"The Testimony of our Lord"

A brief word as to the character and course of "The testimony of our Lord" 2 Tim. 1:8.

It has been said, to the effect, that the whole course of the testimony of God has been under review by the Spirit of God in Scripture with all the evils that beset it until its completion, so as to provide divine wisdom for us in every exigency. The character and principle of all has been shown, all coming to light before the canon of Scripture closed. The attack of the enemy upon that testimony may vary in form, but the underlying principle in each case is laid bare by the word of God and provided against. True we need the power of the unction from the Holy One for spiritual discernment; but this is not only not denied us, but assured to us, if we will take the course prescribed: "Think of what I say, for the LORD will give thee understanding in all things" (2 Tim. 2:7, N.T.). This is a great comfort for faith; and let us beware of that state which Jude has to warn the saints of: "Ye who once knew all things" (Jude 5 N.T.).

The passage in 2 Timothy 2 quoted above continues "Remember Jesus Christ raised from among the dead, of the seed of David, according to my glad tidings, in which I suffer even unto bonds as an evil doer; but the word of God is not bound." Then, after Paul has enjoined Timothy to put these things, and the solemn considerations of 2 Tim. 2:11 to 13, before the remembrance of his brethren, the peculiar form of the attack of the enemy is manifested. Coupled with impiety, we have the evil teaching of "Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who as to the truth have gone astray, saying that the resurrection has taken place already; and overthrow the faith of some" (2 Tim. 2:17-18). The course of the man of God is then clearly prescribed. But what is the character of this attack of the enemy? It is subversive of Christianity itself as being God's administration which is in faith (1 Tim. 1:4), and overthrowing the faith of some. It also denies the true character and course of the testimony. It therefore behoves us to pay close attention to the wisdom furnished us here in this whole passage and indeed in the whole epistle, and that in regard also of the testimony of God.

In one word the apostle gives the true character of the testimony: "Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner; but suffer evil along with the glad tidings, according to the power of God; Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, etc." (2 Tim. 1:8-9). This true character of the testimony of our Lord has been, in the wisdom of God for us, thrown upon the screen, so to speak, of Paul and his course in connection with it. How easily might the term "The testimony of our Lord" (not that it could do so truly) pass through our minds; but how arresting the words inseparably connected with it, "nor of me His prisoner!" What does this mean? Ah, it is the secret of the whole matter.

Timothy is called upon to remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead of the seed of David, according to his (Paul's) glad tidings; and then he adds, "In which I suffer even unto bonds as an evil doer." "Jesus Christ raised from among the dead." Now if the resurrection had taken place already as the heretics stated, it is clear that it would not have been added here by Paul, "I suffer unto bonds." No, Christ was raised, but not Paul yet; but on the contrary, he was suffering unto bonds as an evil doer in his prosecution of the testimony of our Lord. And so with us, in this poor world, if the testimony we render be divorced from suffering, it proves itself not to be the testimony of our Lord and is, in effect, saying that the resurrection has taken place already. Thank God, one is assured that this is not so; but it is a truly exercising consideration in these days of conventional living and popular preaching. Has the salt of our responsibility lost its savour? The word remains, (John 17:14) "I have given them Thy word and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world." In everything, the enemy would seek to falsify this, in practice and in testimony.

Well, if Paul was bound, the word of God was not. He could not move freely about and preach it as once he had been able, now he was a prisoner; but he could endure: "For this cause I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10). Does not this also give the true character of the testimony, the testimony of our Lord, as to its circumstances and spirit in these last days? Assuredly it does. When the Lord comes to take us from our post, the place He has set us in to "Trade while I am coming" (Luke 19:13, N.T.), it will be time enough for us to leave it and our occupation, conditioned as they are by but "a little power" (Rev. 3:8, N.T.). May we indeed, as that passage also speaks, "keep the word of His patience" (endurance).

In Matthew 8 a brief outline of the passage of the testimony across the world, in the path of the blessed Lord is furnished. In verse 18, after the exhibition of His grace, fulfilling the prophecy of Esaias, "Himself took our infirmities and bore our diseases," he commands to "depart to the other side." Ah, that is it. At once his practical destitution is manifested in verse 20, as against the perhaps not insincere desire of the scribe to follow him: "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the heavens roosting-places; but the Son of man has not where He may lay His head." Then comes the agitation of nature, which His word quells; and then on making the land full demon power is manifested in the two Gergesenes, "exceeding dangerous." This word is only otherwise used in 2 Tim. 3:1, of the last days: "In the last days, difficult days shall be there." Now no doubt Matt. 8 refers specially to the testimony rendered in connection with Israel, but in their great features of the natural and the supernatural these outline what Paul and we also have to meet in the maintenance of the testimony.

While proper christian warfare is carried on in the heavenlies, the place of our seat in Christ and our testimony, there is also the wide sphere of nature, where the natural man disports himself, but where our minds also often move when higher considerations should characterize us. And here it is necessary to distinguish between the action of a spirit using an apostate from the truth, and a christian who fails to judge himself according to the light vouchsafed to him. We may thus become ready tools to Satan, as Peter in Matt. 16, who, elevated perhaps by the revelation made to him, and in a kindly nature, refused the cross to His Master and was rebuked by Him as Satan: "Get thee behind Me, Satan." In the service of the Lord how easily may nature come in in unjudged motive, and the enemy take advantage of it to damage the work done. Well for us if the thoughts and intents of the heart are judged by the Word of God in all His service, as in all else. How apart was the blessed Master from the start of His service in "What have I to do with thee, woman? mine hour has not yet come" (John 2:4, N.T.); but how tenderly does He care and provide for her when His work is done, in "Woman, behold thy Son" designating the disciple whom He loved, and to the disciple, "Behold thy mother" (John 19:27).

Surely, the testimony of the Lord, in whatever little way we may have it entrusted to us, calls for the utmost watchfulness in this connection. How, too, has that testimony been clouded in perhaps some careless behaviour after the particular service has been rendered. Nature, while fully owned, or it is but apostatizing (see 1 Tim. 4), must not lead in the service of God. All the sources and occasions of our service should be scrutinized and judged by us surely. We can afford to wait HIS promptings and guidance in it all.
C. N. Snow.

God's Voice in the Scriptures.

"I know Whom I have believed."

They cannot hide from our souls the heavenly beams of our Father's revelation — God has spoken and His voice reaches the heart. It makes itself heard above the din and confusion of this world, and the strife and controversy of professing Christians. It gives rest and peace, strength and fixedness to the believing heart and mind. The opinions of men may perplex and confound — we may not be able to thread our way through the labyrinths of human systems of theology: but God's voice speaks in Holy Scripture — speaks to the heart — speaks to me. This is life and peace. It is all I want. Human writings may go now for what they are worth, seeing I have all I want in the ever-flowing fountain of inspiration — the peerless, precious volume of my God.
C. H. Mackintosh.