall enlarge upon it in other connections probably later, here we
just take note of it. And I repeat: Paul was not telling Timothy
to be a super-man - for it wanted a super-man to stand up to this
situation, to carry this load, to meet these emergencies - it
wanted a super-man, but Paul wasn't telling him to be that in
himself, nor, as I have said, to be more of a man than he
was. He was (Paul was) indicating to Timothy all
the way through that Timothy's very life and work, his ministry
and his position of responsibility, rested upon a Divine and
supernatural basis. "The gift that is in thee... that was
given thee" Paul refers to that, as you notice, more than once in
his letters, "God has not given us a spirit of fear". And I call
you to just read through again as I have no time to take you
through, and note this: the strength that Timothy was to have, the
ability that was to be his for doing and for enduring, was a
strength and an ability which would not come from any spring in
himself. He could be, and Paul was calling upon him to be, a
super-man - but not in himself. "Be
strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus".
He was really being called upon to be and to do far more than any
human person could measure up to; far more than was possible even
for the best men, the strongest and the wisest - to say nothing
about Timothy. Timothy! And the Lord never lays upon us an
impossibility. If He charges, calls, demands; He provides:
His is the strength, His is the wisdom.
Now, without taking that any further, I bring it to this focal
point. Dear friends, difficult as it may be for you and for me to
believe it, especially at times, it is true that every Christian
in a sense, and a very real sense, is a super-man and a
super-woman. Every Christian is supposed to be something that no
other person in this world, even at their best, can be. Every
Christian is supposed to know, have knowledge of, and
understanding of, that which no other person at their wisest can
know. Every Christian is supposed to do what no one
outside of Christ can possibly do; and every Christian is called
upon and supposed to go through what no one else can go through,
in the way in which a Christian is supposed to go through it.
There are imposed upon Christians demands which are super-human.
There are given to Christians resources which are super-natural.
The Christian life is supernatural, from start to finish.
It's very important for you young Christians to recognise this,
and for all of us to call it to mind. When the whole story is
told, when we know as we are known, when we see all things clearly
and no longer through the glass darkly, the one thing I am sure
that will overwhelm us will be this: "My, it took the infinite
power of Almighty God to do that, and I didn't know it!" Our
salvation took that. Salvation is not the simple little thing that
I am afraid a lot of people think it is, or make it out to be.
However simple may be the turning-point, there are vast
immensities of Divine power lying behind the rebirth of any one
soul. And to get that soul right through and at last bring it into
His presence glorified, calls for the "exceeding greatness of His
power to us-ward". Thank God, that is available!
Now, is it not true, dear Christian? You've been on the way long
enough, you know quite well that you couldn't get through? Indeed,
you broke down in yourself, you did just break down and go all to
pieces. It may have been worse, you may have said, "It's no good,
I give it all up", and you contemplated another course, you looked
for a way out - the situation was so difficult, so trying. But
you're here, in spite of yourself, in spite of the Devil and all
his forces, in spite of everything, you are here! How do you
account for it? Well, there is something to account for it that's
not in us, and in that very sense we have surmounted a
tremendous force of opposition and antagonism to our
getting through to a glorious end. I have often said here
humourously, we'll look at one another when we're there and say:
"Well, we're here brother, you're here brother! You didn't expect
to be, did you? But you're here!" Yes, even Timothy will be there!
Ah, but what he had to face, that's the point, and what was put
upon him, and yet "be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ
Jesus." That lifts us above the level of any human possibility.
Well, I just hope that the underlining of that would be perhaps
helpful to us all. We are, oh do remember, we are
as Christians, supposed to be something other, and more wonderful
than any other people in this world; supposed to be, in every way,
in every way. That wonder may be secret and hidden, and not
manifest to the world, but it's there. May the Lord help us to lay
hold, to lay hold upon that which He has presented to us -
for a miraculous life. "Lay hold," says Paul, "on eternal life". Lay
hold on eternal life. Lay hold.