The attitude of the Man of God in the Last Days

Notes of an address on 2 Timothy 1:8-14.

W. J. Hocking.

1919 285 "Be 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; who 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; but 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: whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles For 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.

"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us."

This Second Epistle to Timothy is of special interest and concern to us as witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ in a difficult crisis.

The apostle was writing to his young friend and convert to the faith, Timothy, a man probably of a retiring and somewhat timorous disposition, and his epistle is full of the mingled affection and wisdom that were peculiar. to Paul in his service as an apostle. He writes to cheer and to encourage Timothy, fearing that his courage might fail because of the dangerous times that had arisen. The days were indeed difficult for Paul and also for Timothy, and in the face of these difficulties, the inquiry naturally was, What is to be done? And the apostle writes not with the object so much of communicating a fresh revelation of truth, but to give counsel to Timothy out of the full love of his heart; and more than that, out of the rich enjoyment of the grace of God in his own heart, and for the real encouragement of his young friend towards God. And so the Epistle makes a special appeal to us in that direct and practical way which such communications always will do. The naked formal truth may convince our minds, but it does not always carry our hearts with it, and in the things of God we want not only to be clear in our minds, but to be devoted in our hearts.

Success and Failure

The apostle himself evidently felt deeply the trying difficulties of that time, and I think if we consider his position for a moment, we shall not wonder at his concern. A prisoner of the gospel as he then was at Rome, he looked back over about thirty years, and he could see the great spiritual transformation which had been brought on the face of the whole world in that short time. At the beginning of that period the gospel of God's grace through our Lord Jesus Christ was first declared to men in the power of the Holy Ghost, and what an immediate victory it everywhere wrought! It spread from city to city and from province to province, and across the seas, until it seemed as if the whole world would be subjugated to Christ.

Gentiles gave up their idols, Jews gave up the law of Moses; and they both met together in lowliness and meekness at the table of the Lord, and they felt within them the active power of the Holy Ghost. The selfish became beneficent towards others, and the fleshly lusts of human nature were overcome in the lives of men by the spirit of holiness.

In this great missionary enterprise Paul had played a personal part in every direction, hence all this and more was before the great heart of the imprisoned apostle of the Gentiles whose burning desire was to preach the gospel in every place. And in Rome in his confinement he looked around, and instead of seeing that the victory of the gospel was still spreading, he saw failure and defection. Men were giving up the things of Christ and turning away from His servant, and from every direction and from every place news reached him of the apostasy of the heart and spirit of men in the churches. Again, the time was when he longed above all things to preach the gospel in Rome as well as in other places, but here in the metropolis his hands were fettered. And while other tongues were telling the good news, he had to be silent.

Not Ashamed

With all these things pressing on his own heart, Paul had to write and encourage Timothy whose faith seemed failing him because of the general declension. Yet in view of all the disappointment and suffering that had come upon him, the beloved apostle wrote these words which still ring out so confidently, and carry such a note of encouragement to us amid trials of a similar nature — "Nevertheless I am not ashamed." Weighing up all his sufferings as an apostle, and looking back on his career of service to Christ, he did not consider that his words and works had been spent in vain. He was not ashamed in the day of apparent failure; and why not? because he was following and serving One Whom he knew well and had fully proved. It would be good for us to take to our own hearts these words that Paul wrote to Timothy.

We find that the apostle definitely alludes in the twelfth verse to his suffering and to the shame and reproach that had come upon him and his labours as a servant of Christ. And I want you to think of his words of bold assurance in this connection. The fact that his work had to all outward appearances failed might seem to give ground for the suggestion 0f possible personal reproach. Was not the blame for the apparent failure resting upon his own shoulders?

Paul had given up a great many things for Christ. He had many advantages according to the flesh that people in the world boast about" circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin" and so on — but he had given them all up for Christ, and he still counted the sacrifice but loss for the knowledge of Christ, as he told the Philippian believers.

But when his work seemed a failure, when the outward expression of the church seemed to be broken and ruined in men's eyes, did not such a result cast reproach upon him as a labourer? Did it not seem that he was the one to be ashamed of what had happened? But if he ever thought that within himself, as being a man of like passions with ourselves he well might, he was fully sustained in the depressing sorrow of disappointment that would come upon a heart of broad and deep sympathy like his, a heart that was wide enough to take in the whole world.

Forlorn and forsaken Paul turned for support to the Lord whom he knew. There was One who had Himself learned what in its bitterest sense shame was here in this world. We know that the word "shame" may be understood in more than one sense. Shame began in the garden of Eden, when our forefathers forfeited their position by disobeying their God. How could they lift up their eyes and meet their Creator as He walked in the garden in the cool of the day? They were ashamed because they had sinned; they blushed because of their disobedience; they were like the man in the temple who would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."

The Shame Christ Suffered.

Such was the attitude of the man who had sinned, but the shame that was brought out in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ was of a different nature. Reproach took a character that it had never had before to the same degree. Take the lives of the Old Testament saints, such as Job, Elijah, Isaiah, they all had their failures and their hours of shame in the eyes of others; but why was this? It was because they all failed. They had turned into the pathway of evil, and because of their backsliding, outward judgment came upon them. But when you take the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, you see there a perfect path of devotion to God. There we have the Witness who never failed in doing the will of Him that sent Him. There is the One who would allow nothing to stand in the way of perfect devotion to His Father.

But what to all outward appearances was the result of His fidelity and devotedness? Not success, but failure, not honour but shame. It was the Spirit of Christ who said through the Psalmist, "For thy sake I have borne reproach," "Shame hath covered my face." It was the suffering Messiah who was brought down into the dust of death. It was He who cried, "O my God, I trust in thee; let me not be ashamed, let none of mine enemies triumph over me"; but there was no answer of deliverance.

We know how the priests on Mount Carmel cried in vain to their god, Baal. They cried and cried, but there was none to hear. On the cross the devoted Servant of God cried, as the twenty-second Psalm foresaw, "Why art thou so far from helping me? Our fathers cried unto thee and were delivered, they trusted in thee and were not ashamed." The elders of the Jews taunted the crucified Lord, saying, "He trusted in God that he would deliver him; let him deliver him now if he will have him, for he said, I am the Son of God." But was He delivered? No, contrary to the experience Of the pious and just in Israel, Christ was left in the place of ignominy and curse, till reproach broke His heart. According to the prophecy of Isaiah, Messiah said, "The Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore have I set my face as a flint, and I know I shall not be ashamed." Nevertheless, He was brought down into the dust of death for the glory of God, where He was as ever true to His God.

In this pathway of suffering shame for the divine Name, Christ has left us an example that we should follow His steps. And so in this world, those who are on the side of truth and righteousness, those who are Christ's must expect to suffer shame for His name as Paul did.

Boldness in God

It must have seemed to many in those dark days at Rome as if they were trusting in a poor cause, as if God had forsaken His church, and they were left alone in a time of great peril with none to deliver, none to save, none to rescue. Beloved friends, I ask you whether you have not had similar feelings as you have seriously considered the difficult things about you today, not merely the obstacles in your personal pathway, but in those things that grievously affect the peace and concord of companies of Christians. When we look back over a period of thirty years or forty, as Paul did, what a saddening change we see. Some may say, Is it because God has hidden His face from us? Has He left us alone? Is He ashamed to call us brethren?

The apostle, however, does not give way to dejection, but goes on to say, "For this cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed." What happened to Paul happened in a fuller degree to his Master; and should the servant expect to escape that which came upon his Master? If He cried and was not delivered, shall it not be perhaps that we in our extremity in church matters may cry for deliverance, and no deliverance will come? If it be our experience that no remedy is forthcoming, can each of us still say, "I am not ashamed; I am going on; I am continuing in the pathway"? Why? Not because of my own powers of endurance, of my own clearness of view, but for the same reason as the apostle Paul went forward in such assurance. Because said he, "I know whom I have believed."

He thus threw the burden upon his Master. Paul had caught the spirit of the Servant of Jehovah as it is expressed in Isaiah, "I know that I shall not be ashamed." In the apostle's stout confession is, I am bold to say, the secret of the whole business. His was the spirit of confidence and courage. It is not for me to explain what this short sentence fully means, but I may say that it is for us to prove it for ourselves.

The Knowledge of God

To know in whom we have believed is the prime characteristic of the children of God. We find in the writings of John that the whole divine family know the Father. It is the function of the eternal life given to the believer to know the Father and the Son. What does this knowledge imply? Think of it in connection with everyday life. To know a person how much it means. Day adds to day; knowledge adds to our knowledge; we progress, we know more, we know better. But what long and intimate intercourse there must be before we can pretend to know the nearest and dearest in earthly relationship to us. Much more do all of us need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; for it is the great key to soundness and security and stability in the Christian life to know in whom we believe.

It is the summit of the attainment of the fathers in Christ to know Him that is from the beginning. We have many of us been in the way with Christ some time; years of journeyings have passed, and do we not now know something about Him? Assuredly so. Let it, however, be still the aim of our lives to follow on to know the Lord, to be so habitually face to face with Him that in the intimacy of communion we get to know Him sufficiently and to rely upon Him for all things.

I think perhaps we pray more with regard to our own private family matters than we do about the matters of the church. That it should be so is a result of our weakness. Our private affairs come before us so freely and readily, and they come to us so that we cannot seem to escape them, but in the things of the church of Christ, we often seek somehow, either consciously or unconsciously to evade our responsibility, and yet, must not the cares of the church be ever before Christ? and if we know Him and the secret of His presence, can it be that He will never say anything to us about, the vicissitudes of His church? No. He that lives for His members and who gave Himself for the church — He thinks not merely of the units, but of the unity of the church. Ought not we therefore to mourn over disunion, since we are heirs with Him in all the things of His glory? It must be so if we know Him in the communion of the Spirit of God.

If we do not know Him in the sense that Paul wrote here, we shall most surely give way to unseemly doubts. The disciples on the lake were struggling to overcome the threatening waves, and their Lord was with them in the boat, but asleep. They, however, did not know Him, for they came to Him and said, "Carest thou not that we perish?" What an insult! He who was about to give up His life for them, not to care that they were perishing! He cared for every hair of their head, but they did not know Him, and they had yet to learn the wonders of His love. And so they said what afterwards must have been a shame to them to have said: "Carest thou not that we perish?"

Knowing the Head of the Church

1919 300 "I know whom I have believed." Let this expression of the apostle sink deep into our hearts as the great antidote to fear and despair. There is no need to fear nor to despair because of the apparent desolation we see in the assemblies. The church is Christ's. He gave Himself for it. Not one of His members shall be lost, but all shall be with Him to share the church's glory in the day of full redemption. Therefore, we need not fear what will be the ultimate result, because we, like Paul, know whom we have believed. We could not know the Lord Jesus otherwise than by faith. But faith in active exercise brings us near to Him and keeps us near to Him, and also gives us to know that He is near to us. We can say we did believe on Him, and we do believe on Him, and we will, through grace, go on believing Him until faith is no longer necessary.

"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." Paul's confidence was in the power of Him in whom he trusted, the Lord of glory who was able to keep that which he had committed to Him. It was in his view simply a question of matching powers — the power of God and the power of evil. It was impossible to doubt what would be the ultimate issue.

Withstanding the Power of the Beasts

And this exercise is often needed in the history of faith. We find an example of this courage of faith, for instance, in, the case of those three Hebrew captives in Babylon in the time of the decline almost to extinction of the great system of national religion. The nation of Israel which Jehovah had called out especially to be His witnesses in the world had miserably failed, and had forsaken the true God for idols. Where was Jehovah's beautiful house of Zion at that time? Where was it? In ruins, and its chosen worshippers were captives to the first great Gentile empire of Daniel's vision of the beasts.

And with these Hebrew youths, it was a question of comparing the power of the proud emperor with the power of their God who had allowed them to be carried into exile. With a view to political unity, Nebuchadnezzar set up the image in the plain of Dura, and instructed all the subjects of his vast empire to bow down and worship one thing and the same thing. The law of Moses, where was it? It was apparently under the heel of Nebuchadnezzar. Therefore, common sense said to Shadrach and his friends, "Come, bow down and worship; you cannot resist the power of this all-conquering emperor. Submit to his decree, bow down and worship." But they stood upright; they would not bow down and worship the golden image. Was it mere stubbornness? was it mere obstinacy? Not at all. It was a calm and solemn conviction that although the temple was gone, and Jerusalem was in captivity, Jehovah was still the God of His people, and they would be true to Him in the hour of seeming defeat, for they knew Him and were convinced that He was able to save them. Before them was the furnace of fire, and there was the inflexible will of the emperor. But they in faith looked above to Jehovah, and stood fast. They trusted in God, and they were not disappointed. Who ever trusted in God and was disappointed? "Whosoever believeth in Him shall not be ashamed."

And so these men were cast into the fiery furnace, because they refused to bow down and worship the image. But the emperor saw the three men walking in the fire unhurt, with One whose form was like the Son of God. Shadrach and his friends acted with this calm immutable confidence because they were persuaded that God was able to keep that which they had committed unto Him.

Was this not illustrated again in the days of the second empire, as we also learn from the same book of Daniel? The imperial decree went forth from Darius that there should no longer be prayer made on the earth to God in heaven. If anything were to be asked, let it be asked of the all-powerful emperor on his throne, but under penalty of death there was to be no prayer to another. Such was the decree of this emperor on the advice of his nobles. The power of the world against a believer in the unseen God had thus arrayed itself in open conflict against Daniel. The question for him was, should he for thirty days effect a compromise with his piety, because the prohibition was but for thirty days; and after all it might be argued that prayer is a private communication between oneself and God, and means might be found of escaping the threatened punishment by praying to Jehovah in secret. But Daniel's heart was brave and true, and he scorned such subterfuge.

He knew his God, and he was able to look up from Darius to the God of heaven, and because he looked up he did not fail to bow his knees and to keep his windows open towards Jerusalem. He was not afraid of the vengeance of the Medo-Persian law, because he served God and not man. He was persuaded that his God was able to keep him, nor was he disappointed. He was brought safely out of the den of lions. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."

And here again is the power of the fourth Gentile empire persecuting the servant of God. Paul was exposed to an outbreak of the fury of Caesar at any moment. Any moment he might be summoned to lay down his life for his Master. Paul during his imprisonment at Rome had written to Philippi of his desire that he might have fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. And his desire was granted, for he had to meet the same world-power as his Master.

Dear friends, we must count on this factor in our lives, that owing to our discipleship of Christ we have a relentless foe in the world, who uses against us the vast resources of his power. The prince of this world is against Christ and His followers. In its opposition to us the worldly power may take many forms, but it is for you and for me to meet it unflinchingly in any and in all forms. To be victors we need, however, to be clear about one thing. Are we persuaded that He is able to carry us through every crisis? This may seem to us very easy and sure when we are in the meetings, but when we are actually face to face with the activities and distractions of life, how is our courage then? Let us at all times carry with us the assurance that He is able to deliver us, and that, as He is for us, who can be against us? To be calm and serene in the hour of peril will be the test of our faith. Let not confidence in God be a mere notion that we cherish at a time like this and then go away to our homes and forget to maintain it. Faith and assurance must be put into constant practice.

Church Affairs Committed to the Lord

I think, however, that the apostle has in view something further than his own personal security and blessing when he speaks of the ability of Christ to keep that which he has committed to Him. What was it that he had committed? The Corinthians first gave their own selves to the Lord. Well, Paul had committed everything no doubt. We too ought to give our own selves to the Lord. We ought not to give less, we cannot give more.

But Paul had also committed to the Lord the affairs of the church. This was his special business, so to speak. The Lord Himself had set the apostle first in the church. He had made him the foundation of the church and entrusted him with the unfolding of that mystery. He had given him the gospel of the grace of God to preach. He had committed great things to the apostle of the uncircumcision, but Paul was not deluded by his own heart into believing that he was sufficient for these things. Paul had the humility to feel that the apostolic ministry was the Lord's work and service after all. He could undertake this labour or that, but it was the Lord who was directing his labours.

As we find from his Epistle to the great metropolis, Paul particularly wished to preach at Rome, but he was not allowed to do so in the way he expected. Perhaps no man living had a greater desire to preach the gospel than he, but at Rome he had to remain silent, while others preached the word of life. He had to do what may be good for us all to do sometimes — to be quiet and to rejoice that other persons are actively employed. The apostle had to do this.

Here he speaks to Timothy of what he as an apostle had committed to the Lord. I think that the words as they are here recorded comprehend this fact among others — that the apostle of his Master had given back to Him the care of the church, his apostolic responsibility, the work that he had received direct from the Lord of glory, saying, as it were, to Him, "O Lord, I cannot serve any longer, Thou halt put me here. Thou hast confined me in prison, but preaching and teaching is Thy work, carry it on, O Lord. The church is Thine; the sheep are Thine; care for them; guard them; feed them; lead them carry them forward." This was surely implied when the apostle wrote "I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." For the apostle committed to Him all things without exception.

This spirit should also be true of ourselves. We perhaps feel sometimes the heavy responsibility that the Lord has laid upon us in respect of what He has given us to do. We do our best, but we often feel that there is no sufficient response to our earnestness and effort. What is our practice then? Ought we not to take to our hearts the words of the apostle, to cast our care upon the Lord, and to assure ourselves that He is able to keep that deposit which we have committed to Him?

And if you read at your leisure the great prayer of the Lord recorded in the seventeenth of John you will find that the blessed Master did the same thing. He was about to leave this world, but He thought of His disciples whom He was leaving behind in a hostile scene, and what did He do? He committed them to His Father. "Thine they were and thou gavest them me. Of those that thou gavest me have I lost none, except the son of perdition. All mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them." He was about to depart out of this world, but He first committed His followers to His Father. His Father had committed them to Him, and He committed them to His Father. What did this action display? What but that perfect union and communion between the Father and the Son which is the pattern of that between the servant and his Master.

The Attitude Of The Man Of God In The Last Days


Against that Day

1919 313 There is a great day coming for us all. The apostle confronted with danger as he was, and saddened by the declension around him, was able to look ahead to that day, and we all know how frequently that expression occurs in his writings. He had a day before him, just as our Lord in His pilgrimage had what He called His hour before Him — the hour of darkness, of suffering, of shame. He was ever going on to that hour. But He has set before us not an hour of deep suffering, but a day of glory, a day of light and joy and manifestation, when the few will be many, when the humble shall rejoice with the Lord, when those who have been abased for Christ's sake shall be exalted to the highest. And ought not we to let the light of that day shed its cheer upon our present pathway? The Lord who is "the bright, the morning star" meant that it should. He will not enter into the joys of that day without ourselves. He means that we shall be with Him and rejoice with Him in that day when the redeemed are at home. No power of evil can interfere then when the church is in glory. Let us seek by the grace of God to have before us that day which will make manifest those who have suffered shame for Him.

The Deposit Made to Timothy

We have in this verse what I may call the personal conviction and assurance of the apostle amidst the darkness of the crisis that then was, and I believe that condition of things has its analogue in the present day. In the fourteenth verse we have what may be described as the special duties assigned to us for the present moment. We find that Timothy had a good deposit made with him, while there was also the deposit that Paul made with the Lord which has been our subject hitherto this evening. He had put all that concerned himself and the affairs of the church into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we learn from the succeeding verse that Timothy had a deposit too — "that good thing which was committed unto thee." There was something which the Lord had committed to him and which he was responsible to keep. Just as the Lord was keeping and guarding the deposit that the apostle had placed with Him, so Timothy is called to guard that deposit which the Lord had committed to him.

We have therefore our duties and responsibilities for the closing days. We have hitherto been referring to what may be called the sheet anchor of our position — that which gives us courage and stability because it does not change. The Lord, while He will maintain us to the end, has not absolved us from responsibility. We are not to be idle. He has made us competent to be something and do something for Him. We are His servants, bond-slaves to Him, and therefore while the Lord, through Paul, first speaks to us of, the privileges His grace has conferred upon us, He goes on to set before us our responsibility.

Holding Fast Sound Words

In the thirteenth verse Paul writes, "Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." You must remember that the apostle's writings for the most part were not at that time widely circulated. His spoken words however were inspired words. They were not words springing from man's wisdom, but from God. They were spirit and life like the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. There was a power in them to be found nowhere else. The apostle in effect says to Timothy, 'Be clear as to those sound words which thou hast heard of me. False doctrines are springing up, therefore be clear in your mind as to what I said.'

He is of course speaking as an inspired apostle. He is giving forth what the Lord gave to him, and we ought never to lose sight of that quality which the scriptures throughout possess. We are custodians of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they are written here. They are written in book form because they are convenient for circulation, but we ought to remember that it is not sufficient to possess a copy of the whole scriptures. It is necessary for us to have the sound and healthful words of our Lord Jesus Christ and His servants in our hearts. They have the power to preserve us from evil. Moreover the words of our Lord Jesus Christ never become corrupt, because they are, as they are here called, "sound words." And it is especially noticeable that this particular phrase occurs several times in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, with regard to the words of inspiration. When evil was creeping into the church, the apostle exhorts the man of God to cleave fast to the words of Christ and of His apostle.

If you study false doctrines, which I hope you will never have to do, you will always find that they rest upon some novel interpretation introduced by expositors. Discussions and controversies arise from these human interpretations that are put upon the words of scripture. We have the words of Christ, why should we fear for the fate of truth? Why should we formulate a creed to preserve us from error? We ought not to need a creed or a tradition of any kind for our protection from error. We have the words of scripture.

We may be helped and guided by the advice and conduct of others; that is, true, but it is the "outline of sound words laid up in our own hearts which is the great preservative from evil teaching. The evil taint is in the air, the germs of evil doctrine are everywhere about us. We want some preservative; where shall we get it? Only in the scriptures. And these scriptures are available for the weakest and feeblest. Some of the profoundest truths of revelation are expressed in words of one syllable. They are couched in the simplest terms, but they are of unfathomable depths. They are deep — so deep that none can fully comprehend, though all may enjoy them and be refreshed by them, and all will be preserved by them from those evil teachings that are about us.

The Speaker of the Words

Let us then heed the apostle's advice to his son Timothy: "Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Is there not a beautiful and tender touch in the last phrase — faith and love in Christ Jesus?

The Bible reveals Christ, and I am bold to say that, marvellous book as it is, it may appear dull and disappointing to those who read it without a sense of the living Person behind it. As a general attraction and power in the world, what are the scriptures apart from the Christ of whom they testify? Do not, therefore, let us be content with using the outward shell of spiritual things. We want to feel that living reality which gives us the knowledge that Christ is speaking to us through His word. Why do we not always find this in our reading? We think perhaps of the sentence, and not 0f the Speaker. Our thoughts are elsewhere, because busy things around us attract our attention. The multitude of daily cares drown the. sweet and gentle voice of the Master in His word.

Guarding the Deposit

The fourteenth verse also gives the final exhortation: "That good thing that was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us." No doubt the apostle's direct reference is to the particular responsibility that was laid upon Timothy as a custodian of the faith when he himself would be removed. There is a sacred deposit which is committed to everyone in the matter of rendering testimony to the truth of God. And by testimony I do not mean in the way of speaking and preaching. This latter service is confined to a few, for if all were teachers where would be the taught? We need to expound the scriptures to others in that most beautiful and powerful of all ways, that is, in our lives spent in close companionship with Christ. In those ways wherein we are likest Christ we shall never be proud of ourselves. To be like Him and to catch and reproduce His character we must come very low. We must bring ourselves down. He was humble, meek and lowly of heart, and to be like Him we must prostrate ourselves before Him, and then it is as we abase ourselves that we learn that joy which comes only from such communion with Him.

We are to guard with all our powers that sacred deposit by the Holy Ghost that dwelleth in us. There are many persons who naturally delight in conflict for the truth. They are like the war horse of Job. They scent the battle from afar with a fierce joy. But the apostle, I think, is not here alluding to that stern spirit. He is not speaking of contention for the truth nor of the delight of getting one's own way in an argument, but of guarding the deposit of truth by the Holy Ghost Who dwelleth in us. Against all the declension, of the present time the fact remains that the Holy Spirit abides here in the world. Moreover He is the Spirit of truth, and to have that truth in the heart at all we can only receive it by the Holy Spirit, for He has charge of the whole body of truth.

The Holy Spirit, not Evil Demons

You know how this Epistle speaks of the solemn times when the power of the evil spirits will be active to delude and lead astray. And this activity is prevalent now. I world raise a word of warning against the power of the evil one which displays itself in that particular way at the present time. Beware of the desire to traffic with the unseen powers that are not of God, nor of Christ.

You have the Holy Spirit, what else do you want? Do you want a legion of demons to maintain the faith once delivered to the saints? The Holy Spirit come down from above is guarding that sacred deposit that was first given by the selfsame Holy Spirit. We need not seek to invoke the unholy spirits that are about us. They are real and powerful enough for evil to a degree beyond our comprehension perhaps.

You have the Holy Spirit who never deceives. Beware then of the power of evil which always deceives. Satan knows that his doom is written in the scriptures, and he would turn you away from them. The Holy Spirit is with us. Listen to Him, but listen to Him with the word of God in your heart. He will not forsake you nor the church, until the Lord Himself comes and removes us all hence away into that blissful home He has gone to prepare.

May God grant that these words of Paul to Timothy may abide with us for our profit and help until the glad day of His coming! W. J. H.